New Research From Psychological Science
C. Ashley Fulmer, Michele J. Gelfand, Arie W. Kruglanski, Chu Kim-Prieto, Ed Diener, Antonio Pierro, and E. Tory Higgins
Due to work requirements or as part of educational programs, individuals can find themselves living in cultures very different from their own. How does the interaction of culture with an individual’s personality affect their self-esteem and well-being? Using data from more than 7,000 individuals from 28 societies, new research offers support for the person-culture match hypothesis, which predicts that when a person’s personality matches the prevalent personalities of other people in a culture, that culture may enhance the positive effect of an individual’s personality on their self-esteem and well-being–for example, an extroverted individual will have higher self-esteem and greater well-being in an extroverted culture than in an introverted one.
Karin Roelofs, Muriel Hagenars, and John Stins
Many animals will freeze (characterized by reduced body motion and decreased heart rate) as a defensive response when threatened by predators. New evidence reveals that social threats may elicit freeze-like behavior in humans. Female volunteers wearing heart-rate monitors stood on a stabilometric force platform (which captures the amount of spontaneous body sway) as they viewed pictures of happy, neutral, and angry facial expressions. Body sway was significantly reduced when volunteers viewed angry faces than when they viewed neutral and happy faces. In addition, the reduced body sway for angry faces was accompanied by decreased heart rate and correlated with volunteers’ increased feelings of anxiety.
Lera Boroditsky and Alice Gaby
Pormpuraawans (a remote Australian Aboriginal community) do not use relative spatial terms such as left and right; instead they rely on absolute direction terms (e.g., “north,” “east”) and this influences the way they think about time. When completing temporal-ordering tasks, American volunteers represented time spatially from left to right regardless of which direction they were facing. The Pormpuraawan volunteers arranged time from east to west, according to cardinal directions. For example, when they were facing north, they arranged time from right to left, suggesting that cultural differences in basic spatial representations may affect other aspects of cognition.
Gary J. Lewis and Timothy C. Bates
In-group favoritism, whether for a sports team or a religion, is pervasive in human societies, but what is the biological basis underlying this favoritism? Pairs of twins were assessed on their favoritism for religious, ethnic, and racial in-groups and the data indicate that differences on all three forms of favoritism were strongly genetic. Findings suggest that there may be a common brain mechanism influencing all forms of favoritism, but there may also be genes that influence each of the specific forms of favoritism–that is, there may be at least four genes that contribute to in-group bias. However the environment also plays a role in in-group bias: Increased religious favoritism was associated with reduced ethnic bias.
Jay Pratt, Petre V. Radulescu, Ruo Mu Guo, and Richard A. Abrams
Throughout humans’ evolutionary history, detecting movement (e.g., in predators and in prey) has been critical for survival and new research suggests that the attentional system may prioritize animate motion. Volunteers responded more quickly to targets involving objects that had undergone animate motion (i.e., change in movement was not due to a external source) than they did to objects that had had undergone inanimate motion (i.e., they moved after a collision with other objects). In addition, these fast responses appeared to be due to the perceived animacy of the objects.
Gerben A. Van Kleef, Astrid C. Homan, Bianca Beersma, and Daan van Knippenberg
Is it better to have an angry boss or and happy one? It may depend on the employee’s personality: In an experiment involving four-person teams, teams composed of participants with lower levels of agreeableness responded more favorably to an angry leader, while teams composed of more agreeable volunteers responded more favorably to a happy leader. These findings suggest that leaders who are capable of accurately gauging their subordinates’ personality, and of regulating their emotions accordingly, may be successful in managing group processes.
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