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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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Evolutionary Social Psychology, Social Dominance Theory, and Implicit Bias in the Criminal Justice System: An Interdisciplinary Insight into Mass Incarceration

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The United States has become home to the largest incarcerated population in the world, containing 25% of the world's prisoners (NAACP, 2013). Within this population, young men of color appear to be severely overrepresented. This phenomenon can be better understood

The United States has become home to the largest incarcerated population in the world, containing 25% of the world's prisoners (NAACP, 2013). Within this population, young men of color appear to be severely overrepresented. This phenomenon can be better understood with the aid of a multi-disciplinary approach within the social sciences. Evolutionary theory is combined with multiple psychological and sociological perspectives, in order to more deeply understand the multi-level intersection of prejudice and discrimination against society's disadvantaged or vulnerable populations. A synthesis of the multiple theoretical angles of social dominance theory, affordance management, and life history theory is used to suggest a threat-based, attributional framework for understanding punitive decision-making and policy support. This conceptualization also considers the importance of the legal system in effecting social change. Future research within the legal arena is recommended to enable a more refined understanding of punitive ideology and implicit bias within the criminal justice system.

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2014-05

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Are Mate Preferences Shaped by One's Life Stage?

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What characteristics do people prefer in potential mates? Previous studies have explored this question, discovering that preferred characteristics vary by people's sex and sexual strategy, but have implied that these preferences remain constant across the lifespan. We suggest, however, that

What characteristics do people prefer in potential mates? Previous studies have explored this question, discovering that preferred characteristics vary by people's sex and sexual strategy, but have implied that these preferences remain constant across the lifespan. We suggest, however, that systematic variation exists in individuals' mate preferences across the lifespan, as they shift their investments from mating toward parenting. We suggest that the characteristics of a potential mate can be viewed as affordances that assist or hinder an individual in achieving certain fundamental goals. Incorporating the framework of Life History Theory with this affordance-management approach to social behavior, we propose that an individual's life stage, sex, and life history strategy together serve as the basis for these goals and thereby shape the characteristics people seek in potential mates. Using data collected from participants aged 18-45 recruited on Amazon's Mechanical Turk, we tested a range of hypotheses derived from our approach. In general, results provide mixed support for a role of life stage in shaping mate preferences. For example, nurturance and social competence were viewed as more necessary characteristics in a mate by participants invested in parenting. Moreover, as their investment in mating increased, females expressed a greater preference for ambition in their potential mates, but males did not. Other predictions were not borne out, however, suggesting that there is still much to be learned from investigating the relationship between life stage and mate preferences.

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2014-05

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Climate as a moderator of the effect of disease threat on interpersonal behavior

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Infectious diseases have been a major threat to survival throughout human history. Humans have developed a behavioral immune system to prevent infection by causing individuals to avoid people, food, and objects that could be contaminated. This current project investigates how

Infectious diseases have been a major threat to survival throughout human history. Humans have developed a behavioral immune system to prevent infection by causing individuals to avoid people, food, and objects that could be contaminated. This current project investigates how ambient temperature affects the activation of this system. Because temperature is positively correlated with the prevalence of many deadly diseases, I predict that temperature moderates the behavioral immune system, such that a disease prime will have a stronger effect in a hot environment compared to a neutral environment and one's avoidant behaviors will be more extreme. Participants were placed in a hot room (M = 85F) or a neutral room (M = 77F) and shown a disease prime slide show or a neutral slide show. Disgust sensitivity and perceived vulnerability surveys were used to measure an increased perceived risk to disease. A taste test between a disgusting food item (gummy bugs) and a neutral food item (gummy animals) measured food avoidance. There was no significant avoidance of the gummy and no significant difference in ratings of disgust sensitivity or perceived vulnerability as a function of temperature conditions. There were no significant interactions between temperature and disease. The conclusion is that this study did not provide evidence that temperature moderates the effect of disease cues on behavior.

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2012

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Group identity and expressions of prejudice among Mexican heritage adolescents

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A study was conducted to assess the effects of generational status on various measures of stigmatization, acculturative stress, and perceived social and interpersonal threat within the Mexican heritage population in the Southwest. The role of the fear of stigma by

A study was conducted to assess the effects of generational status on various measures of stigmatization, acculturative stress, and perceived social and interpersonal threat within the Mexican heritage population in the Southwest. The role of the fear of stigma by association, regardless of actual experiences of stigmatization, was investigated, including its relationships with acculturative stress, perceived threat, and social distancing. Exploratory analyses indicated that first generation Mexican Americans differed significantly from second generation Mexican Americans on the perception of Mexican nationals as ingroup members, the fear of stigma by association by Americans, and levels of acculturative stress. Additional analyses indicated that Mexican Americans with one parent born in Mexico and one in the United States held opinions and attitudes most similar to second generation Mexican Americans. Results from path analyses indicated that first-generation Mexican Americans were more likely than second-generation Mexican Americans to both see Mexican nationals as ingroup members and to be afraid of being stigmatized for their perceived association with them. Further, seeing Mexican nationals as in-group members resulted in less social distancing and lower perceived threat, but fear of stigma by association lead to greater perceived threat and greater acculturative stress. Implications for within- and between-group relations and research on stigma by association are discussed.

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2010

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The effectiveness of reciprocity appeals in economic booms and busts

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Reciprocity is considered one of the most potent weapons of social influence. Yet, little is known about when reciprocity appeals are more or less effective. A functional evolutionary approach suggests that reciprocity helps people survive in resource-scarce environments: When resources

Reciprocity is considered one of the most potent weapons of social influence. Yet, little is known about when reciprocity appeals are more or less effective. A functional evolutionary approach suggests that reciprocity helps people survive in resource-scarce environments: When resources are limited, a person may not be able to obtain enough resources on their own, and reciprocal relationships can increase the odds of survival. If true, people concerned about resource scarcity may increasingly engage in reciprocal relationships and feel more compelled to reciprocate the favors done for them by others. In a series of experiments, I test this hypothesis and demonstrate that: (1) chronic concerns about resource scarcity (low socioeconomic status) predict increased reciprocity, (2) experimentally activating resource scarcity enhances the effectiveness of reciprocity appeals, (3) this effect is moderated by cues of persuasive intent, and (4) this relationship is mediated by increased gratitude.

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2014

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The role of envy in anti-semitism

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Anti-Semitism is a recurrent phenomenon in modern history, but has garnered relatively little focus among research psychologists compared to prejudice toward other groups. The present work frames anti-Semitism as a strategy for managing the implications of Jews’ extraordinary achievements compared

Anti-Semitism is a recurrent phenomenon in modern history, but has garnered relatively little focus among research psychologists compared to prejudice toward other groups. The present work frames anti-Semitism as a strategy for managing the implications of Jews’ extraordinary achievements compared to other groups. Anti-Semitic beliefs are sorted into two types: stereotypes that undercut the merit of Jews’ achievements by attributing them to unfair advantages such as power behind the scenes; and stereotypes that offset Jews’ achievements by attaching unfavorable traits or defects to Jews, which are unrelated to the achievement domains, e.g. irritating personalities or genetically-specific health problems. The salience of Jews’ disproportionate achievements was hypothesized as driving greater endorsement of anti-Semitic stereotypes, and envy was hypothesized as mediating this effect. Individual differences in narcissistic self-esteem and moral intuitions around in-group loyalty and equity-based fairness were hypothesized as moderating the effect of Jewish achievement on anti-Semitic beliefs. The results showed greater endorsement of undercutting – but not offsetting – stereotypes after reading about Jewish achievements, compared to Jewish culture or general American achievement conditions. Envy did not significantly mediate this effect. The moral foundation of in-group loyalty predicted greater endorsement of anti-Semitic stereotypes in the Jewish Achievement condition, and lesser endorsement in the Jewish Culture condition. Fairness intuitions did not significantly predict stereotype endorsement. Limitations of the sample and next steps are discussed.

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2015

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No evidence of an effect of resource necessity and unpredictability on cognitive mechanisms for detecting greediness and stinginess

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Resource transfers can confer many adaptive benefits such as specialization, helping genetically related individuals, future compensation, and risk-pooling. Need-based transfers are a risk-pooling mechanism in which partners mitigate unpredictable losses by transferring resources based on need. Need-based transfers are likely

Resource transfers can confer many adaptive benefits such as specialization, helping genetically related individuals, future compensation, and risk-pooling. Need-based transfers are a risk-pooling mechanism in which partners mitigate unpredictable losses by transferring resources based on need. Need-based transfers are likely to be most useful for resources that are necessary and unpredictable because being unable to reliably obtain essential resources would be devastating. However, need-based transfers make people vulnerable to two types of exploitation: a person can be greedy by asking when not in need and a person with a surplus of resources can be stingy by not giving to someone in need. Previous research suggests that people might have cognitive mechanisms for detecting greediness and stinginess, which would serve to protect against exploitation by cheaters. This study investigated whether resources that are necessary and unpredictable are most likely to trigger greediness and stinginess detection mechanisms. Participants saw four types of rules. One rule could be violated through greedy behavior, another through stingy behavior, another by not paying a debt, and another was a descriptive rule that could be violated by not finding one type of resource near another type of resource. Then, participants saw information about events relating to one of the rules and indicated whether the rule in question could have been violated. Consistent with past research, participants were better at detecting greediness, stinginess, and debts not paid than at detecting violations of a descriptive rule. However, contrary to my predictions, the necessity and unpredictability of resources did not impact people’s ability to detect greediness and stinginess. The lack of support for my hypothesis might be because the benefits of detecting greediness and stinginess might outweigh the costs even for situations in which need-based transfer rules are unlikely to apply, because people might be able to consciously activate their greediness and stinginess mechanisms even for resources that would not naturally trigger them, or because of methodological limitations.

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2019

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Connected to a Better Me and Ignoring You: The Role of Future Self-Connectedness in Social Comparison and Temporal Self-Comparison Processes

Description

Individuals differ in the extent to which they feel connected to their future selves, which predicts time preference (i.e., preference for immediate versus delayed utility), financial decision-making, delinquency, and academic performance. Future self-connectedness may also predict how individuals compare themselves

Individuals differ in the extent to which they feel connected to their future selves, which predicts time preference (i.e., preference for immediate versus delayed utility), financial decision-making, delinquency, and academic performance. Future self-connectedness may also predict how individuals compare themselves with their past selves, future selves, and other people. Greater connectedness may lead to more self-affirming types of temporal self-comparison, less self-deflating types of temporal self-comparison, and less social comparison. Two studies examined the relation between future self-connectedness and comparison processes, as well as effects on emotion, psychological adjustment, and motivation. In the first study, as expected, future self-connectedness positively predicted self-affirming temporal self-comparison and negatively predicted self-deflating temporal self-comparison and social comparison. In addition, future self-connectedness had beneficial direct and indirect effects on adjustment, emotion regulation, and motivation. Unlike previous research, this study examined all three components of future self-connectedness, as opposed to only one. Exploratory analyses examined the items comprising the similarity-connectedness component and found that the relation of these items to the other variables in the model did not differ, though some of the relations in the model were moderated by college generation status. The second study tested whether increasing future self-connectedness would have similar effects on comparison, adjustment, emotion, and motivation. It implemented a pilot future self-connectedness manipulation, an established identity-stability manipulation, and a control condition. The pilot manipulation and identity-stability manipulation failed to affect future self-connectedness relative to control, and did not affect comparison, motivation, adjustment, or emotion. Future research should ascertain whether there is a causal link between connectedness and social comparison or temporal self-comparison processes. Overall, this research links future self-connectedness to social comparison and temporal self-comparison processes, as well as well-being, emotion, and motivation, which demonstrates the importance of connectedness in new, important areas.

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2018