A bit of disgust can change how confident you feel

Cultura/KMM Productions/Getty By Chelsea Whyte FACING a big problem and finding it hard to decide what to do? A sprinkling of disgust might boost your confidence. Common sense suggests that our confidence in the decisions we make comes down to the quality of the information available – the clearer that information, the more confident we feel. But it seems that the state of our body also guides us. Micah Allen at University College London and his colleagues showed 29 people a screen of dots moving in varied directions. They asked the volunteers which direction most of the spots were moving in, and how confident they were in their decisions. Before each task, the participants briefly saw a picture of a face on the screen. It was either twisted in disgust or had a neutral expression. Although this happened too quickly for the faces to be consciously perceived, the volunteers’ bodies reacted. Seeing disgust, which is a powerful evolutionary sign of danger, boosted the volunteers’ alertness, pushing up their heart rates and dilating their pupils. “When you induce disgust, high confidence becomes lower and low confidence becomes higher“ When shown a neutral face, the volunteers became less confident as the task got more difficult. As the movement of the dots became more varied, they were less sure of the main direction. But when they were shown the disgusted face, they reacted differently. In easy tasks, in which people were previously confident, they became more doubtful of their decisions. In more difficult tasks, their confidence grew. Neither face made any difference to the accuracy of their answers (eLife, doi.org/bsgd). “We were tricking the brain and changing the body in a way that had nothing to do with the task,” Allen says. In doing so, they showed that a person’s sense of confidence relies on internal as well as external signals – and the balance can be shifted by increasing your alertness. Allen thinks the reaction to disgust suppressed the “noise” created by the more varied movement of the dots during the more difficult versions of the task. “They’re taking their own confidence as a cue and ignoring the stimulus in the world.” “It’s surprising that they show that confidence can be motivated by processes inside a person, instead of what we tend to believe, which is that confidence should be motivated by external things that affect a decision,” says Ariel Zylberberg at Columbia University in New York. “Disgust leads to aversion. If you try a food and it’s disgusting, you walk away from it,” says Zylberberg. “Here, if you induce disgust, high confidence becomes lower and low confidence becomes higher. It could be that disgust is generating this repulsion.” It is not clear whether it is the feeling of disgust that changes a person’s confidence in this way, or whether inducing alertness with a different emotion, such as anger or fear, would have the same effect. The variation in how people respond to alerting signals might help us understand personality. “We know that people vary quite a bit in how accurate their confidence is, and also in how sensitive to their bodies they are,” says Allen. He wants to know whether alertness has a greater effect on confidence in people who have difficulty regulating their emotions. “The jury is still out on the ultimate implications of this,” Allen says. “I wouldn’t tell someone they should go out and see a bunch of disgusted faces before they make a big decision.” But his team hopes the research will one day help people with anxiety, and other conditions that involve changes in the body’s level of alertness. This article appeared in print under the headline “Seeing disgust affects how confident we feel” More on these topics:
  • 首页
  • 游艇租赁
  • 电话
  • 关于我们