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Getting "toughened up" isn't all it's cracked up to be
Posted by: Anonymous User ()
Date: May 23, 2006 07:17PM


Article : Life's Harsh Lessons 'Make You More Gullible'

People who have suffered life's hard knocks while growing up tend to be more gullible than those who have been more sheltered, startling new findings from the University of Leicester reveal.

A six-month study in the University's School of Psychology found that rather than 'toughening up' individuals, adverse experiences in childhood and adolescence meant that these people were vulnerable to being mislead.

The research analysing results from 60 participants suggest that such people could, for example, be more open to suggestion in police interrogations or to be influenced by the media or advertising campaigns.

The study found that while some people may indeed become more 'hard-nosed' through adversity, the majority become less trusting of their own judgement.

Kim Drake, a doctoral student at the University of Leicester, conducted the research with Professor Ray Bull and Dr Julian Boon of the School of Psychology. Kim said: "People who have experienced an adverse childhood and adolescence are more likely to come to believe information that isn't true- in short they are more suggestible, and easily mislead which may in turn impact upon their future life choices; they might succumb to peer pressure more readily."

'Adverse life experiences' examined included major personal illnesses/injuries, miscarriage (from the male and female perspective), difficulties at work (being fired/laid off), bullying at school, being a victim of crime (robbery, sexual violence), parental divorce, death of family member and others.

70% of the variation across people in suggestibility can be explained by the different levels of negative life events that they have experienced, the study found.

"We also found that the way people cope with adversity had an impact on their psychological profile," said Kim.

"The majority of people may learn through repeated exposure to adversity to distrust their own judgment; a person might believe something to be true, but when they, for example, read something in a newspaper that contradicts their opinion, or they talk to someone with a different view-point, that individual is more likely to take on that other person's view.

"This is because the person may have learned to distrust their actions, judgements and decisions due to the fact that the majority of the time their actions have been perceived to invite negative consequences.

"Another example is in relationships. Women, as well as men, can become "brainwashed", and end up changing in their personality, their views and beliefs and in some extreme cases, they may even take on their views and ideas of the world and come to feel incompetent (in their partner's eyes)."

Kim added that there is already evidence to suggest that there is a relationship between intensity/frequency of negative life impacts and degree of vulnerability. Experience of adversity may have a knock-on effect on a person's mindset- they may come to believe that "they are no good", or "nothing they do is ever good enough".

In contrast, the findings also suggest that early positive life events may have a protective influence over the effects of subsequent adversity: "If positive life events predate the negative life events then individuals may be more resilient in terms of, not being so badly affected, psychologically, by the subsequent adverse events. However, issues may arise if the reverse is the case; if the adverse life events precede the positive, those individuals may become, as a result, more susceptible to suggestion and misleading information. Nevertheless, future research will still have to examine this. The order of life events experienced, however, is seemingly important."

The study found that the parental role is an important one, so education- showing parents functional ways of dealing with their children, meaning that the children will see positive role models, and learn "healthy" skills or ways of dealing with stress/negative life events- may help cultivate a positive mind-set within the child or adolescent which will stay with them throughout life.

Kim said: "Parents are role-models for their children, and show the children how to cope with stress- if the parents are matter-of-fact about negative occurrences and are "happy-go-lucky" then the kids may emulate that. On the reverse, parents who cope with stress/negative events in a more stressed manner (raging, acting out, drinking, expressing a pessimistic view of the world) this may in turn transfer that way of behaving onto their children."

The original application of this research was the police interrogation setting, the implications being that people who've experienced a high number of life adversities may be more prone to falsely confessing due to being highly suggestible, possibly resulting in a greater chance of being wrongly convicted.

"However, the notion of suggestibility falls far beyond that of forensic psychology. People may find they are more easily influenced by the media, by TV adverts and so may make life choices as a result that they otherwise would not e.g. they may choose not to vaccinate their children, " said Kim.

Kim's work will be presented at the Festival of Postgraduate Research on Tuesday June 13th in the Charles Wilson Building, University of Leicester.

Editor's Note: The original news release can be found here : ["[]].

So be nice to your kids. Suffering may make you stronger if you can learn from it but it's not the ideal way to learn.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/23/2006 07:19PM by NNNNNarz.

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Re: Getting "toughened up" isn't all it's cracked up to be
Posted by: Anonymous User ()
Date: May 23, 2006 07:18PM

By the way, not trying to be negative towards anyone who's already been thru adversity. I still believe that in many ways it does make a person stronger. But it can also make them weaker. I figure that many, maybe even most, people contract (emotionally, intellectually, etc.) in response to such experiences which is what shows in this study. It still warrants notice that many great man and women thruout history have suffered much adversity, overcome it and used their experiences to fuel their drive for excellence or for making a difference. Sadly many individuals do not rise to the challenge in this way. The time to start is now. Do all you can with what you got. And remember - everyone (well everyone worth anything anyway) loves an underdog!

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Re: Getting "toughened up" isn't all it's cracked up to be
Posted by: la_veronique ()
Date: May 24, 2006 01:12AM


ruf fuff RUFF RUFF RUFFF!!!


extending my vulnerable paw out...

that is quite an interesting article

all that mish mash that you read about or see in Hollywood films that show how people who have experienced extreme, prolonged intense stress over long periods of time are able to "if they try hard enough" "overcome" it
well.... i'm not saying its hogwash
just saying that it does take a LOT more work
then a person who has grown up in an environment that was

1) safe
2) modeled appropriate conduct esp. in relation to how the parents dealt with stress
3) etc etc

if these factors were not present, i do think that it makes it a lot more difficult for the person to handle stree themselves

as far as the gullibility thing
i think its a stretch

distrusting others is not tantamount to distrusting oneself

distrusting others forces one to rely on one's own instincts far more, not less

however, i can see how that could occur, in very extreme caes
my heart goes otu to those who have suffered so intensely that they just reliniquish their judgement completely because they feel that nowhere is safe... not even their own minds

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Re: Getting "toughened up" isn't all it's cracked up to be
Posted by: ThomasLantern ()
Date: May 24, 2006 02:05AM

Stress is relative, of course... so kids who aren't put through the ringer during their youth may potentially handle "stressful" situations more adequately because, to them, they aren't stressful.

If specifically exposing our kids to adversity makes our kids stronger, then we should beat them very badly. This is not a desire or belief of mine, it is simply stipulative logic.

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