Tag Archives: psychology

The Brain: Language

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Our language abilities result from intricate coordination of many brain areas. Learning more about the function of each of these areas allows physicians to find the root of language impairments. Aphasia is the impaired use of language but not necessarily all aspects of it.

Norman Gershwind, an American behavioural neurologist, noted the order and way in which we interpret language. First we hear or read language, which is received by the visual cortex as written words. These written words serve as visual stimulation. Then, the angular gyrus transforms the visual stimulation into an auditory code. Next, Wernicke’s area interprets the auditory code. Broca’s area, controlling our speech muscles via the motor cortex enables us to reply based on the interpreted information.

Citation:

Myers, David G. Psychology . 6. Worth Publishers, 2001. Print.Myers, David G. Psychology . 6. Worth Publishers,2001. Print.

Spotlight Study: “Narcissistic Employee of the Month”

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An assortment of studies from the United Kingdom have found a positive correlation between “pathological personality and success at work.” The studies, conducted on over 5,000 British workers have found that certain personality traits often consider dysfunctional, do in fact serve as an advantage in certain roles. A case study on author Joanne Limburg, a self-confessed perfectionist with OCD traits, encloses transparent sleeves with drafts of her poems to University of Cambridge. This obviously obsessive behaviour may seem completely unnecessary to most people; however, Limburg’s OCD tendencies to compulsively “triple-check and organise” makes people like her invaluable employees in “auditing and other detail-oriented work.”

Cognitive psychologist at New York University, Scott Barry Kaufman and researcher Adrian Furham have found that schizotypal people whom exhibit “some combination of social withdrawal, strange beliefs and cognitive disorganisation” display the extraordinary capacity to notice patterns others miss. Not to mention, people with this seemingly dysfunctional trait also show great promise in the arts as well as sales with their “out-of-the-box creativity.”

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Finally, professor Peter Harms of the University of Nebraska and Michael Maccoby of Oxford University have come to the conclusion that people with a “grandiose self-regarded” otherwise known as narcissism, can make excelled leaders. Narcissistic people believe that they are the personification of an excellent leader, pushing them to prove they are better than others meanwhile motivating others to learn and improve as well. Lastly, this grandiose self-regard leads narcissists to produce “beyond successful to world-changing” work.

Citation:

Yu, Alan. “ Narcissistic Employee of the Month. ” Psychology Today August 2012: 10. Print.

The Brain: Lateralisation of Brain Function

“The great pleasure and feeling in my right brain is more than my left brain can find the words to tell you.” – Roger Sperry

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The left hemisphere of our brain functions in reading, writing, speaking, arithmetic, reasoning and understanding. It is considered the major hemisphere because it has proven far easier to comprehend and study. Our right brain to this day is still very much misunderstood.  We do know that the right hemisphere is immensely important to our creativity, expression and social skills such as recognising faces and tone of voice. However, diseases that afflict the right side of our brain still befuddle scientists today.

Popular psychology and self-help books discuss the left versus brain dominance. Creative, free-spirited people who have excellent social skills but are poor at maths are considered right brain dominant; whereas, logical, analytical, linear people lacking creativity are considered to be left brain dominant. Like most self-help fads, there is some truth behind these claims. Most people generally rely on one side of the brain more than the other whilst thinking. This is known as brain lateralisation, a term that grew out of work by American neurobiologist, Roger W. Sperry. That is to say that, people that rely more on their left brain whilst thinking do posses a more logical, linear, objective perspective than those who rely on their right brain more. However, it is important to understand that all humans rely on both hemispheres for day to day activities and hardly anyone displays solely the characteristics of one hemisphere.

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The left and right hemispheres are connected by a large band of neural fibres called the corpus callosum. It allows for messages to be carried between the two hemispheres. Sperry along with other psychologists, Myers and Gazzinga, concluded through the splitting of the corpus callosum of animals left them relatively normal. These findings were then applied as a form of treatment for extreme cases of epilepsy – a neurological disorder marked by sensory disturbance, loss of consciousness and convulsions as a result of excessive nerve firing in the brain. In these extreme cases of epilepsy the excessive firing would start in one hemisphere but cascades into a storm of firing across the corpus callosum to the other hemisphere. A surgery in which the corpus callosum was split was seen as the only alternative to treat the worst symptoms. The surgery enabled the patients to carry out normal life without the constant life-threatening symptoms; however, through these experimental surgeries the function of the corpus callosum was discovered.

Sperry and Gazzangia found that the corpus callosum did, in fact, have significance.  It enables communication between the two hemispheres. Each hemisphere continues to learn after the operation; however, the two hemispheres remain unaware of any learning and experience of the other side.

Citations:

Cherry, Kendra. “The Anatomy of the Brain.” The Four Lobes (2012): n. pag.About.com Psychology. Web. 03 Sept. 2012. <http://psychology.about.com/od/biopsycholog

Myers, David G. Psychology . 6. Worth Publishers, 2001. Print.Myers, David G. Psychology . 6. Worth Publishers,2001. Print.

The Split Brain Experiments”. Nobelprize.org. 8 Sep 2012 http://www.nobelprize.org/educational/medicine/split-brain/background.html

 

The Endocrine System

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The endocrine system is the body’s slow chemical communication system. It consists of a set of glands that secrete hormones directly into the bloodstream. Hormones are chemical messengers mostly manufactured by the endocrine system. Hormones are produced in one tissue and affect another.

The hypothalamus sits below the thalamus and directs maintenance activities such as appetite, thirst and body temperature. Furthermore, it helps govern the endocrine system via the pituitary gland.

The thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck, below the larynx. The thyroid plays a crucial role in regulating our metabolism and calcium levels. T4 and T3 hormones released by the thyroid stimulate our tissue to produce protein and increase use oxygen to encourage cellular work. The chemical activity that is known as cellular work or activity is known as metabolism. The hormone calcitonin also released by the thyroid works along side the parathyroid hormone to regulate our calcium levels. The thyroid gland is controlled by hormones released by the pituitary gland.

The adrenal glands sit above the kidneys. They secrete epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (non-adrenaline). They are vital to the autonomic nervous system.

The pancreas regulates the level of sugar in our blood. The part of the pancreas involved in the endocrine system is made up tiny cell clusters called islets of Langerhansα cells secrete glucagon which increases glucose in the blood, β cells secrete insulin which decreases glucose in blood, delta cells secrete somatostatin which regulates α and β cells. People that suffer from diabetes do not produce enough insulin which causes dangerously high blood sugar levels that must be regulated by an insulin shot or pump.

The ovaries and testes regulate sex hormones, female and male respectively. The ovaries, at the opening of the fallopian tubes, produce estrogen and progesterone, which play a crucial role in female development and reproduction. The testes, inside the male scrotum, produce testosterone, which affects male development and sperm production.

The pineal gland produces several important hormones including melatonin. Melatonin influences sexual development and the sleep-wake cycles.

The thymus gland is not really part of the endocrine system despite being a gland. It’s most important function is the production of T-lymphocytes, a type of white blood cells. This makes the thymus gland a quintessential part of the immune system.

Citations:

Bailey, Regina. “Pineal Gland.” About.com Biology. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2012. <http://biology.about.com/od/anatomy/p/pineal-gland.htm&gt;.

“Endocrinology Health Guide.” University of Maryland Medical Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2012. <http://www.umm.edu/endocrin/thygland.htm&gt;.

Myers, David G. Psychology . 6. Worth Publishers, 2001. Print.Myers, David G. Psychology . 6. Worth Publishers,2001. Print.

“Pancreas: Function.” Pancreas: Function. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2012. <http://www.montana.edu/wwwai/imsd/alcohol/Vanessa/vwpancreas.htm&gt;.

Elucidating Experiments: Are Magic Mushrooms Beneficial

shroomA 2011 study conducted by John Hopkins University School of Medicine has found that as little as a single dose of magic mushrooms can increase the ‘openness’ trait. According to study leader Roland R. Griffiths a single dose of psilocybin, the activate and hallucinogenic component of magic mushrooms, is enough to bring about a significant change in personality.

shroom2Of the 51 participants that took part in the study, 60% reported lasting changes a year after the study was conducted. The longevity of these changes suggests that personality changes are most likely permanent. This is even more substantial considering that the trait for openness actually declines over time.

Openness is one of five personality traits measured by a ‘scientifically validated personality inventory,’ which also includes neuroticism, extroversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness and are considered to be the ‘makeup’ of our personality. Openness includes traits that are related to abstract thought, aesthetics, feelings, and imagination; furthermore, the changes in openness were greater than personality changes in healthy individuals observed over decades. Most commonly, personality changes are not even significant over the age of 30.

Griffiths, the leader of study, believes that “psilocybin may have therapeutic uses” as he is currently studying how hallucinogens can be beneficial in dealing with depression and anxiety common in cancer patients and addicts.

References:

Griffith, Roland R., Johnson W. Matthew, and Katherine A. MacLean. “SINGLE DOSE OF HALLUCINOGEN MAY CREATE LASTING PERSONALITY CHANGE.” Comp. Stephanie Desmon. John Hopkins Medicine (2011): n. pag. 29 Sept. 2011. Web.

Why Psychology is Still Relevant

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A lot of people seem to believe that psychology is a course, major, what have you that people study at university because they do not know what else to study or major in (my flat mate included). Also, as it is science that is not heavy in the triad (chemistry, physics and biology), as I have just now decided to call them, it has garnered the reputation of being an easy course to get on. The fact that one of my assigned textbooks is called Statistics without Math for Psychology kind of gives you a good indication of the level of higher thinking associated with psychology degrees. Then there is the fact that in almost every television programme where a psychologist or psychiatrist is part of a single episode, they are either a) the murder b) crazy or c) all of the above. All in all, despite Freud being discredited to the core, most people still hold the commense view that psychology just proves what everyone already knew or is about finding a relationship between the jeans you put on this morning and some repressed adolescent, sexual fantasy.

Now I am not going to say that there are not people in my psychology course at university that choose psychology just because it seem convenient and easy. As I said from the start, my flat mates admits to those exact motives, and despite the fact that I go to a leading university of psychological research and study, he is not the only one. But the thing that actually matters is that there are people there, who like me, believe psychology is relevant.

Psychology was built upon the foundations of medicine, philosophy and neuroscience and struggles with the complex concept that is the mind. Even erudite minds such as Aristotle and Descartes where baffled. Aristotle believed the seat of intelligence was the heart and Descartes thought the mind was housed in the pineal gland. Which just goes to prove that trying to understand the complexity of what makes us who we are and act the way we do is not exactly simple. Yes, you can pass my course without really making any effort or without having any true zest. You will in no way have a chance at being accepted for masters course or graduating anywhere close to a first, but you can easily pass. And no, that statement cannot be applied to fields such as medicine or astrophysics when a keen interest in key, but that does not make psychology any less important. If you chose to take psychology seriously it requires time, education, patience and intelligence just like any other field of study.

But you ask, how does this make psychology relevant or rather, why should you believe me? I am after all one of the most biased people towards psychology; however, if you have taken any time at all to read my past blog posts you will see that psychology is as relevant now as ever and that relevance is growing exponentially. Psychology is the key to becoming more efficient, more empathetic and more self-aware than ever. Journals, such as my personal favourites Scientific American Mind and Psychology Today, prove that every day research in the field of psychology has immeasurable applications.

Animal Models in Neuroscience

Invertebrate Models 

The squid giant axon is pretty well renowned for his its applications neuroscience research. J Z Young discovered the giant squid axon and giant squid synapse and was the first to apply it neurophysiological research. The giant squid (loligo pealii) was and is still considered to extrodinarly vital to neuroscience research because of the sheer size of its axon (<1mm). It’s size makes it easy to dissect and support. External and internal perfusion with varying saline levels allowed scientists to determine ion flows in action potential.  Using the giant squid axon, Alan Lloyd Hodgkin and Andrew Huxley won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1963 for developing Hodgkin–Huxley model mathematical model that describes how action potentials in neurons are initiated and propagated.

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In electrophysiology, worms are used as a model for cellular death (apoptosis) and development and are also studied because of their relatively large axon. The C.elegans a nematoda (roundworm) is often studied because its genome, nervous system and genetic regulation of behaviour has been fully mapped. Specifically, these roundworms are an ideal model for apoptosis.

Fruit flies or drosophilia melangosaster have probably come up a fair few times if you have ever taken biology. Fruit flies are used in neuroscience for the identification of genes regulation nervous system development. In particular, the role of pax-6 in the development and evolution of the eye.

Vertebrate Models 

Frogs 

Italian physician Luigi Galvani in his frog studies showed that muscles can be caused to twitch when electrically stimulated.

German physician and physicist Hermann von Helmholtz isolated the nerve conduction velocity to be between a range of 24.6 – 38.4 meters per second.

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Ross G. Harrison was the first person to make observations of axonal growth whilst studying tadpoles in vitro.

Katz and Miledi whilst studying frogs observed the role of calcium ions in the release of neurotransmitters.

The neuropsychologist Roger W. Sperry, known for his split-brain research that lead his Nobel Prize in 1981, observed rats and frogs discovering how nerves pathfind.

Birds

The domestic chicken (gallus domesticus) have been used again and again the study of brain development because of how easy they are to study. Chickens are so easy to study because of how ‘simple’ it is for scientists to manipulate the embryo. Being able to manipulate the embryo means the scientists have been able to transplant genes, tissue and nerve growth factors to study the effects.

Konrad Lorenz an Austrian zoologist,ethologist, and ornithologist studied imprinting in chicks, which is when an animal comes to believe the first person, thing or animal they see is there mother.

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English biologist Steven Rose also used chicks to study passive avoidance learning, which is when a person or animals learns to stop doing a certain behaviour when it results in punishment.

Nichole Le Douarin transplanted regions of nervous system between quails and the domestic chicken to create a chimera, which has led to critical insights into the development of the nervous system and the immune system. Other notable researchers that have worked with the domestic chicken are Viktor Hamburger and Rita Levi-Montalcini.

Mammals and Non-Human Primates

Hitzig and Fritsch both German physicians used dogs to map out the motor cortex of dogs.

Using cats, dogs and apes English neurophysiologist, histologist, bacteriologist, and a pathologist Sir Charles S. Sherrington made huge progress to our current knowledge of reflexes, motor control and localisation in addition to coining the term synapse.

German pharmacologist Otto Loewi who discovered of acetylcholine, used dogs to study chemical neural transmissions. This discovery came from the stimulation of the vagus nerve releasing vagustoff, which caused a reduction  in the heart rate. This vagustoff was later confirmed to be acetylcholine. English neuroscientist Henry Hallett Dale later expanded on this discovery to study the release of ACh from the motor nerves in cats, dogs and frogs. He came up with Dale’s principle that individual nerves release a single neurotransmitter, which of course, was later proved false.

British physiologist John Langley named the autonomic nervous system and studied cats, dogs and rabbits to formulate the receptor theory.

American psychologist Karl Lashley searched for the engram (physical embodiment of memory) using ablations in rats to see how it would affect their memory performance in maze tasks.

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To famous psychological experiments involving mammals are those of American psychologist B.F. Skinner and Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov. Pavlov conducted studies on dogs and coined the term what is now known as classical or passive conditioning via the pairing of stimuli. B.F. Skinner using a ‘Skinner Box’ and rats coined the term active or operant conditioning via reinforcement.

Kuffler (Hungarian-American neurophysiologist), Hubel (Canadian neurophysiologist) and Weisel (Swedish neurophysiologist) worked together on cats and monkey brains to map out receptive fields related visual processing.

Mice transgenics have also widely been used to study molecular dissection of behaviour and diseases in particular in relation to reward systems and development abnormalities.

Non-human primates are of particular interest to neuroscientists because they are of few animals with brains similar to ours, in particular they have a frontal lobe.

Normal or Gaussian Distribution

Characteristics of Normal Distribution 

– Symmetrical about the mean

– Tails should meet the axis at infinity

– Bell-shaped distribution

– Mean = mode = median

– The area under the curve is 1 standard deviation away from the mean and makes up 68% of the entire distribution under the curve (This means that if you randomly select a point under the curve, there is a 68% chance it will fall one standard deviation from the mean)

– The area under the curve 1.96 SD (round to two) away from the mean makes up 95% of the entire distribution under the curve (This means that if you randomly select a point under the curve, there is a 95% chance it will fall 2 standard deviations from the mean)

– The sample mean = mean of the population

– The standard deviation of the mean distribution or standard error = (SD of the population)/(square root of the number of scores)

– The standard error indicates the degree to which sample means deviate from the mean

– The sample mean distribution converges to normal distribution as the size of the sample increases

– The bell-shaped curve can also be reflected in the lay-out of a histrogram

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Here the SD is 15 units

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Questions Dealing with Standard Deviation

Question: Assume the standard deviation is 10 and the mean score is 100. If you randomly select any point 1 standard deviation from the mean, what would be your range?

Answer: The range would be between 90 and 110. As one standard deviation is 10 units left or right. You could also say that you have a 68% chance of randomly picking a score between 90 and 110 on the this graph.

Question: Assume the standard deviation is 10 and the mean score is 100. If you randomly select any point 2 standard deviations from the mean, what would your range be?

Answer: The range would be between 80 and 120. As one standard deviation is 10 units left or right, 2 standard deviations would be 20 units left or right. You could also say that you have a 95% of randomly picking a score between 80 and 120 on this graph.

N.B: 95% is the commonly accepted probability, which is the alpha level or confidence level in psychological studies for rejecting the null hypothesis is p<0.05.

The z-Score 

It is possible to convert all normal distributions to the standard normal distribution.

For a standard normal distribution the mean has to equal 0 and the SD has to equal 1.

You can find the z-score by subtracting the mean from each data point, and then dividing the this zero-meaned data by the standard deviation.

If your final data point is +1, this point is one standard deviation above the mean. If your final data point is -3, this point is 3 standard deviations below the mean. The z-score is particularly useful for comparing data across different situations.

Error Bar Charts

Error bar charts are away of representing the confidence interval. Error bars display your mean means as a point on a chart and a vertical line through the mean point that represents the confidence interval. The longer the line, the longer the confidence interval. Error bar charts can also be used to see if two population means differ from each other by comparing confidence interval. If the confidence intervals do not overlap we can be 95% confident that both population means fall within the intervals indicated and therefore do not overlap.

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Bibliography

ZHENG, Y. (2013). Referencing and citation – Harvard style, from PSY104 Methods and Reasoning for Psychologists. University of Sheffield, Richard Roberts Building on 11th February. Available from: Blackboard.
[Accessed 4/02/13].

The Statistical t-Test

IBM

The statistical t-test is used to compare two conditions, specifically the means of two conditions. A t-test can be applied to both a between participants and within participants design. This test can only be done on normally distributed data, and as such is a parametric test. The purpose of the t-test is to decide whether or not the difference between the means of the two conditions is statistically significant. If the difference is statistically significant we are able to except our experimental hypothesis and also give some directionality to our hypothesis. If the difference between the means of the two conditions is not statistically significant we must reject our experimental hypothesis and accept the null hypothesis. The t-score is technically more than just the difference between the means. Just like normal data distribution, the t-score also has a 95% confidence interval, which means for the difference between the means to be statistically significant, the alpha level needs to be less than 0.05. The alpha level was decided on 0.05 to try and reduce the amount of type I and type II errors. Type I errors is when we reject the null hypothesis but should not have, and type II errors is when we reject the experimental hypothesis but we should not have. If the sample size is large and the null hypothesis is true, the distribution of the t-scores is also normal. The smaller the sample size becomes, the more tail-heavy the distribution becomes.

The way this is interpreted is if two groups come from the same population,  then 95% of the time, the t-score (reflecting the difference in the means) will be within the 95% area under the graph of the data.

Degrees of Freedom

Degrees of freedom for within-participants design is the same as the number of participants.

Degrees of freedom for between-participants design is the (number of participants in group 1 -1) + (number of Ps in group 2 -1)

SPSS will do the math for you!

Basically…

When you start with your mean scores, assume that the null hypothesis is true and that there is no significant difference between the means.

Then set your significance level at p<0.05 or the alpha level, which is the same thing. SPSS should do this automatically.

Then using SPSS calculate the t-score.

If the t-score is within the 95% interval: accept the null hypothesis and reject the experimental hypothesis.

If the t-score is outside the 95% interval: reject the null hypothesis and accept the experimental hypothesis. You have now established that there is a significant difference between the two means.

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This is an example of the type of output that will be given by SPSS. From this output you can answer the following questions:

Question 1: Is the experimental design within or between participants?

Answer: The experimental design is within. You can tell this from the heading where it says paired difference.

Question 2: What is the t-score?

Answer: The t-score is -9.60.

Question 3: What are the degrees of freedom?

Answer: The degrees of freedom (df) is 77.

Question 4: Is it two-tailed or one-tailed test?

Answer: It is two tailed as shown in the last box. Sig. (2-tailed).

Question 5: Is the result significant at an alpha level of 0.05? Why?

Answer: The result is significant at the alpha level because p<0.001, which obviously is less than 0.05.

 Reporting the Results 

This is an example of how you would report the following data for the results section of a lab report:

The mean and standard deviation of participants’ reaction time under conditions 1 and 2 are given in Table (not in this post). The data were analysed using a two-tailed within-participants t-test and an alpha level of 0.05.There is a statistically significant difference between the ideal IQ and the estimated IQ, with the estimated IQ significantly lower than IQ for an ideal job, t(77) = -9.60, p <0.001.

Attribution Errors

Fundamental Attribution Error 

Fundamental attribution error as defined by Ross et al. 1977 is the tendency to overestimate the impact of dis positional factors and underestimate the impact of situational factors in making casual attributions to behavior. In his study, he randomly divided a sample into questioners and contestants. The questioners were asked to come up with the hardest questions they could think of. Even though both the questioners and contestants knew this, both rated the questioners as more intelligent than the contestants. This clearly illustrates the fundamental attribution error. Other researchers have also illustrated the FAE in other studies. Barjonet 1980 found that people consistently attribute poor driving to the disposition of the drives rather than external factors such as road conditions or perhaps an emergency situation.

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Interestingly enough, although perhaps not all too surprising, the fundamental attribution errors appears to be more prevalent in western societies. Miller (1984) found that US adults were far more likely than Indian adults to commit the fundamental attribution error.

Actor-Observer Differences

Jones  and Nisbett (1972) described actor-observer differences as the tendency for actors to attribute their behaviour to external rather than internal causes. In his study Nisbet (1972) asked male students to write 2 essays. One essay was about their girlfriend and their choice of course. The other essay was about their best friend’s girlfriend and their friend’s choice of course. Nisbett found that when the male students wrote about themselves they made far more situational attributions to their choices, and when they wrote about their best friend, they made far more dispositional attributions to their choices.

Actor-observer differences were also observed by West (1975) during the Watergate Scandal involving President Nixon. He found that observers such as the public and the press blamed the scandal on the dispositions of the White House staff, where as the Nixon administrations blamed the circumstances for their behaviour.

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Storms et al. (1973) attributed the actor-observer differences to perceptual focus. If you change perceptual focus, he believed you could also change attribution style. In the study, actor attributions become less situational and more dispositional when a videotape of the conversation between the participant and another person was viewed from an observer’s view point. The actor attributions became more situational and less dispositional when video was shown from the person they had been taking to’s view point.

False Consensus Effect 

In 1977 Ross et al. also described the false consensus effect as a criticism of the ANOVA model. The false consensus effect suggests that people rely less on distinctiveness and stimulus and more on consensus. Ross et al. believed that people would act the same us as in a given situation (consensus). In the study, Ross et al. asked students if they would walk around campus for 30 minutes wearing a sandwich board. 62% of the students that agreed to wear the sandwich board thought other people would also agree. 67% of the students that refused to wear the sandwich board through others would also refuse. Clearly, 67% plus 62% adds up to more than 100!

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Sometimes, the false consensus effect works the other way. When we feel strongly about and issue or when something is very important to us, we want to believe others do not believe the same as us or did not do as well as us. Fenigstein’s (1996) study is an excellent paradigm of this. He observed that students who received an A on a test underestimated the amount of other students that also received an  A. Fenigstein believed that we fall prey to the false consensus effect because it helps boost our self-esteem to over-estimate or under-estimate consensus in certain circumstances.

Self-Serving Bias 

Self-serving bias is the tendency to contribute success to internal causes (self-enhancing bias) but failure to external causes (self-protecting bias). Self-serving bias comes in many forms such as the self-centred bias and self-handicapping.

Pupils sit GCSE exams in a school hall

The self-enhancing bias is far more pervasive than the self-protecting bias, quite unsurprisingly. Williams et al. (1979) found that exam success was attributed to intelligence where as exam failure was attribute to either poor lecturing ability or bad luck. Self-centred bias is quite similar, but it specifically refers to taking too much responsibility (or too little) for jointly produced outcomes. A classic example is couples blaming their significant other for sexual dysfunction in their relationship (Mall and Volpato 1989). Self-handicapping is also self-enhancing and is something we all tend to do around this time of year. We exaggerate a factor that detrimentally affects performance in order to decrease feelings of guilt and responsibility in case of failure but also to increase our self-esteem if we do happen to succeed.

Unrealistic Optimism 

Unrealistic optimism is the false belief that you are slightly better than average and that good things are more likely to happen to you. This is consistent with human tendency to believe in a just world and also to disguise any feelings of vulnerability to death. Manstead et al. 1992 found that even after being hospitalised due to car accident, these drivers still rated their driving abilities as above average. Even more astounding is the survey conducted by Burger and Burns (1998) who found that women who did not use contraception thought they were less at risk of getting pregnant compared to other women.

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