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The psychological significance of humility
Jennifer Cole Wright, Thomas Nadelhoffer, Tyler Perini, Amy Langville, Matthew Echols and Kelly Venezia
Humility is a virtue with a rich and varied past. Its benefits and pitfalls – indeed, its status as a virtue – have been debated by philosophers and theologians. Recently, psychologists have entered into the dialectic, with a small but growing body of empirical research at their disposal. We will discuss this research on humility, including our own recent contributions. Our goal is to shed light on the following three important questions: First, what is humility? Second, why we should care about being humble? Finally, are there constructive steps we can take to induce people to adopt more humble at titudes towards themselves and others? In the process of answering these questions, we will consider the major empirical accounts of humility in the literature, highlight their primary difficulties, and then introduce a new account that cuts through the confusion, getting to the core of what we take humility to be.
KEYWORDS: humility; virtue; low self-focus; high other-focus
The Eudaimonics of the True Self
Rebecca J Schlegel, Joshua A. Hicks, & Andrew G Christy
This chapter reviews our research program on the true self-concept and how it serves as a hub of meaning in people’s lives. In this research, we adopt a lay theories approach and investigate the pervasiveness of a “true-self-as-guide” lay theory of decision making that suggests people should use their true self as a compass when the make major decisions in their lives. This lay theory indirectly suggests that choices that express the true self are meaningful for that reason alone and need no further justification. As such, the true self-concept is able to imbue other aspects of life (e.g. one’s career, relationships, hobbies, college choice) with meaning. Our research demonstrates how pervasive this lay theory and the strong link between the true self-concept and judgments of meaning that results from it. Specifically, when people feel more “in touch” with their true self, they perceive more meaning in their lives and are more satisfied with their decisions. This meaning is an important part of eudaimnoic well-being.
KEYWORDS: gratitude; adolescence; positive psychology; emotion; character; virtue.
Gratitude in Adolescence: An Understudied Virtue
Jeffrey J. Froh and Giacomo Bono,
Gratitude is experienced when people receive something beneficial; it is the appreciation they feel when somebody does something kind or helpful for them. It has been defined as “a sense of thankfulness and joy in response to receiving a gift, whether the gift be a tangible benefit from a specific other or a moment of peaceful bliss evoked by natural beauty” (Emmons, 2004, p. 554). While gratitude has been largely ignored throughout psychology’s history, it has recently attracted considerable interest from the scientific community (see Emmons & McCullough, 2004, for a review). But most of this interest has been with adults, the major researchers being Sara Algoe, David DeSteno, Robert Emmons, Todd Kashdan, Neal Krause, Sonja Lyubomirsky, Michael McCullough, Jo-Ann Tsang, Philip Watkins, and Alex Wood. Indeed, a PsycINFO search with the terms “gratitude” and “adolescence” yielded only eight papers and “gratitude” and “adolescents” yielded only 17 papers. Gratitude research with adolescents is critically needed to understand and promote the full spectrum of youth development namely, flourishing into happy, productive and contributing members of society. The primary aim of this essay is to shed light on what is known about gratitude in adolescence. The discussion begins with the main findings from current research on gratitude in adolescence and then proceeds to what is known so far about the development of gratitude and its promotion. Some measurement issues are then described followed by a discussion of the gaps in knowledge and directions for future gratitude research.
KEYWORDS: thanks; thankfulness; thanksgiving; appreciation
FOGÉKONYSÁG A SZÉPRE, KIVÁLÓSÁGRA
Engagement With Beauty: Appreciating Natural, Artistic, and Moral Beauty
RHETT DIESSNER, REBECCA C. SOLOM, NELLIE K. FROST, LUCAS PARSONS , JOHN DAVIDSON
The Engagement With Beauty Scale (EBS), designed from the aesthetics of I. Kant (1790/1987), G. W. F. Hegel (ca. 1835/1993), and T. Aquinas (ca. 1260/1947) and the psychological work of J. Haidt (J. Haidt & D. Keltner, 2004), measures engagement with natural, artistic, and moral beauty. In Studies 1 and 2, the authors describe scale construction, exploratory factor analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, internal consistency, and temporal stability. In Studies 1 and 2, the authors also establish concurrent validity with the Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence subscale of the Values in Action Inven tory of Strengths (C. Peterson & M. E. P. Seligman, 2004), the Gratitude, Resentment, and Appreciation Test (P. C. Watkins, K. Woodward, T. Stone, & R. L. Kolts, 2003), and the Spiritual Transcendence Scale (R. L. Piedmont, 2004). In Study 3, the authors used the EBS Artistic Beauty subscale to differentiate students engaged in the arts from those who were not.
KEYWORDS: appreciation, artistic beauty, engagement, moral beauty, natural beauty
The moderating role of kindness on the relation between trust and happiness
A number of studies show that trust enhances both national and individual happiness. However, the mechanism underlying this association remains unclear. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of kindness in explaining the link between trust and happiness. Specifically, it was hypothesized that the more people believe that they have done for others, the stronger is the link between trust and happiness. Ninety-one students participated in a trust game and then completed measures assessing levels of happiness, trust, and kindness. Results revealed that level of happiness was related to the frequency of acts of kindness and the level of trust showed in a trust game. This finding suggests that while trust alone is associated with happiness, being kind strengthens this relationship. It seems that without prosocial activity people may not derive much happiness from being trusting. Possible explana tions for the effects obtained and limitations of the study are discussed.
KEYWORDS: happiness, trust, kindness, subjective well-being
Simple Pleasures: How Goal-Aligned Behaviours Relate to State Happiness
JingFei Wang, Marina Milyavskaya
Goal progress has been consistently linked to subjective well-being and happiness (Klug & Maier, 2015), but do the individual actions of doing something helpful for personal goals have similar effects? The current study investigates how goal alignment – the perception that you are engaging in activities that are aligned with personal goals – might be associated with state happiness. We hypothesized that people will feel happier when the activities they are performing are aligned with their goals. The study also explored the roles of goal progress and competence in this relation. Data on goal-activity alignment, goal progress, competence, and state happiness were collected in an experience-sampling study with undergraduate students (N = 159) and a survey study with Amazon MTurk workers (N = 252). Using multilevel analyses and regression analyses, results indicated that participants were happier when they were pursuing activities that were more closely aligned with their goals than when pursuing less goal-aligned activities; the results remained significant after accounting for goal progress. Participants who were more goal aligned on average reported greater state happiness; this effect was nonsignificant when goal progress was accounted for. Results suggest that goal alignment has a significant and unique effect on state happiness and that goal pursuit has very immediate benefits that begin as soon as individuals start doing actions helpful for their personal goals.
KEYWORDS: state happiness, goal alignment, experience sampling
The Five-Dimensional Curiosity Scale: Capturing the bandwidth of curiosity and identifying four unique subgroups of curious people
Todd B. Kashdan, Melissa C. Stiksma, David J. Disabato, Patrick E. McKnight, John Bekier, Joel Kaji, Rachel Lazarus
Since the origins of psychology, curiosity has occupied a pivotal position in the study of motivation, emotion, and cognition; and disciplines as far-ranging as biology, economics, robotics, and leadership. Theorists have disagreed about the basic tenets of curiosity; some researchers contend that the rewards arise when resolving ambiguity and uncertainty whereas others argue that being curious is an intrinsically pleasurable experience. Three studies were conducted to consolidate competing theories and isolated bodies of research. Using data from a community survey of 508 adults (Study 1), 403 adults on MTurk (Study 2), and a nationally representative household survey of 3,000 adults (Study 3), we found evidence for five distinct factors: Joyous Exploration, Deprivation Sensitivity, Stress Tolerance, Social Curiosity, and Thrill Seeking – forming The Five-Dimensional Curiosity Scale (5DC). Each factor had substantive relations with a battery of personality, emotion, and well-being measures. Taking advantage of this multidimensional model, we found evidence for four distinct types of curious people in Study 3 referred to as The Fascinated (28% of sample), Problem Solvers (28%), Empathizers (25%), and Avoiders (19%). Subgroups differed in their passionate interests, areas of expertise, consumer behavior, and social media use; challenging an assumption that there is a homogenous population to be discriminated on a single dimension from incurious to very curious. With greater bandwidth and predictive power, the 5DC offers new opportunities for research on origins, consequences, life outcomes, and intervention strategies to enhance curiosity.
KEYWORDS: curiosity, exploration, well-being, distress tolerance, scale development
Viktor Dörfler, Zoltán Baracskai, and Jolán Velencei
We have never seen creativity. More precisely, we have never seen the creative process; what we have seen is the creative individual (ex ante) and the outcome of creativity (ex post). Therefore we try to understand creativity by examining creative individuals and their creations. In this paper we only consider the creation of new knowledge. We draw on a wide variety of backgrounds. We wander into the area of cognitive psychology to investigate who is talented for creativity. We also draw on arts, history and philosophy of science, stories of mystics, some great novels and essays we have read as well as our experience in both working with creatives and creating new knowledge. Based on this shaky foundation we will describe creativity as illumination, through jokes, as a quest for harmony, as being kissed by the muse.
KEYWORDS: creativity, intuition, tacit knowledge, talent, harmony
The benefits of passion and absorption in activities: Engaged living in adolescents and its role in psychological well-being
Jeffrey J. Froh, Todd B. Kashdan, Charles Yurkewicz, Jinyan Fan, Jennifer Allen and Jessica Glowacki
Across five studies and three samples of early and late adolescents from suburban areas (N ¼ 2198), this research provides a theoretical and empirical examination of a new construct, engaged living, which consists of social integration and absorption. Engaged living, as we define it, is having a passion to help others and be completely immersed in activities. The development and psychometric properties of The Engaged Living in Youth Scale (ELYS) are described. Cross-sectional and longitudinal data, including self and other reports, then show that the ELYS is related to a variety of attributes, well-being, and academic achievement outcomes. Overall, the pattern of associations indicates that youth high in engaged living tend to be more grateful, hopeful, happier (via self, peer, and teacher reports), prosocial, and report elevated life satisfaction, positive affect, and self-esteem and higher grade point averages. Higher scorers also tend to be less depressed, envious, antisocial, and delinquent.
KEYWORDS: scale; passion; engagement; psychological well-being; adolescents
The Psychology of Forgiveness
Michael E. McCullough
“It would give us some comfort if we could only forget a past that we cannot change… If we could only choose to forget the cruelest moments,we could, as time goes on, free ourselves from their pain. But the wrong sticks like a nettle in our memory. The only way to remove the nettle is with a surgical procedure called forgiveness.” (Smedes, 1996, pp. xi-xii)
“Without being forgiven, released from the consequences of what we have done, our capacity to act would. . .be confined to a single deed from which we could never recover; we would remain the victims of its consequences forever.” (Arendt, 1958, p. 237).
Human beings appear to have an innate proclivity to reciprocate negative interpersonal behavior with more negative behavior. When insulted by a friend, forsaken by a lover, or attacked by an enemy, most people are motivated at some level to avoid or to seek revenge against the transgressor. Although both of these two post-transgression motivations can be destructive, revenge is usually the more potent and almost always the more glamorous of the two. Seeking revenge also is so basic that Reiss and Havercamp (1998) recently posited revenge to be one of fifteen fundamental human motivations (also see Newberg, d’Aquili, Newberg, & de Marici, 2000).
The tendency to retaliate or seek retribution after being insulted or victimized is deeply ingrained in the biological, psychological, and cultural levels of human nature. Primatologists have documented that certain species of old world primates (including chimpanzees and macaques) coordinate retaliatory responses after being victimized by another animal— sometimes even after considerable time has passed (Aureli, Cozzolino, Cordischi, & Scucchi, 1992; de Waal, 1996; Silk, 1992). Psychologically, the human proclivity for revenge is also codified in the norm of reciprocity (Gouldner, 1960): people are motivated to respond to injuries and transgressions by committing further injuries and transgressions equivalent to those they have suffered. However, revenge rarely is perceived as being equitable. Victims tend to view transgressions as more painful and harmful than do perpetrators. Moreover, when a victim exacts revenge, the original perpetrator often perceives the revenge as greater than the original offense and may retaliate to settle the score, thereby perpetuating a vicious cycle of vengeance (see Baumeister, Exline, & Sommer, 1998).
The motivation to return harm for harm has long been a part of human culture, and is one of the most rudimentary approaches to dealing with perceived injustice (Black, 1998). Nearly all cultures have attempted to codify the lex talionis (i.e., the law of retaliation) so that revenge could be taken out of the hands of individuals and placed in the hand of a dispassionate third party (such as the society itself). Indeed, the formation of stable political life has been virtually dependent on the regulation of the revenge response (Shriver, 1995).
Mechanisms of Self-Control Failure: Motivation and Limited Resources
Research has found that individuals who are lower in self-control strength because of previous self-control exertions perform more poorly on subsequent tests of self-control. The present studies suggest that this effect may be moderated by motivation. In particular, depletion and motivation jointly determine self control performance. Individuals who were depleted and believed that the task would help others (Experiment 1) or believed that their efforts could benefit them (Experiment 2) per formed better on a subsequent test of self-control than individu als who were depleted and lower in motivation. The results of Experiment 3 replicated these findings and suggested that depletion only affects performance on tasks that require self-control; tasks that are difficult but do not require self-control are immune to the effects of depletion. Hence, depleted individuals may compensate for their lack of self-control resources when sufficiently motivated. The results may help explain the nature of self-control.
KEYWORDS: self-control; motivation; depletion; recourses
Perspective Taking as a Means to Overcome Motivational Barriers in Negotiations: When Putting Oneself Into the Opponent’s Shoes Helps to Walk Toward Agreements
Roman Trötschel, David D. Loschelder, Joachim Hu , Katja Schwartz, Peter M. Gollwitzer
Previous negotiation research predominantly focused on psychological factors that lead to suboptimal compromises as opposed to integrative agreements. Few studies systematically analyzed factors that impact the emergence of hurtful partial impasses (i.e., nonagreements on part of the issues). The present research investigates negotiators’ egoistic motivation as a determinant for the emergence of partial impasses. In addition, the authors seek to demonstrate that perspective taking serves as a powerful tool to avoid impasses and to overcome egoistic impediments. Specifically, it was predicted that within an integrative context perspective-takers succeed to exchange concessions on low- versus high-preference issues (i.e., logroll), thereby increasing their individual profits without inflicting hurtful losses upon their counterparts. Three studies were conducted to test these predictions. Study 1 reveals that whereas negotiators’ egoistic motivation increases the risk of partial impasses, perspective taking alleviates this risk. Study 2 demonstrates that this beneficial effect of a perspective-taking mindset is limited to integrative negotiations and does not emerge in a distributive context, in which negotiators are constrained to achieve selfish goals by inflicting hurtful losses on their counterparts. Study 3 confirms the assumption that in an integrative context egoistic perspective-takers overcome the risk of impasses by means of logrolling. The findings of the present studies are discussed with respect to their contribution to research on negotiations, social motivation, and perspective taking.
KEYWORDS: negotiation, perspective taking, social motivation, partial impasses, logrolling