Posts Tagged Society for Personality and Social Psychology

In Adolescence, Girls React Differently Than Boys To Peers’ Judgments


English: Sagittal MRI slice with highlighting ...

English: Sagittal MRI slice with highlighting (red) indicating the nucleus accumbens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The study, by researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and Georgia State University, appears in the July/August 2009 issue of the journal Child Development.

The researchers looked at mostly White psychiatrically healthy Americans ages 9 to 17 to determine what happens in the brains of preteens and teens at a time of significant change in social behavior. The youths looked at photos of peers and rated their interest in interacting with each one. Then they underwent a brain scan while reviewing the pictures and rated how much each young person in the picture might want to interact with them in return. The youths were told they would be matched with a peer for a chat after the scan.

The study found that in older girls (as compared to younger girls), brain regions (the nucleus accumbens, insula, hypothalamus, hippocampus, and amygdala) associated with social rewards and motivation, processing emotions, hormonal changes, and social memory responded differently when they thought about being judged by their peers, especially peers with whom they wanted to interact. These differences were not evident between younger and older boys.

“The findings offer a fresh perspective on how changes in the brain relate to changes in the way young people think and feel about how their peers view them,” according to Amanda E. Guyer, a research fellow at NIMH, who led the study. “They are relevant for parents, teachers, and clinicians who are trying to help teens adjust socially during adolescence. They may be especially relevant for girls, who are more likely than boys to feel anxious and depressed at this time.”

via In Adolescence, Girls React Differently Than Boys To Peers’ Judgments.

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Do You Fall into This Happiness Trap?


Do You Fall into This Happiness Trap?

By GRETCHEN RUBIN

It’s very easy to fall into the happiness trap of false choices — of thinking you can either do X or Y, and those are the only two choices you have.

False choices are tempting for a couple of reasons. First, instead of facing a bewildering array of options, you limit yourself to a few simple possibilities. Also, the way you set up the options often makes it obvious that one choice is the high-minded and reasonable choice, and one is not.

But although false choices can be comforting, they can leave you feeling trapped, and they can blind you to other choices you might make.

“I’d rather have a few true friends instead of tons of shallow friends.”

You don’t have to choose between a “real” few and “superficial” many. I have intimate friends and casual friends. I have work friends whom I never see outside a professional context. I have childhood friends whom I see only once every ten years. I have several friends whose spouses I’ve never met. I have online friends whom I’ve never met face-to-face. These friendships aren’t all of equal importance to me, but they all add warmth and color to my life.

“I think it’s more important to worry about other people’s happiness, instead of thinking only about myself and my own happiness.”

Why do you have to choose? You can think about your happiness and other people’s happiness. In fact, as summed up in the Second Splendid Truth, thinking about your own happiness will help you make others happy. And vice versa!

“Either I can be financially secure, or I can have a job I enjoy.”

“If I don’t want to live in a chaotic, clutter-filled house, I need to get rid of all my stuff.”

“I’d rather have an interesting life than a happy life.”

“It’s more important to be authentic and honest than it is to be positive and enthusiastic.”

Can you find a way to be authentically enthusiastic or honestly positive? In my experience, it’s often possible, though it can take a little extra work.

“I can care about people, or I can care about possessions.”

From Eleanor Roosevelt: “Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.”

Happiness is a goal and a by-product. Nietzche explained this well: “The end of a melody is not its goal; but nonetheless, if the melody had not reached its end it would not have reached its goal either. A parable.”

One of my Secrets of Adulthood is “The opposite of a great truth is also true.” Sometimes, the falsity of a false choice comes from the fact that both choices are true. I have more time than I think and less time than I think. I can accept myself and expect more from myself. I want an empty shelf, and I want a junk drawer.

In further illustration of that point, false choices themselves can sometimes be unhelpful but at other times, helpful.

A false choice can be an indirect way for you to figure out what you really want; the way you’ve framed the question reveals the path you want to take. For instance, a reader emailed me and, after a long explanation of his situation, wrote, “So the question is: do I decide to risk everything to pursue a life of meaning and happiness, or do I stay stuck in my boring job?” That may have been a false choice, but in any event, it was pretty clear he’d made his decision!

via Do You Fall into This Happiness Trap? | World of Psychology.

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Women Prefer Prestige Over Dominance In Mates


A new study in the journal Personal Relationships reveals that women prefer mates who are recognized by their peers for their skills, abilities, and achievements, while not preferring men who use coercive tactics to subordinate their rivals. Indeed, women found dominance strategies of the latter type to be attractive primarily when men used them in the context of male-male athletic competitions

Jeffrey K. Snyder, Lee A. Kirkpatrick, and H. Clark Barrett conducted three studies with college women at two U.S. universities. Participants evaluated hypothetical potential mates described in written vignettes. The studies were designed to examine the respective effects of men’s dominance and prestige on women’s assessments of men.

Women are sensitive to the context in which men display domineering behaviors when they evaluate men as potential mates. For example, the traits and behaviors that women found attractive in athletic competitions were unattractive to women when men displayed the same traits and behaviors in interpersonal contexts. Notably, when considering prospective partners for long-term relationships, women’s preferences for dominance decrease, and their preferences for prestige increase.

“These findings directly contradict the dating advice of some pop psychologists who advise men to be aggressive in their social interactions. Women most likely avoid dominant men as long-term romantic partners because a dominant man may also be domineering in the household.” the authors conclude.

via Women Prefer Prestige Over Dominance In Mates.

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New Discoveries About the Anger


English: Emotions associated with anger

English: Emotions associated with anger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

New Discoveries About the Experience of Anger

Younger people, those with children and less-educated individuals are more likely to experience anger, according to new UofT research that examines one of the most common negative emotions in society.

Drawing upon national survey data of more than 1,000 Americans aged 18 and older, Professor Scott Schieman from the Sociology Department at the University of Toronto has published new findings about the experience of anger. In a chapter in the forthcoming International Handbook of Anger, to be released in January 2010, Schieman documents the basic social patterns and contexts of anger. His main findings include:

Younger people experience more frequent anger than older adults. This is mainly due to the fact that younger people are more likely to feel time pressures, economic hardship, and interpersonal conflict in the workplace (three core stressors that elevate anger levels);

Feeling rushed for time is the strongest predictor of anger, especially the “low-grade” forms like feeling annoyed;

Having children in the household is associated with angry feelings and behaviour (i.e., yelling) and these patterns are stronger among women compared to men;

Compared to people with fewer years of education, the well-educated are less likely to experience anger, and when they do, they are more likely to act proactively (e.g., trying to change the situation or talking it over);

Individuals who experience more financial strain tend to report higher levels of anger. This relationship is much stronger among women and younger adults.

“The sociological analysis of anger can shed light on the ways that the conditions of society influence emotional inequality,” says Schieman. “Why do some people seem to experience more anger than others? And what does this say about social inequality and its impact in our everyday lives?”

The International Handbook of Anger is edited by Michael Potegal, Gerhard Stemmler and Charles Spielberger.

via New discoveries about the experience of anger.

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You can judge 90 percent of people’s personalities by their shoes, researchers say


English: A pair of high heeled shoe with 12cm ...

English: A pair of high heeled shoe with 12cm stiletto heels. Category:Shoes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Actress Charlize Theron‘s high heels at a recent press event. (Michael Sohn/AP)

Researchers at the University of Kansas say that people can accurately judge 90 percent of a stranger’s personality simply by looking at the person’s shoes.

“Shoes convey a thin but useful slice of information about their wearers,” the authors wrote in the new study published in the Journal of Research in Personality. “Shoes serve a practical purpose, and also serve as nonverbal cues with symbolic messages. People tend to pay attention to the shoes they and others wear.”

Medical Daily notes that the number of detailed personality traits detected in the study include a person’s general age, their gender, income, political affiliation, and other personality traits, including someone’s emotional stability.

Lead researcher Omri Gillath said the judgments were based on the style, cost, color and condition of someone’s shoes. In the study, 63 University of Kansas students looked at pictures showing 208 different pairs of shoes worn by the study’s participants. Volunteers in the study were photographed in their most commonly worn shoes, and then filled out a personality questionnaire.

So, what do your shoes say about your personality?

Some of the results were expected: People with higher incomes most commonly wore expensive shoes, and flashier footwear was typically worn by extroverts.

However, some of the more specific results are intriguing. For example, “practical and functional” shoes were generally worn by more “agreeable” people, while ankle boots were more closely aligned with “aggressive” personalities.

The strangest of all may be that  those who wore “uncomfortable looking” shoes tend to have “calm” personalities.

“Shoes have great variety of styles, brands, looks, and functions. Because of this variety, shoes can carry individual difference information, but do they? We suggest that the answer is yes,” the study authors wrote.

And if you have several pairs of new shoes or take exceptional care of them, you may suffer from “attachment anxiety,” spending an inordinate amount of time worrying about what other people think of your appearance.

There was even a political calculation in the mix with more liberal types wearing “shabbier and less expensive” shoes.

The researchers noted that some people will choose shoe styles to mask their actual personality traits, but researchers noted that volunteers were also likely to be unaware that their footwear choices were revealing deep insights into their personalities.

via You can judge 90 percent of people’s personalities by their shoes, researchers say | The Sideshow – Yahoo! News.

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6 Ways Men and Women Communicate Differently


6 Ways Men and Women Communicate Differently

6 Ways Men and Women Communicate Differently
By YOURTANGO EXPERTS

This guest article from YourTango was written by Richard Drobnick.

Men and women are different in many ways. They see the world through completely different perspectives. The key to understanding their differences is in the way that men and women communicate.

Here are six important communication differences that you should be aware of, to help improve your communications with your partner and make them smoother and more effective.

1. Why Talk?

He believes communication should have a clear purpose. Behind every conversation is a problem that needs solving or a point that needs to be made. Communication is used to get to the root of the dilemma as efficiently as possible.

She uses communication to discover how she is feeling and what it is she wants to say. She sees conversation as an act of sharing and an opportunity to increase intimacy with her partner. Through sharing, she releases negative feelings and solidifies her bond with the man she loves.

2. How Much Should You Say?

He prioritizes productivity and efficiency in his daily life, and conversation is no exception. When he tells a story he has already sorted through the muck in his own head, and shares only those details that he deems essential to the point of the story. He might wonder, “Why do women need to talk as much as they do?” Often he will interrupt a woman once he has heard enough to offer a solution.

She uses communication to explore and organize her thoughts — to discover the point of the story. She may not know what information is necessary or excessive until the words come spilling out. But a woman isn’t necessarily searching for a solution when she initiates a conversation. She’s looking for someone to listen and understand what she’s feeling.

3. What Does It Mean To Listen?

He is conditioned to listen actively. When a woman initiates conversation he assumes she is seeking his advice or assistance. He engages with the woman, filtering everything she’s saying through the lens of, “What can we actually do about this?” Learning to listen patiently — not just passively — doesn’t come easily to him.

She sees conversation as a productive end in and of itself. If she feels sufficiently heard or understood she may not need to take further action to resolve a problem or “make things better.” The fact that she has been listened to assuages her anxieties and dulls the pangs of negative feelings. Sharing with someone who understands and loves her heals her from the inside and equips her with the emotional tools necessary to handle the trials and tribulations of the outside world.

4. When She Is Feeling Down …

He will want to tackle her problems head on, like a fireman. He feels impatient to put the fire out as quickly as possible. For him, the quickest way to put the fire out is by giving solutions. Because he wants so badly to provide for his spouse, he may take her mood personally and defend himself. He might hear things literally, not realizing that when his spouse is upset she will use words as tools to explore and express difficult emotions.

By using words as tools to explore and express her difficult emotions when she is upset, she is able to process her negative emotions and let them go. She values support and nurture, and is most fulfilled by sharing, cooperation and community. When he shows interest in her by asking caring questions or expressing heartfelt concerns she feels loved and cared for. He is fulfilling her first primary love need.

5. When He Is Feeling Down …

He will often withdraw into his “cave” (becoming quiet and withdrawn) when he’s upset or stressed. A man’s “cave time” is like a short vacation: he reduces stress by forgetting about his problems and focusing on other things like watching television, reading the newspaper, or playing video games.

He might avoid communication with his spouse during times of duress. If she persists with nurturing questions or criticism, he withdraws even further, fearing that his partner doesn’t trust him to take care of business on his own. However, with her support and understanding, a man will return and be more emotionally available, caring, and loving.

She might interpret her spouse’s silence as a sign that she is failing him or that she’s losing him. She instinctively tries to nurture him through his problems by asking an abundance of caring questions. Or she may react defensively out of fear that her own need for healthy open communication is not being respected within the relationship.

Ultimately, she can do more for him by appreciating his space, which shows him that she trusts him to work out the problem on his own. Trusting is one of the greatest gifts she has to offer him. In the meantime she should do something nurturing for herself, so she won’t resent him when he emerges from his “cave time.”

6. Communication Breaks Down When …

He feels like he’s being told what to do. The most important thing to a man is doing a good job. When his competence is questioned he’ll not only feel hurt, but he’ll throw up a wall of resistance, and communication begins to breakdown. He thrives in an environment where he’s the expert. Rather than being told, “You should do X” he is likely to respond better to, “What do you think of X?” The trick to improving him is to resist telling him what to do.

She hears from her spouse that her problems aren’t as real and pressing as they seem in that very moment. Her spouse may mistakenly think he’s being helpful in providing “reality checks” like: “You’re making a mountain out of a mole hill” or “You’re getting overly emotional about it.” To her it feels like he is attempting to minimize her feelings or talk her out of having them.

Men and women desire to satisfy their partners, but they may miss the mark because it is truly difficult to understand and accept our partner’s different ways of communication. Men and women need education on these differences to help their relationships, so they do not end up in a frustrated state of resentment and feel stuck.

If a couple is feeling stuck, I suggest they read or listen to couples self-help books together. If the couple still feels stuck, then they should always seek professional counseling and get back on the road to better understanding and communication.

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Positive Thinking Reduces Depression in Girls


Positive Thinking Reduces Depression in Girls | Psych Central News

Positive Thinking Reduces Depression in Girls
By TRACI PEDERSEN Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on March 29, 2012
In a new preliminary study by Stanford researchers, daughters of depressed mothers were able to witness their own stress levels go down on a real-time brain scan as they switched from negative thoughts to happy ones.

The girls, ages 10 to 14, were the focus of the study based on previous findings that girls born from depressed mothers, or from mothers who have experienced depression, have a higher risk of the illness.

Depressed people have more intense responses to negative experiences, including increased heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol (stress hormone) production. By observing the girls’ brain activity when they were shown upsetting pictures — such as an accident — and measuring the stress response with a graph, the researchers could then ask the girls to try to lower the graph by thinking of positive thoughts like playing with pets.

Happy and amazed, the girls found out that they were able to decrease the level with their own thoughts.

Another study task included looking at two faces on a computer screen: one negative and one positive.  The girls were then asked to move a dot toward the positive face and click on it.  Then another pair of images appeared and the same situation was repeated over and over. The game taught the depression-prone girls to choose the more positive option when presented with a choice.

The Stanford research could help these girls learn to prevent depression. A followup period after the tests seemed to suggest the potential for depression prevention. After putting the girls through some tests to bring on stress, they did not react as strongly.

The research could offer new insights into how people who are genetically predisposed to depression can prevent depression, or perhaps reduce its severity, through the use of cognitive techniques.

Source:  Stanford University

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