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Eric Rassin

Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, Rotterdam, South Holland, Netherlands

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Publications (88)

  • Eric Rassin
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Judges, juries, and other legal decision makers are frequently obligated to find facts about an alleged crime. Does this fact finding benefit from purely rational decision making or from a more intuitive approach? In three studies, rationality was found to be related to more suspect-lenient decision making. The data suggest that fact finding in criminal proceedings is served best with strictly rational analyses of the evidence, rather than with intuition, gut feeling, and other obscure decision processes.
    Article · Jan 2015 · Applied Cognitive Psychology
  • Eric G C Rassin
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The feature-positive effect (FPE) is the phenomenon that learning organisms are better at detecting the association between two present stimuli than between the absence of one stimulus and the presence of the other. Although the FPE was first described 40 years ago, it remains an ill-studied and ill-understood bias. The aim of the present study was to test whether the FPE can be remedied by simply alerting individuals to the possibility that the solution to a given problem may lie in the diagnosticity of a stimulus being absent. The results indicated that the instructions given to participants can indeed reduce the FPE.
    Article · Jul 2014 · Learning & Behavior
  • Liselotte Gootjes · Eric Rassin
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The ability to successfully handle our thoughts and emotions contributes greatly to healthy psychological functioning. Meditation and mindfulness techniques are becoming increasingly popular as a strategy for various psychological and affective complaints. Most meditative practices cultivate an accepting and open stance to any experience and thought. In general, meditation is not about controlling which thoughts arise, but about whether thoughts are attended or not. The latter may lead to an increased sense of thought control, even though this is not the aim of the practice. The present study explored whether perceived thought control is involved in positive effects of meditation and mindfulness on psychological functioning. To this end, we examined perceived thought control ability in a healthy self-selected group of experienced and novel meditators. We found that meditation experience, both in hours spent meditating as well as in occurrence of mindful states in daily life, is associated with increased perceived thought control ability, more positive affect, less negative affect, less trait anxiety, higher optimism scores, and higher sense of social connectedness. Using a mediation model, we found that perceived thought control ability mediates the significant relation between meditation experience and these aspects of psychological functioning. These results are in line with the hypothesis that increased perceived thought control plays a role in positive effects of meditative practices.
    Article · Feb 2014 · Mindfulness
  • Eric Rassin · Han Israëls
    Article · Jan 2014
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    Anita Eerland · Eric Rassin
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent evidence suggests that convictions in criminal procedures are susceptible to biased decision making. In this study, the potential detrimental effects of confirmation bias and the feature positive effect (FPE) were explored. The former states that decision-makers will be more impressed by incriminating than by exonerating evidence. The latter states that they assign more weight to finding evidence than to the failure to secure it, even though the absence of evidence can be as diagnostic as its presence. Law students read a case file about a fistfight. The evidence was manipulated such that the effect of confirmation bias and FPE on guilt estimation and conviction rate could be assessed. Findings partly confirmed the presence of both a confirmation bias and an FPE.
    Full-text Article · May 2012 · Psychology Crime and Law
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In onderzoek is gebleken dat klinische obsessies en compulsies inhoudelijk niet verschillen van alledaagse intrusies en rituelen. De verschillen tussen beide betreffen veeleer kenmerken als frequentie, ervaren weerzin en opgeroepen weerstand. De verklaring van dergelijke verschillen in afwezigheid van een inhoudelijk onderscheid lijkt vooral te zijn gelegen in twee psychologische fenomenen. Ten eerste wordt verondersteld dat overdreven interpretaties van intrusies (samen te vatten in het concept thought-action fusion [taf]) leiden tot intensivering van obsessieve-compulsieve symptomen. Op de tweede plaats lijkt gedachtenonderdrukking (suppressie) te resulteren in meer, in plaats van minder, obsessieve-compulsieve symptomen. De potentiële interacties tussen taf en suppressie zijn nog niet in kaart gebracht. In het huidige onderzoek werd een poging ondernomen om te achterhalen of en op welke manier taf en suppressie samengaan in de ontwikkeling van obsessieve-compulsieve symptomen. Daartoe vulde een groep studenten (N = 173) verschillende vragenlijsten in. De data werden geanalyseerd met behulp van structural equation modelling. Uit de analyse volgde grosso modo dat taf aanleiding geeft tot suppressie, terwijl suppressie vervolgens leidt tot obsessieve-compulsieve symptomen.
    Article · Apr 2012 · Dth
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    Anita Eerland · Lysanne S Post · Eric Rassin · [...] · Rolf A Zwaan
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent evidence suggests that decision makers in criminal procedures are susceptible to biases. We previously found support for the presence of a feature positive effect (FPE, i.e., people attach more meaning to present than to absent information) in legal-decision making. In this study, we tried to uncover the mechanisms behind the FPE. Taking a cue from the literature on situation models in language comprehension, we investigated whether a FPE manifests itself in the memorization and use of forensic evidence. Students read a case file about a fistfight as well as additional evidence. The forensic evidence was manipulated such that a FPE on guilt estimation and conviction rate could be assessed. While subjects read additional forensic evidence, their eye movements were recorded to explore the presence of FPE in online processing. Afterwards, subjects were asked to decide on the suspect's guilt. They had to recall all information they remembered from the case file and indicate which parts of information they considered relevant to this decision. The results provided evidence for the occurrence of FPE in memorization and use of information and can be explained by the theoretical construct of situation models.
    Full-text Article · Apr 2012 · Acta psychologica
  • Eric Rassin
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There is both theoretical ground and empirical evidence to suggest that nonidentifications in police line-ups are diagnostic of the suspect's innocence. However, it is frequently assumed that both laypeople and legal decision makers fail to appreciate this diagnosticity. It is hypothesized that this underestimation is fuelled by a general reluctance to accept null findings. To test this idea, participants judged the importance of nonidentifications and foil identifications. As predicted, foil identifications were considered to have more diagnostic power than nonidentifications (Study 1). In Studies 2 and 3, the hypothesis was tested that nonidentifications intuitively generate more uncertainty than suspect and foil identifications. This hypothesis was confirmed in that participants were able to conjure up more alternative explanations for nonidentifications compared to suspect and foil identifications. Findings are discussed in the light of what can be called presence bias.
    Article · Jan 2011 · Psychology Crime and Law
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    Eric Rassin · Anita Eerland · Ilse Kuijpers
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: People involved in criminal proceedings (e.g. police officers, district attorneys, judges, and jury members) may run the risk of developing confirmation bias, or tunnel vision. That is, these parties may readily become convinced that the suspect is guilty, and may then no longer be open to alternative scenarios in which the suspect is actually innocent. This may be reflected in a preference for guilt-confirming investigation endeavours, as opposed to investigations that are aimed at confirming, or even excluding, alternative scenarios. In three studies, participants read a case file, and were subsequently instructed to select additional police investigations. Some of these additional endeavours were guilt-confirming (i.e. incriminating), whereas others were disconfirming (i.e. exonerating). Results suggest that additional investigation search was guided by an initial assessment of the suspect's guilt (Study 1). Furthermore, participants' tendency to select incriminating investigations increased with increased crime severity, and with the strength of the evidence present in the case file. Finally, the selection of incriminating investigations was associated with conviction rates (Study 3). However, in general, participants did not favour incriminating endeavours. That is, in the three studies, the percentages of selected incriminating endeavours did hardly or not exceed 50%. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    Full-text Article · Oct 2010 · Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling
  • Wim Labree · Henk Nijman · Hjalmar van Marle · Eric Rassin
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to gain more insight in the backgrounds and characteristics of arsonists. For this, the psychiatric, psychological, personal, and criminal backgrounds of all arsonists (n=25), sentenced to forced treatment in the maximum security forensic hospital "De Kijvelanden", were compared to the characteristics of a control group of patients (n=50), incarcerated at the same institution for other severe crimes. Apart from DSM-IV Axis I and Axis II disorders, family backgrounds, level of education, treatment history, intelligence (WAIS scores), and PCL-R scores were included in the comparisons. Furthermore, the apparent motives for the arson offences were explored. It was found that arsonists had more often received psychiatric treatment, prior to committing their index offence, and had a history of severe alcohol abuse more often in comparison to the controls. The arsonists turned out to be less likely to suffer from a major psychotic disorder. Both groups did not differ significantly on the other variables, among which the PCL-R total scores and factor scores. Exploratory analyses however, did suggest that arsonists may differentiate from non-arsonists on three items of the PCL-R, namely impulsivity (higher scores), superficial charm (lower scores), and juvenile delinquency (lower scores). Although the number of arsonists with a major psychotic disorder was relatively low (28%), delusional thinking of some form was judged to play a role in causing arson crimes in about half of the cases (52%).
    Article · Jul 2010 · International Journal of Law and Psychiatry
  • Eric Rassin
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In order to prevent miscarriages of justice, police, prosecution, and judges must remain open to alternative scenarios in which the suspect is in fact innocent. In recent years, however, several studies have delivered results suggesting that open-mindedness is not always standard in criminal procedures. For example, Ask and Granhag (2005) found that police officers' estimation of the incriminating power of investigation findings was not affected by knowledge of an alternative suspect. The current first study replicated these findings in a mixed sample of police officers, district attorneys, and judges. In Study 2, this blindness to alternative scenarios did not emerge in a sample of university students. However, the estimation of the incriminating power of the evidence and the willingness to convict the primary suspect were predicted with the participants' confirmation proneness. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    Article · Jun 2010 · Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling
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    Robert P. Spunt · Eric Rassin · Liana M. Epstein
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Though indecisiveness is associated with several mental disorders and a range of problematic psychological outcomes in normal populations, it is still poorly understood. We distinguish two features of indecisiveness: (a) aversive, a generalized aversion for decisions that manifests as threat-oriented cognition and negative affect when making decisions, and (b) avoidant, a generalized motivation to avoid decisions and to experience difficulties making decisions. Using exploratory (Study 1) and confirmatory (Study 2) factor analyses, we show that the Indecisiveness Scale (Frost & Shows, 1993) possesses factors reflecting these two features. Moreover, we use correlation and regression to test hypotheses regarding the relationships among these components of indecisiveness and regret proneness, maximization, and BIS and BAS sensitivities. Results suggest the utility of distinguishing aversive from avoidant indecisiveness as well as characterizing stable attitudes towards decisions in terms of basic personality processes.
    Full-text Article · Sep 2009 · Personality and Individual Differences
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: According to public opinion, members of shooting organizations (i.e. shooters) are thought to be more aggressive than other groups in society. Also, guns are generally seen as stimuli that elicit aggressive behaviour. The present study examined whether shooters are really more aggressive than non-shooters. Shooters and non-shooters were compared on measures of aggressive behaviour, aggressive fantasies, impulsivity, and main personality dimensions (i.e. neuroticism, psychoticism, and extraversion). The results showed that members of shooting associations were less aggressive and impulsive than non-members, even when controlling for their tendency to present themselves in a more favourable manner. These findings suggest that there is no reason to consider hobby shooters a priori as more aggressive. A possible explanation could be that for shooters, their positively coloured experiences with guns have changed the aggression-eliciting effect that normally occurs when interacting with guns (i.e. the weapons effect). These findings are discussed in light of the cognitive script theory of aggression by Huesmann.
    Full-text Article · May 2009 · Psychology Crime and Law
  • Peter Muris · Eric Rassin · Birgit Mayer · [...] · Andy Field
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The present study made an attempt to induce fear-related reasoning biases by providing children with negative information about a novel stimulus. For this purpose, non-clinical children aged 9-12 years (N=318) were shown a picture of an unknown animal for which they received either negative, ambiguous, positive, or no information. Then children completed a series of tests for measuring various types of reasoning biases (i.e., confirmation bias and covariation bias) in relation to this animal. Results indicated that children in the negative and, to a lesser extent, the ambiguous information groups displayed higher scores on tests of fear-related reasoning biases than children in the positive and no information groups. Altogether, these results support the idea that learning via negatively tinted information plays a role in the development of fear-related cognitive distortions in youths.
    Article · Mar 2009 · Behaviour Research and Therapy
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous research has indicated that indecisiveness is associated with informational tunnel vision, in that individuals scoring high on a measure of indecisiveness tend to gather more information about the alternative they ultimately choose, while largely neglecting other options. In the first study, a decision making paradigm was employed in which participants had to choose a college course from a set of five options. Findings confirmed that the score on a measure of indecisiveness correlated positively with the amount of information gathered concerning the ultimately chosen course, but not with the gathered information pertaining to non-chosen courses. In the second study, choice difficulty was manipulated by varying the distinctiveness of the courses. Again, indecisiveness seemed to be associated with tunnel vision, regardless of choice difficulty. Hence, the findings support the notion that indecisiveness limits people’s information gathering. It is proposed that this type of tunnel vision serves as a defence against a natural tendency to gather as much information as possible.
    Article · Jul 2008 · Personality and Individual Differences
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There is clear evidence in the adult literature that disgust sensitivity is implicated in various psychopathological syndromes. The current study examined the link between disgust sensitivity and psychopathological symptoms in youths. In a sample of non-clinical children aged 9-13 years, disgust sensitivity was assessed by two self-report questionnaires (i.e., the Disgust Scale and the Disgust Sensitivity Questionnaire) and a behavioural test. Furthermore, children completed scales for measuring the personality trait of neuroticism and various types of psychopathological symptoms. Results showed that disgust measures had sufficient to good convergent validity. Further, significant positive correlations were found between disgust sensitivity and symptoms of specific phobias (i.e., spider phobia, blood-injection phobia, small-animal phobia), social phobia, agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and eating problems, and these links were not attenuated when controlling for neuroticism. The possible role of disgust sensitivity in the aetiology of child psychopathology is discussed.
    Full-text Article · Jul 2008 · Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
  • Eric Rassin
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Confirmation bias refers to the tendency to prioritise confirming over disconfirming information. A closer look reveals that confirmation bias actually consists of various aspects such as ignoring disconfirming evidence, underweighting such evidence, and a reluctance to change one’s mind. Although confirmation bias has been studied in some detail, to date, there is no measure of individual differences in confirmation proneness. This absence is unfortunate, because it hinders scientific progress. In addition, measures of confirmation proneness could be fruitfully applied in various situations in psychological practice. In the current research, a 10-item self-report measure of confirmation proneness (the Confirmation Inventory: CI) was developed (Study 1). In Study 2, the CI was found to possess adequate test-retest reliability. In Study 3, higher scores on the CI were found to be associated with confirmatory decision-making in several decision-making paradigms. (Netherlands Journal of Psychology, 64, 87-93.) KeywordsConfirmation bias-individual differences-measurement-test strategies
    Article · Jun 2008 · Netherlands journal of psychology
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There is evidence to suggest that people have more problems with processing information that is absent (negative information) than with present (positive) information. This bias of overweighing positive and underweighing negative information has been termed the "feature-positive effect" (FPE). Typically, hypochondriasis is characterized by excessive focusing on bodily complaints (cf. positive information), and at the same time discarding negative medical test results (cf. negative information). It was explored whether the FPE is involved in this pattern. Fifty-three undergraduates completed a measure of hypochondriacal concerns and a general, domain-free test of the FPE. As expected, a positive correlation between the FPE and hypochondriacal concerns was observed. Implications for cognitive-behavioural theory are discussed.
    Article · Mar 2008 · Behaviour Research and Therapy
  • Eric Rassin · Jesse R Cougle · Peter Muris
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although it has long been thought that experiencing an obsession is a psychiatric symptom, more recent literature, has seen the normalisation of obsessions and other presumably clinical phenomena. That is, not only people suffering from psychiatric disorders experience obsessions but non-clinical individuals also do so. Furthermore, it has been argued that such normal obsessions are very similar to abnormal ones, in terms of content. However, in the present study, evidence was obtained indicating that normal and abnormal obsessions do differ in content. A sample of 133 healthy undergraduates was given a list of 70 obsessions, with some originating from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) patients, and others stemming from healthy volunteers. Participants were asked to indicate whether they had ever experienced these obsessions. Participants endorsed significantly more normal than abnormal obsessions, suggesting that the two kinds of obsessions do differ from each other. In addition, the experience of clinical obsessions was more strongly associated with scores on a measure of OCD symptoms, than was the experience of normal obsessions.
    Article · Dec 2007 · Behaviour Research and Therapy
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    Peter Muris · Cor Meesters · Anja van den Hout · [...] · Eric Rassin
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pain catastrophizing is generally viewed as an important cognitive factor underlying chronic pain. The present study examined personality and temperament correlates of pain catastrophizing in a sample of young adolescents (N = 132). Participants completed the Pain Catastrophizing Scale for Children, as well as scales for measuring sensitivity of the behavioral inhibition and behavioral activation systems (BIS-BAS), and various reactive and regulative temperament traits. Results demonstrated that BIS, reactive temperament traits (fear and anger-frustration), and perceptual sensitivity were positively related to pain catastrophizing, whereas regulative traits (attention control, inhibitory control) were negatively associated with this cognitive factor. Further, regression analyses demonstrated that only BIS and the temperamental traits of fear and perceptual sensitivity accounted for a unique proportion of the variance in adolescents' pain catastrophizing scores.
    Full-text Article · Nov 2007 · Child Psychiatry and Human Development