Concept: Philosophy of life
Received academic wisdom holds that human judgment is characterized by unrealistic optimism, the tendency to underestimate the likelihood of negative events and overestimate the likelihood of positive events. With recent questions being raised over the degree to which the majority of this research genuinely demonstrates optimism, attention to possible mechanisms generating such a bias becomes ever more important. New studies have now claimed that unrealistic optimism emerges as a result of biased belief updating with distinctive neural correlates in the brain. On a behavioral level, these studies suggest that, for negative events, desirable information is incorporated into personal risk estimates to a greater degree than undesirable information (resulting in a more optimistic outlook). However, using task analyses, simulations, and experiments we demonstrate that this pattern of results is a statistical artifact. In contrast with previous work, we examined participants' use of new information with reference to the normative, Bayesian standard. Simulations reveal the fundamental difficulties that would need to be overcome by any robust test of optimistic updating. No such test presently exists, so that the best one can presently do is perform analyses with a number of techniques, all of which have important weaknesses. Applying these analyses to five experiments shows no evidence of optimistic updating. These results clarify the difficulties involved in studying human ‘bias’ and cast additional doubt over the status of optimism as a fundamental characteristic of healthy cognition.
To evaluate clinical trial registration, reporting and publication rates for new drugs by: (1) legal requirements and (2) the ethical standard that all human subjects research should be publicly accessible to contribute to generalisable knowledge.
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Published about 6 years ago
Although humans measure time using a continuous scale, certain numerical ages inspire greater self-reflection than others. Six studies show that adults undertake a search for existential meaning when they approach a new decade in age (e.g., at ages 29, 39, 49, etc.) or imagine entering a new epoch, which leads them to behave in ways that suggest an ongoing or failed search for meaning (e.g., by exercising more vigorously, seeking extramarital affairs, or choosing to end their lives).
Adaptive decision-making uses information gained when exploring alternative options to decide whether to update the current choice strategy. Magnocellular mediodorsal thalamus (MDmc) supports adaptive decision-making, but its causal contribution is not well understood. Monkeys with excitotoxic MDmc damage were tested on probabilistic three-choice decision-making tasks. They could learn and track the changing values in object-reward associations, but they were severely impaired at updating choices after reversals in reward contingencies or when there were multiple options associated with reward. These deficits were not caused by perseveration or insensitivity to negative feedback though. Instead, monkeys with MDmc lesions exhibited an inability to use reward to promote choice repetition after switching to an alternative option due to a diminished influence of recent past choices and the last outcome to guide future behavior. Together, these data suggest MDmc allows for the rapid discovery and persistence with rewarding options, particularly in uncertain or changing environments.
We make choices based on the values of expected outcomes, informed by previous experience in similar settings. When the outcomes of our decisions consistently violate expectations, new learning is needed to maximize rewards. Yet not every surprising event indicates a meaningful change in the environment. Even when conditions are stable overall, outcomes of a single experience can still be unpredictable due to small fluctuations (i.e., expected uncertainty) in reward or costs. In the present work, we investigate causal contributions of the basolateral amygdala (BLA) and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) in rats to learning under expected outcome uncertainty in a novel delay-based task that incorporates both predictable fluctuations and directional shifts in outcome values. We demonstrate that OFC is required to accurately represent the distribution of wait times to stabilize choice preferences despite trial-by-trial fluctuations in outcomes, whereas BLA is necessary for the facilitation of learning in response to surprising events.
Feeling connected to nature has been shown to be beneficial to wellbeing and pro-environmental behaviour. General nature contact and knowledge based activities are often used in an attempt to engage people with nature. However the specific routes to nature connectedness have not been examined systematically. Two online surveys (total n = 321) of engagement with, and value of, nature activities structured around the nine values of the Biophila Hypothesis were conducted. Contact, emotion, meaning, and compassion, with the latter mediated by engagement with natural beauty, were predictors of connection with nature, yet knowledge based activities were not. In a third study (n = 72), a walking intervention with activities operationalising the identified predictors, was found to significantly increase connection to nature when compared to walking in nature alone or walking in and engaging with the built environment. The findings indicate that contact, emotion, meaning, compassion, and beauty are pathways for improving nature connectedness. The pathways also provide alternative values and frames to the traditional knowledge and identification routes often used by organisations when engaging the public with nature.
Disappointment entails the recognition that one did not get the value expected. In contrast, regret entails recognition that an alternative (counterfactual) action would have produced a more valued outcome. In humans, the orbitofrontal cortex is active during expressions of regret, and humans with damage to the orbitofrontal cortex do not express regret. In rats and nonhuman primates, both the orbitofrontal cortex and the ventral striatum have been implicated in reward computations. We recorded neural ensembles from orbitofrontal cortex and ventral striatum in rats encountering wait or skip choices for delayed delivery of different flavors using an economic framework. Economically, encountering a high-cost choice after skipping a low-cost choice should induce regret. In these situations, rats looked backwards toward the lost option, cells within orbitofrontal cortex and ventral striatum represented the missed action, rats were more likely to wait for the long delay, and rats rushed through eating the food after that delay.
A key challenge in studying reward processing in humans is to go beyond subjective self-report measures and quantify different aspects of reward such as hedonics, motivation, and goal value in more objective ways. This is particularly relevant for the understanding of overeating and obesity as well as their potential treatments. In this paper are described a set of measures of food-related motivation using handgrip force as a motivational measure. These methods can be used to examine changes in food related motivation with metabolic (satiety) and pharmacological manipulations and can be used to evaluate interventions targeted at overeating and obesity. However to understand food-related decision making in the complex food environment it is essential to be able to ascertain the reward goal values that guide the decisions and behavioral choices that people make. These values are hidden but it is possible to ascertain them more objectively using metrics such as the willingness to pay and a method for this is described. Both these sets of methods provide quantitative measures of motivation and goal value that can be compared within and between individuals.
Navigating ethical issues with electronic health records in developmental-behavioral pediatric practice
- Journal of developmental and behavioral pediatrics : JDBP
- Published about 8 years ago
ABSTRACT:: The increasing use of electronic health records (EHRs) allows for sharing of information across clinicians, quick access to laboratory results, and supports for documentation. However, this environment raises new issues of ethics and privacy, and it magnifies other issues that existed with paper records. In developmental-behavioral pediatrics (DBP) practice, which relies heavily on a team approach to blend pediatrics, mental health, and allied health, these issues are even more complicated. In this review, we highlight the ethical and privacy issues in DBP practice related to EHR use. Case examples illustrate the potential risks related to EHR access, confidentiality, and interprofessional collaboration. Suggestions to mitigate some of the ethical and privacy issues associated with EHRs at both an administrative level and a clinician level are included. With the expected increase in the adoption of EHRs by DBP clinicians in the near future, professional standards will need to be defined, and novel technological solutions may offer additional safeguards. Until then, professionals and organizations are responsible to uphold the standards of ethical practice while promoting effective information exchange to facilitate clinical care.
This study examined a three-step adaptation of the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) applied to the intention of consumers to purchase sustainably sourced food. The sample consisted of 137 participants, of which 109 were female, who were recruited through a farmers market and an organic produce outlet in an Australian capital city. Participants completed an online questionnaire containing the TPB scales of attitude, subjective norms, perceived behavioural control and intention; measures of positive moral attitude and ethical self identity; and food choice motives. Hierarchical multiple regression was used to examine the predictive utility of the TPB in isolation (step 1) and the TPB expanded to include the constructs of moral attitude and ethical self-identity (step 2). The results indicated the expansion of the TPB to include these constructs added significantly to the predictive model measuring intention to purchase sustainably sourced food. The third step in the adaptation utilised this expanded TPB model and added a measure of retail channel (where consumers reported buying fresh produce) and 9 food choice motives, in order to assess the predictive utility of the inclusion of choice motivations in this context. Of the 8 food choice motives examined, only health and ethical values significantly predicted intention to purchase sustainably sourced food. However, with the addition of food choice motives, ethical self-identity was no longer a significant predictor of intention to purchase sustainably sourced food. Overall the adapted TPB model explained 76% of the variance in intention to purchase sustainably sourced food.