Tag Archives: Perception

Facing illness, belief helps.

Lady Gaga’s recent revelation that she had been tested for lupus had some fans worried that the pop star is ill. When asked in an interview how she’s feeling, the pop star, 24, responds with a simple, “I’m okay,” before adding that lupus, which took the life of her aunt Joanne, does run in her family. The singer also told the interviewer that “So as of right now, I don’t have it. But I do have to take good care of myself”.

This young lady seems calm and positive about her potential illness. It is very important and helpful for her health. Research has shown that individuals’ illness perceptions predict health behaviors and functional outcomes. There is wide variation between individuals in their health and illness behaviors. For example, how quickly they seek medical attention for symptoms, and whether they take medication as prescribed. Behaviors such as these can have large influences on subsequent morbidity and mortality. Research into the psychological predictors of health and illness behaviors helps us to build theoretical models to understand why people behave as they do, and inform intervention strategies (Elizabeth Broadbent, 2010).

According to parallel response model, that in response to situational stimuli (such as symptoms and the environment), people simultaneously form both emotional states (such as fear) and cognitive representations of the threat of illness, the illness perception. The illness perceptions include ideas about: identity (the name of the illness and which symptoms are associated with it), timeline (how long the illness will continue), cause (what caused the illness), control (how well the illness can be controlled), and consequences (the effects of the illness on life domains). Previous research showed that stronger beliefs about the identity and consequences of an illness were associated with avoidance and denial coping strategies, higher expression of emotions, poorer physical, social and psychological functioning, and lower vitality. In contrast, stronger beliefs in the controllability of the illness were associated with greater use of cognitive reappraisal and problem-focused coping, as well as better psychological and social well-being, vitality, and with lesser disease state. It is because that in a self-regulatory process, individuals choose which procedures (actions) to take to manage their emotions and reduce the illness threat based on the content of these representations. The results of taking the chosen action further modify the representation of the illness in a feedback loop.

Elizabeth Broadbent. (2010). Illness Perceptions and Health: Innovations and Clinical Applications. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 4, 256 – 266.

Lady Gaga Tests ‘Borderline Positive’ for Lupus (People Magazine)

Conscious or Unconscious Aromas?

People go to great lengths to conceal bad odors or enhance pleasant ones. For example, a store shelf will reveal a myriad of deodorants while upscale name brand perfumes may be “designed to capture the essence of a garden on the Nile”. In fact, celebrities are capitalizing by adding their names to the bottle of perfume. An NPR news report cites rapper 50 Cent, as selling the “smell of success” in a bottle.  Even more, markets not normally associated with perfume are beginning to introduce their own products. The implication of these developments is the importance of others noticing the “smell of success” or the scent of “a garden on the Nile” when near you.

However, if the purpose of wearing perfume is to look favorably in other people’s eyes then according to research by Li, Moallem, Paller, and Gottfried (2007) people are taking the wrong approach. It appears that the best way to influence someone’s social preference is to wear perfume that is perceived outside of consciousness. The researchers found that pleasant odors presented unconsciously produced more favorable ratings of faces. Contrary to general perception, favorable ratings were not found when presenting pleasant scents consciously. It remains unclear, however, if the findings will hold in social interactions.  If so, how close would people have to stand next to each other for the effect to occur?

Read more: Money in a bottle

Hear more: Russian perfume

Li, W., Moallem, I., Paller, K.A., & Gottfried, J.A. (2007) Subliminal smells can guide social preferences.

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Appearance Matters

Kelis_perfect_smileWhat advice would a tourist board give to the local community when the tourist numbers drop? Smile! The Paris tourist board concluded that appearance matters. The tourist board proceeded to request that the residents of Paris smile.  After conducting a travelers survey it was found that among the high cost of travel, tourists experience included the perception of unpleasantness.  The tourist board concluded that the impressions people form about Parisians affect the overall tourist economy.

However, asking the locals to smile is not enough. When visiting Paris expect to be greeted by specialists known as “smile ambassadors”. On certain days you may even experience roller skaters gather to form a smile.

The story featured in the Reuters section, Oddly enough, may not be as odd as it is presented to be. Social Psychologists, Leslie A. Zebrowitz and Joann M. Montepare, 2008, explain why first impressions start with looking at a persons face and how people make judgments about others. A safe conclusion is that smiling will give the best impression, tourists or not.

square-eye

Read more: Reuters article on Paris smile campaign

square-eye

$1.99Zebrowits, L.A. & Montepare, J.M (2008) Social Psychological Face Perception: Why Appearance Matters

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