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Preview: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology - Vol 98, Iss 2

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology - Vol 113, Iss 2

The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology publishes original papers in all areas of personality and social psychology. It emphasizes empirical reports but may include specialized theoretical, methodological, and review papers.

Last Build Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2017 04:00:49 GMT


Awe, the diminished self, and collective engagement: Universals and cultural variations in the small self.

Mon, 08 May 2017 04:00:00 GMT

Awe has been theorized as a collective emotion, one that enables individuals to integrate into social collectives. In keeping with this theorizing, we propose that awe diminishes the sense of self and shifts attention away from individual interests and concerns. In testing this hypothesis across 6 studies (N = 2137), we first validate pictorial and verbal measures of the small self; we then document that daily, in vivo, and lab experiences of awe, but not other positive emotions, diminish the sense of the self. These findings were observed across collectivist and individualistic cultures, but also varied across cultures in magnitude and content. Evidence from the last 2 studies showed that the influence of awe upon the small self accounted for increases in collective engagement, fitting with claims that awe promotes integration into social groups. Discussion focused on how the small self might mediate the effects of awe on collective cognition and behavior, the need to study more negatively valenced varieties of awe, and other potential cultural variations of the small self. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

The power and limits of personal change: When a bad past does (and does not) inspire in the present.

Mon, 17 Apr 2017 04:00:00 GMT

Observing other people improve their lives can be a powerful source of inspiration. Eight experiments explore the power, limits, and reasons for this power of personal change to inspire. We find that people who have improved from undesirable pasts (e.g., people who used to abuse extreme drugs but no longer do) are more inspiring than people who maintain consistently desirable standings (e.g., people who have never used extreme drugs to begin with), because change is perceived as more effortful than stability (Experiments 1a and 1b). The inspirational power of personal change is rooted in people’s lack of access to the internal struggles and hard work that many others may endure to successfully remain ‘always-good.’ Accordingly, giving observers access into the effort underlying others’ success in maintaining consistently positive standings restores the inspiring power of being ‘always-good’ (Experiments 2–4). Finally, change is more inspiring than stability across many domains but one: people who used to harm others but have since reformed (e.g., ex-bullies or ex-cheaters) do not inspire, and in many cases are indeed less inspiring than people who have never harmed others to begin with (Experiments 5–7). Together, these studies reveal how, why, and when one’s past influences one’s present in the eyes of others: having some “bad” in your past can be surprisingly positive, at least partly because observers assume that becoming “good” is harder than being “good” all along. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

Benefits of open and high-powered research outweigh costs.

Mon, 17 Jul 2017 04:00:00 GMT

Several researchers recently outlined unacknowledged costs of open science practices, arguing these costs may outweigh benefits and stifle discovery of novel findings. We scrutinize these researchers’ (a) statistical concern that heightened stringency with respect to false-positives will increase false-negatives and (b) metascientific concern that larger samples and executing direct replications engender opportunity costs that will decrease the rate of making novel discoveries. We argue their statistical concern is unwarranted given open science proponents recommend such practices to reduce the inflated Type I error rate from .35 down to .05 and simultaneously call for high-powered research to reduce the inflated Type II error rate. Regarding their metaconcern, we demonstrate that incurring some costs is required to increase the rate (and frequency) of making true discoveries because distinguishing true from false hypotheses requires a low Type I error rate, high statistical power, and independent direct replications. We also examine pragmatic concerns raised regarding adopting open science practices for relationship science (preregistration, open materials, open data, direct replications, sample size); while acknowledging these concerns, we argue they are overstated given available solutions. We conclude benefits of open science practices outweigh costs for both individual researchers and the collective field in the long run, but that short term costs may exist for researchers because of the currently dysfunctional academic incentive structure. Our analysis implies our field’s incentive structure needs to change whereby better alignment exists between researcher’s career interests and the field’s cumulative progress. We delineate recent proposals aimed at such incentive structure realignment. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

Replicability and other features of a high-quality science: Toward a balanced and empirical approach.

Mon, 17 Jul 2017 04:00:00 GMT

Finkel, Eastwick, and Reis (2015; FER2015) argued that psychological science is better served by responding to apprehensions about replicability rates with contextualized solutions than with one-size-fits-all solutions. Here, we extend FER2015’s analysis to suggest that much of the discussion of best research practices since 2011 has focused on a single feature of high-quality science—replicability—with insufficient sensitivity to the implications of recommended practices for other features, like discovery, internal validity, external validity, construct validity, consequentiality, and cumulativeness. Thus, although recommendations for bolstering replicability have been innovative, compelling, and abundant, it is difficult to evaluate their impact on our science as a whole, especially because many research practices that are beneficial for some features of scientific quality are harmful for others. For example, FER2015 argued that bigger samples are generally better, but also noted that very large samples (“those larger than required for effect sizes to stabilize”; p. 291) could have the downside of commandeering resources that would have been better invested in other studies. In their critique of FER2015, LeBel, Campbell, and Loving (2016) concluded, based on simulated data, that ever-larger samples are better for the efficiency of scientific discovery (i.e., that there are no tradeoffs). As demonstrated here, however, this conclusion holds only when the replicator’s resources are considered in isolation. If we widen the assumptions to include the original researcher’s resources as well, which is necessary if the goal is to consider resource investment for the field as a whole, the conclusion changes radically—and strongly supports a tradeoff-based analysis. In general, as psychologists seek to strengthen our science, we must complement our much-needed work on increasing replicability with careful attention to the other features of a high-quality science. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

Falsifiability is not optional.

Mon, 17 Jul 2017 04:00:00 GMT

Finkel, Eastwick, and Reis (2016; FER2016) argued the post-2011 methodological reform movement has focused narrowly on replicability, neglecting other essential goals of research. We agree multiple scientific goals are essential, but argue, however, a more fine-grained language, conceptualization, and approach to replication is needed to accomplish these goals. Replication is the general empirical mechanism for testing and falsifying theory. Sufficiently methodologically similar replications, also known as direct replications, test the basic existence of phenomena and ensure cumulative progress is possible a priori. In contrast, increasingly methodologically dissimilar replications, also known as conceptual replications, test the relevance of auxiliary hypotheses (e.g., manipulation and measurement issues, contextual factors) required to productively investigate validity and generalizability. Without prioritizing replicability, a field is not empirically falsifiable. We also disagree with FER2016’s position that “bigger samples are generally better, but . . . that very large samples could have the downside of commandeering resources that would have been better invested in other studies” (abstract). We identify problematic assumptions involved in FER2016’s modifications of our original research-economic model, and present an improved model that quantifies when (and whether) it is reasonable to worry that increasing statistical power will engender potential trade-offs. Sufficiently powering studies (i.e., >80%) maximizes both research efficiency and confidence in the literature (research quality). Given that we are in agreement with FER2016 on all key open science points, we are eager to start seeing the accelerated rate of cumulative knowledge development of social psychological phenomena such a sufficiently transparent, powered, and falsifiable approach will generate. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

Word order denotes relevance differences: The case of conjoined phrases with lexical gender.

Mon, 17 Apr 2017 04:00:00 GMT

This work explores the order of linguistic references to the two genders (e.g., men and women vs. women and men). It argues that a gender is more likely to be mentioned first when it is perceived to have higher relevance in a context rather than lower relevance, and audiences assign stronger relevance to a party when the party is mentioned first rather than second. Studies 1–3 document the current prevalence of male-first conjoined phrases in the public (but not family) domain and link the pattern to historical changes in women’s public presence over the 20th century. Study 4 shows that contextual relevance cues affect the odds of first mention, such that people are more likely to refer to a woman before a man, when the two are in a primary school classroom rather than a corporate office. At the same time, Studies 4 and 5 find that people often choose to reproduce collectively preferred word order patterns (e.g., men and women). Studies 6 and 7 show that these choices matter because people assign more relevance to a party when it comes first rather than second in a conjoined phrase. Overall, this work offers theoretical grounding and empirical evidence for word order as a means of expressing and perpetuating gender stereotypes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

Dispositional contempt: A first look at the contemptuous person.

Thu, 09 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Contempt is a powerful emotion. Marriages fail (Gottman, 1994), coworkers are shamed (Melwani & Barsade, 2011), terrorism is tended toward (Tausch et al., 2011). Despite its importance, contempt has not been investigated at the level of personality. The present research examines how our contemptuous reactions can be conceptualized and measured as a stable individual-difference variable with a range of theoretically predicted correlates. First, we introduce a measure of dispositional contempt, the tendency to look down on, distance, and derogate others who violate our standards. We then unpack the dynamics of dispositional contempt. Across 6 studies using self-report and emotion elicitation in student and MTurk samples (Ns = 165 to 1,368), we examined its (a) nomological network, (b) personality and behavioral correlates, and (c) implications for relationship functioning. Dispositional contempt was distinguished from tendencies toward related emotions and was most associated with dispositional envy, anger, and hubristic pride. Somewhat paradoxically, dispositional contempt was related to being cold and “superior,” with associations found with narcissism, other-oriented perfectionism, and various antisocial tendencies (e.g., Disagreeableness, Machiavellianism, racism), but it was also related to being self-deprecating and emotionally fragile, with associations found with low self-esteem, insecure attachment, and feeling that others impose perfectionistic standards on oneself. Dispositional contempt predicted contemptuous reactions to eliciting film clips, particularly when targets showed low competence/power. Finally, perceiving one’s romantic partner as dispositionally contemptuous was associated with lower commitment and satisfaction. Taken together, results give a first look at the contemptuous person and provide a new organizing framework for understanding contempt. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

The dark side of the sublime: Distinguishing a threat-based variant of awe.

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 05:00:00 GMT

Theoretical conceptualizations of awe suggest this emotion can be more positive or negative depending on specific appraisal processes. However, the emergent scientific study of awe rarely emphasizes its negative side, classifying it instead as a positive emotion. In the present research we tested whether there is a more negative variant of awe that arises in response to vast, complex stimuli that are threatening (e.g., tornadoes, terrorist attack, wrathful god). We discovered people do experience this type of awe with regularity (Studies 1 & 4) and that it differs from other variants of awe in terms of its underlying appraisals, subjective experience, physiological correlates, and consequences for well-being. Specifically, threat-based awe experiences were appraised as lower in self-control and certainty and higher in situational control than other awe experiences, and were characterized by greater feelings of fear (Studies 2a & 2b). Threat-based awe was associated with physiological indicators of increased sympathetic autonomic arousal, whereas positive awe was associated with indicators of increased parasympathetic arousal (Study 3). Positive awe experiences in daily life (Study 4) and in the lab (Study 5) led to greater momentary well-being (compared with no awe experience), whereas threat-based awe experiences did not. This effect was partially mediated by increased feelings of powerlessness during threat-based awe experiences. Together, these findings highlight a darker side of awe. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

Duplicity among the dark triad: Three faces of deceit.

Thu, 02 Mar 2017 05:00:00 GMT

Although all 3 of the Dark Triad members are predisposed to engage in exploitative interpersonal behavior, their motivations and tactics vary. Here we explore their distinctive dynamics with 5 behavioral studies of dishonesty (total N = 1,750). All 3 traits predicted cheating on a coin-flipping task when there was little risk of being caught (Study 1). Only psychopathy predicted cheating when punishment was a serious risk (Study 2). Machiavellian individuals also cheated under high risk—but only if they were ego-depleted (Study 3). Both psychopathy and Machiavellianism predicted cheating when it required an intentional lie (Study 4). Finally, those high in narcissism showed the highest levels of self-deceptive bias (Study 5). In sum, duplicitous behavior is far from uniform across the Dark Triad members. The frequency and nature of their dishonesty is moderated by 3 contextual factors: level of risk, ego depletion, and target of deception. This evidence for distinctive forms of duplicity helps clarify differences among the Dark Triad members as well as illuminating different shades of dishonesty. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)