- Why crying does and sometimes does not seem to alleviate mood: a
- Abstract: Whereas retrospective studies suggest that crying can be beneficial in terms of mood enhancement, results of quasi-experimental laboratory studies consistently demonstrate its negative effects on mood. The present study was specifically designed to evaluate a parsimonious explanation for this paradox by assessing mood after crying in a laboratory, both immediately and at follow up. Mood ratings of 28 objectively established criers and 32 non-criers were compared before and immediately after the exposure to an emotional movie, as well as 20 and 90 min later. As expected, immediately after the film, negative mood significantly increased in criers, while it did not change in non-criers. This mood deterioration was followed by a recovery that resulted in return to the baseline mood levels at the third measurement. Criers subsequently reported mood enhancements at the final measurement compared to the pre-film measurement. Crying frequency did not predict mood changes above those predicted by the presence of crying. The observed relation between crying and more long-term mood recovery reconciles seemingly contrasting earlier results and provides a simple and obvious explanation. After the initial deterioration of mood following crying that was observed in laboratory studies, it apparently takes some time for the mood, not just to recover, but also to become even less negative than before the emotional event, which corresponds to the results of retrospective studies.
- Mortality salience increases personal optimism among individuals higher in
- Abstract: Reminders of personal mortality may tune attention toward positive information. Insofar as attending to positive things in life helps individuals to cope with awareness of death, individuals with higher trait self-control may be particularly adept at positive tuning under mortality salience. To test this hypothesis, the current study had participants complete a measure of trait self-control, contemplate their mortality or a control topic, and then complete a measure of personal optimism. Mortality salience increased personal optimism, but only among participants higher in trait self-control. Taken together with past research the current results suggest that individuals higher in trait self-control draw upon diverse sources of positivity under mortality salience, which may help explain why they enjoy more positive outcomes in life.
- Kindness reduces avoidance goals in socially anxious individuals
- Abstract: Social avoidance goals have been linked to negative social outcomes and may contribute to the social impairment experienced by socially anxious individuals. In this study, we examined whether engaging in acts of kindness, a technique designed to increase happiness, decreases social avoidance goals in socially anxious participants and whether social anxiety reduction and hedonic enhancement (i.e., increased positive affect) mediate this effect. Socially anxious undergraduates were randomly assigned to three conditions: performing acts of kindness (AK; N = 38); exposure only (EO; N = 41); and recording life details (LD; N = 36), a neutral control condition. Participants engaged in these activities for 4 weeks. AK resulted in the greatest decrease in social avoidance goals by post-intervention. EO also reduced avoidance goals over time relative to LD. The effect of task condition on avoidance goals over time was fully mediated by social anxiety reduction over time. Neither AK nor EO increased positive affect. Implications for social anxiety treatment are discussed.
- A regulatory focus perspective on reputational concerns: The impact of
- Abstract: The hyper-sociality found in the human species is unequivocally manifested in their special sensitivity about reputation. In the present contribution, individuals’ reputational concerns are examined from the perspective of one prominent motivational approach: regulatory focus theory. Specifically, individual differences in prevention and promotion focus are related to reputational concerns. Building on the assumption that prevention-focused individuals are sensitive to and concerned with oughts and social expectations, it is expected that prevention-focused individuals are particularly concerned regarding their reputation. In line with this assumption, Study 1 documents a positive relation between individual differences in prevention focus and reputational concerns (beyond the Big Five and perceived stress). In Study 2, individuals are exposed to a subtle reputation cue (i.e., stylized watching eyes). It is documented that prevention-focused individuals specifically react to this cue in that they donate more money when such a cue is present. This finding is replicated in an additional sample and shown to be independent of the Big Five. In sum, the present work contributes to a better understanding of basic motivational orientations regarding reputational concerns.
- In-lecture learning motivation predicts students’ motivation,
intention, and behaviour for after-lecture learning: Examining the
trans-contextual model across universities from UK, China, and Pakistan
- Abstract: This paper presents a cross-cultural examination of the trans-contextual model in University education setting. The purpose of the study was to test the effect of students’ perceived autonomy support and in-lecture learning motivation on motivation, intention, and behaviour with respect to after-lecture learning via the mediation of the social cognitive variables: attitude, subjective norm, and perceived behavioural control. University students from UK, China, and Pakistan completed the questionnaires of the study variables. Results revealed that in-lecture perceived autonomy support and autonomous motivation were positively associated with autonomous motivation and intention to engage in after-lecture learning activities via the mediation of the social cognitive variables in all samples. After controlling for the effect of past behaviour, relations between intention and behaviour were only observed in the Chinese sample. In conclusion, the trans-contextual model can be applied to University education, but cultural differences appear to moderate the predictive power of the model, particularly for the intention-behaviour relationship.
- The subscale specificity of the Affective Control Scale: Ecological
validity and predictive validity of feared emotions
- Abstract: The Affective Control Scale (ACS) is a widely used measure of fear of emotion. Although the scale as a whole has good utility and predictive validity, there is little work on the specificity of the subscales of the ACS, which measure fear of anxiety, anger, depressed mood and positive mood. In the present study, we investigated the unique relations between fear of specific emotions and the everyday experience of those emotions. We sampled 120 undergraduate students and tracked their emotional experiences over the course of a week using ecological momentary assessments. We found evidence for specificity in the predictive validity of the subscales. After controlling for common variance across the subscales, fear of anger, anxiety, and depressed mood uniquely predicted greater daily experience of the corresponding emotion. These data also support the notion that those who fear specific emotions tend to experience more of those emotions in everyday life.
- Testing the convergent and discriminant validity of three implicit motive
measures: PSE, OMT, and MMG
- Abstract: Implicit motive research has shown that implicit motives are important predictors of behavior and well-being. However, little is known about the interrelationship between the different implicit motives measures frequently applied. We aimed to shed light on the convergent validity of three implicit motive measures and wanted to test their assumed statistical independence from three explicit motive measures. Therefore, we administered the picture story exercise (PSE), the operant motive test (OMT), and the multi-motive grid in one and the same study. As explicit measures, we used the personality research form, the motive enactment test, and a goal questionnaire. We investigated the statistical overlaps between all these measures (sample: 202 undergraduate students) and found that the implicit motive measures showed either no or only little correlation with each other. Furthermore, they also partly correlated with explicit motive measures. Supplementary analyses showed that the lack of statistical overlap between PSE and OMT can partly be ascribed to their different scoring systems.
- Ego depletion and the use of mental contrasting
- Abstract: Mentally contrasting a desired future with present reality leads to goal pursuit in accordance with people’s expectations of realizing the desired future. Because mental contrasting is a purposeful self-regulation strategy that involves mental effort and complex information processing we suspected that people who are depleted or mentally fatigued are less likely to mentally contrast than those who are not. Indeed, participants who performed a depleting first task were less likely to subsequently mentally contrast about an important personal wish than those who performed a nondepleting first task. However, activating the desired future and present reality by priming (Study 1) or increasing the demand for mental contrasting by confronting participants with an impending task (Study 2) counteracted the effect of depletion on the reduced use of mental contrasting. We discuss implications for the use of mental contrasting and the strength model of self-control.
- Effects of resource divisibility and expectations of sharing on envy
- Abstract: In three experiments, we provide evidence that resource divisibility and expectations of sharing influence the degree to which envy arises in response to another’s superior resources. We manipulated the resource divisibility (e.g., 2 coins worth approximately $5.50 each vs. a single note worth approximately $11) and expectations of sharing were measured (Experiments 1 and 2) and manipulated (Experiment 3). Findings in these three experiments supported our hypothesis that envy would be most strongly experienced in response to others who had highly divisible resources that participants did not believe would be shared. These findings offer novel insights into the adaptive function of envy, which may promote sharing of divisible resources.
- Finding meaning through emotional understanding: emotional clarity
predicts meaning in life and adjustment to existential threat
- Abstract: If emotions provide information relevant to personal meaning, then people with a greater sense of clarity about their emotions may possess some advantages in finding meaning in their lives. Consistent with this, in Studies 1, 2, and 3 we found that individuals high in trait emotional clarity have greater meaning in life. However, meaning is often undermined by existential threats. In two subsequent studies we measured (Study 4) or manipulated (Study 5) existentially threatening thoughts, and then measured meaning in life. Results showed that elevated death thoughts were associated with deficits in meaning for individuals with low, but not high, in trait emotional clarity. Taken together, these studies demonstrate that the extent to which one clearly understands their emotions contributes to perceptions of meaning in life and the maintenance of meaning in the context of existential threat.
- Autonomous and controlled reasons underlying achievement goals:
Implications for the 3 × 2 achievement goal model in
educational and work settings
- Abstract: The main purpose of the present research was to examine the effects of achievement goals (i.e., task-approach, task-avoidance, self-approach, self-avoidance, other-approach, and other-avoidance) and the autonomous and controlling reasons underlying their pursuit on educational (samples 1 and 2) and work (sample 3) outcomes (i.e., engagement, satisfaction, positive affect, and anxiety). The present results revealed that motivations underlying achievement goals are stronger predictors of subjective well-being than the endorsement of goals themselves. Theoretical implications and directions for future research are discussed.
- Motivational conflict influences the timing of emotions and their
- Abstract: Our emotional responses to stressors do not occur in a vacuum; rather, they are dependent upon the context in which they take place. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in identifying such contextual influences on emotional processes. However, two important questions have yet to be answered. First, little is known about how motivational context (e.g., motivational conflict) can affect the timing of emotional experiences (i.e., affective chronometry). Second, the influence of motivational context on the utilization of emotion regulation strategies has been largely unexplored. We recruited 166 participants and assigned them to a motivational conflict condition (watch a disgust-eliciting film clips while anticipating a food tasting) or one of two no conflict conditions (watch a disgust-eliciting film while anticipating a food-unrelated task or watch a craving-inducing film clip while anticipating a food tasting). We found that motivational conflict moderated the time course of anxiety. These findings highlight the importance of examining motivational processes when seeking to understand how and when individuals experience and regulate their emotions.
- Let’s be healthy together: Relational motivation for physical health
is more effective for women
- Abstract: Four studies examined the role of relationally-autonomous reasons in health behavior (RARHs) and how gender moderates their association with health outcomes. Study 1 (n = 160) involved the development of a measure of RARHs. The results of a factor analysis distinguished RARHs from other types of health reasons. In Study 2, participants (n = 284) completed a survey assessing their relational reasons prior to taking assessments of their body composition and fitness level. In Study 3, participants (n = 577) completed an online survey assessing RARHs, self-construal and health behaviors. The results of Studies 2 and 3 showed that RARHs positively predicted healthy outcomes for females only. In Study 4, participants (n = 72) were asked to complete an online survey, attend an orientation session, keep track of their exercise and nutrition over the course of a week, and attend a follow-up session. The results revealed that having an exercise partner was positively associated with RARHs, and that this in turn predicted reported effort and progress outcomes at the follow-up session for females only. Implications for theories of motivation and gender differences are discussed.
- Understanding the effects of exposure to humor expressing affiliative and
- Abstract: Using humor, being funny, and having a good sense of humor are often reported as desirable qualities. However, little attention has been paid to possible differences in responses to humor reflecting affiliative as opposed to aggressive motivations. In evaluating a stranger, when examples of affiliative and aggressive humor were presented as the stranger’s preferred humor, aggressive humor led to more negative impressions (Study 1). To further explore the impact of humor reflecting affiliative versus aggressive motivations, participants were exposed to equally funny videotapes representing the two humor styles (Study 2). Women’s reported affective experiences varied across the humor styles, but men’s did not. Women and men rated the affiliative video as being more positive than negative, but no differences in the qualities were found for the aggressive video. Results across the two studies demonstrate the importance of considering not just the funniness of humor efforts, but also the social motives conveyed by the humor. Given the complexity of responses to humor, additional research is needed to better understand the contexts within which being funny might have social benefits versus social costs.
- Toward a general theory of motivation: Problems, challenges,
opportunities, and the big picture
- Abstract: Motivation theories have tended to focus on specific motivations, leaving open the intellectually and scientifically challenging problem of how to construct a general theory of motivation. The requirements for such a theory are presented here. The primacy of motivation emphasizes that cognition, emotion, agency, and other psychological processes exist to serve motivation. Both state (impulses) and trait (basic drives) forms of motivation must be explained, and their relationship must be illuminated. Not all motivations are the same, and indeed it is necessary to explain how motivation evolved from the simple desires of simple animals into the complex, multifaceted forms of human motivation. Motivation responds to the local environment but may also adapt to it, such as when desires increase after satiation or diminish when satisfaction is chronically unavailable. Addiction may be a special case of motivation—but perhaps it is much less special or different than prevailing cultural stereotypes suggest. The relationship between liking and wanting, and the self-regulatory management of motivational conflict, also require explanation by an integrative theory.
- Emotion, controllability and orientation towards stress as correlates of
children’s coping with interpersonal stress
- Abstract: Guided by the motivational theory of coping (Skinner and Zimmer-Gembeck in Ann Rev Psychol 58:119–144. doi:10.1146/annurev.psych.58.110405.085705, 2007), we investigated children’s anticipated coping with three different stressful events (bullying, parental argument, parent–child verbal conflict), and examined whether their reliance on challenge coping responses versus threat coping responses could be accounted for by emotional reactions (including feelings of sadness, anger and fear), perceived controllability, and orientation or interest in the stressor. In addition, we examined parents’ reports of their children’s temperamental traits as correlates of coping. In random order followed by a positive stimulus, children (N = 206, age 8–12 years) watched each of the three stressful events, and reported their emotions, perceived control, orientation and coping after each one. As anticipated, results indicated that controllability was associated with more challenge coping (a composite of adaptive/approach coping responses such as problem solving and support seeking) and less threat coping (a composite of maladaptive/withdrawal coping responses such as helplessness and escape). In general, feelings of sadness were more strongly associated with challenge coping, whereas fear and anger especially related to more threat coping. Greater orientation towards the stressor was particularly predictive of more challenge coping, but also was associated with more threat coping in response to parent stressors. These associations were significant, even after controlling for temperament (negative reactivity, task persistence, withdrawal, and activity), which was generally unrelated to children’s coping. Other combinations of coping responses were also examined.
- Instrumental help-seeking as a function of normative performance goal
orientations: A “catastrophe”
- Abstract: Research on achievement goal theory has suggested significant links between goal adoption and help-seeking behaviors. The present study investigates the effects of actual achievement and emotions on help-seeking behavior under conditions of normative and non-normative performance approach goals. Data were collected from 120 university students who were tested individually in a number of tasks with the aid of a specialized software. A cusp catastrophe model was tested, which significantly predicted help-seeking as a function of student’s affective experience during the normative goal condition only. The emotions of anger, sadness and surprise acted as bifurcation factors, while achievement on the task acted as the asymmetry variable. Findings were not replicated in the non-normative goal condition with the linear model fitting the data best in the absence of normative evaluations. It is concluded that the cusp catastrophe model provides a better understanding of help-seeking behavior during achievement pursuits when the possibility of failure is imminent.
- Another’s punishment cleanses the self: Evidence for a moral
cleansing function of punishing transgressors
- Abstract: Separate lines of research show that individuals: (a) understand immorality metaphorically as physical contamination; (b) project undesirable self-attributes onto others; and (c) view punishment as eliminating a transgressor’s immorality. Integrating these findings, we hypothesized that individuals project guilt over their own immorality—represented as physical contamination—onto another transgressor whose punishment restores their own moral and physical purity. In Study 1, personal immorality salience decreased felt physical cleanliness unless another transgressor was punished. In Study 2, personal immorality salience led participants to see another transgressor as physically dirtier, an effect mediated by guilt. Furthermore, the punishment of the contaminated transgressor restored participants’ personal morality and eliminated restorative moral behavior. In Study 3, punishing a transgressor who served as a projection target for participants’ immorality removed felt physical contamination indirectly through decreased guilt. These studies are the first to show that another’s punishment can “cleanse” the self of “dirty” immorality feelings.
- Role of self-focus in the relationship between depressed mood and problem
- Abstract: We investigated the effects of adaptive and maladaptive forms of self-focus—specifically, self-reflection and self-rumination—on the relationship between depressed mood and everyday problem-solving behavior. Although previous research has consistently suggested that self-rumination disturbs problem solving and self-regulatory processes, thereby aggravating depressive symptoms, the association between self-reflection, problem solving, and its emotional consequences has not been demonstrated. Therefore, we assessed whether self-reflection can facilitate the emotion regulation function of problem solving through a daily diary method. Thirty-nine Japanese undergraduate and graduate students recorded daily depressed mood, the most stressful problem encountered each day, and whether they utilized problem-solving behaviors for seven consecutive days. Multilevel model analyses showed that individuals with higher levels of self-reflection reported lower depressed moods after enacting problem-solving behaviors, even if the problem that they had on that day was highly stressful. These results suggest that self-reflection enhances the mood regulation function of everyday problem-solving behavior, and may contribute to mental well-being and resilience to stress.
- The implicit need for power predicts recognition speed for dynamic changes
in facial expressions of emotion
- Abstract: Facial expressions of emotion (FEEs) have been portrayed as potent (dis-) incentives for power-motivated perceivers, because they signal the strength of a sender’s dominance (Stanton et al. in Implicit motives. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 245–278, 2010). Here, we tested the hypothesis that individuals with a high implicit power motive (nPower), who have a disposition to seek (emotional) impact on others, would be faster at recognizing FEEs than individuals low in nPower. In a task employing videos of morphed FEEs, which are gradually changing from neutral to either anger, joy or surprise, higher nPower predicted faster recognition of the displayed emotion as well as a tendency to misidentify joy as anger. Our findings suggest that one way through which people high in nPower are socially influential is their enhanced sensitivity to emotional signals in their social environment.