Article

Shallow Thoughts About the Self: The Automatic Components of Self-Assessment.

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Abstract

It is not our intent to coin a new term, but any review of the pertinent social psychological literature leads to the conclusion that people are prone to an illusion of personal strength. That is, people's assessments of their own abilities to meet various challenges exceed the best dispassionate analyses of those abilities. People read about Milgram's obedience experiments and come away convinced that they, unlike the majority of actual participants in those studies, would be strong enough to stand their ground and disobey the experimenter (Bierbrauer, 1979). People read about the various bystander (non)intervention studies and likewise remain convinced that they would have sufficient strength to overcome the fear of embarrassment and come to the rescue. And people's assessments of their own traits and abilities have been shown, time and time again, to be overly optimistic (see Alicke & Govorun, this volume). Our aim in this chapter is to shed light on why people are prone to such an illusion of personal strength. This aim is likely to make some readers wonder whether we are prone to the illusion of personal strength ourselves. After all, there are already perfectly satisfactory explanations of the various manifestations of this illusion. Do we really have anything useful to add? Is another perspective likely to advance our discipline's understanding of these phenomena? Does the discipline really need yet another explanation of the above average effect? We believe there is still much to be learned about the processes that give rise to the various manifestations of the illusion of personal strength. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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... 3) Non-motivational Cognitive Bias Accounts. There are numerous accounts that explain comparative unrealistic-optimism, better-than-average, and/or sharedcircumstance effects as the result of cognitive biases and processes, such as anchoring, the representativeness heuristic, focalism, and egocentrism (for reviews, see Chambers, 2008;Chambers & Windschitl, 2004;Gilovich, Epley, & Hanko, 2005;. According to one explanation, unrealistic optimism can arise when people envision a stereotyped version of those who suffer a given negative outcome. ...
Chapter
This chapter discusses various types of optimism biases and the causes of those biases. It suggests that the field sorely needs more consistency in its use of terms related to optimism biases. The chapter discusses definitions for relevant terms and identify key features of various forms of bias. It also provides a framework for understanding relations among those terms and effects. Then, the chapter talks about optimism in studies involving self-other comparisons, isolating a subset of optimism biases (unrealistic-optimism, better-than-average, and shared-circumstance effects). Finally, the chapter elucidates classic and recent findings from another subset of studies, namely those on the desirability bias. This is the subset of studies that are designed for, and relevant to, testing the question of whether outcome desirability has a biasing influence on expectations about that outcome. The chapter also mentions four types of accounts for self-other overoptimism.
... Эта ошибка получила название иллюзии интроспекции [8] -тенденции людей давать ошибочные, но уверенные объяснения причин своего поведения. Кроме того, люди оказываются «слепы» к этой иллюзии: они уверены, что не подвержены ей, что своим собственным интроспективным отчетам уж точно можно доверять [9]. Но если возможность дать интроспективный отчет лишь иллюзия, связанная с отсутствием доступа к неосознаваемым причинам поведения, если человек даже не подозревает, что может фантазировать для объяснения причин своего поведения, то можно ожидать, что он будет обосновывать даже то поведение, которого никогда не совершал. ...
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... Such a "simplification heuristic" corroborates with observations showing that people are reluctant to make deeper analyses of the item they are about to answer (e.g., Tetlock 1992). Rather than thinking each question through, survey responses are typically produced relatively spontaneously and automatized (Gilovich et al. 2005). ...
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... Such a "simplification heuristic" corroborates with observations showing that people are reluctant to make deeper analyses of the item they are about to answer (e.g., Tetlock 1992). Rather than thinking each question through, survey responses are typically produced relatively spontaneously and automatized (Gilovich et al. 2005). ...
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Ruut with his eldest child, Joris, at home in Harmelen 1973
... Such a "simplification heuristic" corroborates with observations showing that people are reluctant to make deeper analyses of the item they are about to answer (e.g., Tetlock 1992). Rather than thinking each question through, survey responses are typically produced relatively spontaneously and automatized (Gilovich et al. 2005). ...
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In this chapter, I highlight how Ruud Veenhoven influenced my work about subjective well being in Latin America. Or that purpose I propose some coincidences in the way of thinking between Ruud and the Chilean economist Manfred Max-Neef. I also share some anecdotes about his memorable trip to Colombia. I start from his now classical analysis about the four types of quality of life. From then on, I elaborate on how social relationships in particular relations of good quality with family and sharing of positive emotions can be considered as an interesting variable to explain the paradox of happiness in Latin America.
... Most people hold overly positive beliefs about their traits and qualities (e.g., Alicke & Govorun, 2005; Dunning, Heath, & Suls, 2004), and especially about their prosocial qualities (e.g., Allison, Messick, & Goethals, 1989; Epley & Dunning, 2000; Fetchenhauer & Dunning, 2006; Gilovich, Epley, & Hanko, 2005; Van Lange, 1991; Van Lange & Sedikides, 1998). Such, " positive illusions " have been said to be psychologically and reproductively adaptive (Haselton & Nettle, 2006; Taylor & Brown, 1988). ...
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... Research in psychology tells us that our often biased positive self-assessments (Gilovich, Epley, & Hanko, 2005) can sometimes lead us to believe that because we see ourselves as possessing above-average intelligence and having the best intentions, we cannot possibly do any harm. But, this is where we may be wrong. ...
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... However, there are many contexts in which referent-specific judgments involve the self as the target of judgment, with peers or others as referents. There are, in fact, research literatures devoted to biases affecting each of the following 3 types of questions (e.g., Alicke & Govorun, 2005;Chambers, & Windschitl, 2004;Chambers et al., 2003;Gilovich, Epley, & Hanko, 2005;Kruger, 1999;Kruger & Dunning, 1999;Kruger & Savitsky, 2009;Larrick et al., 2007;Savitsky, Van Boven, Epley, & Wight, 2005;Weinstein, 1980): 1. comparative ability-e.g., How good are you compared to your peers? 2. comparative optimism-e.g., Compared to others, how likely are you to suffer X? 3. responsibility/contribution-e.g., What proportion of this task did you do? ...
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... Indeed, a vast amount of research has established the existence of a universal upward drive that stands at the basis of enhancement biases. However, there is also evidence to suggest individual differences in the strength and prevalence of these biases (e.g., Baumeister, Smart, & Boden, 1996;Gilovich, Epley, & Hanko, 2005). For example, Taylor and Brown (1988) suggested that enhancement biases such as illusions of control, unrealistic positive self-views, and unrealistic optimism are less likely to arise among depressed individuals. ...
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... Cognitive biases affect all of us, and students should be advised that people just like them, who are reasonably bright and have the best of intentions, are just as susceptible to their influence (Gilovich, Epley, & Hanko, 2005;Stanovich, 2009). For example, Stanovich, West, and Toplak (2013) demonstrated that students' intellectual abilities, as evidenced by conventional indicators of cognitive ability (i.e., SAT scores), were unable to minimize the likelihood that they would be prone to cognitive biases. ...
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... Hence, when participants search for the information they need to answer questions about life satisfaction, it is a favorable self-view that most readily comes to their minds. And on the rare occasions that our optimism bias is corrected, responses are then modifi ed through a conscious and effortful process of adjustment (Gilovich et al., 2005 ). What goes on mentally when selfreports on life satisfaction are produced is therefore strongly infl uenced by hedonic processes. ...
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A review of the literature concerning the phenomenon known as automatic attitude activation is presented. The robustness of the affective priming effect across many different procedural variations, the mediating mechanisms thought to underlie the effect, and the moderating role of associative strength are discussed. The relevance and importance of automatic attitude activation to many fundamental cognitive and social processes also is highlighted. Finally, an overview of the articles included in this Special Issue of Cognition and Emotion, their essential contributions, and their relation to the earlier literature is presented. This Special Issue is devoted to furthering our understanding of a phenomenon known as automatic attitude activation. Essentially, presentation of an attitude object has been shown to automatically activate from memory the evaluation that an individual associates with the object. The editors Jan De Houwer and Dirk Hermans have compiled a collection of interesting articles in which the various contributing authors report investigations relevant to this phenomenon. In this introductory article, I will provide a brief overview of the articles in the special issue, as well as the literature on automatic attitude activation. In so doing, I hope to provide a context for the Special Issue and, even more importantly, an appreciation for the significance of the phenomenon.
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Tested the hypothesis that the phrasing of a question about the relationship between 2 events can influence what information Ss feel they need to answer the question. 60 college students were presented with 1 of 2 covariation problems (concerning tennis or rainfall) and were asked a question that explicitly mentioned 1 type of instance or a 2nd type of instance (e.g., the effects of practice on winning or on losing a tennis match) or an unbiased question that mentioned all 4 relevant types of instances (e.g., the effects of practice/no practice on winning/losing). As predicted, Ss who were asked a biased question most often requested the frequency of instances mentioned in the question. Ss who were asked an unbiased question most frequently requested positive confirming instances and requested significantly more information to answer the question. The relationship of this study to other studies demonstrating confirmatory hypothesis-testing strategies and implications for conducting research on intuitive judgments about relationships between events are discussed. (13 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)
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Distinctions have been proposed between systems of reasoning for centuries. This article distills properties shared by many of these distinctions and characterizes the resulting systems in light of recent findings and theoretical developments. One system is associative because its computations reflect similarity structure and relations of temporal contiguity. The other is "rule based" because it operates on symbolic structures that have logical content and variables and because its computations have the properties that are normally assigned to rules. The systems serve complementary functions and can simultaneously generate different solutions to a reasoning problem. The rule-based system can suppress the associative system but not completely inhibit it. The article reviews evidence in favor of the distinction and its characterization.
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In general, people perceive high consensus for their own attributes (i.e., the false-consensus effect). Depressed and nondepressed college students were asked about the extent to which depression-relevant and depression-irrelevant attributes were true of themselves and true of the "average college student." Subjects were also asked questions assessing the accuracy of their perceptions of others. Depressed subjects showed less false consensus than nondepressed subjects. Although depressives characterized themselves as dissimilar to others, they showed no consistent bias to depreciate themselves relative to others. Nondepressives, on the other hand, consistently enhanced themselves relative to others, although the magnitude of their self-other differences was smaller than that of depressives. Interestingly, the tendency to depreciate themselves relative to others on negative depression-relevant items was a better predictor of severity of depression than self-perceptions or other perceptions alone. Findings regarding the accuracy of perceptions of others were mixed. The study is discussed in terms of its implications for the false-consensus effect, depressive attributional style, nondepressive self-serving biases, and therapy for depression.
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Cognitive-experiential self-theory integrates the cognitive and the psychodynamic unconscious by assuming the existence of two parallel, interacting modes of information processing: a rational system and an emotionally driven experiential system. Support for the theory is provided by the convergence of a wide variety of theoretical positions on two similar processing modes; by real-life phenomena--such as conflicts between the heart and the head; the appeal of concrete, imagistic, and narrative representations; superstitious thinking; and the ubiquity of religion throughout recorded history--and by laboratory research, including the prediction of new phenomena in heuristic reasoning.
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Social psychologists can benefit from exploring connectionist or parallel distributed processing models of mental representation and process also can contribute much to connectionist theory in return. Connectionist models involve many simple processing units that send activation signals over connections. At an abstract level, the models can be described as representing concepts (as distributed patterns of activation), operating like schemas to fill in typical values for input information, reconstructing memories based on accessible knowledge rather than retrieving static representations, using flexible and context-sensitive concepts, and computing by satisfying numerous constraints in parallel. This article reviews open questions regarding connectionist models and concludes that social psychological contributions to such topics as cognition-motivation interactions may be important for the development of integrative connectionist model.
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In previous anchoring studies people were asked to consider an anchor as a possible answer to the target question or were given informative anchors. The authors predicted that basic anchoring effects can occur, whereby uninformative numerical anchors influence a judgment even when people are not asked to compare this number to the target value. Five studies supported these hypotheses: Basic anchoring occurs if people pay sufficient attention to the anchor value; knowledgeable people are less susceptible to basic anchoring effects; anchoring appears to operate unintentionally and nonconsciously in that it is difficult to avoid even when people are forewarned. The possible mechanisms of basic anchoring and the relation between these mechanisms and other processes of judgment and correction are discussed.
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A collective constructionist theory of the self proposes that many psychological processes, including enhancement of the self (pervasive in the United States) and criticism and subsequent improvement of the self (widespread in Japan), result from and support the very ways in which social acts and situations are collectively defined and subjectively experienced in the respective cultural contexts. In support of the theory, 2 studies showed, first, that American situations are relatively conducive to self-enhancement and American people are relatively likely to engage in self-enhancement and, second, that Japanese situations are relatively conducive to self-criticism and Japanese people are relatively likely to engage in self-criticism. Implications are discussed for the collective construction of psychological processes implicated in the self and, more generally, for the mutual constitution of culture and the self.
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It is assumed that people seek positive self-regard; that is, they are motivated to possess, enhance, and maintain positive self-views. The cross-cultural generalizability of such motivations was addressed by examining Japanese culture. Anthropological, sociological, and psychological analyses revealed that many elements of Japanese culture are incongruent with such motivations. Moreover, the empirical literature provides scant evidence for a need for positive self-regard among Japanese and indicates that a self-critical focus is more characteristic of Japanese. It is argued that the need for self-regard must be culturally variant because the constructions of self and regard themselves differ across cultures. The need for positive self-regard, as it is currently conceptualized, is not a universal, but rather is rooted in significant aspects of North American culture. Conventional interpretations of positive self-regard are too narrow to encompass the Japanese experience.
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An important source of people's perceptions of their performance, and potential errors in those perceptions, are chronic views people hold regarding their abilities. In support of this observation, manipulating people's general views of their ability, or altering which view seemed most relevant to a task, changed performance estimates independently of any impact on actual performance. A final study extended this analysis to why women disproportionately avoid careers in science. Women performed equally to men on a science quiz, yet underestimated their performance because they thought less of their general scientific reasoning ability than did men. They, consequently, were more likely to refuse to enter a science competition.
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The culture movement challenged the universality of the self-enhancement motive by proposing that the motive is pervasive in individualistic cultures (the West) but absent in collectivistic cultures (the East). The present research posited that Westerners and Easterners use different tactics to achieve the same goal: positive self-regard. Study 1 tested participants from differing cultural backgrounds (the United States vs. Japan), and Study 2 tested participants of differing self-construals (independent vs. interdependent). Americans and independents self-enhanced on individualistic attributes, whereas Japanese and interdependents self-enhanced on collectivistic attributes. Independents regarded individualistic attributes, whereas interdependents regarded collectivistic attributes, as personally important. Attribute importance mediated self-enhancement. Regardless of cultural background or self-construal, people self-enhance on personally important dimensions. Self-enhancement is a universal human motive.
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Seventy-nine college students completed a personality inventory and then received a bogus psychological profile that included a highly self-descriptive personality description and a diagnosis based on that description. The personality description was identical for all participants. The diagnostic information varied across two dimensions. Half the subjects received favorable diagnostic feedback indicating that they were particularly resistant to future problems; the other half received unfavorable diagnostic feedback indicating that they were particularly prone to future problems. Half the subjects received information indicating that they were resistant (or prone) to future medical problems; the other half were told that they were resistant (or prone) to future psychological problems. Subjects in a control condition received the personality description with no diagnostic information. Compared to those in favorable feedback conditions, subjects in unfavorable feedback conditions (a) rated both their diagnoses and the overall personality description as less accurate, (b) generated fewer reasons to support the accuracy of their diagnoses, and (c) generated more reasons to support the inaccuracy of their diagnosis. Favorable- and unfavorable-feedback participants did not differ in the perceived accuracy of the individual statements making up the personality description, although unfavorable-feedback subjects remembered fewer past behavioral instances consistent with the statements. Both theoretical and practical implications of the results are discussed.
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Many decisions are based on beliefs concerning the likelihood of uncertain events such as the outcome of an election, the guilt of a defendant, or the future value of the dollar. Occasionally, beliefs concerning uncertain events are expressed in numerical form as odds or subjective probabilities. In general, the heuristics are quite useful, but sometimes they lead to severe and systematic errors. The subjective assessment of probability resembles the subjective assessment of physical quantities such as distance or size. These judgments are all based on data of limited validity, which are processed according to heuristic rules. However, the reliance on this rule leads to systematic errors in the estimation of distance. This chapter describes three heuristics that are employed in making judgments under uncertainty. The first is representativeness, which is usually employed when people are asked to judge the probability that an object or event belongs to a class or event. The second is the availability of instances or scenarios, which is often employed when people are asked to assess the frequency of a class or the plausibility of a particular development, and the third is adjustment from an anchor, which is usually employed in numerical prediction when a relevant value is available.
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Although routinely observed among North Americans, self-enhancing biases have been elusive in studies conducted with Japanese. The authors conducted two studies of relationship-serving biases (RSBs) with Japanese, Asian Canadian, and European Canadian participants. In both studies, members of all three cultural groups viewed their own relationships (with their best friend, their closest family member, and their romantic partner) as more positive than those of their peers, and to roughly the same extent. Of importance, however, (a) RSBs were largely uncorrelated with both self-esteem and self-serving biases and (b) Japanese (but not the other two cultural groups’) RSBs were paralleled by tendencies to view their relationship partners more positively than themselves. The authors suggest that relationship enhancement serves a different function than self-enhancement, aiding the individual’s quest for connection and belongingness with others.
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In two longitudinal studies, university students, their roommates, and parents assessed the quality and forecast the longevity of the students’ dating relationships. The longitudinal nature of this research allowed assessment of the relative accuracy of predictions offered by students and observers. Students assessed their relationships more positively, focusing primarily on the strengths of their relationships, and made more optimistic predictions than did parents and roommates. Although students were more confident in their predictions, their explicit forecasts tended to be less accurate than those of the two observer groups. Students, however, possessed information that could have yielded more accurate forecasts: In comparison to parents’ and roommates’ evaluations of relationship quality, students’ assessments of relationship quality were more predictive of stability at 1 year. Implications of these findings for understanding biases and accuracy in prediction are discussed.
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This chapter advances to a testable middle-range theory predicated on the politician metaphor: the social contingency model of judgment and choice. This model does not map neatly in any of the traditional levels of analysis: the individual, the small group, the organization, and political system. The unit of study is the individual in relation to these social milieux. The model borrows, qualifies, and elaborates on the cognitive miser image of the thinker that has been so influential in experimental work on social cognition. The model adopts the approval and status-seeker image of human nature that has been so influential in role theory, symbolic interactionism, and impression management theory. The model draws on sociological and anthropological theory concerning the necessary conditions for social order in positing accountability to be a universal feature of natural decision environments. The social contingency model is not tightly linked to any particular methodology. The theoretical eclecticism of the model demands a corresponding commitment to methodological eclecticism. The social contingency model poses problems that cross disciplinary boundaries, and that require a plurality of methodologies. The chapter ends with considering the potential problem of proliferating metaphors in social psychological theory.
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Two studies are reported which demonstrate the influence of perceptual or ‘perspective’ variables in mediating attribution processes. In both studies subjects first observed a re‐enactment of Milgram's (1963) experiment of obedience in which a ‘teacher’ obeys an experimenter's request to deliver dangerously high levels of shock. They were then asked to make judgements concerning the magnitude of situational forces acting upon the teacher and also to make inferences about his personality dispositions. Study I showed that passage of time can lead observers to assume more situational control when they were required to think and write about the witnessed re‐enactment of the Milgram situation compared with observers who had no time to contemplate or who were prevented from doing so. Study II did not support the notion that focus of attribution is a simple function of what one pays attention to, or a function of the differing perspectives which actors and observers employ. Both of these results seriously challenge Jones and Nisbett's (1972) contention that the differences in attribution tendencies between actors and observers arise from the difference in perspective, Moreover, considerable evidence suggests that changes in situational and dispositional attributions may not follow a simple ‘zero‐sum’ model, and that subjects seem to be unwilling to treat the two sources of control as if they were inversely correlated.
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The effects of group categorization on statistical inference processes and the consequent effects on group stereotyping were examined in 3 experiments. In Exps 1 and 2, male and female Ss made data-based judgments about gender and leadership ability. In Exp 3, Ss were randomly categorized into groups and then made data-based judgments about the groups' relative intelligence. Results from all 3 studies indicate significant effects of group categorization on Ss' judgments and on their strategies of data integration and logical inference. These results support the hypothesis that group members selectively engage in statistical inference strategies as a means of justifying in-group favoritism. Discussion focuses on the implications for understanding group-serving biases, motivated reasoning, and group stereotyping processes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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A survey is given of trends in research on aspiration level since the first experiments around 1930; also suggestions are offered for profitable further work. The level of aspiration is considered in detail in its field-theoretical setting. Bibliography. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Focuses on the nature and efficacy of the various cognitive and behavioral interventions for depression. These include not only cognitive therapy and related cognitive-behavioral interventions, but also more traditional behavioral interventions and recent efforts to integrate each within a more interpersonal context. These approaches often overlap in their underlying conceptualizations and actual procedures of operation, but they also often differ in matters of both theory and practice. Whether these differences really matter remains to be seen, but they may have implications for both the nature of patients treated and the ease with which the respective interventions can be disseminated to the larger clinical community. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Recent research has investigated the information-gathering strategies that people employ as they attempt to test hypotheses. Three such strategies of information seeking were examined. Two kinds of hypothesis-confirmation strategies were considered. The first of these concerned evidence being sought to the extent that it is more likely under the hypothesis being tested than under the alternative. The second kind of hypothesis-confirmation strategy refers to the tendency to ask questions that will have the effect of making the hypothesis under test appear to be true. In addition, a third kind of strategy is a diagnosing strategy under which people prefer evidence that is most differentially probable under the hypothesis and the alternative. Important changes in methodology from past work were made, and the data supported a predominant diagnosing strategy and a less significant, but nonetheless strong and consistent, tendency to ask hypothesis-confirming questions. In addition, subjects' choice of questions made it likely that they would perceive as confirmed the specific hypotheses they were testing. This occurred even though the questions employed were not constraining. Discussion involves the strategies of information gathering and the reasons underlying them as well as the implications of these strategies for the inferences people make about their predictive abilities.
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People tend to overestimate their comparative likelihood of experiencing a rosy future. The present research suggests that one reason for this error is that when people compare their likelihood of experiencing an event with that of the average person, they focus on their own chances of experiencing the event and insufficiently consider the likelihood of the average person experiencing the event. As a consequence, people tend to think that they are more likely than the average person to experience common events and less likely than the average person to experience rare events. This causes unrealistic optimism in the case of common desirable events and rare undesirable events, but unrealistic pessimism in the case of rare desirable events and common undesirable events (Studies 1 and 2). Study 2 further suggests that both egocentrism and focalism underlie these biases. These results suggest that unrealistic optimism is not as ubiquitous as once thought.
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Affect is considered by most contemporary theories to be postcognitive, that is, to occur only after considerable cognitive operations have been accomplished. Yet a number of experimental results on preferences, attitudes, impression formation, and decision making, as well as some clinical phenomena, suggest that affective judgments may be fairly independent of, and precede in time, the sorts of perceptual and cognitive operations commonly assumed to be the basis of these affective judgments. Affective reactions to stimuli are often the very first reactions of the organism, and for lower organisms they are the dominant reactions. Affective reactions can occur without extensive perceptual and cognitive encoding, are made with greater confidence than cognitive judgments, and can be made sooner. Experimental evidence is presented demonstrating that reliable affective discriminations (like–dislike ratings) can be made in the total absence of recognition memory (old–new judgments). Various differences between judgments based on affect and those based on perceptual and cognitive processes are examined. It is concluded that affect and cognition are under the control of separate and partially independent systems that can influence each other in a variety of ways, and that both constitute independent sources of effects in information processing. (139 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved)
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The process of hypothesis testing entails both information selection (asking questions) and information use (drawing inferences from the answers to those questions). We demonstrate that although subjects may be sensitive to diagnosticity in choosing which questions to ask, they are insufficiently sensitive to the fact that different answers to the same question can have very different diagnosticities. This can lead subjects to overestimate or underestimate the information in the answers they receive. This phenomenon is demonstrated in two experiments using different kinds of inferences (category membership of individuals and composition of sampled populations). In combination with certain information-gathering tendencies, demonstrated in a third experiment, insensitivity to answer diagnosticity can contribute to a tendency toward preservation of the initial hypothesis. Results such as these illustrate the importance of viewing hypothesis-testing behavior as an interactive, multistage process that includes selecting questions, interpreting data, and drawing inferences.
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Several lines of investigation have evolved from the initial cognitive model of depression and other disorders. A large number of studies have tested the cognitive model using both clinical and laboratory-based strategies. In general, studies that most closely approximate the clinical conditions from which the theory was derived are supportive of the cognitive model of depression. Studies of anxiety and panic, although fewer, generally support the cognitive model of anxiety and panic. The application to the treatment of clinical problems has been promising and supports the concept of cognitive specificity. The cognitive therapy of depression has led to the utilization of specific cognitive strategies based on the specific conceptualizations of a given disorder to a wide variety of disorders. Study of abnormal reactions has also provided clues to the cognitive structure of normal reactions.
Article
Many prominent theorists have argued that accurate perceptions of the self, the world, and the future are essential for mental health. Yet considerable research evidence suggests that overly positive self-evaluations, exaggerated perceptions of control or mastery, and unrealistic optimism are characteristic of normal human thought. Moreover, these illusions appear to promote other criteria of mental health, including the ability to care about others, the ability to be happy or contented, and the ability to engage in productive and creative work. These strategies may succeed, in large part, because both the social world and cognitive-processing mechanisms impose filters on incoming information that distort it in a positive direction; negative information may be isolated and represented in as unthreatening a manner as possible. These positive illusions may be especially useful when an individual receives negative feedback or is otherwise threatened and may be especially adaptive under these circumstances.
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COLLEGE SS OVERHEARD AN EPILEPTIC SIEZURE. THEY BELIEVED EITHER THAT THEY ALONE HEARD THE EMERGENCY, OR THAT 1 OR 4 UNSEEN OTHERS WERE ALSO PRESENT. AS PREDICTED, THE PRESENCE OF OTHER BYSTANDERS REDUCED THE INDIVIDUAL'S FEELINGS OF PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY AND LOWERED HIS SPEED OF REPORTING (P < .01). IN GROUPS OF 3, MALES REPORTED NO FASTER THAN FEMALES, AND FEMALES REPORTED NO SLOWER WHEN THE 1 OTHER BYSTANDER WAS A MALE RATHER THAN A FEMALE. IN GENERAL, PERSONALITY AND BACKGROUND MEASURES WERE NOT PREDICTIVE OF HELPING. BYSTANDER INACTION IN REAL LIFE EMERGENCIES IS OFTEN EXPLAINED BY APATHY, ALIENATION, AND ANOMIE. RESULTS SUGGEST THAT THE EXPLANATION MAY LIE IN THE BYSTANDER'S RESPONSE TO OTHER OS THAN IN HIS INDIFFERENCE TO THE VICTIM.
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Previous experiments have shown that educated adults generally fail to show an intuitive appreciation of correlation or contingency when judging the relation between events on the basis of a serial presentation. The effect on judgment of displaying information serially or in a summary form was examined. In contrast with some previous experiments, the events to be judged were identified in a way which should strongly suggest that the operation of chance must be taken into account. The Ss judged the amount of control exerted by cloud seeding over rainfall. The events (seeding or no seeding followed by rain or no rain) were presented to 1 group only serially, to a 2nd group in both ways with the serial display preceding the summary. Only in the group which received the summary without the serial display were the judgments of a majority of Ss more consistent with an appropriate rule of judgment involving a comparison of probabilities than with 1 or another of several inappropriate rules involving the frequency of certain favourable events.
Article
Social behavior is ordinarily treated as being under conscious (if not always thoughtful) control. However, considerable evidence now supports the view that social behavior often operates in an implicit or unconscious fashion. The identifying feature of implicit cognition is that past experience influences judgment in a fashion not introspectively known by the actor. The present conclusion--that attitudes, self-esteem, and stereotypes have important implicit modes of operation--extends both the construct validity and predictive usefulness of these major theoretical constructs of social psychology. Methodologically, this review calls for increased use of indirect measures--which are imperative in studies of implicit cognition. The theorized ordinariness of implicit stereotyping is consistent with recent findings of discrimination by people who explicitly disavow prejudice. The finding that implicit cognitive effects are often reduced by focusing judges' attention on their judgment task provides a basis for evaluating applications (such as affirmative action) aimed at reducing such unintended discrimination.
Article
Research indicates that people have a high estimate of their personal ability and assess their vulnerability to personal risk as less than their peers. Even though these judgments have been found to be resistant to change, previous research suggests that making individuals accountable for their judgments may prevent certain illusory self-assessments developing. Two studies investigated whether accountability modifies estimates of personal ability and vulnerability. Results indicated that making participants more accountable for their judgments significantly reduces positive self-assessments. There was also some suggestion that the extent of the accountability effect is proportional to the magnitude of the accountability manipulation.
Article
Like the inhabitants of Garrison Keillor's (1985) fictional community of Lake Wobegon, most people appear to believe that their skills and abilities are above average. A series of studies illustrates one of the reasons why: when people compare themselves with their peers, they focus egocentrically on their own skills and insufficiently take into account the skills of the comparison group. This tendency engenders the oft-documented above-average effect in domains in which absolute skills tend to be high but produces a reliable below-average effect in domains in which absolute skills tend to be low (Studies 1 and 2). In Study 3, cognitive load exacerbated these biases, suggesting that people "anchor" on their assessment of their own abilities and insufficiently "adjust" to take into account the skills of the comparison group. These results suggest that the tendency to see oneself as above average may not be as ubiquitous as once thought.
Article
Several studies have shown that people who engage in ruminative responses to depressive symptoms have higher levels of depressive symptoms over time, after accounting for baseline levels of depressive symptoms. The analyses reported here showed that rumination also predicted depressive disorders, including new onsets of depressive episodes. Rumination predicted chronicity of depressive disorders before accounting for the effects of baseline depressive symptoms but not after accounting for the effects of baseline depressive symptoms. Rumination also predicted anxiety symptoms and may be particularly characteristic of people with mixed anxiety/depressive symptoms.