Friday, January 15, 2016

It’s a circle? What your answer says of you


There’re small details that reveal a lot about us. Our personality, beliefs and values ​​show themselves virtually at every step and every decision, even the most trivial. A group of researchers at Yale University devised a simple experiment: they shown a series of geometric shapes to a group of people asking to identify them. The results were impressive, even for the psychologists themselves.

How much are you willing to get away from the norm?

During the study the participants saw different geometrical shapes, some were perfect, some not. The basic idea was to test the tolerance to differences, see how much they were willing to get away from the norm.

Thus, it was found that the most tolerant people were also those who cataloged the figure in this article as a circle. These people were also more willing to accept the social deviations from standards to embrace differences.

In fact, who said the figure was a circle also showed a more flexible and liberal thought, they agreed with the same-sex marriage and with legalization of cannabis, for example.

On the contrary, those who said it wasn’t a circle showed a more rigid thinking and were more politically conservative. These people advocated to intensify many laws, and were less tolerant with differences. In addition, they were more strict in their judgments, showing a tendency to see everything in black and white.

Negativity bias

The negativity bias may provide an explanation for these results. In fact, our political position, for example, either if we’re in the center, left or right, is deeply determined by the way we see and understand the world.

For example, a research conducted at the University of Nebraska analyzed how people of different political orientations responded to negative stimuli, like watching someone eating worms or seeing pictures of infected wounds. In this experiment it was observed that the most politically conservative people were also those that showed more intense reactions to the images.

These results, which are added to those of other studies, have led to what is known as “negativity bias”, which is nothing more than an automatic orientation towards the negative aspects of the environment. In practice, these people focus on differences and highlight the discordant aspects.

Therefore, resuming the experiment of geometric shapes, if you don’t consider the image a circle, perhaps you highlights the imperfections, because you focus on the negative or discordant aspects of the world. On the contrary, if you see a circle you prefer to focus on the whole thing, because you’re more flexible and imperfections don’t bother you that much.

In closure, it is clear that there is no adequate response. Depending on the circumstances, both types of features can be adaptive. The important thing is to be aware of our tendency to learn to modulate it when necessary.

Okimoto, T. G. & Gromet, D. M. (2015) Differences in Sensitivity to Deviance Partly Explain Ideological Divides in Social Policy Support. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Hibbingai, J. r. et. Al. (2014) Differences in negativity bias underlie variations in political ideology. Behavioral and Brain Sciences; 37(3): 297- 307.


Keep feeding your neurons

It’s a circle? What your answer says of you

Jennifer Delgado Suárez

Psicologist by profession and passion, dedicated to string words together. Discover my Books


Psychology as you never heard about...

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