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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Friends

 

Are Close Friends the Enemy? Online Social Networks, Self-Esteem, and Self-Control

Keith Wilcox & Andrew Stephen
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Online social networks are used by hundreds of millions of people every day, but little is known about their effect on behavior. In five experiments, the authors demonstrate that social network use enhances self-esteem in users who are focused on close friends (i.e., strong ties) while browsing their social network. This momentary increase in self-esteem reduces self-control, leading those focused on strong ties to display less self-control after browsing a social network. Additionally, the authors present evidence suggesting that greater social network use is associated with a higher body mass index and higher levels of credit card debt for individuals with strong ties to their social network. This research extends previous findings by demonstrating that social networks primarily enhance self-esteem for those focused on strong ties during social network use. Additionally, this research has implications for policy makers because self-control is an important mechanism for maintaining social order and well-being.

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Optimal Social-Networking Strategy Is a Function of Socioeconomic Conditions

Shigehiro Oishi & Selin Kesebir
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the two studies reported here, we examined the relation among residential mobility, economic conditions, and optimal social-networking strategy. In Study 1, a computer simulation showed that regardless of economic conditions, having a broad social network with weak friendship ties is advantageous when friends are likely to move away. By contrast, having a small social network with deep friendship ties is advantageous when the economy is unstable but friends are not likely to move away. In Study 2, we examined the validity of the computer simulation using a sample of American adults. Results were consistent with the simulation: American adults living in a zip code where people are residentially stable but economically challenged were happier if they had a narrow but deep social network, whereas in other socioeconomic conditions, people were generally happier if they had a broad but shallow networking strategy. Together, our studies demonstrate that the optimal social-networking strategy varies as a function of socioeconomic conditions.

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Extraversion predicts longer survival in gorillas: An 18-year longitudinal study

Alexander Weiss et al.
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 7 February 2013

Abstract:
Personality plays an important role in determining human health and risk of earlier death. However, the mechanisms underlying those associations remain unknown. We moved away from testing hypotheses rooted in the activities of modern humans, by testing whether these associations are ancestral and one side of a trade-off between fitness costs and benefits. We examined personality predictors of survival in 283 captive western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) followed for 18 years. We found that of four gorilla personality dimensions - dominance, extraversion, neuroticism and agreeableness - extraversion was associated with longer survival. This effect could not be explained by demographic information or husbandry practices. These findings suggest that understanding how extraversion and other personality domains influence longevity requires investigating the evolutionary bases of this association in nonhuman primates and other species.

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Reduced plasma oxytocin levels in female patients with borderline personality disorder

Katja Bertsch et al.
Hormones and Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
The neuropeptide oxytocin is involved in social cognition and interaction across species and plays a crucial role in the regulation of affiliative behaviors. Oxytocin levels in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), but also in plasma or urine, have been shown to be negatively associated with childhood traumata, aggressive behavior, and suicide attempts. Recently, an altered activity of the oxytocin system has been discussed to play a prominent role in borderline personality disorder (BPD), which is thought to be closely related to traumatic experiences in childhood and is characterized by (para)suicidal behaviors as well as aggressive outbursts. In the present study, we compared plasma oxytocin levels of women with and without BPD in the follicular phase and assessed the relationship between oxytocin concentrations and childhood traumata. Women diagnosed with BPD had significantly reduced oxytocin concentrations, even after controlling for estrogen, progesterone, and contraceptive intake. In addition, plasma oxytocin correlated negatively with experiences of childhood traumata, in particular with emotional neglect and abuse. The results of mediation analyses do not support a model of oxytocin being a prominent mediator in the link between childhood trauma and BPD. Thus, the findings indicate dysregulations in the oxytocin system of patients diagnosed with BPD with more longitudinal research being necessary to disentangle the relationship between childhood adversities, oxytocin system, and psychopathology.

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Social support influences preferences for feminine facial cues in potential social partners

Christopher Watkins et al.
Experimental Psychology, November/December 2012, Pages 340-347

Abstract:
Most previous studies of individual differences in women's and men's preferences for sexually dimorphic physical characteristics have focused on the importance of mating-related factors for judgments of opposite-sex individuals. Although studies have suggested that people may show stronger preferences for feminine individuals of both sexes under conditions where social support may be at a premium (e.g., during phases of the menstrual cycle where raised progesterone prepares women's bodies for pregnancy), these studies have not demonstrated that perceptions of available social support directly influence femininity preferences. Here we found that (1) women and men randomly allocated to low social support priming conditions demonstrated stronger preferences for feminine shape cues in own- and opposite-sex faces than did individuals randomly allocated to high social support priming conditions and (2) that people perceived men and women displaying feminine characteristics as more likely to provide them with high-quality social support than those displaying relatively masculine characteristics. Together, these findings suggest that social support influences face preferences directly, potentially implicating facultative responses whereby people increase their preferences for pro-social individuals under conditions of low social support.

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Buffer the Pain Away: Stimulating the Right Ventrolateral Prefrontal Cortex Reduces Pain Following Social Exclusion

Paolo Riva et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

"Our results offer the first evidence that stimulation over the rVLPFC [right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex] reduces the painful effects of social exclusion. Excluded participants who received anodal tDCS [transcranial direct current stimulation] over the rVLPFC reported lower levels of pain unpleasantness and hurt feelings than those who received sham stimulation. In both cases, participants knew they were being socially excluded, but they were relatively unbothered by it if they received stimulation over the rVLPFC."

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Withholding negative feedback: Is it about protecting the self or protecting others?

Carla Jeffries & Matthew Hornsey
British Journal of Social Psychology, December 2012, Pages 772-780

Abstract:
The reluctance to deliver negative feedback to someone's face is widely documented. This research disentangles the extent to which this reluctance is motivated by a desire to protect the self as opposed to others. Participants assessed an essay written by someone with high, medium, or low self-esteem. Assessment of the essay was most positive when the feedback was to be provided face-to-face, less positive when delivered anonymously, and least positive when it was not required to be delivered at all. This effect only emerged among participants low in self-liking (but was unrelated to self-competency). The self-esteem of the essay writer had no effect on evaluations. The data lend support for a self-protection motive and modest support for an other-protection motive.

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Residential Mobility Increases Motivation to Expand Social Network: But Why?

Shigehiro Oishi et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, March 2013, Pages 217-223

Abstract:
We conducted two studies to explore psychological consequences of a mobile lifestyle. In Study 1, we found that participants who were randomly assigned to think about a mobile lifestyle used more loneliness and sadness-related words and anticipated having fewer friends in the future than those who thought about a stable lifestyle (or a typical day as a control). In Study 2, we replicated this finding with a non-college sample. In addition, we found that those in the mobility condition reported being more motivated to expand their social network. Finally, the effect of mobility on the motivation to expand social networks was mediated by anticipated loneliness and sadness.

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Intra- and Interracial Best Friendships During Middle School: Links to Social and Emotional Well-being

Rebecca Kang McGill, Niobe Way & Diane Hughes
Journal of Research on Adolescence, December 2012, Pages 722-738

Abstract:
This study examined patterns of intra- and interracial best friendships during middle school and their associations with social and emotional well-being. We hypothesized that intraracial friendships would be beneficial for racial or ethnic minority youth because such relationships provide protection and solidarity in a discriminatory society. Results revealed that most youth had only intraracial best friends during middle school, but 38% had at least one interracial best friend. Associations between interracial best friendships and well-being varied by racial group; Black and Asian American youth with only interracial best friends reported lower emotional well-being than those with only intraracial best friends. Additionally, intraracial best friendships were associated with higher conflict than interracial best friendships, especially for Black and Latino youth.

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Peer Group Influence on Urban Preadolescents' Attitudes Toward Material Possessions: Social Status Benefits of Material Possessions

Bing Shi & Hongling Xie
Journal of Consumer Affairs, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study explores peer influence on urban preadolescents' perceptions of social status benefits of material possessions. A longitudinal design is used. Natural, interaction-based peer groups are identified through the Social Cognitive Map procedure. Findings indicate that high-status rather than low-status peers in a group are influential on individuals. Strong influence of high-status peers is observed in both boys' and girls' groups. High-status peers are particularly influential on low-status individuals in girls' groups and on high-status individuals in boys' groups. Additionally, high-status peers' influence is stronger on African Americans than on Hispanic Americans and tends to be stronger on Hispanic Americans than on White Americans. These findings imply that special attention should be given to high-status youth in groups who highly endorse social benefits of material possessions. Characteristics of the target youth (e.g., gender, ethnicity and individual status) should be considered in future efforts for reducing the pervasiveness of materialism.

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Machiavellianism and Spontaneous Mentalization: One Step Ahead of Others

Zsofia Esperger & Tamas Bereczkei
European Journal of Personality, November/December 2012, Pages 580-587

Abstract:
In spite of the Machiavellians' successful strategies in exploitation of others, they show cognitive deficiencies, especially reduced mind-reading skill. Theory of mind is usually regarded as an ability to make inferences about the mental states of others and thus to predict their behaviour. In our study, we have instead emphasized a motivation-based approach, using the concept of spontaneous mentalization. This concept is construed solely in a motivational context and not in relation to the automaticity of mind-reading ability. It entails that people in their social relations make efforts to explore the thoughts and intentions of others and are motivated to make hypotheses about the mental state of the other person. We assumed that what is peculiar to Machiavellianism is spontaneous mentalization as a kind of motivation rather than mind-reading as an ability. To measure spontaneous mentalization, we created a set of image stimuli and asked our participants to describe their impressions of the pictures. The results show that individual differences in spontaneous mentalization correlate positively with the scores of Machiavellianism. These results suggest that those who have a stronger motivation for putting themselves into the mind of others can be more successful in misleading and exploiting them. Further research should be carried out to clarify how spontaneous mentalization and mind-reading ability relate to each other.

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Strong Genetic Contribution to Peer Relationship Difficulties at School Entry: Findings From a Longitudinal Twin Study

Michel Boivin et al.
Child Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study assessed the genetic and environmental contributions to peer difficulties in the early school years. Twins' peer difficulties were assessed longitudinally in kindergarten (796 twins, Mage = 6.1 years), Grade 1 (948 twins, Mage = 7.1 years), and Grade 4 (868 twins, Mage = 10 years) through multiple informants. The multivariate results revealed that genetic factors accounted for a strong part of both yearly and stable peer difficulties. At the univariate level, the genetic contributions emerged progressively, as did a growing consensus among informants with respect to those who experienced peer difficulties. These results underline the need to intervene early and persistently, and to target the child and the peer context to prevent peer difficulties and their consequences.

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Two Ways to the Top: Evidence That Dominance and Prestige Are Distinct Yet Viable Avenues to Social Rank and Influence

Joey Cheng et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The pursuit of social rank is a recurrent and pervasive challenge faced by individuals in all human societies. Yet, the precise means through which individuals compete for social standing remains unclear. In 2 studies, we investigated the impact of 2 fundamental strategies - Dominance (the use of force and intimidation to induce fear) and Prestige (the sharing of expertise or know-how to gain respect) - on the attainment of social rank, which we conceptualized as the acquisition of (a) perceived influence over others (Study 1), (b) actual influence over others' behaviors (Study 1), and (c) others' visual attention (Study 2). Study 1 examined the process of hierarchy formation among a group of previously unacquainted individuals, who provided round-robin judgments of each other after completing a group task. Results indicated that the adoption of either a Dominance or Prestige strategy promoted perceptions of greater influence, by both group members and outside observers, and higher levels of actual influence, based on a behavioral measure. These effects were not driven by popularity; in fact, those who adopted a Prestige strategy were viewed as likable, whereas those who adopted a Dominance strategy were not well liked. In Study 2, participants viewed brief video clips of group interactions from Study 1 while their gaze was monitored with an eye tracker. Dominant and Prestigious targets each received greater visual attention than targets low on either dimension. Together, these findings demonstrate that Dominance and Prestige are distinct yet viable strategies for ascending the social hierarchy, consistent with evolutionary theory.

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Interpreting a Helping Hand: Cultural Variation in the Effectiveness of Solicited and Unsolicited Social Support

Taraneh Mojaverian & Heejung Kim
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research has shown that Asians/Asian Americans are less likely to seek social support to deal with stressful situations than European Americans. Two studies examined the effectiveness of two types of social support: support that is sought directly (solicited support) and support received without prompting from the recipient (unsolicited support). It was theorized that receiving unsolicited support may reinforce social belonging and relational ties, whereas soliciting support may pose relational threats for Asian Americans. In contrast, European Americans may be less affected by type of support received. The first study examined culture (European American vs. Asian American) and type of social support (solicited vs. unsolicited) on stress responses to a task in a lab setting. The second study used vignettes of possible stressors with unsolicited or solicited coping techniques. Results supported our hypothesis, with Asian Americans reporting better outcomes from unsolicited support and European Americans showing little difference between support types.

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Ethnic differences in display rules are mediated by perceived relationship commitment

Hyi Sung Hwang & David Matsumoto
Asian American Journal of Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study investigated whether Asian Americans and European Americans differ in how to express and modify their perceived emotions in various relationships, and whether those ethnicity differences are mediated by self-reported ratings of perceived relationship commitment to the interactants. Seventy-four Asian American and 84 European American students at San Francisco State University participated in the study. Asian Americans and European Americans differently endorsed the expressivity and modification of their emotional expressions; Asian Americans endorsed the expression of their emotions less than European Americans, but endorsed the modification of their expressions more. Those findings were significantly related to ratings of perceived commitment to the interactants, and the perceived relationship commitment ratings mediated the ethnic group differences on endorsed expressivity. We concluded that some ethnic group differences in display rules for emotional expressions were accounted for by ethnic group differences in perceived relationship commitment.

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Cultural Differences in the Link Between Supportive Relationships and Proinflammatory Cytokines

Jessica Chiang et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research suggests that inflammation may partially mediate the link between supportiveness of social relationships and physical health. However, cultural differences between Asians and European Americans in the nature of relationships and in seeking social support suggest that there may be cultural differences in the relation between supportive relationships and proinflammatory activity. One hundred and twenty-one young adult participants completed assessments of support from their close relationships (parents, romantic partner, and close friends) and provided oral mucosal transudate samples for assessment of the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-6 (IL-6) and the type II soluble receptor for tumor necrosis factor-α (sTNFαRII). As predicted, more supportive relationships were related to lower levels of IL-6 among European Americans, but not among Asian Americans. There were no relations to sTNFαRII in either group. We conclude that associations between supportive relationships and inflammatory activity may differ in ways that reflect cultural differences in the construal of relationships and social support.

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Children's Cross-Ethnic Relationships in Elementary Schools: Concurrent and Prospective Associations Between Ethnic Segregation and Social Status

Travis Wilson & Philip Rodkin
Child Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examined whether ethnic segregation is concurrently (fall) and prospectively (fall to spring) associated with social status among 4th- and 5th-grade African American and European American children (n = 713, ages 9-11 years). Segregation measures were (a) same-ethnicity favoritism in peer affiliations and (b) cross-ethnicity dislike. Social status measures were same- and cross-ethnicity peer nominations of acceptance, rejection, and cool. Among African Americans, fall segregation predicted declines in cross-ethnicity (European American) acceptance and same-ethnicity rejection, and increases in same-ethnicity acceptance and perceived coolness. For European American children, fall segregation predicted declines in cross-ethnicity (African American) acceptance and increases in cross-ethnicity rejection. Results indicate that segregation induces asymmetric changes in social status for African American and European American children.

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Influentials, novelty, and social contagion: The viral power of average friends, close communities, and old news

Nicholas Harrigan, Palakorn Achananuparp & Ee-Peng Lim
Social Networks, October 2012, Pages 470-480

Abstract:
What is the effect of (1) popular individuals, and (2) community structures on the retransmission of socially contagious behavior? We examine a community of Twitter users over a five month period, operationalizing social contagion as ‘retweeting', and social structure as the count of subgraphs (small patterns of ties and nodes) between users in the follower/following network. We find that popular individuals act as ‘inefficient hubs' for social contagion: they have limited attention, are overloaded with inputs, and therefore display limited responsiveness to viral messages. We argue this contradicts the ‘law of the few' and ‘influentials hypothesis'. We find that community structures, particularly reciprocal ties and certain triadic structures, substantially increase social contagion. This contradicts the theory that communities display lower internal contagion because of the inherent redundancy and lack of novelty of messages within a community. Instead, we speculate that the reasons community structures show increased social contagion are, first, that members of communities have higher similarity (reflecting shared interests and characteristics, increasing the relevance of messages), and second, that communities amplify the social bonding effect of retransmitted messages.

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Groups being ostracized by groups: Is the pain shared, is recovery quicker, and are groups more likely to be aggressive?

Ilja van Beest et al.
Group Dynamics, December 2012, Pages 241-254

Abstract:
Considerable research has documented that brief and seemingly innocuous episodes of ostracism cause individuals to feel initial pain, distress, and threatened fundamental needs. How do ostracized groups respond? Does sharing ostracism with a cotarget reduce the distress? Are groups more aggressive than individuals, particularly if they are ostracized? Following a brief inclusion or ostracism experience in Cyberball, either as a solo or as a dyad, participants provided self-reports of need threats and mood during the game, and after a delay that allowed for reflection and coping. In addition, after this delay participants also had an opportunity to aggress. We found that ostracism's initial distress is not mitigated by being in a group. Instead, sharing the ostracism experience did moderate delayed responses. Sharing the ostracism experience did mitigate reflective self-reports of belonging, self-esteem, meaning, control and mood. Moreover, ostracism increased aggression and groups were more aggressive than individuals.

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Mirror, mirror on the wall, which form of narcissist knows self and others best of all?

Jennifer Vonk et al.
Personality and Individual Differences, February 2013, Pages 396-401

Abstract:
We examined the relationships of narcissism and its various facets with measures of cognition, such as perspective-taking/theory of mind, emotional intelligence, empathy, and systemizing, in a non-clinical sample of 368 undergraduate students. Social and physical causal reasoning was assessed using a novel procedure, which allowed for a thorough examination of participants' attributions of causes to social and non-social events. Results revealed that individuals high in grandiosity scored higher on measures of social reasoning, emotional intelligence, perspective-taking, systemizing, and empathy. Other facets of narcissism, as well as the overall construct of narcissism, were negatively associated with emotional intelligence, empathy, and perspective-taking. These results suggest that the facets of narcissism may differ considerably in their associations with various aspects of social cognition, which should prompt researchers to further examine the heterogeneous nature of narcissism.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM