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If He Can Do It, So Can They: Exposure to Counterstereotypically Successful Exemplars Prompts Automatic Inferences

June 10, 2014 Comments off

If He Can Do It, So Can They: Exposure to Counterstereotypically Successful Exemplars Prompts Automatic Inferences (PDF)
Source: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

After incidental exposure to Blacks who succeeded in counterstereotypical domains (e.g., Brown University President Ruth Simmons, Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison), participants drew an automatic inference that race was not a success-inhibiting factor in modern society. Of note, participants’ automatic inferences were not simply guided by their explicit reasoning (i.e., their beliefs about what these exemplars signify about the state of race relations). Studies 1–3 demonstrated the basic automatic inference effect and provided evidence that such effects unfolded automatically, without intention or awareness. Study 4 replicated the effect in non-race-related domains. Subsequent studies examined what features of exemplars (Studies 5 and 6) and inference makers (Studies 7 and 8) prompt automatic inferences. Study 5 suggested that counterstereotypically successful exemplars prompt racism-denying inferences because they signal what is possible, even if not typical. Study 6 demonstrated that when these exemplars succeed in a stereotypical domain (e.g., Blacks in athletics), similar automatic inferences are not drawn. Those most likely to draw automatic inferences are people predisposed to approach the world with inferential thinking: participants dispositionally high in need for cognition (Study 7) or experimentally primed to think inferentially (Study 8).

See: Study discovers the downside of African-American success stories (EurekAlert!)

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Settling for Less out of Fear of Being Single

December 4, 2013 Comments off

Settling for Less out of Fear of Being Single (PDF)
Source: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (in press)

The present research demonstrates that fear of being single predicts settling for less in romantic relationships, even accounting for constructs typically examined in relationship research such as anxious attachment. Study 1 explored the content of people’s thoughts about being single. Studies 2A and 2B involved the development and validation of the Fear of Being Single Scale. Study 2C provided preliminary support for the hypothesis that fear of being single predicts settling for less in ongoing relationships, as evidenced by greater dependence in unsatisfying relationships. Study 3 replicated this effect in a longitudinal study demonstrating that fear of being single predicts lower likelihood of initiating the dissolution of a less satisfying relationship. Studies 4A and 4B explored the predictive ability of fear of being single for self-reported dating standards. Across both samples, fear of being single was unrelated to self-reported standards for a mate, with the exception of consistently higher standards for parenting. Studies 5 and 6 explored romantic interest in targets that were manipulated to vary in responsiveness and physical attractiveness. These studies found that fear of being single consistently predicted romantic interest in less responsive and less attractive dating targets. Study 7 explored fear of being single during a speed-dating event. We found that fear of being single predicted being less selective in expressing romantic interest but did not predict other daters’ romantic interest. Taken together, the present research suggests that fear of being single is a meaningful predictor of settling for less in relationships. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)

Divided We Stand: Three Psychological Regions of the United States and Their Political, Economic, Social, and Health Correlates

October 17, 2013 Comments off

Divided We Stand: Three Psychological Regions of the United States and Their Political, Economic, Social, and Health Correlates (PDF)
Source: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

There is overwhelming evidence for regional variation across the United States on a range of key political, economic, social, and health indicators. However, a substantial body of research suggests that activities in each of these domains are typically influenced by psychological variables, raising the possibility that psychological forces might be the mediating or causal factors responsible for regional variation in the key indicators. Thus, the present article examined whether configurations of psychological variables, in this case personality traits, can usefully be used to segment the country. Do regions emerge that can be defined in terms of their characteristic personality profiles? How are those regions distributed geographically? And are they associated with particular patterns of key political, economic, social, and health indicators? Results from cluster analyses of 5 independent samples totaling over 1.5 million individuals identified 3 robust psychological profiles: Friendly & Conventional, Relaxed & Creative, and Temperamental & Uninhibited. The psychological profiles were found to cluster geographically and displayed unique patterns of associations with key geographical indicators. The findings demonstrate the value of a geographical perspective in unpacking the connections between microlevel processes and consequential macrolevel outcomes.

The Cheater’s High: The Unexpected Affective Benefits of Unethical Behavior

September 27, 2013 Comments off

The Cheater’s High: The Unexpected Affective Benefits of Unethical Behavior (PDF)
Source: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Many theories of moral behavior assume that unethical behavior triggers negative affect. In this article, we challenge this assumption and demonstrate that unethical behavior can trigger positive affect, which we term a “cheater’s high.” Across 6 studies, we find that even though individuals predict they will feel guilty and have increased levels of negative affect after engaging in unethical behavior (Studies 1a and 1b), individuals who cheat on different problem-solving tasks consistently experience more positive affect than those who do not (Studies 2–5). We find that this heightened positive affect does not depend on self-selection (Studies 3 and 4), and it is not due to the accrual of undeserved financial rewards (Study 4). Cheating is associated with feelings of self-satisfaction, and the boost in positive affect from cheating persists even when prospects for self-deception about unethical behavior are reduced (Study 5). Our results have important implications for models of ethical decision making, moral behavior, and selfregulatory theory.

Rising Income and the Subjective Well-Being of Nations

December 4, 2012 Comments off

Rising Income and the Subjective Well-Being of Nations (PDF)

Source: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

We explored whether rising income in nations is associated with increasing subjective well-being (SWB), with several advances over earlier work. Our methods are improved in that across time, the same well-being questions were asked in the same order, and we employed broad and equivalent representative samples over time from a large number of nations. We also assessed psychosocial factors that might mediate the relation of income and SWB. We found that changes in household income were associated with concomitant changes in life evaluations, positive feelings, and negative feelings. The effects of gross domestic product (GDP) change were weaker and significant only for life evaluations, perhaps because GDP was a less certain index of the standard of living of the average household. The association of income and SWB is more likely to occur when the average person’s material welfare accompanies rising income, when people become more satisfied with their finances, and when people become more optimistic about their futures. People did not adapt to the income rises during the period of years we studied, in that income rises produced SWB increases that did not return to earlier levels. It appears that previous researchers failed to come to agreement because of the small sample sizes of the nations, the inconsistent methods across years and surveys, and the lack of measures of potential mediating variables. Analyses of income relative to people in one’s nation and between-nation slopes together suggest that income standards are now largely global, with little effect of national social comparison.

Do Nice Guys — and Gals — Really Finish Last? The Joint Effects of Sex and Agreeableness on Income

August 15, 2011 Comments off

Do Nice Guys — and Gals — Really Finish Last? The Joint Effects of Sex and Agreeableness on Income (PDF)
Source: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (forthcoming)

Sex and agreeableness were hypothesized to affect income, such that women and agreeable individuals were hypothesized to earn less than men and less agreeable individuals. Because agreeable men disconfirm (and disagreeable men confirm) conventional gender roles, agreeableness was expected to be more negatively related to income for men (i.e., the pay gap between agreeable men and agreeable women would be smaller than the gap between disagreeable men and disagreeable women). The hypotheses were supported across four studies. Study 1 confirmed the effects of sex and agreeableness on income and that the agreeableness – income relationship was significantly more negative for men than for women. Study 2 replicated these results, controlling for each of the other Big Five traits. Study 3 also replicated the interaction, and explored explanations and paradoxes of the relationship. A fourth study, using an experimental design, yielded evidence for the argument that the joint effects of agreeableness and gender are due to backlash against agreeable men.

Friends With Benefits: On the Positive Consequences of Pet Ownership

July 13, 2011 Comments off

Friends With Benefits: On the Positive Consequences of Pet Ownership (PDF)
Source: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Social support is critical for psychological and physical well-being, reflecting the centrality of belongingness in our lives. Human interactions often provide people with considerable social support, but can pets also fulfill one’s social needs? Although there is correlational evidence that pets may help individuals facing significant life stressors, little is known about the well-being benefits of pets for everyday people. Study 1 found in a community sample that pet owners fared better on several well-being (e.g., greater self-esteem, more exercise) and individual-difference (e.g., greater conscientiousness, less fearful attachment) measures. Study 2 assessed a different community sample and found that owners enjoyed better well-being when their pets fulfilled social needs better, and the support that pets provided complemented rather than competed with human sources. Finally, Study 3 brought pet owners into the laboratory and experimentally demonstrated the ability of pets to stave off negativity caused by social rejection. In summary, pets can serve as important sources of social support, providing many positive psychological and physical benefits for their owners.

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