When Motivated Responses to Threat Backfire: Risky Socializing During the COVID-19 Health Crisis
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming
This research examined the relationship between psychological processes that help individuals cope with challenging circumstances and their failure to act to reduce the likelihood and severity of the challenge itself. In two cross-sectional studies of U.S. residents (N = 621) conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals' motivated responses to threat predicted their noncompliance with directives prohibiting risky socializing: Those who perceived the disease to be a threat to their health were more likely to engage in risky socializing if they avoided information about the pandemic or they exhibited a dispositional tendency to join with other people when stressed. Several alternative causal sequences can account for these findings, but one suggests that the risky socializing during the COVID-19 pandemic was due, in part, to people's psychological reaction to threat; as people responded to minimize their distress, they inadvertently increased their risk of contracting the illness.
Social Motives for Sharing Conspiracy Theories
Zhiying (Bella) Ren, Eugen Dimant & Maurice Schweitzer
University of Pennsylvania Working Paper, September 2021
The spread of conspiracy theories has significantly hindered our ability to deal with crises related to the pandemic, climate science, and many other political and social issues. Therefore, it is crucial to understand why people share conspiracy theories. Recent work suggests that people share misinformation because they are inattentive. Across three preregistered studies (total N=1,560 Prolific workers), we show that people also knowingly share misinformation to advance social motives. We find that when making content sharing decisions, people make calculated tradeoffs between sharing accurate information and sharing information that generates more social engagement. Even though people know that factual news are more accurate than conspiracy theories, they expect sharing conspiracy theories to generate more social feedback (i.e. comments and "likes") than sharing factual news. Lastly, in an interactive multi-round content-sharing paradigm, we find that people are very sensitive to the social feedback they receive in the environment. Giving more positive social feedback for sharing conspiracy theories significantly increases people's tendency to share these conspiracy theories that they do not believe in. Our findings substantially develop our understanding of why and when individuals are most likely to share conspiracy theories. These findings also make important contributions to understanding and curbing the spread of misinformation.
Silence is golden: Extended silence, deliberative mindset, and value creation in negotiation
Jared Curhan et al.
Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming
We examine the previously unstudied effects of silent pauses in bilateral negotiations. Two theoretical perspectives are tested - (a) an internal reflection perspective, whereby silence leads to a deliberative mindset, which, in turn, prompts value creation, and (b) a social perception perspective, whereby silence leads to intimidation and value claiming. Study 1 reveals a direct correlation between naturally occurring silent pauses lasting at least 3 s (extended silence) and value creation behaviors and outcomes. Study 2 shows that instructing one or both parties to use extended silence leads to value creation. Additional studies establish a mechanism for this effect, whereby negotiators who use extended silence show evidence of greater deliberative mindset (Study 3) and a reduction in fixed-pie perceptions (Study 4), both of which are associated with value creation. Taken together, our findings are consistent with the internal reflection perspective, whereby extended silence increases value creation by interrupting default, fixed-pie thinking, and fostering a more deliberative mindset. Findings of Study 3 also suggest a boundary condition whereby when status differences are salient, the use of silence by higher status parties leads to value creation, whereas the use of silence by lower status parties does not. Finally, Study 4 shows that instructing negotiators to use silence is more effective for value creation than instructing them to problem-solve. Challenging the social perception perspective that silence is a form of intimidation, we find no evidence for any associations between extended silence and the proportion of value claimed or subjective value of the counterpart.
Keeping One's Distance: Mask Wearing is Implicitly Associated With Psychological Distance
Ramzi Fatfouta & Yaacov Trope
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming
Mask wearing plays a vital role in the fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Despite its ubiquity in everyday social life, it is still unknown how masked faces are mentally represented. Drawing on construal-level theory, we test the hypothesis that masked faces and unmasked faces are implicitly associated with psychological distance and proximity in memory, respectively. Four preregistered, high-powered experiments (N = 354 adults) using the Implicit Association Test lend convergent support to this hypothesis across all four dimensions of psychological distance: social distance, spatial distance, temporal distance, and hypothetical distance. A mini meta-analysis validates the reliability of the findings (Hedge's g = 0.46). The present work contributes to the growing literature on construal-level effects on implicit social cognition and enriches the current discussion on mask wearing in the pandemic and beyond.
Overly shallow?: Miscalibrated expectations create a barrier to deeper conversation
Michael Kardas, Amit Kumar & Nicholas Epley
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming
People may want deep and meaningful relationships with others, but may also be reluctant to engage in the deep and meaningful conversations with strangers that could create those relationships. We hypothesized that people systematically underestimate how caring and interested distant strangers are in one's own intimate revelations and that these miscalibrated expectations create a psychological barrier to deeper conversations. As predicted, conversations between strangers felt less awkward, and created more connectedness and happiness, than the participants themselves expected (Experiments 1a-5). Participants were especially prone to overestimate how awkward deep conversations would be compared with shallow conversations (Experiments 2-5). Notably, they also felt more connected to deep conversation partners than shallow conversation partners after having both types of conversations (Experiments 6a-b). Systematic differences between expectations and experiences arose because participants expected others to care less about their disclosures in conversation than others actually did (Experiments 1a, 1b, 4a, 4b, 5, and 6a). As a result, participants more accurately predicted the outcomes of their conversations when speaking with close friends, family, or partners whose care and interest is more clearly known (Experiment 5). Miscalibrated expectations about others matter because they guide decisions about which topics to discuss in conversation, such that more calibrated expectations encourage deeper conversation (Experiments 7a-7b). Misunderstanding others can encourage overly shallow interactions.
Daily perceived stress predicts less next day social interaction: Evidence from a naturalistic mobile sensing study
Alex daSilva et al.
Although mammals have a strong motivation to engage in social interaction, stress can significantly interfere with this desire. Indeed, research in nonhuman animals has shown that stress reduces social interaction, a phenomenon referred to as "stress-induced social avoidance." While stress and social disconnection are also intertwined in humans, to date, evidence that stress predicts reductions in social interaction is mixed, in part, because existing paradigms fail to capture social interaction naturalistically. To help overcome this barrier, we combined experience sampling and passive mobile sensing methods with time-lagged analyses (i.e., vector autoregressive modeling) to investigate the temporal impact of stress on real-world indices of social interaction. We found that, across a 2-month period, greater perceived stress on a given day predicted significantly decreased social interaction - measured by the amount of face to face conversation - the following day. Critically, the reverse pattern was not observed (i.e., social interaction did not temporally predict stress), and the effect of stress on social interaction was present while accounting for other related variables such as sleep, movement, and time spent at home. These findings are consistent with animal research on stress-induced social avoidance and lay the groundwork for creating naturalistic, mobile-sensing based human models to further elucidate the cycle between stress and real-world social interaction.