Category: Social

People think they’re less likely to get Covid from friends than from strangers

By Matthew Warren

Social distancing has been a key part of the pandemic response: we all know that our chance of infection is reduced if we minimise the contact we have with others. Yet there are countless stories of people covertly meeting up with friends and family even at the height of lockdown.

Clearly many of those who disregarded the rules did so because of a desire for social interaction and support. But a new study in Humanities & Social Sciences Communications suggests there may be another reason too: we simply underestimate the risk of contracting Covid-19 from friends.

Continue reading “People think they’re less likely to get Covid from friends than from strangers”

People who apologise a lot are seen as more warm and sincere

By Emma Young

We all know a chronic apologiser (maybe you are one). So begins a fascinating new paper that explores how we judge frequent vs rare apologisers — and how this affects the way that we react to their apologies.

An abundance of work has shown that an apology for bad behaviour makes a big difference to the recipient. “Indeed, some scholars even imbue apologies with transformative and miraculous healing qualities,” note Karina Schumann at the University of Pittsburgh and colleagues in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. However, most research in this field has explored the impact of apologies in isolation. This takes no account of a person’s general tendency to apologise. But as we all know, some people apologise readily and frequently, while others don’t.

Continue reading “People who apologise a lot are seen as more warm and sincere”

Offenders feel like victims when their victims don’t forgive them

By Emily Reynolds

Forgiveness is not always easy. Forgiving someone who has wronged you can lead to a decreased likelihood of repeat offending and increased likelihood that the perpetrator will engage in conciliatory behaviour — just some of the reasons restorative justice has become more popular. But victims of transgressions often find it hard to move on.

A study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin looks at what happens when victims don’t forgive and forget — and specifically how this makes offenders feel. The team finds that, if not offered forgiveness, those who have committed transgressions end up feeling like victims too.

Continue reading “Offenders feel like victims when their victims don’t forgive them”

Ask for help face-to-face, not via phone or email, if you want results

By Emily Reynolds

We probably all like to think of ourselves as generous, giving people, ready to provide friends and even strangers with favours when they need help. If we’re honest, however, that probably isn’t always the case — in fact, we’re more likely to agree to a favour when we think we might not have to follow through at all.

A new study in Social Psychological and Personality Science looks at another facet of favours — the most effective way of asking for them. The team finds that we don’t expect there to be much difference between asking for favours in text-based, video and face-to-face settings— but that in reality, asking for help face-to-face is far more likely to yield results.

Continue reading “Ask for help face-to-face, not via phone or email, if you want results”

Conversations with strangers remain enjoyable for much longer than we expect

By Emma Young

For such a social species, we are surprisingly bad at judging conversations. Now a new misapprehension can be added to the list: even after striking up a conversation with a stranger, we underestimate how much we’ll continue to enjoy it. There are potentially important implications, point out Michael Kardas at Northwestern University and colleagues: if we mistakenly avoid longer conversations, we could miss out not just on the chance to connect with someone, but even to gain a new friend.

Continue reading “Conversations with strangers remain enjoyable for much longer than we expect”

People who move a lot attach more importance to their romantic relationships

By Emily Reynolds

Moving house can have significant psychological effects — and not just because it’s stressful. Moving can create long-lasting memories, good and bad, while moving frequently is associated with lower academic achievement and poorer physical and mental health among children. 

It’s this second experience — moving frequently — that a new study, published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, explores. Looking at “residential mobility” in the context of romantic relationships, the team finds that those who have moved away from their place of birth or who have frequently moved throughout their life are more likely to see their partners as central to their lives.

Continue reading “People who move a lot attach more importance to their romantic relationships”

Episode 29: Why do people share false information — and what can we do about it?

This is Episode 29 of PsychCrunch, the podcast from the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest, sponsored by Routledge Psychology. Download here.

Why do people share false information? In this episode, our presenters Ginny Smith and Jon Sutton explore the psychology of misinformation. They hear about the factors that make people more or less likely to share misinformation, discuss strategies to correct false information, and learn how to talk to someone who is promoting conspiracy theories.

Our guests, in order of appearance, are Tom Buchanan, Professor of Psychology at the University of Westminster, and Briony Swire-Thompson, senior research scientist at Northeastern University’s Network Science Institute.

Continue reading “Episode 29: Why do people share false information — and what can we do about it?”

How to master the art of conversation, according to psychology

By Emma Young

Every time we catch up with a friend, we share the stories of our lives, from the mundane to the profound. Swapping stories — and especially secrets — helps to create friendships in the first place. Now new research is providing some intriguing insights into how to get that process going, and keep it going — on how best to handle conversations, to turn acquaintances or even strangers into new friends, and new friends into life-long confidantes.

Continue reading “How to master the art of conversation, according to psychology”

Once A Meanie, Always A Meanie: Toddlers Are Harsh Judges Of Moral Character

By guest blogger Sofia Deleniv

Over the past ten years, developmental psychologists have been astounded by the young age at which children appear to be aware of the moral qualities of others’ actions. At just four months, babies already react with surprise when others engage in unequal distribution of treats and resources. They also snub these unfair individuals in social interactions by the age of 24 months and expect others to do the same. Other forms of moral judgement may emerge even sooner: as early as 3 months of age, infants show distinct preferences for those who help, as opposed to hinder, others.

In thinking about these nascent moral judgements, researchers have become interested in figuring out their underlying mental “structure”. Do children’s moral rules operate like a loose “‘anthology”, where judgements passed on the basis of one principle have little effect on judgements on the basis of another? Or is there a deeper underpinning mental framework that gives rise to a multitude of connected moral expectations?  

A recent study in PNAS by a duo of American researchers breaks new ground on this fascinating question. It reveals that toddlers are guided by a core mental representation of what it means to be a moral person (albeit with some potentially concerning caveats). Within this moral framework, a single faux pas risks entirely sweeping an individual from a child’s good books.  

Continue reading “Once A Meanie, Always A Meanie: Toddlers Are Harsh Judges Of Moral Character”

We Generally Prefer Political Allies Who Try To Understand Opponents’ Views

By Emily Reynolds

We often hear that we’re living in an age of polarisation and divisiveness, unable to transcend political boundaries to listen to those who we disagree with. But how do we feel about those people who share our views but who seek to understand opponents anyway?

This is the subject of a new study in Psychological Science, authored by the University of British Columbia’s Gordon Heltzel and Kristin Laurin. They find that while we generally prefer those who seek alternative views, this falters when they appear to be susceptible to changing sides.

Continue reading “We Generally Prefer Political Allies Who Try To Understand Opponents’ Views”