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What would the effect on psychology experiments be if we found out that one person sees blue if another sees red?

What would the effect on psychology experiments be if we found out that one person sees blue if another sees red?

Suppose we conducted an experiment that found that the color red makes people depressed and the color blue makes people happy.

Now suppose we found out that when looking at a red object, person A sees red but person B perceives blue.

Would the conclusions of the experiment still apply?

My take would be that the results would still apply, just that they apply to different definitions and it would be just a matter of semantics.


While the sensation of color is well defined, the perception of color is indeed shrouded in ambiguity (Brainard, 2001). There are no colors, just electromagnetic radiations that oscillate in different frequencies in the frequency domain. Our brains interpret those various wavelengths as color.

Now on to your experiment: if you find a statistical difference and you later find out that a group of people perceive the color blue as red and vice versa, the first thing you want to do is control for that population and take them out from the data set. Then you can compare the 'true seers' with the 'reversed seers' and see if they are statistically different in their emotional response. If yes, you'd better split them and analyze them separately. If not, a pooled analysis is fine, perhaps you can add the normal or inverse perception as a co-factor, dependent on the exact analysis.

But then, perhaps, the most important question here is - how would you find out what a person actually perceives?

Reference
- Brainard, Int. Encyclopedia Social & Behavioral Sciences, Smelser & Baltes (eds.), Pergamon Press, Amsterdam


Fraud Case Seen as a Red Flag for Psychology Research

A well-known psychologist in the Netherlands whose work has been published widely in professional journals falsified data and made up entire experiments, an investigating committee has found. Experts say the case exposes deep flaws in the way science is done in a field, psychology, that has only recently earned a fragile respectability.

The psychologist, Diederik Stapel, of Tilburg University, committed academic fraud in “several dozen” published papers, many accepted in respected journals and reported in the news media, according to a report released on Monday by the three Dutch institutions where he has worked: the University of Groningen, the University of Amsterdam, and Tilburg. The journal Science, which published one of Dr. Stapel’s papers in April, posted an “editorial expression of concern” about the research online on Tuesday.

The scandal, involving about a decade of work, is the latest in a string of embarrassments in a field that critics and statisticians say badly needs to overhaul how it treats research results. In recent years, psychologists have reported a raft of findings on race biases, brain imaging and even extrasensory perception that have not stood up to scrutiny. Outright fraud may be rare, these experts say, but they contend that Dr. Stapel took advantage of a system that allows researchers to operate in near secrecy and massage data to find what they want to find, without much fear of being challenged.

“The big problem is that the culture is such that researchers spin their work in a way that tells a prettier story than what they really found,” said Jonathan Schooler, a psychologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “It’s almost like everyone is on steroids, and to compete you have to take steroids as well.”

In a prolific career, Dr. Stapel published papers on the effect of power on hypocrisy, on racial stereotyping and on how advertisements affect how people view themselves. Many of his findings appeared in newspapers around the world, including The New York Times, which reported in December on his study about advertising and identity.

In a statement posted Monday on Tilburg University’s Web site, Dr. Stapel apologized to his colleagues. “I have failed as a scientist and researcher,” it read, in part. “I feel ashamed for it and have great regret.”

More than a dozen doctoral theses that he oversaw are also questionable, the investigators concluded, after interviewing former students, co-authors and colleagues. Dr. Stapel has published about 150 papers, many of which, like the advertising study, seem devised to make a splash in the media. The study published in Science this year claimed that white people became more likely to “stereotype and discriminate” against black people when they were in a messy environment, versus an organized one. Another study, published in 2009, claimed that people judged job applicants as more competent if they had a male voice. The investigating committee did not post a list of papers that it had found fraudulent.

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Dr. Stapel was able to operate for so long, the committee said, in large measure because he was “lord of the data,” the only person who saw the experimental evidence that had been gathered (or fabricated). This is a widespread problem in psychology, said Jelte M. Wicherts, a psychologist at the University of Amsterdam. In a recent survey, two-thirds of Dutch research psychologists said they did not make their raw data available for other researchers to see. “This is in violation of ethical rules established in the field,” Dr. Wicherts said.

In a survey of more than 2,000 American psychologists scheduled to be published this year, Leslie John of Harvard Business School and two colleagues found that 70 percent had acknowledged, anonymously, to cutting some corners in reporting data. About a third said they had reported an unexpected finding as predicted from the start, and about 1 percent admitted to falsifying data.

Also common is a self-serving statistical sloppiness. In an analysis published this year, Dr. Wicherts and Marjan Bakker, also at the University of Amsterdam, searched a random sample of 281 psychology papers for statistical errors. They found that about half of the papers in high-end journals contained some statistical error, and that about 15 percent of all papers had at least one error that changed a reported finding — almost always in opposition to the authors’ hypothesis.

The American Psychological Association, the field’s largest and most influential publisher of results, “is very concerned about scientific ethics and having only reliable and valid research findings within the literature,” said Kim I. Mills, a spokeswoman. “We will move to retract any invalid research as such articles are clearly identified.”

Researchers in psychology are certainly aware of the issue. In recent years, some have mocked studies showing correlations between activity on brain images and personality measures as “voodoo” science, and a controversy over statistics erupted in January after The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology accepted a paper purporting to show evidence of extrasensory perception. In cases like these, the authors being challenged are often reluctant to share their raw data. But an analysis of 49 studies appearing Wednesday in the journal PLoS One, by Dr. Wicherts, Dr. Bakker and Dylan Molenaar, found that the more reluctant that scientists were to share their data, the more likely that evidence contradicted their reported findings.

“We know the general tendency of humans to draw the conclusions they want to draw — there’s a different threshold,” said Joseph P. Simmons, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. “With findings we want to see, we ask, ‘Can I believe this?’ With those we don’t, we ask, ‘Must I believe this?’ ”

But reviewers working for psychology journals rarely take this into account in any rigorous way. Neither do they typically ask to see the original data. While many psychologists shade and spin, Dr. Stapel went ahead and drew any conclusion he wanted.

“We have the technology to share data and publish our initial hypotheses, and now’s the time,” Dr. Schooler said. “It would clean up the field’s act in a very big way.”


The birth order effect

Whether you’re a confident but controlling first-born or a resourceful yet restless middle child, your positioning in the family can affect everything from your choice of career to how successful your marriage is

The order we’re born in – first, middle or youngest child – is outside our control. So it can make us uncomfortable to think that our birth order can play a significant part in our success, our personality – the direction of our life. Surely, these things are not set before we even get started? And yet, we all know a ‘typical middle child’, we recognise ‘classic only-child behaviour’. And the over-achievement of the first-born is one of the most consistent findings in child psychology. So how big a role does birth order play?

I’m coming from a vulnerable, emotionally charged and pregnant perspective. I have two daughters, aged five and six, and am about to add a third baby to the mix. At the moment, Ruby, our eldest, has life sussed. She’s independent, educationally gifted and sometimes I think I could leave her in Sainsbury’s and she’d probably look after herself. Tara, her younger sister, is the one who wants the cuddles, who frets if I’m not first at the door when school finishes. The idea that she’ll soon be shoved out of her space as the baby of the family and squashed into the middle fills me with guilt. Is it downhill for her from now on?

The importance of birth order was first set out by the Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler. Michael Grose, an Adlerian-trained parenting expert and author of Why First-borns Rule The World And Last-borns Want To Change It (Random House, £12.99), explains the basics. ‘We’re in a Darwinian struggle from the moment we’re born, fighting for scarce resources within a family – our parents’ time, love and affection,’ he says. Through human evolution, birth order has determined who inherits power (the first-born) and who is sent to war (the youngest as he was the ‘spare’).

Historically, first-borns have been less likely to die in infancy, are less susceptible to disease and, as adults, are more likely to reproduce. They are their parents’ ‘blue-chip security’, whose birth is most eagerly anticipated, whose first steps, first words, first everythings are celebrated. ‘Typical first-borns are appro-val-seeking missiles,’ says Grose. ‘They’ve been showered with attention and identify strongly with power.’ First-borns are thought to be conscientious and achievement-oriented. A study of Norwegians born between 1912 and 1975 found that educational achievement was highest in first-borns and diminished the further down the birth order you got, despite little difference in IQ. The legal profession is, says Grose, filled with first-borns. World leaders are also overwhelmingly first-born children. On the negative side, first-borns are the only ones who experience having their parents all to themselves, then having to share them. For this reason, they’re thought to be anxious, emotionally intense, defensive and prone to jealous rages.

These are all characteristics that fit Sarah Ruskell, 43. The eldest of three, she’s a successful academic, married with three children. As a child, she was serious, bookish and mature. ‘I had a younger sister and brother who were much naughtier on a daily basis,’ she says. ‘But if I was pushed, if they messed up my room or touched my records, I’d rage. Any threat to my power, I suppose.’

Another characteristic of first-borns, according to Frank Sulloway, author of Born to Rebel (Abacus), is caution and aversion to risk. They’re the least likely to travel or be physically daring. Again, this fits Sarah. While her middle brother took up hang-gliding and both siblings backpacked round the world, Sarah’s biggest adventure to date is a thunderstorm in France. Many theorists group only children among first-borns ­– although they never experience having to share their parents, nor the frictions, fights or fondness that comes with siblings. For this reason, they feel like outsiders, distanced from much of life. The only child is thought to be extremely mature, aloof, someone who expects a special standing.

Middle child

So what about the middle child? According to Darwinian theory, they lose out as they are neither the precious, able, oldest,­ nor the vulnerable youngest. Their strength is that they learn to be more flexible and sociable, to compromise and build coalitions. ‘Middle children tend to be more relaxed,’ says Grose. James, 39, is a typical case. Born between his sister and brother, he has always been easy-going, and loves to be surrounded by friends. Yet his affability comes at a price. ‘I turned my back on becoming a pro rugby player because I lacked competitive drive,’ he says. As the first-born boy, James didn’t struggle to establish his own identity as some middle-borns do, but, he says, ‘if I wanted something I definitely had to shout the loudest to make myself heard’.

Gemma, 33, the middle of three sisters, found it harder to carve out her niche. ‘I lived in my older sister’s shadow, and was overlooked in favour of my younger sister,’ she says. ‘I felt left out, and overcompensated by forging friendships outside the family.’ She also became a skilled negotiator. ‘As a “middle” I was the peacemaker. I still use those skills now, and I’m good at seeing everyone’s point of view.’

The youngest children are more likely to question the order of things, and develop a ‘revolutionary personality’. Many last-borns choose a completely different path to their older siblings to avoid direct competition. They are the babies of the family, and may grow up expecting others to take responsibility. ‘They’re not life’s volunteers,’ says Grose. ‘They’re more likely to put others in service.’ As the youngest of three, I can recognise myself in that. Growing up, I was the most likely to have blazing rows with my dad, I sympathised with the underdog and I’m not a volunteer. (At family get-togethers, I’m still the least helpful.) But a lonely outsider, struggling with an inferiority complex? It seems harsh to condemn anyone to this description simply on the basis of where they stand in the family.

Grose admits the effects of birth order can vary according to different factors, including temperament, gender and age gap. Lucy McDonald is the third of five children, but was the first girl. ‘I’ve got a mix of middle and oldest child traits,’ she says. ‘You can have an easy-going first-born, which will ease the competition all the way down,’ says Grose. ‘If the children are the same sex, the competition is more extreme –­ two boys close together produces the most rivalry, and, generally, the closer the age gap, the more dramatic the birth-order effect. When the gap is more than five years, it’s greatly diminished.’ Grose has found birth order a useful tool when dealing with adult clients. ‘Recently, I was approached by a professional in her forties who was basically worn out,’ he says. ‘She admitted that, as a child, she was always playing catch-up with her sister, who was two years older than her. She had always tried to run as fast and be as clever, and the pattern had played out her whole life. As an adult, she was competitive in everything ­– she’d replaced her older sister with her colleagues, her boss, her friends. Despite career success, she was never happy with herself. Helping her see the problem through the context of birth order put her on the path to understanding and modifying her behaviour patterns.’

Cliff Isaacson, author of Birth Order Effect for Couples (Fair Winds, £9.99), believes birth order can even help you find a partner. ‘Two third-borns make the best couples,’ he says. ‘They relate without conflict, there’s a lot of humour and they make a protective environment for their children. Two first-borns rarely connect, there’s no compromise, it’s not a happy relationship.’

According to Isaacson, however, birth order is not a fixed state. ‘It’s a set of strategies developed in childhood to cope with your siblings (or lack of them), parents and the family situation,’ he says. ‘As you get older, you may learn other ways of interacting with your peers. The best reason for studying your birth order is to understand yourself or your children a little better – then overcome it.’

Are you a born leader? More than half the US Presidents, every US astronaut and most Nobel prize-winners have been either first born or an only child. Typical professions are law, politics, science and accountancy.

First-borns: Bill and Hillary Clinton, George W Bush, Saddam Hussein, Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler (actually his mother’s first surviving child), Kylie Minogue, Cherie Blair.

Only children: Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, Franklin D Roosevelt, Jean Paul Sartre, Burt Bacharach, Frank Sinatra, Tiger Woods.

Middle children: many middle children work in retail, sales, fashion, advertising or the caring professions. Stella McCartney, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jacqueline du Pré, Princess Diana, Cindy Crawford, Cate Blanchett, Emily Brontë.

Last children: thought to be rebels, non-conformists, also drawn to creative professions and performing arts. Joan of Arc, Mahatma Gandhi, Charles Darwin, Leon Trotsky, Charlie Chaplin, Hugh Grant, Johnny Depp.

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What would the effect on psychology experiments be if we found out that one person sees blue if another sees red? - Psychology

Entire contents © 2010
by Simons and Chabris
All Rights Reserved.

Design by Scot Covey, Rafael Fernandez, and Daniel Simons

Imagine you are asked to watch a short video (above) in which six people-three in white shirts and three in black shirts-pass basketballs around. While you watch, you must keep a silent count of the number of passes made by the people in white shirts. At some point, a gorilla strolls into the middle of the action, faces the camera and thumps its chest, and then leaves, spending nine seconds on screen. Would you see the gorilla?

Almost everyone has the intuition that the answer is "yes, of course I would." How could something so obvious go completely unnoticed? But when we did this experiment at Harvard University several years ago, we found that half of the people who watched the video and counted the passes missed the gorilla. It was as though the gorilla was invisible.


Two Years Later, We Finally Know Why People Saw “The Dress” Differently

One of psychologist Robert Zajonc’s lasting contributions to science is the “mere exposure effect,” or the observation that people tend to like things if they are exposed to them more often. Much of advertising is based on this notion. But it was sorely tested in late February 2015, when “the dress” broke the internet. Within days, most people were utterly sick of seeing or talking about it. I can only assume that now, two years later, you have very limited interest in being here. (Thank you for being here.)

But the phenomenon continues to be utterly fascinating to vision scientists like me, and for good reason. The very existence of “the dress” challenged our entire understanding of color vision. Up until early 2015, a close reading of the literature could suggest that the entire field had gone somewhat stale—we thought we basically knew how color vision worked, more or less. The dress upended that idea. No one had any idea why some people see “the dress” differently than others—we arguably still don’t fully understand it. It was like discovering a new continent. Plus, the stimulus first arose in the wild (in England, no less), making it all the more impressive. (Most other stimuli used by vision science are generally created in labs.)

Even outside of vision scientists, most people just assume everyone sees the world in the same way. Which is why it’s awkward when disagreements arise—it suggests one party either is ignorant, is malicious, has an agenda, or is crazy. We believe what we see with our own eyes more than almost anything else, which may explain the feuds that occurred when “the dress” first struck and science lacked a clear explanation for what was happening.

Two years later we have a much better idea of what may have been a reason for the varied perceptions: People’s perceived color is also informed by their perception of lighting. And the image of the dress, taken on a cellphone, contained a lot of uncertainty in terms of lighting conditions. Was it taken inside or outside? This matters because it implies artificial or natural light. Was the dress illuminated from the front or the back? This matters because if it was back-lit, it would be in a shadow, otherwise not.

The brain cannot be accused of epistemic modesty. It is well-known that in situations like this—where it faces profound uncertainty—it confidently fills in the gaps in knowledge by making assumptions. Usually, its assumptions are based on what it has most frequently encountered in the past. For instance, if the sensory information is more uncertain, observers will estimate object speeds to be slower than they actually are, presumably because slow objects are much more common in the environment than fast ones. (Indeed, most objects in any given field of view don’t move at all.) Color and lighting are no exception.

As the illumination conditions are impossible to clearly assess in the dress image, people make assumptions about what they are. Different people do this in differing ways, which is what causes the different interpretations of color. At least, that’s what my research shows, thanks to 13,000 people, including many Slatereaders, who took surveys on what they saw when they saw the dress and also compiled other information about how they generally perceived the photo and the world.

Remember, the dress is actually blue and black, though most people saw it as white and gold, at least at first. My research showed that if you assumed the dress was in a shadow, you were much more likely to see it as white and gold. Why? Because shadows overrepresent blue light. Mentally subtracting short-wavelength light (which would appear blue-ish) from an image will make it look yellow-ish. Natural light has a similar effect—people who thought it was illuminated by natural light were also more likely to see it as white and gold. Why? Because the sky is blue, daylight also overrepresents short wavelengths, compared with relatively long-wavelength artificial (until recently, usually incandescent) light. Just as mentally subtracting blue light leaves the image looking more yellow, mentally subtracting yellow light from an image leaves an image looking more blue, which is what I found empirically.

Now, why would some people assume one set of lighting conditions and others a different one? That probably depends on the viewing history of the individual observer. How would one study that? One can hardly ask people if they are exposed to more short- or more long-wavelength light. Chances are that most people wouldn’t know and definitely would not be able to assess how their histories of light perception is different relative to other people.

I could make one confident prediction, though: All else being equal, people who rise early (“larks”) and go to bed at a reasonable time should be exposed to more daylight than those who rise late and go to bed later (“owls”). In contrast, owls could be expected to experience relatively more incandescent light than larks.

It is important to note that everything else is likely not equal. So I expected to find a subtle effect that takes data from thousands of observers to be established. For instance, even if even if someone was a hardcore owl, he or she might be forced by circumstance to work a job that makes him or her get up early.

And this is exactly what I found—the effect is subtle but statistically reliable and dose-dependent in other words the more someone self-identified as a lark, the more likely he or she was to see the dress image as white and gold. Moreover—and to tie everything up with a bow— owls were more likely to assume that the lighting was artificial, not natural.

As the effect is subtle—really a proxy for illumination exposure history that cannot be expected to correlate perfectly, one should not expect this to hold for every individual observer. Even if someone spends most of their waking time at night, he or she might not use incandescent lighting. But on average, this group will be exposed to more incandescent light than the larks.

As a matter of fact, I can legitimately be accused of being a fairly extreme owl, yet I initially saw “the dress” strongly as white and gold. However, I did assume it to be in a shadow, so that assumption seemed to override the other. Moreover, viewing histories can change. Admittedly, I looked more at images of dresses (and this specific one at that) in the days following “the dress” than in my entire life before that combined. And it quite abruptly changed to a black and blue percept after four days, and I have never seen it as white and gold again. Of course, I also learned the true color of the dress in the intervening time, and my research suggests that people are more likely to switch to the true color of the dress than vice versa. Some people probably have such finely balanced assumptions that any number of factors could yield their percept to switch rapidly. These people are rare. They need to be found and studied in labs.

Regardless, this point about subtle effects under complicated conditions is an important one. Making the claim that self-identified circadian type can influence perception is unusual. And I wanted to get it right, so I did an internal replication of these findings before seeking publication, which delayed publication by well over a year. (I had 97 percent of the data from the original run within a month of the dress release and could have published right then and there.)

This brings me to the final reason why the dress is important: It’s been over two years since “the dress,” but this paper and another one that just came out represent the first truly rigorous studies on the dress effect.

Good science takes time. I want to be comfortable that my findings are true before publishing them, so that they will stand the test of time. Yet this approach is remarkably uncommon. Given our current science environment, all incentives are aligned to rush to publication and to prioritize quantity over quality of papers. If this is the case, it should not be surprising that scandals—putting entire bodies of work into question and possibly invalidating decades of work—surface with some regularity. Indeed, most of science is currently mired in a “replication crisis,” with only about 1 in 4 reported findings standing the test of time in social psychology. The situation is likely even worse in fields like cancer biology or genomics.

All of this suggests that we need to change the way we do science. Civilization needs reliable, high-quality science to advance further. Unlikely as it might seem from the outside, research on “the dress” could lead the way.

On that note, please take this brief (five-minute) survey in the spirit of #citizenscience. So as not to taint the results, we can’t talk too much about what we are testing here, but the purpose is to address some lingering questions about the dress effect and related stimuli. And please bear with me and my colleagues talking about this for years to come.


CBSE-Class 12- Psychology- Chapter 2

Self and Personality –can be referred as the characteristics in which we define our existence.

These characteristics are usually acquired from our experiences and they show up in our behaviour.

These characteristics make people different from each other. Hence they behave differently in similar situations.

Also same people behave almost similarly in different situations.

Hence it is safe to say that Different people have different personalities in different situations.

Self- Totality of an individual’s conscious experiences, ideas , thoughts and feelings with regard to her/himself developed since the beginning( childhood days).

These experiences and ideas define the existence of an individual both at personal and social level.

Parents, friends, teachers n other significant people around ourselves.

Self can be defined under two type of identities:

Personal Identity– Personal aspects: eg Name, personal qualities (honest, hardworking), potential, capabilities (singer, dancer), beliefs (believer in God).

Social Identity- These are those aspects that link a person with society or a cultural group.

Eg- religion( Hindu, sikh), North Indian or a South Indian

Cognitive and Behavioural aspects of Self

I Self- Esteem- The personal value and worth judgement by a person about her/himself is termed as Self-esteem.

  1. High Self-esteem- Those who think highly of themselves, more accepted by others. Are generally happier, more confident, usually perform better at school/work.
  2. Low Self-esteem- Those who feel less accepted and valued by others. Are generally anxious, depressed and may develop antisocial behaviour.

Studies show children develop self-esteem by the age of 6-7 years in four areas:

  1. Academic competence, 2. Social competence, 3. physical/athletic competence and 4. Physical appearance.

II Self-efficacy- Notion of Self-efficacy is based on Bandura’s social learning theory. It is the extent to which people believe that they can control their life and the outcomes themselves. Their conviction in themselves.

High Self-efficacy – A strong self of self-efficacy allows people to select, influence and even construct and circumstances of their own life.

III Self-regulation- is the ability to organize and monitor our own behaviour.

High self-regulation– are people who are able to change their behaviour according to the demands of the external environment.

Will power– Resistance to situational pressures and control over ourselves.

Self-control– Learning to delay or defer the gratification of needs is called self-control.

Psychological techniques of self-control:

  1. Observation of own behaviour
  2. Self- instructions- to instruct oneself on do something
  3. Self- reinforcement- Rewarding behaviours that have pleasant outcome.

Culture and Self:

Several aspects of Self are linked to the characteristics and features of the culture in which an individual lives.

e.g Distinction between Indian and Western cultures.

  1. In this culture the Individual ( self) and the cultural group are two different identities
  2. The boundaries between self and group are clearly defined.
  3. Individual members of the group maintain their individuality.
  4. Western culture is Individualistic.
  1. Self is not separated from one’s own group
  2. They both ( self & group) remain in state of harmonious co-existence.
  3. Lot of dependency and no clear boundaries.
  4. Indian culture is Collectivistic.

Concept of Personality

Literary definition- This word is derived from Latin word-Persona, which means mask used by actors in Roman theatre to perform their roles.

Layperson’s definition– Personality represents external or physical appearance. They often mistake the superficial features for a person s overall personality.

Eg. We often assume that Good looking person also has a charming personality.

Psychology definition: Personality refers to our characteristic ways of responding to individuals and situations. Personality refers to unique and relatively stable qualities that characterise an individual’s behaviour across different situations over a period of time.

People can easily describe the way in which they respond to various situations. Eg- Shy, sensitive, quiet, warm, nervous..)

Personality is characterised by following features:

  1. It consists of both physical to psychological components
  2. Expression of personality in form of behaviour is unique for each individual
  3. It’s main features do not easily change with time
  4. Though some features may change due to internal or external situational demands, making personality also adaptive to situations.

Some similar meaning words/terms to Personality which are often used as synonyms but differ in meaning:

Temperament: Biologically based characteristic way of reacting

Traits: Stable, persistent and specific way of behaving, in most situations.

Disposition: Tendency of a person to react to a specific situation

Character: The description based on overall pattern of regularly occurring behaviour

Habits: Over learned modes of behaving, become involuntary reactions/actions.

Values: Goals and ideals that are considered important and worthwhile to achieve.

Benefits of understanding diverse personalities:

Different Approaches to study Personalities and behaviours:

  • Type approach
  • Trait Approach
  • Interactional Approach
  • Psychodynamic approach
  • Behaviour approach
  • Cultural Approach
  • Humanistic approach

Type Approach: This approach attempts to comprehend and segregate people into groups by examining and based on their broad patterns in observed behaviours.

So each pattern type refers to a group of people who have similarity of their behavioural characteristics that match with the pattern that set denotes.

Greek physician Hippocrates had proposed a typology of personality based on fluid/humour: Sanguine, Phlegmatic, melancholic, choleric.

Charak Samhita famous treatise on Ayurveda classifies as- Vata, pitta and kapha based on 3 humoural elements- Tridosha

Typology of personality based on trigunas:

Sattva- Cleanliness, Truthfulness, dutifulness, detachment and discipline.

Rajas- Intensive activity, desire for sense gratification, dissatisfaction, envy.

Tamas– Anger, arrogance, depression, laziness, feeling of helplessness.

Sheldon theory: based on body type and temperament

Endomorphic- Fat, soft and round. Relaxed and sociable.

Mesomorphic- Strong muscular, rectangular body and energetic and courageous by temperament

Ectomorphic- Thin, long, fragile by body type and creative, brainy and introvert by temperament.

Jung theory- Introverts, Extroverts

Friedman & Rosenman- Type A & Type B

Type A- Possess high motivation, lack patience, fall short of time, in a great hurry, always feel burdened with work, cant slow down.

Type B- Absence of category of Type A

Type C- Unassertive, cooperative, patient

Type D- Proneness of depression.

Trait Approach: This type groups people as per specific set of traits. For eg Shyness is a trait, so people can be rated in terms of degree of presence or absence of that trait in individuals as Less, More, Not shy at all against that. Friendliness can be another trait and many others.

  1. Traits are relatively stable over time
  2. They are generally consistent across situations
  3. Their strengths and combinations vary across individuals leading

All of the above lead to individual differences in personality.

Gordon Allport’s Trait theory: As per Allport, Traits are the intervening variables between situations which stimulate and person’s response to them.

  1. Cardinal traits: They are highly pervasive and generalized and indicate the goals around which an individual’s life revolves. g. Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violence – Gandhian trait

and Hitler’s Nazism – Hitlerian trait

  1. Central traits: These are less pervasive, still much generalized dispositions. E.g. warm, sincere , diligent

We often use these traits for writing a job recommendation or in our resume.

  1. Secondary traits: These are least generalizedCommonly found in various people, cannot be made the basis for differentiating personalities of people. E.g. likes mangoes, prefer ethnic clothes, likes black dresses.

Cattell theory: Trait based personality factors- He developed a test called sixteen personality factor questionnaire.

  1. Source traits: Stable and are considered as building block of personality.
  2. Surface traits: They result out of the interaction of source traits.

Eysenck’s Theory: Based on biological and genetically governed, Personality could be reduced into two broad dimensions(However, in his later work Eysenck introduced 3 rd dimension also).

  1. Neuroticism Vs Emotional stability: If refers to the degree of control people have on their feelings. People who score high on the neuroticism are anxious, moody, touchy, restless, distressed, irritable, emotional unstable. The opposite /low scores are calm, emotionally stable.
  2. Extraversion Vs Introversion: Extraversion refers to people who are outgoing, active, gregarious, impulsive, thrill seeking and introversion refers to people passive, quiet, cautious and reserved.
  3. Psychoticism Vs sociability: Person scoring high on psychoticism tends to be hostile, egocentric, anti-social. The opposite are friendly and sociable.

Five Factor Model of Personality:

Paul Costa and Robert McCrae have examined all possible personality traits. They indicated set of Big five factors, which are useful and consistent in analysing personality traits across cultures, languages, hence most promising empirical approach to study personality.

Openness to experience: Those who score high on this are imaginative, curious, and open to ideas. Interested in cultural pursuits. Opposites are cold and rigid.

Extraversion: Socially active, assertive, outgoing, talkative and fun loving. Opposite are shy.

Agreeableness: Helpful, cooperative, caring and nurturing. Opposite are hostile, self-centred.

Neuroticism: People scoring high on this are highly emotionally unstable, anxious, irritable, hypertensive. Opposites are well adjusted, calm.

Conscientiousness: Achievement oriented, dependable, responsible, prudent, hardworking and self-controlled. Opposites are impulsive.

The Interactional Approach: This theory claims that situational characteristics play an important role in determining our behaviour. People may behave as dependent or independent not because of their internal trait, but because of external rewards or threats. The compelling situations can used to observe people’s behaviour in places like a market, a courtroom, or a place of worship.

Psychodynamic approach:

Highly popular approach to study personality, by Sigmund Freud. He used ‘Free Association’ the technique ( a method in which a person is asked to openly share his thoughts, feelings and ideas that comes to his/her mind) Dream and error analysis to understand the functioning of mind and help analyse thoughts by expression.

Based on the theory of Levels of consciousness, Freud visualizes the human minds in terms of 3 levels of consciousness:

Conscious: Thoughts, feelings, actions people are aware of.

Preconscious: The mental activity people are aware of only if they pay attention to it closely.

Unconscious: This includes mental activity people are unaware of. These are instinctive, animalistic drives concealed and repressed away from conscious mind because they may lead to psychological conflicts.

Freud used therapy of Psychoanalysis to bring the repressed, unconscious materials to consciousness.

Leading people to live more self-aware and integrated life.

According to this theory there are 3 structural elements of Personality- Id, Ego and Superego.

Id – It is source of a person’s instinctual energy. Deals with immediate gratification of primitive needs- sexual desires, aggressive impulses does not care for moral values, society or any individuals. Id is energised by two instinctive forces- life instinct & death instinct.

The life force that energises the Id is called libido, which seeks immediate gratification.

Ego- It grows out of Id only but seeks to satisfy an individual’s instinctual needs in accordance with reality. Works by reality principle. Ego often directs the Id towards more appropriates ways of behaving, which are socially acceptable.

Eg: A boy sees some one having an ice-cream. His Id may want him to snatch it and eat it. But Ego guides him to ask permission and then take it, which is socially more acceptable behaviour.

Human behaviours reflect an attempt to deal with or escape from anxiety. People avoid anxiety by distorting reality. Freud described defence mechanism of 5 types:

Repression: Anxiety provoking behaviours or thoughts are totally dismissed by the unconscious mind. When people repress any desire at times they totally become unaware of that desire. E,g When someone does something which expresses that desire in a situation, they say, ‘ I do not know why I did this.’

Projection: In projection, people attribute their own traits to others. E.g People who have aggressive tendencies may see other people also acting aggressive towards them. i.e projecting their own behaviour.

Denial: Person in this trait totally refuses to accept reality.

e.g. A person with AIDs refuses to accept or deny his illness.

Reaction formation: This person to defend against anxiety adopts a behaviour totally opposite to the instinctive feeling.

e.g Many people acquire religious practices to channelize their strong sexual urges.

Rationalization: Trying to rationalize their unreasonable feelings and behaviours making them seem reasonable and acceptable.

e.g. When a student after doing poorly in exams buys new pens to rationalize reason of bad performance and tells himself that he will do well with these new pen.

Super Ego- Super Ego can be characterised as the moral branch of mental functioning. Super Ego tells the Id and Ego whether gratification is ethical or not.

e.g. Extending the same example, If the child who wants ice cream, if asks his mother for it which is socially and morally correct.

Stages of Personal Development:

Freud Approach: Freud claims that core aspects of personality are formed at an early stage and remain stable throughout life. He has proposed a 5 stage theory.

Oral stage: Newborn’s instincts are focused on the mouth. The baby seeks pleasure in food that reduces his hunger, thumb sucking, biting, and babbling through his mouth.

Anal stage: It is found that around ages of 2 or 3 child learns to respond to some of the needs of society and learns to control the bodily functions of urination and defecation. If left to themselves, most children at this age experience pleasure by focusing on their anal area and in moving their bowls.

Phallic stage: This stage focuses on genitals. At age of 4 to 5, children begin to realise the difference between males and females. During this stage male children may feel Oedipus complex, which involves love for mother and hostility towards father. And female child experiences Electra complex wherein they are more attached to father and see mothers as their rivals.

Latency Stage: From age of 7 to puberty, child continues to grow physically. Sexual urges are relatively inactive.

Much of their energy is channelled in social or achievement activities.

Genital Stage: During this stage, individual develops maturity in psychosexual development. People learn to deal with opposite gender in a socially mature way. However, if the journey is marked thorough excessive stress or over-indulgence, it may cause fixation to that stage or regression to an earlier stage of development.

Post Freudian Approaches:A number of theorists developed their ideas following Freud.

These theories are less characteristics of sexual and aggressive tendencies of the Id and the expansion of the concept of Ego. The human qualities of creativity, competence and problem solving abilities are emphasised.

Carl Jung : Aims and aspirations: Jung worked with Freud in his early stage of career. Later he broke away as he believed that human beings are also driven by their aims and ambitions besides sex and aggression.

Karen Horney: She another disciple of Freud also derived her theory further from Freudian principles. She adopted a more optimistic of human life. As per her human beings are also driven by growth and self-actualization.

She also contributed by challenging Freud’s treatment of women as inferior. As per her each gender has attributes to be admired by the other, neither being superior or inferior. Women are more affected by social and cultural factors.

Psychological disorders like anxiety are caused by disturbed interpersonal relationship during childhood. Indifferent, discouraging, excessively dominating.

Alfred Adler:Lifestyle and social interest

His basic assumption is that human behaviour is purposeful and goal directed each one chooses and creates. Personal goals are the source of motivation.

In Adler’s view every individual suffers from feeling of inadequacy and guilt i.e. Inferiority complex.

Overcoming these complexes is essential for optimal personality development.

He believed human beings are social beings and psychological qualities such as growth and realization resulted from desire of freedom and striving for justice/truth.

Erik Erikson: Search for identity

This theory lays stress on rational, conscious, ego processes in personality development.

Identity is granted a central place in the process. His concept of identity crisis of adolescent age has drawn considerable attention.

Reasons for criticism of Psychodynamics theories:

These theories are strongly condemned for following reasons:

  1. They are largely based on case studies and not backed by scientific
  1. Small and archetypical individuals were taken as sample groups for studies for advancing generalizations.
  2. Concepts are not properly defined. And they can not be subjected to scientific testing.
  3. Freud theory has used males as prototype of all human personality development. He overlooked female experiences and perspectives.

Behavioural Approach:

This approach does not give importance to the internal dynamics of behaviour. The behaviourists believe in data, which they feel are definable, observable and measurable.

The theory focuses on study of stimulusresponse and reinforcements. Personality can be best understood as a response of an individual to the environment. They see the development as a change in response characteristics .i.e person learns new behaviours in response to new environments and stimuli.

Cultural Approach:

This approach attempts to understand personality in relation to the features of ecological and cultural environment. Rituals, ceremonies, religious practices, arts, recreational activities, games and plays are the means through which people’s personalities get projected in a culture. People develop various personality qualities in an attempt to adapt to a culture or ecological features of groups in life.

Thus cultural approach considers personality as an adaptation of individuals or groups to the demands of ecology or culture.

Humanistic approach: This approach is mainly built on the theories of Freud, Carl Roger and Abraham Maslow.

Roger proposed the idea of a fully functional person. Fulfillmentis the motivational force for personality development. People try to express their capabilities, talents and potentials to the fullest extent.

He observed that each person has a concept of True self and an Ideal self about him. Correspondence between the two leads to a happier and contented person in congruence with himself.

When there is discrepancy and these two spheres don’t overlap each other at all it leads to unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

As per Roger’s principle people have a tendency to maximize self concept through self actualization. And personality development is a journey towards that.

Who is a Healthy Person? As per humanistic approach.

The Humanistic theory suggests that no one can be a healthy person by mere adjusting to the society.

It involves following characteristics:

  1. Awareness of self , one’s feelings and their limits and accept themselves.
  2. Experience Here and Now. Mindfulness.
  3. Don’t so much live in the past and dwell in the future through anxious expectations and distorted defences.

Personality Assessment:

A formal process aimed at understanding personality of an individual with minimum error and maximum accuracy is termed as personality assessment.

Uses of Personality Assessment:

  1. Helps understand how an individual is likely to behave in a given situation.
  2. Accurate assessment is also useful for diagnosis, training, placement, counselling
  • Psychometric tests
  • Self- report measures
  • Projective techniques
  • Behavioural Analysis

Self Report: Method to assess a person by asking him/her about himself/herself. These are structured measures in which subjects are made to objectively report verbal responses using a rating scale.

  1. Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)- developed for psychiatric diagnosis but later applied to variety of psychopathology- hypochondriasis, depression, hysteria masculinity, femininity. True/false questions
  2. Eyesenck Personality Questionnaire – (EPQ)

Tests 2 dimensions of personality- Introverted / Extraverted and Emotionally stable/unstable.

Later Eyesenck added 3 rd dimension to this theory psychoticism ( lack of feelings for other). Such people have a tough manner of interaction, tendency to defy social conventions.

  1. Cattell- Sixteen personality factor questionnaire – (16PF). The tests provides with declarative statements and the subjects respond to the specific situation by choosing from a set of given alternatives.

Uses of Self-report test:

  1. Career guidance, vocational exploration and occupational testing for students/adults.
  2. To assess specific dimensions of personality type ( e.g. authoritarianism, locus of control, optimism)

Limitations of Self-report tests:

  1. Social desirability: this is a tendency on part of a student to endorse/select responses basis socially desirable behaviour.
  2. Acquiescence: It is a tendency of the subject of saying Yes to items irrespective of the content, which makes it less reliable for an effective outcome.
  3. Hesitant to open: This being a direct method where assessment is based on the information directly obtained from the subject, hence he knows that he is been assessed for personality and gets self-conscious and hesitates to share his private feelings.

Hence these tests should be performed under careful supervision of an expert or a trained person.

Projective Technique:

This technique is an indirect method, used to uncover and assess the large part of the behaviour which is governed by unconscious motives, as direct ( self-report) methods cannot assess this.

Methods include: Reporting association with stimuli- words, inkblots, story writing around pictures, some require sentence completion, expression through drawings.

Features of this technique:

  1. The stimuli are relatively or fully unstructured and poorly defined.
  2. The subject is not told about the purpose of assessment and method of scoring and interpretation.
  3. The person is informed that there is no correct or incorrect answer.
  4. Each response is considered to reveal a significant aspect of personality.
  5. Scoring and interpretation are lengthy and sometime subjective.

Examples of Projective tests:

This test was developed by Harmann Rorschach. The tests consists of 10 inkblots ( 5 black and white, 2 red and remaining of pastel colours) printed in the centre of a cardboard of 7” to 10”.

1 st Phase- Performance proper: Subjects are shown the cards and are asked to tell what they see in each.

2 nd Phase- Inquiry: A detailed report of responses is prepared by asking the subject to tell on where, how and on what basis was a particular response made.

Use of the test requires extensive training to make fine judgement and interpretation.

  1. The Thematic Appreciation Test (TAT): developed by Morgan and Murray. Little more structured that the Inkblot test. It consists of 30 black and white picture cards and 1 blank card. Each card depicts one or more people in a variety of situations. 20 cards to 5 cards are used for performing assessment.

Method: One card is presented at a time, asking the subject to tell a story describing the situation presented in the picture:

What led up to the situation

What is happening at the moment

What will happen in future

What are the characters thinking and feeling

A standard procedure is followed for scoring the TAT responses.

Indian adaptation done by: Uma Chaudhary.

Rozensweig’s Picture-Frustration study ( P-F Study): was developed by Rozenweig to assess how people express aggression in a frustrating situation.

The test consists cartoon like pictures depicting situations where one person is frustrating other.

The subject is asked to describe:

What the frustrated person will say or do?

  1. the Type and Direction of aggression ( towards onself or environment or evading the situation).
  2. It is examined whether the focus is on frustrating object or protecting the frustrated person, or on constructive solution.

Sentence Completion Test:

This test makes use of number of incomplete sentences. The starting of the sentence is presented and the subject has to provide an ending of the sentence. The type of ending helps assess the unconscious attitude, motivation and conflicts.

  1. My father………………….
  2. My greatest fear is……………..
  3. The best thing about my mother is……………..
  4. I am proud of………………

Draw-a-Person test:

In this test subject is provided with a pencil, eraser and sheet and asked to draw a picture of a person.

After the completion of the drawing, subject is asked to draw a picture of a person of opposite gender. Subject is asked to make a story about the person as if he/she was a character of a movie/novel. Some examples of the interpretation as follows:

  1. Omission of facial features suggests that the person tries to evade a highly conflict-ridden interpersonal relationship.
  2. Graphic emphasis on the neck suggests lack of control over impulses.
  3. Disproportionately large size of the head suggests organic brain disease or preoccupation with headaches.

Behavioural Analysis:

This analysis can provide us with a meaningful information about his/her personality.

An observer’s report contains data obtained from:

Structured interview follows a set of very specific questions and set procedure. This is often done to make objective comparison of persons being interviewed.

Use of rating scales add to the objectivity.

Unstructured Interview involves asking a number of questions (not specific) to develop an impression about a person. The way a subject answers and presents himself and answers the questions carries enough potential to reveal about his/her personality.

Observation:

Use of Observation for a personality assessment is a sophisticated procedure that cannot be carried out by untrained people. It requires careful training of the observer and fairly detailed guideline to carry out analysis to use observations to assess personality. In spite of the widespread use of this method, it has following limitations:

  1. Professional training required for collection of useful data and is quite demanding and time consuming.
  2. Maturity of the observer is a precondition. Else personal biases can alter the assessment.
  3. Mere presence of the observer may contaminate the results.

Behavioural Ratings

Behavioural ratings are frequently used for personality assessment of individuals in an educational or industrial settings.

Behavioural ratings are generally taken from the people who know the assesse intimately and have interacted over a period of time. In order to use ratings the traits should be clearly defined in terms of carefully stated behavioural anchors.

Limitations of Behavioural Rating method:

  1. Raters generally display biases that colour their judgements of different traits. For example most of are greatly influenced by a single favourable/unfavourable trait which colours the overall judgment on all the traits. This is called ‘Halo effect.’
  2. Raters have a tendency to place individuals in the middle of the scale (middle category bias) or in the extreme positions (called extreme response bias).

Nominations: in this method people in a group who know each other for a long period are asked to nominate another person from the group with whom they would like to work/play/do some activity. Then they are asked to state the reason why they would have nominated that person.

Situational tests: A variety of situational tests have been devised for the assessment of personality. Most commonly used test isSituational Stress test. It provides us information on how a person behaves under stressful conditions. In performing this test the person is given a task under stressful environment, where others are instructed not to provide any support and act non-cooperative. This is kind of role playing. The subject is observed and a report is prepared. Situations can be videotaped and observed for assessment later.


Self-Perception Theory 1

Individuals come to “know” their own attitudes, emotions, and other internal states partially by inferring them from observations of their own overt behavior and/ or the circumstances in which this behavior occurs. Thus, to the extent that internal cues are weak, ambiguous, or uninterpretable, the individual is functionally in the same position as an outside observer, an observer who must necessarily rely upon those same external cues to infer the individual's inner states. This chapter traces the conceptual antecedents and empirical consequences of these propositions, attempts to place the theory in a slightly enlarged frame of reference, and clarifies just what phenomena the theory can and cannot account for in the rapidly growing experimental literature of self-attribution phenomena. Several experiments and paradigms from the cognitive dissonance literature are amenable to self-perception interpretations. But precisely because such experiments are subject to alternative interpretations, they cannot be used as unequivocal evidence for self-perception theory. The reinterpretation of cognitive dissonance phenomena and other self-perception phenomena have been discussed. The chapter highlights some differences between self-perception and interpersonal perception and shift of paradigm in social psychology. It discusses some unsolved problems, such as the conceptual status of noncognitive response classes and the strategy of functional analysis.

Development of self-perception theory was supported primarily by a grant from the National Science Foundation (GS 1452) awarded to the author during his tenure at Carnegie-Mellon University.


Grouping as an identity trait

To further explain how natural predisposition towards group formation can explain why fundamentally good people can be racist, we need to consider the extent to which group membership is important to them. That is, we do not only feel an urge towards group formation, but we also consider group affiliation as part of our identity. For example, if you were asked to describe yourself, you might say, ‘I go to X University and I support Y football team’.

Whilst of course group membership is not the only factor defining your identity, it is an important feature. This was empirically demonstrated by Volz et al. (2009), who evaluated the extent to which individual self-concept was aligned with group self-concept. For this, they used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a technique that measures brain activity by detecting changes in blood flow, and examined activity in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). The mPFC is a brain region associated with many functions, including the processing of information relevant to one’s self concept (i.e. what you think of you).

Volz et al.’s study used Tajfel et al.’s arbitrary group allocation paradigm and scanned participants’ brain activity while they were engaged in reward distribution tasks. These tasks were designed to measure strategies of fairness and intergroup discrimination in the allocation of rewards to in-group and out-group members. The participants who showed morein-group bias also had greateractivation of the mPFC. This may suggest that the more group membership is considered part of an individual’s identity, the more likely they are to show in-group bias and consequently derogate the out-group.

This conclusion has clear practical implications. If the extent to which group membership defines self-concept is directly linked to out-group degradation, then helping people to recognise this is vital. For example, the more that individuals identify as “white British” and value that attribute as important to who they are, the more likely they are to hold implicit or explicit biases against those who are not “white British”.

The “Football Fans” experiment

The idea of saliency of group membership (i.e. the extent to which a person’s attention is focused onto a specific group identity) and the strength of identification with that group being a key causal factor in derogation of the out-group is further highlighted by a significant study by Levine et al.’s (2005) ‘football fans’ experiment.

The subjects in this study were Manchester United F.C. fans, who have significant rivalry with the supporters of Liverpool F.C. They had to answer questions about their support for Manchester United, in order to make their support for their football team salient in their mind, and were then told they had to walk to a nearby building to finish the second part of the study. As the participants walked to the building, another experimenter, acting the part of a passer-by on a jog, ran past before slipping and falling, grabbing his ankle and shouting in pain. The key experimental manipulation was the colour of the shirt that the “jogger” was wearing: one group of fans saw him wearing a red Manchester United shirt another group saw him with a red Liverpool shirt, and the final (control) group saw him wearing a plain red shirt. The dependent variable was what proportion of the participants would stop and help, and how this varied based on his shirt’s colour.

The proportions did indeed vary when the “jogger” was wearing a Manchester United shirt, circa 90%of individuals stopped to help, compared tocirca 30%for the Liverpool shirt and control shirt conditions.

Even more interestingly, in a second experiment, the researches recreated the conditions of the original study but with a crucial change – instead of giving questionnaires emphasising team alliance before meeting the “jogger”, they were given questionnaires emphasising their overall love of “the game”, i.e. football. All other conditions were kept the same. This time the results were starkly different circa 80%helped the Manchester fan, circa 70%helped the Liverpool fan, while only 20% helped the control confederate.

“the war on climate change”, or more topically, “the fight against the virus” are superordinate goals which […] may help to reduce animosity between different countries and groups of people

This is a crucial finding: arbitrary differences (such as which football team one supports and whether this group identity is further reinforced), can significantly influence one’s behaviour towards another person . [1] The fact that the level of help offered to Liverpool fans increased dramatically when the group lines were redrawn points to a key way in which we can help combat racism, namely encouraging ourselves to think of people of differing races as similar to us because of certain characteristics they share, and making those shared characteristics more salient in our minds than those of race. It is obvious that on a global level, encouraging people to think of others as members of “humankind”, and what unites us as humans, is a necessary attitude in order to eradicate divisions between people, especially if that conceptualisation is against something else. For example, “the war on climate change”, or more topically, “the fight against the virus” are superordinate goals which require the type of group efforts highlighted in the “Summer Camp Studies” by Sherif et al. tackling such problems may thus help to reduce animosity between different countries and groups of people.

Distinctiveness

A further important point to note about racial divisions is distinctiveness that is, people in the out-group are seen as more homogenous, similar between themselves and less distinctive than the in-group. This was shown by Hamilton and Gifford (1976) through the illusory correlations effect, which describes a perception of links between variables even when there is no actual relationship between them.

In this study participants were given a series of slides depicting individual behaviours from people who were either supposedly in group A (the majoritygroup), or group B (the minoritygroup). The ratio of good to bad behaviours was kept the same for both groups. Behaviours used included ‘helped an old lady across a road’, or ‘cheated in an exam’, i.e. minor positive or negative acts. The participants were then presented with the slides again, but this time the name of the group the behaviour belonged to, i.e. group A or B was removed, and the participant had to remember which group the behaviour had come from. It was found that the participants ascribed a greater ratio of negative behaviours to group B, the minority group.

Interestingly, this is not simply a case of minority groups being naturally

viewed as worse. When the study was repeated by presenting for both groups a greater ratio of bad to good behaviour, where the amount of bad behaviour significantly outweighed the good, the participants associated the good behaviour more with the minority group.

“Humans, as “cognitive misers”, are thought to be more inclined to search for features that make a group distinctive, in order to quickly and easily categorise them, and not think much more about it.”

The authors explained this finding in terms of the higher accessibility in memory of the most distinctive combination. That is, in the condition where there was greater good than bad behaviour, the bad behaviour was distinctive, as it was the exception to the norm. Similarly, the minority group was distinctive as it was the exception to the majority norm. Conversely, in the condition where the majority of the behaviour was bad, the behaviour that was distinctive was the good behaviour. The authors postulated that people connected the two distinctive features together, causing the bias observed.

While there remains some debate over the mechanism, the observed results are useful to examine a propensity to view a perceived distinctive feature of the out-group as representative of the whole. This study and others following it have thus been used as evidence to support the argument that the out-group is seen as less distinctive. Humans, as “cognitive misers”, are thought to be more inclined to search for features that make a group distinctive, in order to quickly and easily categorise them, and not think much more about it. That said, follow-up studies have shown that motivational factors, deriving from group membership, can overcome this bias.

This bias is in many ways sensible from an evolutionary perspective: why waste valuable cognitive resources evaluating a group you don’t have much contact with? However, it is immensely dangerous from the standpoint of the fight against racism.

It is not the purpose of this article to address the systemic factors that contribute to racism. Yet these are the likely immediate cause for the disproportionate representation of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) demographic in the lower socioeconomic groups. There is evidence to suggest the presence of institutional racism in the police force, causing people in the BAME demographic to be more likely to be arrested for a given crime than those of other demographics (Eastwood et al. 2013).

With this higher number of arrests being common knowledge, people of non-BAME demographics are more likely to consider criminal activity to be representative of a typical black person. This is likely due to the distinctiveness effect discussed previously, and may also be augmented by a rule of thumb in psychology called the “availability heuristic”. This states that people ascribe greater importance to things they can easily call to mind.

“We are already predisposed to fail to properly distinguish between individual members of racial out-groups.”

This is further complicated by the findings of Kelly et al. (2005, 2007). This developmental psychology study discovered that from as young as 9 months old, children who are of race A and brought up around race A are significantly more able to differentiate between similar looking faces of race A than similar looking faces of face B. That is to say, two separate but similar faces of race A would be perceived as different, whereas two separate but similar faces of race B would be perceived as the same. This might simply be again an evolutionary effect: there is little point for early humans in wasting valuable cognitive resources learning to differentiate between groups one rarely sees. Yet this has significant practical effects in modern society.

What we have, therefore, is a natural psychological bias to see the actions of some of the out-group, which are highlighted as distinctive to us, as representative of the whole out-group. In a society that regularly exposes us to these negative aspects through systemic racism, and, in addition, because of an evolved innate bias, we are already predisposed to fail to properly distinguish between individual members of racial out-groups, even beforewe consider our psychological disposition towards viewing the out-group as homogenous.

Therefore, the problem is clear. Humans are predisposed to form groups and to prioritise the group which they are part of, at the expense of any out-groups. Despite the fact that these groups can, and do, form along totally arbitrary lines, the dislike between them is real and keenly felt. In addition, due to other psychological factors, we are predisposed to consider the out-group as more homogenous, thereby allowing negative stereotypes to easily end up being applied to them, especially as these stereotypes are propagated by systemic racism. It is all too easy to see this playing out in real-life, such as when the violent actions of small extremist fringe groups of larger organisations or religions are used as the justification for targeting the whole group.


Mind Games: Sometimes a White Coat Isn’t Just a White Coat

If you wear a white coat that you believe belongs to a doctor, your ability to pay attention increases sharply. But if you wear the same white coat believing it belongs to a painter, you will show no such improvement.

So scientists report after studying a phenomenon they call enclothed cognition: the effects of clothing on cognitive processes.

It is not enough to see a doctor’s coat hanging in your doorway, said Adam D. Galinsky, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, who led the study. The effect occurs only if you actually wear the coat and know its symbolic meaning — that physicians tend to be careful, rigorous and good at paying attention.

The findings, on the Web site of The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, are a twist on a growing scientific field called embodied cognition. We think not just with our brains but with our bodies, Dr. Galinsky said, and our thought processes are based on physical experiences that set off associated abstract concepts. Now it appears that those experiences include the clothes we wear.

“I love the idea of trying to figure out why, when we put on certain clothes, we might more readily take on a role and how that might affect our basic abilities,” said Joshua I. Davis, an assistant professor of psychology at Barnard College and expert on embodied cognition who was not involved with the study. This study does not fully explain how this comes about, he said, but it does suggest that it will be worth exploring various ideas.

There is a huge body of work on embodied cognition, Dr. Galinsky said. The experience of washing your hands is associated with moral purity and ethical judgments. People rate others personally warmer if they hold a hot drink in their hand, and colder if they hold an iced drink. If you carry a heavy clipboard, you will feel more important.

It has long been known that “clothing affects how other people perceive us as well as how we think about ourselves,” Dr. Galinsky said. Other experiments have shown that women who dress in a masculine fashion during a job interview are more likely to be hired, and a teaching assistant who wears formal clothes is perceived as more intelligent than one who dresses more casually.

But the deeper question, the researchers said, is whether the clothing you wear affects your psychological processes. Does your outfit alter how you approach and interact with the world? So Dr. Galinsky and his colleague Hajo Adam conducted three experiments in which the clothes did not vary but their symbolic meaning was manipulated.

In the first, 58 undergraduates were randomly assigned to wear a white lab coat or street clothes. Then they were given a test for selective attention based on their ability to notice incongruities, as when the word “red” appears in the color green. Those who wore the white lab coats made about half as many errors on incongruent trials as those who wore regular clothes.

In the second experiment, 74 students were randomly assigned to one of three options: wearing a doctor’s coat, wearing a painter’s coat or seeing a doctor’s coat. Then they were given a test for sustained attention. They had to look at two very similar pictures side by side on a screen and spot four minor differences, writing them down as quickly as possible.

Those who wore the doctor’s coat, which was identical to the painter’s coat, found more differences. They had acquired heightened attention. Those who wore the painter’s coat or were primed with merely seeing the doctor’s coat found fewer differences between the images.

The third experiment explored this priming effect more thoroughly. Does simply seeing a physical item, like the coat, affect behavior? Students either wore a doctor’s coat or a painter’s coat, or were told to notice a doctor’s lab coat displayed on the desk in front of them for a long period of time. All three groups wrote essays about their thoughts on the coats. Then they were tested for sustained attention.

Again, the group that wore the doctor’s coat showed the greatest improvement in attention. You have to wear the coat, see it on your body and feel it on your skin for it to influence your psychological processes, Dr. Galinsky said.

Clothes invade the body and brain, putting the wearer into a different psychological state, he said. He described his own experience from last Halloween (or maybe it should be called National Enclothed Cognition Day).

He had decided to dress as a pimp, with a fedora, long coat and cane. “When I entered the room, I glided in,” he said. “I felt a very different presence.”

But what happens, he mused, if you wear pimp clothes every day? Or a priest’s robes? Or a police officer’s uniform? Do you become habituated so that cognitive changes do not occur? Do the effects wear off?


Color red in web-based knowledge testing ☆

Computer- and web-based testing procedures are increasingly popular for the assessment of cognitive abilities and knowledge. This paper identified color red as a critical context factor that may influence the results. Two studies showed that color red may harm the performance in web-based tests of general knowledge. In Study 1 (N = 131) a red (vs. green) progress bar impeded the performance in a knowledge test, but only for the male participants. In Study 2 (N = 190) the color of the survey’s forward-button was manipulated (red vs. blue vs. mixed color) which led to a replication of the gender-dependent color effect. Evolutionary psychology and stereotype threat research explain why red impedes the activation of knowledge among men, but not among women.


Self-Perception Theory 1

Individuals come to “know” their own attitudes, emotions, and other internal states partially by inferring them from observations of their own overt behavior and/ or the circumstances in which this behavior occurs. Thus, to the extent that internal cues are weak, ambiguous, or uninterpretable, the individual is functionally in the same position as an outside observer, an observer who must necessarily rely upon those same external cues to infer the individual's inner states. This chapter traces the conceptual antecedents and empirical consequences of these propositions, attempts to place the theory in a slightly enlarged frame of reference, and clarifies just what phenomena the theory can and cannot account for in the rapidly growing experimental literature of self-attribution phenomena. Several experiments and paradigms from the cognitive dissonance literature are amenable to self-perception interpretations. But precisely because such experiments are subject to alternative interpretations, they cannot be used as unequivocal evidence for self-perception theory. The reinterpretation of cognitive dissonance phenomena and other self-perception phenomena have been discussed. The chapter highlights some differences between self-perception and interpersonal perception and shift of paradigm in social psychology. It discusses some unsolved problems, such as the conceptual status of noncognitive response classes and the strategy of functional analysis.

Development of self-perception theory was supported primarily by a grant from the National Science Foundation (GS 1452) awarded to the author during his tenure at Carnegie-Mellon University.


The birth order effect

Whether you’re a confident but controlling first-born or a resourceful yet restless middle child, your positioning in the family can affect everything from your choice of career to how successful your marriage is

The order we’re born in – first, middle or youngest child – is outside our control. So it can make us uncomfortable to think that our birth order can play a significant part in our success, our personality – the direction of our life. Surely, these things are not set before we even get started? And yet, we all know a ‘typical middle child’, we recognise ‘classic only-child behaviour’. And the over-achievement of the first-born is one of the most consistent findings in child psychology. So how big a role does birth order play?

I’m coming from a vulnerable, emotionally charged and pregnant perspective. I have two daughters, aged five and six, and am about to add a third baby to the mix. At the moment, Ruby, our eldest, has life sussed. She’s independent, educationally gifted and sometimes I think I could leave her in Sainsbury’s and she’d probably look after herself. Tara, her younger sister, is the one who wants the cuddles, who frets if I’m not first at the door when school finishes. The idea that she’ll soon be shoved out of her space as the baby of the family and squashed into the middle fills me with guilt. Is it downhill for her from now on?

The importance of birth order was first set out by the Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler. Michael Grose, an Adlerian-trained parenting expert and author of Why First-borns Rule The World And Last-borns Want To Change It (Random House, £12.99), explains the basics. ‘We’re in a Darwinian struggle from the moment we’re born, fighting for scarce resources within a family – our parents’ time, love and affection,’ he says. Through human evolution, birth order has determined who inherits power (the first-born) and who is sent to war (the youngest as he was the ‘spare’).

Historically, first-borns have been less likely to die in infancy, are less susceptible to disease and, as adults, are more likely to reproduce. They are their parents’ ‘blue-chip security’, whose birth is most eagerly anticipated, whose first steps, first words, first everythings are celebrated. ‘Typical first-borns are appro-val-seeking missiles,’ says Grose. ‘They’ve been showered with attention and identify strongly with power.’ First-borns are thought to be conscientious and achievement-oriented. A study of Norwegians born between 1912 and 1975 found that educational achievement was highest in first-borns and diminished the further down the birth order you got, despite little difference in IQ. The legal profession is, says Grose, filled with first-borns. World leaders are also overwhelmingly first-born children. On the negative side, first-borns are the only ones who experience having their parents all to themselves, then having to share them. For this reason, they’re thought to be anxious, emotionally intense, defensive and prone to jealous rages.

These are all characteristics that fit Sarah Ruskell, 43. The eldest of three, she’s a successful academic, married with three children. As a child, she was serious, bookish and mature. ‘I had a younger sister and brother who were much naughtier on a daily basis,’ she says. ‘But if I was pushed, if they messed up my room or touched my records, I’d rage. Any threat to my power, I suppose.’

Another characteristic of first-borns, according to Frank Sulloway, author of Born to Rebel (Abacus), is caution and aversion to risk. They’re the least likely to travel or be physically daring. Again, this fits Sarah. While her middle brother took up hang-gliding and both siblings backpacked round the world, Sarah’s biggest adventure to date is a thunderstorm in France. Many theorists group only children among first-borns ­– although they never experience having to share their parents, nor the frictions, fights or fondness that comes with siblings. For this reason, they feel like outsiders, distanced from much of life. The only child is thought to be extremely mature, aloof, someone who expects a special standing.

Middle child

So what about the middle child? According to Darwinian theory, they lose out as they are neither the precious, able, oldest,­ nor the vulnerable youngest. Their strength is that they learn to be more flexible and sociable, to compromise and build coalitions. ‘Middle children tend to be more relaxed,’ says Grose. James, 39, is a typical case. Born between his sister and brother, he has always been easy-going, and loves to be surrounded by friends. Yet his affability comes at a price. ‘I turned my back on becoming a pro rugby player because I lacked competitive drive,’ he says. As the first-born boy, James didn’t struggle to establish his own identity as some middle-borns do, but, he says, ‘if I wanted something I definitely had to shout the loudest to make myself heard’.

Gemma, 33, the middle of three sisters, found it harder to carve out her niche. ‘I lived in my older sister’s shadow, and was overlooked in favour of my younger sister,’ she says. ‘I felt left out, and overcompensated by forging friendships outside the family.’ She also became a skilled negotiator. ‘As a “middle” I was the peacemaker. I still use those skills now, and I’m good at seeing everyone’s point of view.’

The youngest children are more likely to question the order of things, and develop a ‘revolutionary personality’. Many last-borns choose a completely different path to their older siblings to avoid direct competition. They are the babies of the family, and may grow up expecting others to take responsibility. ‘They’re not life’s volunteers,’ says Grose. ‘They’re more likely to put others in service.’ As the youngest of three, I can recognise myself in that. Growing up, I was the most likely to have blazing rows with my dad, I sympathised with the underdog and I’m not a volunteer. (At family get-togethers, I’m still the least helpful.) But a lonely outsider, struggling with an inferiority complex? It seems harsh to condemn anyone to this description simply on the basis of where they stand in the family.

Grose admits the effects of birth order can vary according to different factors, including temperament, gender and age gap. Lucy McDonald is the third of five children, but was the first girl. ‘I’ve got a mix of middle and oldest child traits,’ she says. ‘You can have an easy-going first-born, which will ease the competition all the way down,’ says Grose. ‘If the children are the same sex, the competition is more extreme –­ two boys close together produces the most rivalry, and, generally, the closer the age gap, the more dramatic the birth-order effect. When the gap is more than five years, it’s greatly diminished.’ Grose has found birth order a useful tool when dealing with adult clients. ‘Recently, I was approached by a professional in her forties who was basically worn out,’ he says. ‘She admitted that, as a child, she was always playing catch-up with her sister, who was two years older than her. She had always tried to run as fast and be as clever, and the pattern had played out her whole life. As an adult, she was competitive in everything ­– she’d replaced her older sister with her colleagues, her boss, her friends. Despite career success, she was never happy with herself. Helping her see the problem through the context of birth order put her on the path to understanding and modifying her behaviour patterns.’

Cliff Isaacson, author of Birth Order Effect for Couples (Fair Winds, £9.99), believes birth order can even help you find a partner. ‘Two third-borns make the best couples,’ he says. ‘They relate without conflict, there’s a lot of humour and they make a protective environment for their children. Two first-borns rarely connect, there’s no compromise, it’s not a happy relationship.’

According to Isaacson, however, birth order is not a fixed state. ‘It’s a set of strategies developed in childhood to cope with your siblings (or lack of them), parents and the family situation,’ he says. ‘As you get older, you may learn other ways of interacting with your peers. The best reason for studying your birth order is to understand yourself or your children a little better – then overcome it.’

Are you a born leader? More than half the US Presidents, every US astronaut and most Nobel prize-winners have been either first born or an only child. Typical professions are law, politics, science and accountancy.

First-borns: Bill and Hillary Clinton, George W Bush, Saddam Hussein, Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler (actually his mother’s first surviving child), Kylie Minogue, Cherie Blair.

Only children: Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, Franklin D Roosevelt, Jean Paul Sartre, Burt Bacharach, Frank Sinatra, Tiger Woods.

Middle children: many middle children work in retail, sales, fashion, advertising or the caring professions. Stella McCartney, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jacqueline du Pré, Princess Diana, Cindy Crawford, Cate Blanchett, Emily Brontë.

Last children: thought to be rebels, non-conformists, also drawn to creative professions and performing arts. Joan of Arc, Mahatma Gandhi, Charles Darwin, Leon Trotsky, Charlie Chaplin, Hugh Grant, Johnny Depp.

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Grouping as an identity trait

To further explain how natural predisposition towards group formation can explain why fundamentally good people can be racist, we need to consider the extent to which group membership is important to them. That is, we do not only feel an urge towards group formation, but we also consider group affiliation as part of our identity. For example, if you were asked to describe yourself, you might say, ‘I go to X University and I support Y football team’.

Whilst of course group membership is not the only factor defining your identity, it is an important feature. This was empirically demonstrated by Volz et al. (2009), who evaluated the extent to which individual self-concept was aligned with group self-concept. For this, they used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a technique that measures brain activity by detecting changes in blood flow, and examined activity in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). The mPFC is a brain region associated with many functions, including the processing of information relevant to one’s self concept (i.e. what you think of you).

Volz et al.’s study used Tajfel et al.’s arbitrary group allocation paradigm and scanned participants’ brain activity while they were engaged in reward distribution tasks. These tasks were designed to measure strategies of fairness and intergroup discrimination in the allocation of rewards to in-group and out-group members. The participants who showed morein-group bias also had greateractivation of the mPFC. This may suggest that the more group membership is considered part of an individual’s identity, the more likely they are to show in-group bias and consequently derogate the out-group.

This conclusion has clear practical implications. If the extent to which group membership defines self-concept is directly linked to out-group degradation, then helping people to recognise this is vital. For example, the more that individuals identify as “white British” and value that attribute as important to who they are, the more likely they are to hold implicit or explicit biases against those who are not “white British”.

The “Football Fans” experiment

The idea of saliency of group membership (i.e. the extent to which a person’s attention is focused onto a specific group identity) and the strength of identification with that group being a key causal factor in derogation of the out-group is further highlighted by a significant study by Levine et al.’s (2005) ‘football fans’ experiment.

The subjects in this study were Manchester United F.C. fans, who have significant rivalry with the supporters of Liverpool F.C. They had to answer questions about their support for Manchester United, in order to make their support for their football team salient in their mind, and were then told they had to walk to a nearby building to finish the second part of the study. As the participants walked to the building, another experimenter, acting the part of a passer-by on a jog, ran past before slipping and falling, grabbing his ankle and shouting in pain. The key experimental manipulation was the colour of the shirt that the “jogger” was wearing: one group of fans saw him wearing a red Manchester United shirt another group saw him with a red Liverpool shirt, and the final (control) group saw him wearing a plain red shirt. The dependent variable was what proportion of the participants would stop and help, and how this varied based on his shirt’s colour.

The proportions did indeed vary when the “jogger” was wearing a Manchester United shirt, circa 90%of individuals stopped to help, compared tocirca 30%for the Liverpool shirt and control shirt conditions.

Even more interestingly, in a second experiment, the researches recreated the conditions of the original study but with a crucial change – instead of giving questionnaires emphasising team alliance before meeting the “jogger”, they were given questionnaires emphasising their overall love of “the game”, i.e. football. All other conditions were kept the same. This time the results were starkly different circa 80%helped the Manchester fan, circa 70%helped the Liverpool fan, while only 20% helped the control confederate.

“the war on climate change”, or more topically, “the fight against the virus” are superordinate goals which […] may help to reduce animosity between different countries and groups of people

This is a crucial finding: arbitrary differences (such as which football team one supports and whether this group identity is further reinforced), can significantly influence one’s behaviour towards another person . [1] The fact that the level of help offered to Liverpool fans increased dramatically when the group lines were redrawn points to a key way in which we can help combat racism, namely encouraging ourselves to think of people of differing races as similar to us because of certain characteristics they share, and making those shared characteristics more salient in our minds than those of race. It is obvious that on a global level, encouraging people to think of others as members of “humankind”, and what unites us as humans, is a necessary attitude in order to eradicate divisions between people, especially if that conceptualisation is against something else. For example, “the war on climate change”, or more topically, “the fight against the virus” are superordinate goals which require the type of group efforts highlighted in the “Summer Camp Studies” by Sherif et al. tackling such problems may thus help to reduce animosity between different countries and groups of people.

Distinctiveness

A further important point to note about racial divisions is distinctiveness that is, people in the out-group are seen as more homogenous, similar between themselves and less distinctive than the in-group. This was shown by Hamilton and Gifford (1976) through the illusory correlations effect, which describes a perception of links between variables even when there is no actual relationship between them.

In this study participants were given a series of slides depicting individual behaviours from people who were either supposedly in group A (the majoritygroup), or group B (the minoritygroup). The ratio of good to bad behaviours was kept the same for both groups. Behaviours used included ‘helped an old lady across a road’, or ‘cheated in an exam’, i.e. minor positive or negative acts. The participants were then presented with the slides again, but this time the name of the group the behaviour belonged to, i.e. group A or B was removed, and the participant had to remember which group the behaviour had come from. It was found that the participants ascribed a greater ratio of negative behaviours to group B, the minority group.

Interestingly, this is not simply a case of minority groups being naturally

viewed as worse. When the study was repeated by presenting for both groups a greater ratio of bad to good behaviour, where the amount of bad behaviour significantly outweighed the good, the participants associated the good behaviour more with the minority group.

“Humans, as “cognitive misers”, are thought to be more inclined to search for features that make a group distinctive, in order to quickly and easily categorise them, and not think much more about it.”

The authors explained this finding in terms of the higher accessibility in memory of the most distinctive combination. That is, in the condition where there was greater good than bad behaviour, the bad behaviour was distinctive, as it was the exception to the norm. Similarly, the minority group was distinctive as it was the exception to the majority norm. Conversely, in the condition where the majority of the behaviour was bad, the behaviour that was distinctive was the good behaviour. The authors postulated that people connected the two distinctive features together, causing the bias observed.

While there remains some debate over the mechanism, the observed results are useful to examine a propensity to view a perceived distinctive feature of the out-group as representative of the whole. This study and others following it have thus been used as evidence to support the argument that the out-group is seen as less distinctive. Humans, as “cognitive misers”, are thought to be more inclined to search for features that make a group distinctive, in order to quickly and easily categorise them, and not think much more about it. That said, follow-up studies have shown that motivational factors, deriving from group membership, can overcome this bias.

This bias is in many ways sensible from an evolutionary perspective: why waste valuable cognitive resources evaluating a group you don’t have much contact with? However, it is immensely dangerous from the standpoint of the fight against racism.

It is not the purpose of this article to address the systemic factors that contribute to racism. Yet these are the likely immediate cause for the disproportionate representation of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) demographic in the lower socioeconomic groups. There is evidence to suggest the presence of institutional racism in the police force, causing people in the BAME demographic to be more likely to be arrested for a given crime than those of other demographics (Eastwood et al. 2013).

With this higher number of arrests being common knowledge, people of non-BAME demographics are more likely to consider criminal activity to be representative of a typical black person. This is likely due to the distinctiveness effect discussed previously, and may also be augmented by a rule of thumb in psychology called the “availability heuristic”. This states that people ascribe greater importance to things they can easily call to mind.

“We are already predisposed to fail to properly distinguish between individual members of racial out-groups.”

This is further complicated by the findings of Kelly et al. (2005, 2007). This developmental psychology study discovered that from as young as 9 months old, children who are of race A and brought up around race A are significantly more able to differentiate between similar looking faces of race A than similar looking faces of face B. That is to say, two separate but similar faces of race A would be perceived as different, whereas two separate but similar faces of race B would be perceived as the same. This might simply be again an evolutionary effect: there is little point for early humans in wasting valuable cognitive resources learning to differentiate between groups one rarely sees. Yet this has significant practical effects in modern society.

What we have, therefore, is a natural psychological bias to see the actions of some of the out-group, which are highlighted as distinctive to us, as representative of the whole out-group. In a society that regularly exposes us to these negative aspects through systemic racism, and, in addition, because of an evolved innate bias, we are already predisposed to fail to properly distinguish between individual members of racial out-groups, even beforewe consider our psychological disposition towards viewing the out-group as homogenous.

Therefore, the problem is clear. Humans are predisposed to form groups and to prioritise the group which they are part of, at the expense of any out-groups. Despite the fact that these groups can, and do, form along totally arbitrary lines, the dislike between them is real and keenly felt. In addition, due to other psychological factors, we are predisposed to consider the out-group as more homogenous, thereby allowing negative stereotypes to easily end up being applied to them, especially as these stereotypes are propagated by systemic racism. It is all too easy to see this playing out in real-life, such as when the violent actions of small extremist fringe groups of larger organisations or religions are used as the justification for targeting the whole group.


Mind Games: Sometimes a White Coat Isn’t Just a White Coat

If you wear a white coat that you believe belongs to a doctor, your ability to pay attention increases sharply. But if you wear the same white coat believing it belongs to a painter, you will show no such improvement.

So scientists report after studying a phenomenon they call enclothed cognition: the effects of clothing on cognitive processes.

It is not enough to see a doctor’s coat hanging in your doorway, said Adam D. Galinsky, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, who led the study. The effect occurs only if you actually wear the coat and know its symbolic meaning — that physicians tend to be careful, rigorous and good at paying attention.

The findings, on the Web site of The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, are a twist on a growing scientific field called embodied cognition. We think not just with our brains but with our bodies, Dr. Galinsky said, and our thought processes are based on physical experiences that set off associated abstract concepts. Now it appears that those experiences include the clothes we wear.

“I love the idea of trying to figure out why, when we put on certain clothes, we might more readily take on a role and how that might affect our basic abilities,” said Joshua I. Davis, an assistant professor of psychology at Barnard College and expert on embodied cognition who was not involved with the study. This study does not fully explain how this comes about, he said, but it does suggest that it will be worth exploring various ideas.

There is a huge body of work on embodied cognition, Dr. Galinsky said. The experience of washing your hands is associated with moral purity and ethical judgments. People rate others personally warmer if they hold a hot drink in their hand, and colder if they hold an iced drink. If you carry a heavy clipboard, you will feel more important.

It has long been known that “clothing affects how other people perceive us as well as how we think about ourselves,” Dr. Galinsky said. Other experiments have shown that women who dress in a masculine fashion during a job interview are more likely to be hired, and a teaching assistant who wears formal clothes is perceived as more intelligent than one who dresses more casually.

But the deeper question, the researchers said, is whether the clothing you wear affects your psychological processes. Does your outfit alter how you approach and interact with the world? So Dr. Galinsky and his colleague Hajo Adam conducted three experiments in which the clothes did not vary but their symbolic meaning was manipulated.

In the first, 58 undergraduates were randomly assigned to wear a white lab coat or street clothes. Then they were given a test for selective attention based on their ability to notice incongruities, as when the word “red” appears in the color green. Those who wore the white lab coats made about half as many errors on incongruent trials as those who wore regular clothes.

In the second experiment, 74 students were randomly assigned to one of three options: wearing a doctor’s coat, wearing a painter’s coat or seeing a doctor’s coat. Then they were given a test for sustained attention. They had to look at two very similar pictures side by side on a screen and spot four minor differences, writing them down as quickly as possible.

Those who wore the doctor’s coat, which was identical to the painter’s coat, found more differences. They had acquired heightened attention. Those who wore the painter’s coat or were primed with merely seeing the doctor’s coat found fewer differences between the images.

The third experiment explored this priming effect more thoroughly. Does simply seeing a physical item, like the coat, affect behavior? Students either wore a doctor’s coat or a painter’s coat, or were told to notice a doctor’s lab coat displayed on the desk in front of them for a long period of time. All three groups wrote essays about their thoughts on the coats. Then they were tested for sustained attention.

Again, the group that wore the doctor’s coat showed the greatest improvement in attention. You have to wear the coat, see it on your body and feel it on your skin for it to influence your psychological processes, Dr. Galinsky said.

Clothes invade the body and brain, putting the wearer into a different psychological state, he said. He described his own experience from last Halloween (or maybe it should be called National Enclothed Cognition Day).

He had decided to dress as a pimp, with a fedora, long coat and cane. “When I entered the room, I glided in,” he said. “I felt a very different presence.”

But what happens, he mused, if you wear pimp clothes every day? Or a priest’s robes? Or a police officer’s uniform? Do you become habituated so that cognitive changes do not occur? Do the effects wear off?


What would the effect on psychology experiments be if we found out that one person sees blue if another sees red? - Psychology

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Imagine you are asked to watch a short video (above) in which six people-three in white shirts and three in black shirts-pass basketballs around. While you watch, you must keep a silent count of the number of passes made by the people in white shirts. At some point, a gorilla strolls into the middle of the action, faces the camera and thumps its chest, and then leaves, spending nine seconds on screen. Would you see the gorilla?

Almost everyone has the intuition that the answer is "yes, of course I would." How could something so obvious go completely unnoticed? But when we did this experiment at Harvard University several years ago, we found that half of the people who watched the video and counted the passes missed the gorilla. It was as though the gorilla was invisible.


Fraud Case Seen as a Red Flag for Psychology Research

A well-known psychologist in the Netherlands whose work has been published widely in professional journals falsified data and made up entire experiments, an investigating committee has found. Experts say the case exposes deep flaws in the way science is done in a field, psychology, that has only recently earned a fragile respectability.

The psychologist, Diederik Stapel, of Tilburg University, committed academic fraud in “several dozen” published papers, many accepted in respected journals and reported in the news media, according to a report released on Monday by the three Dutch institutions where he has worked: the University of Groningen, the University of Amsterdam, and Tilburg. The journal Science, which published one of Dr. Stapel’s papers in April, posted an “editorial expression of concern” about the research online on Tuesday.

The scandal, involving about a decade of work, is the latest in a string of embarrassments in a field that critics and statisticians say badly needs to overhaul how it treats research results. In recent years, psychologists have reported a raft of findings on race biases, brain imaging and even extrasensory perception that have not stood up to scrutiny. Outright fraud may be rare, these experts say, but they contend that Dr. Stapel took advantage of a system that allows researchers to operate in near secrecy and massage data to find what they want to find, without much fear of being challenged.

“The big problem is that the culture is such that researchers spin their work in a way that tells a prettier story than what they really found,” said Jonathan Schooler, a psychologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “It’s almost like everyone is on steroids, and to compete you have to take steroids as well.”

In a prolific career, Dr. Stapel published papers on the effect of power on hypocrisy, on racial stereotyping and on how advertisements affect how people view themselves. Many of his findings appeared in newspapers around the world, including The New York Times, which reported in December on his study about advertising and identity.

In a statement posted Monday on Tilburg University’s Web site, Dr. Stapel apologized to his colleagues. “I have failed as a scientist and researcher,” it read, in part. “I feel ashamed for it and have great regret.”

More than a dozen doctoral theses that he oversaw are also questionable, the investigators concluded, after interviewing former students, co-authors and colleagues. Dr. Stapel has published about 150 papers, many of which, like the advertising study, seem devised to make a splash in the media. The study published in Science this year claimed that white people became more likely to “stereotype and discriminate” against black people when they were in a messy environment, versus an organized one. Another study, published in 2009, claimed that people judged job applicants as more competent if they had a male voice. The investigating committee did not post a list of papers that it had found fraudulent.

Image

Dr. Stapel was able to operate for so long, the committee said, in large measure because he was “lord of the data,” the only person who saw the experimental evidence that had been gathered (or fabricated). This is a widespread problem in psychology, said Jelte M. Wicherts, a psychologist at the University of Amsterdam. In a recent survey, two-thirds of Dutch research psychologists said they did not make their raw data available for other researchers to see. “This is in violation of ethical rules established in the field,” Dr. Wicherts said.

In a survey of more than 2,000 American psychologists scheduled to be published this year, Leslie John of Harvard Business School and two colleagues found that 70 percent had acknowledged, anonymously, to cutting some corners in reporting data. About a third said they had reported an unexpected finding as predicted from the start, and about 1 percent admitted to falsifying data.

Also common is a self-serving statistical sloppiness. In an analysis published this year, Dr. Wicherts and Marjan Bakker, also at the University of Amsterdam, searched a random sample of 281 psychology papers for statistical errors. They found that about half of the papers in high-end journals contained some statistical error, and that about 15 percent of all papers had at least one error that changed a reported finding — almost always in opposition to the authors’ hypothesis.

The American Psychological Association, the field’s largest and most influential publisher of results, “is very concerned about scientific ethics and having only reliable and valid research findings within the literature,” said Kim I. Mills, a spokeswoman. “We will move to retract any invalid research as such articles are clearly identified.”

Researchers in psychology are certainly aware of the issue. In recent years, some have mocked studies showing correlations between activity on brain images and personality measures as “voodoo” science, and a controversy over statistics erupted in January after The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology accepted a paper purporting to show evidence of extrasensory perception. In cases like these, the authors being challenged are often reluctant to share their raw data. But an analysis of 49 studies appearing Wednesday in the journal PLoS One, by Dr. Wicherts, Dr. Bakker and Dylan Molenaar, found that the more reluctant that scientists were to share their data, the more likely that evidence contradicted their reported findings.

“We know the general tendency of humans to draw the conclusions they want to draw — there’s a different threshold,” said Joseph P. Simmons, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. “With findings we want to see, we ask, ‘Can I believe this?’ With those we don’t, we ask, ‘Must I believe this?’ ”

But reviewers working for psychology journals rarely take this into account in any rigorous way. Neither do they typically ask to see the original data. While many psychologists shade and spin, Dr. Stapel went ahead and drew any conclusion he wanted.

“We have the technology to share data and publish our initial hypotheses, and now’s the time,” Dr. Schooler said. “It would clean up the field’s act in a very big way.”


Two Years Later, We Finally Know Why People Saw “The Dress” Differently

One of psychologist Robert Zajonc’s lasting contributions to science is the “mere exposure effect,” or the observation that people tend to like things if they are exposed to them more often. Much of advertising is based on this notion. But it was sorely tested in late February 2015, when “the dress” broke the internet. Within days, most people were utterly sick of seeing or talking about it. I can only assume that now, two years later, you have very limited interest in being here. (Thank you for being here.)

But the phenomenon continues to be utterly fascinating to vision scientists like me, and for good reason. The very existence of “the dress” challenged our entire understanding of color vision. Up until early 2015, a close reading of the literature could suggest that the entire field had gone somewhat stale—we thought we basically knew how color vision worked, more or less. The dress upended that idea. No one had any idea why some people see “the dress” differently than others—we arguably still don’t fully understand it. It was like discovering a new continent. Plus, the stimulus first arose in the wild (in England, no less), making it all the more impressive. (Most other stimuli used by vision science are generally created in labs.)

Even outside of vision scientists, most people just assume everyone sees the world in the same way. Which is why it’s awkward when disagreements arise—it suggests one party either is ignorant, is malicious, has an agenda, or is crazy. We believe what we see with our own eyes more than almost anything else, which may explain the feuds that occurred when “the dress” first struck and science lacked a clear explanation for what was happening.

Two years later we have a much better idea of what may have been a reason for the varied perceptions: People’s perceived color is also informed by their perception of lighting. And the image of the dress, taken on a cellphone, contained a lot of uncertainty in terms of lighting conditions. Was it taken inside or outside? This matters because it implies artificial or natural light. Was the dress illuminated from the front or the back? This matters because if it was back-lit, it would be in a shadow, otherwise not.

The brain cannot be accused of epistemic modesty. It is well-known that in situations like this—where it faces profound uncertainty—it confidently fills in the gaps in knowledge by making assumptions. Usually, its assumptions are based on what it has most frequently encountered in the past. For instance, if the sensory information is more uncertain, observers will estimate object speeds to be slower than they actually are, presumably because slow objects are much more common in the environment than fast ones. (Indeed, most objects in any given field of view don’t move at all.) Color and lighting are no exception.

As the illumination conditions are impossible to clearly assess in the dress image, people make assumptions about what they are. Different people do this in differing ways, which is what causes the different interpretations of color. At least, that’s what my research shows, thanks to 13,000 people, including many Slatereaders, who took surveys on what they saw when they saw the dress and also compiled other information about how they generally perceived the photo and the world.

Remember, the dress is actually blue and black, though most people saw it as white and gold, at least at first. My research showed that if you assumed the dress was in a shadow, you were much more likely to see it as white and gold. Why? Because shadows overrepresent blue light. Mentally subtracting short-wavelength light (which would appear blue-ish) from an image will make it look yellow-ish. Natural light has a similar effect—people who thought it was illuminated by natural light were also more likely to see it as white and gold. Why? Because the sky is blue, daylight also overrepresents short wavelengths, compared with relatively long-wavelength artificial (until recently, usually incandescent) light. Just as mentally subtracting blue light leaves the image looking more yellow, mentally subtracting yellow light from an image leaves an image looking more blue, which is what I found empirically.

Now, why would some people assume one set of lighting conditions and others a different one? That probably depends on the viewing history of the individual observer. How would one study that? One can hardly ask people if they are exposed to more short- or more long-wavelength light. Chances are that most people wouldn’t know and definitely would not be able to assess how their histories of light perception is different relative to other people.

I could make one confident prediction, though: All else being equal, people who rise early (“larks”) and go to bed at a reasonable time should be exposed to more daylight than those who rise late and go to bed later (“owls”). In contrast, owls could be expected to experience relatively more incandescent light than larks.

It is important to note that everything else is likely not equal. So I expected to find a subtle effect that takes data from thousands of observers to be established. For instance, even if even if someone was a hardcore owl, he or she might be forced by circumstance to work a job that makes him or her get up early.

And this is exactly what I found—the effect is subtle but statistically reliable and dose-dependent in other words the more someone self-identified as a lark, the more likely he or she was to see the dress image as white and gold. Moreover—and to tie everything up with a bow— owls were more likely to assume that the lighting was artificial, not natural.

As the effect is subtle—really a proxy for illumination exposure history that cannot be expected to correlate perfectly, one should not expect this to hold for every individual observer. Even if someone spends most of their waking time at night, he or she might not use incandescent lighting. But on average, this group will be exposed to more incandescent light than the larks.

As a matter of fact, I can legitimately be accused of being a fairly extreme owl, yet I initially saw “the dress” strongly as white and gold. However, I did assume it to be in a shadow, so that assumption seemed to override the other. Moreover, viewing histories can change. Admittedly, I looked more at images of dresses (and this specific one at that) in the days following “the dress” than in my entire life before that combined. And it quite abruptly changed to a black and blue percept after four days, and I have never seen it as white and gold again. Of course, I also learned the true color of the dress in the intervening time, and my research suggests that people are more likely to switch to the true color of the dress than vice versa. Some people probably have such finely balanced assumptions that any number of factors could yield their percept to switch rapidly. These people are rare. They need to be found and studied in labs.

Regardless, this point about subtle effects under complicated conditions is an important one. Making the claim that self-identified circadian type can influence perception is unusual. And I wanted to get it right, so I did an internal replication of these findings before seeking publication, which delayed publication by well over a year. (I had 97 percent of the data from the original run within a month of the dress release and could have published right then and there.)

This brings me to the final reason why the dress is important: It’s been over two years since “the dress,” but this paper and another one that just came out represent the first truly rigorous studies on the dress effect.

Good science takes time. I want to be comfortable that my findings are true before publishing them, so that they will stand the test of time. Yet this approach is remarkably uncommon. Given our current science environment, all incentives are aligned to rush to publication and to prioritize quantity over quality of papers. If this is the case, it should not be surprising that scandals—putting entire bodies of work into question and possibly invalidating decades of work—surface with some regularity. Indeed, most of science is currently mired in a “replication crisis,” with only about 1 in 4 reported findings standing the test of time in social psychology. The situation is likely even worse in fields like cancer biology or genomics.

All of this suggests that we need to change the way we do science. Civilization needs reliable, high-quality science to advance further. Unlikely as it might seem from the outside, research on “the dress” could lead the way.

On that note, please take this brief (five-minute) survey in the spirit of #citizenscience. So as not to taint the results, we can’t talk too much about what we are testing here, but the purpose is to address some lingering questions about the dress effect and related stimuli. And please bear with me and my colleagues talking about this for years to come.


CBSE-Class 12- Psychology- Chapter 2

Self and Personality –can be referred as the characteristics in which we define our existence.

These characteristics are usually acquired from our experiences and they show up in our behaviour.

These characteristics make people different from each other. Hence they behave differently in similar situations.

Also same people behave almost similarly in different situations.

Hence it is safe to say that Different people have different personalities in different situations.

Self- Totality of an individual’s conscious experiences, ideas , thoughts and feelings with regard to her/himself developed since the beginning( childhood days).

These experiences and ideas define the existence of an individual both at personal and social level.

Parents, friends, teachers n other significant people around ourselves.

Self can be defined under two type of identities:

Personal Identity– Personal aspects: eg Name, personal qualities (honest, hardworking), potential, capabilities (singer, dancer), beliefs (believer in God).

Social Identity- These are those aspects that link a person with society or a cultural group.

Eg- religion( Hindu, sikh), North Indian or a South Indian

Cognitive and Behavioural aspects of Self

I Self- Esteem- The personal value and worth judgement by a person about her/himself is termed as Self-esteem.

  1. High Self-esteem- Those who think highly of themselves, more accepted by others. Are generally happier, more confident, usually perform better at school/work.
  2. Low Self-esteem- Those who feel less accepted and valued by others. Are generally anxious, depressed and may develop antisocial behaviour.

Studies show children develop self-esteem by the age of 6-7 years in four areas:

  1. Academic competence, 2. Social competence, 3. physical/athletic competence and 4. Physical appearance.

II Self-efficacy- Notion of Self-efficacy is based on Bandura’s social learning theory. It is the extent to which people believe that they can control their life and the outcomes themselves. Their conviction in themselves.

High Self-efficacy – A strong self of self-efficacy allows people to select, influence and even construct and circumstances of their own life.

III Self-regulation- is the ability to organize and monitor our own behaviour.

High self-regulation– are people who are able to change their behaviour according to the demands of the external environment.

Will power– Resistance to situational pressures and control over ourselves.

Self-control– Learning to delay or defer the gratification of needs is called self-control.

Psychological techniques of self-control:

  1. Observation of own behaviour
  2. Self- instructions- to instruct oneself on do something
  3. Self- reinforcement- Rewarding behaviours that have pleasant outcome.

Culture and Self:

Several aspects of Self are linked to the characteristics and features of the culture in which an individual lives.

e.g Distinction between Indian and Western cultures.

  1. In this culture the Individual ( self) and the cultural group are two different identities
  2. The boundaries between self and group are clearly defined.
  3. Individual members of the group maintain their individuality.
  4. Western culture is Individualistic.
  1. Self is not separated from one’s own group
  2. They both ( self & group) remain in state of harmonious co-existence.
  3. Lot of dependency and no clear boundaries.
  4. Indian culture is Collectivistic.

Concept of Personality

Literary definition- This word is derived from Latin word-Persona, which means mask used by actors in Roman theatre to perform their roles.

Layperson’s definition– Personality represents external or physical appearance. They often mistake the superficial features for a person s overall personality.

Eg. We often assume that Good looking person also has a charming personality.

Psychology definition: Personality refers to our characteristic ways of responding to individuals and situations. Personality refers to unique and relatively stable qualities that characterise an individual’s behaviour across different situations over a period of time.

People can easily describe the way in which they respond to various situations. Eg- Shy, sensitive, quiet, warm, nervous..)

Personality is characterised by following features:

  1. It consists of both physical to psychological components
  2. Expression of personality in form of behaviour is unique for each individual
  3. It’s main features do not easily change with time
  4. Though some features may change due to internal or external situational demands, making personality also adaptive to situations.

Some similar meaning words/terms to Personality which are often used as synonyms but differ in meaning:

Temperament: Biologically based characteristic way of reacting

Traits: Stable, persistent and specific way of behaving, in most situations.

Disposition: Tendency of a person to react to a specific situation

Character: The description based on overall pattern of regularly occurring behaviour

Habits: Over learned modes of behaving, become involuntary reactions/actions.

Values: Goals and ideals that are considered important and worthwhile to achieve.

Benefits of understanding diverse personalities:

Different Approaches to study Personalities and behaviours:

  • Type approach
  • Trait Approach
  • Interactional Approach
  • Psychodynamic approach
  • Behaviour approach
  • Cultural Approach
  • Humanistic approach

Type Approach: This approach attempts to comprehend and segregate people into groups by examining and based on their broad patterns in observed behaviours.

So each pattern type refers to a group of people who have similarity of their behavioural characteristics that match with the pattern that set denotes.

Greek physician Hippocrates had proposed a typology of personality based on fluid/humour: Sanguine, Phlegmatic, melancholic, choleric.

Charak Samhita famous treatise on Ayurveda classifies as- Vata, pitta and kapha based on 3 humoural elements- Tridosha

Typology of personality based on trigunas:

Sattva- Cleanliness, Truthfulness, dutifulness, detachment and discipline.

Rajas- Intensive activity, desire for sense gratification, dissatisfaction, envy.

Tamas– Anger, arrogance, depression, laziness, feeling of helplessness.

Sheldon theory: based on body type and temperament

Endomorphic- Fat, soft and round. Relaxed and sociable.

Mesomorphic- Strong muscular, rectangular body and energetic and courageous by temperament

Ectomorphic- Thin, long, fragile by body type and creative, brainy and introvert by temperament.

Jung theory- Introverts, Extroverts

Friedman & Rosenman- Type A & Type B

Type A- Possess high motivation, lack patience, fall short of time, in a great hurry, always feel burdened with work, cant slow down.

Type B- Absence of category of Type A

Type C- Unassertive, cooperative, patient

Type D- Proneness of depression.

Trait Approach: This type groups people as per specific set of traits. For eg Shyness is a trait, so people can be rated in terms of degree of presence or absence of that trait in individuals as Less, More, Not shy at all against that. Friendliness can be another trait and many others.

  1. Traits are relatively stable over time
  2. They are generally consistent across situations
  3. Their strengths and combinations vary across individuals leading

All of the above lead to individual differences in personality.

Gordon Allport’s Trait theory: As per Allport, Traits are the intervening variables between situations which stimulate and person’s response to them.

  1. Cardinal traits: They are highly pervasive and generalized and indicate the goals around which an individual’s life revolves. g. Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violence – Gandhian trait

and Hitler’s Nazism – Hitlerian trait

  1. Central traits: These are less pervasive, still much generalized dispositions. E.g. warm, sincere , diligent

We often use these traits for writing a job recommendation or in our resume.

  1. Secondary traits: These are least generalizedCommonly found in various people, cannot be made the basis for differentiating personalities of people. E.g. likes mangoes, prefer ethnic clothes, likes black dresses.

Cattell theory: Trait based personality factors- He developed a test called sixteen personality factor questionnaire.

  1. Source traits: Stable and are considered as building block of personality.
  2. Surface traits: They result out of the interaction of source traits.

Eysenck’s Theory: Based on biological and genetically governed, Personality could be reduced into two broad dimensions(However, in his later work Eysenck introduced 3 rd dimension also).

  1. Neuroticism Vs Emotional stability: If refers to the degree of control people have on their feelings. People who score high on the neuroticism are anxious, moody, touchy, restless, distressed, irritable, emotional unstable. The opposite /low scores are calm, emotionally stable.
  2. Extraversion Vs Introversion: Extraversion refers to people who are outgoing, active, gregarious, impulsive, thrill seeking and introversion refers to people passive, quiet, cautious and reserved.
  3. Psychoticism Vs sociability: Person scoring high on psychoticism tends to be hostile, egocentric, anti-social. The opposite are friendly and sociable.

Five Factor Model of Personality:

Paul Costa and Robert McCrae have examined all possible personality traits. They indicated set of Big five factors, which are useful and consistent in analysing personality traits across cultures, languages, hence most promising empirical approach to study personality.

Openness to experience: Those who score high on this are imaginative, curious, and open to ideas. Interested in cultural pursuits. Opposites are cold and rigid.

Extraversion: Socially active, assertive, outgoing, talkative and fun loving. Opposite are shy.

Agreeableness: Helpful, cooperative, caring and nurturing. Opposite are hostile, self-centred.

Neuroticism: People scoring high on this are highly emotionally unstable, anxious, irritable, hypertensive. Opposites are well adjusted, calm.

Conscientiousness: Achievement oriented, dependable, responsible, prudent, hardworking and self-controlled. Opposites are impulsive.

The Interactional Approach: This theory claims that situational characteristics play an important role in determining our behaviour. People may behave as dependent or independent not because of their internal trait, but because of external rewards or threats. The compelling situations can used to observe people’s behaviour in places like a market, a courtroom, or a place of worship.

Psychodynamic approach:

Highly popular approach to study personality, by Sigmund Freud. He used ‘Free Association’ the technique ( a method in which a person is asked to openly share his thoughts, feelings and ideas that comes to his/her mind) Dream and error analysis to understand the functioning of mind and help analyse thoughts by expression.

Based on the theory of Levels of consciousness, Freud visualizes the human minds in terms of 3 levels of consciousness:

Conscious: Thoughts, feelings, actions people are aware of.

Preconscious: The mental activity people are aware of only if they pay attention to it closely.

Unconscious: This includes mental activity people are unaware of. These are instinctive, animalistic drives concealed and repressed away from conscious mind because they may lead to psychological conflicts.

Freud used therapy of Psychoanalysis to bring the repressed, unconscious materials to consciousness.

Leading people to live more self-aware and integrated life.

According to this theory there are 3 structural elements of Personality- Id, Ego and Superego.

Id – It is source of a person’s instinctual energy. Deals with immediate gratification of primitive needs- sexual desires, aggressive impulses does not care for moral values, society or any individuals. Id is energised by two instinctive forces- life instinct & death instinct.

The life force that energises the Id is called libido, which seeks immediate gratification.

Ego- It grows out of Id only but seeks to satisfy an individual’s instinctual needs in accordance with reality. Works by reality principle. Ego often directs the Id towards more appropriates ways of behaving, which are socially acceptable.

Eg: A boy sees some one having an ice-cream. His Id may want him to snatch it and eat it. But Ego guides him to ask permission and then take it, which is socially more acceptable behaviour.

Human behaviours reflect an attempt to deal with or escape from anxiety. People avoid anxiety by distorting reality. Freud described defence mechanism of 5 types:

Repression: Anxiety provoking behaviours or thoughts are totally dismissed by the unconscious mind. When people repress any desire at times they totally become unaware of that desire. E,g When someone does something which expresses that desire in a situation, they say, ‘ I do not know why I did this.’

Projection: In projection, people attribute their own traits to others. E.g People who have aggressive tendencies may see other people also acting aggressive towards them. i.e projecting their own behaviour.

Denial: Person in this trait totally refuses to accept reality.

e.g. A person with AIDs refuses to accept or deny his illness.

Reaction formation: This person to defend against anxiety adopts a behaviour totally opposite to the instinctive feeling.

e.g Many people acquire religious practices to channelize their strong sexual urges.

Rationalization: Trying to rationalize their unreasonable feelings and behaviours making them seem reasonable and acceptable.

e.g. When a student after doing poorly in exams buys new pens to rationalize reason of bad performance and tells himself that he will do well with these new pen.

Super Ego- Super Ego can be characterised as the moral branch of mental functioning. Super Ego tells the Id and Ego whether gratification is ethical or not.

e.g. Extending the same example, If the child who wants ice cream, if asks his mother for it which is socially and morally correct.

Stages of Personal Development:

Freud Approach: Freud claims that core aspects of personality are formed at an early stage and remain stable throughout life. He has proposed a 5 stage theory.

Oral stage: Newborn’s instincts are focused on the mouth. The baby seeks pleasure in food that reduces his hunger, thumb sucking, biting, and babbling through his mouth.

Anal stage: It is found that around ages of 2 or 3 child learns to respond to some of the needs of society and learns to control the bodily functions of urination and defecation. If left to themselves, most children at this age experience pleasure by focusing on their anal area and in moving their bowls.

Phallic stage: This stage focuses on genitals. At age of 4 to 5, children begin to realise the difference between males and females. During this stage male children may feel Oedipus complex, which involves love for mother and hostility towards father. And female child experiences Electra complex wherein they are more attached to father and see mothers as their rivals.

Latency Stage: From age of 7 to puberty, child continues to grow physically. Sexual urges are relatively inactive.

Much of their energy is channelled in social or achievement activities.

Genital Stage: During this stage, individual develops maturity in psychosexual development. People learn to deal with opposite gender in a socially mature way. However, if the journey is marked thorough excessive stress or over-indulgence, it may cause fixation to that stage or regression to an earlier stage of development.

Post Freudian Approaches:A number of theorists developed their ideas following Freud.

These theories are less characteristics of sexual and aggressive tendencies of the Id and the expansion of the concept of Ego. The human qualities of creativity, competence and problem solving abilities are emphasised.

Carl Jung : Aims and aspirations: Jung worked with Freud in his early stage of career. Later he broke away as he believed that human beings are also driven by their aims and ambitions besides sex and aggression.

Karen Horney: She another disciple of Freud also derived her theory further from Freudian principles. She adopted a more optimistic of human life. As per her human beings are also driven by growth and self-actualization.

She also contributed by challenging Freud’s treatment of women as inferior. As per her each gender has attributes to be admired by the other, neither being superior or inferior. Women are more affected by social and cultural factors.

Psychological disorders like anxiety are caused by disturbed interpersonal relationship during childhood. Indifferent, discouraging, excessively dominating.

Alfred Adler:Lifestyle and social interest

His basic assumption is that human behaviour is purposeful and goal directed each one chooses and creates. Personal goals are the source of motivation.

In Adler’s view every individual suffers from feeling of inadequacy and guilt i.e. Inferiority complex.

Overcoming these complexes is essential for optimal personality development.

He believed human beings are social beings and psychological qualities such as growth and realization resulted from desire of freedom and striving for justice/truth.

Erik Erikson: Search for identity

This theory lays stress on rational, conscious, ego processes in personality development.

Identity is granted a central place in the process. His concept of identity crisis of adolescent age has drawn considerable attention.

Reasons for criticism of Psychodynamics theories:

These theories are strongly condemned for following reasons:

  1. They are largely based on case studies and not backed by scientific
  1. Small and archetypical individuals were taken as sample groups for studies for advancing generalizations.
  2. Concepts are not properly defined. And they can not be subjected to scientific testing.
  3. Freud theory has used males as prototype of all human personality development. He overlooked female experiences and perspectives.

Behavioural Approach:

This approach does not give importance to the internal dynamics of behaviour. The behaviourists believe in data, which they feel are definable, observable and measurable.

The theory focuses on study of stimulusresponse and reinforcements. Personality can be best understood as a response of an individual to the environment. They see the development as a change in response characteristics .i.e person learns new behaviours in response to new environments and stimuli.

Cultural Approach:

This approach attempts to understand personality in relation to the features of ecological and cultural environment. Rituals, ceremonies, religious practices, arts, recreational activities, games and plays are the means through which people’s personalities get projected in a culture. People develop various personality qualities in an attempt to adapt to a culture or ecological features of groups in life.

Thus cultural approach considers personality as an adaptation of individuals or groups to the demands of ecology or culture.

Humanistic approach: This approach is mainly built on the theories of Freud, Carl Roger and Abraham Maslow.

Roger proposed the idea of a fully functional person. Fulfillmentis the motivational force for personality development. People try to express their capabilities, talents and potentials to the fullest extent.

He observed that each person has a concept of True self and an Ideal self about him. Correspondence between the two leads to a happier and contented person in congruence with himself.

When there is discrepancy and these two spheres don’t overlap each other at all it leads to unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

As per Roger’s principle people have a tendency to maximize self concept through self actualization. And personality development is a journey towards that.

Who is a Healthy Person? As per humanistic approach.

The Humanistic theory suggests that no one can be a healthy person by mere adjusting to the society.

It involves following characteristics:

  1. Awareness of self , one’s feelings and their limits and accept themselves.
  2. Experience Here and Now. Mindfulness.
  3. Don’t so much live in the past and dwell in the future through anxious expectations and distorted defences.

Personality Assessment:

A formal process aimed at understanding personality of an individual with minimum error and maximum accuracy is termed as personality assessment.

Uses of Personality Assessment:

  1. Helps understand how an individual is likely to behave in a given situation.
  2. Accurate assessment is also useful for diagnosis, training, placement, counselling
  • Psychometric tests
  • Self- report measures
  • Projective techniques
  • Behavioural Analysis

Self Report: Method to assess a person by asking him/her about himself/herself. These are structured measures in which subjects are made to objectively report verbal responses using a rating scale.

  1. Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)- developed for psychiatric diagnosis but later applied to variety of psychopathology- hypochondriasis, depression, hysteria masculinity, femininity. True/false questions
  2. Eyesenck Personality Questionnaire – (EPQ)

Tests 2 dimensions of personality- Introverted / Extraverted and Emotionally stable/unstable.

Later Eyesenck added 3 rd dimension to this theory psychoticism ( lack of feelings for other). Such people have a tough manner of interaction, tendency to defy social conventions.

  1. Cattell- Sixteen personality factor questionnaire – (16PF). The tests provides with declarative statements and the subjects respond to the specific situation by choosing from a set of given alternatives.

Uses of Self-report test:

  1. Career guidance, vocational exploration and occupational testing for students/adults.
  2. To assess specific dimensions of personality type ( e.g. authoritarianism, locus of control, optimism)

Limitations of Self-report tests:

  1. Social desirability: this is a tendency on part of a student to endorse/select responses basis socially desirable behaviour.
  2. Acquiescence: It is a tendency of the subject of saying Yes to items irrespective of the content, which makes it less reliable for an effective outcome.
  3. Hesitant to open: This being a direct method where assessment is based on the information directly obtained from the subject, hence he knows that he is been assessed for personality and gets self-conscious and hesitates to share his private feelings.

Hence these tests should be performed under careful supervision of an expert or a trained person.

Projective Technique:

This technique is an indirect method, used to uncover and assess the large part of the behaviour which is governed by unconscious motives, as direct ( self-report) methods cannot assess this.

Methods include: Reporting association with stimuli- words, inkblots, story writing around pictures, some require sentence completion, expression through drawings.

Features of this technique:

  1. The stimuli are relatively or fully unstructured and poorly defined.
  2. The subject is not told about the purpose of assessment and method of scoring and interpretation.
  3. The person is informed that there is no correct or incorrect answer.
  4. Each response is considered to reveal a significant aspect of personality.
  5. Scoring and interpretation are lengthy and sometime subjective.

Examples of Projective tests:

This test was developed by Harmann Rorschach. The tests consists of 10 inkblots ( 5 black and white, 2 red and remaining of pastel colours) printed in the centre of a cardboard of 7” to 10”.

1 st Phase- Performance proper: Subjects are shown the cards and are asked to tell what they see in each.

2 nd Phase- Inquiry: A detailed report of responses is prepared by asking the subject to tell on where, how and on what basis was a particular response made.

Use of the test requires extensive training to make fine judgement and interpretation.

  1. The Thematic Appreciation Test (TAT): developed by Morgan and Murray. Little more structured that the Inkblot test. It consists of 30 black and white picture cards and 1 blank card. Each card depicts one or more people in a variety of situations. 20 cards to 5 cards are used for performing assessment.

Method: One card is presented at a time, asking the subject to tell a story describing the situation presented in the picture:

What led up to the situation

What is happening at the moment

What will happen in future

What are the characters thinking and feeling

A standard procedure is followed for scoring the TAT responses.

Indian adaptation done by: Uma Chaudhary.

Rozensweig’s Picture-Frustration study ( P-F Study): was developed by Rozenweig to assess how people express aggression in a frustrating situation.

The test consists cartoon like pictures depicting situations where one person is frustrating other.

The subject is asked to describe:

What the frustrated person will say or do?

  1. the Type and Direction of aggression ( towards onself or environment or evading the situation).
  2. It is examined whether the focus is on frustrating object or protecting the frustrated person, or on constructive solution.

Sentence Completion Test:

This test makes use of number of incomplete sentences. The starting of the sentence is presented and the subject has to provide an ending of the sentence. The type of ending helps assess the unconscious attitude, motivation and conflicts.

  1. My father………………….
  2. My greatest fear is……………..
  3. The best thing about my mother is……………..
  4. I am proud of………………

Draw-a-Person test:

In this test subject is provided with a pencil, eraser and sheet and asked to draw a picture of a person.

After the completion of the drawing, subject is asked to draw a picture of a person of opposite gender. Subject is asked to make a story about the person as if he/she was a character of a movie/novel. Some examples of the interpretation as follows:

  1. Omission of facial features suggests that the person tries to evade a highly conflict-ridden interpersonal relationship.
  2. Graphic emphasis on the neck suggests lack of control over impulses.
  3. Disproportionately large size of the head suggests organic brain disease or preoccupation with headaches.

Behavioural Analysis:

This analysis can provide us with a meaningful information about his/her personality.

An observer’s report contains data obtained from:

Structured interview follows a set of very specific questions and set procedure. This is often done to make objective comparison of persons being interviewed.

Use of rating scales add to the objectivity.

Unstructured Interview involves asking a number of questions (not specific) to develop an impression about a person. The way a subject answers and presents himself and answers the questions carries enough potential to reveal about his/her personality.

Observation:

Use of Observation for a personality assessment is a sophisticated procedure that cannot be carried out by untrained people. It requires careful training of the observer and fairly detailed guideline to carry out analysis to use observations to assess personality. In spite of the widespread use of this method, it has following limitations:

  1. Professional training required for collection of useful data and is quite demanding and time consuming.
  2. Maturity of the observer is a precondition. Else personal biases can alter the assessment.
  3. Mere presence of the observer may contaminate the results.

Behavioural Ratings

Behavioural ratings are frequently used for personality assessment of individuals in an educational or industrial settings.

Behavioural ratings are generally taken from the people who know the assesse intimately and have interacted over a period of time. In order to use ratings the traits should be clearly defined in terms of carefully stated behavioural anchors.

Limitations of Behavioural Rating method:

  1. Raters generally display biases that colour their judgements of different traits. For example most of are greatly influenced by a single favourable/unfavourable trait which colours the overall judgment on all the traits. This is called ‘Halo effect.’
  2. Raters have a tendency to place individuals in the middle of the scale (middle category bias) or in the extreme positions (called extreme response bias).

Nominations: in this method people in a group who know each other for a long period are asked to nominate another person from the group with whom they would like to work/play/do some activity. Then they are asked to state the reason why they would have nominated that person.

Situational tests: A variety of situational tests have been devised for the assessment of personality. Most commonly used test isSituational Stress test. It provides us information on how a person behaves under stressful conditions. In performing this test the person is given a task under stressful environment, where others are instructed not to provide any support and act non-cooperative. This is kind of role playing. The subject is observed and a report is prepared. Situations can be videotaped and observed for assessment later.


Color red in web-based knowledge testing ☆

Computer- and web-based testing procedures are increasingly popular for the assessment of cognitive abilities and knowledge. This paper identified color red as a critical context factor that may influence the results. Two studies showed that color red may harm the performance in web-based tests of general knowledge. In Study 1 (N = 131) a red (vs. green) progress bar impeded the performance in a knowledge test, but only for the male participants. In Study 2 (N = 190) the color of the survey’s forward-button was manipulated (red vs. blue vs. mixed color) which led to a replication of the gender-dependent color effect. Evolutionary psychology and stereotype threat research explain why red impedes the activation of knowledge among men, but not among women.