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    Laura Berry
    Interim Communications Director 
    Phone: (202) 524-6541

    When, Why, and How: The Questions Psychologists Should Be Asking About Parents’ HappinessOpen in a New Window

    The question of whether or not parents are happy has become a hot topic among popular media, serious academics, and the general public alike. People are seemingly starving for information about whether raising children is really as stressful — or as blissful — as it sometimes seems. Perhaps it’s because 85% of adults become parents by the time they reach age 45 that so many people are interested in the answer. But the question people should be asking is not if parents are happy or unhappy but rather when—and why—that is the case, as Katherine Nelson of the University of California, Riverside explains on the SPSP blog.

    And read more about Nelson's research, as well as about work by Kostadin Kushlev of the University of British Columbia, that shows how money makes parenting less meaningful, in this full press release.


    Lights, Camera, Psychology in Action: Video and RecapOpen in a New Window

    copyright: Lisa M.P. MunozPeople and spaces, the tragedy of commonsense morality, myths about meaning of life, and remaking love were four themes at the SPSP conference in Austin. Four dynamic speakers – Sam Gosling, Joshua Greene, Barbara Fredrickson, and Laura King – gave thought-provoking talks that hit on areas of psychology that reach into our everyday lives.

    The full video of these talks is now available. Watch them and share them. And read highlights of the talks with the accompanying video on our blog.


    For Understanding Family Structure to Trauma: New Technology is Yielding Bigger DataOpen in a New Window

    Audience at SPSP 2014 Big Data SymposiumSocial media can do more than just entertain us and keep us connected. It also can help scientists better understand human behavior and social dynamics. The volume of data created through new technology and social media such as Facebook and Twitter is lending insight into everything from mapping modern family dynamics to predicting postpartum depression.

    "By analyzing different types of social media, search terms, or even blogs, we are able to capture people's thinking, communication patterns, health, beliefs, prejudices, group behaviors – essentially everything that has ever been studied in social and personality psychology,” says James Pennebaker, president of SPSP, which kicked off its annual meeting with a symposium on big data. . "We can examine thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people at once or track them over time.” Read the full press release and our blog coverage of the session from Austin.


    Even Fact Will Not Change First ImpressionsOpen in a New Window

    Knowledge is power, yet new research suggests that a person’s appearance alone can trump knowledge. First impressions are so powerful that they can override what we are told about people. A new study found that even when told whether a person was gay or straight, participants generally identified the person's sexual orientation based on how they looked – even if it contradicted the facts presented to them.

    "We judge books by their covers, and we can't help but do it,” says Nicholas Rule of the University of Toronto. "With effort, we can overcome this to some extent, but we are continually tasked with needing to correct ourselves.” The less time we have to make our judgments, the more likely we are to go with our gut, even over fact, he says.

    A series of recent studies, presented today at the SPSP conference in Austin, shows that appearance shapes everything from whether we ultimately end up liking someone to our assessment of their sexual orientation or trustworthiness. Read the full press release.


    Matchmaking, Double Dates and More for Valentine’s DayOpen in a New Window's Valentine’s Day: Try matching up two friends for a date or, better yet, match them and then go with them on a double date. New research being presented in Austin at the SPSP annual conference is shedding light on the social world in which our relationships flourish, as well as the many ways perceptions influence our relationships. Read highlights of these studies on our new blog.

    And check out the full press releases: 
    Keep Romance Alive with Double Dates: And Other Ways Perceptions Influence Relationships
    Matchmaking This Valentine's Day: How It Can Bring You the Most Happiness


    SPSP 2014 App and ProgramOpen in a New Window

    The SPSP 2014 conference starts Thursday, Feb. 13, in Austin. The conference App is now available. Download it now. With the App, you can schedule your days at the meeting, browse for session details, network with other attendees, and get updates in real-time.

    Or, download the full program online.

    And follow the meeting on our new blog and on Twitter: @SPSPnews #SPSP2014 #SPSPblog


    Would You Lie for Me?Open in a New Window

    Photo by incurable hippe: it would be tough to get convince someone to lie for you or to vandalize public property? Think again. Recent research, published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin by Vanessa Bohns of the University of Waterloo and colleagues, suggests that it's easier than we think to get people to act unethically. As Bohns writes in the New York Times, "we often fail to recognize the power of social pressure when we are the ones doing the pressuring." Read more on the new SPSP blog and the full New York Times column.


    Finding Meaning and Ambiance, Superbowl Psychology, and MoreOpen in a New Window

    Features of our home spaces — whether the kitchen, bedroom, or office — affect our levels of comfort, as well as our actions and the emotions and thoughts we experience. At the SPSP conference in Austin next week, Sam Gosling will present new research on the many ways our spaces influence us and vice versa. Read more about his work and others on our new blog Character and Context.

    Character and Context features perspectives on personality and social psychology in the journals and the news. Check out the blog during SPSP 2014 in Austin for coverage of the conference. Follow us on Twitter at #SPSPblog @SPSPnews. And check out other new posts on everything from Superbowl psychology to the many ways our brains process distance


    Graduate Student Events and Awards at SPSP 2014Open in a New Window

    From a pre-conference offering tips for job success to an evening social at Recess/New York, NY, there are many events for graduate students at the SPSP annual conference in Austin in two weeks. 

    Also, the Graduate Student Committee is pleased to announce the recipients of the Outstanding Research Awards: Andrew Luttrell, Ohio State University; Caitlin W. Duffy, Northwestern; Leor Hackel, NYU; Sarah Stanton, University of Western Ontario; and Shana Cole, NYU. The winners will be honored during the symposium "'...but I need more publications!': Balancing Work/Life, Ethics, and Productivity Pressures as a Grad Student" on Friday morning, Feb. 14, in Austin.


    Verbal Tics, Doctor's Office Guilt, Psychology Leading the WayOpen in a New Window

    SPSP"Politeness is another word for deception," said James Pennebaker of the University of Texas, Austin, and SPSP President, in a recent Wall Street Journal column on what verbal tics and tee-ups say about people's personalities. He also appeared on NPR's On Point to discuss this research on common phrases that creep into our conversations, including "I just want you to know that...", "I can't tell you how much I love you...", and others that he dubs as "deliciously deceptive." 

    Also in the news this week was Christine Harris of the University of California, San Diego, whose work found that people often feel guilt or shame after talking with a doctor. And psychology is leading the way for reforms — from open science to bigger data — that will benefit all scientific disciplines, as described in this piece by Chris Chambers


    What Comforts Targets of Prejudice the MostOpen in a New Window

    Photo by Warren K. LefflerRare in history are moments like the 1960s civil rights movement, in which members of a majority group vocally support minority groups in their fight against prejudice. New research not only confirms the power of speaking up for those facing prejudice but also underlines the importance of exactly what is communicated. Looking at YouTube video messages, researchers found that homosexual youth found the most comfort in messages that both supported them and advocated social change.

    The new work takes a closer look at the "It Gets Better” YouTube campaign. "Like many people, I was fascinated and inspired when I saw the grassroots online movement that started in late 2010 of people posting video messages to teenagers who faced prejudice and harassment based on their actual or presumed sexual orientation,” says Aneeta Rattan of London Business School. "I was not just moved as an individual, but as a researcher because this behavior – publicly addressing prejudice toward another group and communicating support for members of that group – is so rare that there is not a clear body of psychological science on it.”

    Read the full press release about this new work by Rattan and Nalini Ambady, published today in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.


    Press: Featured Talks for SPSP 2014 in AustinOpen in a New Window

     Larry D. Moore CC BY-SA 3.0Science stories are bigger in Texas...Get your next big story at the SPSP annual meeting in Austin, TX, Feb. 13-15, 2014.

    The SPSP conference will feature 80 symposia and more than 2,000 posters on new research in a range of topics – the link between parenting and happiness, social impacts on health, the environment's effects on creativity, and factors in the academic gender gap.

    Press registration is open. Join 3,500 social scientists in sunny Austin!

    Read the latest Media Advisory for more on featured talks.


    10 Stories in 20 Tweets: A Look Back at Social and Personality Psychology in 2013Open in a New Window

    credit: Krzysztof Maria Różańskim; in the New Year with a look back at some top personality and social psychology stories of 2013. From efforts to boost replication of psychological studies to work that examines how divorce affects children and the power of spilling our secrets, these stories offer a glimpse into some notable events and news from the year, as told through 20 tweets.

    Read the full list here.What was your favorite tweet or top story for 2013? Let us know at @SPSPnews.


    How Regret Helps Us this Holiday SeasonOpen in a New Window

    As the year draws to an end, regret often comes to mind – regret of trips not taken, goals not met, time lost. A new study, which includes an analysis of more than 13,500 tweets about regret from December 2011, finds that the impact of regret depends on whether you express it publicly or privately.

    Past research has shown that regret serves to help us learn and prepare for the future. In the new study, researchers found that when we express our regrets publicly, we are seeking emotional support from others – highlighting some of the previously unexplored social benefits of regret.

    The paper, "Functions of Personal Experience and of Expression of Regret” by Amy Summerville and Joshua Buchanan, was published online this month in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.


    New Editor for Personality and Social Psychology ReviewOpen in a New Window

    Personality and Social Psychology Review — the premier outlet for theoretical and review papers in the field — has a new editor: Monica Biernat of the University of Kansas. Beginning January 1, 2014, Monica will lead the journal with her superb team of Associate Editors M. Lynne Cooper, Bertram Gawronski, and Mark Schaller. 

    Thank you to the outgoing editorial team, composed of Mark Leary (Editor), Tom Gilovich (Associate Editor) Bernadette Park (Associate Editor), and Deborah Prentice (Associate Editor), for their exemplary work over the last four years. Read the full announcement


    When It Was OK to Laugh About Hurricane SandyOpen in a New Window

    NASA GSFCHow long after a tragedy is it OK to joke about it? New research suggests that there's a comedic sweet spot – when enough time has passed that people no longer feel immediately threatened but not so much time that the event is out of our thoughts. Researchers found a rise and eventual peak in humorous responses to Hurricane Sandy between 1 month and 2 months after the storm, with such humor decreasing between 2 months and 3 months after the fact. The research gives unique insight into what makes things funny and how humor can help with coping. The paper, "The Rise and Fall of Humor: Psychological Distance Modulates Humorous Responses to Tragedy" by Peter McGraw, Lawrence E. Williams, and Caleb Warren, was published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, online December 11, 2013.

    Read the full December 2013 tipsheet, for more new research, including about how it's easier than we think to convince others to act unethically.


    Repeat Media Exposure To Trauma Worse Than Being ThereOpen in a New Window

    Most of us have found ourselves glued to the TV or a Twitter feed in the wake of a disaster — just think, the typhoon in the Philippines, Sandy Hook, 9/11. Although we like to stay informed, new research suggests that such repeat exposure is bad for our mental health.The more hours we follow these traumatic events, the greater the psychological stress caused, according to a new study, which looked at the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombers. Excessive media exposure to the event — 6 or more hours a day — actually led to more trauma than that caused from being at or near the marathon.

    Roxane Cohen Silver of the University of California, Irvine, just co-authored a paper of the results in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and it has received widespread media coverage, including in USA Today and Los Angeles Times. SPSP chatted with Silver about the study — which will be a topic of her talk at the SPSP conference in Austin this February — and her recommendations for keeping up with current events while reducing traumatic stress. Read the full Q&A.


    New Web Editor To Spearhead Improved SPSP Web PresenceOpen in a New Window

    David NussbaumBig changes to the SPSP website are coming your way – more blogs, feature stories, and opportunities to share research among personality and social psychologists, as well as with the public. The Society is happy to announce the appointment of a new Web Editor, David Nussbaum, to spearhead this effort.

    As SPSP has grown over the last several years, so too has our web presence. But while we launched a new, more dynamic web design in 2011, rapid developments in technologies and social media have again demanded more changes. Read more


    Thanksgiving Lessons from Personality and Social PsychologistsOpen in a New Window

    Chef Sean Christopher; this Thanksgiving, personality and social psychologists have a few lessons to share: 

    1) Thinking before eating may actually make us eat more - featuring work by Jessie De Witt Huberts and others in Personality and Social Psychology Review

    2) Being grateful is good for your health - featuring David DeSteno, Naomi Eisenberger, and Sara Algoe

    3) Paying it forward is good for consumers and businesses - featuring Minah Jung, Leif Nelson, and Ayelet and Uri Gneezy

    Happy Thanksgiving! 


    “Spiral of Silence” Makes Climate Change a Taboo Topic this ThanksgivingOpen in a New Window

    So you just read an article about the climate change talks this week in Warsaw. Will you discuss it with your co-workers or over Thanksgiving dinner? Even if climate change is a topic you care about, you may stay silent if you sense that others disagree with you. You can add it to the list of taboo topics: politics, religion, and now, climate change. But the reason why people keep quiet about climate change may surprise you. According to new research, it's not for fear of others not liking you but for fear of being perceived as incompetent.

    Janet Swim of Penn State University compares it to the Emperor’s New Clothes, where our planet is the Emperor. "We know there is a problem with the planet but we are not willing to be the one who says something because we don't know why others are not saying anything,” she says. "We may even assume that others don't think there is a problem but in truth we all know there is a problem.”

    Read a special feature story about this new work and other research being presented at the SPSP conference in Austin this February on powerful psychological phenomena that underlie climate skepticism.


    Thinking about death affects our views on celebrity endorsementOpen in a New Window

    Ads created with and without celebrity endorsement; from McCabe et al. (2013), PSPBWho would get you to buy more of a particular brand of water – Jennifer Aniston or a medical doctor? In a new set of studies that look at the effectiveness of medical versus celebrity endorsements, researchers found that a doctor's product endorsement is more effective than a celebrity's when we are directly thinking about our own mortality. Part of a growing body of research on terror-management theory – how thinking about death affects our behavior – the researchers tested different scenarios involving celebrity endorsement. In one study, people only distantly thinking about their mortality were less likely to engage in risky drinking behavior when a PSA was endorsed by Sandra Bullock, if they read articles first about her career successes versus failures.

    The paper, "Hails from the crypt: A terror management health model investigation of the effectiveness of health-oriented vs. celebrity-oriented endorsements,” Simon McCabe et al., was published online in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin on Nov. 7, 2013. Read more about more new research in this month's tipsheet.


    Babies Named for Fathers But Not Mothers Reflect U.S. Cultural IdeologiesOpen in a New Window

    From Cal Ripkin, Jr., to MLK to Robert Downey, Jr., finding men named after their fathers is easy. Children named after men in the family – with so-called patronyms – are common around the world. But what about matronymns – names for a mother or grandmother? New research shows that matronymns are rare and that family naming trends follow a regional pattern in the United States: People in states with a relatively high emphasis on honor are more likely to use patronyms, especially in the face of a terrorist threat.

    "Studying naming trends can be a subtle means of peering into a society’s beliefs and values without ever having to ask people to report directly about their beliefs and values,” says Ryan Brown of the University of Oklahoma. Read the full press release about this new work published today in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin


    Research In-Depth, Practical Job Training: 30 Pre-conferences for SPSP 2014Open in a New Window

    From happiness and well-being, evolutionary psychology and social psychology and the law to tips for job success and workflow tools, the SPSP 2014 pre-conferences have something for everyone. 

    Details are now available for the 30 pre-conferences, which offer in-depth looks at the latest research in various sub-disciplines of personality and social psychology, as well as practical training.

    All pre-conferences will take place Thursday, February 13, 2014, from 8am-4:30pm, except the media training workshop, from 1:30-4:00pm. Book your travel now to join us for these popular events. 


    Happy Halloween: Psychology of Rituals and SuperstitionsOpen in a New Window

    Halloween folklore, rituals and superstitions may be dismissed as child’s play, but researchers say the tendency to turn to supernatural explanations actually increases with age. Furthermore, this kind of magical thinking has been proven to make food taste better, reduce feelings of grief, influence purchase decisions and even improve a person’s golf game – not through any mystic mojo but rather the power of the mind. ... Read the full story on, featuring Michael Norton and Cristine Legare and their recent research.

    And also read a recent column in the New York Times by Jane Risen and David Nussbaum about superstitions. 


    First Ever Full-Time SPSP Executive DirectorOpen in a New Window

    Plans for the newly structured Executive Office are well under way, with the first important step in the process now complete: the hiring of a new Executive Director, Chad Rummel. Chad will be the first full-time Executive Director of SPSP in our history.

    Chad currently manages a portfolio of Division Services for the American Psychological Association (APA), a job that includes strategic planning, meeting management, budgeting, and coordinating large numbers of volunteers in the service of an organization of psychologists. One of Chad's first tasks will be to set up a permanent office in the Washington, D.C., area, with additional support staff. Read the
    full announcement from SPSP President David Funder.

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