|Current Projects: EyeSpy : WHAM! : Grow Your Chi|
Our research background
Our goal is to conduct experimental research to develop
interventions that might help people feel more secure. Our starting point
is past research in which we have found that insecurity feelings derive
in large part from anxieties about whether one will be liked, accepted,
and respected by one's peers and significant others. Sometimes people
are aware of these concerns, but often social insecurities of this type
influence people's thoughts and feelings "automatically", without
a lot of deliberate thought and sometimes even entirely outside of their
awareness. All they experience are negative reactions to the self or to
Studies have shown that the information in people’s enviroment can greatly affect them without them even being aware of it. Other studies have shown that certain people have attentional biases toward either threatening, or rejection information, which in turn perpetuates their sensitivity to rejection and could cause them to develop low self-esteem. Our studies have shown that people with low self-esteem have an attentional bias for rejection and people with high self-esteem do not. The purpose of the EyeSpy project is to help change people’s attentional biase for rejection, more specifically to teach people with low-self-esteem to ignore rejection information.
Inspired by the face-in-the-crowd paradigm, EyeSpy
teaches people to look for the smiling/approving person in a crowd of
frowning faces. By doing this repeatedly and as quickly as possible, this
teaches people to look for acceptance and ignoring rejection. In order
to successfully and accurately identify the smiling/approving face, one
must get in the mind frame “Look for acceptance, and ignore rejection
because it slows me down”.
This will research was published as: The Inhibition of Socially Rejecting Information Among People with High versus Low Self-Esteem: The Role of Attentional Bias and the Effects of Bias Reduction Training in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 2004, Volume 23, pp. 584-602.
Is it possible to improve people’s unconscious, gut feelings of self-esteem? Low self-esteem negatively affects the social lives of many people. Several studies have shown that low self-esteem is related to depression, aggression, and social anxiety. It has also been shown that low self-esteem is linked to feelings of rejection from other people. This study looks to see if we can increase self-esteem through a computer-game type task, by increasing people’s feelings of acceptance.
In the computer game, people are asked to enter some information about themselves (i.e. first name, birthday). We call this information 'self-relevant' information because it is unique to the person and we think it contributes to the sense of identity. Next, they click on words that appeared in four boxes, which are then followed by a picture of a face. The positive conditioning involves pairing self-relevant information with smiling, approving faces.
We have found that people who complete this game show an increase in implicit self-esteem. Our research demonstrates that implicit self-esteem is, in part, represented as unconscious expectancies of social acceptance. This game creates a pairing between the self and positive social feedback, thus leading to automatic thoughts of secure acceptance in relation to the self.
This reseach was published as: Increasing Implicit Self-Esteem through Classical Conditioning in Psychological Science, 2004, Volume 15, pp. 498-502.
CHI is a Chinese word meaning life force, energy, or
vitality. This game playfully asks if it is possible to foster our feelings
of well being by focusing on positive social connections. The game incorporates
elements from our previous research (including attentional training and
self-esteem conditioning) and combines them in a new format that is designed
to be entertaining and therefore pleasant to play for a longer period
We are happy to fullfill journal article reprint requests. Just contact us and ask for a specific reprint.
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