As part of the project we guest-edited a special issue of Consciousness and Cognition on Unrealistic Optimism - its Nature, Causes and Effects.
Here you find a list of journal articles and book chapters:
1. Lisa Bortolotti, Ema Sullivan-Bissett, Rachel Gunn (2016). What makes a belief delusional? In I Mac Carthy, K Sellevold and O Smith (eds.) Cognitive Confusions: Dreams, Delusions and Illusions in Early Modern Culture. Oxford: Legenda.
2. Bojana Kuzmanovic, Anneli Jefferson, Kai Vogeley (2016). The role of the neural reward circuitry in self-referential optimistic belief updates. Neuroimage, 133, 151–162. DOI 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.02.014.
People are motivated to adopt the most favorable beliefs about their future because positive beliefs are experienced as rewarding. However, it is so far inconclusive whether brain regions known to represent reward values are involved in the generation of optimistically biased belief updates. To address this question, we investigated neural correlates of belief updates that result in relatively better future outlooks, and therefore imply a positive subjective value of the judgment outcome. Participants estimated the probability of experiencing different adverse future events. After being provided with population base rates of these events, they had the opportunity to update their initial estimates. Participants made judgments concerning themselves or a similar other, and were confronted with desirable or undesirable base rates (i.e., lower or higher than their initial estimates). Belief updates were smaller following undesirable than desirable information, and this optimism bias was stronger for judgments regarding oneself than others. During updating, the positive value of self-related updates was reflected by neural activity in the subgenual ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) that increased both with increasing sizes of favorable updates, and with decreasing sizes of unfavorable updates. During the processing of self-related undesirable base rates, increasing activity in a network including the dorsomedial PFC, hippocampus, thalamus and ventral striatum predicted decreasing update sizes. Thus, key regions of the neural reward circuitry contributed to the generation of optimistically biased self-referential belief updates. While the vmPFC tracked subjective values of belief updates, a network including the ventral striatum was involved in neglecting information calling for unfavorable updates.
3. Lisa Bortolotti and Anneli Jefferson (2016). Moral Preferences. Society, 53 (3), 269-272. DOI 10.1007/s12115-016-0027-3.
AbstractIn this brief response to Etzioni’s paper we argue that satisfying one’s preferences and seeking to live up to one’s moral standards are not incompatible ways of living one’s life, and that choosing to act morally need not involve self-sacrifice.
4. Anneli Jefferson, Lisa Bortolotti and Bojana Kuzmanovic (2016). What is unrealistic optimism? Consciousness & Cognition. DOI 10.1016/j.concog.2016.10.005.
AbstractHere we consider the nature of unrealistic optimism and other related positive illusions. We are interested in whether cognitive states that are unrealistically optimistic are belief states, whether they are false, and whether they are epistemically irrational. We also ask to what extent unrealistically optimistic cognitive states are fixed. Based on the classic and recent empirical literature on unrealistic optimism, we offer some preliminary answers to these questions, thereby laying the foundations for answering further questions about unrealistic optimism, such as whether it has biological, psychological, or epistemic benefits.