banner
You are not using a standards compliant browser. Because of this you may notice minor glitches in the rendering of this page. Please upgrade to a compliant browser for optimal viewing:
Firefox
Internet Explorer 7
Safari (Mac and PC)
Post Archive
2018 (0)2012 (3)2011 (73)
December (1)

Robot Insects
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
November (6)October (5)

BRB
Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Women's Intuition
Friday, October 21, 2011

Thinking with your Fingers
Monday, October 17, 2011

Choice
Tuesday, October 11, 2011

On Souls and Confections...?
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
September (7)

On Souls...?
Thursday, September 29, 2011

Beware the False Consensus Effect!
Saturday, September 24, 2011

Your Preferences - Preliminary Results
Thursday, September 22, 2011

Popularity Survey - DO IT FOR SCIENCE!
Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Zietsch's Response to PZ, Laden and Scicurious.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Personality of Cities
Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Discussion #1 - Walking Speed and City Size
Sunday, September 4, 2011
August (6)

People who Doodle Learn Faster = Bullshit
Thursday, August 25, 2011

Good News Everyone!
Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Got the Time? Part II
Saturday, August 20, 2011

Got the time?
Sunday, August 14, 2011

Can Randomness Predict the Future?
Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The House of Psycasm
Sunday, August 7, 2011
July (7)June (6)May (8)

Part 1: Do We Have Freewill?
Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Open Letter: A follow-up
Tuesday, May 31, 2011

This is a lie, she said.
Sunday, May 22, 2011

MSPaint is mightier than the Sword
Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Art of Indecision
Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Skeptical Checklist 1.1
Friday, May 13, 2011

The Skeptical Checklist 1.0
Sunday, May 8, 2011

Of Chimps, Children and Post-Grads...
Monday, May 2, 2011
April (5)March (5)February (7)January (10)

Magical Thinking: Voodoo, Prayer, Black Cats, and You
Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Art of Character Creation
Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Video Game Morality: Actions inside the box?
Friday, January 21, 2011

Psychobabble goes live!
Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Trolley Problem: Who cares?
Sunday, January 16, 2011

Podcast delay and misc. Drugs!?
Saturday, January 15, 2011

My very own Natural Disaster
Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A window into your Genetics and Mate Preference?
Sunday, January 9, 2011

Oh sorry, I totally phased out there...
Thursday, January 6, 2011

Porn: A force of Mutual Benefits
Sunday, January 2, 2011
2010 (35)
December (7)

Statistical Pwnage
Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Why you should care...
Thursday, December 16, 2010

The paper of Influence
Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sharing: Part I - Emotions
Sunday, December 12, 2010

No-one cuts deeper than a Science Blogger.
Thursday, December 9, 2010

Me Meme [Ohh, links now]
Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Half Full, or Half Empty? Well, That Depends on the Shape of the Glass.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
November (11)

What Your Voice Says About You
Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Babushka Blog: A Meta-Blog on ResearchBlogging.
Sunday, November 28, 2010

An Announcement:
Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Willful Self-Deception is Bliss
Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dance, Blogger, Dance!
Friday, November 19, 2010

The Science of Marriage
Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Moon and Antarctica
Thursday, November 11, 2010

Available: One Mentee. Good Condition.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Again we are limited by our puny human-ness
Sunday, November 7, 2010

Blogging Carnival - What is Psychopathology?: Origins
Friday, November 5, 2010

*sigh* Psi: A Rebuttal
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
October (12)

The Science of Mind-Reading
Thursday, October 28, 2010

How not to think yourself smart...
Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Welcome to Assassins' League
Sunday, October 24, 2010

TODO LATER. A story of procrastination and forgiveness.
Thursday, October 21, 2010

A man and his words.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Little kids, little minds...
Sunday, October 17, 2010

Smoking (maybemightcould) is Good.
Thursday, October 14, 2010

How to stop the Apocalpyse
Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How to trick yourself creative
Sunday, October 10, 2010

Siesta - It sounds like Fiesta, but isn't.
Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Dread Pirate Rift
Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Being Blonde. Natural or otherwise...
Sunday, October 3, 2010
September (5)
Rate This Post
Total votes: 0
Blogger Profile

Psycasm

Psycasm is the exploration of the world psychological. Every day phenomenon explained and manipulated to one's own advantage. Written by a slightly overambitious undergrad, Psycasm aims at exploring a whole range of social and cognitive processes in order to best understand how our minds, and those mechanisms that drive them, work.

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

Post Tags

m
Blog RSS Feed
RSS Add to My Yahoo Add to Google
Wednesday, December 15, 2010

ResearchBlogging.org

[Wherein our Hero looks at what research has most influenced him. A story to be continued...]

As with most of these monthly themes, I'm at a loss. I'm still an undergrad, and am yet to be afforded the luxury of independent thought. I'm yet to commence honours, and further still from a PhD. I have a vague inkling of a preference towards a vast area of psychology, but what I would like to investigate specifically is still beyond me.

However, I can answer this question in a sense. The paper that has most influenced me is the paper (and the research topic) that I have found myself involved in. The paper is by Apfelbaum and Sommers, and is entitled 'Liberating Effects of Losing Executive Control' (2009).

It's an interesting paper and (as I understand it) one of very few in the area (at least in the way it treats the topic). It focuses on a thing called Executive Function, which is one's capacity to self-regulate and inhibit certain behaviours and impulses. For instance, we've all experienced one of those days where we're just drained, and despite our best efforts we snap at someone we shouldn't. It might be a co-worker, or a partner, or a stranger on a bus. What has happened here, according to the theory surrounding Executive Function, is we've depleted our resources to inhibit such behaviours. Now 'big deal' you might think...

But it is.

There's no (known) biological mechanism for this. There was some evidence that it was linked to glucose, but this hasn't been subsequently supported. What we do know is that it can be restored via psychological mechanisms. For instance, self-affirming excercises (like writing an a short essay on something important to you) can restore your self-control. Now again, this is interesting. Why do we have this mental characteristic that appears to facilitate us doing things we know we shouldn't. Snapping at someone is a social example, but a more physical example might be knowing you shouldn't have the chocolate cake, but eating it anyway. There are studies that show that depleting someone's executive function leads to them being less able to resist temptation when presented with something enticing, like chocolate or ice-cream. It also seems to predict people giving up more quickely on difficult tasks.

Why do we have such an inherent weakness?  If it was glucose (or something biological / physiological) we could treat it as a signal that we need to restore something within us. When we start to lose focus, we know we're tired. When we give up to easily or fail to resist temptation, it's not usually a signal we need to go write a self-affirmation.

What Apfelbaum and Sommers did was look at some possible positive examples of what depleted executive function could lead to. Here's part of their abstract:

Under some conditions, however, this deficit may translate into gains: When individuals’ regulatory strategies are maladaptive, depletion of the resource fueling such strategies may facilitate positive outcomes, both intra- and interpersonally. We tested this prediction in the context of contentious intergroup interaction, a domain characterized by regulatory practices of questionable utility. White participants discussed approaches to campus diversity with a White or Black partner immediately after performing a depleting or control computer task. In intergroup encounters, depleted participants enjoyed the interaction more, exhibited less inhibited behavior, and seemed less prejudiced to Black observers than did control participants—converging evidence of beneficial effects. Although executive capacity typically sustains optimal functioning, these results indicate that, in some cases, it also can obstruct positive outcomes, not to mention the potential for open dialogue regarding divisive social issues. Apfelbaum & Sommers (2009).

They reasoned that, when fully stocked with executive function, we might dance around a contentious topic. Rather than honestly admit to controversial opinions, or even, to dance around admiting one's own opinion (even if it's not particularly controversial) depleted individual's seem to own and express their opinions more honestly. Sure, people might not agree with you, but an honest discussion is better than a pantomime, it seems...

So I'm not going to go into much depth on the what exactly I'm looking at (in the service of others), but we're hoping the implications of our study (preliminary though they are) lead to explaining more rigourous benefits of the phenomenon.

So it's definitely an interesting paper. Whether or not this paper will have a lasting impact on my career, who knows? All I can say is that, right now, it's the most influential paper I've ever (personally) dealt with.

---

Apfelbaum, E., & Sommers, S. (2009). Liberating Effects of Losing Executive Control Psychological Science, 20 (2), 139-143 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02266.x

This post has been viewed: 505 time(s)

Blog Comments

becca
Rate Post:

Like 0 Dislike

Anyone who has stayed up until the sun comes up talking to people, and bonding way more than you ever would otherwise, has probably experienced this. I never thought about it before as a deterioration of executive function, but that's probably part of it.


Psycasm
Rate Post:

Like 0 Dislike

Yeah, for sure. Executive Function is a relatively new area of study. Getting drunk essentially is reducing your executive function, but the mechanism is obviously different.

Add Comment?
Comments are closed 2 weeks after initial post.
Friends