Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Craig-y-nos stories

I have noticed a discrepancy between accounts given in the official oral recordings for this project and stories written by ex-patients.

Invariably the official oral recordings often paint an upbeat happy picture of their time in Craig-y-nos, whereas those who have written their own accounts are more likely to reveal intimate details of painful memories.

( I first noticed this when people I had chattered to informally gave me one story then once the tape-recorder was switched on I got a much more bland version of events.)

Now pyschologist Michael Eysenck, Professor of Pyschology at the Royal Holloway and Bedford New College University of London offers an explanation in his book : "Happiness”.

He calls it the “social desirablity bias” which simply means we often distort the truth in order to present a more socially desirable image of ourselves than is actually warranted.

One study shows that people who completed a questionnaire on happiness in the context of a personal interview reported to feeling “very happy” in 36 per cent of cases whereas those who completed the same questionnaire alone said they were only 23 per cent “very happy”.

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