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

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Copyright: Copyright 2017 American Psychological Association

We look like our names: The manifestation of name stereotypes in facial appearance.


Research demonstrates that facial appearance affects social perceptions. The current research investigates the reverse possibility: Can social perceptions influence facial appearance? We examine a social tag that is associated with us early in life—our given name. The hypothesis is that name stereotypes can be manifested in facial appearance, producing a face-name matching effect, whereby both a social perceiver and a computer are able to accurately match a person’s name to his or her face. In 8 studies we demonstrate the existence of this effect, as participants examining an unfamiliar face accurately select the person’s true name from a list of several names, significantly above chance level. We replicate the effect in 2 countries and find that it extends beyond the limits of socioeconomic cues. We also find the effect using a computer-based paradigm and 94,000 faces. In our exploration of the underlying mechanism, we show that existing name stereotypes produce the effect, as its occurrence is culture-dependent. A self-fulfilling prophecy seems to be at work, as initial evidence shows that facial appearance regions that are controlled by the individual (e.g., hairstyle) are sufficient to produce the effect, and socially using one’s given name is necessary to generate the effect. Together, these studies suggest that facial appearance represents social expectations of how a person with a specific name should look. In this way a social tag may influence one’s facial appearance. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Valence asymmetries in attitude ambivalence.


Existing models of ambivalence suggest that as the number of conflicting reactions (e.g., attitude components) increases, so too does the experience of ambivalence. Interestingly, though, these models overwhelmingly assume that this relationship is independent of valence. Across 3 studies we observe that this effect is in fact heavily influenced by 2 established valence asymmetries: positivity offset (baseline positive reactions even in the absence of positive information) and negativity bias (greater impact of negative reactions than positive reactions). Consistent with positivity offset, we observe that subjective ambivalence is greater when people have univalent negative rather than univalent positive attitudes. However, as conflicting information is acquired, subjective ambivalence rises more quickly when that information is negative rather than positive. The latter effect is consistent with negativity bias and suggests that although people feel more conflicted when they have only negative (vs. only positive) reactions, they also feel more conflicted when they have mostly positive (vs. mostly negative) reactions. Our investigation also uncovers an interesting consequence of these asymmetries: When people have mixed reactions, they do not experience maximum ambivalence at equal levels of positivity and negativity, as suggested by canonical ambivalence theory. Rather, subjective ambivalence peaks when positive reactions outnumber negative reactions. These effects are found to have downstream consequences for other dimensions of attitude strength. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

On sanction-goal justifications: How and why deterrence justifications undermine rule compliance.


Authorities frequently justify their sanctions as attempts to deter people from rule breaking. Although providing a sanction justification seems appealing and harmless, we propose that a deterrence justification decreases the extent to which sanctions are effective in promoting rule compliance. We develop a theoretical model that specifies how and why this occurs. Consistent with our model, 5 experiments demonstrated that—compared with sanctions provided without a justification or sanctions provided with a just-deserts justification—sanction effectiveness decreased when sanctions were justified as attempts to deter people from rule breaking. This effect was mediated by people feeling distrusted by the authority. We further demonstrated that (a) the degree to which deterrence fostered distrust was attenuated when the sanction was targeted at others (instead of the participant) and (b) the degree to which distrust undermined rule compliance was attenuated when the authority was perceived as legitimate. We discuss the practical implications for authorities tasked with promoting rule compliance, and the theoretical implications for the literature on sanctions, distrust, and rule compliance. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The invisibility cloak illusion: People (incorrectly) believe they observe others more than others observe them.


Whether at a coffee shop, in a waiting room, or riding the bus, people frequently observe the other people around them. Yet they often fail to realize how much other people engage in the same behavior, and that they, therefore, also are being observed. Because it is logically impossible that people, on average, are the subjects of observation more than they are objects of it, the belief that one watches others more than one is watched is an illusion. Several studies show that people incorrectly believe that they observe others more than other people observe them. We call this mistaken belief the “invisibility cloak illusion.” People believe that they observe others more than do other people and that they are generally observed less than are others (Studies 1–3, 5, 6). The illusion persists both among strangers in the same vicinity (Study 2) and among friends interacting with one another (Study 3), and it cannot be explained away as yet another general better-than-average bias nor is it the result of believing one has more thoughts, in general, than do other people (Studies 2–3). The illusion is supported by a failure to catch others watching oneself (Studies 1b, 4) and it is manifest in the specific contents of people’s thoughts about one another (Studies 5 and 6). Finally, rendering a feature of one’s appearance salient to oneself fails to interrupt the illusion despite increasing one’s belief that others are paying more attention specifically to that salient feature (Study 6). (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Knowledge of the self-control benefits of high-level versus low-level construal.


Research indicates that inducing high-level construal (processing that highlights invariant, essential features) relative to low-level construal (processing that highlights idiosyncratic, peripheral features) promotes self-control (Fujita & Carnevale, 2012). In the present work, we investigate to what extent people recognize the self-control benefits of high-level construal, and explore the consequences of this knowledge. Studies 1 and 2 provide initial evidence that individuals are aware that high-level relative to low-level construal promotes self-control in the dieting domain. Studies 3 and 4 find that individual differences in this knowledge predict self-control success outcomes (i.e., body mass index) among those who are motivated by dieting goals. Examining academics as a domain of self-control, Study 5 demonstrates that those with higher knowledge of construal level’s impact on self-control earned higher end-of-semester grades to the extent that they were motivated to do well academically. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Moving on or digging deeper: Regulatory mode and interpersonal conflict resolution.


Conflict resolution, in its most basic sense, requires movement and change between opposing motivational states. Although scholars and practitioners have long acknowledged this point, research has yet to investigate whether individual differences in the motivation for movement from state-to-state influence conflict resolution processes. Regulatory Mode Theory (RMT) describes this fundamental motivation as locomotion. RMT simultaneously describes an orthogonal motivational emphasis on assessment, a tendency for critical evaluation and comparison. We argue that this tendency, in the absence of a stronger motivation for locomotion, can obstruct peoples’ propensity to reconcile. Five studies, using diverse measures and methods, found that the predominance of an individual’s locomotion over assessment facilitates interpersonal conflict resolution. The first two studies present participants with hypothetical conflict scenarios to examine how chronic (Study 1) and experimentally induced (Study 2) individual differences in locomotion predominance influence the motivation to reconcile. The next two studies investigate this relation by way of participants’ own conflict experiences, both through essay recall of previous conflict events (Study 3) and verbal narratives of ongoing conflict issues (Study 4). We then explore this association in the context of real-world conflict discussions between roommates (Study 5). Lastly, we examine results across these studies meta-analytically (Study 6). Overall, locomotion and assessment can inform lay theories of individual variation in the motivation to “move on” or “dig deeper” in conflict situations. We conclude by emphasizing the importance of using RMT to go beyond instrumental approaches to conflict resolution to understand fundamental individual motivations underlying its occurrence. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

CAPTION-ing the situation: A lexically-derived taxonomy of psychological situation characteristics.


In comparison with personality taxonomic research, there has been much less advancement toward establishing an integrative taxonomy of psychological situation characteristics (similar to personality characteristics for persons). One of the main concerns has been the limited content coverage of the characteristics being used. To address this issue, we present a collection of 4 lexically based studies using the largest-to-date number of situation characteristics to identify the major dimensions of the psychological situation. These studies each implemented a unique sampling and analytic methodology—namely, a qualitative dimensional exploration; the factor analyses of 2, independent samples of large-scale in situ ratings of situations; and the use of lexical-vector representations from neural-network-based models derived from millions of sources of natural-language usage with a total of 146.7 billion words. Across these studies, a clear 7-dimensional structure emerged: Complexity, Adversity, Positive Valence, Typicality, Importance, Humor, and Negative Valence—collectively referred to as the “CAPTION” model, which parsimoniously integrates the diversity of dimensions found in the extant literature. We then introduce both full- and short-form measures of these CAPTION. Data from 2 additional diverse samples of native English speakers suggest that the measures have good psychometric properties, and are able to predict a broad range of important psychological outcomes (e.g., behaviors, affect, motivation, and need satisfaction), even when pitted against extant situation taxonomic frameworks. We conclude by discussing how the CAPTION framework may serve as a useful tool for conceptualizing and measuring a broad range of psychological situations across all areas of psychology. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)