Mom Psych

Social Psychology


Facebook May Not Be So Friendly for Those With Low Self-Esteem

The Pain of Social Rejection

Bullying: Why Social and Emotional Learning in Schools is Paramount to Prevention

The Science of Smiling

Being Left Out Puts Youth with Special Needs at Risk for Depression

Social Cues in the Brain (Interactive Tour of the Mind)

confidence and selfishnesss versus altruism


Sagging Confidence Can Lead to More Self-Interested Behavior—or Less


Toronto; March 22, 2018—Most of us know what it feels like to lose confidence from time to time. Your golf game went badly. You got passed over for a promotion. You're not so great with numbers, or get tongue-tied when it comes to making social small talk.

New research says that experiencing low confidence in one area can lead to attempts to boost our status in another, even if it means engaging in fraud. If we seek better financial status, we may behave more selfishly, or cheat.

We may go in the opposite direction though, choosing altruism as the best way to restore our confidence. The University of Toronto Rotman School of Management study shows we're more likely to take that route when the behaviour can be seen by others, or when we have a sense of social solidarity.
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Poor Social Skills May Be Harmful to Health

November 6, 2017—Those who struggle in social situations may be at greater risk for mental and physical health problems, according to a new study from the University of Arizona. That's because people with poor social skills tend to experience more stress and loneliness, both of which can negatively impact health, said study author Chris Segrin, head of the UA Department of Communication. The study, published in the journal Health Communication, is among the first to link social skills to physical, not just mental, health.
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Call It Forgiveness

How does one define forgiveness, and what is the point of extending it? Some conceptualize it as an all-encompassing absolution and release from the requirement of a penalty. Others allow that there can be a kind of forgiveness without completely forgetting, while still others believe it’s impossible even to approach forgiveness unless and until an apology has been offered and accepted. It seems the word forgiveness is popularly applied to a variety of actions that might be better described in different terms. In fact, there is no universally accepted definition of forgiveness. Yet without a definition, it is nearly impossible to determine whether and how this virtue can be applied in human relationships. It may be that we sometimes use the term forgiving when we mean “setting aside our differences” or “not nursing a grudge.”

Researchers who study mental and emotional health do know one thing, however: when we don’t work toward a state of mind of something like forgiveness, we are the ones who suffer the most harm.
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Teenage Boys Who Show Empathy Attract More Girlfriends Than Boys Who Don't

Landmark study shows the extent that teen males and females select empathic classmates as friends

June 8, 2016—Boys high in cognitive empathy attracted an average of 1.8 more girl friendships than low empathy counterparts, as revealed by a landmark study titled "When Empathy Matters: The Role of Sex and Empathy in Close Friendships."

The Australian Research Council-funded research, led by Professor Joseph Ciarrochi at the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education at Australian Catholic University, has been published in the Journal of Personality.

It is the first study to examine the extent that adolescent males and females select empathic classmates as friends. And the conclusion based on a study of 1,970 Year 10 students in Queensland and New South Wales (average age of 15.7 years) is that girls are more likely to nominate empathic boys as friends.

In contrast, empathetic girls didn't rate quite so highly with the opposite sex. In fact, the study found girls with empathetic qualities "did not attract a greater number of opposite sex friends" at all.
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Friends 'Better Than Morphine'


Larger social networks release more pain-killing endorphin

April 28, 2016—People with more friends have higher pain tolerance, Oxford University researchers have found.
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Text Messages That End in a Period Seen as Less Sincere

BINGHAMTON, NY; December 8, 2015—If you don't want to send the wrong message, watch how you punctuate your texts. Text messages that end with a period are perceived to be less sincere than messages that do not, according to newly published research from Binghamton University.

A team of researchers led by Celia Klin, associate professor of psychology and associate dean at Binghamton University's Harpur College, recruited 126 Binghamton undergraduates, who read a series of exchanges that appeared either as text messages or as handwritten notes. In the 16 experimental exchanges, the sender's message contained a statement followed by an invitation phrased as a question (e.g., Dave gave me his extra tickets. Wanna come?). The receiver's response was an affirmative one-word response (Okay, Sure, Yeah, Yup).
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Social Groups and Emotions


Study shows how social groups are represented in the brain

July 29, 2015—Politicians, children, teachers, Europeans . . . what do they have in common? As discovered in a study led by Luca Piretti and his colleagues from SISSA (International School for Advanced Studies) of Trieste, they are all social groups, a special semantic category for the human brain that is closely linked with emotions.

Until recently, most neuroscientists believed that the representation of knowledge in the brain was based on two distinct systems: one involved in representing animate objects (or, generally, anything organic), and the other for representing inanimate objects (artifacts). In recent years, however, a third category has been proposed: social groups.
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Awe May Promote Altruistic Behavior


Sense of something greater than the self encourages cooperative behavior, study says

May 19, 2015—Inducing a sense of awe in people can promote altruistic, helpful and positive social behavior according to research published by the American Psychological Association.
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Bystander Effect Can be Seen in Preschoolers


Like adults, children are less likely to come to the rescue when others are available

March 24, 2015—Children as young as 5 years old are less likely to help a person in need when other children are present and available to help, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
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Prescription for Living Longer: Spend Less Time Alone


New study finds isolation a risk factor for all ages, incomes

March 11, 2015—Ask people what it takes to live a long life, and they'll say things like exercise, take Omega-3s, and see your doctor regularly. Now research from Brigham Young University shows that loneliness and social isolation are just as much a threat to longevity as obesity.
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Giving Support to Others, Not Just Receiving It, Has Beneficial Effects

Feb. 11, 2016—Social support has well-known benefits for physical and mental health. But giving support—rather than receiving it—may have unique positive effects on key brain areas involved in stress and reward responses, suggests a new study.
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The Secret of Empathy


Stress from the presence of strangers prevents empathy, in both mice and humans

January 15, 2015—The ability to express empathy—the capacity to share and feel another's emotions—is limited by the stress of being around strangers, according to a new study published today in the journal Current Biology.
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iPhone Separation Linked to Physiological Anxiety, Poor Cognitive Performance

COLUMBIA, MO; January 8, 2015—Cell phone use has become a common part of life as mobile devices have become one of the most popular ways to communicate. Even so, very little research exists on the impact of cell phone usage and specifically what happens when people are separated from their phones. Now, research from the University of Missouri has found that cell phone separation can have serious psychological and physiological effects on iPhone users, including poor performance on cognitive tests.
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Hey, Guys: Posting a Lot of Selfies Doesn’t Send a Good Message

Posting more online photos of yourself may suggest anti-social traits

COLUMBUS, OH; January 6, 2015—The picture isn’t pretty for guys who post a lot of selfies on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. A new study showed that men who posted more online photos of themselves than others scored higher on measures of narcissism and psychopathy. In addition, men who were more likely to edit their selfies before posting scored higher in narcissism and self-objectification, which measures how much they prioritize their appearance.
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Pain from Rejection and Physical Pain Show Some Differences

November 18, 2014—Over the last decade, neuroscientists have largely come to believe that physical pain and social pain are processed by the brain in much the same way. But a new study led by the University of Colorado shows that the two kinds of pain actually use distinct neural circuits, a finding that could lead to more targeted treatments and a better understanding of how the two kinds of pain interact.
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Receiving Gossip about Others Promotes Self-Reflection and Growth

October 24, 2014—Gossip is pervasive in our society, and our penchant for gossip can be found in most of our everyday conversations. Why are individuals interested in hearing gossip about others' achievements and failures? Researchers at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands studied the effect positive and negative gossip has on how the recipient evaluates him or herself. The study is published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
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Not Playing Politics: How to Stay Friends When Your Views Differ

October 13, 2014—As the political posturing amps up in advance of the midterm elections, you know you can always turn off the TV or the radio when you don’t agree with the viewpoint on Obamacare, gun control or policy in the Middle East.
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Trying to Share Our 'Epic' Moments May Leave Us Feeling Left Out

October 6, 2014—We might love to reminisce and tell others about our extraordinary experiences—that time we climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, got to taste a rare wine, or ran into a celebrity on the street—but new research suggests that sharing these extraordinary experiences may come at a social cost. The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
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How Empathy Can Spark Aggression

September 26, 2014—Empathy is typically seen as eliciting warmth and compassion—a generally positive state that makes people do good things to others. However, empathy may also motivate aggression on behalf of the vulnerable other. Researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo, examined whether assessed or elicited empathy would lead to situation-specific aggression on behalf of another person, and to explore the potential role of two neurohormones in explaining a connection between empathy and aggression. The study is published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
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Meaningful Relationships Can Help You Thrive

August 29, 2014—Deep and meaningful relationships play a vital role in overall well-being, says new research. Past studies have shown that individuals with supportive and rewarding relationships have better mental health, higher levels of subjective well-being and lower rates of morbidity and mortality. A paper published in Personality and Social Psychology Review provides an important perspective on thriving through relationships.
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Warm Thanks: Gratitude Can Win You New Friends

August 28, 2014—Parents have long told their children to mind their Ps and Qs, and remember to say thank you. Now the evidence is in on why it matters. But a new UNSW Australia-led study has shown for the first time that thanking a new acquaintance for their help makes them more likely to seek an ongoing social relationship with you.
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The Social Origins of Intelligence in the Brain

CHAMPAIGN, IL; July 29, 2014—By studying the injuries and aptitudes of Vietnam War veterans who suffered penetrating head wounds during the war, scientists are tackling—and beginning to answer—longstanding questions about how the brain works.
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Mom Was Wrong: You Should Talk to Strangers


New study finds commuters have a more positive experience when they connect with strangers

July 17, 2014—An interesting social paradox plays out every morning around the world as millions of people board commuter trains and buses: Human beings are one of the most social species on the planet, yet when in close proximity with one another—sitting inches away on a train—we routinely ignore each other.
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Study: Young Women with Sexy Social Media Photos Seen as Less Competent

BEND, OR; July 14, 2014—Girls and young women who post sexy or revealing photos on social media sites such as Facebook are viewed by their female peers as less physically and socially attractive and less competent to perform tasks, a new study from Oregon State University indicates.
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Smart and Socially Adept


Study by UCSB economist finds that individuals who demonstrate both qualities achieve greatest success in the workplace

July 7, 2014—Two qualities are particularly essential for success in the workplace: book smarts and social adeptness. The folks who do well tend to demonstrate one or the other. However, according to research conducted by UC Santa Barbara economist Catherine Weinberger, the individuals who reach the highest rungs on the corporate ladder are smart and social. Her findings appear in a recent online issue of the Review of Economics and Statistics.
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Gestures That Speak


Gesticulating while speaking is not just a 'colorful' habit

June 23, 2014—Have you ever found yourself gesticulating—and felt a bit stupid for it—while talking on the phone? You're not alone: it happens very often that people accompany their speech with hand gestures, sometimes even when no one can see them. Why can't we keep still while speaking? "Because gestures and words very probably form a single 'communication system,' which ultimately serves to enhance expression intended as the ability to make oneself understood," explains Marina Nespor, a neuroscientist at the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste. Nespor, together with Alan Langus, a SISSA research fellow, and Bahia Guellai from the Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défence, who conducted the investigation at SISSA, has just published a study in Frontiers in Psychology which demonstrates the role of gestures in speech "prosody."
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Emotional Contagion Sweeps Facebook, Finds New Study

ITHACA, NY; June 15, 2014—When it hasn't been your day—your week, your month, or even your year—it might be time to turn to Facebook friends for a little positive reinforcement. According to a new study by social scientists at Cornell University, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and Facebook, emotions can spread among users of online social networks.
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Minority Entrepreneurs Face Discrimination When Seeking Loans


Minority small-business owners face more questions, get less help than white counterparts

May 29, 2014—A disheartening new study from researchers at Utah State University, BYU and Rutgers University reveals that discrimination is still tainting the American Dream for minorities.
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Personal Judgments Are Swayed by Group Opinion, but Only Temporarily

May 23, 2014—We all want to feel like we’re free-thinking individuals, but there’s nothing like the power of social pressure to sway an opinion. New research suggests that people do change their own personal judgments so that they fall in line with the group norm, but the change only seems to last about 3 days. The research is published inPsychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
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Favoritism, Not Hostility, Causes Most Discrimination, Says Research Review

May 19, 2014—Most discrimination in the U.S. is not caused by intention to harm people different from us, but by ordinary favoritism directed at helping people similar to us, according to a review published online in American Psychologist.
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Oxytocin, the 'Love' Hormone, Promotes Group Lying, Say Researchers


Findings highlight why collaboration turns into corruption

BEER-SHEVA, Israel; April 1, 2014—According to a new study by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and the University of Amsterdam, oxytocin caused participants to lie more to benefit their groups, and to do so more quickly and without expectation of reciprocal dishonesty from their group. Oxytocin is a hormone the body naturally produces to stimulate bonding.
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The Unconscious Mind Can Detect a Liar Even When the Conscious Mind Fails

March 24, 2014—When it comes to detecting deceit, your automatic associations may be more accurate than conscious thought in pegging truth-tellers and liars, according to research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
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Male, Stressed, and Poorly Social


Stress undermines empathic abilities in men but increases them in women

March 17, 2014—Stressed males tend to become more self-centred and less able to distinguish their own emotions and intentions from those of other people. For women the exact opposite is true. This is the main finding of a study just published in Psychoneuroendocrinology, carried out with the collaboration of the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Triest.
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Democrats, Republicans See Each Other as Mindless—Unless They Pose a Threat

March 17, 2014—We are less likely to humanize members of groups we don’t belong to—except, under some circumstances, when it comes to members of the opposite political party. A study by researchers at New York University and Harvard Business School suggests that we are more prone to view members of the opposite political party as human if we view those individuals as threatening.
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The Pain of Social Exclusion


'Social' pain hurts physically, even when we see it in others

February 27, 2014—We would like to do without pain and yet without it we wouldn't be able to survive. Pain signals dangerous stimuli (internal or external) and guides our behaviour. Its ultimate goal is to prioritize escape, recovery and healing. That's why we feel it and why we're also good at detecting it in others.
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Caring for Animals May Correlate with Positive Traits in Young Adults

NORTH GRAFTON, MA; January 31, 2014—Young adults who care for an animal may have stronger social relationships and connection to their communities, according to a paper published online today in Applied Developmental Science.
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How Politics Divide Facebook Friendships


Study suggests ways social media site could bridge political divide

January 28, 2014—Those who say one should never talk about politics in mixed company have never logged on to Facebook. These days a typical newsfeed is peppered with links, opinions and jabs about the latest political topics.
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Does Anonymity Make a Difference with Online Comments?


Study reports most anonymous comments online are uncivil

January 21, 2014—In a study titled, "Virtuous or Vitriolic: The Effect of Anonymity on Civility in Online Newspaper Reader Comment Boards," University of Houston assistant professor Arthur D. Santana at the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication found a significant correlation between anonymity and civility.
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Social Experience Drives Empathetic, Pro-Social Behavior in Rats


Rats will help a stranger in distress only if they have had prior social experience with the type of the unfamiliar individual

January 14, 2014—Empathy-driven behavior has been observed in rats who will free trapped companions from restrainers. This behavior also extends toward strangers, but requires prior, positive social interactions with the type (strain) of the unfamiliar individual, report scientists from the University of Chicago in the open access journal eLife, on Jan. 14.
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A Brief Visit to a Neighborhood Induces the Social Attitudes of That Neighborhood

January 14, 2014—Spending as little as 45 minutes in a high-crime, deprived neighbourhood can have measurable effects on people's trust in others and their feelings of paranoia. In a new study, students who visited high crime neighbourhoods quickly developed a level of trust and paranoia comparable to the residents of that neighbourhood, and significantly different from that in more low-crime neighbourhoods. As a result, urban planners should carefully consider the psychological effects of the environment.
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New Social Network Study Investigates How People Use Facebook to Maintain Friendships

MACOMB, IL; January 3, 2013—New social networking research by a Western Illinois University faculty member investigates how individuals use Facebook to maintain their friendships.
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Are We Hard-Wired to Follow Celebrity Medical Advice?


Food for thought: Following celebrities' medical advice may be harmful to your health

December 17, 2013—A paper published in the Christmas edition of The BMJ asks why so many people follow medical advice from celebrities when so much of it is ill-informed and some of it is potentially harmful.
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Gratitude or Guilt? People Spend More When They ‘Pay It Forward’

BERKELEY; November 26, 2013—As shoppers across the nation prepare to pounce on Black Friday sales, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley are looking at what happens to commerce when there’s no set price tag. In an exhaustive study of consumer behavior, they found that shoppers spend more money when engaged in a chain of goodwill known as “Pay-it-forward” than when they can name their own price.
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Back to the Future: Nostalgia Increases Optimism

November 13, 2013—New research from the University of Southampton shows that feeling nostalgic about the past will increase optimism about the future.
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Social Networks Make Us Smarter


Cultures become endangered without mentors and strong social networks, says new UBC research

November 13, 2013—The secret to why some cultures thrive and others disappear may lie in our social networks and our ability to imitate, rather than our individual smarts, according to a new University of British Columbia study.
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Mothers’ Relationships Can Influence Adolescent Children’s Relationships, MU Study Finds

COLUMBIA, Mo; November 5, 2013—Until now, little research has been conducted on the association between parents’ friendships and the emotional well-being of their adolescent children. A new study from researchers at the University of Missouri suggests that mothers’ friendships with other adults can impact their adolescent children’s relationships with their own friends, particularly the negative aspects of these relationships such as conflict and antagonism.
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Do You Want the Good News or the Bad News First?


UC Riverside researchers find that where positive information comes in a bad-news conversation can influence outcomes

RIVERSIDE, CA; November 4, 2013—There’s good news and there’s bad news. Which do you want to hear first? That depends on whether you are the giver or receiver of bad news, and if the news-giver wants the receiver to act on the information, according to researchers at the University of California, Riverside.
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Eyetrack Study Captures Men's—and Women's—Objectifying Gazes

Lincoln, NE; October 29th, 2013—Usually, women can tell when someone's eyes aren't on her face and are, well, focused elsewhere on her body. In other words, there's a reason the saying on the T-shirt is "My Eyes Are Up Here."
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Why We Can't Accurately Judge Our Friends' Behavior

October 9, 2013—There is no such thing as objectivity when it comes to your friends: According to a new study, people evaluate their friends' behavior more positively than do strangers, regardless of actual performance on a series of tasks. Researchers say that we should then think twice before allowing people who know each other to be in positions to judge each other—from job interviews to legal settings.
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People Mean Most for our Collective Happiness


Most people seem to realize money can't buy happiness or love, say researchers.

October 7, 2013—Swedish soccer star Zlatan is associated with happiness, but not iPhones. A new study at the Sahlgrenska Academy and Lund University suggests that our collective picture of what makes us happy is more about relationships, and less about things.
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On the Political Fringes, Feelings of Superiority Abound

October 7, 2013—Ideologues on both ends of the political spectrum are equally likely to believe their opinions are superior to others', but their feelings of superiority emerge for distinct political issues, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

These findings suggest that, while people with moderate attitudes tend to be more evenhanded, those on the extreme ends of the political spectrum seem especially convinced that their viewpoints are the only "correct" ones.
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