Core Studies - Individual Differences Approach

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Individual - Griffiths (1994)


Heuristics - A common sense set of rules used to understand situations and solve problems.
E.g. "Illusion of Control" - When the outcome of an activity is uncertain, a person starts to feel they control the outcome. i.e. Thinking they have a greater chance of winning than probability would suggest, and their skill influences their chances of winning.
       "Flexible Attributions" - The tendency to attribute successes to ones own skill and failures to other influences. i.e. Gamblers consider success is due to their own skill and failure results from external influences (malfunctions).
       "Representativeness" - The judgement of the likelihood of an event occurring made by comparing it to a similar situation. i.e. Their expectation that the probability of winning will increase with the length of an ongoing run of losses.
        "Availability Bias" - The ease with which specific instances can be recalled affects the perceived probability of these instances affecting you. i.e. Gamblers think wins are regular when they can hear the sound of winning constantly.
        "Illusory Correlations" - Superstitious behaviours when people believe there is a relationship between 2 variables when there isn't. i.e. Believing if they throw the dice hard they'll be more likely to get a particular number.

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Individual - Griffiths (1994)

Aim: To examine the cognitive activities of regular and non-regular fruit machine gamblers.             
- There would be a significant difference in the thought processes (irrational verbalisations) between regular and non-regular gamblers.              
To examine whether skills involved in fruit machine gambling are 'actual' or 'perceived', by comparing the success of regular and non-regular gamblers.           
- There would be no significant difference between the (skill-based) behaviours of the regular and non-regular gamblers.

Method: 60 participants (44 male, 16 female) self-selected via poster advertisement around local university. Quasi experiment in real amusement arcade. Independent measures design, IV = regular/non-regular and thinking aloud/not thinking aloud. DV = Total play (total number of plays in a session); Total time (Total time in mins of play during one session); Play rate (Total number of plays per min during one session); Wins (No. wins)

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Individual - Griffiths (1994)

Procedure: Cognitive activity measured by recording verbalisations of those in the 'thinking aloud' condition during a session. Perception of skill measured by post-experiment, semi-structured interviews.

Each participants given £3 (30 free gambles) and told to stay on for a minimum of 60 gambles. If their £3 was won back, they were given the choice of keeping it or carrying on. "FRUITSKILL" used and thinking groups were random. 
Thinking aloud condition were told to verbalise every thought and keep talking.
All recordings transcribed within 24 hours and the researcher was always nearby.

- Regular gamblers had higher playing rates of 8 gambles per min. Non-regular gamblers had playing rate of 6.

- Regular gamblers who thought aloud had lower win rate so made more gambles between each win than the others.

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Individual - Griffiths (1994)


- Regular gamblers made more categories in personifying the machine.
- Non-regular gamblers made more utterances in categories of confusion.
- Regular gamblers produced more irrational verbalisations.
- 14 regular gamblers managed to stop at 60 gambles and 10 stayed on.
- 7 non-regular gamblers stopped at 60, 2 stayed on.

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Individual - Thigpen and Cleckley (1954)

Background: MPD is defined in DSM-III as a dissociative disorder in which 2 or more distinct personalities coexist within one and the same individual. None of the personalities have difficulty with reality testing, so it is not a psychotic disorder.

Aim: To provide an account of the psychotherapeutic treatment of a 25-year old woman, referred for 'severe and blinding' headaches.

Method: Case study with interviews (with patient and her family), hypnosis, observation, EEG tests and psychometric and projective tests (i.e. memory/ink blot/intelligent tests)

Results: Eve Black had a 'childish, daredevil air'; an 'erotically mischievous glance'. Could only be called out by therapists when Eve White was under hypnosis. Her behaviour was characterised by 'irresponsibility and a shallow desire for excitement and pleasure'.

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Individual - Thigpen and Cleckley (1954)

Results: IQ test showed Eve White had an IQ of 110, but Eve Black had 104. Memory test showed Eve White had a superior memory function to Eve Black.
Rorschach test showed the profile of Eve Black was far healthier than Eve Whites. (Eve Black was regressive - returning to a former/less developed state. Eve White was repressive - inhibiting/preventing the awareness of certain thoughts/feelings)
              Further on, Eve Whites headaches and blackouts re-appeared, emerging the personality of Jane. After Jane appeared, EEG tests were used and Jane and Eve White had distinctly different results from Eve Black. But Jane and Eve White were almost the same.

Explanation: Thigpen and Cleckley were convinced they'd witnessed an example of MPD. Didn't point out the cause, but mainly due to child abuse.

Other: Letter from Eve White appeared, written in her usual handwriting. Until the last paragraph, looked like child had written it. Eve denied sending letter, though remembered starting to write it. 

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Individual - Rosenhan (1973)

Aim: To illustrate experimentally the problems involved in determining normality and abnormality, in particular:
- The poor reliability of the diagnostic classification system for mental disorders.
- The negative consequences of being diagnosed as abnormal and the effects of institutionalisation.

Method: [Experiment One] Field experiment with 8 pseudopatients (psychology graduate, 3 psychologists, paediatrician, psychiatrist, painter, housewife) and 12 hospitals in 5 different states. 3 women, 5 men.
[Experiment Two] Quasi experiment with nurses and psychiatrists from one hospital.

Procedure:  [Experiment One] Pseudopatients complained they had been hearing voices to hospitals. Unfamiliar, same sex voice saying "empty", "hollow" and "thud". After admittance, pp's stopped showing any symptoms of abnormality other than nervousness of being found out, etc.

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Individual - Rosenhan (1973)

Pseudopatients took part in daily activities and told staff they no longer heard voices. Of 4 hospitals, 4 pseudopatients carried out observations. They asked staff "pardon me, could you tell me when I will be discharged?". To compare their results a similar study was used at Stanford University with students asking staff on campus simple questions. (DV = staffs reactions from university and hospital)

[Experiment Two] Staff at a hospital were told pseudopatients would attempt to enter their hospitals, but none actually did. The staff had to make a rating of how likely people attempting to be admitted are to be pseudopatients.

Results: [Experiment One] All but one pp were admitted with Schizophrenia. They remained in hospital from 7-52 days. 35/118 real patients in the hospitals had suspicions. 'Labelling Theory' - normal behaviour seen as aspects of their illness. In comparison, nearly all requests responded to. In study, 4% of psychiatrists and 0.5% of nurses stopped and talked. 

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Individual - Rosenhan (1973)

Results: [Experiment Two] 41/193 patients were judged as pseudopatients by atleast one member of staff. 19/193 patients judged as pseudopatients by one psychiatrist and atleast one other member of staff.

Other: Powerlessness and depersonalisation were evident in the ways in which the patients were deprived of many human rights such as freedom of movement and privacy. 

Labelling - When pp's paced from boredom, nurses asked if they were nervous. When making notes, nurses described as 'engaging in writing behaviour'.
Waiting outside cafeteria before lunch demonstrates "oral acquisitive" nature of their conditions. 

Type I Error - Diagnosing a sick person as healthy.
Type II Error - Diagnosing a healthy person as sick. (Prior to study, all participants were psychologically healthy yet were admitted with hearing voices)

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