Maccallum et al. (1999) looks at the impact of hypnotically induced mood on the retrieval of specific autobiographical memories. The subjects were undergraduate students from the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. Pretested for no clinical depression, 24 subjects (15 females and 9 males) were found to be highly hypnotizable, and 21 participants (12 females and 9 males) lowly hypnotizable. Using the experimental design, for the independent variable, subjects were randomly assigned to either the sad, neutral or happy induced state conditions. To induce the emotional states (sad, neutral, or happy), subjects were told they would begin to feel sad, a neutral or a happy mood state, that they would experience the mood strongly. Then they were read a short passage involving a person receiving a telephone call from their mother that their father had been killed (to induce sad mood), about performing university related tasks (to induce neutral mood), or that they won a lottery (to induce happy mood). The mood before and after mood induction were recorded by asking participants to rate their level of sadness and happiness from a scale of 1 to 100 (0 is not at all happy, 100 is extremely happy, 0 is not at all sad, 100 is extremely sad) and to count from 1 to 10 (the counting were timed and longer length is more sad). For the assessment of the dependent variable, subjects were asked to provide a specific personal memory (any single event that the subjects were directly involved in that lasted less than 1 day) within 60 seconds to each positive or negative cued words. There are five positive (gift, compliment, helpful, friendly, and smile) cued words, and five negatives (disappointed, mistake, argument, angry, and lonely).
The results show that high hypnotizable subjects in the sad condition provided fewer specific memories in response to positive rather than negative words, in neutral condition more for positives than negatives, and in happy similar amount of specific personal memories for both negative and positive cues. There was no difference across the low hypnotizable subjects across the conditions. The main theme from this study is that emotional states specifically sadness can limit our ability to recall happy memories during hypnosis.
The reasoning behind why it is harder for people to remember happy things when they are sad is because it takes energy. Whereas when people are already happy, they have lots of mental energy and can remember both happy and sad memories.
Professor Richard Lynn, emeritus professor of psychology at Ulster University, said many more members of the “intellectual elite” considered themselves atheists than the national average.
A decline in religious observance over the last century was directly linked to a rise in average intelligence, he claimed.
But the conclusions - in a paper for the academic journal Intelligence - have been branded “simplistic” by critics.
Professor Lynn, who has provoked controversy in the past with research linking intelligence to race and sex, said university academics were less likely to believe in God than almost anyone else.
A survey of Royal Society fellows found that only 3.3 per cent believed in God - at a time when 68.5 per cent of the general UK population described themselves as believers.
Professor Lynn said most primary school children believed in God, but as they entered adolescence - and their intelligence increased - many started to have doubts.
He told Times Higher Education magazine: “Why should fewer academics believe in God than the general population? I believe it is simply a matter of the IQ. Academics have higher IQs than the general population. Several Gallup poll studies of the general population have shown that those with higher IQs tend not to believe in God.”
He said religious belief had declined across 137 developed nations in the 20th century at the same time as people became more intelligent.
But Professor Gordon Lynch, director of the Centre for Religion and Contemporary Society at Birkbeck College, London, said it failed to take account of a complex range of social, economic and historical factors.
“Linking religious belief and intelligence in this way could reflect a dangerous trend, developing a simplistic characterisation of religion as primitive, which - while we are trying to deal with very complex issues of religious and cultural pluralism - is perhaps not the most helpful response,” he said.
Dr Alistair McFadyen, senior lecturer in Christian theology at Leeds University, said the conclusion had “a slight tinge of Western cultural imperialism as well as an anti-religious sentiment”.
Dr David Hardman, principal lecturer in learning development at London Metropolitan University, said: “It is very difficult to conduct true experiments that would explicate a causal relationship between IQ and religious belief. Nonetheless, there is evidence from other domains that higher levels of intelligence are associated with a greater ability - or perhaps willingness - to question and overturn strongly felt institutions.”
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