Self-regulation and the foraging gene (PRKG1) in humans
Andriy Struk et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming
Foraging is a goal-directed behavior that balances the need to explore the environment for resources with the need to exploit those resources. In Drosophila melanogaster, distinct phenotypes have been observed in relation to the foraging gene (for), labeled the rover and sitter. Adult rovers explore their environs more extensively than do adult sitters. We explored whether this distinction would be conserved in humans. We made use of a distinction from regulatory mode theory between those who "get on with it," so-called locomotors, and those who prefer to ensure they "do the right thing," so-called assessors. In this logic, rovers and locomotors share similarities in goal pursuit, as do sitters and assessors. We showed that genetic variation in PRKG1, the human ortholog of for, is associated with preferential adoption of a specific regulatory mode. Next, participants performed a foraging task to see whether genetic differences associated with distinct regulatory modes would be associated with distinct goal pursuit patterns. Assessors tended to hug the boundary of the foraging environment, much like behaviors seen in Drosophila adult sitters. In a patchy foraging environment, assessors adopted more cautious search strategies maximizing exploitation. These results show that distinct patterns of goal pursuit are associated with particular genotypes of PRKG1, the human ortholog of for.
Nudging persistence after failure through emergency reserves
Marissa Sharif & Suzanne Shu
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, forthcoming
Along the path of struggling to reach their personal and organizational long-term goals, the experience of an initial subgoal failure can lead individuals to feel less committed to their overall goal and even to give up entirely on reaching it. In one field study and four lab studies, we examine the ability of a cost-free nudge to decrease the detrimental impact of subgoal failure on goal attainment. More specifically, we demonstrate that framing goals with emergency reserves, a type of slack, can motivate individuals to persist after subgoal failures, leading to better performance on long-term goals, compared to objectively equivalent goals without slack. After failing to reach a subgoal, we found that individuals with goals framed with emergency reserves felt a greater sense of perceived progress, causing them to feel more committed to their goal, and thus increasing their likelihood of persisting at their goals.
Idealization of youthfulness predicts worse recovery among older individuals
Becca Levy, Martin Slade & Rachel Lampert
Psychology and Aging, forthcoming
This study examined whether stereotypes about an out-group could influence physical health. It had been previously shown that positive stereotypes held by older individuals about their in-group benefited physical health. However, the potential impact on physical health from idealizing their out-group, the young, through positive stereotypes had not been studied. The cohort consisted of 189 participants, aged 60 and older, who experienced a cardiovascular event: a myocardial infarction (MI). Participants reported their stereotypes about the young and the old at baseline. Their MI recovery was assessed with a physical-performance battery that was administered at 4 time points across 1 year following the event. As hypothesized, positive stereotypes about the young predicted significantly worse recovery and positive stereotypes about the old predicted significantly better recovery, after adjusting for relevant covariates. Considering out-group idealization as a risk factor could provide an innovative research and clinical tool.
If I Indulge First, I Will Eat Less Overall: The Unexpected Interaction Effect of Indulgence and Presentation Order on Consumption
David Flores et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, forthcoming
Across 4 experiments, this research is the first to uncover the interaction effect of food type (indulgent vs. healthy) and food presentation order (first vs. last) on individuals' sequential food choices and their overall caloric intake. This work showed that, when selecting foods in a sequence (e.g., at a buffet or on a food ordering website), individuals are influenced by the first item they see and tend to make their subsequent food choices on the basis of this first item. This notion can be utilized to nudge individuals into consuming less food overall. In contrast to what one might intuitively assume, Experiment 1 - a field study in a real-life cafeteria - showed that when an indulgent (healthy) dish is the first item, lower-calorie (higher-calorie) dishes are subsequently chosen and overall caloric consumption is lower (higher). Experiments 2 and 3 replicated these effects in the context of ordering food on a website. Experiment 4 further revealed that high (vs. low) cognitive load alters the identified interaction effect, such that when an indulgent dish is the first item, higher-calorie dishes are subsequently chosen.
To die for a cause but not for a companion: Attachment-related variations in the terror management function of self-sacrifice
Nesia Caspi-Berkowitz et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming
In 8 studies, we examined the terror management function of self-sacrifice and the moderating role of attachment orientations. Studies 1-5 focused on readiness to self-sacrifice for a cause, whereas Studies 6-8 focused on self-sacrifice to save a relationship partner's life. In Studies 1-3 and 6, we examined whether mortality salience increases readiness to self-sacrifice. In Studies 4-5 and 7-8, we examined the defensive nature and anxiety-buffering role of self-sacrifice-that is, whether providing another terror management defense reduces the readiness to self-sacrifice following mortality salience and whether thoughts about self-sacrifice mitigate death-thought accessibility. Findings indicated that self-sacrifice for a cause served a terror management function mainly among attachment-anxious participants, whereas self-sacrifice for a relationship partner served this defensive function mainly among participants scoring low on avoidant attachment. Attachment-avoidant participants reacted to mortality salience with reluctance to self-sacrifice for another person. Discussion focuses on attachment orientation as a basis for using self-sacrifice as an existential defense.