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Personal Memories and Social Associations: How Positive Emotions Influence the Activation of Implicit Prejudices

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The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of two positive discrete emotions, awe and nurturant love, on implicit prejudices. After completing an emotion induction task, participants completed Implicit Association Test blocks where they paired photos of Arab

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of two positive discrete emotions, awe and nurturant love, on implicit prejudices. After completing an emotion induction task, participants completed Implicit Association Test blocks where they paired photos of Arab and White individuals with "good" and "bad" evaluations. We hypothesized that nurturant love would increase the strength of negative evaluations of Arab individuals and positive evaluations of White individuals, whereas awe would decrease the strength of these negative evaluations when compared to a neutral condition. However, we found that both awe and nurturant love increased negative implicit prejudices toward Arab individuals when compared to the neutral condition.

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2018-05

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Scientific Researchers: Are Religious Believers Seen as Being Less Scientific?

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This study investigated whether research by researchers affiliated with a religious academic institution would be seen as of less scientific merit than research done by researchers affiliated with a nonreligious academic institution. Such a bias may exist given the different

This study investigated whether research by researchers affiliated with a religious academic institution would be seen as of less scientific merit than research done by researchers affiliated with a nonreligious academic institution. Such a bias may exist given the different value systems underlying religion and science, the widespread perception of a conflict between religion and science, and research on differences in cognitive styles and stereotypes about religious versus nonreligious people. In this study, U.S. participants recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk completed an online survey, which included an abstract of an article describing scientific research with authors’ names and academic institutions, and questions on perceived scientific merit, religiosity, spirituality, religion as Quest, and perceived conflict between religion and science. There was a significant difference in the perceived merit of the researchers, with the group believing the researchers were affiliated with a religious academic institution rating the research as lower in scientific merit than the group believing the researchers were affiliated with a nonreligious academic institution. The perceived level of conflict between religion and science was found to moderate the relationship, such that higher levels of perceived conflict between religion and science showed a greater difference in scientific merit between groups.

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2018

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Are Online Comparisons Damaging our In-Person Connections? Effects of Social Media Use on Romantic Relationships

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Social media has been extensively researched, and its effects on well-being are well established. What is less studied, however, is how social media affects romantic relationships specifically. The few studies that have researched this have found mixed results. Some researchers

Social media has been extensively researched, and its effects on well-being are well established. What is less studied, however, is how social media affects romantic relationships specifically. The few studies that have researched this have found mixed results. Some researchers have found social media to have a positive influence on relationship outcomes, while other have found social media to have a negative influence. In an attempt to reconcile these discrepancies, the current thesis study explored possible mediators between social media use and relationship health outcomes which, to my knowledge, has not been investigated in previous literature. Three moderators were explored: type of social media use (active use versus passive use), relationship-contingent self-esteem, and social comparison orientation. The baseline portion of the study had 547 individuals, recruited from Arizona State University’s SONA system as well as Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, who were in a romantic relationship for at least three months; the follow-up portion of the study had 181 participants. Results suggest that women who passively use social media exhibit a negative association between hours per day of social media use and baseline relationship satisfaction. Men who passively use social media exhibited a negative association between hours per day of social media use and follow-up relationship satisfaction, as well as a negative association with baseline commitment. While relationship-contingent self-esteem did not moderate the association between hours per day of social media use and relationship health, it was positively related to both men and women’s baseline relationship satisfaction and baseline commitment. Social comparison orientation (SCO) produced minimal results; women low on SCO exhibited a negative association between social media use and baseline relationship satisfaction, and higher SCO for men was associated with lower baseline commitment. Finally, exploratory post-hoc mediation models revealed that relationship comparisons mediated the association between hours per day of social media use and baseline relationship, as well as baseline commitment, for both men and women. Previous research supports the findings regarding passive social media use, while the findings regarding relationship-contingent self-esteem and relationship comparisons add new findings to the romantic relationship literature.

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2019

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Emotion Regulation Repertoire: Which Strategies Drive Mental Health?

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Emotion regulation repertoire, or the number of emotion regulation strategies one is able to employ when needed, is an important element of emotion regulation flexibility. Emotion regulation flexibility, the ability to regulate in accordance with changing situational contexts and demands,

Emotion regulation repertoire, or the number of emotion regulation strategies one is able to employ when needed, is an important element of emotion regulation flexibility. Emotion regulation flexibility, the ability to regulate in accordance with changing situational contexts and demands, is predictive of emotion regulation success. Currently, little is known about emotion regulation repertoire and its association with emotional health and well-being. In particular, more can be learned about how the different strategies in one’s repertoire interact, and which strategies show stronger relationships with mental health. The current study aimed to assess the relationship of different emotion regulation strategies to mental health, including their individual and combined influence. In addition, the interaction between the use of specific emotion regulation strategies and emotion regulation flexibility with respect to mental health was examined. I hypothesized (1a) reappraisal and (1b) acceptance, two strategies previously associated with positive psychological outcomes, would be significant predictors of mental health, and (2) better flexibility would predict better mental health. In addition, I hypothesized that (3) strategies often found to be maladaptive (suppression, distraction, rumination, and experiential avoidance) would have an inverse relationship with mental health. Finally, (4) maladaptive strategies would be associated with worse mental health for those lower in flexibility. These hypotheses were tested through a questionnaire as part of a larger in-lab study. Results revealed that reappraisal and rumination were the strongest predictors of mental health. Emotion regulation flexibility did not predict mental health or moderate the relationship between individual emotion regulation strategies and mental health. Results from this study suggest some emotion regulation strategies are stronger predictors of mental health than others. This will guide future research on specific emotion regulation strategies in a repertoire as well as their combined effect on mental health. Creating a clearer picture of how different strategies interact and influence mental health will also be vital for clinical interventions.

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2018

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The influence of cuddling on relational health for cohabitating couples

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Affection represents a positive and often intimate psychological state (Floyd & Morman, 1998) that is communicated through verbal, nonverbal, and social supportive behaviors. A formidable research literature indicates that receiving and expressing affection significantly benefits health. One form of affection

Affection represents a positive and often intimate psychological state (Floyd & Morman, 1998) that is communicated through verbal, nonverbal, and social supportive behaviors. A formidable research literature indicates that receiving and expressing affection significantly benefits health. One form of affection that may produce these benefits is cuddling. Cuddling includes intimate, physical, and loving whole-body contact that does not necessarily include sexual activity and tends to be reserved for very intimate relationships. Working from affectionate exchange theory (Floyd, 2001), this study’s purpose is to examine the effects of cuddling on relational health for individuals living with their spouse. To test a causal relationship between cuddling and relational health, a four-week experiment was conducted. Eighty adults were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: (1) a treatment condition in which individuals were instructed to increase cuddling behaviors with their spouse, (2) a comparison condition in which individuals were instructed to increase shared mealtime with their spouse, or (3) a control condition in which individuals were instructed to not change their behavior. Individuals in the treatment condition were predicted to experience significant improvements in relational health as outlined in the investment model (i.e., relational satisfaction, investment, quality of alternatives, and commitment) to a greater extent than individuals in the comparison or control conditions. A research question explored whether individuals in the comparison condition differed from those in the control condition. Planned contrasts were conducted to test the hypotheses. Results revealed that individuals in the treatment condition reported more relationship satisfaction and commitment and less quality of alternatives than individuals in the comparison and control conditions. Experimental conditions did not differ on reports of investment. Finally, individuals in the comparison and control conditions did not differ on any of the relational health markers. These findings support affection exchange theory and contribute to a growing literature identifying the benefits of affectionate communication. Moreover, the methodology and results of this study provide compelling evidence for a causal relationship between cuddling and satisfaction and commitment for relatively satisfied couples.

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Date Created
2017

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In Religion We Trust: Psychophysiological Correlates of Emotion and Trust Among Religious In-Group Members

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Social scientists from many disciplines have examined trust, including trust between those with different religious affiliations, emotional antecedents of trust, and physiological correlates of trust. However, little is known about how all of these factors intersect to shape trust behaviors.

Social scientists from many disciplines have examined trust, including trust between those with different religious affiliations, emotional antecedents of trust, and physiological correlates of trust. However, little is known about how all of these factors intersect to shape trust behaviors. The current study aimed to examine physiological responses while individuals engaged in a trust game with a religious in-group or out-group member. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions in which they were presented with the target’s profile before playing the game. In each of the conditions the target was described as either Catholic or Muslim and as someone who engaged in either costly signaling or anti-costly signaling behavior. In addition to assessing the amount of money invested as a behavioral measure of trust, physiological responses, specifically cardiac interbeat interval (IBI) and respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), were measured. I hypothesized that when playing the trust game with a Catholic target as opposed to a Muslim target, Christian participants would (1) report being more similar to the target, (2) trust the target more, (3) invest more money in the target, (4) have a more positive outlook on the amount invested, and (5) show greater cardiorespiratory down-regulation, reflected by increases in IBI and RSA. Findings revealed that Christian participants reported greater similarity and showed a non-significant trend toward reporting a more positive outlook on (greater confidence in/satisfaction with) their investment decision when playing a Catholic versus Muslim target. Additionally, Christian participants who played an anti-costly signaling Catholic target showed greater cardiorespiratory down-regulation (increases from baseline for IBI, reflecting slower heart rate, and increases in RSA) than Christian participants who played an anti-costly signaling Muslim target. Results from this study echo previous findings suggesting that perceived similarity may facilitate trust. Findings also are consistent with previous research suggesting that religious ingroup or outgroup membership may not be as influential in shaping trust decisions if the trustee is costly signaling; for anti-signaling, however, cardiorespiratory down-regulation to a religious ingroup member may be apparent. These physiological signals may provide interoceptive information about a peer’s trustworthiness.

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Date Created
2019