Plugged in

Kevin Lewis

July 16, 2017

Reciprocal Influences Between Loneliness and Self-Centeredness: A Cross-Lagged Panel Analysis in a Population-Based Sample of African American, Hispanic, and Caucasian Adults
John Cacioppo, Hsi Yuan Chen & Stephanie Cacioppo
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, August 2017, Pages 1125-1135

Loneliness has been posited to increase the motivation to repair or replace deficient social relationships and, seemingly paradoxically, to increase the implicit motivation for self-preservation. In the current research, we report a cross-lagged panel analysis of 10 waves of longitudinal data (N = 229) on loneliness and self-centeredness (as gauged by Feeney and Collins's measure of chronic self-focus) in a representative sample of middle-aged and older adults. As predicted by the proposition that loneliness increases the implicit motivation for self-preservation, loneliness in the current year predicts self-centeredness in the subsequent year beyond what is explained by current-year demographic variables, self-centeredness, depressive symptomatology, and overall negative mood. Analyses also show that self-centeredness in the current year (net covariates) predicts loneliness in the subsequent year, a reciprocal relationship that could potentially contribute to the maintenance of loneliness. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Digitally Connected, Socially Disconnected: The Effects of Relying on Technology Rather Than Other People
Kostadin Kushlev, Jason Proulx & Elizabeth Dunn
Computers in Human Behavior, November 2017, Pages 68-74

In less than a decade, smartphones have transformed how, when, and where people access information. We propose that turning to technology for information may lead individuals to miss out on opportunities to cultivate feelings of social connection. Testing this hypothesis, we asked participants to find an unfamiliar building and randomly assigned them to solve this everyday problem either with or without their smartphones. Compared to those who could not rely on technology, participants who used their smartphones found the building more easily but ended up feeling less socially connected. Although having access to smartphones improved participants' mood by making their task easier, this beneficial effect was diminished by the costs to social connection. Our findings provide the first experimental evidence that the benefits of pervasive connectivity may be undercut when technology supplants social interactions.

Online Networks and Subjective Well-Being
Fabio Sabatini & Francesco Sarracino
Kyklos, August 2017, Pages 456-480

We test the relationship between the use of social networking sites (SNS) and a proxy of utility, i.e. subjective well-being (SWB), using instrumental variables. Additionally, we disentangle the indirect effects of SNS on well-being mediated by face-to-face interactions and social trust using a structural equation model. Results suggest that the use of SNS hampers people's well-being directly and indirectly, through its negative effects on social trust. However, the use of SNS also has a positive impact on well-being because it increases the probability of face-to-face interactions. Yet, the net effect of the use of SNS for SWB remains negative.

The effects of age, gender, and gender role ideology on adolescents' social perspective-taking ability and tendency in friendships
Kaitlin Flannery & Rhiannon Smith
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, August 2017, Pages 617-635

Social perspective taking (SPT; i.e., the social-cognitive process of inferring another person's thoughts and feelings) is commonly thought to be essential for successful social relationships, yet the bulk of past work on the development of SPT does not consider youths' tendency to engage in SPT in the context of their close relationships. The current study of adolescents (ages 12-17, N = 158) helps move the field forward by distinguishing between adolescents' SPT ability (i.e., whether they are developmentally capable of SPT) and their tendency to apply this ability in their actual social relationships, namely, friendships, and considering the roles of gender and age. Results indicate that SPT ability and SPT tendency are distinct, suggesting that youths do not always put to use the SPT skills that they possess. Girls scored higher than boys on both SPT ability and SPT tendency. Boys and girls had significant gains in SPT ability across adolescence. Surprisingly, however, boys' SPT tendency decreased from early to later adolescence, indicating that older boys tend to engage in less SPT in their friendships despite increasing ability to do so. This is worrisome given the importance of SPT in promoting high-quality relationships. Importantly, gender role ideology predicted this tendency in boys, such that boys with more stereotypical gender beliefs tended to engage in less SPT with their friends. Thus, the current findings point to the importance of going beyond mean-level gender differences to consider gendered beliefs and suggest that interventions aimed at promoting egalitarian views may help foster SPT and successful friendships among boys.

Connective recovery in social networks after the death of a friend
William Hobbs & Moira Burke
Nature Human Behaviour, April 2017

Most individuals have few close friends, leading to potential isolation after a friend's death. Do social networks heal to fill the space left by the loss? We conduct such a study of self-healing and resilience in social networks. We compared de-identified, aggregate counts of monthly interactions in approximately 15,000 Facebook networks in which someone had died with similar friendship networks of living Facebook users. As expected, a substantial amount of social interaction was lost with the death of a friend. However, friends of the decedent immediately increased interactions with each other and maintained these added interactions for years after the loss. Through this, the social networks recovered approximately the same number of active connections that had been lost. Interactions between close friends of the decedent peaked immediately after the death and then reached stable levels after a year. Interactions between close friends of the decedent and acquaintances of the decedent stabilized sooner, within a few months. Networks of young adults, ages 18 to 24, were more likely to recover than all other age groups, but unexpected deaths resulted in larger increases in social interactions that did not differ by friends' ages. Suicides were associated with reduced social-network recovery.

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