Presentation Type

Poster

Faculty Mentor’s Full Name

Yoonhee Jang

Faculty Mentor’s Department

Psychology

Abstract

Negative and positive stimuli appear to have their own unique effects on mood, behavior, and even underlying perceptions. Previous experiments have shown that people have the tendency to focus more on negative stimuli than positive; this phenomenon is often explained through a lens of evolutionary psychology, as it appears that it was once more necessary for survival to focus on negative characteristics of the environment. This is referred to as the “negativity effect”. The present study examined this bias, as well as the level of truth that people associate with positive or negative stimuli. In this experiment, 43 University of Montana students were split into groups and given either a “positive” or “negative” news article to read. After they finished, they were asked to write a short paragraph summarizing the article in order to ensure that they understood it. Lastly, they were presented with two scenarios consisting of professors providing either “negative” or “positive” feedback to their students, and were asked to choose which option they believed to be the most truthful. It was predicted that, since people appear to hold a “negativity bias”, a greater percentage of the participants primed with the “negative” news story (versus those exposed to the “positive” news story) would choose the “negative” feedback as being more truthful. Truth is an important characteristic to examine because what people believe to be “true” can significantly impact the type of information they focus on, as well as their behavior and way of thinking. Unfortunately, the data did not reveal results significant enough to support the hypothesis, but there did appear to be an interesting trend. Very few from the negative condition chose the negative option, while almost a third of those in the positive condition chose the negative option. This could be due to an overestimation of their performance by those in the negative condition, or perhaps due to an underestimation of their work by those in the positive condition after comparing themselves to the kind volunteers depicted in the positive news article.

Category

Humanities

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Apr 17th, 11:00 AM Apr 17th, 12:00 PM

Effect of Perception Biases on Associated Value of Stimuli

UC South Ballroom

Negative and positive stimuli appear to have their own unique effects on mood, behavior, and even underlying perceptions. Previous experiments have shown that people have the tendency to focus more on negative stimuli than positive; this phenomenon is often explained through a lens of evolutionary psychology, as it appears that it was once more necessary for survival to focus on negative characteristics of the environment. This is referred to as the “negativity effect”. The present study examined this bias, as well as the level of truth that people associate with positive or negative stimuli. In this experiment, 43 University of Montana students were split into groups and given either a “positive” or “negative” news article to read. After they finished, they were asked to write a short paragraph summarizing the article in order to ensure that they understood it. Lastly, they were presented with two scenarios consisting of professors providing either “negative” or “positive” feedback to their students, and were asked to choose which option they believed to be the most truthful. It was predicted that, since people appear to hold a “negativity bias”, a greater percentage of the participants primed with the “negative” news story (versus those exposed to the “positive” news story) would choose the “negative” feedback as being more truthful. Truth is an important characteristic to examine because what people believe to be “true” can significantly impact the type of information they focus on, as well as their behavior and way of thinking. Unfortunately, the data did not reveal results significant enough to support the hypothesis, but there did appear to be an interesting trend. Very few from the negative condition chose the negative option, while almost a third of those in the positive condition chose the negative option. This could be due to an overestimation of their performance by those in the negative condition, or perhaps due to an underestimation of their work by those in the positive condition after comparing themselves to the kind volunteers depicted in the positive news article.