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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

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Attitudes and social cognition.


In this editorial, the new incoming editor for the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (JPSP) addresses the upcoming challenges and the issue of replicability. Although people vary (often dramatically) in their views on the nature and extent of this issue, that we have an issue to address is something that the new editor thinks most scholars would agree on. It is his hope that engaging in these efforts will return our community to a place that young talent willingly and safely bets their futures on. It is with this sense of mission that he feels honored to serve in this role over the next five years. As Editor, he would like to address the current challenges by actively promoting three principles: rigor, innovation, and inclusiveness. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

He never willed to have the will he has: Historicist narratives, “civilized” blame, and the need to distinguish two notions of free will.


Harsh blame can be socially destructive. This article examines how harsh blame can be “civilized.” A core construct here is the historicist narrative, which is a story-like account of how a person came to be the sort of person she is. We argue that historicist narratives regarding immoral actors can temper blame and that this happens via a novel mechanism. To illuminate that mechanism, we offer a novel theoretical perspective on lay beliefs about free will. We distinguish 2 senses of free will: (a) Freedom of action, which portrays the will as a dynamic choice-making mechanism and concerns whether the actor can exert volitional control via that mechanism at the time of action, and (b) Control of self-formation, which portrays the will as an enduring disposition (e.g., persistent desire to humiliate) and refers to whether the actor is truly the source of that disposition. Six experiments show that historicist narratives have no effect on perceived freedom of action, but rather temper blame by reducing perceived self-formative control. We also provide evidence against several additional theoretically derived alternative mediators (e.g., intentionality, perceived suffering). Further underlining the need to distinguish free will concepts, we show that biological narratives—unlike historicist narratives—temper blame via reductions in perceived freedom of action. Finally, to illuminate the meaning of “civilized” blame,” we show that historicist narratives specifically reduce the urge to inflict spiteful punishments on offenders, but leave intact the urge to nonviolently guide the offender toward moral improvement. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Social and economic ideologies differentially predict prejudice across the political spectrum, but social issues are most divisive.


Liberals and conservatives both express prejudice toward ideologically dissimilar others (Brandt et al., 2014). Previous work on ideological prejudice did not take advantage of evidence showing that ideology is multidimensional, with social and economic ideologies representing related but separable belief systems. In 5 studies (total N = 4912), we test 3 competing hypotheses of a multidimensional account of ideological prejudice. The dimension-specific symmetry hypothesis predicts that social and economic ideologies differentially predict prejudice against targets who are perceived to vary on the social and economic political dimensions, respectively. The social primacy hypothesis predicts that such ideological worldview conflict is experienced more strongly along the social than economic dimension. The social-specific asymmetry hypothesis predicts that social conservatives will be more prejudiced than social liberals, with no specific hypotheses for the economic dimension. Using multiple target groups, multiple prejudice measures (e.g., global evaluations, behavior), and multiple social and economic ideology measures (self-placement, issue positions), we found relatively consistent support for the dimension-specific symmetry and social primacy hypotheses, and no support for the social-specific asymmetry hypothesis. These results suggest that worldview conflict and negative intergroup attitudes and behaviors are dimension-specific, but that the social dimension appears to inspire more political conflict than the economic dimension. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Combating the sting of rejection with the pleasure of revenge: A new look at how emotion shapes aggression.


How does emotion explain the relationship between social rejection and aggression? Rejection reliably damages mood, leaving individuals motivated to repair their negatively valenced affective state. Retaliatory aggression is often a pleasant experience. Rejected individuals may then harness revenge’s associated positive affect to repair their mood. Across 6 studies (total N = 1,516), we tested the prediction that the rejection–aggression link is motivated by expected and actual mood repair. Further, we predicted that this mood repair would occur through the positive affect of retaliatory aggression. Supporting these predictions, naturally occurring (Studies 1 and 2) and experimentally manipulated (Studies 3 and 4) motives to repair mood via aggression moderated the rejection–aggression link. These effects were mediated by sadistic impulses toward finding aggression pleasant (Studies 2 and 4). Suggesting the occurrence of actual mood repair, rejected participants’ affective states were equivalent to their accepted counterparts after an act of aggression (Studies 5 and 6). This mood repair occurred through a dynamic interplay between preaggression affect and aggression itself, and was driven by increases in positive affect (Studies 5 and 6). Together, these findings suggest that the rejection–aggression link is driven, in part, by the desire to return to affective homeostasis. Additionally, these findings implicate aggression’s rewarding nature as an incentive for rejected individuals’ violent tendencies. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Risky business: When humor increases and decreases status.


Across 8 experiments, we demonstrate that humor can influence status, but attempting to use humor is risky. The successful use of humor can increase status in both new and existing relationships, but unsuccessful humor attempts (e.g., inappropriate jokes) can harm status. The relationship between the successful use of humor and status is mediated by perceptions of confidence and competence. The successful use of humor signals confidence and competence, which in turn increases the joke teller’s status. Interestingly, telling both appropriate and inappropriate jokes, regardless of the outcome, signals confidence. Although signaling confidence typically increases status and power, telling inappropriate jokes signals low competence and the combined effect of high confidence and low competence harms status. Rather than conceptualizing humor as a frivolous or ancillary behavior, we argue that humor plays a fundamental role in shaping interpersonal perceptions and hierarchies within groups. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Artful paltering: The risks and rewards of using truthful statements to mislead others.


Paltering is the active use of truthful statements to convey a misleading impression. Across 2 pilot studies and 6 experiments, we identify paltering as a distinct form of deception. Paltering differs from lying by omission (the passive omission of relevant information) and lying by commission (the active use of false statements). Our findings reveal that paltering is common in negotiations and that many negotiators prefer to palter than to lie by commission. Paltering, however, may promote conflict fueled by self-serving interpretations; palterers focus on the veracity of their statements (“I told the truth”), whereas targets focus on the misleading impression palters convey (“I was misled”). We also find that targets perceive palters to be especially unethical when palters are used in response to direct questions as opposed to when they are unprompted. Taken together, we show that paltering is a common, but risky, negotiation tactic. Compared with negotiators who tell the truth, negotiators who palter are likely to claim additional value, but increase the likelihood of impasse and harm to their reputations. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Personality traits below facets: The consensual validity, longitudinal stability, heritability, and utility of personality nuances.


It has been argued that facets do not represent the bottom of the personality hierarchy—even more specific personality characteristics, nuances, could be useful for describing and understanding individuals and their differences. Combining 2 samples of German twins, we assessed the consensual validity (correlations across different observers), rank-order stability, and heritability of nuances. Personality nuances were operationalized as the 240 items of the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R). Their attributes were examined by analyzing item residuals, controlling for the variance of the facet the item had been assigned to and all other facets. Most nuances demonstrated significant (p < .0002) cross-method agreement and rank-order stability. A substantial proportion of them (48% in self-reports, 20% in informant ratings, and 50% in combined ratings) demonstrated a significant (p < .0002) component of additive genetic variance, whereas evidence for environmental influences shared by twins was modest. Applying a procedure to estimate stability and heritability of true scores of item residuals yielded estimates comparable with those of higher-order personality traits, with median estimates of rank-order stability and heritability being .77 and .52, respectively. Few nuances demonstrated robust associations with age and gender, but many showed incremental, conceptually meaningful, and replicable (across methods and/or samples) predictive validity for a range of interest domains and body mass index. We argue that these narrow personality characteristics constitute a valid level of the personality hierarchy. They may be especially useful for providing a deep and contextualized description of the individual, but also for the prediction of specific outcomes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

How distinctive are morningness and eveningness from the Big Five factors of personality? A meta-analytic investigation.


This study explores relations between measures of individuals’ circadian preferences and the Big Five. To this end, we compared a model of circadian preferences that acknowledges morningness (M) and eveningness (E) as separate dimensions to that of a model that places M and E on a single continuum (M-E). Analyses of 620 correlations from 44 independent samples (N = 16,647) revealed weak to modest relations between both dimensions of circadian preferences and the Big Five personality traits. The strongest observed relation was found between Conscientiousness and M (ρ = .37). In the next step, regression analyses revealed that personality traits accounted for between 10.9% and 16.4% of the variance in circadian preferences. Of all the Big Five dimensions, Conscientiousness exhibited the strongest unique relation with M (β = .32), E (β = −.26), and M-E (β = .32). Extraversion and Openness exhibited moderate unique relations with E (β = .23 and β = .17, respectively), whereas relations with M (β = .00 and β = .04), and M-E (β = −.05 and β = −.06) were relatively weak. Neuroticism exhibited a modest unique and negative relation with M (β = −.16), and Agreeableness was largely unrelated to all circadian preference variables. To determine whether these findings translated into anything of applied significance, we explored relations between circadian preference and academic performance. M and E incremented slightly over the Big Five factors in predicting grade-point average. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Normative personality trait development in adulthood: A 6-year cohort-sequential growth model.


The present study investigated patterns of normative change in personality traits across the adult life span (19 through 74 years of age). We examined change in extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, openness to experience and honesty-humility using data from the first 6 annual waves of the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study (N = 10,416; 61.1% female, average age = 49.46). We present a cohort-sequential latent growth model assessing patterns of mean-level change due to both aging and cohort effects. Extraversion decreased as people aged, with the most pronounced declines occurring in young adulthood, and then again in old age. Agreeableness, indexed with a measure focusing on empathy, decreased in young adulthood and remained relatively unchanged thereafter. Conscientiousness increased among young adults then leveled off and remained fairly consistent for the rest of the adult life span. Neuroticism and openness to experience decreased as people aged. However, the models suggest that these latter effects may also be partially due to cohort differences, as older people showed lower levels of neuroticism and openness to experience more generally. Honesty-humility showed a pronounced and consistent increase across the adult life span. These analyses of large-scale longitudinal national probability panel data indicate that different dimensions of personality follow distinct developmental processes throughout adulthood. Our findings also highlight the importance of young adulthood (up to about the age of 30) in personality trait development, as well as continuing change throughout the adult life span. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Panero et al. (2016): Failure to replicate methods caused the failure to replicate results.


Contrary to Kidd and Castano (2013), Panero et al. (2016) fail to find that reading literary fiction improves performance on an advanced test of theory of mind (ToM), the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test. However, this commentary shows that the findings presented in Panero et al. (2016) are not reliable due to two striking threats to the internal validity of their studies that were not clearly disclosed or discussed in the manuscript or supplementary materials. First, no effective strategy was implemented to ensure that participants read their assigned texts, and examination of the data revealed many participants whose reading times indicate that they were not exposed to the manipulation. Second, further examination shows that two of the largest studies contributing to Panero et al. (2016) are not valid experiments due to a clear failure of random assignment to conditions. These threats to experimental internal validity make the conclusions presented in Panero et al. (2016) untenable. After removing cases in which participants were not exposed to the manipulation and the data from the two studies without random assignment, an analysis reveals that reading literary fiction improves ToM compared to reading popular genre fiction. This result is consistent with prior studies and indicates that a failure to carefully replicate the methods of Kidd and Castano (2013) led to the failure to replicate Kidd and Castano’s (2013) results. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

No support for the claim that literary fiction uniquely and immediately improves theory of mind: A reply to Kidd and Castano’s commentary on Panero et al. (2016).


Kidd and Castano (in press) critique our failure to replicate Kidd and Castano (2013) on 3 grounds: failure to exclude people who did not read the texts, failure of random assignment, and failure to exclude people who did not take the Author Recognition Test (ART). This response addresses each of these critiques. Most importantly, we note that even when Kidd and Castano reanalyzed our data in the way that they argue is most appropriate, they still failed to replicate the pattern of results reported in their original study. We thus reaffirm that our replication of Kidd and Castano (2013) found no evidence that literary fiction uniquely and immediately improves theory of mind. Our objective remains not to prove that reading literary fiction does not benefit social cognition, but to call for in-depth research addressing the difficulties in measuring any potential effect and to note the need to temper claims accordingly. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)