Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Altogether, our work suggests that creativity and unethicality are positively related as predicted by theory

Storme, M., Celik, P., & Myszkowski, N. (2020). Creativity and unethicality: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, Jun 2020.

Abstract: A growing line of research suggests that creativity and unethicality are intrinsically related to one another. However, the idea has been challenged both by theoretical arguments and by heterogeneous empirical findings. In the present work, we review the literature to reconcile seemingly opposed theoretical views on the relationship between creativity and unethicality. We then conduct a meta-analysis to clear up confusion about heterogeneous empirical findings in the literature (k = 36, N = 6783). We find a weak positive correlation between the 2 constructs (r = .09, 95% confidence interval [.01, .17], t = 2.24, p < .05). Consistent with social desirability response bias theory (Randall & Fernandes, 1991), we find that the correlation is significant in studies that rely upon objective measures of unethicality—that is, behavioral measures or other-reports—but not in studies that rely upon self-reports of unethicality. Altogether, our work suggests that creativity and unethicality are positively related as predicted by theory, and that some studies have failed at finding it because they used self-reports to assess unethicality rather than objective measures. Theoretical, methodological, and practical implications are discussed.

What causes technological panics to repeatedly reincarnate?

The Sisyphean Cycle of Technology Panics. Amy Orben. Perspectives on Psychological Science, June 30, 2020.

Abstract: Widespread concerns about new technologies—whether they be novels, radios, or smartphones—are repeatedly found throughout history. Although tales of past panics are often met with amusement today, current concerns routinely engender large research investments and policy debate. What we learn from studying past technological panics, however, is that these investments are often inefficient and ineffective. What causes technological panics to repeatedly reincarnate? And why does research routinely fail to address them? To answer such questions, I examined the network of political, population, and academic factors driving the Sisyphean cycle of technology panics. In this cycle, psychologists are encouraged to spend time investigating new technologies, and how they affect children and young people, to calm a worried population. Their endeavor, however, is rendered ineffective because of the lack of a theoretical baseline; researchers cannot build on what has been learned researching past technologies of concern. Thus, academic study seemingly restarts for each new technology of interest, which slows down the policy interventions necessary to ensure technologies are benefiting society. In this article, I highlight how the Sisyphean cycle of technology panics stymies psychology’s positive role in steering technological change and the pervasive need for improved research and policy approaches to new technologies.

Keywords digital-technology use, social media, screen time, well-being, adolescents

The waxing and waning of concern about new technologies, driven by the want to comprehend and explain their influence on society, is an age-old component of societal debate. Especially those concerns focused on the youngest generations have been present for centuries. In Ancient Greece, philosophers opined about the damage writing might do to society and noted youths’ increasing lack of respect (Blakemore, 2019Wartella & Reeves, 1985). Novels became increasingly popular in the 18th century, and soon there were concerns about reading addiction and reading mania being associated with excessive risk-taking and immoral behavior (Furedi, 2015). I have already described similar fears about radio addiction in the 1940s. Concerns about new technologies and young people are therefore very common and have a cyclical nature, something that has been noted for decades. I am not the first to observe such a pattern: In 1935, Gruenberg wrote,
Looking backward, radio appears as but the latest of cultural emergents to invade the putative privacy of the home. Each such invasion finds the parents unprepared, frightened, resentful, and helpless. Within comparatively short member, the “movie,” the automobile, the telephone, the sensational newspaper or magazine, the “funnies,” and the cheap paper-back book have had similar effects upon the apprehensions and solicitudes of parents.
Although technology panics have existed for centuries, some researchers have highlighted the 19th and 20th centuries as the beginning of a new era for technology panics (Wartella & Robb, 2008): an era in which concerns are magnified and academic impact is heightened. The modern expansion of technological concerns was driven by a variety of trends (Wartella & Robb, 2008). First, the idea that adolescence is a distinct part of childhood emerged between the 18th and 19th centuries, and state involvement and general concern about this age group increased (France, 2007). Concerns specifically about adolescent and child leisure time began to appear in the 19th and 20th centuries (France, 2007). Leisure time was not previously available to a large proportion of the population but started becoming more common in society. It therefore began to be considered as a distinct entity in children’s days that could affect their health and well-being (Wartella & Robb, 2008). In addition, media time was increasingly a substantial part of children’s lives. In 1934, children reported about 10 hr a week using media; 50 years later, children spent 14 hr and 40 min a week watching television alone (Wartella & Robb, 2008). This has now increased further; British children spend 20.5 hr a week online (Ofcom, 2019). In America, nearly half of teenagers report they are now online “almost constantly” through their use of many different devices (M. Anderson & Jiang, 2018). A burgeoning interest in adolescence as a separate life stage, an understanding of leisure time as important for health outcomes, and increasing amounts of time spent on media therefore provided a more nourishing basis for the cycles of panics about technologies to take root.
Another important aspect that changed the nature of technology panics at the turn of the 20th century was the inclusion of science and scientists as actors trying to address societal concerns. Scientists increasingly studied children, mirroring the rising interest by policymakers to understand and address children and their needs. Academic fields such as communication science developed in the United States in the early to mid-1900s focused specifically on new media and mediums for communication, information, and entertainment. This further increased the amount of research done in the area and the amount of public discussion informed by research outputs (Neuman & Guggenheim, 2011). Previously, scientific commentators played a small role in the technology panics about radio or comic books (Preston, 1941Wertham, 1954) because most of the debate was held outside of scientific arenas. Yet in the modern era of technological panics, conversation became increasingly influenced by scientific findings derived from studies of leisure time and child health. This surge in importance of scientific evidence induced a massive shift, and academic research about new technologies such as social media began taking up a significant proportion of space in psychology’s top journals and academic conferences.
It is often assumed that this increasing influence of academic research and expanded role of researchers in technology panics will help steer and improve debate, but such a process is often marred by prominent shortcomings. These barriers are highlighted in the examination of the interplay of politicians, researchers, and parents during the panic about television’s effects in the mid-20th century (Dennis, 1998). Television was a key point of concern at a time in which relatively high levels of violence in adolescence were considered a problem in the United States. A contemporaneous rise in the amount of time young people spent watching television therefore became of such political interest that a U.S. Media Task Force was set up to examine the scientific evidence behind these effects. The Task Force concluded that television violence was “one major contributory factor which must be considered in attempts to explain the many forms of violent behavior that mark American society today” (Lowery & DeFleur, 1988, p. 309). Yet high-quality evidence was lacking in this decision-making process because important studies had previously shown that television did not increase aggression levels and that children’s lives were not dominated by the home TV (Himmelweit, Oppenheim, & Vince, 1961). During times of panic, however, this evidence did little to alleviate the worries of critics and the pressure to implement policy change. An editorial in Pediatrics, for example, noted that professionals need to “avoid the intellectual trap of minimizing the importance of television’s effect on child and adolescent behaviour simply because the literature does not contain straightforward, statistically validated research” (Strasburger, 1989, p. 446). Thus, policy and public had started interacting to make a volatile mix that enlists academic scientists to collect scientific evidence on the effects of technologies yet selectively engages with the evidence that such efforts provide.
The trend of increasing scientific work done on technology panics did not stop at the concerns about television; the quantity of science done to inform technology panics is still increasing. This development is unsurprising given that scientists are operating in an increasingly industrialized scientific space in which they are expected to solve practical problems in society (Ravetz, 1971). In other words, it is now an expectation that science can provide answers to those issues that are most prominent in the public or political eye (Sanbonmatsu & Johnston, 2019Wartella & Reeves, 1985). There are also fewer areas of life in which previously inherited commonsense wisdom is valued more than the evidence provided by so-called scientific experts, and the assumption is growing “that every problem, personal and social as well as natural and technical, should be amenable to solution by the application of the appropriate science” (Ravetz, 1971, p. 12). This shift can be seen as a positive, promoting increased scientific evidence in diverse areas of life. However, it can also be seen as a negative influence, detracting attention from population intuition and putting increased pressure on a slow scientific process to provide simple and rapid answers to very complex problems.
This shift alters the stakeholders central to technology panics. For better or for worse, psychology—the science most closely related to child development and parenting—now plays an integral role in the Sisyphean cycle of technology panics. In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was condemned by the gods to roll a boulder up a steep hill in the underworld for eternity: Every time he reaches the top, the rock rolls back down to the bottom, forcing him to start the cycle all over again. Likewise, psychological research on technology effects is in an intricate cycle of addressing societal worries about technologies. With every new technology treated as completely separate from any technology that came before (Wartella & Reeves, 1985), psychological researchers routinely address the same questions; they roll their boulder up the hill, investing effort, time, and money to understand their technology’s implications, only for it to roll down again when a novel technology is introduced. Psychology is trapped in this cycle because the fabric of moral panics has become inherently interwoven with the needs of politics, society, and our own scientific discipline (Grimes, Anderson, & Bergen, 2008). I outline the nature of this involvement at different stages of the Sisyphean cycle of technology panics below (see also Fig. 1).

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Power posing yielded only very small changes in self-reported feelings of power; it is not a beneficial technique for reducing paranoia

Power posing for paranoia: A double-blind randomised controlled experimental test using virtual reality. Poppy Brown et al. Behaviour Research and Therapy, June 30 2020, 103691.

• Power posing yielded only very small changes in self-reported feelings of power.
• Increases in feelings of power had no subsequent effect on reducing paranoia.
• Power posing was not a beneficial technique for reducing paranoia.

Abstract: Paranoia is theorised to build upon feelings of inferior social rank. Power posing has been shown to increase feelings of power, and hence could reduce paranoia. One hundred participants with current paranoia and 50 individuals without paranoia were recruited. Using a double-blind randomised controlled experimental design, participants twice held powerful or neutral postures before entering neutral virtual reality social environments. In the paranoid sample, those who held a powerful pose did not significantly increase in feelings of power by the end of testing in comparison to controls (group difference = 0.67, C.I. = -1.12; 1.46; p = 0.098), or decrease in paranoia (group difference = 0.23, C.I. = -1.17; 0.72; p = 0.634). In the non-paranoid sample, there was a small significant increase in powerful feelings by the end of testing in the powerful group (group difference = 1.13, C.I. = 0.23; 2.02; p = 0.013), but no significant decrease in paranoia (group difference = 0.71, C.I. = -2.16; 0.74; p = 0.338). Paranoia status was not a modifier on the relationship between condition and feelings of power. We conclude that power posing results in only very small changes in self-reported feelings of power and has no subsequent effect on paranoia.

Keywords: Power posingParanoiaDelusionsVirtual reality

Fans of horror films exhibited greater resilience during the pandemic and that fans of “prepper” genres (alien-invasion, apocalyptic, and zombie films) exhibited both greater resilience and preparedness

Scrivner, Coltan, John A. Johnson, Jens Kjeldgaard-Christiansen, and Mathias Clasen. 2020. “Pandemic Practice: Horror Fans and Morbidly Curious Individuals Are More Psychologically Resilient During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” PsyArXiv. June 30. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, this study (n = 310) tested whether past and current engagement with thematically relevant media fictions, including horror and pandemic films, was associated with greater preparedness for and psychological resilience toward the pandemic. Since morbid curiosity has previously been associated with horror media use during the COVID-19 pandemic, we also tested whether trait morbid curiosity was associated with pandemic preparedness and psychological resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. We found that fans of horror films exhibited greater resilience during the pandemic and that fans of “prepper” genres (alien-invasion, apocalyptic, and zombie films) exhibited both greater resilience and preparedness. We also found that trait morbid curiosity was associated with positive resilience and interest in pandemic films during the pandemic. Taken together, these results are consistent with the hypothesis that exposure to frightening fictions allow audiences to practice effective coping strategies that can be beneficial in real-world situations.