When seeing IS believing


==>極限下の人間は「妄想」で理性を保つ、米大研究 (2008/10/09) on AFP

[When seeing IS believing (2008/10/02) on Eurekalert]

The Need for Control

According to Whitson, that psychological need is for control, and the ability to minimize uncertainty and predict beneficial courses of action. In situations where one has little control, the researchers proposed that an individual may believe that mysterious, unseen mechanisms are secretly at work. To test their theory, the researchers created a number of situations characterized by lack of control and then measured whether people saw a variety of illusory patterns.

For example, in one experiment individuals were asked to look at "snowy" pictures. Half of the pictures were grainy patterns of random dots, while the other half also contained images like a chair, a boat, or the planet Saturn, that were faintly visible against the grainy background. While all people correctly identified 95 percent of the hidden images, the group of people who had felt their control had been eroded in a previous part of the experiment also "saw" images in 43 percent of the pictures that were just random scatterings of dots.

"People see false patterns in all types of data, imagining trends in stock markets, seeing faces in static, and detecting conspiracies between acquaintances. This suggests that lacking control leads to a visceral need for order – even imaginary order," said Whitson.


[When seeing IS believing (2008/10/02) on Eurekalert]

Explaining Superstitions

To better understand superstitions, Whitson and Galinsky asked a group of individuals to write about situations they had experienced. Half of them recalled situations in which they had control, while the other half detailed paralyzing instances of a loss of control, like car accidents caused by others or illnesses to friends or family. Following the exercise, all participants read short stories in which significant outcomes, like getting an idea approved at a business meeting, were preceded by unrelated behaviors, such as stomping one's feet three times before entering a meeting. Participants who had initially written about a situation in which they had no control expressed greater belief in a superstitious connection to the story's outcome, and were more fearful of what would happen if the superstitious behavior wasn't properly repeated in the future.


While foot stomping or lucky socks are quirky and usually harmless, the participants in the experiment whose feelings of control had been diminished were more likely to perceive more sinister conspiracies lurking beneath the surface of innocuous situations. For example, when reading about an employee who was passed over for a promotion, the powerless participants tended to believe that private conversations between co-workers and the boss were to blame.



[Julie Steenhuysen:"Lack of control seen fueling superstitions" (2008/10/02) on Reuters]

Lack of control can lead rational people to see patterns even where no true pattern exists, a finding that explains seemingly irrational behavior, U.S. researchers reported on Thursday.

They said their findings help explain why baseball players perform elaborate rituals or stock analysts sometimes see ominous trends in perfectly innocuous data.



"Everybody knows the classic superstitious baseball player with their lucky T-shirt and the particular thing they have to do before they step up to the plate," Whitson said in an audio interview on the Science website.


一方、市場心理に関心を持ったのが、Boston GlobesBBCである。

Boston Globesは簡単な紹介記事で、相場観に触れている:
[Colin Nickerson: "Chaos may make you see 'things'" (2008/10/06) on The Boston Globe]

Confusing times make for dangerous times, suggests new research that serves as a caution during the current financial crisis.


The possibility of an economic meltdown is bad enough. Worse might be a hasty response born of little more than the powerful human need to impose order - even false order - on a riotous world.


['Illusions driving market havoc' (2008/10/03) on BBC]

The mind naturally creates illusions and superstitions at times of stress - and this could be adding to the global financial crisis, say scientists.


Frightening headline

In another experiment, people were given one of two headlines to read.

The first said "Rough seas ahead for investors", while the other said "Smooth sailing ahead for investors".

They then were given statements about two different companies, with the first having 16 positive comments and eight negative, the second eight positive and four negative.

Even though both companies had the same ratio of positive to negative, when given a choice of which company, if any, to invest in, those given the "rough seas" message were far less likely to invest in the second company.

When asked to recall the positive and negative information, again, in the more volatile market, the investors were far more likely to overestimate the amount of negative information about the second company.


This meant, said the researchers, that the volunteers whose feelings of control had been undermined formed an "illusory correlation" linking negative feelings to the company with fewest comments, and made their investment decisions on the back of it.


New York Timesも相場観について取り上げたが、これに加えて、戦時の例を紹介している:
[John Tierney: "See a Pattern on Wall Street?" (2008/10/03) on New York Times -- Tierrey Blog]

Dr. Galinsky, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, noted some historical examples of this tendency, like the reactions of Londoners during the bombing of their city in World War II.

Northwestern UniversityのKellogg School of ManagementのGalinsky教授は、第2次世界大戦で空襲を受けたときのロンドン市民の反応など歴史事例にも、この傾向は見られると述べた。

“Even though later statistical analysis clearly demonstrated that the bombs fell randomly across the city, people were certain that parts of the city had been targeted and other parts spared,” he told me. “People in those areas of the city seemingly spared came under suspicion as Nazi sympathizers, and their livelihoods and physical safety were threatened. And in those areas seemingly targeted by the bombs, people moved out, attempting to escape systematic bombing that was in fact not systematic.”


同じく、相場観などに触れつつもNews Weekは「陰謀論」性向について注目した記事を書いている:
[Sharon Begley: "Feeling Powerless? Do I Have a Conspiracy Theory for You" (2008/10/02) on News Week]

The reason, suggest Jennifer Whitson of the University of Texas, Austin, and Adam Galinsky of Northwestern University, is that pattern perception compensates for feeling out of control in a sea of forces you do not comprehend. It balances the sense that life is random and restores the sense that you do understand what’s going on and might even be able to affect them. It can be more comforting to believe that a vast conspiracy explains, say, the stock market crash than to acknowledge that the financial system is beyond your comprehension, let alone control: conspiracy beliefs, write the scientists, give “causes and motives to events that are more rationally seen as accidents ... [in order to] bring the disturbing vagaries of reality under ... control.”

その理由は、AustinのUniversity of TexasのJennifer Whitsonと、Northwestern UniversityのAdam Galinskyによれば、理解できない力で制御不可能になったという感情を、パターン認識が埋め合わせていること。パターン認識は、生命はランダムだという感覚を均衡させ、何が起きているか理解し、その事態に自分が影響を及ぼせるという感覚を回復させる。株式市場の崩壊を巨大な陰謀論で説明する方が、金融システムが自分の理解を超えていると考えるよりも安心できる。陰謀論を信じれば事件の原因と動機が定まり、単なる偶発時と考えるよりも合理的だと思えるようになり、乱れて予測のつかない現実をコントロールのもとにおくことができる。


The human mind prefers to believe that mysterious, invisible forces are secretly at work rather than that the world is random. Whitson put it this way: “People see false patterns in all types of data, imagining trends in stock markets, seeing faces in static and detecting conspiracies between acquaintances. This suggests that lacking control leads to a visceral need for order, even imaginary order.”


[Tom Spears: "Conspiracy theories blossom in tumultuous times: Researchers" (2008/10/03) on Canada.Com]

When German bombs flattened some London neighbourhoods during the Blitz but didn't touch others, the rumour mill spread theories of Nazi sympathizers in areas that escaped bombing.


Last week's collapse of Washington Mutual spread its own conspiracy theory: That the U.S. government made the huge bank go bust in order to persuade people a massive financial bailout is needed.

先週のWashington Mutuaの破綻でも「米国政府は大銀行を破綻させることで国民に巨大な緊急杞憂支援の必要性を納得させようとした」という陰謀論が広まった。

Two chaotic times - both with conspiracy theories.

ついでだが、Adam Galinskyの研究チームが民主党予備選を使った心理学の研究をしている。
[Jonathan Fahey: "Vote For Who You Are Not" (2008/10/07) on Forbes]

A team of researchers from three business schools has published a study that suggests why. It turns out that it's much easier to build coalitions around what the researchers call "negational identity," or what people are not.


"Simply reminding people of what they are not can transform attitudes towards different groups, shift loyalties and political preferences," write the researchers in the November 2008 issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

研究者たちはJournal of Experimental Social Psychology誌の2008年11月号に研究者たちは「"何々ではない"は容易に、異なるグループへ関心を向けさせ、忠誠と政治的選好を違うものに向けさせる」と書いた。

The researchers, Chen-Bo Zhong of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, Adam Galinsky of the Kellogg School Management at Northwestern University and Miguel Unzueta of the UCLA Anderson School of Management, divided groups of Asian and Latino students into two subgroups.

University of TorontoのRotman School of ManagementのChen-Bo Zhongと、Northwestern Universitb。yのKellogg School ManagementおよびMiguel Unzueta of the UCLA Anderson School of ManagementのAdam Galinskyは、アジア系およびラテン系の学生を2グループに分けた。

Half of the students were asked to write about being Asian or Latino in the U.S. The other half were asked to write about being non-white in the U.S.


Then they were asked whom they preferred in the Democratic primary, Hilary Clinton or Barack Obama. (The study was done before the Iowa caucuses.)

その後で、民主党候補である Hilary ClintonとBarack Obamaのどちらを選ぶか回答させた。(この研究はアイオワ予備選の前に行われた)

Those who wrote about their own specific race chose Hilary Clinton by a large margin (68% of Asians, 58% of Latinos). But the results were reversed among those who were told to write about being non-white. They chose Obama by similarly large margins (63% of Asians, 58% of Latinos).

自分の人種についての作文を書かされた学生たちは大差でHilary Clintonを選択した(アジア系68%, ラテン系58%)。しかし、非白人について書かされた学生たちでは、結果は逆になった。ほぼ同様の比率でObamaを選択した(アジア系63%, ラテン系58%)。

The researchers suggest that the act of writing about being non-white stirred a negational affinity with Obama in those participants. "It's very easy for people to figure out who they are not," says Adam Galinsky, a social psychologist who is a professor of ethics and decision management. "Easier than for people to figure out who they are."

社会心理学者であり倫理学と決定管理の教授であるAdam Galinskyは「非白人について作文することは、被験者にObamaへの"否定型"親近感を持たせる効果があったと考えられる。自分が何でないかを描写することは、自分が何であるか描写するよりも、はるか容易だ。」と述べた。

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