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From grumpy to cheerful (and back): How power impacts mood in and across different contexts
A person’s mood relies on various factors. Something commonly observed has been the power that a person exhibits and how it affects their mood. Stefan Leach and Mario Weick seek to understand if a rise or loss of power can affect someone’s mood. Their first observation comes from the television show, Breaking Bad, where the main character, Walter White, experiences a sudden rise in power. White experiences a high peak in happiness when something good happens. With this high peak, he also experiences a greater increase in unhappiness when something bad happens. Researchers sought to determine if there is a correlation between someone’s status of power and their inconsistent mood changes.
One of the popular theories that Leach and Weick took into consideration was the idea that mood variability comes from an adaption of the environment that people are put in on a daily basis. This idea was introduced by Ana Guinote in her article, “Behaviour variability and the situated focus of theory of power.” (Guinote 2007) Guinote discusses that people who are assigned to higher powers have adapted to have a flexible focus.
The research that has be conducted from this theory involves having situational cues, which trigger a specific reaction within the person. A baseline between the people in higher power and lower power wasn’t present in early research. The researchers conducted 5 studies, study 1a, 1b, 2,3, and 4. The first two studies, 1a and 1b, had the participants look into planning events and determine how much control they think they had in their daily life. Study 1a involved planning two weekend days in the summer and an exam week. Study 1b involved imagining two positive and negative scenarios. Study 2 had people reflect on their life experiences and also determine the amount of control they have in their life. The second study assessed the participants’ circadian rhythm and the time of day they preferred. Study 3 analyzed the participants’ music taste and study 4 analyzed the health of the participant. Studies 3 and 4 had the participants reflect on a time where they felt powerful, powerless, or indifferent. The people in study 3 and 4 also partook in a group study where they were assigned a job as a director or a worker and had to analyze how in control they felt about the situation. Participants in study 3 listened to 25 musicals, all ranging from neutral to positive or negative. Participants in study 4 observed 48 images ranging from neutral to positive or negative.
Ultimately, the results from these studies correlated with some of the theories that existed before. In some instances, it seemed that people with higher power did, in fact, have a higher variability in their mood when something positive happened. People with a lower power had a more consistent mood in neutral and positive events. The inconsistency in the study happened when the results showed that there wasn’t a huge difference between the people with higher and lower power when there were negative cues. Researchers tried to explain this by looking into the possibilities as to why there was a discrepancy between the effects of a negative and positive or neutral cue. Researchers believe that both people with high and low power are able to be aware of these negative cues because it’s a natural process most people go through. They also believe that when a person of higher power has their power reduced, they show the same effects as someone who has a lower power. Overall, the studies concluded that there are many factors that need to be considered before generalizing the entire population. Context is a huge element that needs to be taken into consideration when conducting these experiments.
They’re all the same, sometimes: Prejudicial attitudes toward Muslims influence motivated judgements of entitativity and collective responsibility for an individual’s actions:
Muslims have been a huge target for religious prejudice in America. This target was placed on their backs after Americans found a correlation between the religion and terrorist attacks. A harmful stereotype was created about Muslims. Levi Adelman, Kumar Yogeeswaran and Brian Lickel sought to figure out why Americans profiled all Muslims into one single category. Was it a pre-established notion? Why did they put the blame on one group instead of just one individual?
Collective blame and responsibility are focusing in on a negative or positive event conducted by a single person and dispersing the fault to an entire group. There have been arguments wondering if this is true. To a certain extent, a person might actually represent an entire group. Humans often connect with other people based on their beliefs or experiences. The group can also influence the person to act a certain way or can prevent them from engaging in an activity. Outsiders can view this influence as the entitativity between the entire group and the single individual, providing space for stereotyping. Humans try to understand someone and often times utilize a preconceived notion about an entire group to help them in the process of understanding a single individual.
Researchers conducted two studies with two different groups of Americans. The participants who were sampled had to be American and couldn’t be Muslim. They were given three articles to read and each had a negative, positive, or a neutral regard towards Muslims. The negative article discussed a Muslim terrorist attack that happened in a mall. The positive article told of a man who raised up money for people affected by disasters in America. The neutral article contained the story of a woman who dedicated her time to growing a garden for the people in her city. Researchers asked the participants about the content of the article and their attitude towards the religion mentioned. They were also asked about their feelings towards Muslims in general and how similar Muslims are as a group. Policies regarding law enforcement, immigration, and undercover agents in Muslim communities were asked to all the participants. They had to explain their beliefs on collective responsibility and blame on the entire group.
The first study concluded that participants with positive feelings towards Muslims would distribute responsibility to the entire group when positive actions were involved. The collective responsibility decreased when a negative action was involved. On the other hand, participants with negative feelings towards Muslims would not distribute responsibility to the entire group when a positive action was involved. The collective responsibility increased when a negative action was involved. A person’s opinion on whether or not they should be punished heavily depended on the pre-existing opinion they already had before the experiment. The results that were collected from this study showed that many of the people who arrived with a positive outlook for the group had more positive views throughout the experiment. Someone who arrived with a negative outlook was more prone to expressing negative views throughout the experiment. The second study was performed in the same way as the first study. The results of this experiment also correlated with the results from the previous study.
This experiment shows that in most cases, our pre-existing bias prevails among negative or positive encounters we have with racial or religious groups. Our minds naturally try to understand someone by profiling them into a single category. Sometimes, this can be harmless and other times it can cause great harm to an individual or their group. Whether humans can resist it or not, there is a bias that everyone holds, and it is dictated by the individual whether or not it will be expressed in a negative way.
Socially thermoregulated thinking: How past experiences matter in thinking about our loved ones:
The regulation of temperature is essential for survival in organisms. Are close relationships, past experiences, and temperature related? Hans IJzerman, Lison Neyroud, Rémi Courset, Michel Schrama, Jorick Post and Tila M. Pronk try to tackle this question. This question arose when there was an observation made by Williams and Bargh where people believe that they are more social when they are holding a hot beverage. The researchers conducting this experiment wanted to discover the effects of temperature on human relationships and past experiences. People trying to chase a warm feeling after a breakup will be more attracted towards warm foods and beverages. This research seeks to find the correlation between temperature and past experiences in a relationship. They used the moderator Relationship Closeness Regulation to establish close relationships in the participants.
There were three studies that were ran. They strived to measure a person’s close relation to their significant other, family or friends. The participants that were included in this experiment had to be Dutch and couldn’t guess the purpose of the experiment. During the experiment, participants were unknowingly assigned a hot or cold beverage. The participants held onto the cup and had to answer questions about the cup. These questions were used to entertain the idea that this experiment is being used for consumerism.
From this study, it was concluded that a person who holds the warm water is able to recognize people that were significantly closer to them. They repeated the same procedures with another set of participants. The requirements to take part of this study were not recognizing the original purpose of the experiment and living in France. The location of this study changed because the first author moved to France. The procedure was the same. The results of the second study correlated with the results of the first study. The last study was changed slightly. Instead of thinking about the close relationships while holding the cup, the participants were asked to think about it before the experiment started. This tested whether or not the cup had any impact on how they determined who they felt the closest to. The researchers also used another moderator, the Thermoregulation and Risk Avoidance Questionnaire. Seeking regulation of temperature and reducing social risks was a new factor that was being taken into consideration during the third study. This third study secured the idea that many people seek warmth within attachment to another person.
Temperature does play a huge role in the process of thinking about a loved one and the past experiences they’ve shared together. The probability of someone thinking positively about a close relationship is heightened when the person is holding a cold beverage. The opposite can be said about someone who recalls the negative experiences they have had with the person. People who are trying to seek a positive experience would most likely latch onto the warmth that the cup provides. Throughout the studies, the cold effects stayed consistent and the warm effects varied. For that reason, the authors were only able to come to a conclusion for the cold effects. Humans reflect on the positive feelings that their loved ones provide in order to seek relief from cold temperatures. The researchers also concluded that the ERC moderator they used couldn’t fully determine why a human would need social interaction and temperature regulation. It isn’t the most reliable technique to use for these types of experiments. Overall, the positive experiences that humans hold with the people in their life serve a real purpose. They use the warmth that those experiences and relationships bring as a way to regulate their body temperature when they are in cold conditions.
- Adelman, L., Yogeeswaran, K., & Lickel, B. (2019). They’re all the same, sometimes: Prejudicial attitudes toward Muslims influence motivated judgments of entitativity and collective responsibility for an individual’s actions. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology,31-38.
- Feinberg, J. Doing & Deserving: Essays in the theory of responsibility. Princeton University Press.
- Guinote, A (2007). Behaviour variability and the situated focus theory of power. European Review of Social Psychology, 18, 256-295. \
- IJzerman, Hans, et al. “Socially Thermoregulated Thinking: How Past Experiences Matter in Thinking about Our Loved Ones.” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 2018, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022103116304632.
- Leach, Stefan, and Mario Weick. “From Grumpy to Cheerful (and Back): How Power Impacts Mood in and across Different Contexts.” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 2018, 107–114.
- Williams, L. E., and Bargh, J. A. Experiencing physical warmth promotes interpersonal warmth. Science. 322. 606-607.
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