Great expectations: Interpretation of positive or negative information is all a matter of anticipation, psychologist say
(Medical Xpress) -- Each month a new jobs report is issued in the United States. Each month the report is also met with criticism even if jobs are added.
But a person's decision to view increased hires as a positive or negative may be a matter of how outcomes compare to expectations, said Michael Young, professor and psychology department head at Kansas State University.
According to Young, placing more people in jobs may seem like a positive, but if the numbers are lower than economists project or are not enough to lower the unemployment rate, then the addition can be seen as a negative.
"You can push around the apparent positivity and negativity of the outcome by reframing it, and can thereby provide a different benchmark for comparison," Young said. "Creating 80,000 jobs is better than 20,000 jobs. But creating 80,000 jobs when 180,000 are needed to hold unemployment constant is not so good."
Psychologists have labeled the mismatch between expectations and actual outcomes as the contrast effect.
Politicians frequently use the effect to reframe information, giving it either a positive or negative spin that best serves their purposes and appeals to their base.
"The problems really arise when people fail to do the necessary digging because we like one spin over another since it fits our own suppositions," Young said. "Given that our president is currently a Democrat, a Democratic supporter might be more critical of data that put a negative spin on a jobs report and try to find data that disconfirms the negative framing. If the spin is positive, the Democrat may not look further into the data. The opposite was the case when there was a Republican in the White House."
Outside of the political arena, Young said the Christmas season can also see a mismatch between expectations and reality.
"It's like the kid who gets 10 gifts at Christmas and says, 'Is that all?' because he or she expected a huge pile like the ones on TV or a bigger haul than the neighbor got," Young said.
Likewise, animals show similar positive and negative stances when it comes to expectations and the actual outcome. For example, a pigeon will show excitement by responding faster if it receives two food pellets when the custom has been to only receive one. The pigeon will show frustration and disappointment by responding more slowly for the same two pellets, however, if it is expecting the customary four food pellets but only receives two.
Sometimes a negative view on a situation can have a positive effect, Young said.
Gossip, for example, is a form of sharing negative information. Although once dismissed as white noise, some researchers have since determined that gossip helps clarify, communicate and enforce socially acceptable behaviors that are not published in laws, rulebooks or manuals.
"If I complain about someone's bad breath or cellphone etiquette, there's an implicit message that 'you' should be careful to brush your teeth or not answer your cellphone," Young said. "Interestingly, though, we won't complain about those behaviors to someone who we know when they're engaging in them, but children have no such compunctions."
Similarly, talking about troubles and negative situations helps some people handle complex and frustrating situations.
"It externalizes our own failures so it's about the situation, not about me," Young said.
Provided by Kansas State University
- Young children understand the benefits of positive thinking Dec 22, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Federal welfare programs can have negative effects on children's cognitive scores Jun 13, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Gossip serves a useful purpose after all May 20, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Mood Affects Young and Old Differently, Study Finds Mar 15, 2006 | not rated yet | 0
- College best option for young people during times of high unemployment Mar 10, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
How can there be villous adenoma in colon, if there are no villi there
5 hours ago As title suggest. Thanks :smile:
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
May 21, 2013 Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
(Medical Xpress)—Preschoolers universally recognize that one's choices are not always free – that our decisions may be constrained by social obligations to be nice to others or follow rules set by parents ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 4 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Do ethicists engage in better moral behavior than other professors? The answer is no. Nor are they more likely than nonethicists to act according to values they espouse, according to researchers from the ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 4 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
Is it permissible to harm one to save many? Those who tend to say "yes" when faced with this classic dilemma are likely to be deficient in a specific kind of empathy, according to a report published in the scientific journal ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 7 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
(HealthDay)—The monstrous tornado that devastated Moore, Okla., on Monday, killing dozens of adults and children, is a stunning example of violent weather that can affect a child's mental well-being.
Psychology & Psychiatry 20 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Youth who had a schoolmate die by suicide are significantly more likely to consider or attempt suicide, according to a study in published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal). This effect can last 2 years or mo ...
Psychology & Psychiatry May 21, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
Researchers at Johns Hopkins have unraveled the molecular foundations of cocaine's effects on the brain, and identified a compound that blocks cravings for the drug in cocaine-addicted mice. The compound, already proven safe ...
37 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Scientists have reversed behavioral and brain abnormalities in adult mice that resemble some features of schizophrenia by restoring normal expression to a suspect gene that is over-expressed in humans with ...
37 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Costs to treat stroke are projected to more than double and the number of people having strokes may increase 20 percent by 2030, according to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.
37 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
University of Granada scientists have patented a new treatment for acne that is based on completely natural substances and is much more effective than artificial formulas because it does not create resistance ...
45 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
The new 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) appears to be as safe as the previous version used prior to 2010, the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7), according to a Kaiser Permanente study published ...
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Scientists supported by the National Institutes of Health have a new theory as to why a woman's fertility declines after her mid-30s. They also suggest an approach that might help slow ...
4 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |