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In the Journals

Rejecting People is Hard to Do: Why People Fail to Turn Down Unwanted Dates

Image of a man and a woman having a heated discussion

By Samantha Joel

Relationships frequently fall apart due to irreconcilable incompatibilities. Sometimes these incompatibilities are so large that they seem like they should have been obvious from the start (e.g., one person wants children, the other partner doesn’t; one person is deeply religious, the other isn’t). Why don’t such dealbreakers prevent relationships from getting off the ground in the first place? Why do people so frequently wind up with incompatible romantic partners?

Self-Affirmation Promotes Better Apologies

Image of pink roses with an I'm Sorry card

By Karina Schumann

You slipped up. It was your night to take care of dinner, and when your partner asked you why it wasn’t done, you snapped and demanded he or she get off your back. You’ve taken a breather, but now it’s time to face your partner. What will you choose to say?

The Inherence Heuristic in Explanation May Be at the Root of Several Social Psychological Phenomena

Image of a crowd of people stretching their arms in the air to take photos with their phones and cameras

By Erika Salomon

Everyone knows the Mona Lisa. It is, perhaps, the most iconic piece of art in the world. But why is it so famous? If you are like many people, you will begin your search for an explanation of the painting’s fame by recalling what you know about good art and about the Mona Lisa. Good art is masterful, and Leonardo da Vinci is a master. Good art fascinates and challenges us, and the Mona Lisa’s expression is a puzzle for us to unlock.

Making Moral Arguments

Image of two businessmen at podiums debating

By Tamar Kreps

Imagine that you are telling someone else about your views on a policy issue—for example, expressing the view that the death penalty is wrong. What sort of justification should you give for your opinion? You might be tempted to shore up your view using a cost-benefit rationale: “I oppose the death penalty because of the extra financial costs it imposes on our legal and prison systems, and because there is no evidence that it is effective at preventing crime.”

Self-affirmation changes health behavior

Image of a man snapping a cigarette in half

By Tracy Epton

People engage in many behaviors that are bad for their health such as smoking, not exercising, eating unhealthily or drinking too much alcohol. What is intriguing is that people continue pursuing an unhealthy lifestyle even when they are confronted by information that tells them that these choices are bad for them; they minimize the risks or even deny them altogether. Self-affirmation theory (Steele, 1988) offers an explanation of why people do this.

Relationship Visibility

Image of a young businessman looking at his phone with a young businesswoman looking over his shoulder

By Lydia Emery

Think about the last time you were on Facebook. You probably noticed “that couple” – the person who always posts pictures of himself with his girlfriend, or the one who claims that she has “the best boyfriend ever” in her status updates. And then there are the people who you know are in relationships, but there’s no trace of it on Facebook. No “in a relationship” status, no pictures together, maybe no mention of the relationship at all.

Emotional Similarity can Reduce Stress

Image of man speaking on a stage in front of a crowd of seated people

By Sarah S. M. Townsend

Does public speaking stress you out? If you are the type of person who gets very stressed out when you have to give a presentation, what do you usually do to help yourself feel better? Take a deep breath? Imagine the crowd naked? Perhaps talk to someone who looks confident and seems to know what she’s doing? Or share your feelings with someone who seems equally stressed? Most people may not think of this last one, but our recent research suggests they might want to give it a try.