Findings

Scary

Kevin Lewis

October 31, 2010

Dangerous Enough: Moderating Racial Bias with Contextual Threat Cues

Joshua Correll, Bernd Wittenbrink, Bernadette Park, Charles Judd & Arina Goyle
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research shows that participants shoot armed Blacks more frequently and quickly than armed Whites, but make don't-shoot responses more frequently and quickly for unarmed Whites than unarmed Blacks. We argue that this bias reflects the perception of threat - specifically, threat associated with Black males. Other danger cues (not just race) may create a similar predisposition to shoot, and if these cues promote shooting when the target is White, they should attenuate racial bias. We embedded targets in threatening and safe backgrounds. Racial bias was evident in safe contexts but disappeared when context signaled danger, and this reduction was largely due to an increased tendency to shoot White targets.

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From Firm Muscles to Firm Willpower: Understanding the Role of Embodied Cognition in Self-Regulation

Iris Hung & Aparna Labroo
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Across five studies, we show that firming one's muscles can help firm willpower and firmed willpower mediates people's ability to withstand immediate pain, overcome tempting food, consume unpleasant medicines, and attend to immediately disturbing but essential information, provided doing so is seen as providing long term benefits. We draw on theories of embodied cognition to explain our results, and we add to that literature by showing for a first time that our bodies can help firm willpower and facilitate self-regulation essential for the attainment of long-term goals.

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Enhanced memory for the wolf in sheep's clothing: Facial trustworthiness modulates face-trait associative memory

Atsunobu Suzuki & Sayaka Suga
Cognition, November 2010, Pages 224-229

Abstract:
Our decision about whether to trust and cooperate with someone is influenced by the individual's facial appearance despite its limited predictive power. Thus, remembering trustworthy-looking cheaters is more important than remembering untrustworthy-looking cheaters because we are more likely to trust and cooperate with the former, resulting in a higher risk of unreciprocated cooperation. The present study investigated whether our mind adaptively copes with this problem by enhancing memory for trustworthy-looking cheaters. Participants played a debt game, wherein they learned to discriminate among good, neutral, and bad lenders, who respectively charged no, moderate, and high interest on the debt. Each lender had either a trustworthy- or untrustworthy-looking face. A subsequent memory test revealed that participants remembered the bad traits of trustworthy-looking lenders more accurately than those of untrustworthy-looking lenders. The results demonstrate enhanced memory for trustworthy-looking cheaters, or wolves in sheep's clothing, implying that humans are equipped with protective mechanisms against disguised, unfaithful signs of trustworthiness.

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Risky Altruism as a Predictor of Criminal Victimization

Robert Homant
Criminal Justice and Behavior, November 2010, Pages 1195-1216

Abstract:
This research tested the hypothesis that risky altruism is a significant predictor of criminal victimization. Two hundred sixty-eight respondents filled out a questionnaire measuring their experiences as crime victims, several personality variables, and their degree of altruism. Using factor analysis, a general altruism scale was subdivided into risky and safe altruism. Risky altruism correlated .31 with victimization, compared to .09 for safe altruism. This basic finding was true for both personal and property crime, and the pattern held for four different subgroups: a student sample and citizens from high-, moderate-, and low-crime areas. Separate measures of recent victimization and victimization directly related to helping someone (altruistic victimization) also showed significant relationships with risky altruism. Risky and safe altruism had different patterns of relationships with personality variables, with risky altruism being less related to prosocial personality, agreeableness, and conscientiousness, and more related to extraversion and sensation seeking.

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Fronto-parietal regulation of media violence exposure in adolescents: A multi-method study

Maren Strenziok et al.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Adolescents spend a significant part of their leisure time watching TV programs and movies that portray violence. It is unknown, however, how the extent of violent media use and the severity of aggression displayed affect adolescents' brain function. We investigated skin conductance responses, brain activation and functional brain connectivity to media violence in healthy adolescents. In an event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging experiment, subjects repeatedly viewed normed videos that displayed different degrees of aggressive behavior. We found a downward linear adaptation in skin conductance responses with increasing aggression and desensitization towards more aggressive videos. Our results further revealed adaptation in a fronto-parietal network including the left lateral orbitofrontal cortex (lOFC), right precuneus and bilateral inferior parietal lobules, again showing downward linear adaptations and desensitization towards more aggressive videos. Granger causality mapping analyses revealed attenuation in the left lOFC, indicating that activation during viewing aggressive media is driven by input from parietal regions that decreased over time, for more aggressive videos. We conclude that aggressive media activates an emotion-attention network that has the capability to blunt emotional responses through reduced attention with repeated viewing of aggressive media contents, which may restrict the linking of the consequences of aggression with an emotional response, and therefore potentially promotes aggressive attitudes and behavior.

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The effects of video game realism on attention, retention and aggressive outcomes

Marina Krcmar, Kirstie Farrar & Rory McGloin
Computers in Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study used a between subjects, post-test only design to test the effects of video game realism (Doom 1 vs. Doom 3) and a control condition on attention, retention and aggressive outcomes. Overall, those who played Doom 3 perceived it as significantly more realistic than those who played Doom 1, thus providing validity for the manipulation. Next, those who played Doom 3 were significantly more attentive and experienced more presence than those who played Doom 1. Furthermore, playing either Doom game resulted in more aggression than playing no game and physically aggressive intentions were higher among those who played Doom 3 as compared to those who played Doom 1. Lastly, we tested for any possible interaction between realism and the attention and retention subfunctions on production and we found that, compared to the other players, those who experienced greater identification among those playing Doom 3 had higher verbal aggression. For physical aggression, those who played Doom 3 and experienced more attention and greater identification had higher aggression scores than those in the other conditions.

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Sex differences in how stress affects brain activity during face viewing

Mara Mather, Nichole Lighthall, Lin Nga & Marissa Gorlick
NeuroReport, 6 October 2010, Pages 933-937

Abstract:
Under stress, men tend to withdraw socially whereas women seek social support. This functional magnetic resonance imaging study indicates that stress also affects brain activity while viewing emotional faces differently for men and women. Fusiform face area response to faces was diminished by acute stress in men but increased by stress in women. Furthermore, among stressed men viewing angry faces, brain regions involved in interpreting and understanding others' emotions (the insula, temporal pole, and inferior frontal gyrus) showed reduced coordination with the fusiform face area and the amygdala, whereas the functional connectivity among these regions increased with stress for women. These findings suggest that stress influences emotional perception differently for men and women.

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Physical temperature effects on trust behavior: The role of insula

Yoona Kang, Lawrence Williams, Margaret Clark, Jeremy Gray & John Bargh
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Trust lies at the heart of person perception and interpersonal decision making. In two studies, we investigated physical temperature as one factor that can influence human trust behavior, and the insula as a possible neural substrate. Participants briefly touched either a cold or warm pack, and then played an economic trust game. Those primed with cold invested less with an anonymous partner, revealing lesser interpersonal trust, as compared to those who touched a warm pack. In Study 2, we examined neural activity during trust-related processes after a temperature manipulation using functional magnetic resonance imaging. The left-anterior insular region activated more strongly than baseline only when the trust decision was preceded by touching a cold pack, and not a warm pack. In addition, greater activation within bilateral insula was identified during the decision phase followed by a cold manipulation, contrasted to warm. These results suggest that the insula may be a key shared neural substrate that mediates the influence of temperature on trust processes.

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The positive effect of negative emotions in protracted conflict: The case of anger

Michal Reifen Tagar, Christopher Federico & Eran Halperin
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Extant research has demonstrated the destructive role that anger plays in the context of intergroup conflict. Among other findings, it has been established that anger elevates public support for aggressive and violent actions towards the outgroup. This finding has been explained by the unique cognitive appraisals, emotional goal, and response tendencies associated with anger, typified by appraised relative strength and high control, motivation to correct perceived wrongdoings, and willingness to engage in risky behavior. In the current work we examine an innovative assumption, according to which the apparent destructive implications of anger are a result of situational range restriction - namely, that anger as a group emotion has been examined almost solely at the escalation stage of conflict. Instead, we propose that the same unique characteristics of anger can bring about constructive political attitudes and support for non-violent policies in the context of systematic efforts to de-escalate a protracted conflict. To test this hypothesis we conducted two studies in which we examined the relationship between anger and the willingness to engage in positive risk taking and support non-violent policies in the context of political negotiations between adversaries. Results indicate a significant positive relationship, supporting the hypothesis that anger is not an exclusively militant emotion, and its effects are situationally dependent.

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Fear and anger as predictors of motivation for intergroup aggression: Evidence from Serbia and Republika Srpska

Marija Spanovic, Brian Lickel, Thomas Denson & Nebojsa Petrovic
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, November 2010, Pages 725-739

Abstract:
We investigated the relationship between emotions of fear and anger and people's motivation for intergroup aggression within the context of Serbian-Albanian relations in Serbia (Study 1) and Serbian-Bosniak intergroup relations in Bosnia (Study 2). Serbian students in Belgrade and Banja Luka completed a survey that assessed their attitudes towards Albanians or Bosniaks. We found that fear of the outgroup was related to increased motivation for aggression in the context of the ongoing conflict in Serbia, whereas fear was negatively related to aggression in Bosnia, where the conflict had been resolved. The relationships between fear and aggression were significant even after controlling for anger. Furthermore, ingroup affiliation mediated the relationship between fear and aggression in Serbia and between anger and aggression in Bosnia. These findings have implications for conflict resolution efforts in ongoing or intractable conflicts.

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I do not know you and I am keeping it that way: Attachment avoidance and empathic accuracy in the perception of strangers

Or Izhaki-Costi & Yaacov Schul
Personal Relationships, forthcoming

Abstract:
Two studies examined the association between attachment avoidance and empathic accuracy when perceiving strangers. In Study 1, participants with high attachment avoidance revealed lower accuracy in identifying the thoughts and feelings of their interaction partner compared with participants with low attachment avoidance. High-avoidance participants also tended to mentally distance themselves from the other and thought less often about him or her. Study 2 replicated the pattern of lower empathic accuracy for high-attachment-avoidance participants, this time, when respondents did not actually interact with the target of perception. We discuss reasons for why people with high attachment avoidance might show impaired empathic accuracy while interacting with strangers. We also consider more general influences of attachment avoidance on perception processes and, consequently, on social success.

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The human amygdala is necessary for developing and expressing normal interpersonal trust

Timothy Koscik & Daniel Tranel
Neuropsychologia, forthcoming

Abstract:
The human amygdala is known to be involved in processing social, emotional, and reward-related information. Previous reports have indicated that the amygdala is involved in extracting trustworthiness information from faces. Interestingly, functional neuroimaging research using economic tasks that presumably require developing and/or expressing interpersonal trust, such as the Trust Game (TG), have not routinely identified involvement of the amygdala. The present study sought to explore the role of the amygdala in developing and expressing interpersonal trust, via a multi-round, multiplayer economic exchange, a version of the TG, in a large sample of participants with focal brain damage. Participants with unilateral damage to the amygdala displayed increased benevolent behavior in the TG, and specifically, they tended to increase trust in response to betrayals. On the other hand, neurologically-normal adults tended to repay trust in kind, i.e., they decreased interpersonal trust in response to betrayals or increased trust in response to increases from others. Comparison participants, with brain damage that does not include the amygdala, ventromedial prefrontal or insular cortices, tended to behave ambivalently to the expressed trust or betrayal of others. Our data suggest that the amygdala is necessary for developing and expressing normal interpersonal trust. This increased tendency to behave benevolently in response to defections from others may be related to the abnormal social behavior observed in this group. Moreover, increased benevolence may increase the likelihood or opportunity to be taken advantage of by others.

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Elements of trust: Risk and perspective-taking

Anthony Evans & Joachim Krueger
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Trust is essential to personal well-being and economic success, but it cannot occur without accepting the possibility of betrayal. In the experimental trust game, game-theoretic rationality prescribes that trust decisions should depend on the potential risk (egocentric costs and benefits) and the probability of reciprocity (derived from the trustee's temptation to defect). The current work tests the relative weights of these elements. Experiment 1 shows that trust increases when costs decrease and benefits increase. The latter finding is critical because increasing the trustor's benefit also means increasing the trustee's temptation to defect. Hence, this finding suggests that egocentrism prevails over perspective-taking. Experiment 2 shows that the trustee's temptation to defect (negatively) affects trust, but only when the trustor's cost and benefit are favorable. Results are interpreted as reflecting a boundedly rational decision process.

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An Internet-Based Self-Help Treatment for Fear of Public Speaking: A Controlled Trial

C. Botella, M.J. Gallego, A. Garcia-Palacios, V. Guillen, R.M. Baños, S. Quero & M. Alcañiz
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, August 2010, Pages 407-421

Abstract:
This study offers data about the efficacy of "Talk to Me," an Internet-based telepsychology program for the treatment of fear of public speaking that includes the most active components in cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) for social phobia (exposure and cognitive therapies). One hundred twenty-seven participants with social phobia were randomly assigned to three experimental conditions: (a) an Internet-based self-administered program; (b) the same program applied by a therapist; (c) a waiting-list control group. Results showed that both treatment conditions were equally efficacious. In addition, Talk to Me and the same treatment applied by a therapist were more efficacious than the waiting-list condition. Treatment gains were maintained at 1-year follow-up. The results from this study support the utility of Internet-delivered CBT programs in order to reach a higher number of people who could benefit from CBT. Internet-delivered CBT programs could also play a valuable role in the dissemination of CBT.


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