What a friend

Kevin Lewis

September 23, 2017

The Bionic Blues: Robot Rejection Lowers Self-Esteem
Kyle Nash et al.
Computers in Human Behavior, forthcoming


Humans can fulfill their social needs with fictional and non-living entities that act as social surrogates. Though recent research demonstrates that social surrogates have beneficial effects on the individual similar to human relations, it is unclear whether surrogates can also cause similar harm to humans through social rejection. After playing a game of connect-4 with a human-sized robot, participants were informed by the robot that it would like to see them again (acceptance), would not like to see them again (rejection), or told nothing regarding a future interaction (control). Data revealed that social rejection from a robot significantly reduced self-esteem relative to receiving no-feedback and social acceptance (the latter two did not differ from each other). However, robot rejection had no impact on negative attitudes and opposition to the use of robots in everyday life. These findings demonstrate that social surrogates have the potential to cause psychological harm.

Perceptions of Perfection: The Influence of Social Media on Interpersonal Evaluations
Erin Vogel & Jason Rose
Basic and Applied Social Psychology, forthcoming


Through social network sites such as Facebook, people gain information about acquaintances that they would not gain from everyday life. This information typically highlights the most positive aspects of people’s personalities and lives. The goal of this investigation was to determine whether looking at another user’s Facebook profile influences perceptions of that individual’s socially desirable characteristics (e.g., intelligence, attractiveness). One group of participants viewed an acquaintance’s Facebook profile before providing evaluations, and the other evaluated the person without viewing Facebook. Results revealed that participants who viewed another person’s Facebook profile evaluated that person more favorably than those who completed a control task (Study 1) or wrote about the person from memory (Study 2). Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Processing language in face-to-face conversation: Questions with gestures get faster responses
Judith Holler, Kobin Kendrick & Stephen Levinson
Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, forthcoming


The home of human language use is face-to-face interaction, a context in which communicative exchanges are characterised not only by bodily signals accompanying what is being said but also by a pattern of alternating turns at talk. This transition between turns is astonishingly fast — typically a mere 200-ms elapse between a current and a next speaker’s contribution — meaning that comprehending, producing, and coordinating conversational contributions in time is a significant challenge. This begs the question of whether the additional information carried by bodily signals facilitates or hinders language processing in this time-pressured environment. We present analyses of multimodal conversations revealing that bodily signals appear to profoundly influence language processing in interaction: Questions accompanied by gestures lead to shorter turn transition times — that is, to faster responses — than questions without gestures, and responses come earlier when gestures end before compared to after the question turn has ended. These findings hold even after taking into account prosodic patterns and other visual signals, such as gaze. The empirical findings presented here provide a first glimpse of the role of the body in the psycholinguistic processes underpinning human communication.

Close Friendship Strength and Broader Peer Group Desirability as Differential Predictors of Adult Mental Health
Rachel Narr et al.
Child Development, forthcoming


Middle adolescents’ close friendship strength and the degree to which their broader peer group expressed a preference to affiliate with them were examined as predictors of relative change in depressive symptoms, self-worth, and social anxiety symptoms from ages 15 to 25 using multimethod, longitudinal data from 169 adolescents. Close friendship strength in midadolescence predicted relative increases in self-worth and decreases in anxiety and depressive symptoms by early adulthood. Affiliation preference by the broader peer group, in contrast, predicted higher social anxiety by early adulthood. Results are interpreted as suggesting that adolescents who prioritize forming close friendships are better situated to manage key social developmental tasks going forward than adolescents who prioritize attaining preference with many others in their peer milieu.

Unstructured Socializing with Peers and Delinquent Behavior: A Genetically Informed Analysis
Ryan Meldrum & J.C. Barnes
Journal of Youth and Adolescence, September 2017, Pages 1968–1981


A large body of research finds that unstructured socializing with peers is positively associated with delinquency during adolescence. Yet, existing research has not ruled out the potential for confounding due to genetic factors and factors that can be traced to environments shared between siblings. To fill this void, the current study examines whether the association between unstructured socializing with peers and delinquent behavior remains when accounting for genetic factors, shared environmental influences, and a variety of non-shared environmental covariates. We do so by using data from the twin subsample of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (n = 1200 at wave 1 and 1103 at wave 2; 51% male; mean age at wave 1 = 15.63). Results from both cross-sectional and lagged models indicate the association between unstructured socializing with peers and delinquent behavior remains when controlling for both genetic and environmental influences. Supplementary analyses examining the association under different specifications offer additional, albeit qualified, evidence supportive of this finding. The study concludes with a discussion highlighting the importance of limiting free time with friends in the absence of authority figures as a strategy for reducing delinquency during adolescence.

Do Birds of a Feather Really Flock Together? Friendships, Self-control Similarity and Deviant Behaviour
John Boman
British Journal of Criminology, September 2017, Pages 1208–1229


In addition to research consistently linking self-control to crime, a person’s level of self-control is hypothesized to be the root cause of why friendships form. Namely, people with low self-control should ‘flock together’ in highly deviant friendships, and, inversely, persons with high self-control should ‘flock together’ in non-deviant friendships. Using dyadic friendship data, this study examines the extent to which self-control similarity, termed self-control ‘homophily’, exists and what implications it carries for deviance. Using hierarchical linear modelling, results demonstrate that friends’ levels of self-control are dissimilar and fail to interact in relation to crime. Instead, differences in friends’ levels of self-control may be more strongly related to crime, failing to support Gottfredson and Hirschi’s hypothesis.

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