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Ulrich Schimmack

PSY324 TEXTBOOK NOTES 7.2.4 – Longitudinal Twin Studies  Estimate how much genes contribute to the stability of a phenotype  How much it is possible to predict wellbeing 10-years from now based on an individual’s wellbeing now o R=.5 o If we simply divide people into two groups with relatively high and relatively low wellbeing, the chances to be again in the same group 10-years later is 75% o If there were no stability, it would only be 50% (ex. Like flipping a coin)  Possible to predict wellbeing of twin 1 from other twins at time 1 (and vice versa) o Correlation of r=.40 between wellbeing of one twin at time 1 and the other twin at time 2 o Suggests that 80% of the stable variance is caused by genetic differences between individuals  Very high o Heritability of wellbeing is only 40-50% o High contribution of genes to the stable part of wellbeing implies that most of the changes in wellbeing are due to environmental factors  About 40-50% of the variance in wellbeing at one moment in time is heritable and the other variance explained by environmental factors that make twins dissimilar o High stability for the genetic effects (r=.8) o Low stability for environmental factors (r=.2-.3) o Genes and environment have similar effects for both gender o Genetic factors for males and females (r=.66/.51) – strong and positive  Longitudinal study that examined older twins o Heritability estimate was slightly lower around 30% heritability o Found much higher stability and a strong contribution of environmental factors to stability o Only 38% of the stable variance was heritable o Environmental factors in old age are more stable 7.2.5 – Stability  Possible that wellbeing changes only gradually in response to life-circumstances (ex. Marriage, work, having children, etc.)  Possible that wellbeing shifts in response to life events that have a relatively brief effect on wellbeing o Necessary to measure wellbeing repeatedly over relatively short re-test periods  Re-test correlations start at the highest possible level of r=1 o Nothing can change from now to now o Real data  Re-test correlations are not 1 because there is a measurement error  Correlations over a 20-minute re-test interval are only about r=.7 o Re-test correlations decrease gradually over time  After 5 years, re-test correlation is about r=.8  There is a 90% chance for somebody who is in the high group to be in the high group again and only 10% of people switch from high to low or vice versa  High-stability in short-term shows that wellbeing does not just fluctuate in response to life events  Some life circumstances can change wellbeing for periods of several years  After 10 years, wellbeing becomes less predictable because it becomes more likely that life circumstances change  R=.6  Chances for somebody in the high group at the beginning to still be in the high group is reduced to 80%  After 20 years  R =.4  Prediction to remain in the high group is down to 70%  After, stability does not decrease much further PSY324 TEXTBOOK NOTES  Approaches asymptote o Value that is never reached but the discrepancies get smaller and smaller until they become meaningless  R=.4 (similar to heritability coefficient)  Suggests that genetic factors produce some stability that makes it more likely for some people to end up in the high (or low) group forever o Gradual decrease in prediction from r=1 to r=.4 shows wellbeing also influenced by life circumstances that gradually change over time  NOT TRUE THAT HAPPINESS IS LIKE HEIGHT  Height does not gradually change overtime  No environmental factors that influence adult height  Happiness does gradually change overtime o Twin studies show that these changes are mostly due to environmental factors 7.2.6 – Shared Environment Effects  Parents do not seem to influence the wellbeing of their children o R=.09  Adult twins in twin studies do not share the same environment o Shared environment  Environment that the twins shared when they were growing up, while they were living with their parents  If twin studies do not find an effect of the shared environment  Suggest that a good childhood does not guarantee a good life as an adult  Twin studies with adults do not tell psychologists whether children’s wellbeing is influenced by the FAMILY environment while they are actually living with their parents o Also don’t tell us whether family environment that adults share with their spouse and their own children influences wellbeing  Studies with spouses find HIGH similarity between husbands’ and wives’ wellbeing o Explanations  Spouses influenced by shared environmental factors  Spouses are genetically similar  Individuals marry each other because they have similar characteristics and these characteristics could be genetically influenced  Assertive mating – choice of a partner with similar characteristics o Possible that individuals with a genetic disposition to have high well-being marry individuals with the same genetic disposition  Evidence provides support for both theories  Spouses’ wellbeing changes in the same direction o Spouses similar and change in the same direction for domains that are identical for both spouses o Less similarity for domains that are not shared (ex. Health) o Spouses similar in stable factors that have lasting effects on wellbeing  Suggesting that there may be some assortment on genetic factors that influence wellbeing 7.3 – Conclusion  Genes contribute to the stability of wellbeing overtime  Environmental influences tend to contribute to changes in wellbeing  Twin studies show no lasting influence of the childhood environment on wellbeing in adulthood o When they become adults, must adapt to a new environment o Wrong to compare wellbeing to height  Height is fixed, and insensitive to environmental changes PSY324 TEXTBOOK NOTES  Wellbeing is not fixed, and changes in response to positive and negative changes in one’s environment  Maybe more happiness genes than unhappiness genes, and average genetic potential closer to 3.5 (on 0-5 scale), rate the Canadian environment as 4 (on 0-5 scale)  Likely that changes in life circumstances will produce changes in wellbeing  Genetic potential restricts range of wellbeing a person can have  Canadians, wellbeing likely to vary mostly in a range from 5 – 9 o Canadian environment, values below 3 are rare o Genetic potential living in Canada, 2 or 3 points o Canadian average of 7.5 close to theoretical maximum  Given limits set by genetic potentials and inevitability of negative life events Chapter 9 – Illusions  Negative illusions o Can lead to lower wellbeing  One’s own life is perceived more negatively than it actually is  Ex. Depression o May lead to overly negative evaluations of the self o Two problems:  1. Lead to inaccurate perceptions of reality and they lower wellbeing   Positive illusions o Can lead to positive evaluations of one’s life o Imply a trade-off between two preferences;  People want to perceive the world accurately  People want to feel good  Most people prefer well-being based on reality o But possible to maintain an illusion by not coming to terms with reality  Problem with positive illusions  May become impossible to avoid confronting reality o POSITIVE ILLUSIONS MAY HAVE BENEFITS FOR WELL-BEING IN THE SHORT TERM, BUT NEGATIVE EFFECTS IN THE LONG TERM 9.1 – Measuring Illusions  Necessary to have a measure of reality o Difficult to measure illusions about the future  Future is uncertain  Optimism – positive expectations about the future o Difficult to establish whether optimism is grounded in reality or illusions  Common measures of positive illusions rely on comparisons to an average person o Likely to have positive illusions  Rate yourself above average on many desirable characteristics (or below average on undesirable characteristics)  Better approach o Compare self-ratings to informant ratings or actual performance measures  Self-ratings of IQ may be much higher than actual IQ scores or self-ratings of attractiveness to others  Discrepancies indicate that people have positive illusions about themselves o Some people consistently overestimate their standing on positive personality attributes  Tendency related to inflated estimates of attractiveness, intelligence, athletic abilities, and trivia knowledge 9.2 – Evaluative Biases in Domain Satisfaction Judgments  Studies typically find positive correlations in self-ratings of various life domains PSY324 TEXTBOOK NOTES o Some people have a general tendency to see the positive and others have a tendency to focus on the negative  General positivity will produce positive correlations in judgments of specific domains  Possible that positive correlations simply show that people use the rating scale differently or some individuals respond in a more socially desirable manner  Show influence of a general positivity factor o Necessary to obtain self-ratings and informant ratings  Schneider and Schimmack (2010) o General positivity labeled general satisfaction  Influenced satisfaction with several life domains (ex. Weather)  Domain satisfaction reflects the shared variance in self-ratings and informant ratings of satisfaction in these domains  General satisfaction factor influenced self-ratings and informant ratings in these domains  Domain satisfaction influences self-ratings and informant ratings of life satisfaction  Mainly because global life-satisfaction judgments reflect satisfaction with important life domains (ex. Health, academics, social relationships) o Whereas weather satisfaction isn’t important  So doesn’t influence life-satisfaction judgments o Influence of general positivity on self-ratings and informant ratings on wellbeing  INDIRECT INFLUENCE  as general positivity influences several life domains that influence life-satisfaction judgments o these effects ADD UP and can lead to a STRONG influence of general positivity on wellbeing o Limitations  General positivity doesn’t reveal influence of illusions  Possible that some people are more satisfied with life domains because they have less extreme ideals  Not clear how much effect due to illusions about actual standing in these domains and how much due to differences in the ideals  Doesn’t distinguish positivity and negativity  To examine influence of positive illusions o Necessary to use an independent measure of illusions and see whether it predicts wellbeing PSY324 TEXTBOOK NOTES 9.1 – Positive Illusions Enhance Wellbeing  Taylor and Brown (1988) o Positive illusions (favourable and distorted views of self) correlated with mental health and good adjustment  Diener (1999) o Positive illusions foster not only wellbeing, but also other positive qualities  Weinstein (1989) o Benefits of positive illusions depend on the nature of the illusion and the nature of the hazard  Widely accepted that positive illusions are beneficial for wellbeing  Taylor (2003) o Self-enhancement (term used for positive illusions about the self) o Measures  HSM – participants rate themselves on desirable personality attributes related to an average person of the same gender  Positive measures combined into mental health factor and negative measures (ex. Depression) were averaged to form a mental distress factor  Psychological resources factor combines various positive characteristics (ex. Optimism, happiness, extraversion) o Self-enhancement measures positively correlated with self-report measures of wellbeing  Correlations STRONG  R>.5 o Correlations weaker for non-self-report measures of well-being  Overall showed no relationship with self-enhancement 9.1.2 – Narcissism and wellbeing o Narcissism  Personality disorder  Extremely negative effects on individuals with a narcissistic personality and people who are affected by them  Often measured with self-report measures  Self-promotion, interpersonal exploitation, support grandiose self-concept, quest for superiority, negative attitudes about others, romantic partners are prizes to be won, high on charm but low on intimacy  May be an attempt to raise self-esteem and wellbeing o Relation to wellbeing is MIXED PSY324 TEXTBOOK NOTES  Negative relation  People who are disposed to have low wellbeing, more likely to be narcissistic  Effective coping strategy  Helps individuals to feel good about themselves and raises their wellbeing o Possible that narcissists are likely to present an overly POSITIVE image of their wellbeing on self-report measures  Study found positive correlation between narcissism and wellbeing o Relationship mediated by self-esteem  Narcissism raises self-esteem (causal path from narcissism to self-esteem) and that self-esteem influences wellbeing (causal path from self-esteem to well-being o Study suggests that narcissism is beneficial for well-being  Limitation  Use of a self-report measure of wellbeing  Simmie Vazire o Narcissism has no benefits for wellbeing  Correlation fluctuates between -.10 and .10, right about zero o Possible that informant ratings are biased  Informants rate wellbeing of narcissists because they do not like them 9.1.3 – Problem of Disillusionment  Realism over illusions o Illusions carry risk of disappointment or disillusionment  Robins and Beer (2001) o Students’ self-assessment of their academic ability relative to objective criteria o Illusion measure was positively related to wellbeing at the beginning of university o Predicted decrease in wellbeing over time  Difficult to maintain positive illusions about academic performance when students continuously receive feedback about their performance  Then students become realistic  Could have positive effects on wellbeing for students with overly negative views of their academic abilities  Lower wellbeing of those students who have to realize their abilities are not as exceptional as they initially thought o Limitations:  Relied on self-ratings  Not clear that illusions reveal general personality characteristic o Maintaining illusions can be difficult  When illusions become unsustainable, can result in lower wellbeing 9.1.4 – Positive Illusions about Others  Different cultures, social relationships more important than self-esteem PSY324 TEXTBOOK NOTES o Self-enhancement and narcissism  Assume that people have positive illusions about themselves, but no illusions or negative illusions about others o Possible to have positive illusions about oneself and others  May be beneficial for wellbeing  Could be beneficial for social relationships  Murray et al. (1996) o Positive illusions about romantic partner POSITIVELY related to participants own relationship satisfaction and partners’ relationship satisfaction  People who were more positive in ratings about others also reported higher wellbeing  Kim, Schimmack, and Oishi o People who rated themselves and their friends more positively also reported higher wellbeing o Just having more positive view of one-self (self-enhancement) was NEITHER positively nor negatively related to self-ratings of wellbeing  Positive illusions beneficial if they are not just about the self but ALSO about others  Taylor et al. (2003) o Positive illusions  Weaker predictors of informant ratings of wellbeing  Positive illusions neither beneficial nor costly for wellbeing 9.1.5 – Separating Benefits of Positive Illusions from Costs of Negative Illusions  Use simple linear statistics to examine benefits of positive illusions o High scores on positive illusion measure reflect positive illusions o Low scores on these measures DO NOT reflect realistic perceptions  SOME participants with low scores have negative illusions  Linear positive correlation between positive illusion measure and wellbeing does not show that positive illusions are good  Whether it is beneficial to move from realistic perceptions to positive illusions o Necessary to look for non-linear relationships in data  Joiner et al. (2006) o Beck Depression Inventory  Strongly negatively related to life-satisfaction measures  Low scores reflect higher wellbeing o Illusions measured in terms of discrepancies between self-ratings and informant ratings by roommates o Highest levels of depression found for people with negative illusions (self-denigration) o Depression scores lowest for people with accurate self-perceptions or perceptions that matched roommates’ perceptions o Increased for participants who self-enhanced o STUDY DOES NOT REVEALCAUSALITY o Self-enhancers had lower wellbeing than self-denigrators 5.2 – Conclusion  Likely that positive illusions are a mixed blessing o Positive illusions are detrimental if they lead to costly mistakes  Ignoring chest pain that is a symptom of a heart attack o Positive illusions may be beneficial when they are likely to lead to disillusionment  National pride may be a harmless positive illusion for most people who will never move to another country anyways  Can have high wellbeing without sacrificing realism  Maintain high self-esteem and wellbeing o Admit strength and weaknesses  Focus on one’s strengths  Not an illusion, shows preference for one’s positive characteristics  May be better to increase wellbeing by actually changing one’s life circumstances PSY324 TEXTBOOK NOTES  Role of fantasy hasn’t been explored o People have some illusions that their fantasies are not real o Online world, imagining being somebody else for some time Chapter 10 – Affect Intensity  Weaker form of trying to increase wellbeing by influencing processes that link people’s perceptions of reality to their emotional reactions o Emotions – immediate responses to our environments  Emotional responses depend on how we appraise our environment  Appraisals – cognitive processes that influence our emotional responses  Appraisal theories o Our emotional reactions depend on our goals and beliefs o Situations ambiguous  Gives people flexibility in appraisal of the situation  Intense positive emotions often do not seem to predict higher levels of wellbeing o More positive emotions increase hedonic balance; should result in higher wellbeing (at least on hedonic measures of wellbeing) o Intense positive emotions do not have a strong influence  Unrelated to more intense negative emotions  ***People who experience more intense positive emotions also tend to experience more intense negative emotions o Negative effects of more intense negative emotions on wellbeing cancel out the positive effects of more intense positive emotions o Individuals differ in affect intensity; how strong their emotions are 10.1 – Inflexible Appraisal System  Difficult to change our appraisals from one situation to the next  Diener o “amplify the positive” instruction produced a more positive rating of the positive picture than in the control condition (4.20 vs. 3.35) o Negative picture was also rated as more negative in the amplification condition than in the control condition (-6.10 vs -5.19) although participants were not told to amplify the negative picture o Study 1  Dampening instruction did not seem to have an effect (similar means to the control condition) o Study 2  “dampen the negative” condition weakened the reaction to the negative picture (-4.15 vs. - 5.49), but the response to the positive picture was also weaker (1.96 vs. 3.33) o Results suggest that people find it difficult to process positive and negative stimuli differently  Schimmack o Pleasant pictures of sunsets or tropical beaches that elicit strong positive emotions in isolation no longer elicited positive emotions when presented along with negative pictures of multilated accident victims o Arousing positive stimuli (pictures of attractive members of the opposite sex) continued to elicit more positive emotions even in the presence of negative pictures o Second study  Participants had to remember either positive or negative picture  Participants reported more positive emotions when the positive picture was remembered  People are capable to focus on the bright side of life even in the presence of negative stimuli 10.2 – Range frequency theory  Intense positive experiences can change our appraisals of more common positive events o Range frequency experience o Appraisal system draws more heavily on memories of recent events  Diener et al. (1991) o Tested range frequency theory PSY324 TEXTBOOK NOTES  “absence condition”  All exams were close to a low (10,20,30/50)  “presence condition”  One exam had an extremely positive result (50/50)  Happiness ratings increased with the average in both conditions  Better grades made students happier  Single top score did not make students happier  Made them unhappier, especially in the 30-point condition  Problem of extremely positive experiences: o They raise expectations o Might be helpful to think about positive experiences as exceptional events  To avoid negative consequences  Range frequency theory o Also suggests that it would be possible to increase wellbeing by exposing oneself to extreme negative experiences 10.3 – Intense Emotions Occur During Times of Change  Intense relief o Experience elicited by realization that some dreaded negative event was not going to happen o Adds to wellbeing  Positive experience of relief part of a longer emotional episode that includes period of worrying  Diener et al. (1991) o Asked students to recall one of the most intense positive emotions in their past o Positive experiences were more likely to be preceded by a time of more intense negative emotions o Our emotions tend to focus on the things that are changing in our lives and that it can be difficult to attend to positive things in our lives that do not change very much 10.4 – Opponent Process Theory  Brain is wired to always bring our emotions back to a state of neutrality o Neutrality  Maybe more of a state of mild positive feelings  Positive/negative emotions provide information about our environment  Opponent Process Theory o Process that regulates our emotions can overcorrect so that times of extreme positive feelings are followed by negative feelings o Biological processes underlying intense positive experiences may run out of supplies to maintain a positive experience 10.5 - Goal Importance  Schimmack and Diener (1997) o Examined influence of goal-importance on emotional intensity o Some individuals take events in their lives as more important than others o People who attached more importance to their goals had more intense positive emotions and more intense negative emotions o Difficult to increase the importance of positive events and decrease the importance of negative events:  1. Importance of goals is partially determined by stable goal structure that is part of one’s identity and personality  2. Goal importance precedes the outcome of an event 10.6 – Extraversion and Neuroticism  Tellegen (1985) o Proposed that emotions are regulated by two independent systems:  1. Regulates approach motivation and elicits positive emotions  2. Regulates avoidance motivation and elicits negative emotions  Neuroticism has been linked to the avoidance system PSY324 TEXTBOOK NOTES  Extraversion has been linkedto the approach system  Neuroticism/extraversion independent o Theory suggests intensity of negative emo
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