Peter H Brown Clinical Psychologist

Psychology News & Resources

Ripped Off!: The Psychological Cost Of Wearing A Fake Rolex (Or Other Knockoffs)

Credit: Wray Herbert: The Huffington Post April 7 2010:

Read the original research paper HERE (PDF)

Within just a few blocks of my office, street vendors will sell me a Versace t-shirt or a silk tie from Prada, cheap. Or I could get a deal on a Rolex, or a chic pair of Ray Ban shades. These aren’t authentic brand name products, of course. They’re inexpensive replicas. But they make me look and feel good, and I doubt any of my friends can tell the difference.

That’s why we buy knockoffs, isn’t it? To polish our self-image–and broadcast that polished version of our personality to the world–at half the price? But does it work? After all, we first have to convince ourselves of our idealized image if we are going to sway anyone else. Can we really become Ray Ban-wearing, Versace-bedecked sophisticates in our own mind–just by dressing up?

New research suggests that knockoffs may not work as magically as we’d like–and indeed may backfire. Three psychological scientists–Francesca Gino of Chapel Hill, Michael Norton of Harvard Business School, and Dan Ariely of Duke–have been exploring the power and pitfalls of fake adornment in the lab. They wanted to see if counterfeit stuff might have hidden psychological costs, warping our actions and attitudes in undesirable ways.

Here’s an example of their work. The scientists recruited a large sample of young women and had them wear pricey Chloe sunglasses. The glasses were the real thing, but half the women thought they were wearing knockoffs. They wanted to see if wearing counterfeit shades–a form of dishonesty–might actually make the women act dishonestly in other ways.

So they had them perform a couple tasks–tasks that presented opportunities for lying and cheating. In one, for example, the women worked on a complicated set of mathematical puzzles–a task they couldn’t possibly complete in the time allowed. When time elapsed, the women were told to score themselves on the honor system–and to take money for each correct score. Unbeknownst to them, the scientists were monitoring both their work and their scoring.

And guess what. The women wearing the fake Chloe shades cheated more–considerably more. Fully 70 percent inflated their performance when they thought nobody was checking on them–and in effect stole cash from the coffer. To double-check this distressing result, the scientists put the women through a completely different task, one that forced a choice between the right answer and the more profitable answer. And again the Chloe-wearing women pocketed the petty cash. Notably, the women cheated not only when they expressed a preference for the cheap knockoffs, but also when the real and fake designer glasses were randomly handed out. So it appears that the very act of wearing the counterfeit eyewear triggered the lying and cheating.

Click image to read reviews

This is bizarre and disturbing, but it gets worse. The psychologists wondered if inauthentic image-making might not only corrupt personal ethics, but also lead to a generally cynical attitude toward other people. In other words, if wearing counterfeit stuff makes people feel inauthentic and behave unethically, might they see others as phony and unethical, too? To test this, they again handed out genuine and counterfeit Chloe shades, but this time they had the volunteers complete a survey about “someone they knew.” Would this person use an express line with too many groceries? Pad an expense report? Take home office supplies? There were also more elaborate scenarios involving business ethics. The idea was that all the answers taken together would characterize each volunteer as having a generally positive view of others–or a generally cynical view.

Cynical, without question. Compared to volunteers who were wearing authentic Chloe glasses, those wearing the knockoffs saw other people as more dishonest, less truthful, and more likely to act unethically in business dealings.

So what’s going on here? Well, the scientists ran a final experiment to answer this question, and here are the ironic results they report on-line this week in the journal Psychological Science: Wearing counterfeit glasses not only fails to bolster our ego and self-image the way we hope, it actually undermines our internal sense of authenticity. “Faking it” makes us feel like phonies and cheaters on the inside, and this alienated, counterfeit “self” leads to cheating and cynicism in the real world.

Counterfeiting is a serious economic and social problem, epidemic in scale. Most people buy these fake brands because they are a lot cheaper, but this research suggests there may be a hidden moral cost yet to be tallied.

Read the original research paper HERE (PDF)

Share/Save/Bookmark

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

April 9, 2010 Posted by | Books, Cognition, Identity, Resources, Social Psychology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Mid Life – What’s The Crisis?: Why Self Esteem Peaks In The Middle-Aged

Credit: LiveScience

Read the original research article HERE (PDF)

Bad vision and other physical ailments aren’t the only things that seem to get worse as people grow old. Self-esteem also declines around the age of retirement, a new study finds.

The study involved 3,617 American men and women ranging in age from 25 to 104. Self-esteem was lowest among young adults, but increased throughout adulthood, peaking at age 60, before it started to decline.

Several factors might explain this trend, the researchers say.

“Midlife is a time of highly stable work, family and romantic relationships. People increasingly occupy positions of power and status, which might promote feelings of self-esteem,” said study author Richard Robins of the University of California, Davis. “In contrast, older adults may be experiencing a change in roles such as an empty nest, retirement and obsolete work skills in addition to declining health.”

Measuring self-esteem

The participants were surveyed four times between 1986 and 2002. They were asked to rate their level of agreement with statements such as: “I take a positive attitude toward myself,” which suggests high self-esteem; “At times I think I am no good at all,” and “All in all, I am inclined to feel that I am a failure,” which both suggest low self-esteem.

Subjects also indicated their demographics, relationship satisfaction, and whether they had experienced stressful life events, including suddenly losing a job, being the victim of a violent crime, or experiencing the death of a parent or child.

On average, women had lower self-esteem than men throughout most of adulthood, but self-esteem levels converged as men and women reached their 80s and 90s. Blacks and whites had similar self-esteem levels throughout young adulthood and middle age. In old age, average self-esteem among blacks dropped much more sharply than self-esteem among whites. This result held even after accounting for differences in income and health.

Future research should further explore these ethnic differences, which might lead to better interventions aimed at improving self-esteem, the study authors say.

Click on image to read reviews

More self-esteem factors

Education, income, health and employment status all had some effect on the self-esteem trajectories, especially as people aged.

“People who have higher incomes and better health in later life tend to maintain their self-esteem as they age,” Orth said.

“We cannot know for certain that more wealth and better health directly lead to higher self-esteem, but it does appear to be linked in some way. For example, it is possible that wealth and health are related to feeling more independent and better able to contribute to one’s family and society, which in turn bolsters self-esteem.”

People of all ages in satisfying and supportive relationships tend to have higher self-esteem, according to the findings.

However, despite maintaining higher self-esteem throughout their lives, people in happy relationships experienced the same drop in self-esteem during old age as people in unhappy relationships.

“Thus, being in a happy relationship does not protect a person against the decline in self-esteem that typically occurs in old age,” said study author Kali H. Trzesniewski of the University of Western Ontario.

With medical advances, the drop in self-esteem might occur later for baby boomers, Orth said. Boomers might be healthier for longer and, therefore, able to work and earn money longer.

Read the original research article HERE (PDF)

Share/Save/Bookmark

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

April 6, 2010 Posted by | Age & Ageing, Books, Cognition, depression, Education, Health Psychology, research, Resilience, Resources, Seniors | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Exercise DOES Help Improve Mood! And Just 25 Minutes Worth Will Decrease Stress & Increase Energy

Having an Honors degree in Human Movement Studies and working in gyms in a former life while studying for my Clinical Masters degree, I have seen this to be true.  Of course it seems self evident, but these researchers have used great science with an excellent and now research-proven written program and workbook. These, along with their recent meta-analytic research review, show just how effective exercise can be in improving mood.

Credit: PhysOrg.com) — Exercise is a magic drug for many people with depression and anxiety disorders, according to researchers who analyzed numerous studies, and it should be more widely prescribed by mental health care providers.

“Exercise has been shown to have tremendous benefits for mental health,” says Jasper Smits, director of the Anxiety Research and Treatment Program at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “The more therapists who are trained in exercise therapy, the better off patients will be.”

The traditional treatments of cognitive behavioral therapy and pharmacotherapy don’t reach everyone who needs them, says Smits, an associate professor of psychology.

“Exercise can fill the gap for people who can’t receive traditional therapies because of cost or lack of access, or who don’t want to because of the perceived social stigma associated with these treatments,” he says. “Exercise also can supplement traditional treatments, helping patients become more focused and engaged.”

The Program used in the study is available from bookstores-Click Image to view description

Smits and Michael Otto, psychology professor at Boston University, presented their findings to researchers and mental health care providers March 6 at the Anxiety Disorder Association of America’s annual conference in Baltimore.

Their workshop was based on their therapist guide “Exercise for Mood and Anxiety Disorders,” with accompanying patient workbook (Oxford University Press, September 2009).

The guide draws on dozens of population-based studies, clinical studies and meta-analytic reviews that demonstrate the efficacy of exercise programs, including the authors’ meta-analysis of exercise interventions for mental health and study on reducing anxiety sensitivity with exercise.

“Individuals who exercise report fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression, and lower levels of stress and anger,” Smits says. “Exercise appears to affect, like an antidepressant, particular neurotransmitter systems in the brain, and it helps patients with depression re-establish positive behaviors. For patients with anxiety disorders, exercise reduces their fears of fear and related bodily sensations such as a racing heart and rapid breathing.”

After patients have passed a health assessment, Smits says, they should work up to the public health dose, which is 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity.

At a time when 40 percent of Americans are sedentary, he says, mental health care providers can serve as their patients’ exercise guides and motivators.

The patient workbook which accompanies the program - Click image to view description

“Rather than emphasize the long-term health benefits of an exercise program — which can be difficult to sustain — we urge providers to focus with their patients on the immediate benefits,” he says. “After just 25 minutes, your mood improves, you are less stressed, you have more energy — and you’ll be motivated to exercise again tomorrow. A bad mood is no longer a barrier to exercise; it is the very reason to exercise.”

Smits says health care providers who prescribe exercise also must give their patients the tools they need to succeed, such as the daily schedules, problem-solving strategies and goal-setting featured in his guide for therapists.

“Therapists can help their patients take specific, achievable steps,” he says. “This isn’t about working out five times a week for the next year. It’s about exercising for 20 or 30 minutes and feeling better today.”

Share/Save/Bookmark

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

April 5, 2010 Posted by | anxiety, Books, brain, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, depression, Exercise, Health Psychology, Positive Psychology, research, Resilience, Resources, stress, therapy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Online ‘Cold Shoulder’ Shown To Effect Kids Self-Esteem

Read the original Research Paper HERE (Free PDF-internal link)

From ScienceDaily (Mar. 22, 2010) — Research by psychologists at the University of Kent has revealed that online ostracism is a threat to children’s self-esteem.

The study, the results of which are published March 22 in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology, looked at how children, adolescents and adults react to being ostracised by other players during an online computer game. This is the first time the effect of online ostracism on children has been investigated.

The study was carried out by a team at the University’s Centre for the Study of Group Processes and was led by Professor Dominic Abrams. Professor Abrams explained that research into cyber-bullying usually focuses on direct abuse and insults. ‘However, a more indirect and perhaps common form of bullying is ostracism — when people are purposefully ignored by others,’ he said. Professor Abrams also explained that ‘online ostracism affects adults by threatening their basic needs for self-esteem, sense of belonging, sense of meaning and sense of control. We wanted to discover whether children and adolescents have similar reactions.’

Click image to read reviews

Three groups of participants took part in the study: 41 eight and nine-year-old children, 79 thirteen and fourteen-year-olds and 46 twenty-year-old adults. All were asked to play a game of online ‘cyberball’ in which three online players — depicted on screen by their names — passed a ball to one another. In games where the participant was included, they threw and received the ball four times within the trial. However, in a game when they were ostracised they received the ball only twice at the start, and then the other two players continued to play only passing the ball between themselves.

After each game participants’ basic needs were assessed, as well as how much they had enjoyed the game.

Professor Abrams said: ‘For all age groups, online ostracism substantially threatened the four basic needs — esteem, belonging, meaning and control — and also lowered their mood, showing that social exclusion online is very powerful even among children.’

However, there were also differences between the three age groups in their responses to cyber-ostracism. Ostracism affected the self-esteem of the eight and nine-year-old children more than the other groups. This suggests that the adolescents and adults have developed better buffers against threats to self-esteem.

Among the thirteen to fourteen-year-olds ostracism had the largest effect on feelings of belonging, strongly suggesting that adolescents may place a higher value on inclusion in peer networks than do children or adults.

The good news is that the negative reactions were cancelled out when children were included in a later game. Professor Abrams added: ‘Whereas adults might be quite skilled at finding a relationship in which to be included after having been ostracised, it could be a bigger challenge for children. This suggests that parents and schools need to be vigilant in case children in their care are experiencing sustained ostracism.

Read the original Research Paper HERE (Free PDF-internal link)

Share/Save/Bookmark//

March 26, 2010 Posted by | Addiction, Bullying, Child Behavior, Internet, Parenting, Resilience, Social Psychology, Technology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment