SBP’s 50-Year Celebrations: Top 10 Articles Free to Access for 2022

What got people talking? Sharing? Digging deeper?

Explore the articles published in SBP with the highest levels of engagement over our 50-year history. We are making these free to access for the duration of our fiftieth year. Click on the plus sign next to each title for a summary of the research inside and share via your own social media to spread the word! Stay tuned for additional celebrations with the SBP Team as we commemorate half a century of social psychology publication.

Distinguishing arousal from novelty and challenge in initial romantic attraction
Gary W. Lewandowski Jr. and Arthur P. Aron, 2004, 32(4), 361–372

It is well known in social-cognitive psychology that people tend to confuse physiological arousal with interpersonal attraction. In other words, when we feel physically aroused, we tend to find a desired other more romantically attractive since we misattribute the source of the physical sensation.

In an experimental study, Lewandowski et al. (2004) set out to explore whether this misattribution effect is caused merely by the arousal or whether the actual causes were the effects of novelty or challenge, which are associated with arousal. Sixty-four university students from the US engaged in activities in which they were separated into different levels of novelty/challenge of the activity or various levels of physical arousal. Results revealed the significant role of arousal in increasing overall attraction of a partner. The potential effect of the novelty or challenge of the task in increasing partners’ attraction was not supported.

The novelty of this work is in its design; participants who did not previously know each other were paired together in the task, in contrast to previous works in which participants and confederates were matched. This design lends support to the robustness of the general arousal–attraction effect. In addition, the findings help clarify the distinct role of physical arousal, but not that of novelty or challenge, in enhancing attraction.

Love types and subjective well-being: A cross-cultural study
Jungsik Kim and Elaine Hatfield, 2004, 32(2), 173–182

This article analyzes the relationship of two love types—passionate love and compassionate love—with subjective well-being and positive emotions, and the potential role of gender in those relationships.

A cross-cultural design compared the survey results of a sample of 182 Korean students, representing a collectivistic culture, with a sample of 237 individuals from an individualistic culture, the US. Measures included levels of passionate and compassionate love, satisfaction with life (as a proxy for subjective well-being), and affect.

In both cultures, compassionate love was found to be associated with life satisfaction, and passionate love was associated with positive emotions. The relationship between compassionate love and life satisfaction was stronger among women than men, however, men associated passionate love with positive emotions to a greater degree than did women.

The authors see that their work contributes to emphasizing the multidimensionality of the relationship between love and positive emotions. They suggest several explanations for the lack of assumed cross-cultural differences in the samples, such as the changes in traditional collectivist cultures. And they explain the gender differences found as resulting from differing evolutionary preferences in mate selection processes.

Gratitude and happiness: Development of a measure of gratitude and relationships with subjective well-being
Philip C. Watkins, Kathrane Woodward, Tamara Stone, and Russell L. Kolts, 2003, 31(5), 431–452

These authors developed and validated a gratitude measure based on the assumptions that this trait is characterized by a sense of abundance, appreciation of the simple pleasures of life and of others’ contributions to our well-being, and the expressiveness of this sense of gratitude.

Two hundred and thirty-seven North American students participated in Study 1, which examined the consistency and validity of the Gratitude Resentment and Appreciation Test (GRAT). Study 2 tested the criterion validity of the GRAT with various measures such as mood, personal control, religious orientation, aggression, and subclinical narcissism. Results from three samples indicated that the GRAT was positively associated with positive affect and inversely with negative affect such as depression (but not with anxiety and irritability), as well as anger, physical aggression, and narcissism.

Results also indicated that the GRAT was associated with intrinsic religiosity, and with an internal locus of control, which may be a function of attributing benefits in their lives to their own doings. Two experiments (Studies 3 and 4) supported the criterion-related validity of the GRAT in improving the mood of participants who were tasked with expressing gratitude compared to participants in the control condition.

The authors suggest that gratitude enhances the experience of positive events or increases the ease of encoding and retrieval of positive events.

The influence of facial hair on impression formation
J. Ann Reed and Elizabeth M. Blunk, 1990, 18(1), 169–176

Does facial hair affect the perception of suitability of male work candidates?

In this study from 1990, 228 participants in management positions in Texas were presented with sketches of male job applicants who were supposedly applying for a management position, and who had varying degrees of facial hair (clean-shaven, mustached, and bearded).

Participants were asked to rate each candidate’s levels of social and physical attractiveness, their personality, competence, and composure.

Results indicated that bearded participants were significantly favored over the other mustached and clean-shaven participants across all the measured dimensions.

Body height and romantic attraction: A meta-analytic test of the male-taller norm
Charles A. Pierce, 1996, 24(2), 143–150

It is socially assumed that heterosexual women find taller men more attractive. This meta-analytic study, which was conducted in the US, supports the notion that women prefer romantic male partners who are as tall or slightly taller than they are, while heterosexual men prefer women partners who are the same height as them or shorter than themselves.

The authors explain these results by reviewing literature that suggests that male tallness is associated with favored personality traits such as protectiveness, leadership qualities, and physical strength. They further suggest that this result could also be an outcome of the existing norm that average North American men are taller than North American women. Hence, the norm may have created the preference for this attribute.

Public integrity, private hypocrisy, and the moral licensing effect
Meredith Greene and Kathryn Low, 2014, 42(3), 391–400

This study explored two effects in the realm of morality studies: the licensing effect, in which people allow themselves to behave unethically after establishing moral credentials, and the compensatory effect, the tendency to behave more ethically when reminded of past transgressions.

As research suggests that people tend to be more altruistic when their giving is seen by others, the study also examined the effect of privacy vs. publicity on moral behaviors.

One hundred and two students from the US participated in an experimental study in which they wrote either about a situation in which they helped others or about a time in which they have hurt someone to get something that they wanted. A control group described a typical Tuesday. Participants then read four moral dilemmas (which occurred either in public or in private) in which they were to imagine that they committed an immoral act to achieve personal gain before rating the likelihood that they would engage in the described immoral behavior, and the degree to which they viewed this behavior as acceptable.

Results indicated that participants who recalled a past moral behavior were more accepting of a private (only) transgression, compared to other conditions. Participants in all groups indicated that they were more likely to engage in the immoral transgression in the privacy condition than in public. And participants who first recalled a past moral behavior, rather than the immoral behavior group or the control group, were more likely to transgress.

The authors did not find support for their prediction that participants who wanted to compensate for past immoral behavior would be the least tolerant of immoral public behavior. They suggest that this could have resulted from insufficient strength of the manipulation or as a function of a limitation of the design which provided only an opportunity to abstain from an immoral behavior rather than a real compensation through engagement in a moral act.

The interplay of Internet addiction and compulsive shopping behaviors
Seungsin Lee, Jungkun Park, and Sukhyung Bryan Lee, 2016, 44(11), 1901–1912

The aim of this work was to examine the relationship between Internet addiction, self-esteem, and online compulsive shopping. Two hundred and seventy-eight Korean participants rated their levels of self-esteem, tendencies to shop online, and their Internet usage and its effect on their daily lives.

In line with the authors’ predictions, lower levels of self-esteem were found to be associated with Internet addiction, and the latter was also positively associated with compulsory online shopping. The authors explain this phenomenon as a case of comorbidity, in which one addictive behavior is linked with another.

The data failed to support the prediction that low self-esteem would be associated with compulsive online shopping. This surprising finding is explained by the notion that the anonymity provided by the online scene (and, possibly during online shopping) may enhance self-esteem.

The authors suggest that their results will provide support for the need to educate consumers, and for counselling and support for people who experience the negative associations with online shopping.

"Am I for real?" Predicting impostor tendencies from self-handicapping and affective components
Shaun E. Cowman and Joseph R. Ferrari, 2002, 30(2), 119–126

Imposter beliefs describe a situation in which people attribute their success to mere luck or extreme hard work, rather than to their abilities. One of the issues with holding such self-beliefs is that people tend to behave in a way that reinforces this perception. In addition, they tend to sabotage their own efforts so that negative outcomes can be attributed to causes that are external to themselves.

In this study, 436 students from the US rated the extent to which they viewed themselves as impostors, their tendency to self-handicap and to behave in a socially desirable manner, and their proneness for guilt or shame. A linear regression analysis indicated that impostor tendencies were associated with self-handicapping and shame proneness, but not with social desirability nor guilt-proneness.

Gender, ethnicity, and the developmental timing of first sexual and romantic experiences
Pamela C. Regan, Ramani Durvasula, Lisa Howell, Oscar Ureno, and Martha Rea, 2004, 32(7), 667–676

This study explored the age at which adolescents first experience different aspects of romantic relationships in the US.

An ethnically diverse sample of 683 participants (mean age, 24.84) reported the first time in which they engaged in a list of sexual and romantic behaviors. Results indicated that most participants had experienced their first date, love, serious relationship, kiss, and sexual intercourse by the end of high school, whilst first dates, and kisses occurred earlier (mean age of around 15) than falling in love and sexual intercourse (mean age around 17).

Results were different across gender and different ethnic identity: young men (mean age, 15.44) reported that they started dating at an earlier age than women (mean age, 16.20). And they also reported being engaged in sexual intercourse to a greater degree than women. However, a greater proportion of young women compared to men reported being kissed and falling in love at least once.

Amongst the findings that relate to ethnicity, Asian Americans were found to have less sexual and romantic experience, and their first sexual experience usually occurred at an older age compared to African American, Latino/Hispanic, and Caucasian participants. Caucasian/non-Hispanic white participants reported engaging in kissing and sexual intercourse earlier than Latino/Hispanic participants, and the former reported that they have been in love more than what was reported by African American and Asian American participants. Overall, it seems as if the first romantic love experience happened around the age of 17, independently of ethnicity.

The authors suggest that the findings relating to gender may reflect the different socialization processes that both genders encounter. Similarly, differences between ethnicities were attributed to cultural norms that differ between groups. The findings that the mean age of falling in love does not differ between groups is seen, by the authors, as evidence that this experience is a developmental stage that occurs in the period of life between late adolescence and early adulthood.

Managerial humor and subordinate satisfaction
Wayne H. Decker, 1987, 15(2), 225–232

Is managers’ sense of humor associated with how workers view their work? In this 1987 US based study, 290 workers rated their supervisor’s sense of humor and the levels of their job satisfaction. Results indicated that manager sense of humor was associated with greater job satisfaction, as well as with general positive characteristics attributed to the manager. Younger participants placed more importance on their managers’ sense of humor than older participants whilst older female participants were less appreciative of jokes with sexual connotations.

See our featured topic! “The Early Years