Kevin Lewis

May 16, 2020

The friend number paradox
Kao Si, Xianchi Dai & Robert Wyer
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming


We identify a friend number paradox, that is, a mismatch between people's preferences for the friends they might acquire in social interactions and their predictions of others' preferences. People predict that others are attracted to them if they have a relatively large number of friends. However, they personally prefer to make friends with someone who has a relatively small number of friends. People regard a large number of friends as a signal of social capital that increases their interpersonal attractiveness. However, it can actually be a signal of social liabilities that diminish their ability to reciprocate obligations to others. We conducted a series of studies, including 3 speed-friending studies in which participants either engaged or expected to engage in actual interactions for the purpose of initiating long-term friendships. These studies provide converging evidence of the hypothesized mismatch and our conceptualization of its determinants.

Anxiety Impedes Adaptive Social Learning Under Uncertainty
Amrita Lamba, Michael Frank & Oriel FeldmanHall
Psychological Science, forthcoming


Very little is known about how individuals learn under uncertainty when other people are involved. We propose that humans are particularly tuned to social uncertainty, which is especially noisy and ambiguous. Individuals exhibiting less tolerance for uncertainty, such as those with anxiety, may have greater difficulty learning in uncertain social contexts and therefore provide an ideal test population to probe learning dynamics under uncertainty. Using a dynamic trust game and a matched nonsocial task, we found that healthy subjects (n = 257) were particularly good at learning under negative social uncertainty, swiftly figuring out when to stop investing in an exploitative social partner. In contrast, subjects with anxiety (n = 97) overinvested in exploitative partners. Computational modeling attributed this pattern to a selective reduction in learning from negative social events and a failure to enhance learning as uncertainty rises-two mechanisms that likely facilitate adaptive social choice.

Loneliness around the world: Age, gender, and cultural differences in loneliness
Manuela Barreto et al.
Personality and Individual Differences, forthcoming


The BBC Loneliness Experiment provided a unique opportunity to examine differences in the experience of lonelines across cultures, age, and gender, and the interaction between these factors. Using those data, we analysed the frequency of loneliness reported by 46,054 participants aged 16-99 years, living across 237 countries, islands, and territories, representing the full range of individualism-collectivism cultures, as defined by Hofstede (1997). Findings showed that loneliness increased with individualism, decreased with age, and was greater in men than in women. We also found that age, gender, and culture interacted to predict loneliness, although those interactions did not qualify the main effects, and simply accentuated them. We found the most vulnerable to loneliness were younger men living in individualistic cultures.

Does spending money on others promote happiness?: A registered replication report
Lara Aknin et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming


Research indicates that spending money on others - prosocial spending - leads to greater happiness than spending money on oneself (e.g., Dunn, Aknin, & Norton, 2008, 2014). These findings have received widespread attention because they offer insight into why people engage in costly prosocial behavior, and what constitutes happier spending more broadly. However, most studies on prosocial spending (like most research on the emotional benefits of generosity) utilized small sample sizes (n < 100/cell). In light of new, improved standards for evidentiary value, we conducted high-powered registered replications of the central paradigms used in prosocial spending research. In Experiment 1, 712 students were randomly assigned to make a purchase for themselves or a stranger in need and then reported their happiness. As predicted, participants assigned to engage in prosocial (vs. personal) spending reported greater momentary happiness. In Experiment 2, 1950 adults recalled a time they spent money on themselves or someone else and then reported their current happiness; contrary to predictions, participants in the prosocial spending condition did not report greater happiness than those in the personal spending condition. Because low levels of task engagement may have produced these null results, we conducted a replication with minor changes designed to increase engagement; in this Experiment 3 (N = 5,199), participants who recalled a prosocial (vs. personal) spending memory reported greater happiness but differences were small. Taken together, these studies support the hypothesis that spending money on others does promote happiness, but demonstrate that the magnitude of the effect depends on several methodological features.

Memory of Others' Disclosures Is Consolidated during Rest and Associated with Providing Support: Neural and Linguistic Evidence
Eleanor Collier & Meghan Meyer
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, forthcoming


Social scientists have documented the power of being heard: Disclosing emotional experiences to others promotes mental and physical health. Yet, far less is known about how listeners digest the sensitive information people share with them. We combined brain imaging and text analysis methods with a naturalistic emotional disclosure paradigm to assess how listeners form memories of others' disclosures. Neural and linguistic evidence support the hypothesis that listeners consolidate memories for others' disclosures during rest after listening and that their ability to do so facilitates subsequently providing the speakers with support. In Study 1, brain imaging methods showed that functional connectivity between the dorsomedial subsystem (dorsomedial pFC) of the default network and frontoparietal control network increased during rest after listening to others' disclosures and predicted subsequent memory for their experiences. Moreover, graph analytic methods demonstrated that the left anterior temporal lobe may function as a connector hub between these two networks when consolidating memory for disclosures. In Study 2, linguistic analyses revealed other-focused thought increased during rest after listening to others' disclosures and predicted not only memory for the information disclosed but also whether listeners supported the speakers the next day. Collectively, these findings point to the important role of memory consolidation during rest in helping listeners respond supportively to others' disclosures. In our increasingly busy lives, pausing to briefly rest may not only help us care for ourselves but also help us care for others.



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