Friend of a friend

Kevin Lewis

January 08, 2017

Intensity of Facebook Use Is Associated With Lower Self-Concept Clarity: Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Evidence

Markus Appel et al.

Journal of Media Psychology, forthcoming

Social networking sites such as Facebook provide individuals with opportunities to express and gather information relevant to their self-concept. Previous theoretical work yielded contrasting assumptions about a potential link between individuals’ Internet use and their self-concept clarity, that is, individuals’ perception of a clear and internally consistent self-concept content. Focusing on social networking sites, our aim was to provide cross-sectional as well as longitudinal evidence regarding the relationship between individuals’ feelings of connectedness to Facebook (Facebook intensity) and self-concept clarity. Two cross-sectional studies (N1 = 244; N2 = 166) and one longitudinal study (N3 = 101) are presented. Independent samples of adolescents, adults, and students from Austria participated. The statistical procedures included hierarchical regression analyses (Studies 1 and 2) and a cross-lagged panel analysis (Study 3). The studies provided consistent evidence of a negative relationship between Facebook intensity and self-concept clarity. Moreover, the longitudinal study showed that Facebook intensity predicted a decline in self-concept clarity over time whereas a reverse pathway was not supported. Future research should examine the content of the self-concept and should continue searching for specific Facebook activities that might explain the decline in self-concept clarity. Our results suggest that an intense attachment to Facebook contributes to an inconsistent and unclear self-concept.


Is Virginia for lovers? Geographic variation in adult attachment orientation

William Chopik & Matt Motyl

Journal of Research in Personality, February 2017, Pages 38–45

People often use relationships to characterize and describe places. Yet, little research examines whether people’s relationships and relational style vary across geography. The current study examined geographic variation in adult attachment orientation in a sample of 127,070 adults from the 50 United States. The states that were highest in attachment anxiety tended to be in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast region of the United States. The states that were highest in attachment avoidance tended to be in the frontier region of the United States. State-level avoidance was related to state-level indicators of relationship status, social networks, and volunteering behavior. The findings are discussed in the context of the mechanisms that may give rise to regional variation in relational behavior.


Heterogeneous peer effects in education

Eleonora Patacchini, Edoardo Rainone & Yves Zenou

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

We investigate whether, how, and why individual education attainment depends on the educational attainment of schoolmates. Specifically, using longitudinal data on students and their friends in a nationally representative set of US schools, we consider the influence of different types of peers on educational outcomes. We find that there are strong and persistent peer effects in education, but peers tend to be influential in the long run only when their friendships last more than a year. This evidence is consistent with a network model in which convergence of preferences and the emergence of social norms among peers require long-term interactions.


Something to talk about: Gossip increases oxytocin levels in a near real-life situation

Natascia Brondino, Laura Fusar-Poli & Pierluigi Politi

Psychoneuroendocrinology, forthcoming

Gossip is a pervasive social behavior. Its evolutionary survival seems related to its social functions, such as establishing group rules, punishing trespassers, exercising social influence through reputational systems, and developing and strengthening social bonds. We aimed at evaluating the effect of gossip on hormones (oxytocin and cortisol) and at identifying potential mediators of hormonal response to gossip. Twenty-two female students were randomly assigned to a gossip conversation or to an emotional non-gossip conversation. Additionally, all participants underwent a neutral conversation on the second day of the study. Salivary oxytocin and cortisol levels were measured. Oxytocin increased significantly in the gossip compared to the emotional non-gossip conversation. A decrease in cortisol levels was observed in all three conditions (gossip, emotional non-gossip, neutral). Change in cortisol levels was similar across conditions. Psychological characteristics (e.g. empathy, autistic traits, perceived stress, envy) did not affect oxytocin rise in the gossip condition. Our findings suggest that oxytocin may represent a potential hormonal correlate of gossip behavior.


Sex differences in biological response to peer rejection and performance challenge across development: A pilot study

Laura Stroud et al.

Physiology & Behavior, February 2017, Pages 224–233

A pilot study of sex differences in biological response to peer rejection and performance challenges across development was conducted. Participants were 59 typically-developing children (ages 8–17; 58% girls); 59 children completed one challenge: 37 completed both challenges. Following a habituation session, participants completed peer rejection (exclusion challenges) and/or performance (speech, arithmetic, tracing) stress sessions. Saliva cortisol and alpha amylase (AA) were measured throughout. Post-pubertal girls showed increased AA and equivalent cortisol output in response to rejection vs. performance; pre-pubertal girls showed heightened cortisol and AA response to performance vs. rejection. Boys showed similar biological responses across puberty, with pre- and post-pubertal boys demonstrating heightened cortisol, but equivalent AA output in response to performance vs. rejection stressors. Although results are preliminary, they suggest increases in relative sensitivity to rejection vs. performance stressors and malleability of stress response across development in girls, but stability of stress response across development in boys. Future, larger-scale, longitudinal studies are needed.


Beyond risk: Prospective effects of GABA Receptor Subunit Alpha-2 (GABRA2) × Positive Peer Involvement on adolescent behavior

Elisa Trucco et al.

Development and Psychopathology, forthcoming

Research on Gene × Environment interactions typically focuses on maladaptive contexts and outcomes. However, the same genetic factors may also impact susceptibility to positive social contexts, leading to adaptive behavior. This paper examines whether the GABA receptor subunit alpha-2 (GABRA2) single nucleotide polymorphism rs279858 moderates the influence of positive peer affiliation on externalizing behavior and various forms of competence. Regions of significance were calculated to determine whether the form of the interaction supported differential susceptibility (increased sensitivity to both low and high positive peer affiliation) or vantage sensitivity (increased sensitivity to high positive peer affiliation). It was hypothesized that those carrying the homozygous minor allele (GG) would be more susceptible to peer effects. A sample (n = 300) of primarily male (69.7%) and White (93.0%) adolescents from the Michigan Longitudinal Study was assessed from ages 12 to 17. There was evidence for prospective Gene × Environment interactions in three of the four models. At low levels of positive peer involvement, those with the GG genotype were rated as having fewer adaptive outcomes, while at high levels they were rated as having greater adaptive outcomes. This supports differential susceptibility. Conceptualizing GABRA2 variants as purely risk factors may be inaccurate. Genetic differences in susceptibility to adaptive environmental exposures warrants further investigation.

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