Peter H Brown Clinical Psychologist

Psychology News & Resources

Shyness, Loneliness And Facebook:Is It Easier To Be Friends In Cyberspace?

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Source: psypost.org

Do shy individuals prefer socializing on the internet? And if so, do they become less shy while on the internet and have more friends?

In 2009, the journal CyberPsychology and Behavior published an article that investigated this issue. Specifically, the researchers investigated the relationship between shyness and Facebook use.

The study was conducted by Emily S. Orr and her colleagues from the University of Windsor.

To examine this relationship, 103 undergraduate students from a university in Ontario completed an online questionnaire that assessed self-reported shyness, time spent on Facebook, number of Facebook friends, and attitudes towards Facebook.

The results of this questionnaire indicated that shy individuals tended to have fewer Facebook friends and reported spending more time on Facebook. They were also more likely to have a more favorable attitude towards Facebook than those who were less shy.

Orr and her colleagues believe that the relative anonymity provided by Facebook may explain the increased use of and favorable attitude towards Facebook.

Shy individuals may find Facebook appealing because of “the anonymity afforded by online communication, specifically, the removal of many of the verbal and nonverbal cues associated with face-to-face interactions,” as Orr and her colleagues explain.

Those who find face-to-face communication uncomfortable may use Facebook as a way to remain connected to the social world while avoiding physical social interaction.

“These findings suggest that although shy individuals do not have as many contacts on their Facebook profiles, they still regard this tool as an appealing method of communication and spend more time on Facebook than do nonshy individuals.”

Reference:

Orr, E.S., Sisic, M., Ross, C., Simmering, M.G., Arsenault, J.M. & Orr, R.R. (2009). The influence of shyness on the use of facebook in an undergraduate sample. CyberPsychology and Behavior, Vol 12, No 3: 337-340.

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Read The Original Study In Full Here

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June 30, 2011 Posted by | anxiety, Bullying, Cognition, depression, Identity, Internet, research, Resilience | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Weight Loss Goes Sci-Fi: Using Virtual Reality To Lose Weight?

The University of Houston’s Tracey Ledoux, assistant professor of health and human performance, is using an innovative approach to studying food addictions in hopes of finding strategies to assess and treat them.

“There is a growing body of research that shows that consumption of palatable food stimulates the same reward and motivation centers of the brain that recognized addictive drugs do,” Ledoux said. “These cravings are related to overeating, unsuccessful weight loss and obesity.”

Ledoux and Professor Patrick Bordnick, director of the UH Graduate College of Social Work‘s Virtual Reality Lab, will use virtual environments to try to induce food cravings. Bordnick’s body of research has focused on addictive behaviors and phobias and has used virtual reality as a tool to assess and treat them.

In this new investigation, participants will wear a virtual reality helmet to enter a “real -world” restaurant, complete with all the sights, sounds and smells. A joystick will allow them to walk to a buffet, encounter waitstaff and other patrons.

“Virtual reality will allow us to identify food and food-related stimuli of the built, home, school and social environment that cue food cravings, which has public policy, public health and clinical treatment implications,” Ledoux said. “Our study is innovative because it provides a very effective, cost-efficient tool that can be used to increase our understanding of food cravings.”

Ledoux is recruiting normal-weight women who do not have dietary restrictions or are trying to lose weight. Participants will be invited to two appointments, which may last between 30 minutes and an hour, and will receive a small compensation plus a chance to win a Kindle e-reader. For more information contact Tracey Ledoux at 713-743-1870 or TALedoux@uh.edu.

“Obesity is a pervasive and intractable problem with significant public health and economic costs in our society,” she said. “Finding the elements that promote overeating is critical for reversing the dangerous obesity trend.”

Source: Medicalnewstoday
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June 27, 2011 Posted by | Addiction, anxiety, brain, Cognition, Eating Disorder, Exercise, Health Psychology, Identity, research | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Now That I’ve Got Your Attention: What Gets Your Attention?

Source: Association for Psychological Science.

Once we learn the relationship between a cue and its consequences—say, the sound of a bell and the appearance of the white ice cream truck bearing our favorite chocolate cone—do we turn our attention to that bell whenever we hear it? Or do we tuck the information away and marshal our resources to learning other, novel cues—a recorded jingle, or a blue truck?

Psychologists observing “attentional allocation” now agree that the answer is both, and they have arrived at two principles to describe the phenomena. The “predictive” principle says we search for meaningful—important—cues amid the “noise” of our environments. The “uncertainty” principle says we pay most attention to unfamiliar or unpredictable cues, which may yield useful information or surprise us with pleasant or perilous consequences.

Animal studies have supplied evidence for both, and research on humans has showed how predictiveness operates, but not uncertainty. “There was a clear gap in the research,” says Oren Griffiths, a research fellow at the University of New South Wales, in Australia. So he, along with Ameika M. Johnson and Chris J. Mitchell, set out to demonstrate the uncertainty principle in humans.

“We showed that people will pay more attention to a stimulus or a cue if its status as a predictor is unreliable,” he says. The study will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The researchers investigated what is called “negative transfer”—a cognitive process by which a learned association between cue and outcome inhibits any further learning about that cue. We think we know what to expect, so we aren’t paying attention when a different outcome shows up—and we learn that new association more slowly than if the cue or outcome were unpredictable. Negative transfer is a good example of the uncertainty principle at work.

Participants were divided into three groups, and administered the “allergist test.” They observed “Mrs. X” receiving a small piece of fruit—say, apple. Using a scroll bar they predicted her allergic reaction, from none to critical. They then learned that her reaction to the apple was “mild.” Later, when Mrs. X ate the apple, she had a severe reaction which participants also had to learn to predict.

The critical question was how quickly people learned about the severe reaction. Unsurprisingly, if apple was only ever paired with a severe reaction, learning was fast. But what about if apple had previously been shown to be dangerous (i.e. produce a mild allergic reaction)? In this case, learning about the new severe reaction was slow. This is termed the “negative transfer” effect. This effect did not occur, however, when the initial relationship between apple and allergy was uncertain — if, say, apple was sometimes safe to eat. Under these circumstances, the later association between apple and severe allergic reaction was learned rapidly.

Why? “They didn’t know what to expect from the cue, so they had to pay more attention to it,” says Griffiths. “That’s because of the uncertainty principle.”

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June 22, 2011 Posted by | brain, Cognition, Identity, research | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment