Loneliness, then, is highly dependent on personality factors as well as social factors such as discrimination, limited access to transport, and lack of social cohesion. And a new study, published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, identifies another individual factor: low self-control. According to Olga Stavrova and team from Tilburg University in the Netherlands, failures of self-control can have serious social ramifications — leading to ostracism and, eventually, loneliness.
We could all name groups of people who we know to be suffering right now; some in distant countries, some in our own. Research shows that we feel less empathy for people in other countries — and so are less likely to support them by protesting, say, or donating money. Meital Balmas and Eran Halperin at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem now report a factor that can influence this, however: our feelings about the national leader. The pair’s study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests that a leader who is perceived as “good” and popular at home elicits more empathy, and even greater tangible help, for their struggling citizens.
This is Episode 25 of PsychCrunch, the podcast from the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest, sponsored by Routledge Psychology. Download here
Are our personalities set in stone, or can we choose to change them? In this bonus episode, Matthew Warren talks to former Research Digest editor Christian Jarrett about his new book Be Who You Want: Unlocking the Science of Personality Change. Christian discusses the evidence-based methods you can use to alter your personality, whether you’re an introvert who wants to become the life of the party, or you simply wish you were a little more open to new experiences. He also explains how our personalities evolve over the course of our lifespans, even when we’re not consciously trying to change them, and ponders how they might be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Be Who You Want: Unlocking the Science of Personality Change is out on May 18th in the United States and May 20th in the United Kingdom.
“The only absolute knowledge attainable by man is that life is meaningless,” wrote Leo Tolstoy in A Confession, a succinct summing up of the nihilist worldview. Depressing as it may be, nihilism seems to be on the rise, with the importance of finding a meaningful worldview steadily decreasing over the last decade or so.
But how do other people view nihilists? This is the question posed by Matthew J. Scott and Adam B. Cohen of Arizona State University in a new paper published in The Journal of Social Psychology. They find that stereotypes of nihilists are overwhelmingly negative — and unlike stereotypes about atheists, people don’t seem to have any positive views about nihilists at all.
Hearing voices is often associated with mental illness. But this belief doesn’t always reflect reality, with muchresearch suggesting that many people who hear voices experience no distress and have never had contact with psychiatric services. Religious hearing of voices also has a tradition outside of what we might consider “pathological”: St. Augustine’s recognition of the voice of God, to use one very famous example.
Why do some of us hear otherworldly voices, while others don’t? According to Stanford University’s Tanya Marie Luhrmann and team, it could be related to two factors: “absorption” and “porosity”, both of which concern our beliefs and experiences about how the mind interacts with the world. In a study in PNAS that spanned a range of faiths and cultures, the team examined exactly how porosity and absorption can facilitate different kinds of spiritual experience.
What — or who — do you think about when you hear the word “atheist”? Someone scientific, rational, and open-minded? Or, instead, someone who lacks morality, or who is less trustworthy than your average religious person? Prior research hasn’t been wholly positive for non-believers, finding serious levels of distrust of atheists — even among atheists themselves.
But the real picture might be slightly more complicated. According to a new study, published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, positive and negative stereotypes abound when it comes to atheists. And for many, these stereotypes exist at the same time: people can believe atheists to be fun and open-minded just as they find them to be immoral.
We’re all familiar with the “Big Five” model of personality, which measures the traits of conscientiousness, agreeableness, extraversion, neuroticism, and openness. But what drove the evolution of these personality domains? And how do animal personalities compare with ours? Answers to the second question can help to answer the first. And now a major new study of personality in bottlenose dolphins, published in the Journal of Comparative Psychology, has found that in some key ways, dolphin personality is like ours; in others, though, it is not.
In a new study in Psychological Science, Kevin A. Hoff and team look at the personality changes of teenagers as they move into adulthood. And they find that certain shifts in personality can result in real-world benefits during the early years of a career, suggesting that interventions that increase particular traits and skills could make all the difference at work.
What happens to a narcissistic woman when she becomes a mother? Can someone with an unmet desire for attention, love and recognition — which characterises all narcissists — adapt well to having a baby to care for? The answer, according to a new study in Personality Disorders: Theory, Research and Treatment, is that it really depends what type of narcissist the mother is. And even, then, the conclusions were based on self-reports, which should probably be received with caution.
There’s likely to be a diverse set of factors driving any given person’s interest in politics. It could be that their parents had a political affiliation they’ve subsequently inherited; they may have had a personal experience that changed how they see the world; politics could provide a social life or community connections; they might consider political action a civic duty; or they might just be passionate about a particular issue.
According to a recent paper in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, there may be another motivation, too — namely narcissism. The paper finds that particular kinds of narcissism are related to taking part in political activities, suggesting that deeply rooted individual factors may play a large part in our willingness to engage in politics.