Friday, November 28: Political Diversity Will Improve Social Psychological Science

  • Presenters: Milan Valášek
  • Abstract: There is a striking imbalance in political and ideological preferences of academics in social and personality psychology with left-wing liberals drastically outnumbering right-wing conservatives. Why is this the case? Are the Rand-reading Jesus-botherers just too dim to thrive in science? Do they simply not care about intellectual inquiry, preferring instead to watch Bill O'Reilly and attend NRA get-togethers? Or are these poor bleeding hearts intimidated and discriminated against by the otherwise meek and compassionate liberal majority? More importantly, what are the consequences of this preponderance of lefties for the way research in social and personality psychology is conducted? Is this situation desirable? If not, what can be done to make it better?
  • Paper:
  1. José L. Duarte, Jarret T. Crawford, Charlotta Stern, Jonathan Haidt, Lee Jussim and Philip E. Tetlock. Political Diversity Will Improve Social Psychological Science. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, available on CJO2014. doi:10.1017/S0140525X14000430.

Friday, November 21: Network-Space Framework as a general toolbox for building personality models

  • Presenters: René Mõttus and Mike Allerhand
  • Abstract: We will be talking about a personality framework we are developing. The Network-Space Framework (NSF) is a conceptual and mathematical toolbox that allows for a simultaneous modeling of processes within individuals, between individuals, between individuals and their non-social environments, and even between groups of individuals. The processes may be allowed to unfold over time. The framework allows for modeling macro-level self-organization processes such as emergence of population structures as well micro-level processes such as theoretically motivated interactions between specific components of personality systems. That is, the framework can accommodate a diverse range of specific models and hypotheses with their particular focuses and assumptions, be their static structural models or dynamic models allowing for development, interactions, feedback and so forth. The framework can host several existing personality models and hypotheses, too.

Friday, November 14: Complexity in factor analyses of personality data

  • Presenter: Tom Booth
  • Abstract: Personality is considered by a vast majority of researchers to be a highly complex phenomenon. When we try to operationalize personality through self-report inventories, the somewhat vague notion of a complex phenomenon is often used as justification for poor performance and replication of inventory structures. This has led some to question the whole notion of latent traits, whilst others have questioned the tools we use to analyses such data. Less attention seems to have been paid to the quality of development of the psychometric tools we apply. In this JC, I would like to discuss some of these topics in light of some of my own and some extant research.
  • Papers:
  1. Booth, T., & Hughes, D. J. (2014). Exploratory Structural Equation Modeling of Personality Data. Assessment, 1073191114528029.
  2. Hirschfeld, G., von Brachel, R., & Thielsch, M. (2014). Selecting items for Big Five questionnaires: At what sample size do factor loadings stabilize?. Journal of Research in Personality, 53, 54-63.
  3. Muthén, B., & Asparouhov, T. (2012). Bayesian structural equation modeling: a more flexible representation of substantive theory. Psychological methods, 17(3), 313.
  4. Schwarz, N. (1999). Self-reports: how the questions shape the answers. American psychologist, 54(2), 93.

Friday, November 7: Factoring individual differences into the study of Visuopatial Attention

  • Presenter: Sebastian Sandoval Similä
  • Abstract: When perusing much of the literature regarding the allocation of visual attention, one cannot help but notice that many of the experimental findings are based on the results obtained from remarkably few participants. The excuse given for this tends to be that the mechanisms being studied are presumed to be universal and statistical power is achieved by extended number of trials. Though this may sometimes be the case, it can lead to gross over-generalisations from the data which can be difficult to replicate. It is possible that this potential problem is neglected in order to avoid having to carry out experimental procedures which are perceived to be logistically harder (work). I will be demonstrating one such failure to replicate from my own work, as well as briefly discussing a couple of disparate attempts to address individual differences in the field of attention. This will hopefully prompt discussion of how to further investigate variations of attention between individuals.

Friday, October 31: Does the face signal status in capuchins?

  • Presenter: Vanessa Wilson
  • Abstract: In humans, studies suggest that face width indicates dominance and status in males, which has been linked to testosterone. In brown capuchin monkeys (Sapajus apella), we recently found similar links between facial width, alpha status and ratings of Assertiveness. This suggests that facial traits may act as social signals pertaining to an individual's status. To test this theory, we examined the response of capuchins to faces differing in facial Width-to-Height ratio (fWHR), using two models that represent life-size, unfamiliar, capuchins - one wide-faced and one narrow-faced, and two real monkey conditions: one subordinate and one dominant. We measured response using latency to approach each condition, and analysed differences in response across conditions using multilevel modeling. Results from 14 subjects found no significant difference in latency to approach the wide faced versus narrow faced models. I discuss results in the context of both signaling theory, and the use of realistic stimuli in testing primate perception of social signals.

Friday, October 24: The World’s Literature on Gene × Social Class Interactions on Cognitive Ability…

  • Presenter: Tim Bates
  • Abstract: What environmental factors maximize the expression of cognitive potentials? The Scarr-Rowe effect (Rowe, 1994; Scarr-Salapatek, 1971) predicts that childhood socioeconomic status moderates the expression of genetic and shared environmental variance in IQ in the direction of higher heritability for individuals raised in more favorable socioeconomic contexts. It has been suggested, however, that evidence for these effects are likely false positives reflecting low power (Hanscombe et al., 2012). Here we examined the world's literature on Gene × SES effects, seeking to determine the true effect size, to examine for bias in reporting, to examine differences in effect size over time, and, importantly, over nations. It is to be expected that the most extreme results exaggerate the effect size, and we therefore sought to estimate a credible interval for the magnitude of the effect.

Friday, October 17: Gender Stereotypes of Personality

  • Presenter: Drew Altschul
  • Papers: Löckenhoff, C. E., Chan, W., McCrae, R. R., De Fruyt, F., Jussim, L., De Bolle, M., … & Pramila, V. S. (2014). Gender Stereotypes of Personality: Universal and Accurate? //Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology/, 0022022113520075 link.

Friday, October 10th: When are middle responses actually in the middle?

  • Presenter: Aja Louise Murray
  • Abstract: 'Psychological studies relying on self-report commonly employ a Likert-type response scale for questionnaire items. To enable psychological inferences, the verbal labels of the response scales (e.g., “agree”, “disagree”) are assigned numerical values where higher values (e.g., for “agree”) are indicative of a higher position on the trait as compared to lower values (e.g., for “disagree”).When a middle response option is included (e.g. “Unsure”, “Neither Agree nor Disagree” or “?”), it is assumed to measure an intermediate level of the trait. However, the verbal labels of middle response options are often ambiguous, therefore, it is not clear that selecting the middle option necessarily indicates being ‘in the middle’ on the trait. In the current study, we assessed whether the middle response options of the items of the 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire, Version 5 (16PF5) behaved as indicators of ‘middle’ levels of the latent trait. We applied Bock’s nominal response model to the US and UK standardisation sample of the 16PF5. We found that in many cases, the middle option was indicative of higher levels of the trait than the ostensibly highest response option. In other cases, it was indicative of lower levels of the trait than the ostensibly lowest response option. This undermines the use of the commonly used successive integer scoring scheme where responses in adjacent response categories are assigned scores of ‘0’, ‘1’ and ‘2’. Results also suggested which personality traits are associated with a tendency towards selecting the middle option.'

Friday, October 3: Values and Personality: One kind of thing or two?

  • Presenter: Iva Čukić
  • Papers: Hepper, E. G., Hart, C. M., & Sedikides, C. (2014). Moving Narcissus: Can Narcissists Be Empathic? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 0146167214535812 doi. pdf

Friday, September 26th: Hands up if you're a feminist???

  1. Madison, G., Aasa, U., Wallert, J., & Woodley, M. A. (2014). Feminist activist women are masculinized in terms of digit-ratio and social dominance: a possible explanation for the feminist paradox. Evolutionary Psychology and Neuroscience, 5, 1011 link
  2. Ferdenzi, C., Lemaître, J. F., Leongómez, J. D., & Roberts, S. C. (2011). Digit ratio (2D: 4D) predicts facial, but not voice or body odour, attractiveness in men. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, rspb20110544. link

Friday, September 19th: Why did people vote the way they did yesterday?

Friday, May 9th: Personality Maturation Around the World: A Cross-Cultural Examination of Social-Investment Theory

  • Where: 7GS, S38, 5pm
  • Presenter: Drew Altschul
  • Paper: Bleidorn, W., Klimstra, T. A., Denissen, J. J., Rentfrow, P. J., Potter, J., & Gosling, S. D. (2013). Personality Maturation Around the World A Cross-Cultural Examination of Social-Investment Theory. Psychological science, 24(12), 2530-2540. doi, pdf. See also commentary by Terracciano, and the authors' response.

Friday, May 2nd: Childhood psychological distress and youth unemployment: evidence from two British cohort studies

  • Where: 7GS, S38, 5pm
  • Presenter: Mark Egan, University of Stirling
  • Abstract: This is the first paper to examine the relationship between childhood measures of psychological distress and youth unemployment using data from large-scale prospective cohort studies. Study 1 examines the association between participant-reported psychological distress measured using the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) at age 14 and being unemployed or not in education, employment or training. It uses data from the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (N=10,392; 411,250 observations) covering the period 2006-10 when the cohort members were aged 15-19. Study 2 tests the link between teacher-rated psychological distress at ages 7 and 11 and unemployment from ages 16-23 using data from the National Child Development Study (N=8,985; 597,858 observations) over the period 1974-82.

Friday, April 25th: BSPID Annual Conference

Friday, April 18th: Kin selection and individual differences in a cooperatively-breeding bird

  • Where: 7GS, S38, 5pm
  • Presenter: Mark J Adams, University of Sheffield
  • Abstract: Organisms who are students of Hamilton know that the next best thing to increasing your own fitness is helping a relative reproduce. While this rule may describe why helping behaviour exists in evolutionary terms, it comes about through the aggregation of individual decisions to be prosocial. On the individual level, helping kin can be broken down further: the decision to help, the effect on kin receiving the help, and the fitness consequences to both. I use a species of wild, cooperatively breeding birds as a model system to study this process. In long-tailed tits (Aegithalos caudatus), failed breeders often choose to redirect effort to care for nestlings of other breed groups. This breeding system allows the genetic, spatial, and contextual factors influencing helper choice as well as the social effects that individuals have on each other's behaviour to be estimated. My research is informed by individual differences approaches to test whether birds make these choices consistently and whether they differ in the amount of care they provide.

Friday, April 11th: Science Festival visit: Who am I?

  • Where: Summerhall, 5:30pm
  • Description: What does it mean to be an individual and what is it exactly that makes each one of us who we are? Prof Daniel Davis, one of the UK’s leading immunologists, leads a discussion featuring eminent evolutionary psychologist Prof Robin Dunbar as they discuss the compatibility gene that could hold the key to who we are and share their thoughts on what makes an individual
  • Tickets £8 / £4 - £6

Friday, April 4th: Free to punish: A motivated account of free will belief.

  • Where: 7GS, S38, 5pm
  • Presenter: Iva Čukić
  • Papers: Clark, C. J., Luguri, J. B., Ditto, P. H., Knobe, J., Shariff, A. F., & Baumeister, R. F. (2014). Free to punish: A motivated account of free will belief. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 106(4), 501. pdf

Friday, March 28th: Does poverty impede cognitive function?

  • Where: 7GS, S38, 5pm
  • Presenter: Milan Valášek
  • Papers: Mani, A., Mullainathan, S., Shafir, E., & Zhao, J. (2013). Poverty impedes cognitive function. science, 341(6149), 976-980. pdf

Friday, March 21st:

  • Where: 7GS, S38, 5pm
  • Presenter: Hannah Scheiffele
  • Papers: Tugade, M. M., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2004). Resilient individuals use positive emotions to bounce back from negative emotional experiences. Journal of personality and social psychology, 86(2), 320. pdf

Friday, March 14th: Does curiosity make you less aggressive?

  • Where: 7GS, S38, 5pm
  • Presenter: Swantje Müller
  • Papers: Kashdan, T. B., DeWall, C. N., Pond, R. S., Silvia, P. J., Lambert, N. M., Fincham, F. D., … & Keller, P. S. (2013). Curiosity Protects Against Interpersonal Aggression: Cross‐Sectional, Daily Process, and Behavioral Evidence. Journal of personality, 81(1), 87-102. pdf

Friday, March 7th: The social brain: Predicting social network size from brain composition

  • Where: 7GS, S38, 5pm
  • Presenter: Zander Crook
  • Papers: Bickart, K. C., Hollenbeck, M. C., Barrett, L. F., & Dickerson, B. C. (2012). Intrinsic amygdala–cortical functional connectivity predicts social network size in humans. The Journal of Neuroscience, 32(42), 14729-14741. doi, pdf

Friday, February 28th: Alcohol consumption and lifetime change in cognitive ability: A gene × environment interaction study

  • Where: 7GS, S38, 5pm
  • Presenter: Stuart Ritchie
  • Abstract: Studies of the effect of alcohol consumption on cognitive ability are often confounded. One approach to avoid confounding is the Mendelian Randomization design. Here, we used such a design to test the hypothesis that a genetic score for alcohol processing capacity moderates the association between alcohol consumption and lifetime change in cognitive ability. Members of the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 completed the same test of intelligence at age 11 and 70 years. They were assessed for recent alcohol consumption in later life and genotyped for a set of four single nucleotide polymorphisms in three alcohol dehydrogenase genes. These variants were unrelated to late-life cognition or to socioeconomic status. We found a significant gene × alcohol consumption interaction on lifetime cognitive change (p = .007). Individuals with higher genetic ability to process alcohol showed relative improvements in cognitive ability with more consumption, whereas those with low processing capacity showed a negative relationship between cognitive change and alcohol consumption with more consumption. The effect of alcohol consumption on cognitive change may thus depend on genetic differences in the ability to metabolize alcohol.

Friday, February 21st: Workshop on Measurement and Determinants of Well-Being

  • Where: Behavioural Science Centre, Stirling Management School
  • Description: Well-Being Workshop

Friday, February 14th:

  • Where: 7GS, S38, 5pm
  • Presenter: Drew Altschul
  • Papers: Freeman, H. D., Brosnan, S. F., Hopper, L. M., Lambeth, S. P., Schapiro, S. J., & Gosling, S. D. (2013). Developing a Comprehensive and Comparative Questionnaire for Measuring Personality in Chimpanzees Using a Simultaneous Top‐Down/Bottom‐Up Design. American journal of primatology. 75(10), 1042-1053. doi, pdf.

Friday, February 7th: Co-morbid pathways from neuroticism, and autonomic reactivity to depression and cardiovascular disease

  • Where: 7GS, S35, 5pm
  • Presenter: Iva Čukić
  • Abstract: Neuroticism is associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD), autonomic reactivity, and depression. Here we tested whether these associations jointly implicate neuroticism as a risk factor for heart disease, depression, and their comorbidity. Subjects were derived from a nationally representative sample (n = 1,152: mean age 53.9, SD = 11.4). Higher neuroticism was associated with reduced heart rate variability (HRV) equally under rest and stress. The baseline SEM model that included paths from neuroticism to HRV, CVD and depression had a good fit. Dropping both the neuroticism to HRV, and neuroticism to heart disease paths significantly reduced the fit. We conclude that neuroticism has independent contribution to both autonomic reactivity and cardiovascular disease, over and above its associations with related variables.

Friday, January 31st: The Importance of Gratitude for Health and Well-being

  • Where: 7GS, B21, 5pm
  • Presenter: Alex Wood, Behavioural Science Centre, Stirling Management School
  • Abstract: The talk overviews a program of research into gratitude as an individual difference, focusing on the relationship between gratitude and physical and psychological health (and the mechanisms underlying this relationship), how gratitude naturally develops, and how gratitude can be fostered with therapeutic techniques. Specifically; (a) gratitude is conceptualized as a life orientation towards noticing and appreciating the positive in life; (b) gratitude longitudinally leads to less stress and depression and greater social support; (c) the relationship between gratitude and well-being persists after controlling for other personality traits (assessed with the 30 facets of the NEO-PIR big five measure) and coping styles; (d) gratitude operates through the existence of positive schemas; and (e) interventions to increase gratitude are as effective as improving depression, anxiety, and body image as the gold standard techniques used in clinical therapy. The talk suggesting how gratitude develops, what it is related to, and the mechanism through which these relationships operate. Gratitude is shown to have strong, unique, and causal relationships with well-being, and simple effective techniques are presented to improve well-being through increasing gratitude.

Friday, January 24th: The p factor: general factor of psychopathology

  • Where: 7GS, S38, 5pm
  • Presenter: Abdo Abuhassan, University College London
  • Papers: Caspi, A., Houts, R. M., Belsky, D. W., Goldman-Mellor, S. J., Harrington, H. L., Israel, S, … Moffitt, T. E. (2013). The p Factor: One General Psychopathology Factor in the Structure of Psychiatric Disorders? Clinical Psychological Science, 2167702613497473 doi, pdf.

Thursday, January 16th: Edinburgh Zoo visit

  • Meeting: 7GS, concourse, 8:45 am
  • Price: £6.5
  • Organizer: Vanessa Wilson
  • Program: The visit will include a tour of the primate research facilities (Living Links and the Budongo Trail), talks by 2 current researchers, on social contagion and social learning, and a chance to watch some research with the monkeys.