Exposure to violence does not change the ability to learn who is likely to do harm, but it does damage the ability to place trust in “good people,” psychologists at Yale and University of Oxford report April 26 in the journal Nature Communications. More than 80% of youth in urban areas experience violence in their communities in the last year; also those experiences have a profound effect on their health, the researchers say.
Negative life outcomes
They know exposure to violence is relate to negative life outcomes; so from increase health and mental health problems to greater engagement in violent behavior, but there is very little research on understanding the underlying cognitive processes that might affect by this life experience,” said Yale psychologist Arielle Baskin-Sommers; so co-senior author of the paper.
Baskin-Sommers, her Yale colleague and co-senior author Molly Crockett; so graduate students Jenifer Siegel and Suzanne Estrada evaluate 119 males incarcerate in Connecticut prisons; so some of whom score high on exposure to violence. Participants learn about two strangers who face a moral dilemma; whether to inflict painful electric shocks on another person in exchange for money.
While the “good” stranger mostly refuse to shock another person for money; so the “bad” stranger tend to maximize their profits despite the painful consequences. The participants were ask to predict the strangers’ choices; also later had to decide how much trust to place in the good versus the bad stranger.
The team found that participants with higher exposure to violence effectively learn that the good stranger made fewer harmful choices than the bad stranger. However, when deciding whom to trust, they trusted the good stranger less than participants who had a lower exposure to violence.
Trust in the ‘right’ person
In other words, exposure to violence disrupt the ability to place trust in the ‘right’ person,” said Siegel; so an Oxford doctoral student and first author of the paper. They also saw that this disruption led to a greater number of disciplinary infractions within the prison setting.
Crockett said the findings suggest that exposure to violence changes the way people use information they’ve learn to make healthy social decisions. Social flourishing depends on learning who is likely to be helpful vs. harmful; also then using that information to decide who to befriend versus avoid,” she said. Their research suggests exposure to violence impairs this crucial aspect of social functioning.
Baskin-Sommers added, “The combination of exposure to violence and this specific cognitive disruption may leave certain individuals vulnerable to continually developing problematic social connections that limit their chances for psychosocial and economic stability. The research was partially fund by the Wellcome Trust and the Academy of Medical Sciences.