Is kindness less optional for women than for men?

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Eric Barker  -  
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At least in the workplace it is:

In 2 experimental studies, the authors hypothesized that the performance of altruistic citizenship behavior in a work setting would enhance the favorability of men’s (but not women’s) evaluations and recommendations, whereas the withholding of altruistic citizenship behavior would diminish the favorability of women’s (but not men’s) evaluations and recommendations. Results supported the authors’ predictions. Together with the results of a 3rd study demonstrating that work-related altruism is thought to be less optional for women than for men, these results suggest that gender-stereotypic prescriptions regarding how men and women should behave result in different evaluative reactions to the same altruistic behavior, depending on the performer’s sex.

Source: “Same Behavior, Different Consequences: Reactions to Men’s and Women’s Altruistic Citizenship Behavior.” from Journal of Applied Psychology

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How To Deal With A Narcissist, Backed By Research

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Eric Barker  -  
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There are ways to make a narcissist easier to deal with.

Emphasize community when you talk to them. When they feel there’s a strong group behind something, they’re more likely to behave:

Three studies tested the hypotheses that the activation of communal mental representations promotes relationship commitment (communal activation hypothesis) and that this effect is stronger among narcissists than among nonnarcissists (Communal Activation x Narcissism hypothesis). Across experimental, longitudinal, and interaction-based research methods, and in participant samples ranging from college students to married couples, results supported the communal activation hypothesis in two of three studies and the Communal Activation x Narcissism hypothesis in all three studies. Moreover, a meta-analytic summary of the results across the three studies revealed that the association of communal activation with commitment was significant overall and that it was stronger among narcissists than among nonnarcissists. Narcissists tended to be less committed than nonnarcissists at low levels of communal activation, but this effect diminished and sometimes even reversed at high levels. This work is the first to identify a mechanism by which narcissists can become more committed relationship partners.

Source: “The Metamorphosis of Narcissus: Communal Activation Promotes Relationship Commitment Among Narcissists” from Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

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When they do something wrong, use disappointment as a weapon to keep them in line. It works better than anger:

The authors examined whether individual differences in social value orientation moderate responses to other’s expressions of disappointment in negotiation. The literature suggested competing hypotheses: First, prosocials are more responsive to other’s disappointment because they have a greater concern for other; second, proselfs are more responsive because they see other’s disappointment as a threat to their own outcomes. Results of a computer-mediated negotiation in which a simulated opponent expressed disappointment, no emotion, or anger supported the second prediction: Proselfs conceded more to a disappointed opponent than to a neutral or angry one, whereas prosocials were unaffected by the other’s emotion. This effect was mediated by participants’ motivation to satisfy the other’s needs, which disappointment triggered more strongly in proselfs than in prosocials. Implications for theorizing on emotion, social value orientation, and negotiation are discussed.

Source: “What Other’s Disappointment May Do to Selfish People: Emotion and Social Value Orientation in a Negotiation Context” from Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

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Maybe you think you don’t deal with too many narcissists. There’s research that shows the leader of a group is more likely to be on the narcissistic end of the spectrum:

These studies investigate whether individuals with high narcissism scores would be more likely to emerge as leaders during leaderless group discussions. The authors hypothesized that narcissists would emerge as group leaders. In three studies, participants completed personality questionnaires and engaged in four-person leaderless group discussions. Results from all three studies reveal a link between narcissism and leader emergence. Studies 1 and 2 further reveal that the power dimension of narcissism predicted reported leader emergence while controlling for sex, self-esteem, and the Big Five personality traits. Study 3 demonstrates an association between narcissism and expert ratings of leader emergence in a group of executives. The implications of the propensity of narcissists to emerge as leaders are discussed.

Source: “Leader Emergence: The Case of the Narcissistic Leader” from Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

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What can you accurately tell about a person just by looking at their face?

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Eric Barker  -  
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A lot, actually:

Several studies have demonstrated some accuracy in personality attribution using only visual appearance. Using composite images of those scoring high and low on a particular trait, the current study shows that judges perform better than chance in guessing others’ personality, particularly for the traits conscientiousness and extraversion. This study also shows that attractiveness, masculinity and age may all provide cues to assess personality accurately and that accuracy is affected by the sex of both of those judging and being judged. Individuals do perform better than chance at guessing another’s personality from only facial information, providing some support for the popular belief that it is possible to assess accurately personality from faces.

Source: Using composite images to assess accuracy in personality attribution to faces” from British Journal of Psychology

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Can the strategic use of coffee make you more persuasive?:

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Eric Barker  -  
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Absolutely:

Two experiments are reported that examine the effects of caffeine consumption on attitude change by using different secondary tasks to manipulate message processing. The first experiment employed an orientating task whilst the second experiment employed a distracter task. In both experiments participants consumed an orange-juice drink that either contained caffeine (3.5 mg/kg body weight) or did not contain caffeine (placebo) prior to reading a counter-attitudinal communication. The results across both experiments were similar. When message processing was reduced or under high distraction, there was no attitude change irrespective of caffeine consumption. However, when message processing was enhanced or under low distraction, there was greater attitude change in the caffeine vs. placebo conditions. Furthermore, attitudes formed after caffeine consumption resisted counter-persuasion (Experiment 1) and led to indirect attitude change (Experiment 2). The extent that participants engaged in message-congruent thinking mediated the amount of attitude change. These results provide evidence that moderate amounts of caffeine increase systematic processing of the arguments in the message resulting in greater agreement.

Source: “Effects of caffeine on persuasion and attitude change: The role of secondary tasks in manipulating systematic message processing” from European Journal of Social Psychology Volume 37, Issue 2, pages 320–338, March/April 2007


Does darkness increase dishonesty?:

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Eric Barker  -  
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Yes, it does:

via boston.com

In several experiments, researchers found that light levels influence selfish behavior. People who were placed in a dimly lit room were significantly more likely to cheat than people placed in a well-lit room. Likewise, people who were asked to wear sunglasses were less generous in a sharing game than people who were asked to wear clear glasses. This pattern appears to be the result of an increased sense of anonymity in lower light levels, even though light levels did not confer any actual increase in anonymity.

Zhong, C. et al., “A Good Lamp is the Best Police: Darkness Increases Dishonesty and Self-Interested Behavior,” Psychological Science (forthcoming).

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