Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Again, no replication of the media priming effect, which posits that by drawing attention to certain issues while ignoring others, television news programs help define the politicians' evaluation standards

Media Priming Effect: A Preregistered Replication Experiment. Tetsuro Kobayashi, Asako Miura and Kazunori Inamasu. Journal of Experimental Political Science,

Abstract: Iyengar et al. (1984, The Evening News and Presidential Evaluations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 46(4): 778–87) discovered the media priming effect, positing that by drawing attention to certain issues while ignoring others, television news programs help define the standards by which presidents are evaluated. We conducted a direct replication of Experiment 1 by Iyengar et al. (1984, The Evening News and Presidential Evaluations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 46(4): 778–87) with some changes. Specifically, we (a) collected data from Japanese undergraduates; (b) reduced the number of conditions to two; (c) used news coverage of the issue of relocating US bases in Okinawa as the treatment; (d) measured issue-specific evaluations of the Japanese Prime Minister in the pre-treatment questionnaire; and (e) performed statistical analyses that are more appropriate for testing heterogeneity in the treatment effect. We did not find statistically significant evidence of media priming. Overall, the results suggest that the effects of media priming may be quite sensitive either to the media environment or to differences in populations in which the effect has been examined.

Check also: Echo Chamber? What Echo Chamber? Reviewing the Evidence. Axel Bruns. Future of Journalism 2017 Conference.,

Learning But Not Relaxing Ameliorates Deviance Under Job Stressors

More Is Less: Learning But Not Relaxing Buffers Deviance Under Job Stressors. Chen Zhang, David Mayer and Eunbit Hwang. Journal of Applied Psychology,

Abstract: Workplace deviance harms the well-being of an organization and its members. Unfortunately, theory and prior research suggest that deviance is associated with job stressors, which are endemic to work organizations and often cannot be easily eliminated. To address this conundrum, we explore actions individuals can take at work that serve as buffering conditions for the positive relationship between job stressors and deviant behavior. Drawing upon conservation of resources theory, we examine a resource-building activity (i.e., learning something new at work) and a demand-shielding activity (i.e., taking time for relaxation at work) as potential boundary conditions. In 2 studies with employee samples using complementary designs, we find support for the buffering role of learning but not for relaxation. When employees learn new things at work, the relationship between hindrance stressors and deviance is weaker; as is the indirect relationship mediated by negative emotions. Taking time for relaxation at work did not show a moderating role in either study. Therefore, although relaxation is a response that individuals might be inclined to turn to for counteracting work stress, our findings suggest that, when it comes to addressing negative emotions and deviance in stressful work environments, building positive resources by learning something new at work could be more useful. In that way, doing more (i.e., learning, and not relaxing) is associated with less (deviance) in the face of job stressors.

Echo Chamber? What Echo Chamber? Reviewing the Evidence

Echo Chamber? What Echo Chamber? Reviewing the Evidence. Axel Bruns. Future of Journalism 2017 Conference.,

Abstract: The success of political movements that appear to be immune to any factual evidence that contradicts their claims --  from the Brexiteers to the .alt-right., neo-fascist groups supporting Donald Trump --  has reinvigorated claims that social media spaces constitute so-called "filter bubbles" or "echo chambers".  But while such claims may appear intuitively true to politicians and journalists --  who have themselves been accused of living in filter bubbles (Bradshaw 2016) --, the evidence that ordinary users experience their everyday social media environments as echo chambers is far more limited.

For instance, a 2016 Pew Center study has shown that only 23% of U.S. users on Facebook and 17% on Twitter now say with confidence that most of their contacts' views are similar to their own.  20% have changed their minds about a political or social issue because of interactions on social media (Duggan and Smith 2016). Similarly, large-scale studies of follower and interaction networks on Twitter (e.g. Bruns et al ., 2014) show that national Twitterspheres are often thoroughly interconnected and facilitate the flow of information across boundaries of personal ideology and interest, except for a few especially hardcore partisan communities.

Building on new, comprehensive data from a project that maps and tracks interactions between 4 million accounts in the Australian Twittersphere, this paper explores in detail the evidence for the existence of echo chambers in that country. It thereby moves the present debate beyond a merely anecdotal footing, and offers a more reliable assessment of the "echo chamber"  threat.

Keywords: echo chamber, filter bubble, social media, Twitter, Australia, network analysis

Check also: Polarized Mass or Polarized Few? Assessing the Parallel Rise of Survey Nonresponse and Measures of Polarization. Amnon Cavari and Guy Freedman. The Journal of Politics,

Restrictive policies engender more support from stakeholders if to be implemented in the distant vs near future

It’s about time: Divergent evaluations of restrictive policies in the near and distant future. Nathaniel Nakashima, David Daniels and Kristin Laurin. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Volume 142, September 2017, Pages 12-27,

Abstract: When should leaders announce policies that create net benefits for organizations, but also restrict individual member choices? We find that restrictive policies engender more support from stakeholders when they are to be implemented in the distant versus near future (Studies 1 and 2). We find similar results when manipulating construal level instead of temporal distance (Study 3). The effect of temporal distance on attitudes toward a policy is mediated by people’s attention to different aspects of the policy (desirability vs. feasibility, pros vs. cons, self vs. other) (Study 4). Furthermore, temporal distance enhances support for policies that are high, but not low, in desirability for the collective (Study 5). The evidence is consistent with Construal Level Theory; we also consider Rational Choice Theory as an alternative perspective. Our findings suggest that leaders who wish to maximize member support for restrictive policies should consider announcing them well in advance of their implementation date.

A beluga whale socialized with bottlenose dolphins imitates their whistles

A beluga whale socialized with bottlenose dolphins imitates their whistles. Elena M. Panova, and Alexandr V. Agafonov. Animal Cognition,

Abstract: The research on imitation in the animal kingdom has more than a century-long history. A specific kind of imitation, auditory–vocal imitation, is well known in birds, especially among songbirds and parrots, but data for mammals are limited to elephants, marine mammals, and humans. Cetaceans are reported to imitate various signals, including species–specific calls, artificial sounds, and even vocalizations from other species if they share the same habitat. Here we describe the changes in the vocal repertoire of a beluga whale that was housed with a group of bottlenose dolphins. Two months after the beluga’s introduction into a new facility, we found that it began to imitate whistles of the dolphins, whereas one type of its own calls seemed to disappear. The case reported here may be considered as an interesting phenomenon of vocal accommodation to new social companions and cross-species socialization in cetaceans.

Check also: Spontaneous cross-species imitation in interactions between chimpanzees and zoo visitors. Tomas Persson, Gabriela-Alina Sauciuc, and Elainie Alenkær Madsen. Primates,

It’s not as bad as you think: menopausal representations are more positive in postmenopausal women

It’s not as bad as you think: menopausal representations are more positive in postmenopausal women. Lydia Brown, Valerie Brown, Fiona Judd & Christina Bryant. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology,


Introduction: The menopausal transition is associated with underlying hormonal changes that can contribute to a range of physical and emotional symptoms. Psycho-social factors including attitudes and internal representations play a central role in women’s experience of the menopause, but very little is known about how representations might differ across menopausal stages.

Methods: A sample of 387 women aged 40–60 completed a postal questionnaire that included the menopausal representations questionnaire, the emotional representation subscale adapted from the illness perception questionnaire, and data on menopausal status.

Results: Significant differences across menopausal stages were found for both cognitive [F(2, 381) = 4.32, p < .05, η2 = 0.022], and emotional [F(2, 381) = 9.70, p < .01, η2 = 0.048] menopausal representations. Postmenopausal women had a significantly more positive cognitive representations of the menopause relative to perimenopausal women (standardised mean difference = 0.25, p > .05). Postmenopausal women held a significantly more positive emotional representation of the menopause than both premenopausal (standardised mean difference = 0.56, p < .05) and perimenopausal (standardised mean difference = 0.43, p < .05) women.

Discussion: Women’s emotional and cognitive representations of the menopause are more positive among postmenopausal women, compared to women in the late premenopausal stage. This is consistent with the affective forecasting theory, which proposes the tendency to overestimate the intensity and duration of emotional reactions to future events. Given the association between representations and bothersomeness of menopausal symptoms, clinicians should educate women about their expectations, and challenge their negative beliefs about the menopause.

Keywords: Climacterium, menopause, perimenopause, psychological wellbeing, cognitions

Taking Facebook at face value: why the use of social media may cause mental disorder

Østergaard, S. D. (2017), Taking Facebook at face value: why the use of social media may cause mental disorder. Acta Psychiatr Scand. doi:10.1111/acps.12819

Facebook, the largest social media network, currently has approximately 2 billion monthly users [1], corresponding to more than 25% of the world's population. While the existence of an online social network may seem harmless or even beneficial, a series of recent studies have suggested that use of Facebook and other social media platforms may have a negative influence on mental health [2-5].

In a recent longitudinal study based on three ‘waves’ of data (2013, 2014, and 2015) from more than 5000 participants in the nationally representative Gallup Panel Social Network Study, Shakya and Christakis found that the use of Facebook (which was measured objectively) was negatively associated with self-reported mental well-being [3]. Both clicking ‘like’ on the content of others’ Facebook pages and posting ‘status updates’ on one's own Facebook page were negatively associated with mental well-being. Importantly, these results were robust to two-wave prospective analyses suggesting that the direction of the effect goes from Facebook use to lower mental well-being and not the other way around [3]. However, due to the observational nature of the analyzed data, these results do not represent causal evidence of a harmful effect of Facebook, but probably—due to the longitudinal nature of the study—represent the best available estimate of the effect of Facebook on mental well-being to date [3]. Another recent study supporting that Facebook use could have a negative effect on well-being is that of Tromholt [5] in which the 1095 participants were randomly assigned (or rather randomly urged) to follow one of two instructions: (i) ‘Keep using Facebook as usual in the following week’, or (ii) ‘Do not use Facebook in the following week’ [5]. After this week, those assigned to the Facebook abstinence group reported significantly higher life satisfaction and more positive emotions than those assigned to the ‘Facebook as usual’ group [5]. However, due to the unblinded design of this study, its results do not represent causal evidence of the effect of Facebook either—an effect, which will be difficult to establish.

If we nevertheless assume that Facebook use indeed has a harmful effect on mental well-being, what is then the mechanism underlying it? This aspect remains unclear, but an intuitively logical explanation—with some empirical support—is that people predominantly display the most positive aspects of their lives on social media [6] and that other people—who tend to take these positively biased projections at face value—therefore get the impression that their own life compares negatively to that of other Facebook users [7]. As indicated by the recent findings by Hanna et al., such upward social comparison is very likely to mediate the negative effect of Facebook use on mental well-being [4].