Leader Board

Kevin Lewis

December 07, 2009

Knowing who's boss: Implicit perceptions of status from the nonverbal expression of pride

Azim Shariff & Jessica Tracy
Emotion, October 2009, Pages 631-639

Evolutionary theory suggests that the universal recognition of nonverbal expressions of emotions functions to enhance fitness. Specifically, emotion expressions may send survival-relevant messages to other social group members, who have the capacity to automatically interpret these signals. In the present research, we used 3 different implicit association methodologies to test whether the nonverbal expression of pride sends a functional, automatically perceived signal about a social group member's increased social status. Results suggest that the pride expression strongly signals high status, and this association cannot be accounted for by positive valence or artifacts of the expression such as expanded size due to outstretched arms. These findings suggest that the pride expression may function to uniquely communicate the high status of those who show it. Discussion focuses on the implications of these findings for social functions of emotion expressions and the automatic communication of status.


The Devil Wears Prada? Effects of Exposure to Luxury Goods on Cognition and Decision Making

Roy Chua & Xi Zou
Harvard Working Paper, November 2009

Although the concept of luxury has been widely discussed in social theories and marketing research, relatively little research has directly examined the psychological consequences of exposure to luxury goods. This paper demonstrates that mere exposure to luxury goods increases individuals' propensity to prioritize self-interests over others' interests, influencing the decisions they make. Experiment 1 found that participants primed with luxury goods were more likely than those primed with non-luxury goods to endorse business decisions that benefit themselves but could potentially harm others. Using a word recognition task, Experiment 2 further demonstrates that exposure to luxury is likely to activate self-interest but not necessarily the tendency to harm others. Implications of these findings were discussed.


Reducing Narcissistic Aggression by Buttressing Self-Esteem: An Experimental Field Study

Sander Thomaes, Brad Bushman, Bram Orobio de Castro, Geoffrey Cohen & Jaap Denissen
Psychological Science, December 2009, Pages 1536-1542

Narcissistic individuals are prone to become aggressive when their egos are threatened. We report a randomized field experiment that tested whether a social-psychological intervention designed to lessen the impact of ego threat reduces narcissistic aggression. A sample of 405 young adolescents (mean age = 13.9 years) were randomly assigned to complete either a short self-affirmation writing assignment (which allowed them to reflect on their personally important values) or a control writing assignment. We expected that the self-affirmation would temporarily attenuate the ego-protective motivations that normally drive narcissists' aggression. As expected, the self-affirmation writing assignment reduced narcissistic aggression for a period of a school week, that is, for a period up to 400 times the duration of the intervention itself. These results provide the first empirical demonstration that buttressing self-esteem (as opposed to boosting self-esteem) can be effective at reducing aggression in at-risk youth.


Yes We Did! Basking in Reflected Glory and Cutting Off Reflected Failure in the 2008 Presidential Election

Chris Miller
Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, December 2009, Pages 283-296

In two studies, the tendency to Bask in Reflected Glory (BIRG) or Cut Off Reflected Failure (CORF) was examined in the context of the 2008 presidential election. Experiment 1, a field study, found that yard or window signs endorsing successful Democratic candidate Barack Obama were displayed longer than signs endorsing his opponent. Experiment 2 utilized a survey methodology to explore moderators of the BIRG effect implied by prior research. Self-esteem was shown to moderate CORF, such that individuals with lower self-esteem distanced themselves from the unsuccessful presidential candidate. Other moderators consistent with the cognitive consistency basis of BIRG, strength of identification and self-serving attributions, were not. Reasons for these findings are discussed, and future directions for research on BIRG are proposed.


Oligarchy in the United States?

Jeffrey Winters & Benjamin Page
Perspectives on Politics, December 2009, Pages 731-751

We explore the possibility that the US political system can usefully be characterized as oligarchic. Using a material-based definition drawn from Aristotle, we argue that oligarchy is not inconsistent with democracy; that oligarchs need not occupy formal office or conspire together or even engage extensively in politics in order to prevail; that great wealth can provide both the resources and the motivation to exert potent political influence. Data on the US distributions of income and wealth are used to construct several Material Power Indices, which suggest that the wealthiest Americans may exert vastly greater political influence than average citizens and that a very small group of the wealthiest (perhaps the top tenth of 1 percent) may have sufficient power to dominate policy in certain key areas. A brief review of the literature suggests possible mechanisms by which such influence could occur, through lobbying, the electoral process, opinion shaping, and the US Constitution itself.


Getting What You Want: Power Increases the Accessibility of Active Goals

Letitia Slabu & Ana Guinote
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Power facilitates goal-directed behavior. Two studies, using different types of goals, examined the cognitive mechanisms that underlie this tendency. Participants, primed with power or powerlessness, performed lexical decision tasks that assessed the relative facilitation of goal-relevant constructs during goal striving and after goal attainment. Results showed that during goal striving powerful participants manifested an increased facilitation of goal-relevant constructs compared to other constructs, and this facilitation decreased immediately after goal completion. In contrast, their powerless counterparts showed less facilitation of goal constructs during goal striving and maintained goal accessibility after completion. These results are consistent with the effects of power on goal-directed behavior found in past research.


The Contemporary Presidency: The Political Utility of Empathy in Presidential Leadership

Colleen Shogan
Presidential Studies Quarterly, December 2009, Pages 859-877

In simple and precise terms, empathy is feeling what another person feels. It is the perception of another person's emotions. A debate over the importance of empathy in political leadership has generated considerable controversy since the 2008 election. However, Barack Obama's presidency is not the first to be affected by empathy; it has played an influential role in presidential leadership throughout American history. Focusing on the presidencies of Abraham Lincoln, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, this essay explains why empathy is a critical governing and political resource, and argues that a paucity or excess of empathy can prove a dangerous liability for presidents.


Are Three Heads Better than One? How Inter- and Intra-Group Mechanisms Promote Group Rationality

Eileen Chou & Katherine Williams Phillips
Northwestern University Working Paper, June 2009

Are groups more rational than individuals? This paper investigates group rationality by examining whether group formations facilitate rational decision making. Study 1 found that, within the context of a 2-person beauty contest game, groups behave more rationally and are more likely to attain full rationality than individuals. Study 2 examines whether the locus of this group rationality effect resides within the individual group members. We extrapolate two motivating mechanisms that approximate the inter- and intra-group interactions group-members experience - competitiveness and self-presentation concerns - and impose them on individuals. Results show that together, these motivating mechanisms are strong enough to promote individual rationality to the group level. This suggests that the locus of rationality resides within individual members of the group - each of the three heads holds the secret to why three heads are better than one. The paper concludes with some practical implications of our findings.


Seeding in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament: When is a Higher Seed Better?

Sheldon Jacobson & Douglas King
Journal of Gambling Business and Economics, September 2009, Pages 63-87

A number of methods have been proposed for predicting game winners in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's (NCAA) annual men's college basketball championship tournament. Since 1985, more than 70% of the teams in the fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds of the tournament have been high-seeded teams (i.e., teams assigned seeds of one, two, or three); a method that can accurately compare two such teams is often necessary to predict games in these rounds. This paper statistically analyzes tournaments from 1985 to 2009. A key finding is that there is an insignificant difference between the historical win percentages of high-seeded teams in each of the fourth, fifth, and sixth tournament rounds, which implies that choosing the higher seed to win games between these seeds does not provide accurate predictions in these rounds, and alternate predictors or methods should be sought. Implications on gambling point spreads are discussed.


Does it pay to be smart, attractive, or confident (or all three)? Relationships among general mental ability, physical attractiveness, core self-evaluations, and income

Timothy Judge, Charlice Hurst & Lauren Simon
Journal of Applied Psychology, May 2009, Pages 742-755

The authors investigated core self-evaluations and educational attainment as mediating mechanisms for the influence of appearance (physical attractiveness) and intelligence (general mental ability) on income and financial strain. The direct effects of core self-evaluations on financial strain, as well as the indirect effects through income, were also considered. Longitudinal data were obtained as part of a national study, the Harvard Study of Health and Life Quality, and proposed models were evaluated with structural equation modeling. Results supported a partially mediated model, such that general mental ability and physical attractiveness exhibited both direct and indirect effects on income, as mediated by educational attainment and core self-evaluations. Finally, income negatively predicted financial strain, whereas core self-evaluations had both a direct and an indirect (through income) negative effect on financial strain. Overall, the results suggest that looks (physical attractiveness), brains (intelligence), and personality (core self-evaluations) are all important to income and financial strain.


The looks of a winner: Beauty and electoral success

Niclas Berggren, Henrik Jordahl & Panu Poutvaara
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

We study the role of beauty in politics using candidate photos that figured prominently in electoral campaigns. Our investigation is based on visual assessments of 1929 Finnish political candidates from 10,011 respondents (of which 3708 were Finnish). As Finland has a proportional electoral system, we are able to compare the electoral success of non-incumbent candidates representing the same party. An increase in our measure of beauty by one standard deviation is associated with an increase of 20% in the number of votes for the average non-incumbent parliamentary candidate. The relationship is unaffected by including education and occupation as control variables and withstands several other robustness checks.


Money and success - Sibling and birth-order effects on positional concerns

Elina Lampi & Katarina Nordblom
Journal of Economic Psychology, forthcoming

Survey data is used to investigate how birth order and presence/absence of siblings affect positional concerns in terms of success at work and of earned income. We find that people's positional concerns in terms of work-related issues generally are weak, but there are some differences in this regard: We find that only-children are the most concerned with relative position. Moreover, even if birth order itself has very small effects, the positional concern increases with the number of siblings among those who grew up together with siblings. Furthermore, people whose parents often compared them with their siblings generally have stronger positional concerns. We also find that younger respondents are far more concerned with relative position than older in all studied situations.


Power-Distance Belief and Impulsive Buying

Yinlong Zhang, Karen Page Winterich & Vikas Mittal
Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

The authors propose that power-distance belief (accepting and expecting power disparity) influences impulsive buying beyond other related cultural dimensions like individualism-collectivism. This research supports an associative account for linking PDB and impulsive buying, a manifestation of self control such that those with higher PDB display less impulsive buying. Further, this effect manifests for vice products but not for virtue products. The authors also find the restraint to resist temptations can occur automatically for those with repeated practice (i.e., chronically high PDB). Taken together, these results imply that products should be differentially positioned as vice or virtue products based on consumers' power-distance beliefs.

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