[Paleopsych] Positive emotions and perceptual accuracy
Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D.
ljohnson at solution-consulting.com
Tue Feb 15 05:19:31 UTC 2005
Disclosure: Johnson in press release is not related to me.
Feb. 1, 2005
Positive emotions slash bias, help people see big picture details
ANN ARBOR, Mich.--Positive emotions like joy and humor help people "get
the big picture," virtually eliminating the own-race bias that makes
many people think members of other races "all look alike," according to
new University of Michigan research.
"Negative emotions create a tunnel vision," said U-M psychology
researcher Kareem Johnson. "Negative emotions like fear or anger are
useful for short-term survival when there's an immediate danger like
being chased by a dangerous animal. Positive emotions like joy and
happiness are for long-term survival and promote big picture thinking,
make you more inclusive and notice more details, make you think in terms
of 'us' instead of 'them.'"
To simulate getting a quick glance of a stranger, scientists flashed
photos of individuals for about a half second, finding subjects
recognized members of their own race 75 percent of the time but only
recognized members of another race 65 percent of the time, Johnson said.
However, researchers found positive emotions boosted that recognition of
cross-race faces about 10 to 20 percent, eliminating the gap.
The findings will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal
Johnson, who is completing his PhD work in psychology, and Barbara
Fredrickson, a U-M psychology professor and director of the Positive
Emotion and Psychophysiology Laboratory, specialize in the power of
Researchers asked a group of 89 students to watch a video either of a
comic to induce joy and laughter, a horror video to induce anxiety, or a
"neutral" video that would not effect emotions. They then looked at 28
yearbook style photos of college-aged people in random order for 500
Subjects who watched the comedy tested for having much higher positive
emotions, while those who saw the horror video had far more "negative"
emotions. In a testing phase, more images flashed by and they were asked
to push buttons to indicate whether they'd seen the pictures earlier.
Those in a positive mood had a far greater ability to recognize members
of another race, while their ability to recognize members of their own
race stayed the same.
The researchers conclude that positive emotions bring with them a
"broadening effect" that helps people see a bigger, broader picture of
the world around them.
Positive Emotion and Psychophysiology Laboratory
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