[Paleopsych] Positive emotions and perceptual accuracy

Ross Buck ross.buck at uconn.edu
Tue Feb 15 15:15:36 UTC 2005

It is interesting that the stimulus for positive emotions here is a
comedian.  We need to know more about the subject of the humor.  Often, the
funniest comedians are quite aggressive in their humor, possibly fostering
feelings of in-group bonding that are quite different from
hearts-and-flowers happiness, and perhaps actually enhancing "us versus
them" feelings.  Could the enhanced recognition of different-race faces
actually be a kind of vigilance?  

Cheers, Ross

Ross Buck, Ph. D.
Professor of Communication Sciences
	and Psychology
Communication Sciences U-1085		
University of Connecticut				
Storrs, CT 06269-1085
fax  860-486-5422
buck at uconnvm.uconn.edu

-----Original Message-----
From: paleopsych-bounces at paleopsych.org
[mailto:paleopsych-bounces at paleopsych.org] On Behalf Of Steve Hovland
Sent: Tuesday, February 15, 2005 9:19 AM
To: 'The new improved paleopsych list'
Subject: RE: [Paleopsych] Positive emotions and perceptual accuracy

Do most of the positive emotions arise from the limbic?

Steve Hovland

-----Original Message-----
From:	Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D. [SMTP:ljohnson at solution-consulting.com]
Sent:	Monday, February 14, 2005 9:20 PM
To:	The new improved paleopsych list
Subject:	[Paleopsych] Positive emotions and perceptual accuracy

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 
Psychological Science.

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 
positive emotions.

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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