Personal Relationship

Kevin Lewis

March 25, 2012

Attachment to Objects as Compensation for Close Others' Perceived Unreliability

Lucas Keefer et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Attachment theory posits that close interpersonal relationships provide people with psychological security across the lifespan. Research shows that when people perceive that close others are unreliable, they may seek alternative, non-social sources of security (e.g., deities). Building on this work, the authors hypothesized that attachment to objects compensates for threatened attachment security when close others are unreliable. Participants primed with close others', but not strangers', unreliability reported increased attachment to belongings (Study 1), and this effect was mediated by feelings of attachment anxiety (concern over close others' availability), but not attachment avoidance (avoiding emotional dependence; Study 2), suggesting that object attachment compensates for the perception that close others are unreliable rather than consistently rejecting. In Study 3, when a valued belonging was removed, participants primed with uncertainty about their relationships showed increased separation anxiety and motivation to reunite with the belonging, regardless of the belonging's perceived importance for facilitating relationships.


Your Love Lifts Me Higher! The Energizing Quality of Secure Relationships

Michelle Anne Luke, Constantine Sedikides & Kathy Carnelley
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Three studies tested and confirmed the hypothesis that secure attachment relationships lead to feelings of security and energy, as well as willingness to explore. In Study 1, priming a secure attachment relationship increased felt security and energy. In Studies 2 and 3, felt energy mediated the effect of (primed) secure attachment relationships on willingness to explore. In Study 3, the effect of (primed) secure attachment relationships on felt energy and willingness to explore was independent of general positive affect. Secure attachments energize partners, thus enabling exploration.


Hunger and Social Motivation: Hungry People are Less Interested in Social Activities than Satiated People

Terry Pettijohn, Shujaat Ahmed & Terry Pettijohn
Current Psychology, March 2012, Pages 1-5

College students (N = 207) were asked their level of interest in sex, dating, and friendship affiliation before or after eating dinner at a dining hall. The threat of hunger before dinner was predicted to make participants focus on satisfying this need and therefore be less interested in social activities, compared to participants after dinner who were not hungry. Consistent with predictions, hungry males and females were less interested in sex, dating, and hanging out with friends compared to individuals who had just eaten. Results are considered in the context of motivation theory and recent research findings in the areas of physical attraction and social inclusion.


Premarital Cohabitation and Marital Dissolution: An Examination of Recent Marriages

Wendy Manning & Jessica Cohen
Journal of Marriage and Family, April 2012, Pages 377-387

An ongoing question remains for family researchers: Why does a positive association between cohabitation and marital dissolution exist when one of the primary reasons to cohabit is to test relationship compatibility? Drawing on recently collected data from the 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth, the authors examined whether premarital cohabitation experiences were associated with marital instability among a recent contemporary (married since 1996) marriage cohort of men (N = 1,483) and women (N = 2,003). They found that a dichotomous indicator of premarital cohabitation was in fact not associated with marital instability among women and men. Furthermore, among cohabitors, marital commitment prior to cohabitation (engagement or definite plans for marriage) was tied to lower hazards of marital instability among women, but not men. This research contributes to our understanding of cohabitation, marital instability, and broader family change.


Mending Broken Hearts: Marriage and Survival Following Cardiac Surgery

Ellen Idler, David Boulifard & Richard Contrada
Journal of Health and Social Behavior, March 2012, Pages 33-49

Marriage has long been linked to lower risk for adult mortality in population and clinical studies. In a regional sample of patients (n = 569) undergoing cardiac surgery, we compared 5-year hazards of mortality for married persons with those of widowed, separated or divorced, and never married persons using data from medical records and psychosocial interviews. After adjusting for demographics and pre- and postsurgical health, unmarried persons had 1.90 times the hazard of mortality of married persons; the disaggregated widowed, never married, and divorced or separated groups had similar hazards, as did men and women. The adjusted hazard for immediate postsurgical mortality was 3.33; the adjusted hazard for long-term mortality was 1.71, and this was mediated by married persons' lower smoking rates. The findings underscore the role of spouses (both male and female) in caregiving during health crises and the social control of health behaviors.


Cohabitation Premium in Men's Earnings: Testing the Joint Human Capital Hypothesis

Arif Mamun
Journal of Family and Economic Issues, March 2012, Pages 53-68

This paper provides new evidence on the increase in wage earnings for men due to marriage and cohabitation (in the literature, commonly referred to as marital and cohabitation wage premiums for men). Using data for a sample of white men from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979, the paper shows that even after accounting for potential selection bias there is a cohabitation wage premium for men, albeit smaller than the marriage premium. Our analysis shows that a joint human capital hypothesis (a la Benham in J Polit Econ 82(2, Part 2):S57-71, 1974) with intra-household spillover effects of partner's education can explain the existence of the wage premiums. Our estimates provide some empirical support for the joint human capital hypothesis.


The Personal Sense of Power

Cameron Anderson, Oliver John & Dacher Keltner
Journal of Personality, April 2012, Pages 313-344

Scholars who examine the psychological effects of power have often argued that possessing power shapes individual behavior because it instills an elevated sense of power. However, little is known about the personal sense of power because very few studies have examined it empirically. In studies involving a total of 1,141 participants and nine different samples, we found that the personal sense of power was coherent within social contexts; for example, individuals who believed that they can get their way in a group also believed that they can influence fellow group members' attitudes and opinions. The personal sense of power was also moderately consistent across relationships but showed considerable relationship specificity; for example, individuals' personal sense of power vis-à-vis their friend tended to be distinct but moderately related to their personal sense of power vis-à-vis their parent. And the personal sense of power was affected not only by sociostructural factors (e.g., social position, status) but also by personality variables such as dominance.


Gender Rules: Same- and Cross-Gender Friendships Norms

Diane Felmlee, Elizabeth Sweet & Colleen Sinclair
Sex Roles, April 2012, Pages 518-529

We examined the relationships between gender and attitudes towards same- and cross-gender friendship norms for a sample of 269 West Coast, U.S., college students. Participants evaluated violations of friendship norms described in vignettes in which the friend's gender was experimentally manipulated. Women differentiated more between types of violations in their evaluations than did men. There also were several significant gender differences in approval of norm violations. As expected, women tended to have relatively high expectations of their friendships in situations involving trust and intimacy, likely resulting from the high value they placed on affiliation and emotional closeness. Women were more disapproving than men of a friend who canceled plans or failed to come to their defense publicly. Men and women judged a woman who betrayed a secret more harshly than a man. Generally, expectations for cross-gender, versus same-gender, friends were more similar than different; there were no significant cross-gender interactions, with one exception. Men were particularly less approving of a male, as compared to a female, friend who kissed them in a greeting. Furthermore, an overwhelming majority of respondents (81.6%) reported that men and women can be friends. A minority of women were cautious in their responses, with women (18.5%) more apt to reply "maybe," than men (9.9%). Overall, these findings provided evidence that gender, rather than cross-gender, norms primarily influenced friendship evaluations, and demonstrated that even a subtle manipulation of gender can trigger gender stereotypes. They suggested, too, that women may hold their friends to stricter "rules" than men.


Modulating social behavior with oxytocin: How does it work? What does it mean?

Patricia Churchland & Piotr Winkielman
Hormones and Behavior, March 2012, Pages 392-399

Among its many roles in body and brain, oxytocin influences social behavior. Understanding the precise nature of this influence is crucial, both within the broader theoretical context of neurobiology, social neuroscience and brain evolution, but also within a clinical context of disorders such as anxiety, schizophrenia, and autism. Research exploring oxytocin's role in human social behavior is difficult owing to its release in both body and brain and its interactive effects with other hormones and neuromodulators. Additional difficulties are due to the intricacies of the blood-brain barrier and oxytocin's instability, which creates measurement issues. Questions concerning how to interpret behavioral results of human experiments manipulating oxytocin are thus made all the more pressing. The current paper discusses several such questions. We highlight unresolved fundamental issues about what exactly happens when oxytocin is administered intranasally, whether such oxytocin does in fact reach appropriate receptors in brain, and whether central or peripheral influences account for the observed behavioral effects. We also highlight the deeper conceptual issue of whether the human data should be narrowly interpreted as implicating a specific role for oxytocin in complex social cognition, such a generosity, trust, or mentalizing, or more broadly interpreted as implicating a lower-level general effect on general states and dispositions, such as anxiety and social motivation. Using several influential studies, we show how seemingly specific, higher-level social-cognitive effects can emerge via a process by which oxytocin's broad influence is channeled into a specific social behavior in a context of an appropriate social and research setting.


Spousal Network Overlap as a Basis for Spousal Support

Benjamin Cornwell
Journal of Marriage and Family, April 2012, Pages 229-238

The role social network structure plays in facilitating flows of support between spouses is often overlooked. This study examined whether levels of support between spouses depended on the degree of overlap between spouses' networks. Network overlap may enhance spouses' support capacities by increasing their understanding of each other's support needs and their ability to coordinate support for each other. Data on 1,490 married older adults from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project were examined. Analyses revealed that when one's spouse had more contact with one's other network members, one was more likely to (a) view the spouse as a reliable source of support, (b) open up to the spouse, and (c) discuss health issues with the spouse. These results suggest that spousal support is not only a function of relationship quality or obligations - it also is a structural phenomenon that depends on spouses' connectedness to each other's networks.


Subliminal activation of social ties moderates cardiovascular reactivity during acute stress

McKenzie Carlisle et al.
Health Psychology, March 2012, Pages 217-225

Objective: The quality of one's personal relationships has been reliably linked to important physical health outcomes, perhaps through the mechanism of physiological stress responses. Most studies of this mechanism have focused on whether more conscious interpersonal transactions influence cardiovascular reactivity. However, whether such relationships can be automatically activated in memory to influence physiological processes has not been determined. The primary aims of this study were to examine whether subliminal activation of relationships could influence health-relevant physiological processes and to examine this question in the context of a more general relationship model that incorporates both positive and negative dimensions.

Method: We randomly assigned participants to be subliminally primed with existing relationships that varied in their underlying positivity and negativity (i.e., indifferent, supportive, aversive, ambivalent). They then performed acute psychological stressors while cardiovascular and self-report measures were assessed.

Results: Priming negative relationships was associated with greater threat, lower feelings of control, and higher diastolic blood pressure reactivity during stress. Moreover, priming relationships high in positivity and negativity (ambivalent ties) was associated with the highest heart rate reactivity and greatest respiratory sinus arrhythmia decreases during stress. Exploratory analyses during the priming task itself suggested that the effects of negative primes on biological measures were prevalent across tasks, whereas the links to ambivalent ties was specific to the subsequent stressor task.

Conclusions: These data highlight novel mechanisms by which social ties may impact cardiovascular health, and further suggest the importance of incorporating both positivity and negativity in the study of relationships and physical health.


Differentiating transformational and non-transformational leaders on the basis of neurological imaging

Pierre Balthazard et al.
Leadership Quarterly, April 2012, Pages 244-258

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the viability of using neurological imaging to classify transformational leaders, versus non-transformational leaders, as identified through existing psychometric methods. Specifically, power spectral analysis measures based on electroencephalograms (EEG) were used to develop and validate a discriminant function that can classify individuals according to their transformational leadership behavior. Resting, eyes closed EEG was recorded from 19 scalp locations for 200 civilian and military leaders. We also assessed follower or peer perceptions of transformational leadership through the use of the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ). Our discriminant analysis, which involved a two-step, neural variable reduction and selection process, was 92.5% accurate in its classification of leaders. Patterns in the spectral measures of the brain of leaders, including activity and network dynamic metrics, are discussed as potential correlates of transformational leadership behavior. The current work provides a better understanding of the latent and dynamic neurological mechanisms that may underpin the transformational leadership qualities of individuals.


The Role of Listening in Interpersonal Influence

Daniel Ames, Lily Benjamin Maissen & Joel Brockner
Journal of Research in Personality, forthcoming

Using informant reports on working professionals, we explored the role of listening in interpersonal influence and how listening may account for at least some of the relationship between personality and influence. The results extended prior work which has suggested that listening is positively related to influence for informational and relational reasons. As predicted, we found that: (1) listening had a positive effect on influence beyond the impact of verbal expression, (2) listening interacted with verbal expression to predict influence (such that the relationship between listening and influence was stronger among those more expressive), and (3) listening partly mediated the positive relationships between each of the Big Five dimensions of agreeableness and openness and influence.


Deception and Its Detection: Effects of Monetary Incentives and Personal Relationship History

Lyn Van Swol, Deepak Malhotra & Michael Braun
Communication Research, April 2012, Pages 217-238

The study examined detection of deception in unsanctioned, consequential lies between either friends or strangers using an ultimatum game. The sender was given an amount of money to divide with the receiver. The receiver did not know the precise amount the sender had to divide, and the sender had the ability to deceive the receiver about the monetary amount. Not surprisingly, senders were more likely to deceive strangers than friends, and receivers were more suspicious of strangers than friends. When senders lied, they stated their offer more times and gave more supporting statements for their offer. Receivers had a strong truth bias, although the majority of senders were truthful, and friends had more of a truth bias than strangers. Receivers were not able to detect deception at a rate above chance. Friends were not better at detecting deception than strangers. However, because most participants were truthful and there was a strong truth bias, a high percentage of participants were able to detect when their partner was truthful, in confirmation of the veracity effect.


The heritability of emergent leadership: Age and gender as moderating factors

Sankalp Chaturvedi et al.
Leadership Quarterly, April 2012, Pages 219-232

In this study, we examined the moderating influences of gender and age with respect to testing the heritability of leadership emergence. A large data base of 12,112 twins from Sweden was used in the current study to decompose the variance of emergent leadership into an unobservable genetic component and environmental components that are either common or unshared among twin pairs. Consistent with prior leadership research on genetics, we found that a genetic factor is able to explain a significant proportion of the variation across individuals in predicting how twins perceive their emergent leadership behavior (about 44% for women and 37% for men). Furthermore, we also found that the magnitude of genetic influence on emergent leadership varied with age, but only for women with the heritability estimate being highest for the mid-age women versus lowest for the older women. Implications for advancing research on the genetic and environmental influences on leadership emergence are discussed.


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