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“Those with fewer friends, with lower self-esteem and with less opportunity to disclose their emotions tend to visually amplify threats,” Harber said. “Their perceptions are exaggerated, and disturbing things appear higher, closer, of greater duration or more intense than they actually are.” According to Harber’s thesis – a theory known as the Resources and Perception Model (RPM) – psychosocial resources can prevent this amplification, leading to more accurate perception. In a study published in the The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Harber and colleagues from the University of Virginia enlisted passersby who were alone or with a friend and asked them to estimate the angle of a steep hill on the U.Va campus. “Those with friends saw the hill as less steep, and the longer they knew their friend or the closer they felt toward their friend the less steep the hill appeared to them,” Harber said. His latest study, published in the journal Emotion, tested whether the resource of self-worth affected distance perception to a live tarantula. Subjects were first asked to recall one of the following: a personal success, a neutral chore or a personal failure. Next, they used a reel to pull a clear plastic cart toward their face and estimate how far away it was from them. For some people, the cart contained a harmless cat toy; but for others it contained a live tarantula. “As expected, feeling good, neutral or bad about oneself had no effect on distance to the cat toy but did affect distance to the tarantula,” Harber said. “Those who felt bad about themselves saw the tarantula as looming closer than it was; those who felt good about themselves were strikingly accurate.” Another study tested how high a ledge appeared depending on one’s frame of mind. Researchers brought subjects to the fifth floor of a building and estimate how high up they were. One group could put their hands the railing, while the other was prevented in doing so by paper handcuffs. For those who could hold onto the rail, self-esteem had no effect on height perception.

Read more at: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-09-friends-self-esteem-distorted-perceptions-life.html#jCp



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