Sunday, April 22, 2018

Negative experiences may increase meaning in life; comprehension, a pillar of meaning in life, may be incited by negative experiences

It's Not Going to Be That Fun: Negative Experiences Can Add Meaning to Life. Kathleen D. Vohs, Jennifer L. Aaker, Rhia Catapano. Current Opinion in Psychology,

•    Negative experiences may increase meaning in life
•    Comprehension, a pillar of meaning in life, may be incited by negative experiences
•    Comprehension converts disparate pieces into coherent, self-relevant wholes
•    That meaning in life differs from feeling good can offer rich theoretical insights

Abstract: People seek to spend time in positive experiences, enjoying and savoring. Yet there is no escaping negative experiences, from the mundane (e.g., arguing) to the massive (e.g., death of a child). Might negative experiences confer a hidden benefit to well-being? We propose that they do, in the form of enhanced meaning in life. Research suggests that negative experiences can serve to boost meaning because they stimulate comprehension (understanding how the event fits into a broader narrative of the self, relationships, and the world), a known pillar of meaning in life. Findings on counterfactual thinking, reflecting on events’ implications, and encompassing experiences into broad-based accounts of one's identity support the role of comprehension in contributing to life's meaning from unwanted, unwelcome experiences.


Three-year-olds know about land property and develop inferences of ownership

The development of territory-based inferences of ownership. Brandon W. Goulding, Ori Friedman. Cognition, Volume 177, August 2018, Pages 142–149.

Abstract: Legal systems often rule that people own objects in their territory. We propose that an early-developing ability to make territory-based inferences of ownership helps children address informational demands presented by ownership. Across 6 experiments (N = 504), we show that these inferences develop between ages 3 and 5 and stem from two aspects of the psychology of ownership. First, we find that a basic ability to infer that people own objects in their territory is already present at age 3 (Experiment 1). Children even make these inferences when the territory owner unintentionally acquired the objects and was unaware of them (Experiments 2 and 3). Second, we find that between ages 3 and 5, children come to consider past events in these judgments. They move from solely considering the current location of an object in territory-based inferences, to also considering and possibly inferring where it originated (Experiments 4 to 6). Together, these findings suggest that territory-based inferences of ownership are unlikely to be constructions of the law. Instead, they may reflect basic intuitions about ownership that operate from early in development.

Keywords: Ownership; Territory; Cognitive development; Historical inference; Law and psychology; Cognitive offloading


21% of the pedestrians in an urban setting in Belgium violate traffic lights: Push buttons and worn off zebra markings increase the frequency of violations

Non-compliance with pedestrian traffic lights in Belgian cities. Kevin Diependaele. Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour,

•    21% of the pedestrians in an urban setting in Belgium violate traffic lights.
•    There is large variability; percentages below 15% and above 30% are no exceptions.
•    Higher traffic volume and complexity reduce the frequency of red-light running.
•    Gap acceptance theory can account for the effect of traffic volume and complexity.
•    Push buttons and worn off zebra markings increase the frequency of violations.
•    Auxiliary signals, either visual or auditory, have a lowering effect on violations.

Abstract: The frequency of red light running was investigated across the nine most populated cities in Belgium. The results show that approximately 21% of the pedestrians violate the lights. There is, however, large variability in the frequency of violations depending on the specific context. Traffic volumes, motorized as well as pedestrian volumes, and situational characteristics that are generally associated with higher traffic complexity (rush hours, number of driving directions, number of lanes per driving direction and the presence of a tram or bus lane) have a lowering effect. A number of technical characteristics of the pedestrian crossing were also found to exert a significant influence: push buttons and worn off zebra markings increase the frequency of violations. On the other hand, auxiliary signals, either visual or auditory, have a positive effect.

Keywords: Pedestrians; Red light running; Belgium

Can self-defeating humor make you and others happy? It seems so. Cognitive interviews reveal the adaptive side of the self-defeating humor style

Can self-defeating humor make you happy? Cognitive interviews reveal the adaptive side of the self-defeating humor style. Sonja Heintz, Willibald Ruch. International Journal of Humor Research,

Abstract: The present set of studies employs two cognitive interviewing techniques (thinking aloud and online cognitive probing) of the scale assessing the self-defeating humor style, aiming at delineating the role that self-defeating humor plays in self-esteem and emotions. The self-defeating humor style comprises humor to enhance one’s relationships with others at the expense of oneself, and has often been related to lower well-being. The analyses are based on 392 item responses of a typical sample (Study 1) and 104 item responses of high scorers on the self-defeating scale (Study 2). Content analyses revealed that higher scores on the self-defeating scale went along with humor (Study 1), with higher state self-esteem, with an improvement of one’s interpersonal relationships, and with more facial displays of positive emotions (Study 2). Additionally, the more humor was entailed in the item responses, the higher the state self-esteem and the improvement of relationships was and the more positive emotion words were employed. Thus, the humor entailed in the self-defeating humor style seemed rather beneficial both for oneself and others. These findings call for a reevaluation of past findings with this humor style and provide opportunities for future research and applications of humor interventions to improve well-being.

Keywords: self-defeating humor style; Humor Styles Questionnaire; self-esteem; emotions; cognitive interviews; self-directed humor

The Problem with Morality: Impeding Progress and Increasing Divides (Jan 2018)

Jan 2018
The Problem with Morality: Impeding Progress and Increasing Divides. Chloe Kovacheff, Stephanie Schwartz, Yoel Inbar, Matthew Feinberg. Social Issues and Policy Review,

Abstract: Morality is commonly held up as the pinnacle of goodness but can also be a source of significant problems, interfering with societal functioning and progress. We review the literature regarding how morality diverges from nonmoral attitudes, biases our cognitive processing, and the ways in which it can lead to negative interpersonal and intergroup consequences. To illustrate the negative implications of morality, we detail two specific examples of how moral convictions impair societal progress: the rejection of science and technology, and political polarization in the United States. Specifically, we discuss how moral convictions can cause individuals to challenge scientific facts (e.g., evolution), oppose technologies that can improve health and well‐being (e.g., vaccinations and GMO foods), and fuel political polarization and segregation. We conclude this review by suggesting strategies for policy makers and individuals to help overcome the problems morality can cause.