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General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[News release] Astrology and celebrity: Seasons really do influence personality

Astrology and celebrity: Seasons really do influence personality.

From the 15 May 2015 University of Connecticut news release

People’s personalities tend to vary somewhat depending on the season in which they are born, and astrological signs may have developed as a useful system for remembering these patterns, according to an analysis by UConn researcher Mark Hamilton. Such seasonal effects may not be clear in individuals, but can be discerned through averaging personality traits across large cohorts born at the same time of year. Hamilton’s analysis was published in Comprehensive Psychology on May 13.

Psychologists have known that certain personality traits tend to be associated with certain birth months. For example, people born in January and February tend to be more creative, and have a higher chance of being diagnosed with schizophrenia, than people born at any other time of year. And people born in odd-numbered months tend to be more extroverted than those born in even-numbered months.

So it wasn’t unprecedented when a paper appeared in 2013 in the Journal of Social Sciences linking birth month with the likelihood of becoming a celebrity. What was unusual, though, was that one of the authors was an astrophysicist, and the paper’s introduction included an explanation of the physics behind the astrological calendar. The authors argued that astrological ‘signs’ are merely an accident of the sun’s location in the cosmos, but that analysis shows certain zodiac signs have a curious correlation with fame.

The next year, a psychologist published a paper in Comprehensive Psychology purporting to debunk the first paper’s astrological findings. The author claimed that relative age among all the children in the same school grade could explain the zodiac effect, with children who were born earlier in the year, and were comparatively more mature, having more positive experiences overall.

UConn’s Hamilton, a social scientist in the Department of Communication, was unconvinced. He had reviewed the original paper for the Journal of Social Sciences, and considered the data and analysis to be sound. So he set out to debunk the debunking, examine some of the traditional astrological explanations, and see if they could be aligned with known psychological findings.

UConn communication researcher Mark Hamilton has found a connection between season of birth and the chance of becoming a celebrity. (iStock Image)

Traditional Western astrology uses elements (water, earth, air, and fire), sign duality (bright/dark), and sign qualities (cardinal, mutable, and fixed) to describe and categorize seasonal effects on personality. It considers late December through early March as a “wet” time of year, and connects wetness with creativity, for example. “Fixed” signs are said to be more stubborn and persistent than others.

Hamilton looked at the same data from the original paper, a set of 300 celebrities from the fields of politics, science, public service, literature, the arts, and sports. He found that celebrities’ birth dates tended to cluster at certain times of the year. “Wet” signs were associated with a larger number of celebrities, as were signs classified as “bright” and “fixed”.

“Psychologists want to dismiss these astrological correlations,” says Hamilton, “but there are seasonality effects that we have yet to explain.” Hamilton is not arguing that heavenly bodies are the true source of these effects; rather that astrological aspects are just useful tools, or heuristics, that help people remember the timing and patterns of nature.

Hamilton found that relative age of children in a school cohort did have some effect on propensity to become a celebrity. Children who spend their school years slightly older than the average among their peers are somewhat more likely to become famous, perhaps because they have more early success and so have better self-esteem into adulthood.

But Hamilton found that the relative age effect was dwarfed by the effect of being born under a wet astrological sign such as Aquarius or Pisces. Being born under a fixed quality sign – Aquarius, Taurus, Leo, or Scorpio – also increased a person’s chances of achieving celebrity to about the same degree as being older than average in his or her school cohort. In addition, being born under a “bright” sign increased a person’s chances of finding fame.

Hamilton is currently working with other researchers on an analysis of 85,000 celebrities dating from 3000 B.C. to the present era. He says the seasonality effect on celebrity appears to hold true even in this large data set that stretches across millennia and cultures.

May 17, 2015 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release]Friends know how long you’ll live, study finds

Friends know how long you’ll live, study finds [University of Washington at St. Louis]

Peer estimates of your personality can predict longevity – January 20, 2015

By Gerry Everding

Young lovers walking down the aisle may dream of long and healthy lives together, but close friends in the wedding party may have a better sense of whether those wishes will come true, suggests new research on personality and longevity from Washington University in St. Louis.“You expect your friends to be inclined to see you in a positive manner, but they also are keen observers of the personality traits that could send you to an early grave,” said Joshua Jackson, PhD, assistant professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences.

Jackson

Published Jan. 12 in an advance online issue of the journal Psychological Science, the study demonstrates that your personality at an early age (20s) can predict how long you will live across 75 years and that close friends are usually better than you at recognizing these traits.Male participants seen by their friends as more open and conscientious ended up living longer. Female participants whose friends rated them as high on emotional stability and agreeableness also enjoyed longer lifespans, the study found.

“Our study shows that people are able to observe and rate a friend’s personality accurately enough to predict early mortality decades down the road,” Jackson said. “It suggests that people are able to see important characteristics related to health even when their friends were, for the most part, healthy and many years from death.”

It’s no secret that a person’s personality traits can have an impact on health. Traits such as depression and anger have been linked to an increased risk of various diseases and health concerns, including an early death.

Men who are conscientious are more likely to eat right, stick with an exercise routine and avoid risks, such as driving without a seat belt. Women who are emotionally stable may be better at fighting off anger, anxiety and depression, Jackson suggests.

While other studies have shown that a person’s view of his or her own personality can be helpful in gauging mortality risk, there has been little research on whether a close friend’s personality assessment might also predict the odds of a long life.

To explore this question, Jackson and colleagues analyzed data from a longitudinal study that in the 1930s began following a group of young people in their mid-20s, most of whom were engaged to be married.

The longitudinal study included extensive data on participant personality traits, both self-reported and as reported by close friends, including bridesmaids and groomsmen in the study participants’ wedding parties.

Using information from previous follow-up studies and searches of death certificates, Jackson and colleagues were able to document dates of death for all but a few study participants. Peer ratings of personality were stronger predictors of mortality risk than were self-ratings of personality.

“There are two potential reasons for the superiority of peer ratings over self ratings,” Jackson said.

“First, friends may see something that you miss; they may have some insight that you do not. Second, because people have multiple friends, we are able to average the idiosyncrasies of any one friend to obtain a more reliable assessment of personality. With self reports, people may be biased or miss certain aspects of themselves and we are not able to counteract that because there is only one you, only one self-report.”

The study also revealed some gender differences in self-assessment: Men’s self-ratings of personality traits were somewhat useful in predicting their lifespans, whereas the self-reports of women had little predictive value.

Jackson suggests this gender difference in self-reporting may be a function of the era in which the study began, since societal expectations were different then and fewer women worked outside the home.

Young women seen as highly agreeable and emotionally stable may have increased odds for a long and happy life since their personalities were well suited for the role of a supportive and easy-going wife, which would have been the norm in the 1930s. It is likely that fewer gender differences would arise in more modern samples if we were able to wait 75 years to replicate the study, he said.

“This is one of the longest studies in psychology,” Jackson said. “It shows how important personality is in influencing significant life outcomes like health and demonstrates that information from friends and other observers can play a critical role in understanding a person’s health issues. For example, it suggests that family members and even physician ratings could be used to personalize medical treatments or identify who is at risk for certain health ailments.”

The study is co-authored by James J. Connolly, PhD, and Madeleine M. Leveille, PhD, of Connolly Consulting, Waterford, Connecticut; S. Mason Garrison of the Department of Psychology and Human Development, Vanderbilt University; and Seamus L. Connolly of College of Medicine, Touro University, California.

January 26, 2015 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Divided We Stand: Three Psychological Regions of the United States and Their Political, Economic, Social, and Health Correlates

hmm… could you envision these maps in a tourist guide book??

Psychological Regions

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From the 17 October 2013 summary at Full Text Reports 

There is overwhelming evidence for regional variation across the United States on a range of key political, economic, social, and health indicators. However, a substantial body of research suggests that activities in each of these domains are typically influenced by psychological variables, raising the possibility that psychological forces might be the mediating or causal factors responsible for regional variation in the key indicators. Thus, the present article examined whether configurations of psychological variables, in this case personality traits, can usefully be used to segment the country. Do regions emerge that can be defined in terms of their characteristic personality profiles? How are those regions distributed geographically? And are they associated with particular patterns of key political, economic, social, and health indicators? Results from cluster analyses of 5 independent samples totaling over 1.5 million individuals identified 3 robust psychological profiles: Friendly & Conventional, Relaxed & Creative, and Temperamental & Uninhibited. The psychological profiles were found to cluster geographically and displayed unique patterns of associations with key geographical indicators. The findings demonstrate the value of a geographical perspective in unpacking the connections between microlevel processes and consequential macrolevel outcomes.

October 18, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Delusions Of Gender: Men’s Insecurities May Lead To Sexist Views Of Women

Delusions of Gender

Delusions of Gender (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Thinking insecurities lead to sexist attitudes in other realms, including government, religious, and civic organizations….

 

From the 29 December 2012 article at Medical News Today

 

A new study led by Joshua Hart, assistant professor of psychology, suggests that men’s insecurities about relationships and conflicted views of women as romantic partners and rivals could lead some to adopt sexist attitudes about women…

..

Hart’s study found that anxiously attached men tend to be ambivalent sexists – both hostile and benevolent – whereas avoidantly attached men typically endorse hostile sexism, while rejecting benevolent sexism.

“In other words, anxious men are likely to alternate between chivalry and hostility toward female partners, acting like a knight in shining armor when she fulfills his goals and ideals about women, but like an ogre when she doesn’t,” Hart explained this month to the Society of Personality and Social Psychology’s web-based news site, Connections. “Avoidant men are likely to show only hostility without any princely protectiveness.”

The survey results also showed that anxiously attached men tend to be romantics at heart who adopt benevolently sexist beliefs, while avoidantly attached men lean toward social dominance. That, in turn, leads them to embrace hostile sexism.

The findings highlight how personality traits could predispose men to be sexists, according to Hart. This information could help couples build stronger relationships, particularly during therapy.

For the full study in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, click here. To read Hart’s summary for the Society of Personality and Social Psychology, click here.

 

Read the entire article

 

 

 

December 29, 2012 Posted by | Psychology, Workplace Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Avoiding entangling commitments: Tactics for implementing a short-term mating strategy « Full Text Reports…

Avoiding entangling commitments: Tactics for implementing a short-term mating strategy 

Summary from Full Text Reports

The successful pursuit of a short-term mating strategy requires avoiding entangling commitments or unwanted, encumbering relationships. Two studies, based on an act-nomination and reported act perfor- mance methodologies, were conducted on samples of American college students to explore how individ- uals avoid entangling commitments. In Study 1 (N = 102) we identified the acts individuals use to avoid entangling commitments in the context of short-term mating. In Study 2 (N = 298) we examined reported usage of these tactics, and identified correlations with personality traits previously implicated in the pur- suit of a short-term mating strategy (e.g., narcissism, mate-value). Personality traits such as the Dark Triad and sociosexuality, as well as mate-value, were positively correlated with tactics used to avoid entangling commitments. Results document how short-term mating strategists solve the problem of avoiding entangling commitments, reveal sex differences previously undiscovered, and highlight personality characteristics linked to solving this adaptive problem. (2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.)

April 24, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

Both Sexism And Racism Are Similar Mental Processes

From a November 9, 2011 article at Medical News Today

Prejudiced attitudes are based on generalised suppositions about certain social groups and could well be a personality trait. Researchers at the University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU, Spain) have confirmed the link between two types of discriminatory behaviour: sexism and racism. They also advise of the need for education in encouraging equality.

Maite Garaigordobil, professor of Psychological Testing at the UPV, is the co-author of this study which explores the link that sexism has with racism and other variables. She explains that “people who are highly sexist, whether they be hostile (seeing women as the inferior sex) or benevolent (believing that women are the weaker sex and need to be protected and cared for), also have racist tendencies”.

The results of the study show that both processes are closely related and that they are likely to be based on more general beliefs about relationships between different social groups. Garaigordobil states that “the results even suggest that such prejudiced attitudes could be a personality trait.”

The results of the study show that both processes are closely related and that they are likely to be based on more general beliefs about relationships between different social groups. Garaigordobil states that “the results even suggest that such prejudiced attitudes could be a personality trait.”

“Sexism is linked to authoritarianism and a leaning towards social dominance,” explains the author. “In other words, sexist people accept hierarchies and social inequality, they believe that different social groups have a status that they deserve and they feel that the social class to which they belong is the best.”

During the study it was also confirmed that sexism is related to low intercultural sensitivity. Sexist people show low levels of involvement when it comes to interacting with immigrants. The also present low levels of respect for differences, confidence towards immigrants and desire to interact with them…..

Read the entire article here

November 12, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

   

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