[Paleopsych] more on perceptual accuracy study
Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D.
ljohnson at solution-consulting.com
Thu Feb 17 13:23:02 UTC 2005
\This is Kareem's reply to me
Thanks for your amusing reply. I was caught a bit off guard by your
initial e-mail since the study is not yet published. The PR folks at
Michigan never told me when the press release came out. I am curious
about your group, I will follow the links you provided.
I wanted to offer some words of wisdom. It is not as simple as being
happy makes us smarter. In fact there is quite a good chunk of data that
suggests the exact opposite. Those that are highly versed in some the of
social psych literature may know of studies finding positive moods
associated with the use of more heuristics (mental shortcuts) and
stereotypes. That perspective suggests that people want to maintain
positive feelings and become "cognitively lazy". There is even a paper
by Norbert Schwarz entitled "Happy = mindless, sad = smart". A very
different perspective than positive emotions broaden and build. I
eventually would like to write a review paper that will show these
different perspectives aren't incommensurate.
But... the happy = mindless perspective is slowly being debunked. For
instance, when subjects think a task is relevant (either personally or
because their decisions may have an actual outcome) positive moods no
longer increase the use of heuristics and stereotypes. I can give you
references if you like.
The stuff we've done in the Fredrickson lab supports positive emotions
as evolutionarily adaptive... broadening visual attention, promoting
inclusive social thinking, and facilitating coping mechanisms is
conceptually quite different from the judgement and decision tasks that
were used in the above studies. ... but that leads to a lengthy discussion
Point is.. a review of the literature would not support the idea that
happy means smarter, but there may be specific domains when it is true.
I think some the most exciting stuff we do is how positive emotions
change how we interact with the social world.. for instance expanding
the self-concept or eliminating recognition biases, we've been calling
it social broadening, In essence a state when we more readily see our
similarities and connection to others.
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