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

Last Build Date: Sun, 04 Dec 2016 19:00:33 EST

Copyright: Copyright 2016 American Psychological Association

Tracking and simulating dynamics of implicit stereotypes: A situated social cognition perspective.


Adopting a situated social cognition perspective, we relied on different methodologies—1 computational and 3 empirical studies—to investigate social group–related specificities pertaining to implicit gender-domain stereotypes, as measured by a mouse-tracking adapted Implicit Association Test (IAT) and IAT(-like) tasks. We tested whether the emergence of implicit stereotypes was partially determined by associations congruent with the self, by visuospatial features of the task and subsequent competition at both sensorimotor and abstract levels. We tracked human and simulated artificial participants’ hand movements among gender stereotypical (e.g., male engineers) and counterstereotypical (e.g., female engineers) social groups. In the computational study, data were simulated by a novel generative connectionist model integrating strengths from recent developments in embodied models of decision-making. Results support the self-congruency hypothesis and suggest the presence of competition at both levels. Discussion focuses on the generalizability of the self-congruency hypothesis and on the relevance of a situated perspective for implicit social cognition. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The headwinds/tailwinds asymmetry: An availability bias in assessments of barriers and blessings.


Seven studies provide evidence of an availability bias in people’s assessments of the benefits they’ve enjoyed and the barriers they’ve faced. Barriers and hindrances command attention because they have to be overcome; benefits and resources can often be simply enjoyed and largely ignored. As a result of this “headwind/tailwind” asymmetry, Democrats and Republicans both claim that the electoral map works against them (Study 1), football fans take disproportionate note of the challenging games on their team’s schedules (Study 2), people tend to believe that their parents have been harder on them than their siblings are willing to grant (Study 3), and academics think that they have a harder time with journal reviewers, grant panels, and tenure committees than members of other subdisciplines (Study 7). We show that these effects are the result of the enhanced availability of people’s challenges and difficulties (Studies 4 and 5) and are not simply the result of self-serving attribution management (Studies 6 and 7). We also show that the greater salience of a person’s headwinds can lead people to believe they have been treated unfairly and, as a consequence, more inclined to endorse morally questionable behavior (Study 7). Our discussion focuses on the implications of the headwind/tailwind asymmetry for a variety of ill-conceived policy decisions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Being observed magnifies action.


We test the hypothesis that people, when observed, perceive their actions as more substantial because they add the audience’s perspective to their own perspective. We find that participants who were observed while eating (Study 1) or learned they were observed after eating (Study 2) recalled eating a larger portion than unobserved participants. The presence of others magnified both desirable and undesirable actions. Thus, observed (vs. unobserved) participants believed they gave both more correct and incorrect answers in a lab task (Study 3) and, moving to a field study, the larger the audience, the larger the contribution badminton players claimed toward their teams’ successes as well as failures (Study 4). In contrast to actions, inactions are not magnified, because they are unobservable; indeed, observed (vs. unobserved) participants believed they solved more task problems but did not skip more problems (Study 5). Taken together, these studies show that being observed fundamentally alters the subjective magnitude of one’s actions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Impediments to forgiveness: Victim and transgressor attributions of intent and guilt.


We investigate the possibility that victims and transgressors are predictably miscalibrated in their interpretation of a transgression, and that this has important implications for the process of forgiveness. Across 5 studies, we find that victims underestimate how much transgressors desire forgiveness. This is driven by a 2-part mediating mechanism: First, victims are more likely than transgressors to see the transgression as intentional, and second, this causes victims to believe transgressors feel less guilty than transgressors report feeling. Ultimately, this chain of asymmetries stymies the processes of forgiveness because victims tend to withhold forgiveness from those who actually desire it. The predicted effect emerged in the context of scenario studies (Studies 3 and 5), a real transgression that occurred in the lab (Study 4), transgressions from participants’ pasts (Study 1), and transgressions from the same day (Study 2). In Study 4, we describe a new procedure in which 1 participant commits a real transgression against another participant, providing an effective means for researchers to study real-time transgressions from the perspective of both parties involved. Furthermore, in Study 5, we found that when victims were encouraged to empathize with the transgressor, the asymmetries were attenuated, suggesting a means of overcoming this impediment to forgiveness. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The implicit meaning of (my) change.


The concept of change simply entails the totality of ways in which a particular entity has grown better and grown worse. Five studies suggest that this is not how people actually understand it for themselves. Rather, when asked to assess how they have “changed” over time, people bring to mind only how they have improved and neglect other trajectories (e.g., decline) that they have also experienced; global change is specifically translated as directional change for the better. This tendency emerged across many populations, time frames, measures, and methodologies (Studies 1–3), and led to important downstream effects: people who reflected on “change” from their pasts experienced enhanced mood, meaning, and satisfaction in their presents, precisely because they had assumed to only think about personal improvement (Study 4). A final study shed light on mechanisms: people evaluated the word change in a speeded response task as more positive when they were instructed to interpret the word in relation to themselves versus a friend, while no differences emerged between conditions for nonchange control words (Study 5). This suggests that the basic pattern across studies stems (at least partly) from traditional self-enhancement motives—our own change spontaneously brings to mind only the ways in which we have improved, whereas change in someone else is not so immediately and uniformly associated with improvement. Taken together, these findings reveal novel insights into the content and consequences of change perception, and they more broadly highlight unforeseen biases in when and why people might subjectively (mis)interpret otherwise objective constructs. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Emotional complexity: Clarifying definitions and cultural correlates.


There is much debate about the notion of emotional complexity (EC). The debate concerns both the definition and the meaning of ostensible cultural differences in the construct. Some scholars have defined EC as the experience of positive and negative emotions together rather than as opposites, a phenomenon that seems more common in East Asia than North America. Others have defined EC as the experience of emotions in a differentiated manner, a definition that has yet to be explored cross-culturally. The present research explores the role of dialectical beliefs and interdependence in explaining cultural differences in EC according to both definitions. In Study 1, we examined the prevalence of mixed (positive-negative) emotions in English-language online texts from 10 countries varying in interdependence and dialecticism. In Studies 2–3, we examined reports of emotional experiences in 6 countries, comparing intraindividual associations between pleasant and unpleasant states, prevalence of mixed emotions, and emotional differentiation across and within-situations. Overall, interdependence accounted for more cross-cultural and individual variance in EC measures than did dialecticism. Moreover, emotional differentiation was associated with the experience of positive and negative emotions together rather than as opposites, but only when tested on the same level of analysis (i.e., within vs. across-situations). (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Personality and stressor-related affect.


Greater increases in negative affect and greater decreases in positive affect on days stressors occur portend poorer mental and physical health years later. Although personality traits influence stressor-related affect, only neuroticism and extraversion among the Big Five personality traits have been examined in any detail. Moreover, personality traits may shape how people appraise daily stressors, yet few studies have examined how stressor-related appraisals may account for associations between personality and stressor-related affect. Two studies used participants (N = 2,022; age range: 30–84) from the National Study of Daily Experiences II to examine the associations between Big Five personality traits and stressor-related affect and how appraisals may account for these relationships. Results from Study 1 indicate that higher levels of extraversion, conscientiousness, and openness to experience and lower levels of neuroticism are related to less stressor-related negative affect. Only agreeableness was associated with stressor-related positive affect, such that higher levels were related to greater decreases in positive affect on days stressors occur. The second study found that stressor-related appraisals partially accounted for the significant associations between stressor-related negative affect and personality. Implications for these findings in relation to how personality may influence physical and emotional health are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)