Saturday, October 2, 2021

Misperceptions of the Opponent Fringe & the Miscalibration of Political Contempt: Reflecting on opponents’ (presumed nefarious) election tactics made partisans subsequently more accepting of unfair tactics on their own side

Parker, Victoria A., Matthew Feinberg, Alexa M. Tullett, and Anne E. Wilson. 2021. “The Ties That Blind: Misperceptions of the Opponent Fringe and the Miscalibration of Political Contempt.” PsyArXiv. October 1. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Americans’ hostility toward political opponents has intensified to a degree not fully explained by actual ideological polarization. We propose that political animosity may be based particularly on partisans’ overestimation of the prevalence of extreme, egregious views held by only a minority of opponents but imagined to be widespread. Across five studies (N= 4993; three preregistered), we examine issue extremity as an antecedent of false polarization. Both liberals and conservatives report high agreement with their party’s moderate issues but low agreement with the extreme issues associated with their side. As expected, false polarization did not occur for all issues. Partisans were fairly accurate in estimating opponents’ moderate issues (even underestimating agreement somewhat). In contrast, partisans consistently overestimated the prevalence of their opponents’ extreme, egregious political attitudes. (Over)estimation of political opponents’ agreement with extreme issues predicted cross-partisan dislike, which in turn predicted unwillingness to engage with opponents, foreclosing opportunities to correct misperceptions (Studies 2-4b). Participants explicitly attributed their dislike of political opponents to opponents’ views on extreme issues more than moderate issues (Study 3). Partisans also reported greater unwillingness to publicly voice their views on their side’s extreme (relative to moderate) issues, a self-silencing which may perpetuate misconceptions (Studies 1, 2, 4a&b). Time spent watching partisan media (controlling political orientation) predicted greater overestimations of the prevalence of extreme views (Studies 2, 4a&b). Salience of opponents’ malevolence mattered: first reflecting on opponents’ (presumed nefarious) election tactics made partisans on both sides subsequently more accepting of unfair tactics from their own side (Studies 4a&b).

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We systematically underestimate how caring and interested distant strangers are in one’s own intimate revelations and these miscalibrated expectations create a psychological barrier to deeper conversations

Kardas, M., Kumar, A., & Epley, N. (2021). Overly shallow?: Miscalibrated expectations create a barrier to deeper conversation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Sep 2021.

Abstract: People may want deep and meaningful relationships with others, but may also be reluctant to engage in the deep and meaningful conversations with strangers that could create those relationships. We hypothesized that people systematically underestimate how caring and interested distant strangers are in one’s own intimate revelations and that these miscalibrated expectations create a psychological barrier to deeper conversations. As predicted, conversations between strangers felt less awkward, and created more connectedness and happiness, than the participants themselves expected (Experiments 1a–5). Participants were especially prone to overestimate how awkward deep conversations would be compared with shallow conversations (Experiments 2–5). Notably, they also felt more connected to deep conversation partners than shallow conversation partners after having both types of conversations (Experiments 6a–b). Systematic differences between expectations and experiences arose because participants expected others to care less about their disclosures in conversation than others actually did (Experiments 1a, 1b, 4a, 4b, 5, and 6a). As a result, participants more accurately predicted the outcomes of their conversations when speaking with close friends, family, or partners whose care and interest is more clearly known (Experiment 5). Miscalibrated expectations about others matter because they guide decisions about which topics to discuss in conversation, such that more calibrated expectations encourage deeper conversation (Experiments 7a–7b). Misunderstanding others can encourage overly shallow interactions

Check also Connecting with others makes people happier, but strangers in close proximity often ignore each other; we may avoid pleasant conversations with strangers because of miscalibrated concerns about starting them:

Hello, stranger? Pleasant conversations are preceded by concerns about starting one. Juliana Schroeder, Donald Lyons, & Nicholas Epley. Accepted Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Jun 2021.

Why we find shamans, who use magic, convincing? Supernatural theories of disease often reflect abstract cognition about rare phenomena whose causes are unobservable (e.g., infection, mental illness)

Lightner, Aaron, Cynthiann Heckelsmiller, and Edward H. Hagen. 2021. “Ethnomedical Specialists and Their Supernatural Theories of Disease.” PsyArXiv. October 1. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Religious healing specialists such as shamans often use magic. Evolutionary theories that seek to explain why laypersons find these specialists convincing focus on the origins of magical cognition and belief in the supernatural. In two studies, we reframe the problem by investigating relationships among ethnomedical specialists, who possess extensive theories of disease that can often appear “supernatural,” and religious healing specialists. In study 1, we coded and analyzed cross-cultural descriptions of ethnomedical specialists in 47 cultures, finding 24% were also religious leaders and 74% used supernatural theories of disease. We identified correlates of the use of supernatural concepts among ethnomedical specialists; incentives and disincentives to patronize ethnomedical specialists; and distinct clusters of ethnomedical specialists that we label prestigious teachers, feared diviners, and efficacious healers. In study 2, we interviewed 84 Maasai pastoralists and their traditional religious and non-religious healing specialists. We found that laypersons relied on medicinal services based on combinations of efficacy, religious identity, and interpersonal trust. Further, laypersons and specialists largely used abstract concepts that were not conspicuously supernatural to describe how local medicines work. We conclude that religious healers in traditional societies often fulfill a practical and specialized service to local clients, and argue that supernatural theories of disease often reflect abstract cognition about rare phenomena whose causes are unobservable (e.g., infection, mental illness) instead of a separate “religious” style of thinking.

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From 2006... Personality dispositions are linked to happiness, physical & psychological health, spirituality, & identity at an individual level; to quality of relationships with peers, family, & romantic others at an interpersonal level

Personality and the Prediction of Consequential Outcomes. Daniel J. Ozer and Verónica Benet-Martínez. Annual Review of Psychology  Volume 57, 2006  Ozer, pp 401-421.

Abstract: Personality has consequences. Measures of personality have contemporaneous and predictive relations to a variety of important outcomes. Using the Big Five factors as heuristics for organizing the research literature, numerous consequential relations are identified. Personality dispositions are associated with happiness, physical and psychological health, spirituality, and identity at an individual level; associated with the quality of relationships with peers, family, and romantic others at an interpersonal level; and associated with occupational choice, satisfaction, and performance, as well as community involvement, criminal activity, and political ideology at a social institutional level.

Key Words: individual differences , traits , life outcomes , consequences



By individual outcomes, we mean those that do not inherently depend upon a social process in order to define or give meaning to the outcome variable. Physical health and psychopathology are routinely understood as individual outcomes, while the inclusion here of happiness, spirituality, and virtue reflects the growing influence of positive psychology. Although these variables might be understood as features of personality rather than outcomes influenced by personality, we would argue that conscientiousness (to choose the most difficult trait for our view) as a virtue and conscientiousness as a trait are not quite the same things, though they clearly are related. Someone might be conscientious (in the trait sense) for purely instrumental purposes, and this would not constitute a virtue under at least some conceptions of that term.

Identity and self-concept, understood as outcomes, provide the greatest challenge to this kind of organizational scheme. The role of the individual, important others, and the larger social environment most certainly play a part in the development of self and identity; but ultimately, we believe that individuals experience aspects of their identity as a part of themselves, and so we include identity as an individual outcome.

Happiness and Subjective Well-Being

Few topics have attracted as much recent attention in personality psychology as the study of subjective well-being (SWB), persons' evaluations of their own lives (Diener et al. 1999). SWB includes both a cognitive component, such as a judgment of one's life satisfaction (Diener et al. 1985), and an affective component that includes the experience of positive and absence of negative emotions (Larsen 2000). Two robust conclusions from studies in this area are that personality dispositions are strong predictors of most components of SWB (see Diener & Lucas 1999 for a review), and demographic and contextual factors, including age, sex, marital status, employment, social class, and culture, are only weakly to moderately related to SWB (Diener et al. 1999Ryan & Deci 2001).

Studies trying to unpack the link between personality dispositions and SWB mainly point to the relations between certain largely genetic, affective/cognitive traits related to neuroticism and extraversion (e.g., positive and negative affect, optimism, self-esteem) and the way individuals appraise and react to environmental rewards and punishments (DeNeve & Cooper 1998). Specifically, individuals high in extraversion and low in neuroticism tend to see events and situations in a more positive light, are less responsive to negative feedback, and tend to discount opportunities that are not available to them. Individual differences in conscientiousness, agreeableness, and openness to experience are less strongly and consistently associated with SWB, mostly because these traits sources reside in “rewards in the environment” (Diener & Lucas 1999). In summary, SWB is strongly predicted by personality traits that are largely a function of temperament (i.e., extraversion and neuroticism) and moderately predicted by personality dispositions significantly driven by environmental influences (conscientiousness, agreeableness, and openness to experience).

Recent cross-cultural studies of SWB (Benet-Martínez & Karakitapoglu-Aygün 2003Kwan et al. 1997Schimmack et al. 2002) shed light on some possible moderator and mediator variables in the relation between personality factors and SWB. First, the links between both extraversion and neuroticism and SWB are moderated by culture. In individualist societies like the United States, where pleasure and positive mood are highly emphasized and valued, hedonic balance (i.e., the ratio of positive to negative affect) is a particularly strong predictor of SWB (Schimmack et al. 2002). Secondly, across cultures, the links between the Big Five and SWB are largely mediated by intra- and interpersonal esteem evaluations. Specifically, self-esteem appears to be a powerful mediator of the influence of extraversion, neuroticism, and conscientiousness on SWB, whereas relational esteem (i.e., satisfaction with relationships with family and friends) mediates the influence of agreeableness and extraversion on SWB (Benet-Martínez & Karakitapoglu-Aygün 2003Kwan et al. 1997). Although the relative weights of self-esteem and relationship harmony in predicting SWB vary across cultures (e.g., self-esteem is a uniquely important predictor in Western cultures), the weights of each of the Big Five dimensions on self-esteem and relationship harmony seem to be cross-culturally equivalent (Benet-Martínez & Karakitapoglu-Aygün 2003Kwan et al. 1997).

Spirituality and Virtues

There is very little research directly investigating the relation between personality dispositions and variables referring to religious or spiritual concerns. This lack of attention to spiritual matters in personality psychology is puzzling for two reasons, as described by Emmons (1999): First, personality psychologists such as Allport and Murphy were among the first to study religion and spirituality from a psychological perspective. Despite this early interest in spirituality, the topic fell out of favor in the 1960s and 1970s, as various controversies flourished. Second, personality psychology's neglect of spirituality has occurred in the context of a discipline centrally concerned with understanding the whole person, a concern that undoubtedly involves understanding what is meaningful to the person and how this meaning is experienced as bringing growth and transcendence to one's life. Emmons (1999) argues that spiritual and religious goals and practices are not only a distinctive element of a person's beliefs and behaviors; for many, religious beliefs and practices may be a central theme of their identity.

Piedmont (19992004) developed a measure of spiritual transcendence, with universality, connectedness, and prayer fulfillment subscales, that is unrelated to the traits of the Five Factor Model and has incremental validity in predicting posttreatment symptoms and coping resources in an outpatient substance abuse sample. MacDonald (2000) also explored the links between basic personality traits and spiritual concerns and behaviors. Five distinct components are identified and described by MacDonald: cognitive orientation (perceptions and attitudes regarding spirituality), experiential/phenomenological (mystical, transcendental, and transpersonal experiences), existential well-being (a sense of meaning, purpose, and resilience regarding one's existence), paranormal beliefs (including ESP and other paranormal phenomena), and religiousness (religious practices). These five components are differentially related to the Big Five personality constructs but are not subsumed by them. In particular, the religiousness and cognitive orientation components were most notably predicted by agreeableness and conscientiousness. Not surprisingly, the experiential/phenomenological and paranormal components were predicted by openness, while existential well-being was strongly predicted by extraversion and low neuroticism.

Recent theoretical work on the classification and delineation of core character strengths and virtues—which can be grouped in terms of their relevance to wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence (Peterson & Seligman 2002)—convincingly relates most of these attributes to different sets of personality dispositions. Clearly, certain traits facilitate or impede the development of specific strengths and virtues (e.g., agreeableness facilitates compassion, conscientiousness facilitates perseverance, openness fosters creativity), while at the same time the cultivation of these virtues consolidates the very same personality dispositions from which these virtues sprang. Although most of the aforementioned personality-virtue links have yet to be examined empirically, the following virtues have been shown to have clear associations with personality: gratitude (extraversion and agreeableness; McCullough et al. 2002), forgiveness (agreeableness and openness; Thompson et al. 2005), inspiration (extraversion and openness; Thrash & Elliot 2004), and humor (low neuroticism and agreeableness; Cann & Calhoun 2001).

Physical Health and Longevity

Personality traits have a stable and cumulative effect on both the health and length of individuals' lives (Caspi et al. 2005). With regard to longevity, studies show that positive emotionality (extraversion) and conscientiousness predict longer lives (Danner et al. 2001Friedman et al. 1995), and hostility (low agreeableness) predicts poorer physical health (e.g., cardiovascular illness) and earlier mortality (Miller et al. 1996). The relation between neuroticism and health and longevity is more complex, given that some studies support an association between neuroticism and increased risk of actual disease, whereas others show links with illness behavior only (Smith & Spiro 2002). The link between personality and health may reflect three different though overlapping processes (Contrada et al. 1999). First, personality traits are associated with factors that cause disease. The hostility component of low agreeableness (i.e., anger, cynicism, and mistrust) is associated with sympathetic nervous system activation that is in turn associated with coronary artery disease (Smith & Spiro 2002). Whether personality has a causal role or whether the association is spurious remains unclear (Caspi et al. 2005). Second, personality may lead to behaviors that protect or diminish health. Extraversion is associated with more numerous social relationships and greater social support, both of which are positively correlated with health outcomes (Berkman et al. 2000). Various unhealthy habits and behaviors including smoking, improper diet, and lack of exercise are negatively correlated to conscientiousness (Bogg & Roberts 2004Hampson et al. 2000). Last, personality traits are related to the successful implementation of health-related coping behaviors (David & Suls 1999Scheier & Carver 1993) and adherence to treatment regimens (Kenford et al. 2002). The increasing evidence for these three personality-health processes is clarifying the particular health outcomes associated with particular traits (Caspi et al. 2005): Agreeableness (e.g., hostility) seems to be most directly associated with the disease processes, conscientiousness (e.g., low impulse control) is clearly implicated in health-risk behaviors, and neuroticism (e.g., vulnerability and rumination) seems to contribute to disease by shaping reactions to illness.

Finally, in contrast with the more traditional medical approach to personality and health, which tends to focus on “negative” traits such as anxiety, hostility, and impulsivity, positive psychology research informs us about personality traits that define resiliency (e.g., optimism, self-esteem, creativity), predict health, and represent important resources for the individual and society ( Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi 2000). There is growing evidence that the positive emotions and dispositions subsumed by the extraversion dimension lead to improved coping and the development of psychological skills and resources (Fredrickson & Joiner 2002).


The previously described links between personality and SWB are not sufficient for understanding the relation between personality and psychopathology (e.g., personality disorders, clinical depression, and schizophrenia). This is so because SWB is not synonymous with mental or psychological health (Diener et al. 1999). Some delusional individuals may feel happy and satisfied with their lives, and yet we would not say that they possess mental health.

Recent research demonstrates strong links between the personality dispositions and both Axis I and II psychological disorders. Specifically, substance abuse disorders are largely predicted by higher openness and lower conscientiousness (Trull & Sher 1994). Anxiety disorders are primarily predicted by higher neuroticism, and depression is mostly linked to neuroticism and low extraversion (Trull & Sher 1994). Associations between personality traits and Axis II disorders are even more evident given the growing prevalence of dimensional conceptualizations of personality disorders. Dimensional models of personality disorders suggest that they may be understood as extreme expressions of personality traits (Trull & Durrett 2005). It is apparent that personality disorders have substantial associations with the five factors; neuroticism has the strongest relationship with personality disorders, whereas openness to experience has only a modest relationship.

Self-Concept and Identity

While many psychologists would understand self-concept and identity to be an integral part of personality, how one characterizes oneself, the groups one belongs to, and the goals and values one possesses may be understood as outcomes as well. The structure of social and personal identifications, goals, and priorities that constitute self and identity (Marcia 1980) may be understood not only as a function of life experience and cultural context, but also as a domain where personality dispositions play a part. How do personality traits influence self-concept and identity? Work in this area shows that personality traits affect the formation of identity, while at the same time identity both directs and becomes a part of personality through exploration and commitment processes in identity development (Helson & Srivastava 2001). Clancy & Dollinger (1993) have shown robust relations between personality traits and Marcia's (1980) four categories of identity development (achieved, moratorium, diffuse, and foreclosed). Specifically, foreclosure is predicted by low levels of openness to experience; identity achievement is predicted by low neuroticism, conscientiousness, and extraversion. Both moratorium and diffusion stages involve neuroticism. Additionally, diffusion is inversely related to agreeableness. Openness to experience may be the most important personality trait in terms of impact on identity development (Duriez et al. 2004Helson & Srivastava 2001).

Furthering this typological approach to identity, recent longitudinal studies have explored the interactive roles of personality and identity over the life span, while focusing on more complex identity constructs such as identity consolidation (development of a coherent, grounded, and positive identity; Pals 1999) and identity integration (Helson & Srivastava 2001). This work shows that identity consolidation is predicted by an early configuration of personality traits related to openness to experience (desire for exploration and stimulation), low neuroticism (low rumination), and conscientiousness (ambition). This pattern of personality traits leads to an organized and committed yet flexible exploration of identity, which in turn predicts well-being. These identity choices lead to particular personal and professional choices that consolidate earlier personality traits (Helson & Srivastava 2001Pals 1999). The influence of personality traits is seen both at the level of narrower, cognitive, identity-relevant processes such as identity language (Pennebaker & King 1999), autobiographical memories (Thorne & Klohnen 1993), and self-concept clarity (Campbell et al. 1996), as well as at the broad level of life story narratives (McAdams 2001).

Personality dispositions also influence more contextualized types of identities, such as cultural identity. For example, among immigrants, ethnic cultural identity is mainly predicted by conscientiousness and agreeableness (i.e., warmth and commitment towards one's culture of origin), whereas identification with the dominant host culture is largely predicted by openness and extraversion (Benet-Martínez & Haritatos 2005Ryder et al. 2000). Further, supporting other studies on identity consolidation, openness to experience and low neuroticism predict the degree to which an individual's ethnic and mainstream identities are well integrated within a coherent sense of self (Benet-Martínez & Haritatos 2005).