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Review of General Psychology publishes innovative theoretical, conceptual, and methodological articles that crosscut the traditional subdisciplines of psychology. The journal contains articles that advance theory, evaluate and integrate research literatur

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Copyright: Copyright 2017 American Psychological Association

Frightened by an old scarecrow: The remarkable resilience of demand characteristics.


More than 50 years ago, the idea of demand characteristics was introduced by Martin Orne in a widely cited American Psychologist article. Through the 1960s and the mid-1970s, numerous studies were conducted investigating the role of demand characteristics in a variety of research areas. Demand characteristics faded from researchers’ attention in the late 1970s, relegated to brief descriptions in research methods textbooks. The present article traces the origins of and battles fought over demand characteristics during its heyday. Evidence is provided that suggests demand characteristics experienced a rebirth in the 1980s and it remains a widely referenced idea up to today. Demand characteristics reflect perennial concerns about the difficulties of and limitations to doing research with humans, concerns that often surface in the periodic crises that confront psychology. The types of problems that animated the crisis of confidence associated with demand characteristics in the 1970s form one dimension of the current replication crisis. Reinterpretation of this current replication crisis and a new direction for experimental research with human subjects are derived from this review of demand characteristics. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

A meta-analysis of social networking online and social capital.


Social networking sites offer new avenues for interpersonal communication that may enable people to build social capital. The meta-analyses reported in this paper evaluated the relationship between social network site (SNS) use and 2 types of social capital: bridging social capital and bonding social capital. The meta-analyses included data from 58 articles gathered through scholarly databases and a hand search of the early publications of relevant journals. Using a random effects model, the overall effect size of the relationship between SNS use and bridging social capital based on k = 50 studies and N = 22,290 participants was r = .32 (95% CI [.27, .37]), and the overall effect size between SNS use and bonding social capital based on k = 43 studies and N = 19,439 participants was r = .26 (95% CI [.22, .31]). The relationships between SNS use and both types of social capital were stronger in men than in women, and the relationship between SNS use and bridging capital was stronger in Western, individualistic countries than Eastern, collectivistic countries. Additional analyses of specific SNS activities indicated that SNS use promotes social capital by facilitating contact and interaction among people who already know each other offline rather than contact with people who were met online. The implication is that SNSs offer a platform to strengthen existing relationships. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Risky behaviors: Integrating adolescent egocentrism with the theory of planned behavior.


Of all age groups, adolescents are at the highest risk for experiencing negative health outcomes associated with risky behaviors. Persuasive messages targeting adolescents that urge them to refrain from tobacco use and alcohol consumption have not been met with great success, perhaps in part due to adolescent egocentrism. The utility of the theory of planned behavior applied to health outcomes has been supported across multiple health behaviors for adults. Perhaps integrating the two constructs of adolescent egocentrism with the three components of the theory of planned behavior will better enable researchers to persuade adolescents to refrain from risky behaviors, leading to improved health outcomes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Why do people believe what they do? A functionalist perspective.


Why do people believe what they do? Scholars and laypeople alike tend to answer this question by focusing on the representational functions of beliefs (i.e., representing the world accurately). However, a growing body of theory and research indicates that beliefs also can serve important hedonic functions (i.e., decreasing/increasing negative or positive emotional states). In this article, we describe: (a) the features of belief; (b) the functions served by beliefs, with a focus on the hedonic function; (c) an integrative framework highlighting the hedonic function and contrasting it with the representational function; and (d) the implications of our framework, and related future research directions for individual differences in belief, belief change, and the ways in which beliefs contribute to adaptive versus maladaptive psychological functioning. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Moral elevation and moral beauty: A review of the empirical literature.


Moral elevation is defined as the emotional response to witnessing acts of moral beauty. Studies have found that elevation entails pleasant feelings of warmth in the chest, feeling uplifted, moved, and optimistic about humanity. Elevation motivates affiliation with others as well as moral action tendencies. The main goal of this review was to gather and organize the empirical findings from the last 16 years of elevation research with regard to psychological and physiological characteristics, motivational tendencies, behavioral outcomes, neuronal mechanisms, moderators, and correlates of elevation. A secondary goal was to examine whether elevation is congruent with Fredrickson’s (2001) broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. It was concluded that there is strong evidence that elevation broadens the thought-action repertoire and relatively weak evidence that it builds lasting resources. Potential evolutionary functions, the forms of measurement of elevation, the process of how elevation is triggered, practical applications and directions for future research were also addressed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Toward a shared understanding of important consequences of personality.


The assumption that personality makes a difference in people’s everyday lives is probably the main reason why investigating personality seems worthwhile at all. Although the number of empirical studies addressing the everyday consequences of personality is considerable, an overarching conceptual framework is missing. We present such a framework, using a version of the SORKC model from cognitive-behavioral therapy. Our version of the model incorporates a full account of how personality may influence the ways in which people perceive and respond to situations, which may ultimately have important consequences for them and others. However, not everything that formally qualifies as a consequence of personality is equally relevant. In choosing criterion variables for their own research, researchers interested in personality consequences seem to have strongly relied on implicit assumptions regarding a “good life.” We review a sample of recent studies from the personality literature, using our own conceptualization of important personality consequences to assess the current state of the field, and deduce recommendations for future research. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Myopia is an adaptive characteristic of vision: Not a disease or defect.


This article proposes that myopia (nearsightedness) is an adaptive characteristic of human vision. Most theories of the evolution of vision assume myopia is a disease or defect that would have resulted in decreased reproductive fitness in the absence of modern corrective lenses. In contrast, the present article argues that myopic individuals may have played important roles in hunter–gatherer groups such as making tools and weapons, and identifying medicinal plants, contributing to individual and group survival. This idea is called the “adaptive myopia hypothesis.” Evidence favoring this hypothesis is reviewed in the context of the metatheory of evolutionary psychology. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)