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Kevin Lewis

March 10, 2018

Two tests of social displacement through social media use
Jeffrey Hall, Michael Kearney & Chong Xing
Information, Communication & Society, forthcoming


The present manuscript presents two tests of the hypothesis that social media use decreases social interaction, leading to decreased well-being. Study 1 used the Longitudinal Study of American Youth (N = 2774), which is a national probability sample of Generation X, to test displacement over a three-year time period. Latent change scores were used to test associations among social media adoption in 2009, social media use in 2011, direct contact frequency across years, in relation to change in well-being. Although social media adoption in 2009 predicted less social contact in 2011, increased social media use between 2009 and 2011 positively predicted well-being. Study 2 used experience sampling with a combined community and undergraduate sample (N = 116). Participants reported on their social interactions and passive social media use (i.e., excluding chat via social media) five times a day over five days. Results indicate that social media use at prior times of day was not associated with future social interaction with close others or with future face-to-face interaction. Passive social media use at prior times predicted lower future well-being only when alone at prior times. Neither study supported the social displacement hypothesis. Several interpretations of results, including a need-based account of social media use, are examined. The challenges of identifying an appropriate time scale to study social displacement are identified as critical question for future research.

The Effects of Facebook on Mood in Emerging Adults
Erica Yuen et al.
Psychology of Popular Media Culture, forthcoming


Social media usage is on the rise, with the majority of American adults using Facebook. The present study examined how Facebook activity affects mood in a subset of emerging adults, specifically undergraduates attending a private 4-year university. Participants (N = 312) were randomly assigned to one of the following 20-min activities: browse the Internet, passively browse others’ Facebook profiles, actively communicate with others on Facebook via messages/posts, or update their own personal profile on Facebook. Participants also completed questionnaires assessing mood, feelings of envy, and perceived meaningfulness of their time online. The results demonstrated that using Facebook led to significantly worsened mood compared with browsing the Internet, especially when participants passively browsed Facebook. Furthermore, perceptions of meaningfulness, but not feelings of envy, mediated the relationship between online activity and mood. Overall, these findings add to the mounting evidence that social media use may, at times, adversely affect psychological well-being.

Language Choice Matters: When Profanity Affects How People Are Judged
Melanie DeFrank & Patricia Kahlbaugh
Journal of Language and Social Psychology, forthcoming


Swearing is prevalent in our society, but the influence of such language choices on judgments of others is not well understood. This study examines how the composition of conversational dyads, speaker’s gender, and use of profanity influence impressions. Participants (N = 138) were randomly assigned to read two conversations and rate target speakers (one male, one female). The conversations had neither, one, or both speakers using profanity and consisted of same- or mixed-gender dyads. The result is a 2 (target speaker, male/female) × 2 (dyad composition) × 3 (profanity) mixed design with speaker gender as the repeated measure. Speakers using profanity had poorer impression ratings on several variables, including overall impression, intelligence, and trustworthiness. Speakers swearing in mixed-gender dyads were rated as less sociable, and males swearing in mixed-gender dyads were rated as more offensive. Language choices matter, and more research is needed to understand the unconscious biases held against those who use profanity.

Social brain volume is associated with in-degree social network size among older adults
Seyul Kwak et al.
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 31 January 2018


The social brain hypothesis proposes that large neocortex size evolved to support cognitively demanding social interactions. Accordingly, previous studies have observed that larger orbitofrontal and amygdala structures predict the size of an individual's social network. However, it remains uncertain how an individual's social connectedness reported by other people is associated with the social brain volume. In this study, we found that a greater in-degree network size, a measure of social ties identified by a subject's social connections rather than by the subject, significantly correlated with a larger regional volume of the orbitofrontal cortex, dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and lingual gyrus. By contrast, out-degree size, which is based on an individual's self-perceived connectedness, showed no associations. Meta-analytic reverse inference further revealed that regional volume pattern of in-degree size was specifically involved in social inference ability. These findings were possible because our dataset contained the social networks of an entire village, i.e. a global network. The results suggest that the in-degree aspect of social network size not only confirms the previously reported brain correlates of the social network but also shows an association in brain regions involved in the ability to infer other people's minds. This study provides insight into understanding how the social brain is uniquely associated with sociocentric measures derived from a global network.

When Consumers Prefer to Give Material Gifts Instead of Experiences: The Role of Social Distance
Joseph Goodman & Sarah Lim
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming


Although previous research suggests that there are hedonic and interpersonal benefits to gifting experiences, consumers often give material gifts rather than experiential gifts. Exploring this mismatch, the current research examines when and why consumers prefer to give material versus experiential gifts. The authors propose that gift givers are more likely to give experiential gifts to socially close recipients than socially distant recipients. Since experiences are perceived as more unique than material goods, givers perceive that choosing an experiential gift requires more specific knowledge of a recipient’s preference to avoid the greater social risk of giving a poorly matched gift. Eight studies provide converging evidence for the proposed effect of social distance on gift preference and demonstrate that this effect is driven by a giver’s knowledge of a recipient’s preference. Further supporting the mechanism of preference knowledge, the effect of social distance is moderated by the social risk associated with experiential gifts. When experiences contain little social risk — and thus require less knowledge of a recipient — the effect of social distance is significantly mitigated. Together, these results provide answers for why consumers often prefer to give material gifts over experiences, despite the advantage of giving experiences.

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