Well acquainted

Kevin Lewis

January 27, 2013

Does Posting Facebook Status Updates Increase or Decrease Loneliness? An Online Social Networking Experiment

Fenne große Deters & Matthias Mehl
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Online social networking is a pervasive but empirically understudied phenomenon. Strong public opinions on its consequences exist but are backed up by little empirical evidence and almost no causally conclusive, experimental research. The current study tested the psychological effects of posting status updates on Facebook using an experimental design. For 1 week, participants in the experimental condition were asked to post more than they usually do, whereas participants in the control condition received no instructions. Participants added a lab "Research Profile" as a Facebook friend allowing for the objective documentation of protocol compliance, participants' status updates, and friends' responses. Results revealed (1) that the experimentally induced increase in status updating activity reduced loneliness, (2) that the decrease in loneliness was due to participants feeling more connected to their friends on a daily basis, and (3) that the effect of posting on loneliness was independent of direct social feedback (i.e., responses) by friends.


Comparing the Happiness Effects of Real and On-line Friends

John Helliwell & Haifang Huang
NBER Working Paper, January 2013

A recent large Canadian survey permits us to compare real-time and on-line social networks as sources of subjective well-being. The sample of 5,000 is drawn randomly from an on-line pool of respondents, a group well placed to have and value on-line friendships. We find three key results. First, the number of real-life friends is positively correlated with subjective well-being (SWB) even after controlling for income, demographic variables and personality differences. Doubling the number of friends in real life has an equivalent effect on well-being as a 50% increase in income. Second, the size of online networks is largely uncorrelated with subjective well-being. Third, we find that real-life friends are much more important for people who are single, divorced, separated or widowed than they are for people who are married or living with a partner. Findings from large international surveys (the European Social Surveys 2002-2008) are used to confirm the importance of real-life social networks to SWB; they also indicate a significantly smaller value of social networks to married or partnered couples.


The Good Life of the Powerful: The Experience of Power and Authenticity Enhances Subjective Well-Being

Yona Kifer et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

A common cliché and system-justifying stereotype is that power leads to misery and self-alienation. Drawing on the power and authenticity literatures, however, we predicted the opposite relationship. Because power increases the correspondence between internal states and behavior, we hypothesized that power enhances subjective well-being (SWB) by leading people to feel more authentic. Across four surveys representing markedly different primary social roles (general, work, romantic-relationship, and friendship surveys; Study 1), and in an experiment (Study 2a), we found consistent evidence that experiencing power leads to greater SWB. Moreover, authenticity mediated this effect. Further establishing the causal importance of authenticity, a final experiment (Study 2b), in which authenticity was manipulated, demonstrated that greater authenticity directly increased SWB. Although striving for power lowers well-being, these results demonstrate the pervasive positive psychological effects of having power, and indicate the importance of spreading power to enhance collective well-being.


Entrepreneurship and Team Participation: An Experimental Study

David Cooper & Krista Jabs Saral
European Economic Review, forthcoming

Entrepreneurs are surprisingly unlikely to have partners. One possible explanation for this is that entrepreneurs have distinctive preferences for working alone rather than in teams. However, a number of alternative explanations exist such as an inability to locate suitable partners or low profitability from having a partner. Utilizing a diverse subject population with a high proportion of active entrepreneurs, we use a team production experiment to directly examine whether entrepreneurs prefer to work alone or in a team. The experiment also measures an important determinant of entrepreneurs' performance within teams, their relative tendency to free-ride. The data indicate that entrepreneurs, while no more likely to free-ride on their teammates, are substantially more interested in working alone than similar non-entrepreneurs.


A boost of positive affect: The perks of sharing positive experiences

Nathaniel Lambert et al.
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, February 2013, Pages 24-43

In a series of five studies we examined the relationship between sharing positive experiences and positive affect using a diary method (Study 1) and laboratory manipulations (Studies 2 and 3). All of these studies demonstrated that sharing the positive experience heightened its impact on positive affect. In Study 4, we conducted a four-week journal study in which the experimental participants kept a journal of grateful experiences and shared them with a partner twice a week. Control participants either kept a journal of grateful experience (without sharing), or kept a journal of class learnings and shared it with a partner. Those who shared their positive experiences increased in positive affect, happiness, and life satisfaction over the course of four weeks. Study 5 showed that those who received an "active-constructive" response to good news (enthusiastic support) expressed more positive affect than participants in all other conditions, indicating that the response of the listener is important. In sum, our findings suggest that positive affect, happiness, and life satisfaction reach a peak only when participants share their positive experiences and when the relationship partner provides an active-constructive response.


To Do, to Have, or to Share? Valuing Experiences Over Material Possessions Depends on the Involvement of Others

Peter Caprariello & Harry Reis
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Recent evidence indicates that spending discretionary money with the intention of acquiring life experiences - events that one lives through - makes people happier than spending money with the intention of acquiring material possessions - tangible objects that one obtains and possesses. We propose and show that experiences are more likely to be shared with others, whereas material possessions are more prone to solitary use and that this distinction may account for their differential effects on happiness. In 4 studies, we present evidence demonstrating that the inclusion of others is a key dimension of how people derive happiness from discretionary spending. These studies showed that when the social-solitary and experiential-material dimensions were considered simultaneously, social discretionary spending was favored over solitary discretionary spending, whereas experiences showed no happiness-producing advantage relative to possessions. Furthermore, whereas spending money on socially shared experiences was valued more than spending money on either experiences enacted alone or material possessions, solitary experiences were no more valued than material possessions. Together, these results extend and clarify the basic findings of prior research and add to growing evidence that the social context of experiences is critical for their effects on happiness.


Along for the Ride: Best Friends' Resources and Adolescents' College Completion

Hua-Yu Sebastian Cherng, Jessica McCrory Calarco & Grace Kao
American Educational Research Journal, February 2013, Pages 76-106

Research on social capital in education rarely considers how the resources students can access through their friendships affect educational outcomes later in life. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we explore how having resource-rich best friends impacts adolescents' college completion. We compare the influence of friends' material and cultural resources and their effects relative to adolescents' family resources. We find that having a best friend with a college-educated mother significantly increases the likelihood of college completion, though having a best friend whose parents are high income does not. This positive effect of best friends' cultural resources is not explained fully by school achievement or by the expectations of respondents, best friends, or parents. We conclude that adolescent friendships are an underrecognized source of social capital.


Preparatory Power Posing Affects Performance and Outcomes in Social Evaluations

Amy Cuddy, Caroline Wilmuth & Dana Carney
Harvard Working Paper, November 2012

This experiment tested whether changing one's nonverbal behavior prior to an important social evaluation could improve performance on the evaluated task. Participants adopted expansive, open (high-power) poses or contractive, closed (low-power) poses, and then prepared and delivered a speech to two evaluators as part of a mock job interview - a prototypical social evaluation. All speeches were videotaped and coded for overall performance and hireability as well as for two potential mediators: speech content (e.g., content, structure) and speaker presence (e.g., captivating, enthusiastic). As predicted, those who prepared with high-power poses performed better and were more likely to be chosen for hire; this relationship was mediated by speaker presence, but not speech content. Power-pose condition had no effect on body posture during the social evaluation, thus revealing a relationship between preparatory nonverbal behavior and subsequent performance, and highlighting preparatory power posing as a simple performance-boosting tool with the potential to benefit almost anyone.


Superman to the rescue: Simulating physical invulnerability attenuates exclusion-related interpersonal biases

Julie Huang, Joshua Ackerman & John Bargh
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, May 2013, Pages 349-354

People cope with social exclusion both by seeking reconnection with familiar individuals and by denigrating unfamiliar and disliked others. These reactions can be seen as adaptive responses in ancestral environments where ostracism exposed people to physical dangers and even death. To the extent that reactions to ostracism evolved to minimize exposure to danger, alleviating these foundational concerns with danger may lessen people's need to cope with exclusion. Three studies demonstrate how a novel physical invulnerability simulation lessens both positive and negative reactions to social exclusion. Study 1 found that simulating physical invulnerability lessened exclusion-triggered negative attitudes toward stigmatized groups, and demonstrated that perceived invulnerability to injury (vs. imperviousness to pain) accounted for this effect. Studies 2 and 3 focused on another facet of social bias by revealing that simulating physical invulnerability lessened the desire for social connection.


Born to lead? A twin design and genetic association study of leadership role occupancy

Jan-Emmanuel De Neve et al.
Leadership Quarterly, February 2013, Pages 45-60

We address leadership emergence and the possibility that there is a partially innate predisposition to occupy a leadership role. Employing twin design methods on data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we estimate the heritability of leadership role occupancy at 24%. Twin studies do not point to specific genes or neurological processes that might be involved. We therefore also conduct association analysis on the available genetic markers. The results show that leadership role occupancy is associated with rs4950, a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) residing on a neuronal acetylcholine receptor gene (CHRNB3). We replicate this family-based genetic association result on an independent sample in the Framingham Heart Study. This is the first study to identify a specific genotype associated with the tendency to occupy a leadership position. The results suggest that what determines whether an individual occupies a leadership position is the complex product of genetic and environmental influences, with a particular role for rs4950.


The Effect of Hurricane Katrina on Adolescent Feelings of Social Isolation

Brent Teasdale et al.
Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Objectives: This study investigates the effect of Hurricane Katrina on adolescent feelings of social isolation. Much anecdotal evidence suggests that individuals who continued to reside in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina struck felt isolated from the rest of the country. Based on Durkheim's concept of anomie, we suggest that adolescents in New Orleans (and the Gulf region) may experience social isolation as a result of the hurricane.

Methods: We test this hypothesis with data from the Adolescent Substance Abuse Prevention Study, a multisite longitudinal study of adolescents in six cities around the United States.

Results: We find that students in New Orleans are no different from students in the other five cities in their level of social isolation prior to the hurricane. In contrast, our posthurricane survey reveals significant differences between New Orleans (and Gulf region) students and students in the other five (comparison) cities in social isolation.

Conclusions: Our findings lend contemporary support to the concept of anomie and suggest the importance of mental health interventions for adolescents immediately following a natural disaster.


Kindness Counts: Prompting Prosocial Behavior in Preadolescents Boosts Peer Acceptance and Well-Being

Kristin Layous et al.
PLoS ONE, December 2012

At the top of parents' many wishes is for their children to be happy, to be good, and to be well-liked. Our findings suggest that these goals may not only be compatible but also reciprocal. In a longitudinal experiment conducted in 19 classrooms in Vancouver, 9- to 11-year olds were instructed to perform three acts of kindness (versus visit three places) per week over the course of 4 weeks. Students in both conditions improved in well-being, but students who performed kind acts experienced significantly bigger increases in peer acceptance (or sociometric popularity) than students who visited places. Increasing peer acceptance is a critical goal, as it is related to a variety of important academic and social outcomes, including reduced likelihood of being bullied. Teachers and interventionists can build on this study by introducing intentional prosocial activities into classrooms and recommending that such activities be performed regularly and purposefully.


Academic Self-Presentation Strategies and Popularity in Middle School

Joan Zook & Justin Russotti
Journal of Early Adolescence, forthcoming

This study examined early adolescents' beliefs about which academic self-presentation strategies hypothetical hard-working, high-achieving students should use with popular peers, adolescents' own use of self-presentation strategies, and links between popularity and self-presentation strategies. In response to scenarios in which popular classmates ask high-achieving students about their grades, most seventh- and eighth-grade participants (N = 312) believed they should be honest or give a vague response. In their own interactions, participants reported using strategies that hid grades more frequently than strategies that involved lying. Popularity was not related to adolescents' use of self-presentation strategies, but self-presentation strategy beliefs varied by popularity, grade, and gender. Popular seventh-grade students believed high-achieving students should be honest about their grades and effort, whereas popular eighth-grade students believed they should claim to have studied less. Among popular eighth-grade students, girls were more likely than boys to believe they should give a vague response.


Learning From Social Rewards Predicts Individual Differences in Self-Reported Social Ability

Erin Heerey
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

The ability to adapt face-to-face social behavior in response to an interaction's changing contingencies is an important aspect of social skill. Individual differences in social ability may depend on how well people learn from social rewards and punishments. Here we relate people's social aptitude to their ability to learn from differences in the reward values of two common social reinforcers, genuine and polite smiles. In a series of experiments, participants experienced a hidden social contingency in which they either learned to repeat actions that received genuine smile feedback and switch after polite smiles or the reverse. A condition with nonsocial feedback served as a comparison measure. Participants showed better ability to repeat actions reinforced with genuine smile feedback than with nonsocial feedback. When participants were required to switch actions following genuine smiles, performance was inhibited relative to nonsocial reinforcement. The ability to detect task contingencies and learn from social rewards predicted self-reported social ability. These novel results suggest that individual differences in reinforcement learning, and particularly in people's motivation to receive social rewards, may relate to social ability in face-to-face interactions. This finding has important implications for understanding the social difficulties that characterize disorders such as autism, depression, and schizophrenia, in which the ability to learn from rewards may be compromised.


Social Relationships and Oral Health Among Adults Aged 60 Years or Older

Georgios Tsakos et al.
Psychosomatic Medicine, forthcoming

Objective: This study assessed associations between social relationships and oral health outcomes and whether these associations were explained by demographic, socioeconomic, and behavioral factors, and physical health.

Methods: We used the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999-2004) data on 4014 adults aged 60 years or older. Oral health outcomes were edentulism, number of decayed teeth, root decay, number of sound or filled teeth, and self-rated oral health. Social relationships referred to social networks (marital status, number of close friends) and social support (emotional support need, provision of financial support). Analyses consisted of regression models sequentially adjusting for demographic, socioeconomic, behavioral, and physical health confounders.

Results: In fully adjusted models, widowed or divorced/separated individuals had fewer sound or filled teeth than those married or living with a partner: rate ratio (95% confidence interval) = 0.89 (0.82 to 0.97) and 0.90 (0.83 to 0.97), respectively. People with four to six close friends had fewer decayed teeth and lower probability for root decay than those with fewer friends. Emotional support need was associated with 1.41 (1.05 to 1.90) higher odds for root decay and 1.18 (1.04 to 1.35) higher odds for poorer self-rated oral health. Lack of financial support was associated with more decayed teeth. Edentulism was not related to any social network and social support markers.

Conclusions: Social relationships are associated with clinical measures of current disease, markers of good oral function, and subjective oral health, but not with clinical measures of a lifetime history of oral disease among older Americans.

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