Affective Forecasting Knowing What to Want
SENSE MAKING AND PEOPLE’S IGNORANCE OF IT
Another cause of the impact bias is that forecasters fail to recognize how readily they will make sense of novel or unexpected events once they happen. Research across a variety of fields suggests that such events trigger four processes in sequence: attention, reaction, explanation, and adaptation.
_ First, people are especially likely to attend to events that are self-relevant but poorly understood. For example, a student who unexpectedly receives an A on an important exam will initially think about little else.
_ Second, people react emotionally to self-relevant, poorly understood events. The student who receives an unexpected A will initially feel overjoyed.
_ Third, people attempt to explain or make sense of self-relevant, poorly understood events. For example, the overjoyed student will begin to search for reasons why she received a better-than-expected grade.
_ Fourth, by making sense of events, people adapt emotionally to them. Once the student has explained the reasons for her grade, she will think about her achievement less and experience less happiness when she does think about it. The event will come to be seen as more normal and inevitable then it actually was, and hence it will lose some of the emotional power that it had when it still seemed extraordinary.
Implications of Immune Neglect
People’s failure to anticipate their natural tendency to make the best of bad outcomes has a number of consequences:
_ Because people do not recognize that they have reduced the impact of negative events by explaining and rationalizing them, they sometimes attribute their unexpected resilience to the work of powerful, insightful, and benevolent external agents (Gilbert, Brown, Pinel,&Wilson, 2000).For example, employees who are transferred to undesirable locations might be surprised by how happy they are; by failing to recognize that they produced their own happiness with non conscious coping and defensive processes, they might attribute their good fortune to the guiding hand of an external agent, such as God.
_ When people make a decision that is difficult to reverse, such as buying a sweater from a store with a ‘‘no returns’’ policy, they are strongly motivated to rationalize the decision and make the best of it.
-When people can more easily undo a decision, such as buying a sweater they can return, they are less motivated to rationalize their choice, because they can always change their minds.
-Consequently people are often happier with irrevocable choices because they do the psychological work necessary to rationalize what they can’t undo.
-Because people do not realize in advance that they will work harder to rationalize irreversible decisions, however, they often avoid the binding commitments that would actually increase their satisfaction (Gilbert & Ebert, 2002).For example, many people pay more to purchase clothing from stores with a liberal return policy, when they would more satisfied with clothes they bought that they could not return.
_ Not surprisingly, people believe that major traumas will have a more enduring emotional impact than minor ones will. Because people are more strongly motivated to make sense of major traumas than minor ones.For example, to be insulted by a close friend than a stranger. Because people are more
motivated to cope with (and perhaps rationalize) the insult from the friend, however, they may recover from it more quickly (Gilbert, Lieberman, More wedge, &Wilson, 2004
Empirical Research on the Insanity Defense and Attempted Reforms: Evidence Toward Informed Policy
This paper addresses some common questions about the insanity defence and issues raised by commonly proposed “reforms.” The first section begins with a brief description of the insanity defense and the reasons for its existence in the law.
It then examines some of the popular myths and public misperceptions surrounding the insanity defense.
The next three sections discuss proposed “reforms” and the empirical research that addresses their effect.
These reforms, including various procedural changes in definitions, burden of proof, and expert testimony, the institution of a guilty but mentally ill verdict, and the abolition of the insanity defence itself, are reviewed, along with relevant research findings and policy issues.
Finally, the development of sound conditional release programs for criminal defendants found not guilty by reason of insanity is proposed as a reform option which could serve the objectives of enhancing public safety and access to appropriate treatment while continuing to meet the objectives of the insanity defence within criminal jurisprudence.
THE INSANITY DEFENSE
Doctrine of the Insanity Defence
To establish that an individual is guilty of a crime, the state must prove at least two components: first, that the defendant engaged in proscribed conduct or committed the illegal act in question (referred to as acts reus); and second, that the defendant committed this act with criminal intent (referred to as mens rea).
Different offenses may require different levels of intent. For example, in North Carolina, an indictment for a charge of murder requires a declaration that the defendant killed “willfully and with malice aforethought,” whereas that element for manslaughter only requires that the killing be done “willfully.” (North Carolina, 19 , §15-144). Similarly, in Ohio, an aggravated murder charge requires that the defendant killed “purposely, and with prior calculation and design,” while murder requires only that the killing be done “purposely” (Ohio, 19 , §§2903.01, 2903.02).
Revising the Substantive Test of Insanity and Jury Instructions
Although there has been a fair amount of both naturalistic and analogue research on this issue, clear conclusions are still not possible.
This may be due in part to a disheartening series of studies showing that juror comprehension of jury instructions is rather poor.
For example, using jury instructions for the M ‘Naghten standard, Eelworm and his colleagues (Eelworm & Sales, 1985; Eelworm, Alpine, & Sales, 1987) have found the rate of juror comprehension to be about 30%, and even when rewritten for maximum comprehensibility, the rate rose only to 51%. James (1959; see Simon, 1967) found that jurors accurately recalled only 58% of the insanity.
Arenas, Grandfield, and Susan (1965) found juror comprehension of insanity defense standards to range between 31% and 40% accuracy.
Clearly, if jurors cannot understand instructions on insanity, it would be hard for them to apply them accurately to a case (Ogloff, 1991).
Nonetheless, the analogue or mock jury studies tend to show jurors do not produce significantly different verdicts when they are judging a defendant according to different substantive insanity criteria given to them in the form of jury instructions (Finkel, Shaw,Bearcat, & Koch, 1985; Finkel, 1989, 1991; Ogloff, 1991.
Distinguishing between the concepts of not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI) and GBMI can be difficult. In brief, NGRI is an affirmative defense to a crime.
That is, if a criminal defendant successfully argues that he or she meets the insanity defense standard, he or she is determined to be “not guilty” (or “not responsible”) in the eyes of the law and is then subject to civil proceedings for their confinement, but not to criminal incarceration or punishment (see above).
In contrast, GBMI is not a defense, but is rather a verdict that implies that one is “guilty” or criminally culpable, and is subject to criminal sanctions including incarceration and possibly even death (Harris v. State, 1986; People v. Crews, 1988).
The addition of the term “but mentally ill” only denotes a finding that the defendant had a mental disorder at the time of the offense and/or sentencing, but it does not lessen his or her legal guilt or criminal culpability.
As noted above, all states except Utah and Nevada with GBMI have added it to their existing insanity defence as a fourth option, rather than using it to replace the insanity defence.
Impact Research on GBMI
Does GBMI Reduce Insanity Acquittals?
The current literature does not show a clear trend for reductions in the rate of insanity acquittals following the adoption of GBMI.15
In general, data from states in which outcomes have been studied (Michigan, South Carolina,
Georgia, and Illinois) suggest that the implementation of GBMI did not significantly reduce the overall rate of insanity acquittals. In fact, in Michigan, following enactment of a GBMI statute, the number of NGRI findings actually increased.
The exceptions in the existing research have come from studies in Pennsylvania and Georgia, although in light of other pre-existing trends and co-occurring changes in the law, the specific effect of GBMI in these states is difficult to ascertain.
Because these studies had discrepant findings, they deserve some additional explanation.
Does GBMI Increase Access to Treatment?
It has been demonstrated in several states that a designation of guilty but mentally ill generally does not ensure opportunities for treatment beyond those ordinarily provided to other offenders, and typically adds nothing to existing provisions for the hospitalization of prisoners requiring inpatient care.
Thus, for example, a Georgia study found that there were 150 defendants designated as GBMI, only 3 of whom were being treated in hospitals. Pennsylvania reported a higher rate of treatment with just over one-fourth (27.5%) of GBMI inmates never receiving inpatient psychiatric treatment,16 but in Illinois, of the first 44 defendants found GBMI, none received any hospital treatment (Steadman et al., 1993).
Research has shown, however, that prosecutors and defence attorneys both overestimate the likelihood that GBMI inmates will receive treatment.17 Thus, the GBMI verdict may create “false treatment expectations” which would be misleading to defendants, juries, judges and the general public.
Women Benefit More Than Men in Response to College-based Meditation Training
Why Are Women Improving More Than Men?
Our research finding that women in this sample are benefiting more than men is consistent with previous studies on mindfulness-based treatment for substance use disorders (Chenet al., 2010; Katz and Toner, 2013).
In determining why this might be true, our analysis excluded the important potential explanations of baseline differences or differences in hours meditated. In particular, if men and women started with different levels of affect at baseline, there might be more room and likelihood for improvement.
However, there were no baseline differences in positive or negative affect Further, reported hours show that on average, men actually meditated over 7 h more than women over the course of the 12-week semester (though this difference was not statistically significant; see Intervention Adherence).
Thus, women did not improve more than men by meditating more and getting a higher “dose”
We suggest that the divergent effects we observed were caused primarily by gender-based mechanistic differences in emotion regulation techniques, which have also been reported in other contexts.
Gendered differences in emotion regulation techniques have been indicated by neuro imaging research using firm which has reported that men demonstrate less activation of brain regions involved in emotional regulation (amygdale, prefrontal regions associated with emotion regulation, and reward associated ventral striate regions) during active emotional regulation (McRae et al., 2008).
A similar firm study found that negative emotion induction during working memory tasks emotions.
These observations support elements of one theoretical explanation for how mindfulness might decrease rumination:
A two-factor pathway in which attentional clarity and acceptance of experience contribute to a clarity of experience (Bishop et al., 2004) and eventually to improved negative emotion regulation strategies.
Why Improvements in Negative Affect But Not Positive Affect?
Our data revealed differences between genders on measures of negative affect but not of positive affect.
This might be explained by the nature of the meditation training, which entailed practices designed to engender concentration and awareness so as to develop equanimity in the face of all emotions and experiences.
This is in contrast to practices used to cultivate positive states like self-compassion or loving-kindness toward others, found in other meditation-based clinical programs (Hofmann et al., 2011). It is therefore conceivable that our training would result in decreases of negative emotions but not increases of positive emotions.
It is important to also recognize that neither gender showed improvements on positive affect and the group as a whole did not show improvements on either positive or negative affect.
This contradicts other indications of improved positive and negative affect following mindfulness training (Ravel et al., 2004; Chambers et al., 2008). Our data suggests that mindfulness training may not yield improvements in positive or negative affect in all samples or all individuals within a sample and that gender may be one predictor of a differential treatment response.
Which Comes First: The Chicken or the Egg?
Are people who are more spiritual or religious more likely to become long survivors, or do people become more religious when they get sick? Because the data presented are cross-sectional in nature, one might raise the question as to whether when one develops a serious AIDS symptom (i.e., Category C), one becomes more religious.
Are Four Separate Factors Necessary on the Ironson–Woods SR Index?
Two factors capture spirituality (Sense of Peace and Compassionate View of Others), and two factors capture religiousness in the more traditional sense (Faith in God and Religious Behavior).
In addition, one of the religious factors is more private (Faith in God), whereas the other (Religious Behavior) is more public, and both of the other factors (Sense of Peace and Compassionate View of Others) can be viewed as more private and relevant for people high in either spirituality or religiousness.
In addition to content differences, differences in relevance to spiritual or more traditionally religious orientations, and differences in private versus public orientation, the factors are also related uniquely to different outcomes.
Factor 1 (Sense of Peace) is the factor most strongly related to physiologic stress (low cortical), affective distress (perceived stress, anxiety), and hope (optimism, hopelessness).
Factor 2 (Faith in God) is most strongly related to a traditional belief in God and is also related to less distress, more hope, lower cortisol (although less strongly than Factor 1 but through a more traditional religious orientation) and long survival. Factor 3 (Religious Behavior) is most strongly traditionally religious and is significantly related
to long survival.
Factor 4 (Compassionate View of Others), a dimension that can be regarded as relevant to being either spiritual or religious, is significantly related to long survival (and to very long survival) and is most strongly related to helping others and to telling one’s partner of one’s HIV status.
Is Asking About Religious Behavior Alone Sufficient?
Another question that arises from the literature is whether asking about religious behavior alone is sufficient (6,8). For the 12 psychosocial, behavioral, and physiologic (cortisol) variables regressions were done to determine whether the three other factors (Factors 1, 2, and 4) added beyond religious behavior in the prediction of the 12 variables. For 9 of the 12 regressions, at least one factor added to religious behavior, and in 8 of these it was Factor 1 (Sense of Peace).
Thus, asking about religious behaviour alone left out significant variance, and that variance particularly seemed to be related to the sense of peace with which spiritual or religious beliefs may be associated.
Are the Benefits of Religious Behavior Accounted for by Social Support?
One might hypothesize that attending services and participating in the activities of a religious community could be associated with more social support than private aspects of spirituality (peace, faith, compassion).To test whether the religious behavior– health relations might be driven by social support, we examined the association of Religious Behavior with the 12 outcomes controlling for social support.
Most (6 of the 8 that were significant before, not including social support) of these
relations were not driven by social support (i.e., they remained significant when social support was controlled; partial rs =
–.25** for hopelessness, –.19** for optimism, –.16* for anxiety, .25** for helping others, .19* for safe sex, and –.24 for smoking). Only perceived stress (–.07, ns) and depression (–.11, ns) were driven at least partially by social support.
In addition, the relation between Religious Behaviour and long survival remained significant when social support (partial r = .17**) was controlled. Thus, the social support associated with religious behaviour may help people to be less distressed, but social support associated with religious behaviour does not appear to drive most of the religious behaviour–health relations studied.
The Interactive Effects of Affective Demeanour, Cognitive Processes, and Perspective-Taking Focus on Helping Behaviour
What you are about to see is a videotape of a real person named Michelle who allowed us to tape her “thinking out loud” about returning to college as an adult student.
While you are watching this videotape, you will be asked to adopt a specific viewing perspective.
(a) instructions to attend to and discern Michelle’s feelings and emotions (affective-perspective-taking condition)
(b) instructions to attend to and discern Michelle’s thoughts and reasoning processes (cognitive-perspective-taking condition).
Affective- and cognitive-content manipulation.
I used videotapes to operationalize the affective and cognitive content of the target person’s ruminations. Each videotape script, as well as the manner in which the target person delivered the lines (e.g., body language, voice tone, facial expression), was designed to present
one of four experimental manipulations:
1. Positive affect–positive cognition: Michelle appears warm, cheerful, and optimistic (affective features); she is clear and focused and presents her thoughts about returning to college logically (cognitive features).
2. Positive affect–negative cognition: Michelle appears warm, cheerful, and optimistic (affective features), but her thinking seems confused and tangential, and she presents her thoughts about returning to college illogically (cognitive features).
3. Negative affect–positive cognition: Michelle appears resentful, anxious, and pessimistic (affective features), but her thinking is clear and focused, and she presents her thoughts about returning to college logically (cognitive features).
4. Negative affect–negative cognition: Michelle appears resentful, anxious, and pessimistic (affective features); her thinking seems confused and tangential;and she presents her thoughts about returning to college illogically (cognitive features).
Moreover, to provide evidence that perspective taking and empathy are separate constructs, I calculated the correlation coefficient for those two variables.
The correlation between perspective-taking condition and scores on the empathic concern index was nonsignificant, r = .04, p = .660, suggesting that the relationship between those variables is very weak.
Potential Similarity Effects
Because a White woman in her 30s was the target, I assessed participants on:
(a) the degree of perceived similarity between themselves and the target and
(b)the ways, if any, in which similarity was related to empathy and helping.
I calculated a similarity index for participants by adding their responses to the four similarity items.
For the similarity index, scores ranged from 4 to 26 (M = 13.34, SD = 5.55). The correlations between similarity and empathy and similarity and helping were very small (rs = –.03 and .17, respectively), suggesting that similarity was not relevant to the present study.
The results of the present study are best understood if one thinks of the target, Michelle, as a prototype for other prospective students. Batson (1994) noted that attempting to induce feelings for an individual who is an exemplar of a larger group is a strategy often used by fundraisers and researchers.
Because the participants saw only one videotape, they may have anticipated that prospective students would be like the target.
Biased Assimilation and Attitude Polarization
The Effects of Prior Theories on Subsequently Considered Evidence
People who hold strong opinions on complex social issues are likely to examine relevant empirical evidence in a biased manner. They are apt to accept “confirming” evidence at face value while subjecting “discontinuing” evidence to critical evaluation, and as a result to draw undue support for their initial positions from mixed or random empirical findings.
Thus, the result of exposing contending factions in a social dispute to an identical body of relevant empirical evidence may be not a narrowing of disagreement but rather an increase
The present study examines a rather different thesis—one born in an analysis of the
layperson’s general shortcomings as an intuitive scientist (cf. Nisbett & Ross, in press;
Ross, 1977) and his more specific shortcomings in adjusting unwarranted beliefs in
the light of empirical challenges (cf. Ross, Lepper, & Hubbard, 1975). Our thesis is that
belief polarization will increase, rather than decrease or remain unchanged, when mixed
or inconclusive findings are assimilated by proponents of opposite viewpoints.
This “polarization hypothesis” can be derived from the simple assumption that data relevant
to a belief are not processed impartially.
C. LORD, L. ROSS, AND M. LEPPER
This choice was made primarily because the issue is the subject of strongly held views that frequently do become the target of public education and media persuasion attempts, and has been the focus of considerable social science research in the last twenty years. Indeed, as our basic hypothesis suggests, contending factions in this debate often cite and derive encouragement from the same body of inconclusive correlation research (Furman v. Georgia,
1972; Sara & Vida, 1976; Selling, 1967).
In the present experiment, we presented both proponents and opponents of capital punishment first with the results and then with procedural details, critiques, and rebuttals
for two studies dealing with the deterrent efficacy of the death penalty—one study confirming their initial beliefs and one study disconfirming their initial beliefs. We anticipated biased assimilation at every stage of this procedure.
A total of 1S1 undergraduates completed an in-class questionnaire that included three items on capital punishment. Two to four weeks later, 48 of these produced by all of the materials read since the start of the experiment.
Components of Attitude Polarization
In view of this strong evidence of overall attitude polarization, it is worth examining the course of attitude polarization as subjects’ opinions were successively assessed after exposure to the first study, the details and critiques of the first study, the results of the second study, and the details and critiques of the second study.
At each stage, it will be recalled, subjects were asked about the impact of the single piece of information they had just considered and the cumulative impact of all information presented to that point.
Let us first examine the reported effects of single segments of evidence and
then the effects of accumulated evidence over time.
The results of the present experiment provide strong and consistent support for the attitude polarization hypothesis and for the biased assimilation mechanisms postulated to
underlie such polarization. The net effect of exposing proponents and opponents of capital
punishment to identical evidence—studies ostensibly offering equivalent levels of support
and disconfirmation—was to increase further the gap between their views. The mechanisms responsible for this polarization of subjects’ attitudes and beliefs were clear.
Choice blindness how we fool ourselves into believing we get what we want.
Cognitive Dissonance: Thoughts Out Of Tune Fastener, L., & Carl smith, J. M. (1959). Cognitive consequences of forced compliance. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 58, 203–210.
Have you ever been in a position of having to do or say something that was contrary to your
attitudes or private opinions?
Chances are you have; everyone has at some time. When you behaved that way, what happened to your attitude or opinion? Nothing? Well, maybe nothing.
In the early 1950s, various studies tried to explain this opinion shift as a result of
(a) mentally rehearsing the speech and
(b) the process of trying to think of arguments in favour of the forced position.
In performing those mental tasks, the early theories argued, participants convinced themselves of the position they were about to take. In pursuing this line of reasoning further, additional studies were conducted that offered monetary rewards to participants for giving convincing speeches contrary to their own views.
Festinger theorized that normally what you publicly state will be substantially the same as your private opinion or belief. Therefore, if you believe “X” but publicly state “not X,” you will experience the discomfort of cognitive dissonance. However, if you know that the reasons for your statement of “not X” were clearly justified by pressures, promises of rewards, or threats of punishment, then your dissonance will be reduced or eliminated.
Therefore—and this is the key—the more you view your inconsistent behaviour to be of your own choosing, the greater will be your dissonance.
Imagine you are a university student enrolled in an introductory psychology course. One of your course requirements is to participate for 3 hours during the semester as a participant in psychology experiments.
You check the bulletin board that posts the various studies being carried out by professors
and graduate students, and you sign up for one that lasts 2 hours and deals with “measures of
performance. In Fastener and Carl smith’s study, as in many psychology experiments, the true purpose of the study cannot be revealed to the participants because this could bias their responses and invalidate the results. The group of participants in the original study consisted of 71 male, lower division psychology students.
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The results of the study were reflected in how each of the participants actually felt about the boring tasks in the final interview phase of the study. They were asked to rate the experiment as follows:
1. Were the tasks interesting and enjoyable ? This was measured on a scale of -5 (extremely dull and boring) to +5 (extremely interesting and enjoyable). The 0 point indicated that the tasks were neutral; neither interesting nor interesting.
2. How much did you learn about your ability to perform such tasks? Measured on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 meant nothing learned and 10 meant a great deal learned.
3. Do you believe the experiment and tasks were measuring anything important? Measured on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 meant no scientific value and 10 meant great scientific value.
4. Would you have any desire to participate in another similar experiment? Measured on a scale of -5 (definitely dislike to participate) to +5 (definitely like to participate), with 0 indicating neutral feelings.
The theory of cognitive dissonance states, in Festinger’s words:
1. If a person is induced to do or say something that is contrary to his private opinion, there will be a tendency for him to change his opinion to bring it into correspondence with what he has said or done.
2. The larger the pressure used to elicit the overt behaviour, the weaker will be the above-mentioned tendency.
QUESTIONS AND CRITICISMS
Fastener himself anticipated that previous researchers whose theories were threatened by this new idea would attempt to criticize the findings and offer alternate explanations for them (mental rehearsal and thinking up better arguments, as discussed previously).
To counter these criticisms, the sessions in which the participant lied to the incoming participant were recorded and rated by two independent judges who had no knowledge of which condition ($1 vs. $20) they were rating. Statistical analyses of these ratings showed no differences in the content or persuasiveness of the lies between the two groups.
Therefore, the only apparent explanation remaining for the findings is what Fastener termed cognitive dissonance.
Social science research continues to rely on, demonstrate, and confirm Fasting and Carlsmith’s theory and findings. One interesting study found that you may experience cognitive dissonance and change your attitude about an issue simply by observing people whom you like and respect engaging in attitude discrepant behaviour, without any personal participation on your part at all (Norton et al., 2003).
The authors referred to this process as vicarious dissonance. In Norton’s study, college students heard speeches disagreeing with their attitudes on a controversial issue (a college fee increase).
For some, the speech in favor of the increase was given by a member of their own college (their “in-group”), while for others, the speech was made by a member of another college (their “out-group”).
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