We humans organize ourselves in myriad kinds of social groups, from scout troops and sports teams to networks of friends, colleagues, or classmates. But how do these social groups work? How do we decide whom to trust and whom to follow? And how do we deal with people that don't seem to fit the norms of our social groups?
New research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, explores these issues by examining various facets of social perception and behavior.
The Herding Hormone: Oxytocin Stimulates In-Group Conformity
Mirre Stallen, Carsten K. W. De Dreu, Shaul Shalvi, Ale Smidts, and Alan G. Sanfey
People tend to conform to the behaviors of those they associate with, but not much is known about the mechanisms driving this. Psychological scientist Mirre Stallen of the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour at Radboud University and her colleagues investigated whether hormonal mechanisms might play a role. Specifically, they wondered whether the neuropeptide oxytocin – known to facilitate prosocial behavior – might be at work. Male participants were given a dose of the oxytocin or a placebo. They were then told that they would be divided into two groups to complete a task that involved rating the attractiveness of unfamiliar symbols. Before making their decisions, the participants could see the ratings of the other people inside and outside of their group. When the in-group and out-group members' ratings differed, participants given oxytocin conformed more closely to the in-group's scores.
This conformity effect was not seen in the placebo group. Together, these findings suggest that oxytocin can influence subjective preferences and may stimulate individuals to conform to the behavior and beliefs of others in their group. Stallen and colleagues note that the finding that oxytocin stimulates conformity toward in-group members, but not out-group members, will help researchers to develop a more refined theory of the effects of oxytocin on social judgment and behavior.
Corresponding author: Mirre Stallen – Donders Institute for Brain Cognition and Behaviour at Radboud University, the Netherlands – M.Stallen@donders.ru.nl
Treating Prejudice: An Exposure-Therapy Approach to Reducing Negative Reactions Toward Stigmatized Groups
Michèle D. Birtel and Richard J. Crisp
Exposure therapy has been used to treat many types of phobias, but can it also be used to reduce prejudice against stigmatized groups? In three different experiments, psychological scientists Michèle Birtel and Richard Crisp examined whether a form of exposure therapy – activating negative thoughts and feelings before introducing positive countervailing thoughts – might be effective at reducing intergroup anxiety toward stigmatized groups (e.g., adults with schizophrenia, gay men, British Muslims). In each experiment, the researchers assigned participants to one of two groups: One group was asked to imagine two instances of positive contact with a person of the stigmatized group, while the other group was asked to imagine an instance of negative contact and an instance of positive contact with a person of the stigmatized group. Participants' intergroup anxiety and future contact intentions toward individuals in the stigmatized groups were then assessed. Taking the findings of the three experiments together, participants who first imagined a negative encounter and then a positive encounter reported lower intergroup anxiety and higher future-contact intentions than did participants who only imagined positive encounters. Birtel and Crisp conclude that "a small dose of negativity administered just prior to a positively focused intervention can be surprisingly effective in reducing prejudice toward stigmatized groups."
Corresponding author: Michèle Birtel – University of Oxford, UK – email@example.com
The Stranger Effect: The Rejection of Affective Deviants
Lauren Szczurek, Benoît Monin, and James J. Gross
How do react to people who display unexpected emotional responses? Researcher Lauren Szczurek and colleagues at Stanford University asked participants to view a slideshow of positive, neutral, or negative images and a video of a viewer's responses to the images. In some cases, the viewer's responses matched up with the content of the video (e.g., positive emotional expressions in response to positive images), and in others, they were deviant. Interestingly, participants reported more negative judgments toward deviants who showed incongruent responses (e.g., positive emotional expressions to negative images) than toward deviants who showed flat expressions (e.g., no discernible emotional response). Participants reported preferring greater social distance from deviant viewers because they felt they shared fewer moral values with the deviant viewers. According to the researchers, these findings illustrate how subtle departures from what we consider to be "normative" affect can have significant and severe social consequences.
Corresponding author: Lauren Szczurek – Stanford University - firstname.lastname@example.org
Please contact Anna Mikulak at 202-293-9300 or email@example.com for more information.
Anna Mikulak | EurekAlert!
Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT
Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
08.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine
07.12.2016 | Life Sciences