Born Identity

Kevin Lewis

December 09, 2010

The ancestor effect: Thinking about our genetic origin enhances intellectual performance

Peter Fischer, Anne Sauer, Claudia Vogrincic & Silke Weisweiler
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

The present research hypothesizes that thinking about one's genetic origin (i.e. ancestors) provides people with a positive psychological resource that increases their intellectual performance. To test this line of reasoning, we manipulated whether participants thought about their ancestors or not (manipulation of ancestor salience), and measured their expected as well as actual intellectual performance in a variety of intelligence tasks. Four studies supported our assumptions: participants show higher expected (Study 1) and actual intellectual performance (Studies 2-4) when they are reminded about their ancestors. We also have initial evidence that this effect may be fuelled by increased levels of perceived control and promotion orientation. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.


Firstborns' Disadvantage in Kinship Detection

Gwenaël Kaminski, Fabien Ravary, Christian Graff & Edouard Gentaz
Psychological Science, forthcoming

The ability to assess genetic ties is critical to defining one's own family and, in a broader context, to understanding relationships in groups of strangers. To recognize younger siblings as such, human firstborns can rely on the perinatal association of the mother with her new baby. Later-borns, who cannot rely on such an association, will by necessity actuate alternate strategies, such as recognition of facial clues set aside by firstborns. The effects of such differential early experiences deserve consideration; the development of matching abilities may be used throughout an individual's lifetime to detect other kinship types outside the family. In simple cognitive tasks based on matching face pictures, later-borns surpassed firstborns in detecting kinship among strangers; this pattern was found in populations of different ages and in two countries. This birth-order effect contrasts with the traditional cognitive advantage of firstborns. Inclusive fitness theory explains how early life history promotes specific strategies that can, in turn, permanently enhance human performance in certain domains.


Gender Identity Salience and Perceived Vulnerability to Breast Cancer

Stefano Puntoni, Steven Sweldens & Nader Tavassoli
Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Breast cancer communications that make women's gender identity salient can trigger defense mechanisms and thereby interfere with key objectives of breast cancer campaigns. In a series of experiments, increased gender identity salience lowered women's perceived vulnerability to breast cancer (Experiments 1A, 3A and 3B), reduced their donations to ovarian cancer research (1B), made breast cancer advertisements more difficult to process (2A), and decreased ad memory (2B). These results are contrary to the predictions of several prominent theoretical perspectives and a convenience sample of practitioners. The reduction in perceived vulnerability to breast cancer following gender identity primes can be eliminated by self-affirmation (3A) and fear voicing (3B), corroborating the hypothesis that these effects are driven by unconscious defense mechanisms.


Mortality salience and namesaking: Does thinking about death make people want to name their children after themselves?

Amanda Vicary
Journal of Research in Personality, forthcoming

According to terror management theory, people cope with the awareness of death by investing in practices that lead to symbolic immortality. The purpose of the present research was to investigate whether naming children after oneself stems from a desire to symbolically extend one's life. Participants were primed with thoughts of death or a control topic and then asked the likelihood that they would name future offspring after themselves or relatives. Results showed that people in the mortality salience condition reported a greater likelihood of naming their children after themselves, but not after relatives. Attachment orientation moderated this effect in that anxious individuals in the mortality salience condition expressed an even greater desire to name their children after themselves.


Individualism-collectivism among Americans, Turks and Turkish immigrants to the U.S.

Ayse Ayçiçegi-Dinn & Catherine Caldwell-Harris
International Journal of Intercultural Relations, forthcoming

Whether immigrants to the U.S. from collectivist cultures will adopt American individualist values is an important question at the intersection of theories on acculturation and individualism/collectivism. According to the assimilation hypothesis, Turkish immigrants to the U.S. should become more individualistic with increasing length of stay. Alternatively, the immigrant interdependence hypothesis proposes that the exigencies of immigration require retaining or increasing collectivist values and behaviors, especially the willingness to rely on others. Measures of individualism and collectivism were obtained from Turkish immigrants to the U.S., Turks residing in Istanbul, and residents of Boston. Bostonians and Istanbul residents differed primarily on vertical collectivism, which is the tendency to subordinate ones own goals to those of in-group authority figures. Immigrants' values did not change with increasing length of stay in the U.S., refuting the assimilation hypothesis. When immigrants were compared to non-immigrants, immigrants endorsed stronger horizontal and vertical collectivism and more desire to both give and receive, consistent with the immigrant interdependence hypothesis. However, this hypothesis was not uniformly supported. Compared to non-immigrants, immigrants reported more self-reliance with competition, and more internal locus of control, indicating a sense of agency and responsibility. Findings are consistent with the view that immigrants adjust in complex ways to their new society, and may have different temperaments than non-immigrants.


Evidence for hypodescent and racial hierarchy in the categorization and perception of biracial individuals

Arnold Ho, Jim Sidanius, Daniel Levin & Mahzarin Banaji
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Individuals who qualify equally for membership in two racial groups provide a rare window into social categorization and perception. In 5 experiments, we tested the extent to which a rule of hypodescent, whereby biracial individuals are assigned the status of their socially subordinate parent group, would govern perceptions of Asian-White and Black-White targets. In Experiment 1, in spite of posing explicit questions concerning Asian-White and Black-White targets, hypodescent was observed in both cases and more strongly in Black-White social categorization. Experiments 2A and 2B used a speeded response task and again revealed evidence of hypodescent in both cases, as well as a stronger effect in the Black-White target condition. In Experiments 3A and 3B, social perception was studied with a face-morphing task. Participants required a face to be lower in proportion minority to be perceived as minority than in proportion White to be perceived as White. Again, the threshold for being perceived as White was higher for Black-White than for Asian-White targets. An independent categorization task in Experiment 3B further confirmed the rule of hypodescent and variation in it that reflected the current racial hierarchy in the United States. These results documenting biases in the social categorization and perception of biracials have implications for resistance to change in the American racial hierarchy.


Why Barack Obama Is Black: A Cognitive Account of Hypodescent

Jamin Halberstadt, Steven Sherman & Jeffrey Sherman
Psychological Science, forthcoming

We propose that hypodescent - the assignment of mixed-race individuals to a minority group - is an emergent feature of basic cognitive processes of learning and categorization. According to attention theory, minority groups are learned by attending to the features that distinguish them from previously learned majority groups. Selective attention creates a strong association between minority groups and their distinctive features, producing a tendency to see individuals who possess a mixture of majority- and minority-group traits as minority-group members. Two experiments on face categorization, using both naturally occurring and manipulated minority groups, support this view, suggesting that hypodescent need not be the product of racist or political motivations, but can be sufficiently explained by an individual's learning history.


The implicit identity effect: Identity primes, group size, and helping

Mark Levine, Clare Cassidy & Ines Jentzsch
British Journal of Social Psychology, December 2010, Pages 785-802

Three studies consider the implicit bystander effect in the light of recent advances in social identity approaches to helping. Drawing on the social identity model of deindividuation effects we argue that the implicit bystander effect is shaped not by the number of others imagined, but by who those others are imagined to be. Studies 1 and 2 demonstrate that, when group membership is primed, increasing group size can facilitate helping in line with the norms and values of the group. Study 3 explores mediation processes in group level helping. As group size increases, female participants react faster to words associated with communalism when others are imagined as women rather than strangers. The paper demonstrates that group size and helping behaviour is qualified by an implicit identity effect.


Evaluations of Presidential Performance: Race, Prejudice, and Perceptions of Americanism

Eric Hehman, Samuel Gaertner & John Dovidio
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Earlier research suggests that despite President Obama's election, racial prejudice persists and continues to shape reactions to his presidency. The current work examines the role of Whites' prejudice in shaping perceptions of Obama's Americanism, and ultimately evaluations of his performance. Specifically, this research proposes that "how American" Obama is perceived will mediate the relationship between racial prejudice and evaluations of his performance for White, but not Black participants and only for Obama and not for Vice-President Biden. Data were collected from 295 Black or White students surveyed one year after Obama's election. Supportive of our hypotheses, racial prejudice predicted Whites' negative evaluations of Obama's performance, and this relationship was mediated by how American Obama was perceived. Additionally, these relationships were not obtained among Black participants or when Blacks or Whites evaluated the Americanism and job performance of Vice-President Biden.


Tracking the trajectory of shame, guilt, and pride across the life span

Ulrich Orth, Richard Robins & Christopher Soto
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, December 2010, Pages 1061-1071

The authors examined age differences in shame, guilt, and 2 forms of pride (authentic and hubristic) from age 13 years to age 89 years, using cross-sectional data from 2,611 individuals. Shame decreased from adolescence into middle adulthood, reaching a nadir around age 50 years, and then increased in old age. Guilt increased from adolescence into old age, reaching a plateau at about age 70 years. Authentic pride increased from adolescence into old age, whereas hubristic pride decreased from adolescence into middle adulthood, reaching a minimum around age 65 years, and then increased in old age. On average, women reported experiencing more shame and guilt; Blacks reported experiencing less shame and Asians more hubristic pride than other ethnicities. Across the life span, shame and hubristic pride tended to be negatively related to psychological well-being, and shame-free guilt and authentic pride showed positive relations with well-being. Overall, the findings support the maturity principle of personality development and suggest that as people age they become more prone to experiencing psychologically adaptive self-conscious emotions, such as guilt and authentic pride, and less prone to experiencing psychologically maladaptive ones, such as shame and hubristic pride.


Negative Intergroup Contact Makes Group Memberships Salient: Explaining Why Intergroup Conflict Endures

Stefania Paolini, Jake Harwood & Mark Rubin
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, December 2010, Pages 1723-1738

Drawing from the intergroup contact model and self-categorization theory, the authors advanced the novel hypothesis of a valence-salience effect, whereby negative contact causes higher category salience than positive contact. As predicted, in a laboratory experiment of interethnic contact, White Australians (N = 49) made more frequent and earlier reference to ethnicity when describing their ethnic contact partner if she had displayed negative (vs. positive, neutral) nonverbal behavior. In a two-wave experimental study of retrieved intergenerational contact, American young adults (N = 240) reported age to be more salient during negative (vs. positive) contact and negative contact predicted increased episodic and chronic category salience over time. Some evidence for the reverse salience-valence effect was also found. Because category salience facilitates contact generalization, these results suggest that intergroup contact is potentially biased toward worsening intergroup relations; further implications for theory and policy making are discussed.


Genetic Evidence for Multiple Biological Mechanisms Underlying In-Group Favoritism

Gary Lewis & Timothy Bates
Psychological Science, November 2010, Pages 1623-1628

In-group favoritism is ubiquitous and associated with intergroup conflict, yet is little understood from a biological perspective. A fundamental question regarding the structure of favoritism is whether it is inflexibly directed toward distinct, "essentialist" categories, such as ethnicity and race, or is deployed in a context-sensitive manner. In this article, we report the first study (to our knowledge) of the genetic and environmental structure of in-group favoritism in the religious, ethnic, and racial domains. We contrasted a model of favoritism based on a single domain-general central affiliation mechanism (CAM) with a model in which each domain was influenced by specific mechanisms. In a series of multivariate analyses, utilizing a large, representative sample of twins, models containing only the CAM or essentialist domains fit the data poorly. The best-fitting model revealed that a biological mechanism facilitates affiliation with arbitrary groups and exists alongside essentialist systems that evolved to process salient cues, such as shared beliefs and ancestry.


Correlates of pride in the performance success of United States athletes competing on an international stage

Bryan Denham
International Review for the Sociology of Sport, December 2010, Pages 457-473

Grounded in social-identity and self-categorization theories and drawing on data gathered in the US General Social Survey (N = 2528), this research examines how demographic and media-use measures associate with national pride, as experienced through the success of US athletes competing internationally. Bivariate tests and analysis of covariance models indicated greater levels of national pride among black males, older respondents, those who classified themselves as Republicans and those with lower levels of formal education. Exposure to newspapers and television did not prove statistically significant in multivariate analyses, although bivariate tests revealed that those exposed most frequently to television tended to agree in significantly higher numbers with the statement ‘When my country does well in international sports, it makes me proud to be an American.' Limitations and recommendations for future research are offered.


Birth Order and The Dominance Aspect of Extraversion: Are Firstborns More Extraverted, in the Sense of Being Dominant, than Laterborns?

Thomas Pollet, Pieternel Dijkstra, Dick Barelds & Abraham Buunk
Journal of Research in Personality, December 2010, Pages 742-745

The present study set out to examine the relationship between birth order and the dominance facet of extraversion in a community sample of around 1,500 participants. In contrast, to Sulloway's (1995) predictions, the present study, using a between-family design, found firstborns to be less extraverted, in the sense of being less dominant, than laterborns. This effect was found while controlling for potential confounds, such as age, and using a constant sibship size. Results are discussed with reference to the current literature on birth order and personality.


Genetic underpinnings of survey response

Lori Foster Thompson, Zhen Zhang & Richard Arvey
Journal of Organizational Behavior, forthcoming

This study investigates the influence of genetic factors on survey response behavior. A pool of 558 male and 500 female twin pairs from the Minnesota Twin Registry (MTR) was asked to complete a paper-and-pencil survey of leadership activities. We used quantitative genetics techniques to estimate the genetic, shared environmental, and nonshared environmental effects on people's compliance with the request for survey participation. Results indicated that genetic influences explained 45% of the variance in survey response behavior for both women and men, with little shared environmental effects. Similar estimates were obtained after we partialled out potential confounds including twin closeness, age, and education. The results have important implications for response rates and nonresponse bias in survey-based research.


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