Article

Lacking Control Increases Illusory Patter Perception

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Abstract

We present six experiments that tested whether lacking control increases illusory pattern perception, which we define as the identification of a coherent and meaningful interrelationship among a set of random or unrelated stimuli. Participants who lacked control were more likely to perceive a variety of illusory patterns, including seeing images in noise, forming illusory correlations in stock market information, perceiving conspiracies, and developing superstitions. Additionally, we demonstrated that increased pattern perception has a motivational basis by measuring the need for structure directly and showing that the causal link between lack of control and illusory pattern perception is reduced by affirming the self. Although these many disparate forms of pattern perception are typically discussed as separate phenomena, the current results suggest that there is a common motive underlying them.

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... Conspiracist ideation is correlated with several biases, including the tendency to gather less data prior to decision-making (''jumping to conclusions"; [44,47] and the tendency toward lowered decision thresholds (''liberal acceptance"; [28], both of which are thought to cause epistemically-suspect beliefs (see: [6]. Manipulating particular reasoning biases, such as the tendency to perceive patterns in data when none are present (''illusory pattern perception"), increases conspiracist ideation [62]. Reasoning biases may cause conspiracist ideation because they influence individuals' likelihood of endorsing epistemically-suspect alternatives to official accounts, and motivate them to search for these accounts by encouraging paranoid thinking styles and distrust of information authorities, including scientists (see: [41]). ...
... Illusory Pattern Perception was measured using the Snowy Pictures Task [62]. Respondents view 24 pictures with visual noise (from: [58] and indicate whether they contain a difficult-toperceive object (half do, half do not). ...
... Belief in SARS-CoV-2 conspiracy theories was also (positively) associated with several reasoning biases, including illusory pattern perception and denominator neglect. While these biases were not identified as possible causes of conspiracist ideation by GFCI, previous literature providing evidence of a causal relation between these variables [47,56,62] suggests that additional exploration of the role of these biases may be warranted. Belief in SARS-COV-2 conspiracy theories was also positively associated with persecutory ideation (which GFCI suggested was causally upstream of belief in conspiracy theories) and negatively associated with epistemic trust in scientists (which GFCI suggested was reduced by belief in SARS-CoV-2 conspiracy theories). ...
Article
Background Widespread vaccine hesitancy and refusal complicate containment of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Extant research indicates that biased reasoning and conspiracist ideation discourage vaccination. However, causal pathways from these constructs to vaccine hesitancy and refusal remain underspecified, impeding efforts to intervene and increase vaccine uptake. Method 554 participants who denied prior SARS-CoV-2 vaccination completed self-report measures of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine intentions, conspiracist ideation, and constructs from the Health Belief Model of medical decision-making (such as perceived vaccine dangerousness) along with tasks measuring reasoning biases (such as those concerning data gathering behavior). Cutting-edge machine learning algorithms (Greedy Fast Causal Inference) and psychometric network analysis were used to elucidate causal pathways to (and from) vaccine intentions. Results Results indicated that a bias toward reduced data gathering during reasoning may cause paranoia, increasing the perceived dangerousness of vaccines and thereby reducing willingness to vaccinate. Existing interventions that target data gathering and paranoia therefore hold promise for encouraging vaccination. Additionally, reduced willingness to vaccinate was identified as a likely cause of belief in conspiracy theories, subverting the common assumption that the opposite causal relation exists. Finally, perceived severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection and perceived vaccine dangerousness (but not effectiveness) were potential direct causes of willingness to vaccinate, providing partial support for the Health Belief Model’s applicability to SARS-CoV-2 vaccine decisions. Conclusions These insights significantly advance our understanding of the underpinnings of vaccine intentions and should scaffold efforts to prepare more effective interventions on hesitancy for deployment during future pandemics.
... Furthermore, Whitson and Galinsky (2008) show that lacking control activates an illusionary pattern perception, which refers to "the identification of a coherent and meaningful relationship among a set of random or unrelated stimuli" (p. 115). ...
... 115). Extending the notion that lacking control leads to cognitively adaptive strategies such as pattern identification (Whitson & Galinsky, 2008), we propose that infectious disease cues such as COVID-19 lead to a threat to control, which in turn motivates people to seek a pattern in their sequential, repeated choices as an adaptive means to restore threatened control. ...
... When experiencing a lack of control, people tend to identify significantly more illusory patterns in randomness (Wang et al., 2012;Whitson & Galinsky, 2008). Taking this idea forward, we posit that the preference for patterns may influence how people decide their consumption sequence. ...
Article
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The pandemic outbreak poses one of the most influential threats. When faced with such a threat, consumers engage in adaptive behaviors, and one way to do so may pertain to pattern-seeking in their choices. Across five studies, we show that consumers exhibit patterns in sequential choice under the threat of COVID-19. Specifically, consumers high (vs. low) in the perceived threat increase sequential patterns in repeated choice regardless of whether the levels of the perceived threat are measured or manipulated. The effect emerges even when a patterned choice option is objectively inferior to a nonpatterned option. The underlying mechanism of the effect is that consumers experience a lower sense of control, which motivates them to seek patterned choices to regain control threatened by the infectious disease. We further show that the effect on patterned choice is stronger for consumers with lower childhood socioeconomic status (SES), who are characterized by a lower sense of control, than their higher childhood SES counterparts. Noting that infectious disease threats are unavoidable, we offer theoretical contributions as well as novel insights into marketing practices under unpredictable and threatening situations.
... Past studies of determinants and covariates of belief in conspiracy theories show strong associations with political powerlessness and education. Experimental studies suggest the tendency to perceive patterns in data is more likely amongst those with perceived lack of control (Whitson and Galinsky, 2008), whilst observational data show that belief in government conspiracy theories is more likely amongst structurally disempowered groups (Thompson et al., 2021). Endorsement of conspiracy theories is negatively correlated with education, with feelings of powerlessness and subjective social class forming key aspects of the causal mechanism (van Prooijen, 2016). ...
... From the above, we see how conspiracy theorist explanation thrives for large-scale, significant social events, when interpreted by groups with characteristics conducive to patternicity such as powerlessness (Whitson and Galinsky, 2008;van Prooijen, 2016). The tendency to perceive causal connections between covarying phenomena is heightened when those outcomes are of large-scale significance, and where the interpreters hold beliefs sufficient to override the covariation principle (van der Wal et al., 2018, p. 972). ...
... But unlike previous studies based on decontextualized experimental work, we argue that geopolitical context matters. Whilst these valuable studies show education and powerlessness as predictors of conspiracist beliefs (van Prooijen, 2016;Whitson and Galinsky, 2008), in the U.S., perceived powerlessness in the face of government has become a rallying point for marginalized groups with capacity for organised violence. The COVID-5G correlation is but one item in the current repertoire of conspiracy theory narratives asserting sinister motivations to government. ...
Article
In a context of mistrust in public health institutions and practices, anti-COVID/vaccination protests and the storming of Congress have illustrated that conspiracy theories are real and immanent threat to health and wellbeing, democracy, and public understanding of science. One manifestation of this is the suggested correlation of COVID-19 with 5G mobile technology. Throughout 2020, this alleged correlation was promoted and distributed widely on social media, often in the form of maps overlaying the distribution of COVID-19 cases with the instillation of 5G towers. These conspiracy theories are not fringe phenomena, and they form part of a growing repertoire for conspiracist activist groups with capacities for organised violence. In this paper, we outline how spatial data have been co-opted, and spatial correlations asserted by conspiracy theorists. We consider the basis of their claims of causal association with reference to three key areas of geographical explanation: (1) how social properties are constituted and how they exert complex causal forces, (2) the pitfalls of correlation with spatial and ecological data, and (3) the challenges of specifying and interpreting causal effects with spatial data. For each, we consider the unique theoretical and technical challenges involved in specifying meaningful correlation, and how their discarding facilitates conspiracist attribution. In doing so, we offer a basis both to interrogate conspiracists’ uses and interpretation of data from elementary principles and offer some cautionary notes on the potential for their future misuse in an age of data democratization. Finally, this paper contributes to work on the basis of conspiracy theories in general, by asserting how – absent an appreciation of these key methodological principles – spatial health data may be especially prone to co-option by conspiracist groups.
... Among the strategies they suggested are those that imply using rational and ridiculing arguments targeting the link between the object of belief (COVID-19, in our case) and its characteristics (with a focus on its origins and symptoms). Moreover, concerning attitudinal variables, CBs seem positively related to perceived lack of control and lack of trust in other people and the authorities (Whitson and Galinsky, 2008;Brotherton et al., 2013), which we already pointed out as significant variables related to COVID-19 health-related behaviors. Extrapolating the solutions of Orosz et al. (2016) to the COVID-19 vaccination context, we might find it useful to point out the logical flaws of the links between CBs surrounding COVID-19 and vaccination procedures and potential adverse effects. ...
... In the current research, higher levels of TP were significantly associated with CBs. However, TP generally implies lower levels of control, and as Whitson and Galinsky (2008) suggested, lacking control increases illusory pattern perception, i.e., CBs. Generally, control deprivation and lack of certainty generate the attempt of people to restore it, and one possible way to do that is by seeking sources of external control (e.g., CB endorsement) (Kay et al., 2009;Landau et al., 2015). ...
Article
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In the current exploratory study, we investigated participants' willingness to vaccinate against the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that shook up the world since the beginning of 2020. More specifically, we tested the mediating role of conspiracy beliefs on the relationship between COVID-19 threat perception and participants' willingness to vaccinate, along with a series of associated demographic variables. Overall, 40% of our sample expressed total rejection of the COVID-19 vaccine. Our results suggested no significant differences in participants' gender, age, educational level, and vaccine acceptance or hesitancy. Results also indicated that conspiracy beliefs partially mediated the relationship between threat perception and participants' willingness to vaccinate. The current findings are discussed within the theory of planned behavior (TPB) framework and their importance for public health communication and practices and building public trust within the COVID-19 global fight. We consider the present results as a valuable starting point in understanding the psychological constructs related to the extended model of TPB and other personal factors and address the attitudinal roots that shape COVID-19 vaccination acceptance and rejection.
... Hastalıkların kontrol altına alınması; hastalığın algılanma şekli, gösterilen tepkiler ve hastalığa uyum şekli ile ilişkilidir. Gösterilen tepkiler arasında yer alan kontrol duygusu; sağlığı tehdit eden durumlarla karşılaşıldığında; kişinin yaşamdaki birincil motivasyon gücünü oluşturan çevresel belirsizliğin üstesinden gelebileceği inancıdır (Whitson & Galinsky, 2008). Kontrol algısı düşük bireyler, belirsizlik karşısında daha fazla risk almaya meyillidirler (Whitson & Galinsky, 2008). ...
... Gösterilen tepkiler arasında yer alan kontrol duygusu; sağlığı tehdit eden durumlarla karşılaşıldığında; kişinin yaşamdaki birincil motivasyon gücünü oluşturan çevresel belirsizliğin üstesinden gelebileceği inancıdır (Whitson & Galinsky, 2008). Kontrol algısı düşük bireyler, belirsizlik karşısında daha fazla risk almaya meyillidirler (Whitson & Galinsky, 2008). Kontrol duygusu aynı zamanda uzun vadeli sağlık ve esenlik ile de bağlantılıdır (Zhu et al., 2020). ...
... Experients in such circumstances may try to exert control; this unconscious process can result in their seeing or attributing patterns or agency where none exist. In other words, when individuals are unable to gain a sense of control (physical or psychological) objectively, they will often try to gain it perceptually (Lange & Houran, 2000;Whitson & Galinsky, 2008). Hungry people, for instance, are more likely to perceive food in ambiguous images (Levine, Chein, & Murphy, 1942), while children of lower economic status tend to overestimate the size of coins (Bruner & Goodman, 1947). ...
... That is, individuals who claim to live in a haunted location may perceive or interpret certain patterns that amount to a "ghost" in order to ease the uncertainly of ambiguous stimuli (psychological or physical) encountered there. This anxiety relieving process may typify what is happening in any purportedly haunted locale (Lange & Houran, 2001a;Whitson & Galinsky, 2008). For example, Houran's (1998, 1999) path analyses empirically modelled paranormal belief and experience in haunt-related contexts as fundamentally adaptive, non-pathological "delusion-like" ideations (for overviews, see Houran & Williams, 1998;Lange & Houran, 2001a). ...
Article
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Fieldwork studies of "haunted houses" can offer ecologically valid insights for model-building or theory-formation in consciousness studies from parapsychological and conventional perspectives. The interactionist hypothesis asserts that these anomalous episodes are a phenomenon rooted in environment-person bidirectional influences. Although prior research has examined the role of various physical factors in some haunt cases, relatively recent findings in environmental psychology suggest the potential involvement of six "Gestalt influences" that transcend discrete variables as conscious-or unconscious-stimulants of witness experiences. These meta-patterns in the psychology of spaces or settings involve: (i) affordance, (ii) atmosphere, (iii) ambiguity and threat anticipatory processes, (iv) immersion and presence, (v) legibility, and (vi) percipient memory and associations. Thus, haunted houses might be variants of "enchanted spaces or extraordinary architectural experiences." New research designs are thus recommended to scrutinise the presence and impact of Gestalt influences and enactive processes in parapsychological contexts.
... The relevance of these feelings for conspiracy theories are articulated in the Existential Threat Model of conspiracy theories (Van Prooijen, 2020), which proposes that anxiety-or uncertainty-provoking events stimulate an epistemic sense-making process that forms the basis of conspiracy thinking. Evidence for instance reveals that belief in conspiracy theories increases following threats to control (Van Prooijen & Acker, 2015; Whitson & Galinsky, 2008), threats to the status quo (Jolley et al., 2018), impactful and negative societal events (Van Prooijen & Van Dijk, 2014), experiences of social exclusion (Poon et al., 2020), relative deprivation and discrimination (Crocker et al., 1999;Van Prooijen et al., 2018b), feelings of uncertainty (Newheiser et al., 2011;Van Prooijen & Jostmann, 2013) and attitudinal ambivalence (van Harreveld et al., 2014). ...
... When the 9/11 terrorist attacks happened, it not only stimulated many conspiracy theories alleging that the attacks were an 'inside job' by the US government: In the months after the attacks, then-President George W. Bush also had the highest approval ratings ever recorded for a US president. Accordingly, feeling out of control may stimulate conspiracy theories in some situations (Van Prooijen & Acker, 2015; Whitson & Galinsky, 2008), but it may also increase people's support for the government in other situations (Kay et al., 2008). Moreover, while motivated reasoning processes may reinforce conspiracy theories, System Justification Theory describes how similar motivated reasoning processes may lead disadvantaged people to see the political system that they live in as fair (Jost et al., 2004). ...
Article
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Conspiracy theories are widespread and have a profound impact on society. The present contribution proposes that conspiracy theories are explanatory narratives that necessarily contain justice judgments, as they include attributions of blame and accusations of unethical or criminal conduct. Conspiratorial narratives also are mental simulations, however, and may elicit genuine feelings of injustice also without evidence of actual malpractice. Indeed, conspiracy theories sometimes describe unfair events that are unlikely to have occurred, unethical authorities that might not actually exist, and so on. Here I propose two complementary processes that stimulate belief in evidence-free conspiracy theories: (1) Existential threats instigate biased mental processing and motivated reasoning, that jointly promote an alternative perception of reality; and (2) group allegiances shape how people perceive, interpret, and remember facts to highlight the immoral qualities of competing outgroups. Due to these processes, conspiracy theories elicit a set of distinct reactions such as poor health choices and rejection of science. Moreover, evidence-free conspiracy theories require interventions beyond traditional approaches to install justice principles, such as debunking falsehoods and reducing polarized intergroup distinctions. I conclude that the scientific study of conspiracy theories is part of, and has a unique place in, social justice research.
... Субективното усещане за несигурност може да провокира търсенето на конспиративни обяснения. Така хората, които чувстват липса на контрол и голяма несигурност, са много по-склонни да виждат патерни в явления, които не са реално свързани, и така да са по-податливи на суеверия и конспиративни теории (Whitson and Galinsky 2008). Има изследвания, които сочат наличието на "монологична" система от вяр-вания, стояща зад конспиративните теории, а именно: една конспиративна теория насърчава приемането и на други такива и мисленето през такива теории може да се приеме като отражение на систематичен начин на обработване на информация при определени индивиди (по Van Proojen & Jostmann 2013). ...
... Усещането за контрол, поне върху повечето аспекти от нашия живот, е залог за психично благополучие. Ако обаче човек се чувства безсилен да направлява собствения си живот в желаната посока и като жертва на обстоятелствата, то конспиративните теории могат да бъдат за него добър начин да намери обяснение за проблемите си извън себе си, да прехвърли вината и да си възвърне поне частично усещане за контрол (Whitson and Galinsky 2008). ...
Article
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В: Стефанова, Н., Петрова, Д. (съст. и ред.). (2019). Реториката в съвременното общество. Сборник с доклади от конференция по реторика 27–28 септември 2017 г. София: УИ "Св. Климент Охридски", с. 155-167. Резюме: Конспиративните теории са чест феномен в днешния свят и раз- глеждането им през призмата на реториката е интересно, тъй като те се стре- мят да убедят и увлекат последователи и да повлияят общественото мнение. Докладът разглежда конспиративните теории в три аспекта: на тяхното дефи- ниране и характеризиране; на начините на постигане на тяхната убедителност и специфичната им аргументативност и на водещите психологически характе- ристики и фактори, които правят дадени индивиди и групи повече склонни да приемат и развиват подобни теории на заговора. Ключови думи: конспиративни теории, аргументация.
... During the influence of the luck effect, illusion of control plays an important mediating role. The illusion of control triggered by the perception of luck causes people to believe that events will develop in their favor and feel that everything is under control, and this positive self-perception can provide a reasonable explanation for their choice of non-green consumption behavior (Broncano-Berrocal, 2015;Whitson & Galinsky, 2008). Moreover, the nature of luck is an external tool used to eliminate uncertainty. ...
... It has been shown that luck (e.g., lucky charms, lucky experiences) can help individuals alleviate negative feelings by providing them with resources for perceived control or adjust resources, and thus help individuals alleviate negative emotions (Rattet & Bursik, 2001). Whitson and Galinsky (2008) found that when people feel lack of control or have negative self-attribution, they will seek the help of luck. For example, they will establish an agency relationship with luck by knocking on wood or wearing lucky charms, and make their thoughts and decisions supported by supernatural forces, thus providing a rationalization for their behavioral decisions. ...
Article
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Luck, as a universal psychological phenomenon, has a unique impact on consumers’ decision-making behavior. Although studies have shown that luck affects people’s moral responsibility, few empirical studies have illustrated how luck affects consumers’ moral behavior from the domain of consumer behavior. Based on the supernatural agent theory of luck, the present study examined the influence of sense of luck on green consumption intention using three experiments. Experiment 1 scrutinized that relative to unlucky perception, participants with lucky perception can reduce green consumption intention. Experiment 2 tested the mediating role of illusion of control. Luck perception enhanced consumers' illusion of control, whereas the change in illusion of control influenced green consumption intention products. Experiment 3 showed the moderating role of narcissism in the effect of sense of luck on green consumption intention. For individuals with low levels of narcissism, luck perception, rather than misfortune perception, reduced consumers' green consumption intention; however, for highly narcissistic consumers, the effect of luck on green consumption intention was not significant.
... Lacking the dependable solidity of their usual cognitive structures, people will seek out alternative structures (Landau et al., 2015;Whitson & Galinsky, 2008). Although these alternative structures can take many different forms, conspiracy theories are a common instantiation (Whitson et al., 2019). ...
... In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the sudden lack of control and increased uncertainty may have made people particularly vulnerable to conspiracy theories as a form of alternative structure (Douglas, 2021). While there is some evidence that uncertainty may lead to increased belief in conspiracies (van Prooijen & Jostmann, 2013;Whitson et al., 2015), there is a much broader swathe of empirical support that lacking control drives investment in conspiracy beliefs (Kofta et al., 2020;Landau et al., 2015;Whitson & Galinsky, 2008). In other words, the very same lack of control, and to a lesser extent uncertainty, that drove people onto social media also made them more open to conspiracy theories. ...
Article
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The study outlines a model for how the COVID-19 pandemic has uniquely exacerbated the propagation of conspiracy beliefs and subsequent harmful behaviors. The pandemic has led to widespread disruption of cognitive and social structures. As people face these disruptions they turn online seeking alternative cognitive and social structures. Once there, social media radicalizes beliefs, increasing contagion (rapid spread) and stickiness (resistance to change) of conspiracy theories. As conspiracy theories are reinforced in online communities, social norms develop, translating conspiracy beliefs into real-world action. These real-world exchanges are then posted back on social media, where they are further reinforced and amplified, and the cycle continues. In the broader population, this process draws attention to conspiracy theories and those who confidently espouse them. This attention can drive perceptions that conspiracy beliefs are less fringe and more popular, potentially normalizing such beliefs for the mainstream. We conclude by considering interventions and future research to address this seemingly intractable problem.
... Zo werd een positieve samenhang gerapporteerd tussen het aanhangen van samenzweringstheorieën en machteloosheid (Abalakina-Paap et al., 1999), anomie (normloosheid; Goertzel, 1994) en een externe beheersingsoriëntatie (Hamsher et al., 1968). Ook de via een experiment gemanipuleerde controlebedreiging gaf aanleiding tot het sterker instemmen met samenzweringen (Whitson & Galinsky, 2008). ...
Article
Samenvatting In deze bijdrage wordt geëxploreerd in hoeverre de coronacrisis van invloed is op onzekerheid over het voortbestaan van de arbeidsplaats, hier geoperationaliseerd als beroepsonzekerheid. Tevens wordt de samenhang onderzocht tussen beroepsonzekerheid en twee maatschappelijke attitudes: politieke machteloosheid en geloof in een coronasamenzwering. Vanuit de literatuur over samenzweringen wordt tot slot afgeleid dat beroepsonzekerheid met het geloof in een coronasamenzwering samenhangt, omdat dergelijk samenzweringsdenken een poging is om betekenis te geven aan een crisissituatie, zoals de coronapandemie. Deze hypothese wordt getoetst door na te gaan in hoeverre politieke machteloosheid de samenhang tussen beroepsonzekerheid en het geloof in een coronasamenzwering medieert. In december 2020 werden via een online survey data verzameld bij 1324 respondenten in Vlaanderen (België). Alle hypothesen werden daarbij bevestigd. De resultaten suggereren dat de coronacrisis niet enkel van invloed was op onze gezondheid en ons gezondheidszorgsysteem, maar dat ook werkgerelateerde, politieke en maatschappelijke attitudes erdoor ‘geïnfecteerd’ kunnen zijn.
... Many correlational studies suggest that religious belief is more common or intense among individuals who have experienced situations likely to produce negative affect, such as near-death experiences (McLaughlin & Newton Malony, 1984), poverty (Barrett, 2004), and financial insecurity (Gill & Lundsgaarde, 2004), with such belief linked to greater life-satisfaction (Ellison et al., 1989), selfesteem, and psychological adjustment (Gebauer et al., 2012). Experimentally, manipulations of negative affect (e.g., anxiety, randomness, lack of control, etc.) have been found to increase supernatural beliefs, such as in gods, afterlives, supernatural justice, superstitions, and the efficacy of rituals (Jong et al., 2012;Kay et al., 2010;Legare & Souza, 2014;McGregor et al., 2010;Norenzayan & Hansen, 2006;Sibley & Bulbulia, 2012;Whitson & Galinsky, 2008;Willer, 2009). Conversely, bolstering such beliefs through manipulation or expression has reduced negative affect (Dechesne et al., 2003;Inzlicht et al., 2011;Jackson et al., 2018). ...
Article
The motivational account of religion—that belief fulfills a psychological need—has been both historically popular and empirically supported. It is also potentially informative about religious interpretations of negative events (e.g., that they are part of God’s benevolent plan). Yet, it is not clear what cognitive mechanism(s) might link negative events to religious belief, and what motivates belief in gods that cause these events. We proposed that a repressive coping style is an important factor because it involves an interpretive bias that both downplays threat and also emphasizes benefits afforded by ambivalent stimuli (including god concepts), potentially facilitating the construction of supernatural concepts that are positive and relevant enough to attract and sustain belief. In the current research, across three studies, we found that repressors were more likely to be religious, and more likely to interpret familiar, unfamiliar, and experimenter-created gods positively. Repression partially explained the positive views of gods held by religious individuals, and this relationship strengthened when distressing events were associated with gods, suggesting that repression helps to sustain belief. Furthermore, the relationship between repression and belief in familiar and unfamiliar gods was partially explained by god positivity, supporting a motivated reasoning account of belief formation.
... Astrological belief systems may similarly package together counterintuitive and intuitive elements. While the claimed linkage between people and the position of the stars may violate intuitions of cause and effect, astrology does seem to feed off the human tendencies to perceive patterns in noise (Whitson and Galinsky, 2008), intuit purpose behind complex natural phenomenon (Kelemen et al., 2012), and stereotype others (Lu et al., 2020). ...
Article
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Epidemiological models of culture posit that the prevalence of a belief depends in part on the fit between that belief and intuitions generated by the mind's reliably developing architecture. Application of such models to pseudoscience suggests that one route via which these beliefs gain widespread appeal stems from their compatibility with these intuitions. For example, anti-vaccination beliefs are readily adopted because they cohere with intuitions about the threat of contagion. However, other varieties of popular pseudoscience such as astrology and parapsychology contain content that violates intuitions held about objects and people. Here, we propose a pathway by which "counterintuitive pseudoscience" may spread and receive endorsement. Drawing on recent empirical evidence, we suggest that counterintuitive pseudoscience triggers the mind's communication evaluation mechanisms. These mechanisms are hypothesized to quarantine epistemically-suspect information including counterintuitive pseudoscientific concepts. As a consequence, these beliefs may not immediately update conflicting intuitions and may be largely restricted from influencing behavior. Nonetheless, counterintuitive pseudoscientific concepts, when in combination with intuitively appealing content, may differentially draw attention and memory. People may also be motivated to seek further information about these concepts, including by asking others, in an attempt to reconcile them with prior beliefs. This in turn promotes the re-transmission of these ideas. We discuss how, during this information-search, support for counterintuitive pseudoscience may come from deference to apparently authoritative sources, reasoned arguments, and the functional outcomes of these beliefs. Ultimately, these factors promote the cultural success of counterintuitive pseudoscience but explicit endorsement of these concepts may not entail tacit commitment.
... Personality traits such as impulsivity (Kuhn et al., 2021) and rigidity in one's belief structures (Meyer et al., 2021) have been linked to adherence to ill-founded ideas. Stressful environments (Swami et al., 2016) and the sense of lack of control (Whitson and Galinsky, 2008) are also likely to be favorable grounds for these beliefs. ...
Article
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The aim of this article is to provide a different perspective on people's beliefs regarding controversial scientific information. We emphasize that, although people generally aim at getting a fair representation of reality, accuracy about scientific issues only matters to the extent that individuals perceive it as useful to achieve their own goals. This has important consequences in terms of how anti-science attitudes as well as epistemically questionable beliefs must be interpreted, which has consequences for addressing misinformation. We argue that most people who endorse scientific misinformation are not truly interested in its accuracy, and rather that plausibility at face value often suffices when it is meant to be used for social purposes only. We illustrate this view with the example of hydroxychloroquine, which was considered as potential treatment for Covid-19, and which has been the subject of much media hype and public concern, particularly in France.
... CB help individuals cope with uncertain situations (Marchlewska, Cichocka, & Kossowska, 2018) and stressful life experiences see Douglas et al., 2017 for a review). Some studies showed that experiencing loss of control and threats to one's identity is related to CB (e.g., Graeupner & Coman, 2017;van Prooijen & Acker, 2015;Whitson & Galinsky, 2008). Moreover, individual need for safety has been shown as a positive predictor of conspiracy mentality and adherence to various conspiracy theories (Abalakina-Paap, 1999;Swami, 2012). ...
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Conspiracy Beliefs (CB) are a key vector of violent extremism, radicalism and unconventional political events (e.g. Brexit). So far, social-psychological research has extensively documented how cognitive, emotional and intergroup factors can promote CB. Evidence also suggests that adherence to CB moves along social class lines: low-income and low-education are among the most robust predictors of CB (Uscinski, 2020; van Prooijen, 2017). Yet, the potential role of precarity-the subjective experience of permanent insecurity stemming from objective material strain-in shaping CB remains largely unexplored. In this paper, we propose for the first time a socio-functional model of CB. We test the hypothesis that precarity could foster increased CB because it undermines trust in government and the broader political "elites". Data from the World Value Survey (n = 21,650; Study 1, electoral CB) and from representative samples from polls conducted in France (n = 1760, Study 2a, conspiracy mentality) and Italy (n = 2196, Study 2b, COVID-19 CB), corroborate a mediation model whereby precarity is directly and indirectly associated with lower trust in authorities and higher CB. In addition, these links are robust to adjustment on income, self-reported SES and education. Considering precarity allows for a truly social psychological understanding of CB as the by-product of structural issues (e.g. growing inequalities). Results from our socio-functional model suggest that implementing solutions at the socioeconomic level could prove efficient in fighting CB.
... Menschen mit einer ausgeprägten Verschwörungsmentalität zeigen ein höheres Maß an Misstrauen in Demokratie, und unterstützen mit höherer Wahrscheinlichkeit Gewalt als Mittel zur Durchsetzung politischer Interessen (Pickel et al. 2020;Zick et al. 2019). Besonders zentrale Ein ussfaktoren, die den Glauben in Verschwörungserzählungen be ördern, sind ein hohes Ge ühl von Unsicherheit sowie das Ge ühl, keine Kontrolle über die aktuelle Situation zu haben (Decker et al. 2016;Whitson & Galinsky 2008). Die Vermutung lieg nahe, dass die Zuwendung zu Verschwörungsmythen hil t, diesen wahrgenommenen Kontrollverlust auszugleichen (Lamberty 2017). ...
Chapter
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The possibilities of the Internet and the use of various social media have made it many times more complex to understand the mechanisms of online radicalization processes. Not only because the Internet can have a reinforcing influence on incipient or progressive radicalization, but also because new forms and potential (radicalization) pathways emerge through the observation of online groups, contents, and movements. This chapter presents the MOTRA Internetmonitoring. The aim of the Internetmonitoring is to study the radicalisation potential of various characteristics in online environments, in order to identify specific factors that might accelerate radicalisation online. Expanding the current state of research, we investigate these factors and characteristics in greater detail and take platform specifics into consideration to monitor critical, potentially harmful developments online and, in the long term, to be able to make prospective statements about where and how radicalization dynamics can unfold in online environments. This chapter outlines which areas - according to the current state of knowledge and research - are to be focused on in particular when it comes to investigating possible factors affecting online behaviour and radicalisation dynamics. The aspects of propaganda and strategic communication, conspiracy narratives, hate speech and anti-democratic language, emotional language, fringe communities and group processes are discussed in detail.
... Notwithstanding the notion that situational factors (e.g. social crisis situations; intergroup conflict; culture) also significantly contribute to conspiracy thinking (Crocker, Luhtanen, Broadnax, & Blaine, 1999;Van Prooijen & Douglas, 2017;Van Prooijen & Song, 2021;Whitson & Galinsky, 2008), their trait-like qualities suggest that conspiracy beliefs at one point in time should be a good predictor of conspiracy beliefs at a later point in time. ...
Article
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Background Conspiracy beliefs are associated with detrimental health attitudes during the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic. Most prior research on these issues was cross-sectional, however, and restricted to attitudes or behavioral intentions. The current research was designed to examine to what extent conspiracy beliefs predict health behavior and well-being over a longer period of time. Methods In this preregistered multi-wave study on a large Dutch research panel (weighted to provide nationally representative population estimates), we examined if conspiracy beliefs early in the pandemic (April 2020) would predict a range of concrete health and well-being outcomes eight months later (December 2020; N = 5745). Results The results revealed that Covid-19 conspiracy beliefs prospectively predicted a decreased likelihood of getting tested for corona; if tested, an increased likelihood of the test coming out positive; and, an increased likelihood of having violated corona regulations, deteriorated economic outcomes (job loss; reduced income), experiences of social rejection, and decreased overall well-being. Most of these effects generalized to a broader susceptibility to conspiracy theories (i.e. conspiracy mentality). Conclusions These findings suggest that conspiracy beliefs are associated with a myriad of negative life outcomes in the long run. Conspiracy beliefs predict how well people have coped with the pandemic over a period of eight months, as reflected in their health behavior, and their economic and social well-being.
... Van Prooijen & van Dijk, 2014). Furthermore, when people experience a lack of control, they are much more likely to believe in conspiracy theories (Sullivan, Landau & Rothschild, 2010;van Prooijen & Acker, 2015;Whitson & Galinsky, 2008). Finally, there is a clear consensus in the research literature that conspiracy theories gain traction, especially in adverse and ambiguous social situations that create strategic anxiety for businesses. ...
Article
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In this study, we investigate the effect of organizational conspiracy theory (OC) beliefs on strategic anxiety (STA) through the mediating role of employee withdrawal (HRW) within the organization related to the Department of Homeland Security in the Maysan Governorate in mitigating/enhancing job insecurity. Communication within an organization is often negatively associated with job insecurity, particularly in turmoil and uncertainty; We suggest that this security department depends on the employee's status and whether the employees work in a fair procedural institution. In a survey of 251 police officers, we measured three key variables: organizational conspiracy theory (OC) beliefs, strategic anxiety (STA), and employee withdrawal (HRW). Dimensions of employee withdrawal as a mediator component include physical withdrawal, psychological withdrawal. As for the independent variable, strategic anxiety fears the future, social unrest, threats, and competitive competition. The results suggest a "partial effect" of employee withdrawal on the relationship between organizational conspiracy theory and strategic anxiety. These effects were less pronounced for employees who perceived managers to be more procedurally fair. The findings of our study highlight that only procedurally business environments can help ensure that employees do not passively respond to organizational attempts at open communication when faced with uncertain contexts.
... To be more specific about the way of re-building feelings of control, we can think about reversing one important scientific finding. Specifically, many studies have found that it is easy to induce conspiracy thinking via recalling personal experiences where people failed to exercise control and therefore felt uncertain (Whitson, Galinsky 2008;Sullivan et al. 2010;van Prooijen, Acker 2015). ...
Chapter
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There are many research studies on the functions and background motives underlying belief in conspiracy theories (Douglas et al. 2017) and also the negative consequences of conspiracy theories (Douglas et al. 2015; see also Chapter 2.7 in this volume). However, we so far only have a limited knowledge of the most practical implications of conspiracy theories: How they can be changed, debunked and modified. This chapter tries to systemically overview and summarise the most important research so far concerning the possibilities of changing conspiracy beliefs via targeted interventions. I do not take it for granted that there is a consensus over the need for interventions. In the beginning of the chapter, we take a look at the epistemological, moral and democratic arguments on whether, and when, we need to use interventions to reduce conspiracy beliefs. Then we briefly overview some psychological obstacles in the way of interventions. In the next section, we propose a matrix as a theoretical framework for categorising the possible interventions and overview the available academic literature as well as some practical experiences concerning efficient ways of reducing conspiracy beliefs. In the final section, we identify a broader avenue for future research.
... Individuals always attempt to maintain stable levels of psychological assets related to the self, such as self-esteem, belongingness, sense of power, and feelings of control (Crocker & Park, 2004;Kay et al., 2008;Leary et al., 1995;Whitson & Galinsky, 2008). As part of this selfregulation process, individuals monitor the distance between their present state (or actual self) and a goal state (or ideal self; Carver & Scheier, 1990;Higgins, 1987). ...
Article
A significant number of children live in poverty, even in modern society. Can the conditions of childhood resources affect one’s decision-making in adulthood? This research documents a novel effect of childhood resources on sensory preferences as adults. Drawing on the compensatory consumer behavior theory, we proposed and found that people suffering from scarce childhood resources exhibit stronger preferences for bright stimuli in adulthood. The underlying mechanism for this effect is the desire for a bright future. Moreover, when individuals are reminded of the positive symbolic meanings associated with darkness, the effect of childhood resources on sensory preference is attenuated. A set of three experiments provided convergent evidence for these effects. Implications of these findings and possible extensions are discussed.
... One such activity is ratifying religious commitment, which gives people a sense of power over a divine plan (Kay and Eibach, 2013). Religious beliefs, like superstitions, provide meaning to random events (Whitson and Galinsky, 2008). Thus, if stressful circumstances caused a sense of loss of control over the environment of an individual, consumers might respond by regaining control with their religious beliefs. ...
Article
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The present research examines the metropolitan mental life of consumers of Dhaka, which is one of the most densely populated and least livable cities in the world. Though mental life encompasses a range of factors, the study considered the dynamic interplays of the most pertinent ones, such as perceived stress, the sense of control, materialistic values, and religiosity. These variables were measured and quantified by commonly used measurement tools; a recursive structural equation model was constructed to unearth the causal connections among those variables. By using a 57-item questionnaire, the study surveyed 1,068 shoppers living in 10 different zones of the city. The estimated covariance by the multivariate structural equation model indicates that perceived stress is significantly associated with the sense of control, while religiosity and materialistic value-orientation were negatively associated. However, there are no significant relationships between religiosity and sense of control, and materialism and sense of control. Perceived stress and religiosity are found to be positively associated. The estimated independent sample t-tests showed that while no significant difference is found in sense of control by gender, women were more religious, less materialistic, but perceive their lives as more stressful than the men. The findings help to interpret both the cognitive and affective responses of the consumers of urban residents.
... Compensatory control theory posits that control-deprived individuals tend to adopt multiple strategies to restore their sense of personal control, and these strategies may not be related to the source of control deprivation (Landau et al., 2015). For example, those who recall an experience in which they lost control (i.e., their perceived control is low) are more likely to perceive or attempt to find a nonexistent illusory order within a randomly presented sequence of stimuli (Whitson & Galinsky, 2008), because doing so makes them feel that the world is orderly. In other words, "engaging in a certain action can reliably generate an expected outcome" and, consequently, restore a person's lost sense of control (Kay et al., 2009;Landau et al., 2015). ...
Article
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The novel coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID‐19) has had a significant impact on the global retail market. Nonetheless, consumers will eventually return to the market once the pandemic is effectively controlled. Therefore, it is critical to consider which features closely linked to COVID‐19 may affect consumer behavior. The present study thus addresses this gap by investigating the relationship of risk perceptions regarding COVID‐19 with an important component of consumer behavior—namely, willingness‐to‐pay (WTP)—and further explores the underlying mechanisms behind this relationship. Data collected from 480 Chinese participants were analyzed using structural equation modeling. Results showed that those with a greater risk perception regarding COVID‐19 were more likely to exhibit a higher WTP for various commodities, which can be driven by awe and perceived loss of control induced by COVID‐19. The present study delineates the effect that public health emergencies have on consumption intentions of the general public.
... First, perceived control, the degree to which an individual feels that he or she is in control of the external world and not restricted by the environment [21], can negatively predict the need for structure. Research has shown that the lower an individual's perceived control, the higher their need for structure [22]. Compensatory control theory provides an explanation for this effect: According to the theory [6,11], feeling a sense of control is a basic human need and provides an important guarantee for people to feel that the world and their objective environment is safe and orderly. ...
Article
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The COVID-19 pandemic is profoundly affecting the minds and behaviors of people worldwide. This study investigated the differences in the need for structure among people from different social classes and the psychological mechanisms underlying this need, as well as the moderating effect of the threat posed by the pandemic. Using data collected from non-student adults in China, we found that the lower an individual’s social class, the lower their need for structure, and this effect was based on the mediating role of perceived control. However, the mediating effect was moderated by pandemic threat, and the above relationship existed only when this threat was low. When the level of pandemic threat was higher, neither the effect of social class nor of perceived control on the need for structure were significant. Specifically, in higher-threat situations, the need for structure among individuals from higher social classes and who had a higher sense of control increased significantly, meaning the mediating effect was no longer significant. This finding showed that under the threat of a pandemic, individuals who have a lower need for structure will still pursue and prefer structure and order. The theoretical and practical implications of the research are also discussed.
... Superstitions have been identified as activities used in situations where there is a loss of control (Whitson & Galinsky 2008). The structure afforded by the superstition provides a sense of comfort, allowing the individual to cope with the situation, and provide an explanation, even if that explanation is illusionary. ...
... Conspiracy theories describe the ultimate cause of important events as the secret action of a powerful group concealing information to further its own interests (Brotherton, 2015;Douglas et al., 2017). Conspiratorial thinking tends to increase substantially in times of crisis due to perceived lack of control in relation to novel, unexpected, or threatening events (Douglas et al., 2017;Van Prooijen & Acker, 2015;Van Prooijen & Jostmann, 2013;Whitson & Galinsky, 2008). It may hamper authorities' efforts to elicit cooperative behavior by people. ...
Article
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Since late 2019, the coronavirus SARS-COV-2 responsible for the COVID-19 disease has continued to spread across different regions of the world. As a result, governments have been implementing measures for controlling the disease which rely on people's cooperation. In this research, we considered predictors and implications of people's beliefs that they “haven’t been told the ‘whole story’ about COVID-19.” Specifically, we examined the role of disgust towards the political system in predicting conspiratorial tendencies across four countries, in Europe (Italy and the UK), North America (the USA), and Asia (South Korea). In addition, we investigated the implications of conspiratorial beliefs for individuals’ intentions to engage in prosocial cooperative behavior. In line with the idea that feelings of disgust towards the political system may indicate that people perceive the system as violating core norms, results showed that disgust was associated with stronger conspiratorial tendencies. Individuals’ conspiratorial tendencies were in turn associated with lower intentions to help others during the pandemic. Results were broadly consistent across the countries tested. Directions for future research are discussed.
... Przytoczone wyżej dyspozycje mogą w istotny sposób wpływać na przetwarzanie i akceptację korekt. Co szczególnie ważne, myślenie konspiracyjne jest kształtowane przez postrzeganie związków przyczynowych między zdarzeniami losowymi (Crocker i in., 1999;Goertzel, 1994;Thorburn i Bogart, 2005;Whitson i Galinsky, 2008), przy czym preferencja dla wyjaśnień spiskowych jest związana z postrzeganiem, że główne wydarzenie jest przyczynowo związane z podobnymi, niedawnymi wydarzeniami, a także gdy wydarzenia stanowią część zbioru podobnych wydarzeń (w porównaniu z występującymi w izolacji) oraz że myślenie spiskowe może zostać zwiększone przez manipulację percepcji przyczynowej (van der Wal i in., 2018). Dla CIE może to oznaczać, że osoby o dużych tendencjach do myślenia konspiracyjnego są w większym stopniu zaangażowane w poszukiwanie i generowanie związków przyczynowych między elementami scenariusza, podobnie jak to jest w przypadku, gdy dezinformacja wprowadzana jest niejawnie lub gdy wykorzystywane są zewnętrzne informacje mogące potencjalnie tłumaczyć retrospektywnie niewyjaśnione wydarzenia . ...
Thesis
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Efekt przedłużonego wpływu dezinformacji (CIE) jest zjawiskiem polegającym na tym, że pewna informacja, mimo że została wycofana i skorygowana, nadal ma wpływ na relacje o zdarzeniu, rozumowanie, wnioskowanie i decyzje. W niniejszej pracy przedstawiono eksperyment, który miał na celu zbadanie, w jakim stopniu efekt ten uda się zredukować przy użyciu procedury inokulacji, polegającej na „zaszczepieniu” przeciwko wpływowi, w tym dezinformacji, oraz jak efekt ten może być moderowany przez wiarygodność korekt. Potwierdzono większość z postawionych hipotez. Wyniki pokazały, że wiarygodność źródeł korekt nie miała wpływu na ich przetwarzanie, gdy do inokulacji nie dochodziło, jednak wśród osób zaszczepionych doszło do znaczącej redukcji polegania na dezinformacji, jeśli jej korekta pochodziła z wysoce wiarygodnego źródła. Dla tego warunku źródła, w wyniku inokulacji, doszło również do znaczącego zwiększenia wiary w wycofanie, a także zmniejszenia wiary w dezinformację. Wbrew poprzednim doniesieniom okazało się również, że to wiara w dezinformację, a nie w wycofanie jest predyktorem polegania na dezinformacji. Ustalenia te mają duże znaczenie z perspektywy praktycznej, ponieważ odkryto warunki brzegowe techniki redukowania wpływu dezinformacji o sporej aplikowalności, a także teoretycznej, ponieważ umożliwiają one wgląd w mechanizmy odpowiedzialne za CIE. Wyniki interpretowano zarówno w związku z dotychczasowymi teoriami CIE, jak również w ramach modelu pamiętania.
... In threatening situations people try to restore their sense of control and meaning to reduce anxiety, by several mechanisms, such as quick cognitive closure (Heine et al., 2006) or compensatory control (Brotherton, 2015). Several studies showed that strengthening people's sense of control reduced beliefs in conspiracy theories (van Prooijen and Acker, 2015), while the threats to personal control and feelings of powerlessness increased the perception of patterns in random stimuli (Whitson and Galinsky, 2008), higher endorsement of popular specific conspiracy theories (Abalakina-Paap et al., 1999;van Prooijen and Acker, 2015), and higher generic conspiracy mentality (Bruder et al., 2013; but see Stojanov and Halberstadt, 2020). Associations between anxiety, lack of control and higher endorsement of conspiracy theories about COVID-19 was confirmed also by recent studies from the pandemic period (Biddlestone et al., 2020;Kim and Kim, 2021;Oleksy et al., 2021;Sallam et al., 2021;Šrol et al., 2021). ...
Article
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One of the appeals of conspiracy theories in times of crises is that they provide someone to blame for what has happened. Thereby, they increase distrust, negative feelings, and hostility toward implicated actors, whether those are powerful social outgroups or one’s own government representatives. Two studies reported here examine associations of COVID-19 conspiracy theories with prejudice, support for violence, and other and negative social outcomes. In Study 1 ( N = 501), the endorsement of the more specific conspiracy theories about the alleged role of China was associated with more prejudiced views of Chinese and Italian people. In Study 2 ( N = 1024), lowered trust in government regulations and increased hostility associated with the COVID-19 and generic conspiracy beliefs were correlated with justification of and willingness to engage in non-compliance with regulations, violent attacks on 5G masts, and anti-government protests. Across both of the studies, higher exposure to news about COVID-19 was associated with lower endorsement of conspiracy theories, but also with increased feelings of anxiety and lack of control, which in turn were correlated with higher COVID-19 conspiracy beliefs endorsement. We highlight the potential social problems which are associated with the wide-spread endorsement of COVID-19 conspiracy theories.
... Second, the studies reported here make assumptions only about the underlying sense-making processes, which can be defined as cognitive attempts to establish straightforward, meaningful, and causal relationships between stimuli (van Prooijen, 2020). In this process, there are several more specific psychological mechanisms involved, including agency detection (Barrett, 2004(Barrett, , 2007Douglas et al., 2016;Johnson & Barrett, 2003) and pattern perception Whitson & Galinsky, 2008;Zhao et al., 2014). Finally, there are some cultural and political factors that have not been fully considered in this article. ...
Article
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have endorsed conspiracy theories about foreign governments yet shown increased trust and support for their own government. Whether there is a potential correlation between these social phenomena and the psychological mechanisms behind them is still unclear. Integrating insights from the existential threat model of conspiracy theories and system justification theory, two experimental studies were conducted to investigate whether belief in out-group conspiracy theories can play a mediating role in the effects of system threat on people's system justification beliefs against the background of the pandemic. The results show that system threat positively predicts individuals’ system-justifying belief, and belief in out-group conspiracy theories mediated this relationship.
... For example, studies have found that people with a high need for cognitive closure report stronger conspiracy beliefs when the official account of an incident is lacking (e.g., Marchlewska et al., 2018). Other studies have revealed that conspiracy beliefs are related to a higher tendency to perceive patterns and agency that do not exist (e.g., Douglas et al., 2016;Whitson & Galinsky, 2008). ...
Article
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Understanding why people believe conspiracy theories related to disease outbreaks and the consequences of such beliefs is critical for combating both the COVID-19 pandemic and its corresponding “infodemic.” In the introduction to this special issue on conspiracy theories about infectious diseases, the authors first provide a brief overview of the narratives of conspiracy theories related to COVID-19, followed by a review of extant theoretical frameworks regarding the psychology of conspiracy beliefs. Specifically, they discuss how epistemic, existential, and social needs contribute to the holding of conspiracy beliefs. Then, the authors summarize the major findings from the nine empirical articles featured in this issue, particularly how they shed light on the antecedents and consequences of disease-related conspiracy beliefs. They conclude by discussing future directions for the study of disease-related conspiracy beliefs.
... Indeed, previous research has linked conspiracy beliefs to different types of psychological threats, including perceived stress (Swami et al., 2016), general and attachment anxiety (Green & Douglas, 2018;Grzesiak-Feldman, 2013), lack of control (Kofta et al., 2020;Whitson & Galinsky, 2008), uncertainty van Prooijen & Jostmann, 2013;Whitson et al., 2015), powerlessness (Abalakina-Paap et al., 1999;Jolley & Douglas, 2014), feelings of relative deprivation (Bilewicz et al., 2013), and threats to one's feelings of self-worth , in-group image (Cichocka, Marchlewska, Golec de Zavala & Olechowski, 2016;Cisłak et al., 2020;Marchlewska et al., 2019) or social system (Jolley et al., 2018). The most common explanation for this phenomenon is that conspiracy beliefs are adopted in part as an attempt to satisfy unmet psychological needs, including the need to feel safe, secure, and in control (e.g., Douglas et al., 2017). ...
Article
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The present research empirically examines how different types of coping strategies are associated with belief in conspiracy theories. Conspiracy beliefs have been linked to the frustration of basic needs and seem to increase during major world events that evoke stress. Thus, we hypothesized that they may serve as a psychological response to maladaptive coping strategies. This hypothesis was tested among British participants and conceptually replicated across three studies. Cross-sectionally, we examined coping strategies (i.e., self-sufficient, social-support, avoidance, and religious) and belief in a specific conspiracy theory (Study 1, n = 199) and belief in general notions of conspiracy (Study 2, n = 411). In Study 3 (n = 398), we experimentally primed different coping styles via a mnemonic recollection procedure and measured belief in notions of conspiracy. Avoidance coping (recognized as being maladaptive and leading to at least temporary disengagement and abandonment of goal-related behaviours) positively predicted belief in conspiracy theories (Studies 1 and 2). In Study 3, priming avoidance coping (vs. self-sufficient coping or no coping strategy) significantly increased belief in conspiracy theories. These findings suggest that using maladaptive coping strategies (either dispositional or situationally induced) may foster conspiracy beliefs.
... There is extensive theoretical and empirical research suggesting that having control over surrounding circumstances is a basic need for humans' healthy development and psychological well-being (Fiske and Dépret, 1996;Deci and Ryan, 2012;Landau et al., 2015). Personal control sense is so important that when people perceive a loss of control over their environment, they try their best to reinstate the control sense by various of methods, such as paying more attention to external circumstances (Kraus et al., 2009), seeking illusory correlations among a series of irrelevant events (Whitson and Galinsky, 2008), and even buying utilitarian products (Chen et al., 2017). Previous research suggested that if a private kindergarten teacher held negative occupation stereotypes that being a private kindergarten teacher is less steady and promising than being a public kindergarten teacher, he/she would perceive lower control sense over surrounding environments (Yang et al., unpublished, see text footnote 1). ...
Article
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In China-Mainland, the turnover rate of private kindergarten teachers remains high for a long time. With 692 Chinese private kindergarten teachers as subjects, we applied a questionnaire survey to examine the relationship between self-occupation stereotypes held by private kindergarten teachers and their turnover intention and the underlying mechanisms. The structured equation model (SCM) was conducted to analyze data and revealed a significantly positive correlation between self-occupation stereotypes and turnover intention. Further analyses showed that on the individual level, personal control sense mediated the relationship between self-occupation stereotypes and turnover intention, and on the organization level, professional identity mediated the relationship between them. Additionally, self-occupation stereotypes were also related to turnover intention via the chain-mediating role of personal control sense and professional identity. The current research firstly clarified the acting paths between self-occupation stereotypes of private kindergarten teachers and turnover intention on both the individual and the organization levels. In practice, the research provided a novel perspective for policy makers to alleviate the turnover tendency of private kindergarten teachers.
... Based on previous research, a series of psychological, socio-demographic, and situational factors seem to predict conspiracy belief (Douglas et al. 2019). From a psychological perspective, belief in conspiracy theories appears to be rooted in negative emotions, such as anxiety (Grzesiak-Feldman 2013), uncertainty (van Prooijen & Jostmann 2013), stress (Swami et al. 2016), feelings of powerlessness (Jolley & Douglas 2014a;van Prooijen 2017), and lack of control (Whitson & Galinsky 2008;Douglas, Sutton & Cichocka 2017), especially for people with an external locus of control (Hamsher, Geller & Rotter 1968). Through the simplified explanations they provide for a distressing event or threat, conspiracy theories offer people a mechanism to make sense of these events, to overcome their negative emotions, and regain a lost sense of order and control under conditions of uncertainty and fear (Hofstadter 1966;Robins & Post 1997;Kruglanski et al. 2006). ...
Article
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This article explores factors that affect the strength of beliefs in COVID-19 conspiracy theories drawing on data collected in an online survey of undergraduate and graduate students from Romanian universities. The results indicate that students with lower socio-economic status, lower levels of news consumption in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, who rely primarily on information from television and discussions to their peers, as well as those with lower levels of education/analytical skills are more susceptible to endorsing conspiracy theories regarding the origin and the nature of COVID-19. Education, analytical skills, and exposure to high quality media information appear to equip students with the necessary tools to critically assess COVID-19-related conspiracies. Given the link between conspiracy belief and health behaviors in the context of the pandemic, these results point to the importance of analytical skills and media regulation for curbing misinformation in societal contexts of heightened uncertainty, confusion, and existential threat.
... Such events induce feelings of powerlessness and lack of control in citizens, and in such situations, people become more susceptible to conspiracy theories (Sullivan, Landau, & Rothschild, 2010). Several lines of evidence suggest that citizens, in their attempt to make sense of such events, not only resort to believing in conspiracy theories (Whitson & Galinsky, 2008) but also often demand political change and immediate government solutions, spurring a wave of populist politics (Mudde & Kaltwasser, 2017). Thus, feelings of powerlessness are not only associated with increased conspiracy beliefs but are also linked to people's support for democratic values. ...
Article
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Although an increasing volume of research has identified several negative sociopolitical attitudes as correlates of conspiracy theories, to date it remains unclear whether belief in conspiracy theories is necessarily in conflict with support for democratic governance. In this contribution, we integrate previous findings suggesting inconsistent relationships between belief in conspiracy theories and support for democratic governance. Study 1 (N = 300) shows that belief in conspiracy theories is associated with decreased support for representative democracy but increased support for direct democracy. Study 2 (N = 270) replicated these findings and revealed that these relationships were mediated by political cynicism and feelings of powerlessness. In Study 3 (N = 298), we experimentally show that a system with direct democracy (as compared with representative democracy) empowered participants and therefore decreased belief in conspiracy theories. Contrary to the common notion that conspiracy theories are associated with decreased support for democracy, these findings suggest that conspiracy beliefs are associated with a preference for direct over representative democracy.
... They are more likely to emerge in societal crises (van Prooijen & Douglas, 2017) and in anxiety-inducing situations: Participants who were waiting for an examination indicated heightened conspiracy beliefs (Grzesiak-Feldman, 2013) and participants who received an anxiety prime were more likely to suspect a conspiracy behind a fictional ambiguous scenario (Radnitz & Underwood, 2017). Finally, participants who experienced a lack of control, which likely induced anxiety, were more likely to perceive conspiracies behind unrelated stimuli (Whitson & Galinsky, 2008). ...
Article
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Research suggests that conspiracy beliefs are adopted because they promise to reduce anxiety, uncertainty, and threat. However, little research has investigated whether conspiracy beliefs actually fulfill these promises. We conducted two longitudinal studies ( N Study 1 = 405, N Study 2 = 1,012) to examine how conspiracy beliefs result from, and in turn influence, anxiety, uncertainty aversion, and existential threat. Random intercept cross-lagged panel analyses indicate that people who were, on average, more anxious, uncertainty averse, and existentially threatened held stronger conspiracy beliefs. Increases in conspiracy beliefs were either unrelated to changes in anxiety, uncertainty aversion, and existential threat (Study 2), or even predicted increases in these variables (Study 1). In both studies, increases in conspiracy beliefs predicted subsequent increases in conspiracy beliefs, suggesting a self-reinforcing circle. We conclude that conspiracy beliefs likely do not have beneficial consequences, but may even reinforce the negative experience of anxiety, uncertainty aversion, and existential threat.
... Scholars have asserted that consumers take actions to restore control if they feel a lack of control (Cutright, 2012;Cutright et al., 2013). One response to the lack of control is to spend money strategically (Durante and Laran, 2016), as in purchasing products that are more useful for survival in daily life (Whitson and Galinsky, 2008;Kay and Eibach, 2013). Consumers also choose larger-sized products to gain power and control (DuBois et al., 2012). ...
Article
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Even though the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has limited consumption, individuals continue to plan post-pandemic consumption activities to get rid of the stress caused by consumption repression. Building on Maslow’s theory of needs and Herzberg’s two-factor theory, our research categorizes consumption into fundamental (“must-have” products that fulfill the physical needs of individuals), hygiene (maintaining the security needs of consumers), and motivational consumption (enhancing well-being of individuals). Based on empirical data of purchase behavior and consumption expectation before, during, and after the pandemic in China, we identify how consumption repression induces psychological distress, via a sense of feeling threatened, lacking control, or lacking freedom, and how the expectation of future consumption alleviates that stress. Results show that fundamental consumption leads to psychological distress; hygiene consumption can both result in and reduce stress; and motivational consumption can reduce stress. Our findings provide new insights into the relationship between consumption and psychological distress through new theoretical formulations. The results can be applied by marketers attempting to understand purchase decision-making and by policymakers supporting both citizens and commerce during social emergencies.
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The study shows that a lack of control alters associative structure of the positioned brands in consumers’ minds, and the effects of these changes differ between familiar and unfamiliar brands. An associative structure of the positioned brands is based on similarity, thus similarity between particular associations was analyzed. Affinity index and multidimensional scaling were used to obtain mental maps of the positioned brands and to calculate indices of similarity. Results showed that perceived similarity between brands depends on the level of information processing. Individuals in the state of lack of control perceived a greater similarity between familiar and unfamiliar brands, compared to the controls, but only at the shallow level of information processing. A qualitative analysis, relating to different levels of product and brand, revealed which type of associations (brand-related, generic, personal) is specific for the state of lack of control (vs. control), regarding brand familiarity.
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This is the first annual review of the "Monitoringsystem und Transferplattform Radikalisierung" (MOTRA) research network featuring summary reports of current research in the field.
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Making accurate decisions based on unreliable sensory evidence requires cognitive inference. Dysfunction of n-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors impairs the integration of noisy input in theoretical models of neural circuits, but whether and how this synaptic alteration impairs human inference and confidence during uncertain decisions remains unknown. Here we use placebo-controlled infusions of ketamine to characterize the causal effect of human NMDA receptor hypofunction on cognitive inference and its neural correlates. At the behavioral level, ketamine triggers inference errors and elevated decision uncertainty. At the neural level, ketamine is associated with imbalanced coding of evidence and premature response preparation in electroencephalographic (EEG) activity. Through computational modeling of inference and confidence, we propose that this specific pattern of behavioral and neural impairments reflects an early commitment to inaccurate decisions, which aims at resolving the abnormal uncertainty generated by NMDA receptor hypofunction.
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Physical distancing reduces transmission risks and slows the spread of COVID-19. Yet compliance with shelter-in-place policies issued by local and regional governments in the United States was uneven and may have been influenced by science skepticism and attitudes towards topics of scientific consensus. Using county–day measures of physical distancing derived from cell phone location data, we demonstrate that the proportion of people who stayed at home after shelter-in-place policies went into effect in March and April 2020 in the United States was significantly lower in counties with a high concentration of science skeptics. These results are robust to controlling for other potential drivers of differential physical distancing, such as political partisanship, income, education and COVID severity. Our findings suggest that public health interventions that take local attitudes towards science into account in their messaging may be more effective. Brzezinski et al. establish a link between science skepticism and compliance with COVID-19 shelter-in-place policies in the United States during March and April 2020. This relationship persists after controlling for political partisanship, socio-economic factors, income, education and COVID-19 prevalence.
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Exceptional Experiences (EEs) are highly prevalent among the general population and are often perceived as positive and meaningful spiritual occurrences. Several scales measuring experiences and beliefs relating to EEs have previously been developed, yet most are based exclusively on Western understandings and perspectives, thus introducing linguistic and conceptual biases. The goal of this study was to develop a valid measure of belief in EEs among the Aotearoa New Zealand population – a diverse multicultural society with two prominent ethnic groups, Māori (Indigenous peoples) and Pākehā (New Zealand European). A total of 39 items were developed through an intensive literature review and face-to-face interviews with 15 Māori participants, and subsequently piloted with 325 participants. Exploratory Factor Analyses (EFA) produced a three-factor 19-item solution, with excellent internal consistency. Preliminary findings indicate that Māori are significantly more likely to endorse EEs than Pākehā. Given that EEs can be interpreted as either spiritual, anomalous or even pathological according to cultural background, these findings have important implications for how EEs are addressed in the wider society and in mental health settings specifically.
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The brain is a predictive machine. Converging data suggests a diametric predictive strategy from autism spectrum disorders (ASD) to schizophrenic spectrum disorders (SSD). Whereas perceptual inference in ASD is rigidly shaped by incoming sensory information, the SSD population is prone to overestimate the precision of their priors’ models. Growing evidence considers brain oscillations pivotal biomarkers to understand how top-down predictions integrate bottom-up input. Starting from the conceptualization of ASD and SSD as oscillopathies, we introduce an integrated perspective that ascribes the maladjustments of the predictive mechanism to dysregulation of neural synchronization. According to this proposal, disturbances in the oscillatory profile do not allow the appropriate trade-off between descending predictive signal, overweighted in SSD, and ascending prediction errors, overweighted in ASD. These opposing imbalances both result in an ill-adapted reaction to external challenges. This approach offers a neuro-computational model capable of linking predictive coding theories with electrophysiological findings, aiming to increase knowledge on the neuronal foundations of the two spectra features and stimulate hypothesis-driven rehabilitation/research perspectives.
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The identification-prejudice link describes the defensive stance toward immigrants held by strong national identifiers. Recent research refined this relationship by suggesting that defensive national identification (operationalized through national narcissism), but not secure national identification, was associated with prejudice. While previous research found intergroup threat and conspiracy beliefs to mediate the identification-prejudice link, the need to comprehensively and experimentally test the role of these defensive group beliefs remains in the context of the narcissistic identification-prejudice link. Furthermore, following the group-based control model, we proposed that these defensive group beliefs might be more pronounced among national narcissists compensating for a low personal control. In Study 1 (N = 1104, nationally representative sample), national narcissism, but not secure national identification, was related to prejudice against immigrants, and a serial model composed of perceived intergroup threat and conspiracy beliefs mediated this relationship. These relationships held when controlling for conspiracy mentality, supporting the notion that these conspiracy beliefs were motivated at the intergroup level. In Study 2 (N = 474, pre-registered), we experimentally induced intergroup threat and exposure to conspiracy theories about immigrants. Induced threat increased conspiracy beliefs, and both increased prejudice, corroborating their causal relationship. In Study 3 (N = 350, pre-registered), we induced low personal control and made national narcissism salient to test the group-based control hypothesis. The relationship between measured (but not manipulated) national narcissism and conspiracy beliefs was more pronounced under low personal control. We discuss the role of defensive group beliefs on group-based control and prejudice against immigrants.
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This study investigates how exposure to different news sources, propensity to vote (PTV) for a party and demographics are related to belief in conspiracy theories drawing on three repeated cross-sectional surveys in Germany 2017–2019. Results show that frequent exposure to alternative news sites and video-sharing platforms increased conspiratorial beliefs. Frequency of exposure to the quality press, public service TV news, and news aggregators diminished beliefs in conspiracy theories. Exposure to TV news, legacy media online, tabloids, social media, and user comments was unrelated to such beliefs. PTV for far left and right parties increased conspiratorial beliefs, moderate party preference reduced them.
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Hume’s Dialogues concerning Natural Religion (1779) describes a philosophical discussion on the validity of the argument from design. What Hume investigates, however, is not the rational grounds of religion, but human nature and its attraction to the idea of design. I argue that the key to understanding Hume’s Dialogues is his conception of the imagination as described in the Treatise. Hume characterizes the human imagination or mind as self-indulgent, with a strong drive to unite perceptions in relations of resemblance, contiguity or causality, often adding fictional constructions to create an easy transition between ideas. Natural religion is a prime example, as the whole universe is united in orderly means-to-ends relations and provided with a familiar cause: something resembling the human mind. This reading of the Dialogues, however, does not warrant the conclusion that Hume provides a reductionist natural explanation of natural religion. Knowing human nature helps to understand religion’s attraction and the attraction of religion helps to understand humans, because it is paradigmatic of who we are. To connect perceptions, construct wholes and create meaning out of chaos is an essential feature of human nature, and a source of great pleasure.
Article
Purpose Health-related online fake news (HOFN) has become a major social problem. HOFN can lead to the spread of ineffective and even harmful remedies. The study aims to understand Internet users' responses to HOFN during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic using the protective action decision model (PADM). Design/methodology/approach The authors collected pandemic severity data (regional number of confirmed cases) from government websites of the USA and China (Studies 1 and 2), search behavior from Google and Baidu search engines (Studies 1 and 2) and data regarding trust in two online fake news stories from two national surveys (Studies 2 and 3). All data were analyzed using a multi-level linear model. Findings The research detected negative time-lagged relationships between pandemic severity and regional HOFN search behavior by three actual fake news stories from the USA and China (Study 1). Importantly, trust in HOFN served as a mediator in the time-lagged relationship between pandemic severity and search behavior (Study 2). Additionally, the relationship between pandemic severity and trust in HOFN varied according to individuals' perceived control (Study 3). Originality/value The authors' results underscore the important role of PADM in understanding Internet users' trust in and search for HOFN. When people trust HOFN, they may seek more information to implement further protective actions. Importantly, it appears that trust in HOFN varies with environmental cues (regional pandemic severity) and with individuals' perceived control, providing insight into developing coping strategies during a pandemic.
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Psalms of lament characteristically include affirmations of trust and sometimes a vow to praise God in the future. This article questions the motivation behind such vows by looking carefully at whether future praise is conditional on God's positive response and what other rhetorical devices are linked to the promise God makes. Attention is given to the nature of praise and lament psalms (considering the power dynamic) and foundational principles of Persuasion Theory. Five biblical psalms of lament are considered, with particular attention to their use of a vow and other persuasive tactics to encourage God to intervene. Although a vow of future praise (and other persuasive tactics) may be used, the psalmist's most critical means of persuasion (as apparent in Ps 88) is the character of the psalmist's covenant-partner.
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Conspiracy theories are playing an increasingly prominent role worldwide in both political rhetoric and popular belief. Previous research has emphasized the individual-level factors behind conspiracy belief but paid less attention to the role of elite framing, while focusing mostly on domestic political contexts. This study assesses the relative weight of official conspiracy claims and motivated biases in producing conspiracy beliefs, in two countries where identities other than partisanship are salient: Georgia and Kazakhstan. I report the results of a survey experiment that depicts a possible conspiracy and varies the content of official claims and relevant contextual details. The results show that motivated reasoning stemming from state-level geopolitical identities is strongly associated with higher conspiracy belief, whereas official claims have little effect on people’s perceptions of conspiracy. Respondents who exhibit higher conspiracy ideation are more likely to perceive a conspiracy but do not weight motivated biases or official claims differently from people with lower conspiratorial predispositions. The findings indicate the importance of (geopolitical) identities in shaping conspiracy beliefs and highlight some of the constraints facing elites who seek to benefit from the use of conspiracy claims.
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The present investigation sought to examine the differential effects of expected versus unexpected information on interpretive activity. It was predicted that expected information would involve an automatic mode of processing, while unexpected information would prompt a more controlled mode. More specifically, we examined the proposition that unexpected or inconsistent information would lead to attempts at generating explanations for the discrepancy, and that the resulting explanations would tend toward maintaining the original expectation. Subjects were exposed to a general description of an actor, and then received additional information consistent or inconsistent with that description; the strength of or confidence in the original expectation was also varied. The primary experimental task involved subjects retelling these stories. The data revealed that, relative to processing consistent information, subjects tended to provide explanations spontaneously for the unexpected events. These findings were discussed in terms of unexpected events producing greater observer involvement, which in turn increases the likelihood of interpretive activity.
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Tested the proposition that variations in experience with lack of control ought to cause variations in the tendency to engage in attribution processes. 158 university students were first given 1 of 3 levels of experience with lack of control (high, low, or no helplessness training); in a 2nd study, their utilization of information that had previously been shown to be sensitive to motivational variations was measured. Results indicate the expected effects on mood and performance: Low helplessness Ss were hostile and showed performance gains, and high helplessness Ss were depressed and showed performance deficits. However, the attributions of both low and high helplessness Ss were significantly more affected by variations in the description of a communicator than were the attributions of Ss who had not been given experience with lack of control. Findings are consistent with the general control motivation hypothesis. (39 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Based on Wortman and Brehm's integration of reactance theory with Seligman's model of learned helplessness, an investigation was conducted to examine the effects of amount of helplessness training and internal--external locus of control on subsequent task performance and on self-ratings of mood. Subjects were divided into "internal" and "external" groups and were then given either high, low, or no helplessness training on a series of concept-formation problems. After completing a mood checklist, all subjects worked on an anagram task presented as a second experiment by a second experimenter. The results revealed that internals exhibited greater performance decrements and reported greater depression under high helplessness than did externals. In the low helplessness conditions, internals tended to perform better than control subjects, while externals tended to perform worse than control subjects; low helplessness subjects also reported the highest levels of hostility. The results are discussed within the context of Wortman and Brehm's integration of reactance and learned helplessness theories.
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Reviews 17 publications (including some containing multiple studies) on spontaneous attribution activity. The paradigms include the coding of written material, recording of thoughts during or after task completion, and indirect inferences of attributional activity exhibited in other cognitive processes. There is unequivocal documentation of attributional activity, with unexpected events and nonattainment of a goal among the antecedent cues that elicit causal search. It is concluded that the topic under investigation, therefore, should not be the existence of attributional search, but rather the conditions under which it is most promoted. (35 ref)
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The provision of information before medical or surgical procedures should improve knowledge and allay anxiety about the pending procedure. This trial aimed to assess the value of an information video in this process. Patients scheduled to undergo colonoscopy were approached about 1 week before the procedure. All patients were given an information leaflet about colonoscopy, and completed a Spielberger state anxiety inventory (STAI) questionnaire to assess baseline anxiety. The patients were then randomly assigned to watch or not watch the information video. Immediately before colonoscopy, all patients completed a second anxiety questionnaire and a knowledge questionnaire. 198 patients were screened. 31 declined to participate and 17 were unable to complete the forms. Of the remaining 150 patients, 72 were assigned the video, and 78 no video. The groups were similar with regard to age, sex, educational attainment, and initial anxiety score. Female patients had higher baseline anxiety than male patients (mean STAI 46.3 [95% CI 44.9-47.7] vs 36.9 [35.5-38.3]; difference 9.4 [7.8-12.2], p=0.0008). Patients who had not had a previous colonoscopy had higher baseline anxiety scores than those who had prior experience of the procedure (46.9 [45.4-48.5] vs 36.3 [34.7-37.9]; difference 10.6 [7.5-13.8], p=0.0008). Patients who watched the video were significantly less anxious before colonoscopy than those who did not. The former also scored more highly in the knowledge questionnaire than the latter with regard to the purpose of the procedure, procedural details, and potential complications of colonoscopy. An information video increases knowledge and decreases anxiety in patients preparing for colonoscopy.
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The p53 tumor suppressor promotes apoptosis in response to DNA damage. Here we describe the Caenorhabditis elegans gene ced-13, which encodes a conserved BH3-only protein. We show that ced-13 mRNA accumulates following DNA damage, and that this accumulation is dependent on an intact C. elegans cep-1/p53 gene. We demonstrate that CED-13 protein physically interacts with the antiapoptotic Bcl-2-related protein CED-9. Furthermore, overexpression of ced-13 in somatic cells leads to the death of cells that normally survive, and this death requires the core apoptotic pathway of C. elegans. Recent studies have implicated two BH3-only proteins, Noxa and PUMA, in p53-induced apoptosis in mammals. Our studies suggest that in addition to the BH3-only protein EGL-1, CED-13 might also promote apoptosis in the C. elegans germ line in response to p53 activation. We propose that an evolutionarily conserved pathway exists in which p53 promotes cell death by inducing expression of two BH3-only genes.
Article
Conducted 2 experiments to examine whether the tendency to make more extreme attributions following control deprivation, observed by T. S. Pittman and N. L. Pittman (see record 1981-25822-001), stemmed from a motive to regain actual environmental control or to affirm an image of oneself as able to control (important outcomes). Study 1 varied control deprivation by exposing 78 undergraduates to either high-, low-, or no-helplessness training prior to measuring attributions. A 4th condition exposed Ss to low-helplessness training but allowed them to affirm a valued self-image (by completing a self-relevant value scale) just prior to the attribution measure. Replicating the findings of Pittman and Pittman, Ss made more extreme attributions and had worse moods in the high- and low-helplessness conditions than in the no-helplessness condition, but in the 4th condition the self-affirming value scale eliminated the effect of low-helplessness training on both attributions and mood. Study 2, using 32 undergraduates, showed that this effect occurred only when the value scale was central to Ss' self-concept. It is concluded that the motive for attributional analysis following control deprivation in this paradigm was to protect a positive self-image rather than to regain environmental control and that this motive can stimulate attributional analysis that is not related to the self or the provoking control threat and, thus, is not self-serving. (18 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Drawing from self-affirmation theory (C. M. Steele, 1988) and L. L. Martin and A. Tesser's (1989, 1996) theory of ruminative thinking, the authors hypothesized that people stop ruminating about a frustrated goal when they can affirm an important aspect of the self. In 3 experiments participants were given failure feedback on an alleged IQ test. Failure feedback led to increased rumination (i.e., accessibility of goal-related thoughts) compared with no-failure conditions (Studies 1 and 2). Rumination was reduced when participants could self-affirm after failure (Studies 1 and 2) or before failure (Study 3). In Study 3, self-affirmation led to increased positive affect on a disguised mood test and more positive name letter evaluations. Moreover, the obtained increase in positive affect mediated the effect of self-affumation on rumination. It is concluded that self-affirmation may be an effective way to stop ruminative thinking. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Tested the hypothesis that individuals engage in more thorough attributional processing for unexpected events than they do for expected events. 51 undergraduates observed the experimenter asking a confederate either a small or large favor. The small request led to an expectancy of compliance; the large request led to expectancy of refusal. The confederate then either did or did not comply with the request, thus either confirming or disconfirming Ss' expectancies. Ss were than allowed to look at any 5 of the confederates' responses to a 10-item questionnaire that the confederate had supposedly filled out earlier. Five of the items on the questionnaire were relevant to helping, and 5 were of general interest. As predicted, Ss chose more helping-relevant items when their expectancies had been disconfirmed. Implications for attributions for the behavior of stereotyped out-group members are discussed. (33 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Three experiments, with 60 undergraduates, examined what types of events instigate causal reasoning and what effects causal reasoning has on the subsequent use of information stored in memory. Ss were shown descriptions of behaviors performed by hypothetical characters, wrote brief continuations, and were given a surprise recall test on the behavior description phrases. Memory and use of explanatory content were assessed. Results indicate that unexpected events elicit causal reasoning and that causal reasoning produces relatively elaborate memory representations of these events so that they are more likely to be recalled. Findings are discussed in terms of the role of causal reasoning during acquisition, retention, and retrieval in social memory tasks. (41 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Individual differences in the desire for simple structure may influence how people understand, experience, and interact with their worlds. Studies 1 and 2 revealed that the Personal Need for Structure (PNS) scale (M. Thompson, M. Naccarato, and K. Parker, 1989) possesses sufficient reliability and convergent and discriminant validity. In Studies 3–5, Ss high in PNS were especially likely to organize social and nonsocial information in less complex ways, stereotype others, and complete their research requirements on time. These data suggest that people differ in their chronic desire for simple structure and that this difference can have important social–cognitive and behavioral implications. A consideration of chronic information-processing motives may facilitate the theoretical integration of social cognition, affect, motivation, and personality. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
At intervals of 1, 3, 6, and 9 hours after eating, 5 experimental subjects were tested in a situation wherein they were to identify a series of 80 ambiguous figures (40 chromatic and 40 achromatic) in order to determine if the number of identifications of the figures with food and food objects increased as the degree of hunger increased. Each subject was tested at least twice at each interval, whereas 5 control subjects were tested at intervals of from 45 minutes to 2½ hours after eating, each interval constant for a given subject. The number of food responses to the achromatic figures increased at 3 and 6 hours and then decreased, while for the chromatic figures the responses increased up to 3 hours and then decreased. An hypothesis is presented which "emphasizes the conflict between food-set and reality-set, the chromatic cards activating the reality-set more than the achromatic cards do." (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Tested the hypothesis that an experience that simply affirms a valued aspect of the self can eliminate dissonance and its accompanying cognitive changes. Three experiments were conducted using the conventional forced-compliance procedure. In Study 1, some of the 76 college student Ss were allowed to affirm an important, self-relevant value (by completing a self-relevant value scale) immediately after having written unrelated dissonant essays and prior to recording their attitudes on the postmeasure. Other Ss underwent an identical procedure but were selected so that the value affirmed by the scale was not part of their self-concept. The value scale eliminated dissonance-reducing attitude change among Ss for whom it was self-relevant but not among Ss for whom it was not self-relevant. This occurred even though the value scale could not resolve or reduce the objective importance of the dissonance-provoking inconsistency. Study 2, conducted with 24 Ss with a strong economic and political value orientation, showed that the self-affirmation effect was strong enough to prevent the reinstatement of dissonance. Study 3, testing generalizability with 24 Ss, replicated the effect by using a different attitude issue, a different value for affirmation, and a different measure of dissonance reduction. Results imply that a need for psychological consistency is not part of dissonance motivation and that salient, self-affirming cognitions may help objectify reactions to self-threatening information. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
ABSTRACT The hypothesis that people engage in attribution processes to obtain a sense of control was tested In each of three experiments, subjects identified on an individual difference measure as high in a general desire for control (DC) were found to engage in attnbution processes more than subjects low in desire for control In Experiment 1, high-DC subjects were more likely to utilize attributionally relevant information when describing the cause of a writer's behavior than were low-DC subjects High-DC subjects in Experiment 2 were more likely to ask attribution questions about hypothetical events than were low-DC subjects In Expenment 3, high-DC subjects gave more attributions for their performance on a test than did low-DC subjects The findings are interpreted as support for the control motivation explanation for why people engage in attribution processes
Article
Recent social psychological research on paranoid cognition has shown that when individuals are self-conscious or feel under evaluative scrutiny, they tend to overestimate the extent to which they are the target of others' attention. As a result, they make overly personalistic attributions about others' behavior. These personalistic attributions, in turn, foster a pattern of heightened distrust and suspicion regarding others' motives and intentions. Drawing on this research, the present work investigates antecedents and consequences of paranoid cognition in groups and organizations. Results of two studies are presented. Study 1 investigates how tenure in a group or organization affects individuals' self-consciousness and susceptibility to paranoid cognition. Study 2 replicates and extends the results of the first study using a new laboratory analog for studying paranoid cognition in small groups. Implications of the findings are discussed in terms of their contribution to theory regarding the origins and dynamics of collective distrust and suspicion.
Article
Past attributional studies have produced a consensus that negative and unexpected outcomes promote spontaneous causal search. Howwever, there is no theoretical reason to believe that outcome has an effect on spontaneous causal attribution independent of expectancy. Past studies thatfound the outcome effect all sufferfrom the methodological problems of (a) lack of spontaneity in elicited attributions and/or (b) improper manipulation. Experiment I (N = 44) introduced rigorous control of the two independent variables and showed that only expectancy has an independent effect on spontaneous causal thinking. Experiment 2 (N = 100) showed that, although expectancy is the only antecedent to spontaneous causal attribution, outcome does affect nonspontaneous causal search, giving a strong indication that the lack of spontaneity accounts for the outcome effect found in the past studies.
Article
The object of the study was to observe the changes in efficiency of perceptive activity of man (recognition of visual patterns against a background of noises) throughout an increase in emotional stress caused by a forthcoming parachuete jump. A moderate degree of emotional stress can improve performance efficiency and decrease the number of the subject's errors. Later an impairment of differentation of similar signals was seen and an increase in the number of "false alarm" errors along with a decrease in the number of omissions to reactions signals. The neurophysiological basis of such changes in perceptive activity consists in a transition from conditional behaviour to reaction through mechanisms of Ukhtomsky's dominant focus.
Article
Depressed and nondepressed college students received experience with solvable, unsolvable, or no discrimination problems. When later tested on a series of patterned anagrams, depressed groups performed worse than nondepressed groups, and unsolvable groups performed worse than solvable and control groups. As predicted by the learned helplessness model of depression, nondepressed subjects given unsolvable problems showed anagram deficits parallel to those found in naturally occurring depression. When depressed subjects attributed their failure to the difficulty of the problems rather than to their own incompetence, performance improved strikingly. So, failure in itself is apparently not sufficient to produce helplessness deficits in man, but failure that leads to a decreased belief in personal competence is sufficient.
Article
Many investigators have proposed that threat is a basic cause of authoritarianism. This perspective suggests the hypothesis that increased threat should evoke increased authoritarianism. To test this prediction, various archival data from 2 threatening historical periods (the 1930's and 1967-1970) and 2 nonthreatening periods (the 1920's and 1959-1964) were examined to determine whether authoritarianism did increase in response to threat. Data indicate that environmental threat was reliably associated with changed behavior in most areas of the "authoritarian syndrome." Results are consistent with the hypothesis that threat is a cause of authoritarianism and added validity to the concept of an authoritarian syndrome. (45 ref)
Article
Theories of motivation built upon primary drives cannot account for playful and exploratory behavior. The new motivational concept of "competence" is introduced indicating the biological significance of such behavior. It furthers the learning process of effective interaction with the environment. While the purpose is not known to animal or child, an intrinsic need to deal with the environment seems to exist and satisfaction ("the feeling of efficacy") is derived from it. (100 ref.) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).
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