Five Facts About… Curiosity?

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Doing something a little different today as I prepare for a talk on a very different emotion than I usually write about.  I’m about to speak to a group of high school teachers about the value of curiosity in the classroom, so I thought I would post some interesting curiosity facts to get started.

Here they are:

How Does Anger Change as We Age?

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crabby_womanDo people really get crabbier as they get older?  Not according to a recent study in the Journal of Aging and Mental Health.  The authors of the study, Drs. Sarah Robertson and Rhonda Swickert, asked a group of 80 young adults (ages 18-34) and a group of 80 older adults (ages 60-91) to recall a negative emotional story about their lives.  They were encouraged to try to imagined the event in their mind and talk about the thoughts and feelings they had related to the event.

They then analyzed the content of those descriptions, looking for negative emotion words like sad, mad, scared, annoyed, etc.  They created a general category for “negative emotions” and three subcategories: anxiety (e.g., worried, fearful), sadness (e.g., crying, grief), and anger (e.g., hate, kill).


PodcastCheck out the All the Rage Podcast to learn more about anger and violence


The purpose of the study was to explore socioemotional selectivity.  This is the theory, originally described in a 1999 American Psychologist article By Dr. Laura Carstensen and her colleagues, that as we get older we put a premium on positive emotions and try to maximize those feelings while minimizing negative feelings.  Basically, it is a little mini-emotional midlife crisis where you realize that life is short and you should not waste it feeling sad, scared, or angry.

So what did Robertson and Swickert find?  Well, in some ways, their results did not look the way they expected.  They hypothesized that age would be negatively associated with negative emotion word use.  That did not happen.  But, while there were no differences on negative emotion words across the board, there were with anger words.  Older adults expressed fewer anger words in their writing than younger adults did.

They also found something interesting related to forgiveness. They had given everyone a questionnaire designed to measure their tendency to forgive across different situations.  Related to anger, they found that younger adults who scored low on this forgiveness scale (i.e., those who were less forgiving) scored higher on anger words than younger adults who scored high on the forgiveness scale.  As they described it, “forgiveness essentially allows for the abandonment of feelings of hurt and resentment in response to a transgression” and that tendency to forgive led to fewer anger words in their writing.


ryanBy Dr. Ryan C. Martin
Ryan is the chair of the Psychology Department at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and a nationally known anger researcher.  His work focuses on healthy and unhealthy expressions of anger, including how we express anger online.

Find Ryan on Twitter, Facebook, or Snapchat (rycmart)

Media’s Influence on One’s Perception of Violence and Mental Illness

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1682602_1280x720Both news and entertainment media show people with mental illness as dangerous, violent, or unpredictable. Many of the individuals who commit these crimes are presumed to have a mental illness and this in turn perpetuates the social stigma that all people with a mental illness are violent or dangerous. Before some of the most recent and deadly mass shootings including the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, the 2017 Las Vegas shooting at am outdoor concert, and the 2017 First Baptist Church shooting in Texas, The Virginia Tech shootings was one of the deadliest shootings to date. Taking place in 2007 and ending with 32 dead and 15 wounded, the shooter was perceived to have had a mental illness that caused him to commit this crime.

Hoffner and colleagues conducted a study that examined the perceived influence of news coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings on one’s own and others’ attitudes about mental illness, and behavioral outcomes as a function of personal experience with mental illness. They utilized an online survey of 198 adults within about one month of the shootings. Individuals without a mental illness, the perceived news influence on their own attitudes toward mental illness was associated with more engagement in support/comfort activities and greater likelihood of online opinion expression. In contrast, individuals with a mental illness, perceiving that others attitudes had become more negative was associated with less engagement in support/comfort activities. Respondents with no experience of mental illness reported greater stereotypes about mental illness and less willingness to seek treatment and they expressed more fear and less anger than those who had experience with mental illness.

Me (2)Mackenzie is a senior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Human Development and Sociology. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in May 2018, she plans on going to graduate school for Social Work.

 

 

Hoffner, C. A., Fujioka, Y., Cohen, E. L., & Atwell Seate, A. (2017). Perceived media influence, mental illness, and responses to news coverage of a mass shooting. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 6(2), 159-173. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/ppm0000093

Does Commitment Promote Forgiveness?

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landscape-1454349521-marriage-fightStrong commitment in one’s relationships promotes positive mental events and forgiveness.  This is according to a 2002 study by Finkel and colleagues from Carnegie Mellon University.  They defined commitment as the intent to persist or the decision to remain dependent on the partner. Betrayal, meanwhile, is arguably one of the hardest things to forgive in any relationship. When people are betrayed, they often find it difficult to withdraw from the negative emotions that accompany the act.

Finkel and colleagues conducted three separate studies to explore the relationship between commitment and forgiveness: (1) a priming experiment, (2) a cross-sectional survey study, and (3) an interaction record study. . The authors believed that there would be a positive association between commitment and forgiveness and Study 1 found that individuals, who are highly committed to their partners, are more likely to forgive acts of betrayal. Study 2 and 3 looked at if mental events would bring about the association between commitment and behavior. Study 2 found that highly committed individuals had more positive immediate and delayed behaviors, immediate and delayed cognitive interpretations, and delayed emotional reactions however they had more negative emotional reactions. Study 3 demonstrated that when individuals are highly committed, even in acts of betrayal, they are more likely to look at the act with more positive emotion, cognition, and behavior. They also found that, the association of commitment with forgiveness was significantly affected by both cognitive interpretations and emotional reactions to the betrayal.

Me (2)Mackenzie is a senior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Human Development and Sociology. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in May 2018, she plans on going to graduate school for Social Work.

 

 

Finkel, E. J., Rusbult, C. E., Kumashiro, M., & Hannon, P. A. (2002). Dealing with betrayal in close relationships: Does commitment promote forgiveness? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82(6), 956-974. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.82.6.956

#AngerFacts from my AlumniLink Talk

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I gave a talk tonight on anger for the UW-System Alumni Link event here in Green Bay.  During the talk, I provided six anger-related facts and promised they could find more information on Twitter or via Facebook.

I also promised I would tweet out a survey where they could learn more about the types of angry thoughts they may have.  Here is that survey.  

Here are the six facts with links to additional information:

  1. Anger is one of the four most basic emotions along with sadness, fear, and joy. Learn more.
  2. Witnessing aggressive expressions of anger at work leads to a decrease in creativity and productivity. Learn more.
  3. A fair workplace, where employees understand decisions and feel they are treated with respect, is associated with less employee anger and greater productivity. Learn more.
  4. Research shows that women who express anger at work lose influence over their peers, whereas men tend to gain credibility when they express anger.  Learn more.
  5. Anger is the most viral emotion online, spreading faster than sadness, fear, or joy. Learn more.
  6. Letting it out (aka catharsis) doesn’t work; it likely makes things worse. Learn more.

Pet Peeves: The Role of Happiness and Mindfulness

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relationship difficulties: young couple having a conflictFeeling frustrated by slow walkers, people who fail to use their turn signal, or people who forget to cover their mouths when they cough? These relatively petty concerns are called pet peeves. Pet peeves like these and others represent particular occasions, actions, or individuals that cause a person to complain, feel frustrated or get angry.

How are relationships affected by pet peeves? What role does mindfulness play in reducing negative feelings? Kowalski and colleagues sought to answer these questions in their study Pet Peeves and Happiness: How Do Happy People Complain? They examined participants’ pet peeves via a survey that included listing biggest personal irritations, assessments of positive and negative emotions, mindfulness, depression, and happiness.

Results from this study suggest that the most reported pet peeves included chewing gum loudly, mumbling, being unclean, not listening, whining, and being late. In addition, pet peeves made people less satisfied with their relationships with others. This was due to people constantly expressing their annoyances to their significant other. As a result, individuals were irritated and felt that their partner was intentionally trying to make them upset. Furthermore, people reported feeling unhappy due to others engaging in their pet peeves. Mindfulness appeared to make a difference in how people felt when they saw others partaking in their pet peeves. Kowalski and colleagues found two ways that people can deal effectively with their pet peeves.  First, people can express their grievances when they think that it will make a difference. Individuals realize that by expressing their grievances to their significant other, it will only make things worse. Second, individuals can engage in mindfulness to better deal with their pet peeves and increase happiness. Happy people tend to avoid engaging in negative thoughts. By thinking of their pet peeves and expressing their annoyances to others, this decreases feelings of happiness and increases negativity.

AlexandraBy Alexandra Graff
Alexandra is a senior, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Human Development. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, she plans on working in the education or healthcare field as a psychometrist.


Kowalski, R., Allison, B., Giumetti, G., Turner, J., Whittaker, E., Frazee, L., & Stephens, J. (2014). Pet peeves and happiness: How do happy people complain? The Journal of Social Psychology, 154, 278-282.

Why do Trolls Troll?

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InternTrollfaceet trolls, or those who intentionally bait people online by starting arguments, posting dishonest, or offensive comments, have received a lot of attention in the media as of late. Despite that attention, there’s a lack of understanding on why trolls do what they do. How does one become a troll? Is it because of his or her personality, social motivation, or that he or she is just bored? Drs. Naomi Craker and Evita March explored these very questions with a study of the personality characteristics and social incentives on trolling behaviors in their study The Dark Side of Facebook: The Dark Tetrad, Negative Social Potency, and Trolling Behaviors.

Craker and March assessed participants’ thoughts and actions regarding online trolling via an online survey that included the Global Assessment of Facebook Trolling, Social Rewards Questionnaire, The Dirty Dozen and the Short Sadistic Impulse Scale.

Results from this study suggest that some personality traits do not influence online trolling behaviors, such as narcissism and Machiavellianism. On the other hand, individuals displaying psychopathic and sadistic behaviors were more likely to engage in internet trolling. Psychopathic individuals did not feel compassion towards other internet users and as a result, they were more likely to harass and embarrass others. Sadistic individuals enjoyed inflicting pain and humiliation on victims by posting inappropriate statements, lying, or cursing on the victim’s Facebook page. Online trolls also participated in these behaviors due to social motivations, such as having control and authority over other internet users.

Alexandra

By Alexandra Graff
Alexandra is a senior, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Human Development. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, she plans on working in the education or healthcare field as a psychometrist.


Craker, N. & March, E. (2016). The dark side of Facebook: The dark tetrad, negative social potency, and trolling behaviors. Personality and Individual Differences, 102, 79-84.

Precarious Manhood Theory: What Happens When Masculinity is Threatened?

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downloadExtreme beliefs in maintaining traditional gender roles may come down to something called the “Precarious Manhood Theory” (Vandello & Bosson, 2013). That is, when men do not feel masculine, they are more likely to engage in gender stereotypical behaviors, such as aggression, taking risks with money, and avoiding things like housework and childcare. One question that remains, though, is does the precarious manhood theory hold up in cultures where there are few, if any, differences between male and female roles? Kosakowska-Berezecka and colleagues (2016) sought to answer this with a study in Poland where there are fewer differences in male and female gender roles.

Kosakowska-Berezecka and colleagues’ work consisted of three studies, in which participants were told they had either high testosterone levels or low testosterone levels (regardless of their actual testosterone levels), were asked to rate themselves on masculine and feminine traits or to justify whether they believed in traditional gender roles.

Results from this study suggest that male individuals who are informed of having low testosterone felt that they were not “manly” enough, and were more likely to engage in gender stereotypical behaviors, such as getting involved in physical fights. On the other hand, males who were told they had high testosterone levels were more likely to agree with equality between females and males and were more likely to partake in perceived “feminine” responsibilities such as caretaking or doing housework. Last, males who identified with an egalitarian culture were less likely to report masculinity threats and did not feel the need to display certain masculine behaviors in order to prove their “manliness” to others.

AlexandraBy Alexandra Graff
Alexandra is a senior, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Human Development. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, she plans on working in the education or healthcare field as a psychometrist.


Kosakowska-Berezecka, N., Besta, T., Adamska, K., Jaśkiewicz, M., Jurek, P., & Vandello, J. (2016). If my masculinity is threatened I won’t support gender equality? The role of agentic self-stereotyping in restoration of manhood and perception of gender relations. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 17, 274-284.

Vandello, J. A., & Bosson, J. K. (2013). Hard won and easily lost: A review and synthesis of theory and research on precarious manhood. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 14(2), 101-113.


 

Does Anonymity Online Increase the Likelihood of Aggression?

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Online-Anonymity-at-Helmword-LtdIn today’s age of advancing technology and countless social media sites, it’s easier than ever to anonymously comment on posts, pictures and videos.  If you’re like me, you’ve seen some very heated conversations in the comments section of Facebook posts. So, what’s the deal here, are people more aggressive when they know they’re virtually anonymous?  This is the question Adam Zimmerman and Gabriel Ybarra (2016) researched in their Journal Article, “Online Aggression: The Influences of Anonymity and Social Modeling.”

Using 124 undergraduate students from the University of North Florida, the researchers had each of the participants do a word-unscrambling task with 2 other people. If they collectively unscrambled half of the words correctly, they each received a prize; at least this is what they were told.  However, unbeknown to the participants, the game was rigged and they were not actually playing along with others, ensuring that the participants always lost.  This was done in order to simulate an online frustrating social situation in which they felt let down by their “partners.” Participants were then able to write on a blog about their experience.  Half of the participants wrote their blogs anonymously and the other half did not. For both these groups, participants were also exposed to either a neutral blog post, or an aggressive blog post.

As you may have guessed, participants who remained anonymous indicated a higher temptation to purposefully aggress toward their alleged partners and they also used more aggressive words in their blog posts about their experience.  Participants, who were exposed to an aggressive blog post prior to writing their own, were also more aggressive, but only in the anonymous condition.

What these results tell us is that people are more likely to be aggressive online if their identity is anonymous.  Not only that, but if they’re exposed to aggressive posts and their identity is anonymous, they’re even more likely to be aggressive online. We can take these results and use them to influence our own online behavior.  Since we’ve seen that people are more likely to be aggressive online if they know their identity remains anonymous, we can analyze our own behavior as to what’s appropriate to say online. We should make it a point not to use anonymity as an excuse to act more aggressively than we normally would.  Not to mention, if anonymous online users are more likely to act aggressively if they see others doing so, our online aggression could also effect how aggressive others are online as well.  To keep online aggression in check, we can consider whether we would act differently if our identity were known, and adjust our comments and behavior accordingly.

By Nermana Turajlic
Nermana is a senior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Human Development. She plans on graduating in December 2016 and attending graduate school the following year.


Zimmerman, A. G., & Ybarra, G. J. (2016). Online aggression: The influences of             anonymity and social modeling. Psychology Of Popular Media Culture, 5(2),             181-193. doi:10.1037/ppm0000038

Does Early Alcohol Use Lead to Higher Levels of Anger Later in Adolescence?

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8552231637_824c2c5821_bIn today’s world, underage drinking and violence are significant topics of interest, and there have been multiple studies that have found a link between heavy drinking, anger, and immediate violent behavior following the consumption of alcohol.  In order to evaluate just how much of an impact consuming alcohol during early adolescence has on later adolescence anger, Dr. Michelle Weiner and her colleagues conducted a study to investigate this relationship (Weiner, Pentz, Turner, & Dwyer, 2001).

The data for this study was collected longitudinally from Indianapolis, Indiana for a total of six years as part of a large drug abuse prevention trial (Weiner et. al, 2001). With 1201 participants in all, each participant was asked a series of four anger-related questions, including: “When I have a problem, I get mad at people”, “When I have a problem, I do bad things or cause trouble”, “When I have a problem, I say or do nasty things”, and “I am a hotheaded person”. Additionally, two items within the study asked each participant to report how many alcoholic drinks they had consumed, and how many times they had been drunk in the last 30 days (Weiner et. al, 2001).

Results of this study indicate overall that early adolescence alcohol consumption ultimately increases anger in later adolescence, controlling for gender, age, and socioeconomic status (Weiner et. al, 2001). Alcohol use in the past 30 days among 6th and 7th graders increased the odds of them saying or doing nasty things, being a self-reported hothead, and having a high anger score on the anger scale in grades 10 and 11. As the students grew older, their reports of anger and aggressive behavior only increased. For example, the students that had reported either consumption of alcohol or drunkenness in the past 30 days in grades 6 and 7, were associated with higher anger scores on the anger scale, as well as doing bad things to cause trouble in grades 9 through 12.

By Gracie Kellow
Gracie is a senior at UWGB who plans on graduating in December 2016 as a Psychology major with a mental health emphasis and a minor in Human Development. After graduation, she plans on attending law school.