Public level of support for war influences soldier PTSD
Soldiers returning home from combat may be at a heightened risk for developing post-traumatic stress disorder if public support for a war effort is low, according to recent research. Social validation or invalidation shapes the level of distress soldiers feel from the act of killing, the researchers say. The study involved two experiments that asked participants to exterminate woodlice in a modified coffee grinder – in one, having an actor show either interest or disgust for the act and in another, asking participants to record who agreed to the extermination and who refused. In both cases, the conditions that socially invalidated the killing of the bugs led to more distress and guilt among the participants. Ironically, the researchers report, the very anti-war protests meant to show support for troops but disdain for combat may increase the likelihood that returning soldiers experience mental distress. “How Social Validation and Invalidation Affect the Distress of Killing,” David Webber (dwebber[at]ualberta.ca) et al., Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, April 2013.
Good negotiations come to those who wait
Procrastinating may be a good thing when it comes to the negotiating table, according to a new study. While experts have suggested that making the first offer is an important negotiation tactic, the timing of that first offer is just as critical. Making a first offer late gives negotiating parties more time to explore underlying interests and to consider novel solutions – leading to more creative agreements and conflict resolution, the researchers found. “Good Things Come to Those Who Wait: Late First Offers Facilitate Creative Agreements in Negotiation,” Marwan Sinaceur (marwan.sinaceur[at]insead.edu) et al., Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, June 2013.
Do narcissists woo women more easily?
Narcissists do have an easier time attracting a mate, according to new research. In one experiment, researchers asked 61 men to go out on the street in a large German town and to each approach 25 women they would generally like to get to know to try to collect contact information for as many of them as possible. Those male participants who ranked high in personality evaluations of narcissism collected the most contact information. The researchers found that those men who were successful also ranked high in physical attractiveness and social boldness. “Are Narcissists Sexy? Zeroing in on the Effect of Narcissism on Short-Term Mate Appeal,” Michael Dufner (dufnermi[at]googlemail.com) et al., Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, published online April 2, 2013 – in print, July 2013.
Virtuous people are not universally happy
Being good, or virtuous, and being happy often are equated, but new research finds that it depends on where you come from. In countries where antisocial punishment is common and where people commonly justify dishonest behavior, virtuous individuals (measured, for example, by how comfortable people are avoiding a fare on public transport or cheating on their taxes) are not as satisfied with life compared to more selfish individuals. The study, which involved surveys of more than 100,000 individuals, looked at antisocial punishment in 13 countries and dishonest behavior in 73 countries. For example, in Denmark and the United States, virtuous individuals are happier than their less virtuous counterparts, while in Greece, and Russia, they are less happy than their more malicious fellow citizens. “Are virtuous people happy all around the world? Civic virtue, antisocial punishment, and subjective well-being across cultures,” Olga Stavrova (stavrovo[at]uni-koeln.de) et al., Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, published online April 23, 2013 in print, July 2013.
Distance matters when politicians speak on issues
When politicians speak to their constituents on their own turf, they should use specific examples to bolster their arguments, according to new research. Whether on the topic of gun control or homeland security, study participants were more likely to support politicians located near to them if they cited specific examples and were more likely to support politicians located afar if they spoke in general, more abstract terms. For example, participants read supposed interview responses from their congressional representatives located varying distances away from them that either cited the Gabrielle Gifford’s shooting case in Arizona or spoke about gun control more broadly. “How Do We Want Others to Decide? Geographical Distance Influences Evaluations of Decision-Makers,” Erin Burgoon (eburgoon[at]utexas.edu) et al., Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, June 2013.
Experts on loss and trauma:
George Bonnano of Columbia University studies loss and trauma, including from natural disasters, such as the recent tornadoes in the U.S. Midwest, and following terrorist attacks, such as the Boston Marathon bombings.
Roxane Cohen Silver of the University of California, Irvine, studies coping with loss and resilience following collective traumas, also including natural disasters and terrorist attacks. She is currently working on an NSF-funded study about the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings.
Society for Personality and Social Psychology