The benefits of gratitude, how weight stigma affects health, and more

November 19, 2012

Science on the benefits of gratitude and new in our journals...

For Thanksgiving and Holidays: Benefits of gratitude

A growing body of research highlights the importance of gratitude for both social and personal well-being. Ahead of Thanksgiving and the holidays, talk to an expert on gratitude research:

Sara Algoe of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill who has investigated how gratitude benefits close relationships, including how expressing gratitude leads to long-term social outcomes for women with metastatic breast cancer and the evolutionary role for gratitude. She will be presenting some of this work at the SPSP annual meeting in New Orleans (Jan. 17-19, 2013), and she is a recipient of grant funding through the Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude project. Contact: algoe@unc.edu, 919-962-2538

Join us for a press conference on "Giving, Getting, and Gratitude" on Jan. 19, 2013, at 8:45 a.m., in advance of the symposium on "Beyond 'Thanks': Diverse Perspectives on the Antecedents, Behaviors, and Consequences of Gratitude" on Jan. 19, 2013 at 9:45 a.m., at the annual SPSP meeting in New Orleans.

Benefits of social help vary across cultures

Where you come from may change how you respond to a helping hand, according to new research. In two experiments, Asian Americans experienced more benefits from unsolicited, rather than solicited, help from a peer. For example, the self esteem for Asian American participants was higher and the stress lower when offered unsolicited help on a math problem rather than asking for help. For European Americans, the type of help did not make a difference. "Interpreting a Helping Hand: Cultural Variation in the Effectiveness of Solicited and Unsolicited Social Support," Taraneh Mojaverian (mojaverian@psych.ucsb.edu) and Heejung S. Kim, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, online Nov. 6, 2012 - in print, January 2013.

Group victimhood helps predict trust in others

Members of a group tend to more easily gain the trust of others in the same group, and new research suggests this is in part a function of whether the group has a shared history of victimization. In a set of four experiments, Jewish or politically conservative participants played an economic trust game. In one such experiment, Jewish participants were more likely to invest in their partner at the risk of losing money if that partner was also Jewish, rather than Christian or of an unspecified background. Controlling for other factors, including group identification, the researchers found that perceived group victimhood was a key factor in shaping this behavior. " Blinding Trust: The Effect of Perceived Group Victimhood on Intergroup Trust," Katie N. Rotella (katierotella2013@u.northwestern.edu) et al., Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, online November 6, 2012 - in print, January 2013.

Reminding women of weight affects health, performance

Merely telling an overweight woman that she is being videotaped can affect her health as she delivers a speech on a topic germane to appearance, according to a new study. When researchers told women with varying body mass indexes (BMIs) that they were being videotaped while giving a speech about why they would make a good dating partner, those women with higher BMIs had increased blood pressure and worse performance on later tasks than women who thought they were being audiotaped only and than those with average BMIs. The researchers therefore found that simply activating weight stigma can be detrimental to both physical and psychological health. " The Psychological Weight of Weight Stigma," Brenda Major (major@psych.ucsb.edu) et al., Social Psychological and Personality Science, published November 2012.

Taking another look at monogamy

Monogamy may not always be the best policy, according to a new review paper on the topic. Researchers explored the many long-believed benefits of monogamy, including sexual health and satisfaction, children's well-being, and relational adjustment and found no evidence to date to suggest the superiority of monogamy in those areas. They did, however, see a benefit for monogamy for avoiding stigma. Overall, they found that while monogamy may be an ideal choice for many individuals, consensual non-monogamy may be a viable alternative for those who choose it. "A Critical Examination of Popular Assumptions About the Benefits and Outcomes of Monogamous Relationships," Terri D. Conley et al., Personality and Social Psychology Review, scheduled to appear online in late-November 2012.
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Society for Personality and Social Psychology

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