Brain , personality, environment and aggression

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FOR BOYS AT RISK OF PSYCHOPATHY, LAUGHTER ISN’T SO CONTAGIOUS

According to a new study, boys who show behaviors consistent with psychopathic traits report they did not want to join in with laughter as much as their peers. Additionally, neuroimaging revealed reduced response to the sound of laughter in areas of the brain associated with emotional perception. READ MORE…

Combinations of Certain Personality Traits May Guard Against Anxiety and Depression

Combinations of Certain Personality Traits May Guard Against Anxiety and Depression

Summary: According to researchers, having high levels of neuroticism may put people at higher risk of mood disorders. However, if the person is also extroverted or conscientious, the combined personality traits may act as a buffer against depression and anxiety.

Source: University at Buffalo.

Though high levels of neuroticism put people at risk for depression and anxiety, if those same individuals are also highly extraverted and conscientious they could have a measure of protection against those disorders, according to the results of a new study by a team of University at Buffalo psychologists.

The findings, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, point to the importance of stepping away from focusing on single personality traits in clinical settings in favor of looking at how combinations of traits might work together to help either prevent or predict specific symptoms.

“We know individually how these traits relate to symptoms, but now we are beginning to understand how the traits might impact one another,” says Kristin Naragon-Gainey, an assistant professor in UB’s Department of Psychology and the paper’s lead author with Leonard Simms, associate professor of psychology.

“We have to consider the whole person in order to understand the likelihood of developing negative symptoms down the road.”

Neuroticism is the tendency to experience different negative emotions and to react strongly to stress. Along with extraversion and conscientiousness, it is among the “Big Five” personality traits, a group that also includes agreeableness and openness to experience.

People express each of the traits somewhere on a continuum. Someone high in extraversion would be very social, while another person low in extraversion would be much less outgoing. Conscientiousness, meantime, is the tendency to be organized, goal-oriented and non-impulsive.

The researchers interviewed 463 adult participants who reported receiving psychiatric treatment within the past two years. Each participant also completed numerous questionnaires. The study examined the traits of neuroticism, extraversion and conscientiousness because those three have the strongest associations with mood and anxiety disorders.

Naragon-Gainey says all things being equal, there are risks for disorders associated with certain traits, but a better image of what’s at stake emerges when there’s an understanding of how a group of behavioral tendencies might work together.

The results could provide an improved understanding of the mechanisms through which people develop mood disorders and explain the factors that might put someone at risk for symptoms like depression and anxiety.

Additionally, the findings might assist clinicians in how to capitalize on people’s strengths with treatments that utilize what the study’s results suggest are protective traits.

Image shows a personality trait wheel.

“I think there’s a tendency in treatment and clinical psychology to concentrate on the problems and the negatives,” says Naragon-Gainey. “If you utilize the pre-existing strengths that clients bring with them, it can positively affect treatment and the level of symptoms going forward, as well as reinforcing what the person is already doing well.”

Conceptually, the strengths linked to high levels of extraversion and conscientiousness relate to the fact that social interactions and effective engagement in meaningful activities are rewarding for people, according to Naragon-Gainey.

“If someone has high levels of extraversion they might be very good at gathering social support or increasing their positive affectivity through social means,” says Naragon-Gainey. “Similarly, conscientiousness has a lot to do with striving toward goals and putting plans in action, which can combat the withdrawal and avoidance that can go along with neuroticism.”

ABOUT THIS NEUROSCIENCE RESEARCH ARTICLE

Source: Bert Gambini – University at Buffalo
Publisher: Organized by NeuroscienceNews.com.
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Eganos – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0.
Original Research: Abstract for “Three-way interaction of neuroticism, extraversion, and conscientiousness in the internalizing disorders: Evidence of disorder specificity in a psychiatric sample” by Kristin Naragon-Gainey and Leonard J. Simms in Journal of Research in Personality. Published online October 2017 doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2017.05.003

CITE THIS NEUROSCIENCENEWS.COM ARTICLE
University at Buffalo “Combinations of Certain Personality Traits May Guard Against Anxiety and Depression.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 29 November 2017.
<http://neurosciencenews.com/personality-traits-depression-anxiety-8056/&gt;.

Abstract

Three-way interaction of neuroticism, extraversion, and conscientiousness in the internalizing disorders: Evidence of disorder specificity in a psychiatric sample

It is well-established that neuroticism, extraversion, and conscientiousness are individually associated with internalizing disorders, but research suggests that these main effects may be qualified by a three-way interaction when predicting depression. The current study was the first to examine this three-way interaction in a psychiatric sample (N = 463) with a range of internalizing symptoms as the outcomes. Using two omnibus personality inventories and a diagnostic interview, the expected three-way interaction emerged most consistently for symptoms of major depression, and there was also evidence of synergistic effects for post-traumatic stress disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Findings indicate that, even in a clinically-distressed and currently-disordered sample, high levels of extraversion and conscientiousness protect against distress disorders for those with high levels of neuroticism.

“Three-way interaction of neuroticism, extraversion, and conscientiousness in the internalizing disorders: Evidence of disorder specificity in a psychiatric sample” by Kristin Naragon-Gainey and Leonard J. Simms in Journal of Research in Personality. Published online October 2017 doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2017.05.003

Lasting First Impressions

Summary: According to researchers, we continue to be influenced by a person’s appearance even after we have interacted with them.

Source: Cornell University.

Even after having ‘read a book,’ one still judges it by its ‘cover’.

A well-known saying urges people to “not judge a book by its cover.”

But people tend to do just that – even after they’ve skimmed a chapter or two, according to Cornell research.

Vivian Zayas, associate professor of psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences, and her colleagues found that people continue to be influenced by another person’s appearance even after interacting with them face-to-face. First impressions formed simply from looking at a photograph predicted how people felt and thought about the person after a live interaction that took place one month to six months later.

“Facial appearance colors how we feel about someone, and even how we think about who they are,” said Zayas, an expert in the cognitive and affective processes that regulate close relationships. “These facial cues are very powerful in shaping interactions, even in the presence of other information.”

The research suggests we bring our assumptions about others into our interactions with them, she said. “If we’re not finding common ground with someone, or maybe there’s a little conflict, we have to ask ourselves, ‘What am I bringing into that interaction?’

“We often think that our perceptions of others are real, as real as the sun, instead of realizing that sometimes our perceptions might not be completely correct,” she said.

The study, “Impressions Based on a Portrait Predict, 1-Month Later, Impressions Following a Live Interaction,” is in press in Social Psychological and Personality Science. Co-authors are Gul Gunaydin, Ph.D. ’13, of Bilkent University in Turkey, and Emre Selcuk, Ph.D. ’13, of Middle East Technical University, also in Turkey. Both collaborators were Cornell graduate students in the Department of Psychology.

The researchers ran experiments in which 55 participants looked at photographs of four women who were smiling in one instance and had a neutral expression in another. For each photo, participants evaluated whether they would be friends with the woman, indicating likeability, and whether or not her personality was extroverted, agreeable, emotionally stable, conscientious and open to new experiences.

Between one month and six months later, the study participants met one of the photographed women – not realizing they had rated her photograph previously. They played a trivia game for 10 minutes then were instructed to get to know each other as well as possible for another 10 minutes. After each interaction, the study participants again evaluated the person’s likeability and personality traits.

The researchers found a strong consistency between how the participants evaluated the person based on the photograph and on the live interaction.

If study participants thought a person in a photograph was likeable and had an agreeable, emotionally stable, open-minded and conscientious personality, that impression carried through after the face-to-face meeting. Conversely, participants who thought the person in the photograph was unlikeable and had a disagreeable, emotionally unstable, close-minded, and disagreeable personality kept that judgment after they met.

“What is remarkable is that despite differences in impressions, participants were interacting with the same person, but came away with drastically different impressions of her even after a 20-minute face-to-face interaction,” Zayas said.

Zayas has two explanations for the findings. A concept called behavioral confirmation or self-fulfilling prophecy accounted for, at least in part, consistency in liking judgments. The study participants who had said they liked the person in the photograph tended to interact with them face to face in a friendlier, more engaged way, she said.

“They’re smiling a little bit more, they’re leaning forward a little bit more. Their nonverbal cues are warmer,” she said. “When someone is warmer, when someone is more engaged, people pick up on this. They respond in kind. And it’s reinforcing: The participant likes that person more.”

Image shows photos of women.

Regarding why participants showed consistency in judgments of personality, a halo effect could have come into play, she said. Participants who gave the photographed person a positive evaluation attributed other positive characteristics to them as well. “We see an attractive person as also socially competent, and assume their marriages are stable and their kids are better off. We go way beyond that initial judgment and make a number of other positive attributions,” Zayas said.

In a related study, she and her colleagues found that people said they would revise their judgment of people in photographs if they had the chance to meet them in person, because they’d have more information on which to base their assessment.

“And people really think they would revise,” she said. “But in our study, people show a lot more consistency in their judgments, and little evidence of revision.”

ABOUT THIS PSYCHOLOGY RESEARCH ARTICLE

Source: Rebecca Valli – Cornell University
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Vivian Zayas.
Original Research: Abstract for “Impressions Based on a Portrait Predict, 1-Month Later, Impressions Following a Live Interaction” by Gul Gunaydin, Emre Selcuk, and Vivian Zayas in Social Psychological and Personality Science. Published online August 25 2016 doi:10.1177/1948550616662123

CITE THIS NEUROSCIENCENEWS.COM ARTICLE
Cornell University “Lasting First Impressions.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 28 November 2016.
<http://neurosciencenews.com/judgement-first-impressions-5619/&gt;.

Abstract

Impressions Based on a Portrait Predict, 1-Month Later, Impressions Following a Live Interaction

When it comes to person perception, does one “judge a book by its cover?” Perceivers made judgments of liking, and of personality, based on a photograph of an unknown other, and at least 1 month later, made judgments following a face-to-face interaction with the same person. Photograph-based liking judgments predicted interaction-based liking judgments, and, to a lesser extent, photograph-based personality judgments predicted interaction-based personality judgments (except for extraversion). Consistency in liking judgments (1) partly reflected behavioral confirmation (i.e., perceivers with favorable photograph-based judgments behaved more warmly toward the target during the live interaction, which elicited greater target warmth); (2) explained, at least in part, consistency in personality judgments (reflecting a halo effect); and (3) remained robust even after controlling for perceiver effects, target effects, and perceived attractiveness. These findings support the view that even after having “read a book,” one still, to some extent, judges it by its “cover.”

“Impressions Based on a Portrait Predict, 1-Month Later, Impressions Following a Live Interaction” by Gul Gunaydin, Emre Selcuk, and Vivian Zayas in Social Psychological and Personality Science. Published online August 25 2016 doi:10.1177/1948550616662123

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