اضطراب خصلتی و استدلال تحت عدم قطعیت
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|33345||2007||12 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||5078 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 43, Issue 4, September 2007, Pages 827–838
We explored the relationship between trait anxiety and reasoning under conditions of uncertainty. In our opinion, high trait anxious individuals (HTA) could have an implicit goal of uncertainty reduction. According to this, we predicted that in reasoning tasks HTA individuals would try to shorten the length of uncertain states by gathering less evidence prior to deciding, compared to low trait anxious ones (LTA). In Study 1 we employed several probabilistic reasoning tasks to examine the amount of data requested before making a decision. In Study 2, we investigated how evidence is weighed up and how hypotheses are tested. Results confirmed our prediction: HTA individuals gathered fewer pieces of evidence, thus jumping to conclusions, compared to LTA individuals. Groups did not differ in their reasoning if evidence was at their disposal from the start. Furthermore, the HTA group jumped to conclusions and provided incorrect answers in the hypothesis-testing task. We suggest that HTA individuals are particularly concerned with reducing uncertainty, even at the expense of correctness.
Anxiety can be divided into two categories: state anxiety and trait anxiety (Spielberger, 1972). State anxiety is defined as a person’s current level of anxiety, which can be modulated by situational factors and consists of feelings of tension and apprehension. On the other hand, trait anxiety (TA) is an individual’s general disposition to become anxious, that is, an anxiety proneness. According to cognitive models of anxiety (e.g., Eysenck, 1997), TA is associated with a number of cognitive biases regarding threat-related information, which lead to an exaggeration of the threat level of external and internal stimuli. TA has been reliably associated with a selective attentional bias and with an interpretive bias for threat-related information. To date, there appears to be good evidence that when presented with both threat-relevant and threat-irrelevant stimuli, high TA (HTA) individuals, compared to low TA (LTA) ones, show increased attention towards threat-relevant information (e.g., Mathews & MacLeod, 1994). Furthermore, several studies have found that when presented with ambiguous stimuli, HTA people make more threatening interpretations than LTA people (e.g., Byrne & Eysenck, 1993). Overall, these results seem to point out that TA is associated with attention towards threat cues and with the likelihood of perceiving the threatening meaning of ambiguous events. HTA individuals are prone to locating threat and believe the world to be more dangerous compared to LTA: they watch out for danger and jump to the most threatening conclusion (Mathews & Mackintosh, 1998). 1.1. The psychology of thinking On the other hand, while research has widely studied the influence of TA on selective information-processing, the relationship between TA, information-gathering and decision-making, in general, reasoning, has been explored to a lesser extent. How we collect and/or use information in order to draw inferences, make decisions or test hypotheses is studied by the psychology of thinking. A traditional division in the fields of reasoning research is that between deductive and inductive thinking. Deduction involves arriving at conclusions on the basis of statements, called premises, the truth value of which can be assumed. Induction reasoning is used to arrive at a conclusion on the basis of some evidence: it increases information, but an induction conclusion cannot be guaranteed to be true. This is because a conclusion may be based on irrelevant evidence, relevant evidence may be ignored, new evidence may force one to change one’s mind, or there may be bias in the way evidence is treated ( Manktelow, 1999). 1.2. Trait anxiety and reasoning under uncertainty To date, only a few empirical studies have explored if and how TA affects general reasoning processes, and knowledge about the thinking of anxiety proneness individuals is sparse. For example, some studies have found that HTA individuals, compared to LTA ones, display significantly longer solution times and lower accuracy scores for a series of different inferential reasoning tasks (e.g., Chiappelli and Giusberti, 2001 and Mayer, 1977). An interesting study of Leon and Revelle (1985) analysed thoroughly state/trait anxiety and analogical reasoning, that is, the process of finding systematic correspondences between a novel target situation and a more familiar source situation, thus using knowledge of the source to derive inferences about the target. These authors studied analogical reasoning under either relaxed (non-time-stressed/reassurance) or stressed (time-stressed/ego-threatened) conditions. The findings about the relaxed condition showed that the HTA group was both slower and less accurate compared to the LTA one. On the other hand, in the stressed condition HTA subjects were faster and less accurate compared to LTA ones. In any case, we know little regarding how HTA individuals behave when facing uncertain conditions and when they have to actively gather and use information in order to make decisions or test hypotheses. These circumstances are particularly interesting with respect to TA. As a matter of fact, when confronted with uncertainty and possibilities, employing reasoning and inferential processes is a way to increase knowledge, thus obtaining evidence to reach a conclusion (e.g., Holland, Holyoak, Nisbett, & Thagard, 1986). In such terms, uncertainty is surely an important topic for anxiety proneness individuals. Anxiety is generally experienced in response to situations where the person is uncertain about an impending outcome (especially of a personally relevant event) ( Rachman, 1998). Thus we suggest that people prone to anxiety are strongly concerned with uncertainty. Following this line of thought, the main purpose of the present study was to explore the relationship between an enduring, stable aspect of personality, that is trait anxiety, and reasoning. Specifically, we looked at reasoning under uncertainty in HTA and LTA individuals. 2. Study 1 A possible approach to the study of how people behave and decide in uncertain situations is probabilistic reasoning. Undoubtedly, probability and uncertainty are closely linked. Probabilistic reasoning refers to thought processing in uncertain conditions and concerns the use of evidence in deciding whether a hypothesis is true or not. In a classic probabilistic task, beginning from the prior probabilities of one or more events occurring, pieces of data are searched and/or evaluated in order to choose which hypothesis is true (e.g., Phillips & Edwards, 1966). Of course, the conclusion, although plausible, is not guaranteed to be true. We suppose, as cited early, that anxious people are preoccupied with uncertainty regarding some events or states because they could imply a threat. This is often a subjective/psychological threat, experienced in social, novel or ambiguous situations. According to this, individuals prone to anxiety should perceive the state of being uncertain as stressful and upsetting just because they are likely to experience anxiety and perceive threat in uncertain circumstances. In such terms, they should consider uncertain situations unpleasant and uncomfortable, even if they are not facing objective threatening situations or impending danger. In other words, what could be unacceptable for HTA individuals is the uncertainty in itself, that is, the mere not knowing what will happen (i.e. whether or not a certain threat will come true), apart from the positivity or negativity of the outcome ( Miceli & Castelfranchi, 2005). As a result, HTA individuals could have an implicit goal of uncertainty reduction, thus lowering anxiety and discomfort. In order to study reasoning and TA, we decided to employ probabilistic inferential tasks unrelated to anxiety themes, that is, content-neutral, for two main reasons. Firstly, we were concerned with cold reasoning: we wanted to investigate general reasoning processes in TA, not specific to anxiety-related circumstances (hot reasoning). Moreover, several studies have indeed shown how individual differences in TA can bias subjective judgments regarding risk scenarios. HTA individuals are particularly prone to believing that they are at risk for certain negative or harmful events (e.g., Kverno, 2000), and they overestimate the probability of negative events occurring (e.g., Butler & Mathews, 1987) compared to LTA individuals. In these terms, anxiety-related materials could interfere with performances on probabilistic reasoning tasks which involve threat/danger probability estimates. We chose to use neutral content materials with the aim of avoiding such interference. According to our assumptions, we predicted that HTA individuals would act in a way to reduce (if possible) uncertainty present in our reasoning tasks; specifically, we hypothesized that they would try to shorten the length of the uncertain state. With this in mind, we employed two probabilistic reasoning tasks in order to study the amount of data gathered to make a decision in a formal probabilistic task (Bead Tasks) and in hypothetical real-life situations (Scenario Tasks). We supposed that HTA individuals, compared to LTA ones, would be prone to requesting a lower number of pieces of evidence in order to decide. Accordingly, HTA individuals would be cognitively quicker in forming their decisions, precipitating their conclusions and thus ending the task (and the discomfort caused by uncertainty). In other words, we predicted that HTA people would show a jump to conclusions style, a particular reasoning style studied in these last 20 years: people who exhibit a jump to conclusions style tend to gather less evidence in order to make probabilistic decisions compared to people who do not exhibit such a style (for a review, see Garety & Freeman, 1999).