Looking to get along

Kevin Lewis

August 13, 2017

The Faces of Group Members Share Physical Resemblance
Eric Hehman, Jessica Flake & Jonathan Freeman
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Perceivers form strong inferences of disposition from others’ facial appearance, and these inferences guide a wide variety of important behaviors. The current research examines the possibility that similar-looking individuals are more likely to form groups with one another. We do so by testing a necessary downstream consequence of this process, examining whether the faces of individuals within groups more physically resemble one another than those in other groups. Across six studies we demonstrate that individuals’ group membership can be accurately classified both from ratings of members’ faces, and from direct measurement of members’ faces. Results provide insight into how affiliative groups initially form and maintain membership over time, as well as the perception of homogeneity of groups.

Put the Phone Down: Testing a Complement-Interfere Model of Computer-Mediated Communication in the Context of Face-to-Face Interactions
Kostadin Kushlev & Samantha Heintzelman
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

If there ever was a key to happiness, this key would open a door that leads straight to a rich social life. And in the era of smartphones, this key to social connection is in our pockets anytime and anywhere. Or is it? Using the experience sampling method (ESM), we explore the use of computer-mediated communication (CMC) in the context of face-to-face (FtF) social interactions, testing two competing hypotheses: (1) a complementarity hypothesis stating that more channels of communication should be associated with higher well-being and (2) an interference hypothesis stating that FtF interactions could be impoverished by adding computer-mediated channels of communication. We surveyed 174 millennials (Mage = 19.28; range: 17–22) 5 times a day over a period of a week (4,508 episodes). When participants reported a mix of CMC and FtF socializing in the same episode, they felt worse and less connected than when solely interacting FtF.

To Err Is Robot: How Humans Assess and Act toward an Erroneous Social Robot
Nicole Mirnig et al.
Frontiers in Robotics and AI, May 2017

We conducted a user study for which we purposefully programmed faulty behavior into a robot’s routine. It was our aim to explore if participants rate the faulty robot different from an error-free robot and which reactions people show in interaction with a faulty robot. The study was based on our previous research on robot errors where we detected typical error situations and the resulting social signals of our participants during social human–robot interaction. In contrast to our previous work, where we studied video material in which robot errors occurred unintentionally, in the herein reported user study, we purposefully elicited robot errors to further explore the human interaction partners’ social signals following a robot error. Our participants interacted with a human-like NAO, and the robot either performed faulty or free from error. First, the robot asked the participants a set of predefined questions and then it asked them to complete a couple of LEGO building tasks. After the interaction, we asked the participants to rate the robot’s anthropomorphism, likability, and perceived intelligence. We also interviewed the participants on their opinion about the interaction. Additionally, we video-coded the social signals the participants showed during their interaction with the robot as well as the answers they provided the robot with. Our results show that participants liked the faulty robot significantly better than the robot that interacted flawlessly. We did not find significant differences in people’s ratings of the robot’s anthropomorphism and perceived intelligence. The qualitative data confirmed the questionnaire results in showing that although the participants recognized the robot’s mistakes, they did not necessarily reject the erroneous robot. The annotations of the video data further showed that gaze shifts (e.g., from an object to the robot or vice versa) and laughter are typical reactions to unexpected robot behavior. In contrast to existing research, we assess dimensions of user experience that have not been considered so far and we analyze the reactions users express when a robot makes a mistake. Our results show that decoding a human’s social signals can help the robot understand that there is an error and subsequently react accordingly.

Movement Synchrony Influences Intergroup Relations in a Minimal Groups Paradigm
Arla Good, Becky Choma & Frank Russo
Basic and Applied Social Psychology, July/August 2017, Pages 231-238

Studies show that synchronizing movements with others encourages a collective social identity, leading to increased cooperation within a group. The current study investigated whether movement synchrony impacts social categorization and cooperation across intergroup boundaries. Two 3-person groups were brought together under movement synchrony conditions designed to emphasize different social categorizations of the aggregate: all individuals moved to the same beat, each minimal group moved to a different beat, or each individual moved to a different beat. Results demonstrate that movement synchrony influenced social categorization and cooperation across intergroup boundaries. Implications for approaches to intergroup relations using movement synchrony are noted.

The value of vulnerability: The transformative capacity of risky trust
Luigino Bruni & Fabio Tufano
Judgment and Decision Making, July 2017, Pages 408–414

In an experimental gift-exchange game, we explore the transformative capacity of vulnerable trust, which we define as trusting untrustworthy players when their untrustworthiness is common knowledge between co-players. In our experiment, there are two treatments: the “Information” treatment and the “No-Information” treatment in which we respectively disclose or not information about trustees’ trustworthiness. Our laboratory evidence consistently supports the transformative capacity of trustors’ vulnerable trust, which generates higher transfers, more trustworthiness and increased reciprocity by untrustworthy trustees.

Oxytocin Secretion is Pulsatile in Men and is Related to Social-Emotional Functioning
Charu Baskaran et al.
Psychoneuroendocrinology, November 2017, Pages 28-34

Methods: Deconvolution analysis was performed on serum OXT levels obtained every 5 minutes over a period of 10 hours in 5 healthy normal weight men. Area under the curve (AUC), average OXT values, and pulse characteristics [pulse number, inter-pulse interval, pulse height and mass (area under each pulse)] were calculated. State Adult Attachment Measure (SAAM) assessed types of human attachment. Interpersonal Support Evaluation List (ISEL) assessed perception of social support. Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) measured the ability to express and identify one’s own emotions.

Results: Mean age was 22.8 ± 1.2 years, and BMI was 21.7 ± 0.4 kg/m2 (mean ± SEM). Assuming a basal secretion of zero and a half life of five to seven minutes, we demonstrated the following: OXT AUC: 5421 ± 1331 pg/ml, mean OXT level: 9.1 pg/ml, mean pulse number: 22 ± 3/10hr, mean pulse height: 1.81 ± 0.48 pg/ml, mean pulse mass: 30.34 ± 10.29 pg/ml and mean inter-pulse interval: 27 ± 4 minutes. The SAAM Avoidant scale correlated negatively with mean OXT pulse height (r = −0.90, p = 0.04) and pulse mass (r = −0.95, p = 0.01). The ISEL Belonging score correlated positively with OXT AUC (r = 0.89, p = 0.04) and average OXT (r = 0.93, p = 0.02). ISEL Appraisal score also had a positive association with mean OXT pulse height (r = 0.99, p = 0.0006) and pulse mass (r = 0.98, p = 0.003). Finally, ISEL total score had a significant correlation with average OXT values (r = 0.90, p = 0.04). While none of the subjects had a score in the alexithymia range, TAS-20 Difficulty describing feelings score had an inverse correlation with OXT pulse height (r = −0.96, p = 0.01) and pulse mass (r = −0.99, p = 0.001). TAS-20 total score also had an inverse correlation with OXT pulse height (r = −0.94, p = 0.02) and pulse mass (r = −0.96, p = 0.009).

Conclusion: We demonstrate a pulsatile pattern of peripheral OXT secretion in healthy men at rest. Subjects with lower OXT pulse height and pulse mass had a more avoidant style of attachment, felt less supported, and expressed greater difficulty in describing their feelings. Our findings support the concept that OXT is a key mediator of social-emotional functioning. Future studies to determine causality are warranted.

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