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Judgment of Contingency and the Cognitive Functioning of Clinical Depressives

Description: Twenty-four psychiatric staff, 24 clinically depressed inpatients, and 24 nondepresssed schizophrenic patients at a state psychiatric facility completed five tasks under either reward or punishment conditions. Each task consisted of 30 trials of pressing or not pressing a button to make a light appear. Monetary reinforcement was contingent on light onset for the final ten trials of each task. Cash incentives for judgment of control accuracy were added for Tasks 3, 4, and 5. Cognitive functioning was evaluated on each task by measuring expectancy, judgment of control, evaluation of performance, and attribution. Mood and self- esteem were measured before and after the procedure. No significant differences were observed across mood groups for expectancy of control or judgment of control accuracy. Subject groups also did not differ in the attributions they made or in how successful they judged their performances to be. They set realistic, attainable criteria for success which were consistent with relevant conditional probabilities. Subjects in reward gave themselves more credit for task performance than subjects in punishment gave themselves blame for comparable performances. Punishment subjects demonstrated more stable, external attributions than those in reward. Across tasks, subjects overestimated when actual control was low and underestimated when actual control was high. Contrary to the "depressive realism" effect described by Alloy and Abramson (1979), clinical depressives did not display more accurate judgments of control than did nondepressives. All subjects appeared to base their control estimates on reinforcement frequency rather than actual control. Subjects showed a type of illusion of control for high frequency, low control tasks. Presumably, success in turning the light on led them to assume that their actions controlled light onset. Comparison to previous subclinical studies suggests a possible curvilinear relationship between judgment of control accuracy and level of psychopathology, with mild depressives displaying relatively greater accuracy than ...
Date: August 1990
Creator: Cobbs, David Lee

Narcissism: Reality Testing and the Effect of Negative Feedback

Description: A number of clinicians have reported that narcissists show grandiosity in self-concept, and rage after receiving disconfirming feedback. This is the first empirical study to test these claims. Subjects with differing levels of narcissism and self-esteem were compared on distortion in self-perception and emotional reaction to negative feedback. Ninety-six college students predicted their levels of intelligence, attractiveness, and interpersonal understanding (empathy) as compared to their peers. Objective measures of these characteristics were obtained, and subjects' predictions, with their actual scores held constant, provided measures of reality distortion in selfperception. Subjects were given feedback comparing their predictions to objective measures at the end of the experiment, and reaction to feedback was assessed by comparing subjects' pre- and post-feedback scores on the Multiple Affect Adjective Checklist-Revised (Zuckerman & Lubin, 1985). Narcissists were expected to react to negative feedback with greater hostility than nonnarcissists. Narcissists evidenced significant distortion in perceptions of their own intelligence, attractiveness, and interpersonal understanding. This finding provided empirical evidence supporting the clinical phenomenon of grandiosity. Narcissists did not react with greater hostility after negative feedback, but as compared to nonnarcissists, they did react with less depression following negative feedback. This supported Kernberg's (1980) assertion that narcissists do not react to loss with depression. In contrast to the inflated self-image associated with narcissism, self-esteem was associated with a comparatively accurate view of self.
Date: August 1990
Creator: Gabriel, Marsha T. (Marsha Thompson)

Parental Cultural Mistrust, Background Variables, and Attitudes Toward Seeking Mental Health Services for Their Children

Description: Attitudes toward mental illness and the willingness to seek psychological treatment for their children among ethnic minority group parents were investigated. Participants consisted of black, Hispanic, Native American and Asian parents. All parents were given the Terrell and Terrell Cultural Mistrust Inventory, Cohen and Struening Opinions About Mental Illness Scale, Reid-Gundlach Social Services Satisfaction Scale, Fischer-Turner Attitudes Toward Seeking Professional Help Scale, and Ahluwalia Parents' Psychological Help-Seeking Inventory. A multiple regression model was used to explore the purpose of this study. Parental mistrust level, ethnicity, education, income level, and opinions about mental illness served as predictor variables. The criterion variables consisted of scores on the Social Services Satisfaction Scale and Attitudes Toward Seeking Professional Psychological Help Scale. The results indicated that the most significant predictor of psychological help-seeking was parental cultural mistrust level. Parents with higher cultural mistrust levels were less likely to seek help. Education was also predictive of black and Native American parents' help-seeking attitude and willingness to seek psychological help for their children. Black and Native Americans with lower levels of education were less willing to seek treatment for their children than members of those ethnic groups with higher levels of education. Ethnicity was also related to parental willingness to seek help for their children. Hispanic and black parents expressed more willingness to seek help than Native American and Asian parents. Finally, parents' opinions about mental illness were found to be significantly related to help-seeking attitude. Parents with positive opinions about mental illness were more likely to utilize professional psychological help than those parents with negative opinions about mental illness. Some clinical and theoretical implications of these findings are discussed.
Date: August 1990
Creator: Ahluwalia, Ekta