Findings

On Being Tested and Rising to the Challenge

Kevin Lewis

November 09, 2009

Executive dysfunction in a survival environment

Heather Porter & John Leach
Applied Cognitive Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Victims often respond to survival incidents with maladaptive behaviours that suggest impairment in executive function. To examine this hypothesis the authors tested sub-components of executive function during an intensive military survival exercise. Compared to a control group the survival course participants showed significant impairment in the incongruent condition of the Stroop task; the mean repetition gap and adjacent letter pair components of the random letter generation task; and the planning and action components of the Tower of London task. No impairment was found in dual-task performance nor in verbal fluency. The pattern of the data suggests that the maladaptive behaviour frequently observed in survival incidents may be explained by dysfunction in the supervisory system-contention scheduler interface.

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Hardiness training facilitates performance in college

Salvatore Maddi, Richard Harvey, Deborah Khoshaba, Mostafa Fazel & Nephthys Resurreccion
Journal of Positive Psychology, November 2009, Pages 566-577

Abstract:
In 25 years of research and practice, hardiness has emerged as a pattern of attitudes and skills that is a pathway to resilience under stressful circumstances. As such, it is important to determine whether hardiness can be trained, and if such training improves performance and health. The few relevant studies available thus far have suggested this training effectiveness among working adults and students. Furthering this theme, the present study involves a large sample of undergraduate students, comparing those who experienced hardiness training as a regular credit course, with those who went through other courses taught by the same teachers. At the beginning of the courses, these two groups did not differ in demographics, hardiness levels, or grade-point-average (GPA). At the end of the courses, the Hardiness Training Group showed higher levels of hardiness, and GPA than did the Comparison Group. This improvement in GPA for the Hardiness Training Group persisted over the following 2-year period, even controlling for GPA and hardiness level prior to the training, and the grade received in the training. These results suggest the importance of hardiness training in facilitating a major indicator of excellent performance in college life.

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Rising to the Threat: Reducing Stereotype Threat by Reframing the Threat as a Challenge

Adam Alter, Joshua Aronson, John Darley, Cordaro Rodriguez & Diane Ruble
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
In two experiments, we found that the performance-inhibiting consequences of stereotype threat were eliminated when the threat was subtly reframed as a challenge. In Experiment 1, Black school children in North Carolina completed a 10-item mathematics test. Participants who reported their race before taking the test performed more poorly than participants who reported their race after completing the test, unless the test was framed as a challenge. Experiment 2 replicated this effect with undergraduates at a prestigious university. When reminded that they graduated from high schools that were poorly represented at the university, they performed more poorly than their peers on a math test. However, when the test was reframed as a challenge, this threat had no effect on their performance. These findings are discussed in terms of their theoretical and practical applications for both educational and athletic training.

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Detecting concealed information with reaction times: Validity and comparison with the polygraph

Bruno Verschuere, Geert Crombez, Tessie Degrootte & Yves Rosseel
Applied Cognitive Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The Concealed Information Test is used to assess recognition of information that the examinee cannot or does not want to reveal. Physiological measures recorded with the polygraph have shown to be highly valid measures of concealed information. Research suggests that a reaction-time (RT) based test may also successfully reveal concealed information. Due to its simplicity, an RT-based test has great advantages for applied testing. In the present study, we assessed the validity of the RT-based test for concealed information detection, and compared its discriminative power with the polygraph. Thirty two participants in a feigned amnesia study were promised a financial reward when successfully concealing autobiographical information. Participants performed an RT-based test, and a polygraph test. The data support the validity of the RT-based test for concealed information detection, and indicate its discriminative power is similar to the polygraph. Our data confirm the potential of the RT-based test.

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Deception Detection Expertise

Gary Bond
Law and Human Behavior, August 2008, Pages 339-351

Abstract:
A lively debate between Bond and Uysal (2007, Law and Human Behavior, 31, 109-115) and O'Sullivan (2007, Law and Human Behavior, 31, 117-123) concerns whether there are experts in deception detection. Two experiments sought to (a) identify expert(s) in detection and assess them twice with four tests, and (b) study their detection behavior using eye tracking. Paroled felons produced videotaped statements that were presented to students and law enforcement personnel. Two experts were identified, both female Native American BIA correctional officers. Experts were over 80% accurate in the first assessment, and scored at 90% accuracy in the second assessment. In Signal Detection analyses, experts showed high discrimination, and did not evidence biased responding. They exploited nonverbal cues to make fast, accurate decisions. These highly-accurate individuals can be characterized as experts in deception detection.

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Heart rate variability predicts self-control in goal pursuit

Fay Geisler & Thomas Kubiak
European Journal of Personality, December 2009, Pages 623-633

Abstract:
The aim of our study was to investigate the effects of a failure experience on the exercise of self-control in goal pursuit. We hypothesized that tonic heart rate variability (tonic HRV), a possible physiological marker of inhibitory capacity, increases the exercise of self-control in the pre- and post-actional phase in goal pursuit after failure. Participants received feedback for an alleged intelligence test and subsequently worked on the same test again. As indicators of exercised self-control, we assessed self-confidence in the pre-actional phase and rumination in the post-actional phase. As hypothesized, tonic HRV was positively associated with pre- and post-actional self-control, even after controlling for the effect of neuroticism. We discuss the implications of our results for the self-regulatory strength model.

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Psychological Pressure in Competitive Environments: Evidence from a Randomized Natural Experiment

Jose Apesteguia & Ignacio Palacios-Huerta
Brown University Working Paper, October 2008

Abstract:
Much like cognitive abilities, emotional skills can have major effects on performance and economic outcomes. This paper studies the behavior of professional subjects involved in a dynamic competition in their own natural environment. The setting is a penalty shoot-out in soccer where two teams compete in a tournament framework taking turns in a sequence of five penalty kicks each. As the kicking order is determined by the random outcome of a coin flip, the treatment and control groups are determined via explicit randomization. Therefore, absent any psychological effects, both teams should have the same probability of winning regardless of the kicking order. Yet, we find a systematic first-kicker advantage. Using data on 2,731 penalty kicks from 262 shoot-outs for a three decade period, we find that teams kicking first win the penalty shoot-out 60.5% of the time. A dynamic panel data analysis shows that the psychological mechanism underlying this result arises from the asymmetry in the partial score. As most kicks are scored, kicking first typically means having the opportunity to lead in the partial score, whereas kicking second typically means lagging in the score and having the opportunity to, at most, get even. Having a worse prospect than the opponent hinders subjects' performance. Further, we also find that professionals are self-aware of their own psychological effects. When a recent change in regulations gives winners of the coin toss the chance to choose the kicking order, they rationally react to it by systematically choosing to kick first. A survey of professional players reveals that when asked to explain why they prefer to kick first, they precisely identify the psychological mechanism for which we find empirical support in the data: they want to lead in the score in order to put pressure on the opponent.

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Training to detect what? The biasing effects of training on veracity judgments

Jaume Masip, Hernán Alonso, Eugenio Garrido & Carmen Herrero
Applied Cognitive Psychology, November 2009, Pages 1282-1296

Abstract:
Research has failed to show that training to detect deception substantially increases accuracy. Instead, training yields a stronger tendency to make judgments of deceptiveness. Normally, training programmes place a strong emphasis on deception and deception cues. This may lead observers to engage in a biased information seeking process wherein only deception cues are searched for, and any suggestion that the person is being truthful is neglected. Two experiments were conducted in which participants made veracity judgments before and after being ostensibly trained to (a) detect deception (traditional training group or TRAD-GR), (b) detect truthfulness (alternative training group or ALT-GR) or (c) not being trained (control group or CONT-GR). Deception judgments increased for the TRAD-GR, but decreased for the ALT-GR, and did not change for the CONT-GR. Judgmental confidence significantly increased in both training groups, but not in the CONT-GR. These results indicate that traditional training programmes to detect deception bias the trainees' judgments towards deception. An emphasis on truthfulness cues could compensate for this tendency, as well as for the professionals' inclination to judge other people's statements as deceptive. However, the poor diagnostic value of deception cues makes it difficult to design good training programmes.

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They Don't Do it Often, But They Do it Well: Exploring the Relationship between Applicant Mental Abilities and Faking

Julia Levashina, Frederick Morgeson & Michael Campion
International Journal of Selection and Assessment, September 2009, Pages 271-281

Abstract:
Despite its scientific and practical importance, relatively few studies have been conducted to investigate the relationship between job applicant mental abilities and faking. Some studies suggest that more intelligent people fake less because they do not have to. Other studies suggest that more intelligent people fake more because they have increased capacity to fake. Based on a model of faking likelihood, we predicted that job candidates with a high level of mental abilities would be less likely to fake a biodata measure. However, for candidates who did exhibit faking on the biodata measure, we expected there would be a strong positive relationship between mental abilities and faking, because mental abilities increase their capacity to fake. We found considerable support for hypotheses on a large sample of job candidates (N=17,368), using the bogus item technique to detect faking.

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Assessment of Pedophilic Sexual Interest with an Attentional Choice Reaction Time Task

Andreas Mokros, Beate Dombert, Michael Osterheider, Angelo Zappalà & Pekka Santtila
Archives of Sexual Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Choice-reaction time (CRT) is an experimental information-processing paradigm. Based on an interference effect in visual attention, the CRT method has been shown to be suitable for measuring sexual orientation in men and women. The present study assessed the potential of the CRT to identify deviant (i.e., pedophilic) sexual interest. Participants were patients from forensic-psychiatric hospitals: 21 child molesters and 21 non-sex offenders. The dependent variable was reaction time in an ostensible seek-and-locate task (i.e., identifying the position of a dot superimposed on a picture of a person). There was an interaction effect between stimulus age category and participant group status: Child molesters took longer to respond to pictures of children relative to pictures of adults. Non-sex offenders showed an opposite pattern (i.e., longer reaction times with pictures of adults than with pictures of children). In addition, the data supported the notion of sexual content induced delay: Subjects took longer for the task with nude stimuli than with clothed ones. A subtractive preference index, derived from the reaction times for child and adult stimulus material, allowed distinguishing participants from both groups almost perfectly (ROC-AUC = .998). We conclude that a match of sexual interest with properties of visual stimuli led to a cognitive interference effect: Attentional resources were drawn from the ostensible task of locating the dot towards exploring the picture. This opens up the possibility of using this interference effect (i.e., the delay of response times) for diagnostic purposes.


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