Kevin Lewis

August 27, 2016

Sexual Aggression When Power Is New: Effects of Acute High Power on Chronically Low-Power Individuals

Melissa Williams, Deborah Gruenfeld & Lucia Guillory

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Previous theorists have characterized sexually aggressive behavior as an expression of power, yet evidence that power causes sexual aggression is mixed. We hypothesize that power can indeed create opportunities for sexual aggression — but that it is those who chronically experience low power who will choose to exploit such opportunities. Here, low-power men placed in a high-power role showed the most hostility in response to a denied opportunity with an attractive woman (Studies 1 and 2). Chronically low-power men and women given acute power were the most likely to say they would inappropriately pursue an unrequited workplace attraction (Studies 3 and 4). Finally, having power over an attractive woman increased harassment behavior among men with chronic low, but not high, power (Study 5). People who see themselves as chronically denied power appear to have a stronger desire to feel powerful and are more likely to use sexual aggression toward that end.


The longitudinal relationship between everyday sadism and the amount of violent video game play

Tobias Greitemeyer & Christina Sagioglou

Personality and Individual Differences, January 2017, Pages 238–242

Previous research found correlational evidence that the trait of everyday sadism is associated with the amount of violent video game play. Due to the correlational design, the direction of the association remained unclear. According to the selection hypothesis, everyday sadists should be attracted to violent video games, whereas the socialization hypothesis would propose that repeated exposure to violent video games makes the player more sadistic. However, these hypotheses are by no means mutually exclusive and the relation between everyday sadism and violent video game exposure could be bidirectional. To examine the causal mechanisms more closely, we carried out a longitudinal study (N = 743) for which we collected data at two points in time, six months apart. Results showed that (a) everyday sadists are more likely than others to play violent video games and (b) repeated exposure to violent video games predicts everyday sadism over time. Overall, this bidirectional influence reflects a downward spiral of everyday sadistic tendencies and violent video gaming reinforcing each other.


Do beliefs about gender roles moderate the relationship between exposure to misogynistic song lyrics and men's female-directed aggression?

Courtland Hyatt et al.

Aggressive Behavior, forthcoming

Although independent lines of research have identified misogynistic lyrical content and traditional gender role beliefs as reliable predictors of men's female-directed aggression, more research is needed to understand the extent to which these variables may function in synthesis to potentiate aggression. In the current study, men (N = 193), who completed questionnaires relevant to their conformity to masculine norms and level of hostile and benevolent sexism, were exposed to either misogynistic or neutral lyrics before having the opportunity to shock an ostensible female confederate in a bogus reaction time task that, in effect, measured aggression. Results indicated that misogynistic lyrics and hostile sexism significantly predicted both unprovoked and provoked aggression against a female target. Contrary to expectations, moderating effects of gender role beliefs on the relationship between misogynistic lyrics and men's aggression were not found. Implications are discussed in terms of the costs of misogyny in media for women's lives.


Learning to Love Guns? Gun-Based Gameplay’s Links to Gun Attitudes

Matthew Lapierre & Kirstie Farrar

Psychology of Popular Media Culture, forthcoming

Although there is a long empirical record exploring links between violent videogame play and aggression, little is known about how these games potentially affect players’ political attitudes. Specifically, with firearms frequently featured in videogames, including games where players are required to use firearms to succeed during gameplay, it is worth examining whether players’ experience with firearms relates to their attitudes toward guns and gun policy. Utilizing the General Learning Model, this survey explores whether public policy outcomes regarding gun control and public safety are related to exposure to violent video games, first-person shooter games, and realistic gun controllers. Results show that increased exposure to first-person shooter games was related to more negative attitudes concerning gun control. In addition, more experience using realistic gun controllers was associated with negative attitudes toward gun control and greater support for the idea that greater gun availability can help guarantee public safety. Thus, video game exposure may shape the gun attitudes of young people in small but important ways.


An oxytocin receptor polymorphism predicts amygdala reactivity and antisocial behavior in men

Rebecca Waller et al.

Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, August 2016, Pages 1218-1226

Variability in oxytocin (OXT) signaling is associated with individual differences in sex-specific social behavior across species. The effects of OXT signaling on social behavior are, in part, mediated through its modulation of amygdala function. Here, we use imaging genetics to examine sex-specific effects of three single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the human oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR; rs1042778, rs53576 and rs2254298) on threat-related amygdala reactivity and social behavior in 406 Caucasians. Analyses revealed that among men but not women, OXTR rs1042778 TT genotype was associated with increased right amygdala reactivity to angry facial expressions, which was uniquely related to higher levels of antisocial behavior among men. Moderated meditation analysis suggested a trending indirect effect of OXTR rs1042778 TT genotype on higher antisocial behavior via increased right amygdala reactivity to angry facial expressions in men. Our results provide evidence linking genetic variation in OXT signaling to individual differences in amygdala function. The results further suggest that these pathways may be uniquely important in shaping antisocial behavior in men.


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