Who 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.
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.
There is no such thing as objectivity when it comes to your friends: According to a new study, people evaluate their friends' behavior more positively than do strangers, regardless of actual performance on a series of tasks. Researchers say that we should then think twice before allowing people who know each other to be in positions to judge each other – from job interviews to legal settings.
"In judging people we already know, we are more or less unable to ignore our previously established images of those people,” says Daniel Leising of Technische Universität Dresden. The new study, published Wednesday in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, examines how real people evaluate the behavior of themselves, their friends, and strangers. Psychologists know that people hold a number of biases when evaluating others, but most studies to date on this issue have used written descriptions of the behavior of hypothetical persons. "This is one of the few studies that investigated judgments of people's actual behavior,” Leising says. Read the full press release.
When you pass by a stranger in need of help, do you stop to lend a hand? Maybe not... A landmark 1973 study found that seminary students in a hurry were less likely to help someone in distress, even when they were on their way to deliver a talk on the Parable of the Good Samaritan. A co-author of that study and several other distinguished researchers are the recipients of the SPSP 2013 annual awards. The contributions of these scientists to personality and social psychology include furthering our understanding of how personality shapes health and well-being across adulthood, why it's so hard to evaluate ourselves, and the virtues that divide political ideologies. Read the full press release.
Any parent will tell you that there is no simple recipe for raising a child. Being a parent means getting hefty doses of advice – often unsolicited – from others. But such advice often fails to consider a critical factor: the child. A new review of dozens of studies involving more than 14,600 pairs of twins shows that children's genetics significantly affect how they are parented.
"There is a lot of pressure on parents these days to produce children that excel in everything, socially and academically,” says Reut Avinun of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "Since children are not born tabula rasa, I felt it was important to explore their side of the story, to show how they can affect their environment, and specifically parental behavior.” Most studies of parenting look at only the reverse, how parents affect their children's experiences. Read the full press release about this new research published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
Most of us reach a critical juncture when we consider giving up on a tough personal goal — whether weight loss or kicking a tough habit. Three longitudinal field studies found that experiencing that point — when we feel set back in our goal pursuit and are not sure whether to continue — has strong psychological and physiological effects. In one study of runners in a Swiss marathon, those considering no longer running the marathon showed a stronger secretion of the stress hormone cortisol and a lower performance in the race 2 weeks later. The paper, "The Struggle of Giving Up Personal Goals: Affective, Physiological, and Cognitive Consequences of an Action Crisis" by Veronika Brandstätter et al., was published online today in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
For more new research in our journals — including about how hostile sexism affects
relationships and society's role in creative genius — read the full August 2013 tipsheet.
A person playing a first-person shooter video game like Halo or Unreal Tournament must make decisions quickly. That fast-paced decision-making, it turns out, boosts the player's visual skills but comes at a cost, according to new research: reducing the person's ability to inhibit impulsive behavior. This reduction in what is called "proactive executive control" appears to be yet another way that violent video games can increase aggressive behavior.
"We believe that any game that requires the same type of rapid responding as in most first-person shooters may produce similar effects on proactive executive control, regardless of violent content,” says Craig Anderson, Director of the Center for the Study of Violence at Iowa State University. "However, this is quite speculative,” he warns. But what is not so speculative is the growing body of research that links violent video games – and to a certain extent, total screen time – to attention-related problems and, ultimately, to aggression. Read the full press release.
From how secret-keeping influences our personal emails to personality traits that increase the risk of obesity to the benefits of confronting bias – SPSP members are presenting new research in personality and social psychology at the APA Convention in Honolulu, July 31 – August 4, 2013. Read our full tipsheet.
If you see your partner flirt with someone else, you may feel hurt, angry, and jealous. The last thing you might expect is to start thinking of yourself more like your rival. New research suggests just that: that jealousy can prompt people to change how they view themselves relative to competitors for their partners' attention.
Previous research has shown that individuals often will change their self-views to be more similar to someone to whom they want to get closer, such as a romantic partner. "However, a rival isn't someone that individuals should like, let alone want to affiliate with,” Erica Slotter of Villanova University. "This work was really novel in that we were looking at whether individuals would be willing to shift their self-views to be more similar to a romantic rival.” Read the full press release.
Divorce has a bigger impact on child-parent relationships if it occurs in the first few years of the child's life, according to new research. Those who experience parental divorce early in their childhood tend to have more insecure relationships with their parents as adults than those who experience divorce later, researchers say.
"By studying variation in parental divorce, we are hoping to learn more about how early experiences predict the quality of people's close relationships later in life,” says R. Chris Fraley of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. ...
In two studies published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Fraley and graduate student Marie Heffernan examined the timing and effects of divorce on both parental and romantic relationships, as well as differences in how divorce affects relationships with mothers versus fathers. Read the full press release.
And read about more new research in our journals – including about motivations for gambling and
impulsive shoppers – in this month's tipsheet.
Soldiers returning home from combat may be at a heightened risk for developing post-traumatic stress disorder if public support for a war effort is low, according to recent research. Social validation or invalidation shapes the level of distress soldiers feel from the act of killing, the researchers say. The study involved two experiments that asked participants to exterminate woodlice in a modified coffee grinder – in one, having an actor show either interest or disgust for the act and in another, asking participants to record who agreed to the extermination and who refused. In both cases, the conditions that socially invalidated the killing of the bugs led to more distress and guilt among the participants. Ironically, the researchers report in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, the very anti-war protests meant to show support for troops but disdain for combat may increase the likelihood that returning soldiers experience mental distress.
Read about this new research and more from our journals in this month's tipsheet for journalists.
Working on a team is always a challenge, but a new study highlights a particular challenge to women: how much they credit themselves in a joint success. Women will devalue their contributions when working with men but not with other women, according to the new research. The study suggests yet another reason why women still tend to be under-represented at the highest echelons of many organizations.
Michelle Haynes of the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, had examined how other people evaluate men and women working together. She decided to build on that work to look at how women view themselves on teams after herself reading glowing group feedback for a conference submission she co-authored. "As I was reading this extraordinary review, I thought: 'Wow! Those other co-contributors must have really written something amazing for us to have gotten this kind of feedback.' And then it hit me like a ton of bricks: I do this too,” she says. She did not recognize her own positive contribution to the team endeavor. Read the full press release.
Even in the face of a disaster, we remain optimistic about our chances of injury compared to others, according to a new study. Residents of a town struck by a tornado thought their risk of injury from a future tornado was lower than that of peers, both a month and a year after the destructive twister, as reported today in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Such optimism could undermine efforts toward emergency preparedness.
After an F-2 tornado struck his town in Iowa, Jerry Suls, a psychologist at the University of Iowa who studies social comparison, turned his attention to risk perception. "I had dinner as a guest in a home that was destroyed by the tornado the next evening,” he recalls. "It was hard not to think about future weather disasters while helping with the clean-up in the following weeks.” Read the full press release.
time for Valentine's Day, Personality
and Social Psychology Bulletin
is featuring several new studies all about relationships –
including the link between income in marriage and health, the role of
jealousy in becoming a parent, and how humor affects romantic couples
in conflict. Read this month's tipsheet for journalists.
And read A Love Letter for Public Outreach, about why scientists should talk to the media, a follow-up to the recent media training seminar at SPSP 2013.
When we typically think of kids who are the victims of school bullying, what comes to mind are isolated youth who do not fit in. A new study, however, shows that when that harassment occurs online, the victims tend to be in mainstream social groups – and they are often friends or former friends, not strangers.The research is part of a burgeoning field of study into the effects of social media on everyday relationships and behavior.
Personality and social psychologists are finding surprising ways in which people's online environments and relationships reflect and influence their real-world ones, as presented today at SPSP annual meeting in New Orleans. Read the full press release.
We all know that getting a good night's sleep is good for our general health and well-being. But new research is highlighting a more surprising benefit of good sleep: more feelings of gratitude for relationships. It is one of several studies on the benefits of gratitude and giving being presented this week at the SPSP meeting in New Orleans.
Social psychologists are increasingly finding that "prosocial” behavior – including expressing gratitude and giving to others – is key to our psychological well-being. Even how we choose to spend our money on purchases affects our health and happiness. And children develop specific ways to help others from a very young age. Read the full press release.
mom is the boss at home, she may have a harder time being the boss at
work. New research suggests that women, but not men, become less
interested in pursuing workplace power when they view that they are
in control of decision-making in the home. This shift in thinking
affects career choices without women even being aware.
don’t know that they are backing off from workplace power because
of how they are thinking about their role at home,” says Melissa
Williams of Emory University. "As a result, women may make
decisions such as not going after a high-status promotion at work, or
not seeking to work full time, without realizing why,” explains
Williams who will be presenting her findings today at the SPSP annual meeting in New
new study is one of several at the SPSP meeting that will explore a
continued gender gap in workplace power – from how women versus men
view their roles in the home to how gender stereotypes form at a
young age to how these attitudes affect women's likelihood of
pursuing careers in science and math. Read the full press release.
Extraversion does not just explain differences between how people act at social events. How extraverted you are may influence how the brain makes choices – specifically whether you choose an immediate or delayed reward, according to a new study. The work is part of a growing body of research on the vital role of understanding personality in society.
"Understanding how people differ from each other and how that affects various outcomes is something that we all do on an intuitive basis, but personality psychology attempts to bring scientific rigor to this process,” says Colin DeYoung of the University of Minnesota. "Personality affects academic and job performance, social and political attitudes, the quality and stability of social relationships, physical health and mortality, and risk for mental disorder.” DeYoung is one of several researchers presenting new work in a special session today about personality psychology at the SPSP meeting in New Orleans. Read the full press release.
Keep up-to-date with the latest news from SPSP 2013 in New Orleans (Jan. 17-19)! Check out the SPSP 2013 Press Room, complete with press releases, tipsheet for journalists, and Twitter feed (@SPSPnews, #SPSP2013). And check back often for updates and the latest coverage of the meeting in the news.
Being a good partner
may make you a better parent, according to a new study. The same set
of skills that we tap to be caring toward our partners is what we use
to nurture our children, researchers found.
The study sought to examine how
caregiving plays out in families – "how one relationship affects
another relationship,” says Abigail Millings of the University of
Bristol, lead author of the work published online this week in
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. "We wanted to
see how romantic relationships between parents might be associated
with what kind of parents they are.” Read the full press release.
A growing body of research highlights the importance of gratitude for both social and personal well-being. SPSP will have a session on gratitude at the SPSP annual meeting in New Orleans, with a related press conference.
Read about this and new research in our journals on the link between group victimhood and trust, how weight stigma affects health, and more, in this month's tipsheet for journalists.
SPSP invites members of the press to
attend its annual
January 17-19, 2013, in New Orleans. Registered members of the press will have access to a press
room with Wi-Fi and the following exclusive press briefings: How
Stereotypes Shape Women's Identities and Careers; Giving, Getting,
and Gratitude; and Bullying, Relationships, and Personality: How the
Social Media World Maps to Social Reality. More details are available
in the latest Media Advisory.
People often remark that people of a different race "all look alike.” However, when we have trouble recognizing people from another race, it may actually have little to do with the other person's race. Instead, new research finds that that we can improve our memory of members of another race by identifying ourselves as part of the same group -- whether a sports team or nationality. Such identification could improve everything from race relations to eyewitness identification, says Jay Van Bavel of New York University, co-author of the new study published online last month in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Read the full press release.
Your home city matters for both who you are and how you feel, according to a new suite of studies. In seven studies, researchers examined the history and culture of San Francisco and Boston, as well as surveyed residents (including commuters, college students, and middle-aged residents) of each city. They found that San Francisco showed more emphasis on egalitarianism, innovation, and looser social norms, while Boston emphasizes tradition, community, and tighter social norms. As a result, for Bostonians, feeling good is more contingent on social factors such as education, finances and community, as published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
Read about more new research from our journals, including how a mouth rinse can refuel willpower, in this month's tipsheet.
myths, aversive racism, heat and retaliation in baseball, and the
power of writing about personal trauma – these are just a few of
the research areas of the winners of the 2012 annual awards from the
Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP). Each of the
recipients has made a unique and significant contribution to
understanding the individual and social factors shaping people's
personalities, interactions, and behaviors. Read the full press release.