Individual Differences

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  • Created by: Becca
  • Created on: 29-02-16 19:38

Rosenhan I


Aim - To see if sane people claiming to have psychiatric symptoms will be diagnosed as mentally ill when in a psychiatric hospital

Participants - Staff and patients of 12 American psychiatric hospitals; 3 female and 5 male sane psuedopatient confederates including Rosenhan

Design - Each psuedopatient told an admissions officer of a hospital that they had  been hearing auditory hallucinations saying "empty", "hollow" and "thud" but described the rest of their lives truthfully, leaving out their real names. When admitted, they did not actually take any medication and displayed no signs of abnormality but followed the normal routines, while taking notes.

Findings - All pps were admitted and all but one were diagnosed with schizophrenia, and all were eventually discharged as "schizophrenic in remission". The hospitalisation lasted 7-52 days with an average of 19 days but there was only an average of 6.8mins of contact with medical staff each day.

Conclusions - The pps were in good hospitals under professional care but their sanity was not detected (type one error - false positive).

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Rosenhan II


Aim - To see whether the tendancy towards diagnosing the sane as insane could be reversed, i.e. would they be undercautious or overcautious when told about the first study

Participants - Same as in study one

Design - The staff of one hospital were told about the first study and were told more psuedopatients would get admitted within the next three months. They were told to rate all patients who asked for admission using a 10pt scale that reflected their confidence that the patient was a psuedopatient.

Findings - 193 non-psuedopatients were admitted, 41 of whom were rated highly that they were a psuedopatient by at least one staff member, 23 were suspected by at least one psychiatrist and 19 were suspected by a psychiatrist and one other staff member.

Conclusion - The staff were now calling sick people healthy to avoid calling healthy people sick (type two error - false negative).

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Rosenhan III


Aim - To look at the way staff respond to patients and how much patients are seen as individuals.

Participants - Again, the same as in study one.

Design - The psuedopatients asked staff certain questions such as "Could you tell me when I will be eligible for grounds priviledges?" "Could you tell me when I will be presented at the staff meeting?" or "Could you tell me when I am likely to be discharged?"

Results - The staff didn't tend to stop or make eye contact when responding; they only gave very brief replies. For example, 77% of doctors and 88% of nurses moved on from the patients when they asked questions, making no eye contact, while 6% of doctors and 4.5% of nurses actually stopped to talk.

Conclusions - The staff depersonalised the patients and did not treat them as individuals.

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Thigpen & Cleckley I

Aim - To report the treatment of one patient of multiple personality disorder (MPD).

Participant - One patient with two personalities, Eve White who is a 25y.o. mother with a four year old child, experienced headaches and blackouts, was originally receiving therapy to help with emotional difficulties and marital problems, and was demure, steadfast and retiring in character; and Eve Black who was more egocentric, amusing, carefree and light-hearted.

Design - 100 hours over 14 months were spent interviewing the Eves, her husband and her family about her behaviour and lives. At first, EW had to be hypnotised to allow EB to come out but soon it was possible to simply ask for EB. They took psychometric tests (IQ and memory tests) and projective personality tests, and EEG readings measured their brain actitivites. As well as this, a handwriting expert analysed their handwriting.

Findings - EW had no knowledge of EB until she emerged in the chair as she was apparently unconscious when EB was out. EB said that EW's marital problems were "silly", hated EW's family and claimed that she used to come out in EW's childhood to play pranks and cause trouble, while EW did not remember such events but did recall getting punished. EB also said that she was causing EW's headaches and could even wipe EW's memory if she tried hard enough.

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Thigpen & Cleckley II

Findings Continued - EW decided to leave her husband during therapy and her headaches stopped, EB rarely emerged. However, after eight months, a third personality emerged named Jane which caused both EW and EB to experience headaches and blackouts. Jane was seen as a compromise of both Eves' personalities and was encouraged to become the main personality, essentially killing the other two, but she did not want this. EW had a slightly higher IQ of 110 to EB's 104 and EW was superior in the memory tests. EW was shown to be repressive in the ink blot test while EB showed regression.

Conclusions - While it is mostly thought that Eve was suffering from MPD, she could have been acting or schizophrenic instead. However, Thigpen & Cleckley did acknowledge that they may have become too involved with the participant and may have lost their objectivity.

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Griffiths I

Aim - To record and compare the cognitive processes of regular fruit machine gamblers (RGs) and non-regular gamblers (NRGs).

Participants - 30 RGs (29 males, 1 female) who gambled at least once a week and 30 NRGs (15 males and 15 females) who gambled once a month or less but had used a fruit machine at least once before

Design - Each pp was given £3 to gamble with, which allowed 30 free plays, and played for at least 60 gambles. They were asked to play "FRUITSKILL" but some RGs requested to play different games, and it all took place in a realistic setting. Griffiths observed each pp on their: total plays; total time played in minutes; total number of plays per minute (play rate); total winnings in number of 10p pieces; total number of wins; total time in minutes between each win' and total number of plays between each win. The verbalisations made were also recorded on a microphone for half of the pps (this was randomly allocated). After playing, the pps had a semi-structured interview which asked them about the skills they thought were needed for fruit machine gambling and their own skills.

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Griffiths II

Findings - RGs had a slightly higher play rate but RGs who thought aloud had a lower win rate in number of gambles. 10/14 of RGs who broke even after 60 plays gambled until they lost everything while only 2/7 NRGs did this. NRGs said that fruit machine gambling was mostly chance but RGs said it was equally skill and chance, as well as saying that the following skills were needed to play fruit machines successfully: knowledge of "feature skills"; knowledge of when the machine will pay out; and knowledge of not playing when it has just paid out. NRGs said that their skill levels were below average but RGs said they were above average or completely skilled. Both groups made more rational than irrational verbalisations but there was low inter-rater reliability as one rater didn't understand the terminology. RGs made 14% irrational verbalisations while NRGs made only 2.5%, and RGs also used heuristics such as hindsight bias.

Conclusions - There were no real differences between the skill levels of the participants but RGs are more skill-orientated than NRGs, and believe they are more skillful than they are. RGs show more cognitive biases which cognitive behavioural therapy could help to solve.

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