psychology

‘I want to tell young women that sex is OK.’ –Sasha Grey

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In an earlier experimental study by Zillman and Bryant (1988) male and female students were exposed to pornography once a week for six weeks. Those who viewed pornography reported being less satisfied with their partner’s appearance and sexual behavior. They also found that men who consumed pornography were more dominating and less attentive toward their partners. Hence, there is some reason to anticipate that pornography consumption impairs relationship commitment.

Other research suggests that pornography may be beneficial to relationships in some ways, especially in sexual relations. Some evidence suggests that consuming pornography influences individuals’ positive attitude toward sexuality and serves as a safe platform through which to en- gage in sexual exploration. […]

Using a variety of methods, we demonstrated that pornography consumption is associated with weakened commitment to one’s relationship partner. […] in Study 5 we examined a more extreme implication of the weakened commitment—infidelity. We found that pornography consumption corresponded to decreased commitment, which, in turn related to higher levels of infidelity.

{ Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology | PDF }

The Kreutzer Sonata

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“Withdrawal is the most problematic for relationships,” Sanford said. “It’s a defensive tactic that people use when they feel they are being attacked, and there’s a direct association between withdrawal and lower satisfaction overall with the relationship.”

Meanwhile, “passive immobility” — expecting your partner to be a mind-reader — is a tactic people use when they feel anxious in a relationship, and it makes it especially difficult for couples to make progress toward resolving conflicts. But it may not be as harmful down the line as withdrawal, he said.

{ EurekAlert | Continue reading }

art { Mel Ramos, Elephant Seal, 1970 }

‘Everyone is the other, and no one is himself.’ –Heidegger

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Some people will tell you that they have a clear sense of who they are, and that their sense of self is stable over time. Psychologists refer to this as having high “self-concept clarity.” In a new study, Jean Guerrettaz and Robert Arkin shine a spotlight on these self-proclaimed self-knowers. The researchers find that their confidence is often fragile, and that somewhat paradoxically, it is people confident in their sense of self whose self-esteem is most undermined by challenging questions about who they are.

{ BPS | Continue reading }

The Ravens. The Five Satins. The Delphonics. The Cadillacs. The Crests. The Del Rays.

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Machiavellianism is a personality trait characterized by a manipulative interpersonal style, emotional detachment and suspicion of others. Individuals with high levels of Machiavellianism navigate through their social relationships with  protective self-monitoring, external orientated thinking and confidence in their ability to deceive which facilitates their willingness to exploit others for their own self-serving goal. Not surprisingly, research has found that Machiavellianism relates to lower quality friendships in adulthood, including relational aggression in online relationships. […]

Previous research has established the importance of parental bonding (i.e.,  parental care and overprotection) for the development of personality traits and adult relationships. The current study investigated the influence of recalled parenting on the development of Machiavellianism and adult friendship quality. […] Path modeling suggests that decreased maternal care and increased paternal overprotection relate to Machiavellianism which is associated with lower adult friendship quality.

{ Individual Differences Research | Continue reading }

Thus I enforce thy rotten jaws to open, and in despite I’ll cram thee with more food!

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In a recent study, Mann and some colleagues induced a bad mood in 100 college students by making them watch clips from sad movies. They then fed half the students their favorite comfort food, while the other students ate food they enjoyed, but wouldn’t consider comfort food.

Once the students had finished eating, the researchers asked the students how they felt. It turns out all the students felt better, regardless of what they had eaten.

In another experiment, Mann had half the kids eat comfort food, and the other half eat nothing. After a few minutes, both groups felt equally better. The comfort food had no effect on mood.

{ NPR | Continue reading }

photo { Tania Oldyork }

They charged me 15 dollars. That’s how much it costs to only have 20 dollars.

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This research proposes that because rounded numbers are more fluently processed, rounded prices (e.g., $200.00) encourage reliance on feelings.

In contrast, because nonrounded numbers are disfluently processed, nonrounded prices (e.g., $198.76) encourage reliance on cognition.

Thus, rounded (nonrounded) prices lead to a subjective experience of “feeling right” when the purchase decision is driven by feelings (cognition).

Further, this sense of feeling right resulting from the fit between the roundedness of the price number and the nature of decision context can make positive reactions toward the target product more positive and negative reactions more negative, a phenomenon referred to as the rounded price effect in the current research.

Results from five studies provide converging evidence for the rounded price effect. Findings from the current research further show that merely priming participants with rounded (nonrounded) numbers in an unrelated context could also lead to the rounded price effect.

Finally, this research provides process support by showing that the rounded price effect is mediated by a sense of feeling right.

{ Journal of Consumer Research }

photo { Photo Frances McLaughlin-Gill, Woman wearing yellow coat, scarf, hat, gloves and skirt, 1947 }

Is a dream autobiography or fiction?

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10 of The Most Counter-intuitive Psychology Findings Ever Published

1. Self-help Mantras Can Do More Harm Than Good

[…]

3. Criminals Show Cooperation and Prosocial Behaviour in Economic Games

[…]

5. We Make Many Decisions Mindlessly

[…]

6. Opposites Don’t Attract

[…]

10. Sometimes a Pregnant Woman’s Depression is Advantageous For Her Baby

{ BPS | full story }

‘In yer face turbo rave.’ –808 State

{ Guilt and expected guilt in the door-in-the-face technique | PDF | via Improbable }

‘I have no knowledge of myself as I am, but merely as I appear to myself.’ –Kant

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[P]eople who are depressed display some surprising advantages in their thinking skills. Depressed people:

1. process information more deeply.
2. are more accurate at complex tasks.
3. make better judgements on detail-oriented information.
4. make more accurate cost-benefit analyses.

The researchers developed a new questionnaire which measures ‘analytical rumination’, a mental process which is thought to be an ancient defence mechanism and the root of depression.

Analytical rumination is where people turn problems over in their heads to the exclusion of all else, trying to look for a solution.

They first examine the problem’s cause, then the things that need solving, any possible solutions plus the costs and benefits of each solution.

The symptoms of depression, which often include lethargy, difficulty sleeping, poor concentration and disinterest in other people or the external world, may actually be ways of saving energy while a person is focusing on the problem.

{ PsyBlog | Continue reading }

‘Truth is always strange—stranger than fiction.’ –Lord Byron

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We all resist changing our beliefs about the world, but what happens when some of those beliefs are based on misinformation? Is there a right way to correct someone when they believe something that’s wrong? […]

The first thing their review turned up is the importance of “backfire effects” — when telling people that they are wrong only strengthens their belief. […]

If you try and debunk a myth, you may end up reinforcing that belief, strengthening the misinformation in people’s mind without making the correct information take hold.

What you must do, they argue, is to start with the plausible alternative (that obviously you believe is correct). If you must mention a myth, you should mention this second, and only after clearly warning people that you’re about to discuss something that isn’t true.

{ Tom Stafford/BBC | Continue reading }

‘We should not be upset that others hide the truth from us, when we hide it so often from ourselves.’ –La Rochefoucauld

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Flattery—the art of offering pleasing compliments—is one of the oldest and most commonly used of persuasion methods. Research in this area provides a reason for the popularity of this tactic. Put simply, flattery works. Various studies have shown that the target of the flattery evaluates the flatterer positively because human beings have a basic desire to believe in good things about themselves.

What happens, however, in situations in which the flattery is “bogus”—that is, when the recipient knows that the flatterer is offering an insincere compliment, presumably driven by an ulterior motive? Instances of insincere flattery abound in the marketing context, such as the salesperson who offers prospective customers profuse compliments on how an expensive outfit makes them look. […]

In cases such as these, in which the prospective consumer is aware of a clear ulterior motive underlying the compliment, both research and intuition suggest that recipients will discount the flattering comments and correct their otherwise favorable reactions. Though in partial agreement with this premise, the current investigation proposes that despite such correction, a positive impact of flattery may still be observed. […]

The authors show that even when flattery by marketing agents is accompanied by an obvious ulterior motive that leads targets to discount the proffered compliments, the initial favorable reaction (the implicit attitude) continues to coexist with the dis- counted evaluation (the explicit attitude). Furthermore, the implicit attitude has more influential consequences than the explicit attitude, highlighting the possible subtle impact of flattery even when a person has consciously corrected for it.

{ Journal of Marketing Research | PDF }

Just boob it

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In a series of 7 experiments we demonstrate that women perceive men to be more attractive and sexually desirable when seen on a red background and in red clothing. […] The influence of red appears to be specific to women’s romantic attraction to men: Red did not influence men’s perceptions of other men, nor did it influence women’s perceptions of men’s overall likability, agreeableness, or extraversion.

{ APA PsycNet | Continue reading }