Kevin Lewis

November 19, 2011

The hierarchical face: Higher rankings lead to less cooperative looks

Patricia Chen et al.
Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming

In 3 studies, we tested the hypothesis that the higher ranked an individual's group is, the less cooperative the facial expression of that person is judged to be. Study 1 established this effect among business school deans, with observers rating individuals from higher ranked schools as appearing less cooperative, despite lacking prior knowledge of the latters' actual rankings. Study 2 then experimentally manipulated ranking, showing that the effect of rankings on facial expressions is driven by context rather than by individual differences per se. Finally, Study 3 demonstrated that the repercussions of this effect extend beyond the perception of cooperativeness to tangible behavioral outcomes in social interactions. Theoretical and practical implications of this phenomenon are discussed.


Intensity of Smiling in Facebook Photos Predicts Future Life Satisfaction

Patrick Seder & Shigehiro Oishi
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Does the extent to which people are smiling in their Facebook photos predict future life satisfaction? In two longitudinal studies, the authors showed that smile intensity coded from a single Facebook profile photograph from male and female participants' first semester at college was a robust predictor of self-reported life satisfaction 3.5 years later - as they were about to graduate from college. Controlling for first-semester life satisfaction, the authors also determined that smile intensity was a unique predictor of changes in life satisfaction over time. In addition, the authors demonstrated that the results were not due to extraversion or to sex differences in smile intensity. Finally, the authors showed that participants who exhibited a more intense smile in their Facebook photo had better social relationships during their first semester at college and that the association between smile intensity and life satisfaction 3.5 years later was partially mediated by first-semester social relationships satisfaction.


Small networks and high isolation? A reexamination of American discussion networks

Matthew Brashears
Social Networks, October 2011, Pages 331-341

Recent findings from the General Social Survey suggest that discussion networks have shrunk, and social isolation has increased, since 1985. These data have been threatened by possible artifacts, however, and may be unreliable. This paper reports on a nationally representative experiment that estimates discussion network size and evaluates several proposed explanations for the shrinking networks finding. It finds that modern discussion networks have decreased in size, but that social isolation has not become more prevalent. It also disconfirms several explanations for shrinking networks, and validates a method for increasing the number of names provided in response to name generators.


Thin-slicing study of the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene and the evaluation and expression of the prosocial disposition

Aleksandr Kogan et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Individuals who are homozygous for the G allele of the rs53576 SNP of the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene tend to be more prosocial than carriers of the A allele. However, little is known about how these differences manifest behaviorally and whether they are readily detectable by outside observers, both critical questions in theoretical accounts of prosociality. In the present study, we used thin-slicing methodology to test the hypotheses that (i) individual differences in rs53576 genotype predict how prosocial observers judge target individuals to be on the basis of brief observations of behavior, and (ii) that variation in targets' nonverbal displays of affiliative cues would account for these judgment differences. In line with predictions, we found that individuals homozygous for the G allele were judged to be more prosocial than carriers of the A allele. These differences were completely accounted for by variations in the expression of affiliative cues. Thus, individual differences in rs53576 are associated with behavioral manifestations of prosociality, which ultimately guide the judgments others make about the individual.


Oxytocin modulates the link between adult attachment and cooperation through reduced betrayal aversion

Carsten De Dreu
Psychoneuroendocrinology, forthcoming

An experiment examined whether and how the relationship between individual differences in social attachment and cooperation is modulated by brain oxytocin, a neuropeptide implicated both in parent-child bonding, and in social approach. Healthy males completed a validated attachment style measure, received intranasal oxytocin or placebo, and privately chose between cooperation and non-cooperation in an incentivized social dilemma with an anonymous stranger. Attachment anxiety - the tendency to fear rejection by others - had few effects and was not modulated by oxytocin. However, oxytocin interacted with attachment avoidance - the tendency to fear dependency and closeness in interpersonal relations. Especially among participants high rather than low in attachment avoidance, oxytocin reduced betrayal aversion, and increased trust and cooperation compared to placebo. Effects of attachment avoidance and oxytocin on cooperation were mediated by betrayal aversion, and not by affiliation tendencies.


Adolescents Prefer More Immediate Rewards When in the Presence of their Peers

Lia O'Brien et al.
Journal of Research on Adolescence, December 2011, Pages 747-753

Adolescents take more risks in the presence of their peers, but the mechanism through which peer presence affects risky decision-making is unknown. We propose that the presence of peers increases the salience of the immediate rewards of a risky choice. The current study examined the effect of peer presence on reward sensitivity in a sample of 100 late adolescents ages 18 through 20 (M=18.5) using a delay discounting task, which assesses an individual's preference for immediate versus delayed rewards. Participants were randomly assigned to complete the task alone or with 2 same-age, same-sex peers observing. Consistent with our prediction, adolescents demonstrated a greater preference for immediate rewards when with their peers than when alone. Heightened risk taking by adolescents in the company of their friends may be due in part to the effect that being with one's peers has on reward sensitivity.


Exhausting or Exhilarating? Conflict as threat to interests, relationships and identities

Nir Halevy, Eileen Chou & Adam Galinsky
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Some conflicts are experienced as depleting and exhausting whereas others are experienced as stimulating and invigorating. We explored the possibility that the focus of perceived threat in conflict determines whether it produces taxing stress or vitalizing arousal. Studies 1 and 2 established that attending to threats to interests, relationships, and identities during interpersonal conflict differentially relate to motivational goals, empathy and perspective-taking, femininity, and a collectivistic self-construal. Study 2 also found that perceived threats to relationships are associated with lower challenge appraisals and energy mobilization. Studies 3 and 4 experimentally manipulated threats to different targets and demonstrated causal effects of threat perceptions on self-reported energy mobilization and the consumption of comfort foods. Taken together, these studies demonstrate that conflicts which threaten relationships are experienced as significantly more depleting than conflicts that threaten either tangible interests or elements of individuals' identities, and explain when, why and for whom conflict is exhausting.


Dynamic social networks promote cooperation in experiments with humans

David Rand, Samuel Arbesman & Nicholas Christakis
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Human populations are both highly cooperative and highly organized. Human interactions are not random but rather are structured in social networks. Importantly, ties in these networks often are dynamic, changing in response to the behavior of one's social partners. This dynamic structure permits an important form of conditional action that has been explored theoretically but has received little empirical attention: People can respond to the cooperation and defection of those around them by making or breaking network links. Here, we present experimental evidence of the power of using strategic link formation and dissolution, and the network modification it entails, to stabilize cooperation in sizable groups. Our experiments explore large-scale cooperation, where subjects' cooperative actions are equally beneficial to all those with whom they interact. Consistent with previous research, we find that cooperation decays over time when social networks are shuffled randomly every round or are fixed across all rounds. We also find that, when networks are dynamic but are updated only infrequently, cooperation again fails. However, when subjects can update their network connections frequently, we see a qualitatively different outcome: Cooperation is maintained at a high level through network rewiring. Subjects preferentially break links with defectors and form new links with cooperators, creating an incentive to cooperate and leading to substantial changes in network structure. Our experiments confirm the predictions of a set of evolutionary game theoretic models and demonstrate the important role that dynamic social networks can play in supporting large-scale human cooperation.


Stability of Delinquent Peer Associations: A Biosocial Test of Warr's Sticky-Friends Hypothesis

Kevin Beaver et al.
Crime & Delinquency, November 2011, Pages 907-927

The study of delinquent peers has remained at the forefront of much criminological research and theorizing. One issue of particular importance involves the factors related to why people associate with and maintain a sustained involvement with delinquent peers. Although efforts have been made to address these questions, relatively little attempt has been made to understand these relationships from a biosocial perspective. This gap in the literature is addressed in an analysis of twins from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). The results of the univariate behavioral genetic models reveal that genetic factors account for between 58% and 74% of the variance in the association with delinquent peers, with the remaining variance attributable to environmental factors. Bivariate Cholesky decomposition models reveal that genetic factors account for 58% of the variance in the stability in delinquent peers. The shared environment explains 34% of the variance in stability, and the remaining 8% is attributable to the nonshared environment. The importance of a biosocial approach in criminological research is discussed.


Neural Correlates of Giving Support to a Loved One

Tristen Inagaki & Naomi Eisenberger
Psychosomatic Medicine, forthcoming

Objective: Social support may benefit mental and physical well-being, but most research has focused on the receipt, rather than the provision, of social support. We explored the potentially beneficial effects of support giving by examining the neural substrates of giving support to a loved one. We focused on a priori regions of interest in the ventral striatum and septal area (SA) because of their role in maternal caregiving behavior in animals.

Methods: Twenty romantic couples completed a functional magnetic resonance imaging session in which the female partner underwent a scan while her partner stood just outside the scanner and received unpleasant electric shocks.

Results: Support giving (holding a partner's arm while they experienced physical pain), compared with other control conditions, led to significantly more activity in the ventral striatum, a reward-related region also involved in maternal behavior (p values < .05). Similar effects were observed for the SA, a region involved in both maternal behavior and fear attenuation. Greater activity in each of these regions during support giving was associated with greater self-reported support giving effectiveness and social connection (r values = 0.55-0.64, p values < .05). In addition, in line with the SA's role in fear attenuation (presumably to facilitate caregiving during stress), increased SA activity during support giving was associated with reduced left (r = -0.44, p < .05) and right (r = -0.42, p < .05) amygdala activity.

Conclusions: Results suggest that support giving may be beneficial not only for the receiver but also for the giver. Implications for the possible stress-reducing effects of support giving are discussed.


Liar, Liar, Hard Drive on Fire: How Media Context Affects Lying Behavior

Mattitiyahu Zimbler & Robert Feldman
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, October 2011, Pages 2492-2507

This study investigated frequency of deception when getting to know a stranger face to face or using computer-mediated technologies. Same-sex pairs of undergraduate participants engaged in 15-min conversations using e-mail, instant messenger, or speaking face to face. Afterward, target participants reviewed transcripts of their conversations and recorded inaccuracies. The results showed increased deception in the computer conditions, compared to the face-to-face condition, with the most lies found in e-mail messages. Lie content, rationale, and type were also affected by the communication medium. The findings suggest that it may be normative to distort reality online.


Who Will Be Idol? The Importance of Social Networks for Winning on Reality Shows

Odelia Heizler & Ayal Kimhi
Journal of Socio-Economics, January 2012, Pages 18-25

This paper examines, both theoretically and empirically, the effect of social networks and belonging to minority groups (or race) on the probability of winning in reality television shows. We develop a theoretical model that studies viewer behavior by presenting a framework of competition between two contestants from two different groups. The results are examined empirically using unique contestant data from the highly popular reality show "A Star Is Born", the Israeli counterpart of "American Idol". Our main finding is that social networks and belonging to minority groups play key roles in the contestant's victory. While the effect of belonging to a minority group is positive, the social network effect is U-shaped. Beyond the world of reality TV, this paper sheds light on the general behavior of social networks as well.


Want a tip? Service performance as a function of emotion regulation and extraversion

Nai-Wen Chi et al.
Journal of Applied Psychology, November 2011, Pages 1337-1346

Surface acting and deep acting with customers are strategies for service performance, but evidence for their effectiveness is limited and mixed. We propose that deep acting is an effective strategy for most employees, whereas surface acting's effect on performance effectiveness depends on employee extraversion. In Study 1, restaurant servers who tended to use deep acting exceeded their customers' expectations and had greater financial gains (i.e., tips) regardless of extraversion, whereas surface acting improved tips only for extraverts, not for introverts. In Study 2, a call center simulation, deep acting improved emotional performance and increased the likelihood of extrarole service behavior beyond the direct and interactive effects of extraversion and other Big Five traits. In contrast, surface acting reduced emotional performance for introverts and not extraverts, but only during the extrarole interaction. We discuss implications for incorporating traits into emotional labor research and practice.


The glasses stereotype revisited: Effects of eyeglasses on perception, recognition, and impression of faces

Helmut Leder, Michael Forster & Gernot Gerger
Swiss Journal of Psychology, December 2011, Pages 211-222

In face perception, besides physiognomic changes, accessories like eyeglasses can influence facial appearance. According to a stereotype, people who wear glasses are more intelligent, but less attractive. In a series of four experiments, we showed how full-rim and rimless glasses, differing with respect to the amount of face they cover, affect face perception, recognition, distinctiveness, and the attribution of stereotypes. Eyeglasses generally directed observers' gaze to the eye regions; rimless glasses made faces appear less distinctive and resulted in reduced distinctiveness in matching and in recognition tasks. Moreover, the stereotype was confirmed but depended on the kind of glasses - rimless glasses yielded an increase in perceived trustworthiness, but not a decrease in attractiveness. Thus, glasses affect how we perceive the faces of the people wearing them and, in accordance with an old stereotype, they can lower how attractive, but increase how intelligent and trustworthy people wearing them appear. These effects depend on the kind of glasses worn.


Facial phenotypes in subgroups of pre-pubertal boys with autism spectrum disorders are correlated with clinical phenotypes

Kristina Aldridge et al.
Molecular Autism, October 2011

Background: The brain develops in concert and in coordination with the developing facial tissues, with each influencing the development of the other and sharing genetic signaling pathways. Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) result from alterations in the embryological brain, suggesting that the development of the faces of children with ASD may result in subtle facial differences compared to typically developing children. In this study, we tested two hypotheses. First, we asked whether children with ASD display a subtle but distinct facial phenotype compared to typically developing children. Second, we sought to determine whether there are subgroups of facial phenotypes within the population of children with ASD that denote biologically discrete subgroups.

Methods: The 3dMD cranial System was used to acquire three dimensional stereophotogrammetric images for our study sample of 8- to 12-year-old boys diagnosed with essential ASD (n = 65) and typically developing boys (n = 41) following approved Institutional Review Board protocols. Three dimensional coordinates were recorded for 17 facial anthropometric landmarks using the 3dMD Patient software . Statistical comparisons of facial phenotypes were completed using Euclidean Distance Matrix Analysis and Principal Coordinates Analysis. Data representing clinical and behavioral traits were statistically compared among groups by using chi2 tests, Fisher's exact tests, Kolmogorov-Smirnov tests and Student's t-tests where appropriate.

Results: First, we found that there are significant differences in facial morphology in boys with ASD compared to typically developing boys. Second, we also found two subgroups of boys with ASD with facial morphology that differed from the majority of the boys with ASD and the typically developing boys. Furthermore, membership in each of these distinct subgroups was correlated with particular clinical and behavioral traits.

Conclusions: Boys with ASD display a facial phenotype distinct from that of typically developing boys, which may reflect alterations in the prenatal development of the brain. Subgroups of boys with ASD defined by distinct facial morphologies correlated with clinical and behavioral traits, suggesting potentially different etiologies and genetic differences compared to the larger group of boys with ASD. Further investigations into genes involved in neurodevelopment and craniofacial development of these subgroups will help to elucidate the causes and significance of these subtle facial differences.


Violating Social Norms when Choosing Friends: How Rule-Breakers Affect Social Networks

Karlo Hock & Nina Fefferman
PLoS ONE, October 2011, e26652

Social networks rely on basic rules of conduct to yield functioning societies in both human and animal populations. As individuals follow established rules, their behavioral decisions shape the social network and give it structure. Using dynamic, self-organizing social network models we demonstrate that defying conventions in a social system can affect multiple levels of social and organizational success independently. Such actions primarily affect actors' own positions within the network, but individuals can also affect the overall structure of a network even without immediately affecting themselves or others. These results indicate that defying the established social norms can help individuals to change the properties of a social system via seemingly neutral behaviors, highlighting the power of rule-breaking behavior to transform convention-based societies, even before direct impacts on individuals can be measured.


Conformity to Peer Pressure in Preschool Children

Daniel Haun & Michael Tomasello
Child Development, November/December 2011, Pages 1759-1767

Both adults and adolescents often conform their behavior and opinions to peer groups, even when they themselves know better. The current study investigated this phenomenon in 24 groups of 4 children between 4;2 and 4;9 years of age. Children often made their judgments conform to those of 3 peers, who had made obviously erroneous but unanimous public judgments right before them. A follow-up study with 18 groups of 4 children between 4;0 and 4;6 years of age revealed that children did not change their "real" judgment of the situation, but only their public expression of it. Preschool children are subject to peer pressure, indicating sensitivity to peers as a primary social reference group already during the preschool years.


Sex differences in friendship expectations: A meta-analysis

Jeffrey Hall
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, September 2011, Pages 723-747

Friendship expectations are prescriptive normative behaviors and highly valued qualities in ideal same-sex friends. This paper reports the results of five meta-analyses of sex differences from 37 manuscripts (36 samples, N = 8825). A small difference favoring females was detected in overall friendship expectations (d = .17). Friendship expectations were higher for females in three of four categories: symmetrical reciprocity (e.g., loyalty, genuineness; d = .17), communion (e.g., self-disclosure, intimacy; d = .39), solidarity (e.g., mutual activities, companionship; d = .03), but agency (e.g., physical fitness, status; d = -.34) was higher in males. Overall expectations and symmetrical reciprocity showed small effect sizes. Medium effect sizes for communion favoring females and for agency favoring males support predictions of evolutionary theory.


When Curiosity Breeds Intimacy: Taking Advantage of Intimacy Opportunities and Transforming Boring Conversations

Todd Kashdan et al.
Journal of Personality, December 2011, Pages 1067-1099

Curious people seek knowledge and new experiences. In 3 studies, we examined whether, when, and how curiosity contributes to positive social outcomes between unacquainted strangers. Study 1 (98 college students) showed that curious people expect to generate closeness during intimate conversations but not during small talk; less curious people anticipated poor outcomes in both situations. We hypothesized that curious people underestimate their ability to bond with unacquainted strangers during mundane conversations. Studies 2 (90 college students) and 3 (106 college students) showed that curious people felt close to partners during intimate and small-talk conversations; less curious people only felt close when the situation offered relationship-building exercises. Surprise at the pleasure felt during this novel, uncertain situation partially mediated the benefits linked to curiosity. We found evidence of slight asymmetry between self and partner reactions. Results could not be attributed to physical attraction or positive affect. Collectively, results suggest that positive social interactions benefit from an open and curious mind-set.


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