- All smiles perceived equally: Facial expressions trump target
characteristics in impression formation
- Abstract: Race, gender, and emotionally expressive facial behavior have been associated with trait inferences in past research. However, it is unclear how interactions among these factors influence trait perceptions. In the current research, we test the roles of targets’ race, gender, and facial expression along with participants’ culture in predicting personality ratings. Caucasian and Asian-American participants rated the big-5 personality traits of either smiling or inexpressive photographs of Caucasian and Asian male and female faces. Ratings of extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness differed significantly across inexpressive targets as a function of race and gender categorization and individual characteristics. Smiling was associated with reduced variation in perceptions of targets’ extraversion and agreeableness relative to ratings made of inexpressive targets. In addition, participant culture generally did not significantly impact trait ratings. Results suggest that emotionally expressive facial behavior reduces the use of information based on race or gender in forming impressions of interpersonally relevant traits.
- The association between vivid thoughts of death and authenticity
- Abstract: Many theoretical perspectives link death-related thoughts to authenticity; however, there is little empirical research directly examining this association. The current studies examined how recalling a vivid experience associated with mortality relates to outcomes indicative of authentic engagement. In Study 1, participants described an experience that made them think about their mortality, indicated how vivid their recollection was, and completed measures of authenticity and goal-pursuit. Results indicated that how vividly a mortality experience was recalled predicted greater authenticity and more important goal-pursuits. Study 2 replicated many of the findings and found a similar pattern when individuals vividly recalled a mortality experience of a close other. Study 3 again replicated these results after controlling for a host of death-related variables. Exploratory analyses further revealed that ruminating about death was often negatively associated with authenticity. Implications for the role of death-related thoughts in authentic and alienated becoming are discussed.
- Comparing the effects of low-level and high-level worker
need-satisfaction: A synthesis of the self-determination and Maslow need
- Abstract: According to Maslow’s (Psychol Rev 50:370–396, 1943) hierarchical theory of needs, people do not become sensitized to “higher” level needs until they have satisfied their “lower” level needs (a moderator hypothesis); until then, they are unprepared to benefit from higher-level satisfactions. But according to the self-determination theory (SDT) model, high-level psychological needs, when met, are non-contingently beneficial (a main effect-only hypothesis). In two large-N studies of Russian energy companies, we measured low-level need-satisfaction in terms of felt security and felt financial satisfaction, and measured high-level need satisfaction in terms of SDT’s basic needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. In both studies, both the lower level and higher level need-satisfaction sets had strong main effects upon many positive work outcomes, including intrinsic motivation, organizational commitment, and SWB. In Study 2, Maslow’s “prepared to benefit” hypothesis was supported, in that satisfaction of high-level needs had slightly larger effects on outcomes when combined with satisfaction of low-level needs. However this was not found in Study 1. Potentials for integrating the SDT and Maslow need theories are discussed.
- Familiarity increases subjective positive affect even in non-affective and
- Abstract: Previous research shows that the experience of familiarity involves the experience of positive affect. In two experiments we clarify and extend this research by showing that the experience of familiarity involves the experience of positive affect even when the nature of the experimental task is non-affective and non-evaluative and even when participants are actively performing other cognitive operations—that the association of familiarity and positive affect is not disrupted by (non-affective and non-evaluative) judgments regardless of whether familiarity does or does not play a role in those judgments. Experiment 1 used a non-affective but evaluative task and Experiment 2 a completely non-evaluative task. Both studies manipulated familiarity through re-exposure and showed that processing familiar stimuli induced a pleasurable subjective experience.
- When context matters : Negative emotions predict psychological health and
- Abstract: Functional theories of emotion argue for the adaptive function of negative emotions in response to specific contextual or environmental demands. However, data supporting these theories in community samples is limited and much research has suggested the opposite: negative emotions predict poor adjustment. To begin to address this discrepancy, we tested the functional association between negative emotion and psychological health and adjustment across three diverse samples: adults in intimate-partnerships, patients with chronic illness, and first-year college students. In each study we employed lab-based methods to elicit and index emotion as a multi-dimensional response system and considered contextual factors and the theorized or demonstrated function of negative emotions in that context and in relation to specific outcomes. Data analysis revealed that contextually sensitive negative emotion was adaptive, and associated with better relationship adjustment and related behaviors (Study 1), higher treatment adherence (Study 2), and adaptive responses to peer rejection (Study 3). Across samples, circumstances, and outcomes, negative emotions were positively associated with psychological health and adjustment.
- Empathy, emotion dysregulation, and enhanced microexpression recognition
- Abstract: The present study examined empathy and emotion dysregulation, two individual traits related to the perception and experience of others’ emotions, and the recognition of both spontaneous and standardized microexpressions of emotion. Ninety-three participants viewed a stimulus set of natural (spontaneous) microexpressions in addition to completing a standardized test of microexpression recognition ability, as well as completing questionnaires on empathy and emotion dysregulation. Results indicate that emotion dysregulation is associated with enhanced microexpression recognition, particularly recognition of anger microexpressions, but that this enhanced recognition was only observed for standardized microexpressions. Empathy was associated with increased recognition of anger microexpressions in the natural stimulus set only, and was not associated with overall microexpression recognition accuracy in either the natural stimulus set or the standardized test. The present findings inform understanding of intrapersonal affective traits in subtle emotion recognition, and theoretical and practical implications are discussed in both clinical and deception detection contexts.
- Why individuals want money is what matters: Using self-determination
theory to explain the differential relationship between motives for making
money and employee psychological health
- Abstract: Researchers have debated for years whether money can lead to happiness. Indeed, the findings to date are contradictory in regard to the impact of individuals’ motives for making money on their psychological well-being. This study aimed to reconcile these findings and show that certain motives for making money can be beneficial to individuals’ psychological health, while others can be detrimental, not only by reducing well-being, but also by increasing ill-being. Based on self-determination theory, basic psychological needs (autonomy, competence, and relatedness) were hypothesized to be the psychological mechanism explaining these differential effects. More precisely, need satisfaction and need frustration were hypothesized to mediate the relationship between employees’ money motives and psychological health (well-being and ill-being). Our findings suggest that self-integrated motives for making money lead to greater well-being and lesser ill-being by positively predicting need satisfaction and negatively predicting need frustration. On the other hand, non-integrated motives for making money appear to result in lesser well-being and greater ill-being by being negatively associated with need satisfaction and positively associated with need frustration. Together, these findings suggest that money motives can have differential effects on employees’ psychological health depending on whether these underlying reasons are need-satisfying or need-frustrating life goals.
- No country for girly men: High instrumentality men express empathic
concern when caring is “manly”
- Abstract: Two studies explored the relationship between men’s gender role identity (as measured by the Bem Sex Role Inventory) and their experience of empathic concern (situational empathy). In both, participants read of a man coping with his friend’s death while being exposed to one of three subliminal primes: “real men care”/“caring is strength,” “girly men care”/“caring is weakness,” or “people are walking.” Congruent with previous research, higher femininity (expressivity) predicted greater empathic concern irrespective of prime. The real men/strength primes tended to: (1) increase empathic concern among high instrumentality men; and (2) link empathic concern to predominantly positive projected coping responses when participants thought of themselves in the survivor’s situation, consistent with the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. Thus, subtly framing empathic concern as a positive emotional response that is congruent with an agentic self-appraisal seems to boost traditionally masculine men’s willingness to experience it.
- Mistakes pertaining to undesired (relative to desired) self-standards
elicit immediate enhanced electrocortical signals of error processing
- Abstract: Past research provides initial evidence that errors pertaining to undesired (vs. desired) self-standards are of greater motivational significance, but little is known about how quickly people recognize and respond to such errors. To examine immediate responses to errors pertaining to desired and undesired self-standards, we assessed event-related potentials (ERPs) while participants judged self-attributes as personally desirable or undesirable. No discernible differences emerged in ERPs associated with correct responses to undesired compared to desired self-standards. Error-related negativities, shown in past work to index motivational significance, and error positivities, shown in past work to index post-error adjustment, were more pronounced when participants erroneously endorsed undesirable self-standards than when they erroneously failed to endorse desirable self-standards. These electrophysiological correlates of differences in the motivational significance of undesired versus desired self-standards emerged within 400 ms of making an error, suggesting that the impact of these errors does not require extensive deliberation.
- When unfair treatment helps performance
- Abstract: Human beings are responsive to fairness violations. People reject unfair offers and go out of their way to punish those who behave unfairly. However, little is known regarding when unfair treatment can either help or harm performance. We found that basketball players were more likely to make free throws after being awarded a foul specific to unfair treatment (Study 1). Similarly, hockey players were more likely to score during a penalty shot compared to a shootout (Study 2). A laboratory experiment showed that participants were more accurate at golf putting after a previous attempt had been unfairly nullified (Study 3). However, a final experiment revealed that when the task was more demanding, unfair treatment resulted in worse performance (Study 4). Moreover, this effect was mediated by feelings of anger and frustration. These results suggest that performance is sensitive to perceptions of fairness and justice.
- Forcing your luck: Goal-striving behavior in chance situations
- Abstract: Previous research suggests that desired end-states (i.e., goals) initiate a set of motivational processes supporting goal-attainment. For example, motivational intensity (e.g., effort investment) increases as distance to the goal decreases. The present studies investigate whether this goal-gradient can also be observed in chance determined situations, situations in which there is a desired end-state (i.e., winning) but in which increased effort investment does not support goal-attainment. Three studies provide consistent evidence for the goal-gradient in chance determined situations. We show that participants (in the lab and in a TV game show) invest more effort into goal-directed behavior the closer they get to the end of the game. The moderation of expectancy and value was, however, modest. Interestingly, participants’ self-reports suggest that their dynamic changes in behavior were unintentional and perceived as non-instrumental. Findings are related to theories of goal pursuit and illusory control, and contrasted to the principle of resource conservation, according to which such behavior should not occur.
- Dissociable effects of fear and disgust in proactive and reactive
- Abstract: Numerous studies have demonstrated that negative emotional distracters impair inhibitory control. Nevertheless, two issues have emerged in prior studies. First, fear and disgust were inappropriately treated as a single category, which is particularly concerning given that they have been recently demonstrated to exert different impacts on inhibitory control. Second, inhibitory control might not be a unitary construct, as it can be further divided into proactive and reactive inhibition. Therefore, the present study aimed to investigate whether fearful and disgusting distracters have differential effects on proactive and reactive inhibition. Twenty-four female participants were instructed to perform a modified stop-signal task superimposed on a fearful, disgusting, or neutral image cue. Results showed that fearful distracters improved reactive inhibition when compared to disgusting and neutral distracters, while disgusting distracters enhanced proactive inhibition when compared to fearful distracters. Further, reactive and proactive inhibition was positively correlated under fearful, disgusting, and neutral contexts. This study is the first to provide evidence that fear and disgust may affect proactive and reactive inhibition differently. These results add to a growing literature linking emotion and inhibitory control, and they expand our understanding of the relationship between emotion and inhibition.
- 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.
- Startle modulation during violent films: Association with
callous–unemotional traits and aggressive behavior
- Abstract: The current study examined the unique and interactive associations of callous–unemotional (CU) traits, impulsive and premeditated aggression with startle modulation to violent films. Eighty-five participants (Mage = 20.52) at differential risk of CU traits, selected from a sample of 1105 young adults, participated in the physiological experiment. Startle eye-blink responses to acoustic probes were recorded during violent, comedy and neutral films. Self-report ratings of valence and arousal were also collected. Findings from regression analysis documented that CU traits were associated with diminished startle potentiation to violent films, whereas impulsive aggression was associated with increases in startle potentiation. Further, the negative association between CU traits with startle potentiation, valence, and arousal ratings to violent films was moderated by impulsive aggression. At the group level, individuals high on impulsive aggression without CU traits were the ones showing the highest levels of startle potentiation to violent films, and scored on the opposite extreme compared to individuals high on both CU traits and impulsive aggression.
- Autonomy support and diastolic blood pressure: Long term effects and
conflict navigation in romantic relationships
- Abstract: Perceiving autonomy support—or encouragement to be oneself—from a romantic partner or other close relationship partners has been shown to yield a variety of psychological health benefits, but it is less clear how perceiving autonomy support from partners is linked to physical health. In two studies we examine the associations between receiving autonomy support in romantic relationships and diastolic blood pressure, an important indicator of cardiovascular health. Results of a longitudinal study found support for a model in which autonomy supportive romantic relationships are linked with lower diastolic blood pressure. Whereas Study 1 showed general longitudinal effects, Study 2 revealed the importance of receiving autonomy support from partners during times of conflict. Implications of the findings will be discussed in the context of self-determination theory.
- Anhedonic symptoms of depression are linked to reduced motivation to
obtain a reward
- Abstract: People with depression report reduced motivation to obtain a reward and reduced affective responses to reward. However, studies focusing on the relation between anhedonia and deficits in reward processing are scarce. Furthermore, studies investigating wanting through cardiovascular reactivity and liking through facial electromyography in human beings are also scarce. In this study, we used the Temporal Experience of Pleasure Scale score as a continuous predictor variable of anhedonia and we manipulated two within-person conditions (wanting vs. liking). Participants earned money if their performance on a memory task exceeded a particular standard. As expected, effort-related cardiovascular reactivity and self-reports during the anticipatory phase were lower for participants scoring high on anhedonia. Moreover, task performance outcomes were worse for highly anhedonic participants. However, the zygomaticus major muscle’s activity during the consummatory phase was unrelated to the anhedonia score. The present study underlines the importance of anhedonic symptoms, particularly in reduced anticipatory motivation to obtain a reward.
- Motivating the academic mind: High-level construal of academic goals
enhances goal meaningfulness, motivation, and self-concordance
- Abstract: How one thinks about or conceptualizes a goal has important consequences for the motivational features of goal pursuit. Two experiments tested the hypothesis, inspired by work on meaning in life, action identification theory, and expectancy-value theory, that high-level construal of an academic goal should enhance motivation to pursue that goal. In each experiment, we manipulated high-level versus low-level construal of an academic goal and assessed several variables related to the goal: the perceived meaningfulness of the goal, motivation to pursue the goal, and goal self-concordance. Supporting the hypothesis, individuals who thought about their academic goal in a high-level manner viewed their goal as more meaningful, reported being more motivated to pursue the goal, and reported the goal to be more self-concordant. Implications and future directions are discussed.
- Goals in bipolar I disorder: Big dreams predict more mania
- Abstract: Bipolar I disorder (BD) is related to overly valued and ambitious goal setting. The purpose of this study was to assess whether people with BD would express highly ambitious goals and show greater arousal when asked to describe their goals, and whether indices of ambition and arousal during goal narratives would predict follow-up symptom severity. Fifty-two individuals diagnosed with BD I per the SCID, followed until remission, and 49 well-matched controls were asked to imagine and describe goals coming true. Heart rate and skin response responses were gathered as indices of sympathetic arousal. Praat analyses were used to code vocal parameters associated with arousal during goal discussions. At 6-month follow-up, the BD group completed standardized symptom severity interviews. Diagnostic groups did not differ significantly on arousal indices during goal discussion. The BD group described goals that were rated objectively as more difficult to achieve, and these more ambitious goal descriptions predicted increases in manic symptoms over time. Implications for clinical interventions are discussed.
- State anxiety reduces procrastinating behavior
- Abstract: Three experiments conducted in China and the US investigated the impact of state anxiety on behavioral procrastination. Participants were induced into a high- or a low-anxiety state and then given a period of 12 min either to practice for an upcoming test or entertain themselves (e.g., watch videos). The results showed that participants in a high-anxiety state spent more time practicing for the upcoming test than participants in a low-anxiety state. Impulsivity and trait procrastination were also measured. Impulsivity was found to be positively correlated with both trait procrastination and dilatory behavior. Overall the findings support a self-regulatory theory account such that the negative emotion associated with anxiety motivates people to increase the effort towards reaching a goal and take proactive measures for the most important task, thus reducing procrastination.
- Prosocial behavior increases well-being and vitality even without contact
with the beneficiary: Causal and behavioral evidence
- Abstract: A number of studies have shown that prosocial behavior is associated with enhanced well-being, but most prior experimental studies have involved actual or potential face-to-face contact with the beneficiary. To establish that it is prosocial behavior itself, and not only an increased sense of social relatedness to the recipient that improves well-being, participants (n = 76) were invited to play a simple computer game, where half were made aware of a chance to have an anonymous prosocial impact through gameplay. As compared to the control condition, this group experienced more positive affect, meaningfulness and marginally more vitality. Going beyond self-reported outcomes, they also demonstrated better post-game performance on a subsequent Stroop task, providing behavioral evidence for the positive effects of prosocial behavior. Also supported was the hypothesis that these positive effects of prosocial behavior on well-being were mediated by subjectively assessed autonomy and competence need satisfactions.