Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Life’s harsh lessons ’make you more gullible’ - study

23.05.2006


People who have suffered life’s hard knocks while growing up tend to be more gullible than those who have been more sheltered, startling new findings from the University of Leicester reveal.



A six-month study in the University’s School of Psychology found that rather than ’toughening up’ individuals, adverse experiences in childhood and adolescence meant that these people were vulnerable to being mislead.

The research analysing results from 60 participants suggest that such people could, for example, be more open to suggestion in police interrogations or to be influenced by the media or advertising campaigns.


The study found that while some people may indeed become more ‘hard-nosed’ through adversity, the majority become less trusting of their own judgement.

Kim Drake, a doctoral student at the University of Leicester, conducted the research with Professor Ray Bull and Dr Julian Boon of the School of Psychology. Kim said: "People who have experienced an adverse childhood and adolescence are more likely to come to believe information that isn’t true- in short they are more suggestible, and easily mislead which may in turn impact upon their future life choices; they might succumb to peer pressure more readily."

’Adverse life experiences’ examined included major personal illnesses/injuries, miscarriage (from the male and female perspective), difficulties at work (being fired/laid off), bullying at school, being a victim of crime (robbery, sexual violence), parental divorce, death of family member and others.

70% of the variation across people in suggestibility can be explained by the different levels of negative life events that they have experienced, the study found.

“We also found that the way people cope with adversity had an impact on their psychological profile,” said Kim.

“The majority of people may learn through repeated exposure to adversity to distrust their own judgment; a person might believe something to be true, but when they, for example, read something in a newspaper that contradicts their opinion, or they talk to someone with a different view-point, that individual is more likely to take on that other person’s view.

“This is because the person may have learned to distrust their actions, judgements and decisions due to the fact that the majority of the time their actions have been perceived to invite negative consequences.

“Another example is in relationships. Women, as well as men, can become "brainwashed", and end up changing in their personality, their views and beliefs and in some extreme cases, they may even take on their views and ideas of the world and come to feel incompetent (in their partner’s eyes).”

Kim added that there is already evidence to suggest that there is a relationship between intensity/frequency of negative life impacts and degree of vulnerability. Experience of adversity may have a knock-on effect on a person’s mindset- they may come to believe that "they are no good", or "nothing they do is ever good enough”.

In contrast, the findings also suggest that early positive life events may have a protective influence over the effects of subsequent adversity: “If positive life events predate the negative life events then individuals may be more resilient in terms of, not being so badly affected, psychologically, by the subsequent adverse events. However, issues may arise if the reverse is the case; if the adverse life events precede the positive, those individuals may become, as a result, more susceptible to suggestion and misleading information. Nevertheless, future research will still have to examine this. The order of life events experienced, however, is seemingly important.”

The study found that the parental role is an important one, so education- showing parents functional ways of dealing with their children, meaning that the children will see positive role models, and learn "healthy" skills or ways of dealing with stress/negative life events- may help cultivate a positive mind-set within the child or adolescent which will stay with them throughout life.

Kim said: “Parents are role-models for their children, and show the children how to cope with stress- if the parents are matter-of-fact about negative occurrences and are "happy-go-lucky" then the kids may emulate that. On the reverse, parents who cope with stress/negative events in a more stressed manner (raging, acting out, drinking, expressing a pessimistic view of the world) this may in turn transfer that way of behaving onto their children.”

The original application of this research was the police interrogation setting, the implications being that people who’ve experienced a high number of life adversities may be more prone to falsely confessing due to being highly suggestible, possibly resulting in a greater chance of being wrongly convicted.

"However, the notion of suggestibility falls far beyond that of forensic psychology. People may find they are more easily influenced by the media, by TV adverts and so may make life choices as a result that they otherwise would not e.g. they may choose not to vaccinate their children, " said Kim.

Alex Jelley | alfa
Further information:
http://www.le.ac.uk

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Internet use in class tied to lower test scores
16.12.2016 | Michigan State University

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Biocompatible 3-D tracking system has potential to improve robot-assisted surgery

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Real-time MRI analysis powered by supercomputers

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Antibiotic effective against drug-resistant bacteria in pediatric skin infections

17.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>