Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Stupidest Study Ever?
Swiped from Political Animal. I'm no psychologist (still), but does this really sound like it proves that people who feel excluded have less self-control? And also, does that really need to be proven?
In the study's first experiment, 36 undergraduate participants completed a personality questionnaire. Then, researcher Roy Baumeister, PhD, of Florida State University, and his colleagues told a third of the students--selected at random--that their scores indicated that they would likely end up alone in life (socially rejected). Another third were told that they would have rewarding relationships throughout life. In a control condition that was negative but not based on social rejection, the final third were told that they would be accident-prone as they got older, and that this would negatively affect their life.

Then, to measure self-regulation, the researchers said they'd give each participant a nickel for every ounce they could drink of a healthy but bad-tasting beverage flavored with vinegar. People who can self-regulate well are more likely to perform such unpleasant tasks for future rewards, the researchers theorized. (emphasis mine)

As it turned out, people who were told they'd be alone in life were less able to regulate their actions--they drank 2.23 ounces on average less than those who anticipated future social acceptance, and 2.15 ounces less than those who were told they'd be accident-prone.
Why would performance of "unpleasant tasks for future rewards" be an indicator of self-regulation? I don't get it.

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