A Feeling About Something

Kevin Lewis

December 22, 2009

She's emotional. He's having a bad day: Attributional explanations for emotion stereotypes

Lisa Barrett & Eliza Bliss-Moreau
Emotion, October 2009, Pages 649-658

People believe that women are the more emotional sex. This belief stems less from what men and women actually do than from the explanations given for their behaviors. In 2 studies, participants who were given situational information about the causes of emotional expression in target faces nonetheless more frequently judged feminine targets depicting emotions as "emotional" (i.e., a dispositional attribution for the emotional behavior), whereas they more frequently judged masculine targets as "having a bad day" (i.e., a situational attribution for the emotional behavior). These findings help explain the pervasive belief that women are more emotional when compared with men, even when the scientific veracity of this belief is questionable.


Induced Cognitions of Love and Helpfulness to Lost Persons

Jacques Fischer-Lokou, Lubomir Lamy & Nicolas Guéguen
Social Behavior and Personality, Fall 2009, Pages 1213-1220

In a field experiment, a total of 161 male and 175 female passersby were asked to remember a love episode or, in the control condition, the memory of a piece of music. They then encountered another confederate who asked for directions. Results showed that participants previously induced with the idea of love spent more time giving directions than did participants in the control group, and that men who retrieved the memory of a love episode were more helpful to female than to male confederates. Results are discussed in light of the gender-role theory of helping (Eagly & Crowley, 1986).


Emotional expressivity as a signal of cooperation

Joanna Schug, David Matsumoto, Yutaka Horita, Toshio Yamagishi & Kemberlee Bonnet
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Previous research has suggested that the spontaneous display of positive emotion may be a reliable signal of cooperative tendency in humans. Consistent with this proposition, several studies have found that self-reported cooperators indeed display higher levels of positive emotions than non-cooperators. In this study, we defined cooperators and non-cooperators in terms of their behavior as the proposer in an ultimatum game, and video-taped their facial expressions as they faced unfair offers as a responder. A detailed analysis of the facial expressions displayed by participants revealed that cooperators displayed greater amounts of emotional expressions, not limited to positive emotional expression, when responding to unfair offers in the ultimatum game. These results suggest that cooperators may be more emotionally expressive than non-cooperators. We speculate that emotional expressivity can be a more reliable signal of cooperativeness than the display of positive emotion alone.


Rejected by the Nation: The Electoral Defeat of Candidates Included in the Self Is Experienced as Personal Rejection

Steven Young, Michael Bernstein & Heather Claypool
Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, December 2009, Pages 315-326

The current research was designed to examine how the outcome of the 2008 United States presidential election would affect participants' feelings of being rejected. Specifically, we set out to test whether participants who favored the losing candidate would feel as if they had been personally rejected. Additionally, we were interested in whether these feelings of rejection would be predicted by the extent to which participants included the major party candidates in their own self-representation, as measured with the Inclusion of Other in the Self (IOS) scale. We find that conservative participants who included John McCain in the self reported feeling less satisfaction of their basic needs (a composite of belonging, self-esteem, belief in a meaningful existence, and sense of control), compared with conservative participants low in McCain IOS, and these effects are independent of mood. Applied and theoretical implications of these results are discussed.


How beliefs influence the relative magnitude of pleasure and pain

Barbara Mellers & Ilana Ritov
Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, forthcoming

Loss aversion is an economic assumption about utility - people value giving up a good more than they value getting it. It also has hedonic meaning - the pain of a loss is greater in magnitude than the pleasure of a comparable gain. But value and pleasure are not necessarily identical. We test the hedonic interpretation of loss aversion in experimental markets. With hedonic forecasts, sellers imagine the pain of losing their endowment, and buyers imagine the pleasure of being endowed. With hedonic experiences, sellers rate the pleasure of having the endowment, and buyers rate the pain of being without it. Contrary to loss aversion, predicted pleasure is greater in magnitude than predicted pain, and experienced pleasure surpasses experienced pain. We show that the relative magnitude of pleasure and pain depends on beliefs about the likelihood of outcomes, as well as utilities. Surprise makes gains more pleasurable and losses more painful. With surprising gains and expected losses, pleasure can surpass pain. But when gains and losses are equally likely (or losses are surprising and gains are expected), the opposite pattern can occur. Finally, within-group and between-group prices are significantly correlated with hedonic experiences. Sellers who feel better with their endowments assign higher selling prices, and buyers who feel worse about the absence of endowment assign higher buying prices. Despite the fact that hedonic experiences deviate from loss aversion, these emotions predict the endowment effect.


Feeling Good About Giving: The Benefits (and Costs) of Self-Interested Charitable Behavior

Lalin Anik, Lara Aknin, Michael Norton & Elizabeth Dunn
Harvard Working Paper, August 2009

While lay intuitions and pop psychology suggest that helping others leads to higher levels of happiness, the existing evidence only weakly supports this causal claim: Research in psychology, economics, and neuroscience exploring the benefits of charitable giving has been largely correlational, leaving open the question of whether giving causes greater happiness. In this chapter, we have two primary aims. First, we review the evidence linking charitable behavior and happiness. We present research from a variety of samples (adults, children and primates) and methods (correlational and experimental) demonstrating that happier people give more, that giving indeed causes increased happiness, and that these two relationships may operate in a circular fashion. Second, we consider whether advertising these benefits of charitable giving - asking people to give in order to be happy - may have the perverse consequence of decreasing charitable giving, crowding out intrinsic motivations to give by corrupting a purely social act with economic considerations.


Happiness the World Over

Rita Simon & Andrew Bennett
Gender Issues, December 2009, Pages 183-204

In the 21 countries reported in "Happiness the World Over" the relationships between subjective wellbeing were found to be positively correlated with countries that enjoy individual and economic freedom, higher life expectancy, lower rates of infant mortality and greater wealth. There were no significant correlations between happiness and marriage rates, divorce rates, fertility rates, literacy rates, suicide rates and penal incarceration rates.


National Wellbeing and Major Sports Events

Georgios Kavetsos & Stefan Szymanski
Journal of Economic Psychology, forthcoming

The widely proclaimed economic benefits of hosting major sporting events have received substantial criticism by academic economists and have been shown to be negligible, at best. The aim of this paper is to formally examine the existence of another potential impact: national wellbeing or the so-called "feelgood" factor. Using data on self-reported life satisfaction for twelve European countries we test for the impact of hosting and of national athletic success on happiness. Our data covers three different major events: the Olympic Games, the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championship. We find that the "feelgood" factor associated with hosting football events is large and significant, but that the impact of national athletic success on happiness, while correctly signed, is statistically insignificant.


Searing Sentiment or Cold Calculation? The Effects of Leader Emotional Displays on Team Performance Depend on Follower Epistemic Motivation

Gerben Van Kleef, Astrid Homan, Bianca Beersma, Daan Van Knippenberg, Barbara Van Knippenberg & Frederic Damen Academy of Management Journal, June 2009

We examined how leader emotional displays affect team performance. We developed and tested the idea that the effects of leader displays of anger versus happiness depend on followers' epistemic motivation (EM), the desire to develop a thorough understanding of the situation. Experimental data on four-person teams engaged in an interdependent team task showed that teams with higher EM performed better when their leader displayed anger (mediated by team members' performance inferences), whereas teams with lower EM performed better when the leader expressed happiness (mediated by team members' affective reactions). Theoretical contributions and managerial ramifications of the findings are discussed.


Effects of a Smile on Mood and Helping Behavior

Anneke Vrugt & Carolijn Vet
Social Behavior and Personality, Fall 2009, Pages 1251-1257

In this study 480 native Dutch passers-by (240 men and 240 women) were approached with a request to participate in an investigation. The request was made by either a female or male experimenter wearing either a smile or a neutral expression. Results showed that a smiling experimenter elicited a smile from participants more often than when a neutral expression was displayed. Furthermore, there was a distinct correlation between a participant's smiling and his/her willingness to help, and a smile from a male experimenter was more likely to elicit helpfulness than from a female experimenter. Participants who agreed to help also answered a few written questions. These results showed that participants who received a smile from an experimenter were in a more positive mood than those who were approached by an experimenter wearing a neutral expression. It was also found that women smiled more often than men.


From wealth to well-being? Money matters, but less than people think

Lara Aknin, Michael Norton & Elizabeth Dunn
Journal of Positive Psychology, November 2009, Pages 523-527

While numerous studies have documented the modest (though reliable) link between household income and well-being, we examined the accuracy of laypeople's intuitions about this relationship by asking people from across the income spectrum to report their own happiness and to predict the happiness of others (Study 1) and themselves (Study 2) at different income levels. Data from two national surveys revealed that while laypeople's predictions were relatively accurate at higher levels of income, they greatly overestimated the impact of income on life satisfaction at lower income levels, expecting low household income to be coupled with very low life satisfaction. Thus, people may work hard to maintain or increase their income in part because they overestimate the hedonic costs of earning low levels of income.


A genetic variation of the noradrenergic system is related to differential amygdala activation during encoding of emotional memories

B. Rasch, K. Spalek, S. Buholzer, R. Luechinger, P. Boesiger, A. Papassotiropoulos & D. J.-F. de Quervain
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Emotionally arousing events are typically well remembered, but there is a large interindividual variability for this phenomenon. We have recently shown that a functional deletion variant of ADRA2B, the gene encoding the α 2b-adrenergic receptor, is related to enhanced emotional memory in healthy humans and enhanced traumatic memory in war victims. Here, we investigated the neural mechanisms of this effect in healthy participants by using fMRI. Carriers of the ADRA2B deletion variant exhibited increased activation of the amygdala during encoding of photographs with negative emotional valence compared with noncarriers of the deletion. Additionally, functional connectivity between amygdala and insula was significantly stronger in deletion carriers. The present findings indicate that the ADRA2B deletion variant is related to increased responsivity and connectivity of brain regions implicated in emotional memory.

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