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Neurobiology of Optimism and Its Relation to Attention and Social Identification

English title Neurobiology of Optimism and Its Relation to Attention and Social Identification
Applicant Aue Tatjana
Number 150492
Funding scheme SNSF Professorships
Research institution Klinische Psychologie und Psychotherapie Institut für Psychologie Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Psychology
Start/End 01.03.2015 - 28.02.2019
Approved amount 1'579'664.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Psychology
Neurophysiology and Brain Research

Keywords (7)

functional magnetic resonance imaging; optimism; bias; attention; somatovisceral responses; eye tracking; social identity

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Die meisten Menschen tendieren dazu, optimistisch in die Zukunft zu blicken. Oftmals sind Menschen sogar optimistischer als dies durch eine rationale Betrachtung situativer Gegebenheiten gerechtfertigt wäre. Dieses Phänomen wurde Optimismusbias genannt. Seine Wechselwirkung mit verzerrter Aufmerksamkeit (Aufmerksamkeitsbias) sowie seine soziale Einbettung sind Gegenstand der Untersuchungen im vorliegenden Projekt.
Lay summary

Inhalt und Ziel des Forschungsprojekts

Zwei Forschungsprogramme wurden entwickelt, um fundamentale Funktionsprinzipien von Optimismusbias zu identifizieren. Beide Programme beinhalten die Anwendung einer Vielfalt von Messmethoden (z.B. Erfassung von Augenbewegungen, funktionelle Kernspintomographie, somatoviszerale Messungen [z.B. Elektrokardiogramm], Fragebögen).

Projekt A untersucht die Idee, dass verzerrte Erwartungen (Optimismusbias) mit verzerrten Aufmerksamkeitsprozessen in Verbindung stehen, und dass sich beide Arten von Bias gegenseitig beeinflussen. Die zugehörigen Studienergebnisse werden zum Verständnis basaler neurokognitiver und somatoviszeraler Mechanismen dieser positiven Informationsverarbeitungsverzerrungen und ihrer gegenseitigen Wechselwirkung beitragen.

Menschen sind nicht nur bzgl. ihrer eigenen Zukunft übermäßig optimistisch, sondern auch bzgl. zukünftiger Ereignisse, die soziale Gruppen betreffen, mit denen sie sich identifizieren. Projekt B befasst sich daher mit der Frage, inwiefern persönliche und soziale Formen von Optimismusbias auf denselben neurokognitiven und somatoviszeralen Prozessen beruhen. Außerdem wird untersucht, in welchem Ausmaß soziales Optimismusbias modifiziert werden kann. Da verzerrte soziale Erwartungen soziale Interaktionen beeinflussen, werden die Studienergebnisse wichtige Implikationen für die Entwicklung sozialer Konfliktreduktionsstrategien haben.

 

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext

Die Studien im vorliegenden Projekt kombinieren in einzigartiger Weise eine Vielfalt von Messmethoden, um die spezifischen Charakteristika von Optimismusbias aufzuzeigen. Optimismus und selektive Aufmerksamkeit könnten strategisch eingesetzt werden, um wichtige Ziele zu erreichen und positive Emotionen zu erleben – im persönlichen wie im sozialen Bereich. Der Identifikation neurokognitiver und somatoviszeraler Funktionsmechanismen solcher Strategien kommt somit eine essenzielle Bedeutung zu.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 10.05.2018

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Seeing through rose-colored glasses: How optimistic expectancies guide visual attention
Kress Laura, Bristle Mirko, Aue Tatjana (2018), Seeing through rose-colored glasses: How optimistic expectancies guide visual attention, in Plos One, 13, e0193311.
The link between optimism bias and attention bias: A neurocognitive perspective.
Kress Laura, Aue Tatjana (2017), The link between optimism bias and attention bias: A neurocognitive perspective., in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 80, 688-702.
The neurophysiological basis of optimism bias
DricuMihai, KressLaura, AueTatjana, The neurophysiological basis of optimism bias, in Okon-Singer Hadas, Aue Tatjana (ed.), Elsevier, New York.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Dept. of Psychology, University of Haifa Israel (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Dept. of Psychology, University of Marburg Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Dept. of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour, McMaster University Canada (North America)
- Publication
Dept. of Medicine, University of Geneva Hospitals Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Alan Edwards Centre for Research on Pain, McGill University Canada (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Dept. of Neurology, ETH Zurich Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience, University of Chicago United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Max Planck Institute, Leipzig Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Swiss Center for Affective Sciences, University of Geneva Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Dept. of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Dept. of Psychology, University of Geneva (Hospitals) Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Dept. of Psychology, University of Würzburg Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
58th Annual Meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research Poster Neural and somatovisceral correlates of optimistic expectancies influencing visual attention 03.10.2018 Quebec City, Canada Schüpbach Laurent; Bristle Mirko; Aue Tatjana; Singh Laura;
4th Conference of the European Society for Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (ESCAN) Poster Neural, somatovisceral, and behavioral correlates of cognitive bias interactions: The link between optimism bias and attention bias 19.07.2018 Leiden, Netherlands Schüpbach Laurent; Aue Tatjana; Bristle Mirko; Singh Laura;
13th Alpine Brain Imaging Meeting (ABIM) Poster Neural correlates of optimistic expectancies influencing visual attention 07.01.2018 Champéry, Switzerland Schüpbach Laurent; Aue Tatjana; Singh Laura;
Interpersonal Accuracy Meeting Talk given at a conference Optimism bias in the social context 21.12.2017 Bern, Switzerland Dricu Mihai; Aue Tatjana;
Graduate course Monitoring and control of cognition, learning, and memory organized by the Swiss Graduate School for Cognition, Learning and Memory (SGS-CLM) Talk given at a conference Optimistic expectancies influence subsequent attention deployment: Behavioral, physiological, and neural evidence 01.12.2017 Bern, Switzerland Singh Laura; Aue Tatjana; Bristle Mirko; Schüpbach Laurent;
57th Annual Meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research (SPR) Talk given at a conference Looking at the bright side of life: How optimistic expectancies affect visual attention 11.10.2017 Wien, Austria Aue Tatjana; Singh Laura; Bristle Mirko;
2nd Radboud Summer School Stress and Cognition. From basic mechanisms to psychopathology Poster Looking at the sunny side of life: Optimistic expectancies guide visual attention 14.08.2017 Nijmegen, Netherlands Bristle Mirko; Singh Laura; Aue Tatjana;
50. Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Psychologie (DGP) Poster The effect of optimistic expectancies on visual attention: An eye-tracking study 18.09.2016 Leipzig, Germany Aue Tatjana; Bristle Mirko; Singh Laura;
3rd Conference of the European Society for Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (ESCAN) Talk given at a conference The interplay of expectancies and attention in the processing of threat: Evidence from behavior, fMRI, and autonomic nervous system activity 23.06.2016 Porto, Portugal Aue Tatjana;
Summer School of the Swiss Graduate School for Cognition, Learning, and Memory (CCLM) Talk given at a conference Seeing through rose-colored glasses: How optimistic expectancies influence visual attention 20.06.2016 Weggis, Switzerland Bristle Mirko; Singh Laura; Aue Tatjana;
Summer School of the Swiss Graduate School for Cognition, Learning, and Memory (CCLM) Talk given at a conference Optimism bias in active vs. non-active soccer playing men 20.06.2016 Weggis, Switzerland Singh Laura; Bührer Stehphanie; Aue Tatjana;
ETH Zurich Winter School on Eye Tracking Poster How do optimistic expectancies influence visual attention? 17.01.2016 Monte Verità, Switzerland Bristle Mirko; Aue Tatjana; Singh Laura;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Unbewusste und unsichtbare Bewegungen: Erkenntnisse durch Registrierung von Augenbewegungen und Pupillengrösse Workshop 23.02.2017 Bern, Switzerland Aue Tatjana; Singh Laura;
Psychologieunterricht - Thema Wahrnehmung Talk 29.03.2016 Bern, Switzerland Bristle Mirko; Aue Tatjana; Singh Laura;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: print media, online media Menschliche Emotionen BÄRN!MAGAZIN German-speaking Switzerland 2018
Media relations: print media, online media Mutters Liebe Schweiz am Sonntag German-speaking Switzerland 2015

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
121590 Neural and somatovisceral processes associated with expectancy bias in spider phobia 01.01.2009 Ambizione
184378 Always look on the bright side of life? Investigating the impact of early attention processes after trauma on future optimism and mental health. 01.11.2019 Early Postdoc.Mobility
183709 Neurobiology of Optimism and Its Relation to Attention and Social Identification 01.03.2019 SNSF Professorships
140060 Neural and somatovisceral processes associated with expectancy bias in spider phobia 01.01.2012 Ambizione
111225 Wishful thinking et prise de décision dans un contexte sportif. Quels sont les mécanismes sous-jacents? 01.08.2007 Fellowships for prospective researchers

Abstract

People who look positively at their environment are more likely to experience positive emotions, to be more sociable and satisfied with their life, and to display lower degrees of neuroticism. Optimistic rather than pessimistic expectancies regarding the future contribute to these effects in important ways. An optimistic outlook may even promote health and well-being after negative major life events. Together, these findings show that optimism can be highly beneficial. While the strength of optimism displayed varies from person to person (thus reflecting a stable personality trait), most people tend to be optimistic rather than pessimistic about their own future. Often, this optimism exceeds the level of what would be justified by a rational consideration of situational characteristics. This phenomenon has been termed optimism bias. Two research programs have been developed to examine the fundamental operating principles at the basis of optimism bias. Project A is planned around the idea that positive biases in expectancies (i.e., optimism bias) and attention are closely linked and mutually support each other. Although recent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data are in favor of the existence of such a link, this has not been directly tested. The neurobiological nature and causality of that link will therefore be investigated. Findings in these studies will contribute to our understanding of basic neurocognitive and somatovisceral mechanisms underlying these positive processing biases and their mutual influence. The role of social identification processes in optimism bias will also be considered. People have a positive outlook regarding future events not only for themselves, but also for the social groups that they identify with (so-called in-groups). At the same time, people display a more pessimistic outlook regarding future events for disliked groups that they do not identify with (out-groups). Project B will examine the degree to which personal and social forms of optimism bias rely on the same basic neurocognitive and somatovisceral processes. Whether the degree of overlap depends on the strength of identification with, and the perspective taking of, the in-group will also be tested. Finally, the extent to which the social optimism bias can be modified by contradictory information will be investigated. Because biases in social expectancies affect social interactions, the results of studies in this project may have important implications for the development of social conflict reduction strategies. The research described in the current proposal uniquely combines a variety of applicable measures (e.g., eye tracking, fMRI, somatovisceral measures, ratings) in order to pinpoint the specific characteristics of optimism bias. Moreover, the role of personality factors associated with positive emotionality and reward sensitivity will also be explored. People scoring high on these traits may use optimism and selective attention strategically in order to obtain rewards and experience positive emotions. The application of such convergent measures - each with its own strengths and weaknesses - is generally an important requirement for a comprehensive investigation of the processes at the basis of psychological phenomena. As a consequence, the current research has the potential to lead to the development of a comprehensive multilevel model of optimism bias, its relation to attentional processes, and its establishment in the social context. Ultimately, such a model might be used for the interpretation (and treatment) of various phenomena in health and disease (e.g., mania, depression).
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