Thursday, June 9, 2022

The belief in free will can be manipulated, showing an increase of deterministic beliefs, but there are no downstream consequences for world views, attitudes or behavior

Manipulating Belief in Free Will and Its Downstream Consequences: A Meta-Analysis. Oliver Genschow et al. Personality and Social Psychology Review, June 8, 2022.

Abstract: Ever since some scientists and popular media put forward the idea that free will is an illusion, the question has risen what would happen if people stopped believing in free will. Psychological research has investigated this question by testing the consequences of experimentally weakening people’s free will beliefs. The results of these investigations have been mixed, with successful experiments and unsuccessful replications. This raises two fundamental questions: Can free will beliefs be manipulated, and do such manipulations have downstream consequences? In a meta-analysis including 145 experiments (95 unpublished), we show that exposing individuals to anti–free will manipulations decreases belief in free will and increases belief in determinism. However, we could not find evidence for downstream consequences. Our findings have important theoretical implications for research on free will beliefs and contribute to the discussion of whether reducing people’s belief in free will has societal consequences.

Keywords: free will, determinism, belief, meta-analysis, morality, cheating, social behavior, punishment

Progressives selected a more unflattering portrait of a typical conservative face than traditional liberals

The Progressive Values Scale: Assessing the Ideological Schism on the Left. Travis Proulx et al. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, June 8, 2022.

Abstract: Progressivism has increasingly challenged traditional liberalism as the dominant influence within left-wing ideology. Across four studies, we developed a measure—the Progressive Values Scale (PVS)—that characterizes distinctly progressive values within the left-wing. In Study 1, left-wing participants evaluated divisive issues, with four scale factors emerging. In Study 2, we confirmed this factor structure and included a battery of personality and values measures to explore individual differences among those who maintain a progressive worldview. In Study 3, we achieved final confirmation of the factor structure and validated the ability of the PVS to assess a distinctly progressive perspective, insofar as progressives generated prototypical faces for Liberals and Conservatives that were markedly distinct from those generated by traditional liberals. In Study 4, we distinguished the PVS from measures of left-wing authoritarianism and demonstrated that it is a better predictor of progressive political preferences and social judgments.

Keywords: political psychology, progressivism, liberalism, assessment, values, personality

The effects of computer-mediated communication on well-being get smaller the closer one looks at them

Computer-Mediated Communication and Well-Being in the Age of Social Media: A Systematic Review. Andrew C High et al. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, June 8, 2022.

Abstract: The association between computer-mediated communication (CMC) and well-being is a complex, consequential, and hotly debated topic that has received significant attention from pundits, researchers, and the media. Conflicting research findings and fear over negative outcomes have spurred both moral panic and further research into these associations. To create a more comprehensive picture of trends, explanations, and future directions in this domain of research, we conducted a systematic meso-level review of 366 studies across 349 articles published since 2007 that report associations between CMC and well-being. Although most of this research is not explicitly theoretical, several potential theoretical mechanisms for positive and negative effects of CMC on well-being are utilized. The heterogeneity of effects in the studies we reviewed could be explained by the discipline in which the research is conducted, the methodology used, the types of CMC and well-being examined, and the population studied. Our evaluation of this body of research highlights the importance of attending to how we conceptualize communication and well-being, the questions we ask, and the populations and contexts we study when both reading and producing research on CMC and well-being.

Keywords: Computer-mediated communication, well-being, social media, mental well-being, subjective well-being, physical well-being

It is important that scholars follow the evidence rather than the moral panic of the moment. The goal of this review was to provide a broad picture of how the link between CMC and well-being has been studied and how researchers can use this information to most productively build on the current body of literature. Studies of CMC and well-being have been conducted across a range of disciplines, though primarily in psychology, communication studies, medicine, and business. Of note is our observation that disciplinary differences were reflected in divergent findings. The tendency for positive and negative effects to vary by discipline is probably related to the different types of questions researchers ask. For example, studies in communication often focused on positive behaviors such as social support, whereas studies in psychology often examined behaviors associated with poorer well-being, such as addiction and social comparison. We also found that populations that experience stigma or social isolation often benefit from the connection that CMC can provide. In contrast, studies on adolescents, tend to find negative effects, potentially due to their vulnerability to cyberbullying or social comparison. The bulk of what we know, however, relies on Western and Asian samples with good access to CMC, and the few studies that examine other populations suggest that effects might differ for them.

Throughout our meso-level review, we highlighted findings observed within underrepresented populations. In many ways, these findings can be divided into groups with easy access to technology (e.g., adolescents) compared to groups who have recently gained access (e.g., older individuals, people who live in isolated areas). Although some of these novel samples produce distinct findings, many of them fit within larger themes. People who have ready access to technology often exhibit varied but small effects. Immersed in social technologies, they may identify negative repercussions of using technology as particularly salient while positive or neutral effects fade into the background of their daily life. In contrast, people who are isolated, whether because of marginalization or physical locale, often perceive CMC to be beneficial, at least early in its reception.

Rather than focusing on single aspects of identity, future research can take intersectionality more seriously. Although there are many studies on adolescents and some studies on underrepresented cultures and ethnic groups, there are few studies on adolescents from minority groups that focus on the lived experiences of these groups (for exceptions, see Baxter, 2017Stanton et al., 2017). Further considering multiple aspects of identity, particularly underrepresented or marginalized identities, allows scholars to extend research on topics like cyberbullying or exclusion to consider whether negative outcomes are particularly bad for certain groups (e.g., Black adolescents). Alternatively, perhaps the benefits of social capital or social support are especially valued by the same groups. Taken together, these trends point to the need to contextualize both positive and negative findings relative to each other, the populations within which they occur, the intersectionality inherent in people’s identities, and the wide range of other behaviors that contribute to or detract from well-being. Meier and Reinecke (2021) proposed a six-level hierarchical taxonomy to understand different levels through which CMC can be analyzed. The current meso-level review largely focused on what they labeled the application, branded application, and function levels, while also incorporating additional aspects of research that are not included in their taxonomy. Future research can enhance understanding of the connections between CMC and well-being by examining the intersections among different levels of Meier and Reinecke’s (2021) taxonomy alongside other influential aspects of this domain of research.

As we have outlined above, the link between CMC and well-being appears to be generally small and heterogeneous. This conclusion does not minimize the importance of studying that link. Some populations, such as those who are socially isolated, appear to benefit greatly from the ability to connect with others online. Conversely, some CMC behaviors (e.g., upward social comparison and cyberbullying) are consistently associated with poorer well-being. For people who experience less dramatic effects of CMC, its pervasiveness in everyday life means that even small effects can be consequential. As CMC becomes more embedded in how we relate to and communicate with others, it becomes increasingly important to understand when, how, and for whom CMC use is related to enhanced or impaired well-being. Moreover, it is paramount that researchers understand what people are saying and doing in these channels. Our examination of the literature suggests that we can more precisely account for the associations between CMC and well-being by more carefully considering the questions we ask, the populations in which we ask them, the communication that happens in CMC, its relational and cultural contexts, and the ways we conceptualize well-being.