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Departmental Colloquium: Ruth Mayo (Hebrew University, Jerusalem): Negation - Successful, spontaneous and strong, sometimes too strong: Negation processes and implications.

The CEU Campus
Wednesday, May 18, 2016, 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm

Negation - Successful, spontaneous and strong, sometimes too strong: Negation processes and implications.

 Ruth Mayo

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The main conceptualization these days is that in the process of understanding information, one must first believe the information and only later one is able to negate or falsify. Thus, negation is considered a secondary process, demanding awareness and cognitive resources and therefore also at risk of failure. This "negation as a secondary process" perspective lies at the heart of many known effects such as false memory and misinformation.

In the first part of the colloquium, I will present two models for the negation process and will suggest that while one may lead to a negation failure, the other suggests a strong and successful negation process that, for example, may diminish false memory and enable correction of misinformation.

In the second part of the colloquium I will demonstrate that one of the most basic social feeling – distrust – induces a spontaneous primary negation process. Distrust is the feeling that things are not as they seem to be. Conceptualizing our cognitive processes as situated, tuned to meet the requirements of any context suggests that contrary to the default state of trust, distrust may lead to a mode of thinking characterized by rejection rather than acceptance. The data presented will demonstrate that in a distrust mindset, resulting either from an incidental distrust context or from a chronic personality disposition of distrust, a spontaneous negation process occurs reducing effects such as the confirmation bias and basic accessibility effects as priming and embodiment.

In the last part of the colloquium, I will present the specific case where negating false information leads to forgetting true information. For example, correctly saying that the carpet one saw was not yellow, as it was blue, results in greater chance of forgetting seeing a carpet all together. I will discuss the broader theoretical and practical implications of a successful, spontaneous and strong negation process.