[Paleopsych] [Fwd: Re: perceptual accuracy study]

Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D. ljohnson at solution-consulting.com
Wed Feb 16 13:36:49 UTC 2005

He got right back, so, Ross, here is a thoughtful discussion.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 	Re: perceptual accuracy study
Date: 	Tue, 15 Feb 2005 22:41:54 -0500
From: 	Kareem Johnson <kareemjj at umich.edu>
To: 	Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D. <ljohnson at solution-consulting.com>
References: 	<4212B883.1010907 at solution-consulting.com>

Okay first things first.
Who are you exactly? What is paleopsychology and why are you talking 
about my soon to be published study?

As for your question.  It's funny my co-author Barb Fredrickson is 
cautious of using comedians because some humor relies on ridicule and 
can be hostile or offensive.  But I think that there is something 
special about laughter as a positive emotion. I  set out to choose 
humor that would poke fun at common and shared experiences.

The comedian was a Cacausian male comedian (Kevin James; he's in the 
move "Hitch" with Will Smith, star of "King of Queens").   It is hard 
to translate comedy material but the segment mentions topics such as 
dads that won't turn on air conditioning, long messages on answering 
machines, the rhythm of phone numbers, and waiting in elevators.  The 
segments consistently rate high in reports of amusement, happiness, and 
joy and low in anger, fear, or disgust.  Ratings of the positive 
emotions were positively correlated with cross-race recognition, and 
negative emotions like anger and anxiety were negatively correlated 
with cross-race recognition.

As for vigilance, there were three emotion conditions; humor, fear, and 
neutral.  If vigilance would enhance recognition you'd expect the fear 
condition to enhance recognition but it did not.   Other studies shown 
stress (also vigilance) actual impairs cross-race recognition.

The paper is in press at Psychological Science.  It should be published 
sometime this summer.

A sufficient answer?

Now it is an open question whether using  an offensive or "us versus 
them" comic would do.   Perhaps comedy that makes fun of people that 
are different than us (ethnic jokes, gay jokes, jokes about the 
mentally retarded) would have a different effect on recognition.  But 
across a college population sample the emotion reports would also 
reveal higher levels of negative emotions of the people offended.  Then 
you get into the personality variables... so tell me again... how do 
you know about this study and why do you care? ;-)


On Feb 15, 2005, at 10:05 PM, Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D. wrote:

> Kareem,
> A question came up on the paleopsychology list - what was the specific 
> content of the humor tape. The question was from Ross Buck:
> 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
> 860-486-4494
> fax  860-486-5422
> buck at uconnvm.uconn.edu
> Any response to that?
> Lynn
Kareem Johnson						Department of Psychology
Ph.D. candidate						University of Michigan
(734) 330-5131						(734) 936-0640	

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