The Situationist

Journal of Personality & Social Psychology – Articles of Interest

Posted by The Situationist Staff on February 27, 2008

Journal of Personality & Social Psychology CoverJournal of Personality & Social Psychology CoverJournal of Personality and Social Psychology

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Volume 94, Issue 2

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Sex differences in mate preferences revisited: Do people know what they initially desire in a romantic partner?

In paradigms in which participants state their ideal romantic-partner preferences or examine vignettes and photographs, men value physical attractiveness more than women do, and women value earning prospects more than men do. Yet it remains unclear if these preferences remain sex differentiated in predicting desire for real-life potential partners (i.e., individuals whom one has actually met). In the present study, the authors explored this possibility using speed dating and longitudinal follow-up procedures. Replicating previous research, participants exhibited traditional sex differences when stating the importance of physical attractiveness and earning prospects in an ideal partner and ideal speed date. However, data revealed no sex differences in the associations between participants’ romantic interest in real-life potential partners (met during and outside of speed dating) and the attractiveness and earning prospects of those partners. Furthermore, participants’ ideal preferences, assessed before the speed-dating event, failed to predict what inspired their actual desire at the event. Results are discussed within the context of R. E. Nisbett and T. D. Wilson’s (1977) seminal article: Even regarding such a consequential aspect of mental life as romantic-partner preferences, people may lack introspective awareness of what influences their judgments and behavior.

Expect the unexpected: Failure to anticipate similarities leads to an intergroup forecasting error.

People often expect interactions with outgroup members to go poorly, but little research examines the accuracy of these expectations, reasons why expectations might be negatively biased, and ways to bring expectations in line with experiences. The authors found that intergroup interactions were more positive than people expected them to be (Pilot Study, Study 1). One reason for this intergroup forecasting error is that people focus on their dissimilarities with outgroup members (Study 1). When the authors focused White participants’ attention on the ways they were similar to a Black participant, their intergroup expectations changed to match their positive experiences (Studies 2 & 3). Regardless of focus, Whites expected to have pleasant intragroup interactions, and they were accurate (Study 4). (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved)

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How attributional ambiguity shapes physiological and emotional responses to social rejection and acceptance.

The authors examined White and Black participants’ emotional, physiological, and behavioral responses to same-race or different-race evaluators, following rejecting social feedback or accepting social feedback. As expected, in ingroup interactions, the authors observed deleterious responses to social rejection and benign responses to social acceptance. Deleterious responses included cardiovascular (CV) reactivity consistent with threat states and poorer performance, whereas benign responses included CV reactivity consistent with challenge states and better performance. In intergroup interactions, however, a more complex pattern of responses emerged. Social rejection from different-race evaluators engendered more anger and activational responses, regardless of participants’ race. In contrast, social acceptance produced an asymmetrical race pattern–White participants responded more positively than did Black participants. The latter appeared vigilant and exhibited threat responses. Discussion centers on implications for attributional ambiguity theory and potential pathways from discrimination to health outcomes.

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Not yet human: Implicit knowledge, historical dehumanization, and contemporary consequences.

Historical representations explicitly depicting Blacks as apelike have largely disappeared in the United States, yet a mental association between Blacks and apes remains. Here, the authors demonstrate that U.S. citizens implicitly associate Blacks and apes. In a series of laboratory studies, the authors reveal how this association influences study participants’ basic cognitive processes and significantly alters their judgments in criminal justice contexts. Specifically, this Black-ape association alters visual perception and attention, and it increases endorsement of violence against Black suspects. In an archival study of actual criminal cases, the authors show that news articles written about Blacks who are convicted of capital crimes are more likely to contain ape-relevant language than news articles written about White convicts. Moreover, those who are implicitly portrayed as more apelike in these articles are more likely to be executed by the state than those who are not. The authors argue that examining the subtle persistence of specific historical representations such as these may not only enhance contemporary research on dehumanization, stereotyping, and implicit processes but also highlight common forms of discrimination that previously have gone unrecognized.

Go to Journal’s full Table of Contents

One Response to “Journal of Personality & Social Psychology – Articles of Interest”

  1. This is an interesting article about the scientific basis of perception and attraction. I think most people don’t realize that there is a science to attraction and that by understanding this science, they have a better chance of meeting the woman or man of their dreams.

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