Project description:Previous research has demonstrated abstract concepts associated with spatial location (e.g., God in the Heavens) could direct visual attention upward or downward, because thinking about the abstract concepts activates the corresponding vertical perceptual symbols. For self-concept, there are similar metaphors (e.g., "I am above others"). However, whether thinking about the self can induce visual attention orientation is still unknown. Therefore, the current study tested whether self-reflection can direct visual attention. Individuals often display the tendency of self-enhancement in social comparison, which reminds the individual of the higher position one possesses relative to others within the social environment. As the individual is the agent of the attention orientation, and high status tends to make an individual look down upon others to obtain a sense of pride, it was hypothesized that thinking about the self would lead to a downward attention orientation. Using reflection of personality traits and a target discrimination task, Study 1 found that, after self-reflection, visual attention was directed downward. Similar effects were also found after friend-reflection, with the level of downward attention being correlated with the likability rating scores of the friend. Thus, in Study 2, a disliked other was used as a control and the positive self-view was measured with above-average judgment task. We found downward attention orientation after self-reflection, but not after reflection upon the disliked other. Moreover, the attentional bias after self-reflection was correlated with above-average self-view. The current findings provide the first evidence that thinking about the self could direct visual-spatial attention downward, and suggest that this effect is probably derived from a positive self-view within the social context.
Project description:Cognitive adaptation in the elderly and the motivated use of temporal and social comparisons set the conceptual frame for the present study. Three research questions were investigated in a sample of 2.129 persons aged between 50 and 90 years. First, the direction of social and temporal comparisons for three domains (physical fitness, mental fitness, psychological resilience) was studied, and findings did show that especially lateral followed by upward comparisons were most frequent under both perspectives; downward comparisons clearly showed the least frequency. Second, the distribution of comparison directions was investigated across four age groups. These analyses showed that upward comparisons increased and lateral comparisons decreased across age groups; differential results were observed for the domains under consideration. Third, the relation between social and temporal comparisons and self-esteem was studied. Results obtained here indicated a motivated use of specific comparison directions since downward social comparisons and upward temporal comparisons were most frequent in persons with low self-esteem. Taken together, the study underlines the different functions of social and temporal comparisons in adulthood and old age; it indicates a predominant need for consensus and consistency, and it highlights the importance of self-esteem in cognitive adaptation.
Project description:Humans often evaluate their abilities by comparing their personal performance with that of others. For this process, it is critical whether the comparison turns out in one's favor or against it. Here, we investigate how social comparisons of performance are encoded and integrated on the neural level. We collected functional magnetic resonance images while subjects answered questions in a knowledge quiz that was related to their profession. After each question, subjects received a feedback about their personal performance, followed by a feedback about the performance of a reference group who had been quizzed beforehand. Based on the subjects' personal performance, we divided trials in downward and upward comparisons. We found that upward comparisons correlated with activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the anterior insula. Downward comparisons were associated with increased activation in the ventral striatum (VS), the medial orbitofrontal cortex and the ventral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). The extent to which subjects outperformed the reference group modulated the activity in the VS and in the dorsal ACC. We suggest that the co-activation of the VS and the dorsal ACC contributes to the integration of downward comparisons into the evaluation of personal performance.
Project description:Homeostatic plasticity is hypothesized to bidirectionally regulate neuronal activity around a stable set point to compensate for learning-related plasticity, but to date only upward firing rate homeostasis (FRH) has been demonstrated in vivo. We combined chronic electrophysiology in freely behaving animals with an eye-reopening paradigm to enhance firing in primary visual cortex (V1) and found that neurons bidirectionally regulate firing rates around an individual set point. Downward FRH did not require N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) signaling and was associated with homeostatic scaling down of synaptic strengths. Like upward FRH, downward FRH was gated by arousal state but in the opposite direction: it occurred during sleep, not during wake. In contrast, firing rate depression associated with Hebbian plasticity happened independently of sleep and wake. Thus, sleep and wake states temporally segregate upward and downward FRH, which might prevent interference or provide unopposed homeostatic compensation when it is needed most.
Project description:Counterfactual thoughts center on how the past could have been different. Such thoughts may be differentiated in terms of direction of comparison, such that upward counterfactuals focus on how the past could have been better, whereas downward counterfactuals focus on how the past could have been worse. A key question is how such past-oriented thoughts connect to future-oriented individual differences such as optimism. Ambiguities surround a series of past studies in which optimism predicted relatively greater downward counterfactual thinking. Our main study (N = 1150) and six supplementary studies (N = 1901) re-examined this link to reveal a different result, a weak relation between optimism and upward (rather than downward) counterfactual thinking. These results offer an important correction to the counterfactual literature and are informative for theory on individual differences in optimism.
Project description:Comparing oneself with others is an important characteristic of human social life, but the link between human and non-human forms of social comparison remains largely unknown. The present study used a computerized task presented in a social context to explore psychological mechanisms supporting social comparison in baboons and compare major findings with those usually observed in humans. We found that the effects of social comparison on subject's performance were guided both by similarity (same versus different sex) and by task complexity. Comparing oneself with a better-off other (upward comparison) increased performance when the other was similar rather than dissimilar, and a reverse effect was obtained when the self was better (downward comparison). Furthermore, when the other was similar, upward comparison led to a better performance than downward comparison. Interestingly, the beneficial effect of upward comparison on baboons' performance was only observed during simple task. Our results support the hypothesis of shared social comparison mechanisms in human and non-human primates.
Project description:Tropospheric features preceding sudden stratospheric warming events (SSWs) are identified using a large compendium of events obtained from a chemistry-climate model. In agreement with recent observational studies, it is found that approximately one-third of SSWs are preceded by extreme episodes of wave activity in the lower troposphere. The relationship becomes stronger in the lower stratosphere, where ~60% of SSWs are preceded by extreme wave activity at 100 hPa. Additional analysis characterizes events that do or do not appear to subsequently impact the troposphere, referred to as downward and non-downward propagating SSWs, respectively. On average, tropospheric wave activity is larger preceding downward-propagating SSWs compared to non-downward propagating events, and associated in particular with a doubly strengthened Siberian high. Of the SSWs that were preceded by extreme lower-tropospheric wave activity, ~2/3 propagated down to the troposphere, and hence the presence of extreme lower-tropospheric wave activity can only be used probabilistically to predict a slight increase or decrease at the onset, of the likelihood of tropospheric impacts to follow. However, a large number of downward and non-downward propagating SSWs must be considered (>35), before the difference becomes statistically significant. The precursors are also robust upon comparison with composites consisting of randomly selected tropospheric northern annular mode (NAM) events. The downward influence and precursors to split and displacement events are also examined. It is found that anomalous upward wave-1 fluxes precede both cases. Splits exhibit a near instantaneous, barotropic response in the stratosphere and troposphere, while displacements have a stronger long-term influence.
Project description:This study examined: frequency of upward and downward body, eating, and exercise comparisons; context in which these comparisons occur; and body, eating, and exercise comparison direction as predictors of concurrent body dissatisfaction and disordered eating thoughts, urges, and behaviors in college women's everyday lives using ecological momentary assessment (EMA).Participants were 232 college women who completed a two-week EMA protocol, using their personal electronic devices to answer questions three times per day.First, body, eating, and exercise comparisons were common. Second, when these comparisons were made, they were typically upward. Third, body comparisons were most oftentimes made about weight and shape and eating comparisons about healthiness and amount of food. Exercise comparisons were made on a wider variety of dimensions. Fourth, most body and eating comparisons were made with strangers and close friends, respectively, while exercise comparisons were made with a variety of individuals. Upward comparisons were usually made with acquaintances and strangers. Fifth, results shed light on where college women compare themselves. Sixth, upward comparisons were found to have negative consequences, and downward comparisons were generally not found to have a buffering effect on eating pathology.Results suggest targeting not only body but also eating and exercise comparisons in intervention. Also, prevention/intervention approaches should not promote engagement in downward comparisons, as they were not found to be protective and were even harmful at times. Clinicians should be attuned to the categories on which, with whom, and where college women are most likely to compare.
Project description:Background:Due to uncertainty regarding chronic pain in Fibromyalgia (FM) patients, there has been a growing interest in social comparison and its influence on emotional responses. Aims:to analyze profiles in FM patients according to pain perception, social comparison strategies and anxiety and depression. Methods:The sample consisted of 131 FM outpatients (Mean age: 50.15, SD = 11.1). Two scales were used: the Social Comparison Illness Scale and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Results:Two profiles were found by cluster analysis (K-means method): one (66%) with a higher level of pain perception, anxiety and depression and greater use of upward contrast and downward identification social comparison; and another (34%) with lower levels of pain perception, anxiety and depression and greater use of upward identification and downward contrast. Conclusion:These profiles underline the interest in social comparison strategies and their role in FM.
Project description:The direction of image motion is coded by direction-selective (DS) ganglion cells in the retina. Particularly, the ON DS ganglion cells project their axons specifically to terminal nuclei of the accessory optic system (AOS) responsible for optokinetic reflex (OKR). We recently generated a knock-in mouse in which SPIG1 (SPARC-related protein containing immunoglobulin domains 1)-expressing cells are visualized with GFP, and found that retinal ganglion cells projecting to the medial terminal nucleus (MTN), the principal nucleus of the AOS, are comprised of SPIG1+ and SPIG1(-) ganglion cells distributed in distinct mosaic patterns in the retina. Here we examined light responses of these two subtypes of MTN-projecting cells by targeted electrophysiological recordings. SPIG1+ and SPIG1(-) ganglion cells respond preferentially to upward motion and downward motion, respectively, in the visual field. The direction selectivity of SPIG1+ ganglion cells develops normally in dark-reared mice. The MTN neurons are activated by optokinetic stimuli only of the vertical motion as shown by Fos expression analysis. Combination of genetic labeling and conventional retrograde labeling revealed that axons of SPIG1+ and SPIG1(-) ganglion cells project to the MTN via different pathways. The axon terminals of the two subtypes are organized into discrete clusters in the MTN. These results suggest that information about upward and downward image motion transmitted by distinct ON DS cells is separately processed in the MTN, if not independently. Our findings provide insights into the neural mechanisms of OKR, how information about the direction of image motion is deciphered by the AOS.