Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences - Research Publications

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    Who in the world is trying to change their personality traits? Volitional personality change among college students in six continents.
    Baranski, E ; Gardiner, G ; Lee, D ; Funder, DC ; Members of the International Situations Project, (American Psychological Association (APA), 2021-11)
    Recent research conducted largely in the United States suggests that most people would like to change one or more of their personality traits. Yet almost no research has investigated the degree to which and in what ways volitional personality change (VPC), or individuals' active efforts toward personality change, might be common around the world. Through a custom-built website, 13,278 college student participants from 55 countries and one of a larger country (Hong Kong, S.A.R.) using 42 different languages reported whether they were currently trying to change their personality and, if so, what they were trying to change. Around the world, 60.40% of participants reported that they are currently trying to change their personalities, with the highest percentage in Thailand (81.91%) and the lowest in Kenya (21.41%). Among those who provide open-ended responses to the aspect of personality they are trying to change, the most common goals were to increase emotional stability (29.73%), conscientiousness (19.71%), extraversion (15.94%), and agreeableness (13.53%). In line with previous research, students who are trying to change any personality trait tend to have relatively low levels of emotional stability and happiness. Moreover, those with relatively low levels of socially desirable traits reported attempting to increase what they lacked. These principal findings were generalizable around the world. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
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    The Relation Between Positive and Negative Affect Becomes More Negative in Response to Personally Relevant Events
    Dejonckheere, E ; Mestdagh, M ; Verdonck, S ; Lafit, G ; Ceulemans, E ; Bastian, B ; Kalokerinos, EK (AMER PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOC, 2021-03-01)
    Can we experience positive (PA) and negative affect (NA) separately (i.e., affective independence), or do these emotional states represent the mutually exclusive ends of a single bipolar continuum (i.e., affective bipolarity)? Building on previous emotion theories, we propose that the relation between PA and NA is not invariable, but rather fluctuates in response to changing situational demands. Specifically, we argue that our affective system shifts from relative independence to stronger bipolarity when we encounter events or situations that activate personally relevant concerns. We test this idea in an experience sampling study, in which we tracked the positive and negative emotional trajectories of 101 first-year university students who received their exam results, an event that potentially triggers a personally significant concern. Using multilevel piecewise regression, we show that running PA-NA correlations become increasingly more negative in the anticipation of results release, indicating stronger affective bipolarity, and ease back toward greater independence as time after this event passes. Furthermore, we show that this dynamic trajectory is particularly apparent for event-related PA and NA, and not affect in general, and that such shifts are partly a function of the importance people attribute to that event. We suggest that such flexible changes in the affect relation may function as an emotional compass by signaling personally relevant information, and create a motivational push to respond to these meaningful events in an appropriate manner. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
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    The Relationship Between Prosociality, Meaning, and Happiness in Everyday Life
    Dakin, BC ; Tan, NP ; Conner, TS ; Bastian, B (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2022-08)
    Abstract Prosocial behaviors benefit others, but what benefits do they hold for those who enact them? Prosociality can enhance the actor’s well-being, yet whether it is one’s sense of happiness or meaning that is impacted, and how this plays out in everyday life, has received limited attention. We address this gap in knowledge by examining how prosociality is related to daily meaning and happiness across two large daily diary studies in two countries. Study 1 (N = 1140) revealed that changes in one’s subjective sense of prosociality was uniquely associated with both daily meaning and happiness. Study 2 (N = 217) found that self-reported prosocial behavior was also clearly linked to increases in daily meaning, and modestly associated with daily happiness. Altogether, our findings suggest that the subjective sense of prosociality is associated with meaning and happiness, and that performing prosocial acts may be particularly relevant to experiencing meaning.
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    Pet ownership and psychological well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Amiot, CE ; Gagné, C ; Bastian, B (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2022-04-12)
    The question of pet ownership contributing to human well-being has received mixed empirical evidence. This contrasts with the lay intuition that pet ownership contributes positively to wellness. In a large representative sample, we investigate the differences that may exist between pet vs. non-pet owners in terms of their well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic, and examine among different sociodemographic strata, for whom pet ownership can be more vs. less beneficial. A cross-sectional questionnaire survey was conducted among Canadian adults (1220 pet owners, 1204 non-pet owners). Pet owners reported lower well-being than non-pet owners on a majority of well-being indicators; this general pet ownership effect held when accounting for pet species (dogs, cats, other species) and number of pets owned. Compared to owners of other pets, dog owners reported higher well-being. When examining the effect of pet ownership within different socioeconomic strata, being a pet owner was associated with lower well-being among: women; people who have 2 + children living at home; people who are unemployed. Our results offer a counterpoint to popular beliefs emphasising the benefits of pets to human wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic and confirm the importance of accounting for sociodemographic factors to further understand the experience of pet ownership.
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    National identity predicts public health support during a global pandemic (vol 13, 517, 2022)
    Van Bavel, JJ ; Cichocka, A ; Capraro, V ; Sjastad, H ; Nezlek, JB ; Pavlovic, T ; Alfano, M ; Gelfand, MJ ; Azevedo, F ; Birtel, MD ; Cislak, A ; Lockwood, PL ; Ross, RM ; Abts, K ; Agadullina, E ; Aruta, JJB ; Besharati, SN ; Bor, A ; Choma, BL ; Crabtree, CD ; Cunningham, WA ; De, K ; Ejaz, W ; Elbaek, CT ; Findor, A ; Flichtentrei, D ; Franc, R ; Gjoneska, B ; Gruber, J ; Gualda, E ; Horiuchi, Y ; Huynh, TLD ; Ibanez, A ; Imran, MA ; Israelashvili, J ; Jasko, K ; Kantorowicz, J ; Kantorowicz-Reznichenko, E ; Krouwel, A ; Laakasuo, M ; Lamm, C ; Leygue, C ; Lin, M-J ; Mansoor, MS ; Marie, A ; Mayiwar, L ; Mazepus, H ; McHugh, C ; Minda, JP ; Mitkidis, P ; Olsson, A ; Otterbring, T ; Packer, DJ ; Perry, A ; Petersen, MB ; Puthillam, A ; Riano-Moreno, JC ; Rothmund, T ; Santamaria-Garcia, H ; Schmid, PC ; Stoyanov, D ; Tewari, S ; Todosijevic, B ; Tsakiris, M ; Tung, HH ; Umbres, RG ; Vanags, E ; Vlasceanu, M ; Vonasch, A ; Yucel, M ; Zhang, Y ; Abad, M ; Adler, E ; Akrawi, N ; Mdarhri, HA ; Amara, H ; Amodio, DM ; Antazo, BG ; Apps, M ; Ay, FC ; Ba, MH ; Barbosa, S ; Bastian, B ; Berg, A ; Bernal-Zarate, MP ; Bernstein, M ; Bialek, M ; Bilancini, E ; Bogatyreva, N ; Boncinelli, L ; Booth, JE ; Borau, S ; Buchel, O ; Cameron, CD ; Carvalho, CF ; Celadin, T ; Cerami, C ; Chalise, HN ; Cheng, X ; Cian, L ; Cockcroft, K ; Conway, J ; Cordoba-Delgado, MA ; Crespi, C ; Crouzevialle, M ; Cutler, J ; Cypryanska, M ; Dabrowska, J ; Daniels, MA ; Davis, VH ; Dayley, PN ; Delouvee, S ; Denkovski, O ; Dezecache, G ; Dhaliwal, NA ; Diato, AB ; Di Paolo, R ; Drosinou, M ; Dulleck, U ; Ekmanis, J ; Ertan, AS ; Etienne, TW ; Farhana, HH ; Farkhari, F ; Farmer, H ; Fenwick, A ; Fidanovski, K ; Flew, T ; Fraser, S ; Frempong, RB ; Fugelsang, JA ; Gale, J ; Garcia-Navarro, EB ; Garladinne, P ; Ghajjou, O ; Gkinopoulos, T ; Gray, K ; Griffin, SM ; Gronfeldt, B ; Gumren, M ; Gurung, RL ; Halperin, E ; Harris, E ; Herzon, V ; Hruska, M ; Huang, G ; Hudecek, MFC ; Isler, O ; Jangard, S ; Jorgensen, FJ ; Kachanoff, F ; Kahn, J ; Dangol, AK ; Keudel, O ; Koppel, L ; Koverola, M ; Kubin, E ; Kunnari, A ; Kutiyski, Y ; Laguna, O ; Leota, J ; Lermer, E ; Levy, J ; Levy, N ; Li, C ; Long, EU ; Longoni, C ; Maglic, M ; McCashin, D ; Metcalf, AL ; Miklousic, I ; El Mimouni, S ; Miura, A ; Molina-Paredes, J ; Monroy-Fonseca, C ; Morales-Marente, E ; Moreau, D ; Muda, R ; Myer, A ; Nash, K ; Nesh-Nash, T ; Nitschke, JP ; Nurse, MS ; Ohtsubo, Y ; Oldemburgo de Mello, V ; O'Madagain, C ; Onderco, M ; Palacios-Galvez, MS ; Palomaki, J ; Pan, Y ; Papp, Z ; Parnamets, P ; Paruzel-Czachura, M ; Pavlovic, Z ; Payan-Gomez, C ; Perander, S ; Pitman, MM ; Prasad, R ; Pyrkosz-Pacyna, J ; Rathje, S ; Raza, A ; Rego, GG ; Rhee, K ; Robertson, CE ; Rodriguez-Pascual, I ; Saikkonen, T ; Salvador-Ginez, O ; Sampaio, WM ; Santi, GC ; Santiago-Tovar, N ; Savage, D ; Scheffer, JA ; Schonegger, P ; Schultner, DT ; Schutte, EM ; Scott, A ; Sharma, M ; Sharma, P ; Skali, A ; Stadelmann, D ; Stafford, CA ; Stanojevic, D ; Stefaniak, A ; Sternisko, A ; Stoica, A ; Stoyanova, KK ; Strickland, B ; Sundvall, J ; Thomas, JP ; Tinghog, G ; Torgler, B ; Traast, IJ ; Tucciarelli, R ; Tyrala, M ; Ungson, ND ; Uysal, MS ; Van Lange, PAM ; van Prooijen, J-W ; van Rooy, D ; Vastfjall, D ; Verkoeijen, P ; Vieira, JB ; von Sikorski, C ; Walker, AC ; Watermeyer, J ; Wetter, E ; Whillans, A ; Willardt, R ; Wohl, MJA ; Wojcik, AD ; Wu, K ; Yamada, Y ; Yilmaz, O ; Yogeeswaran, K ; Ziemer, C-T ; Zwaan, RA ; Boggio, PS (NATURE PORTFOLIO, 2022-04-06)
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    National identity predicts public health support during a global pandemic
    Van Bavel, JJ ; Cichocka, A ; Capraro, V ; Sjastad, H ; Nezlek, JB ; Pavlovic, T ; Alfano, M ; Gelfand, MJ ; Azevedo, F ; Birtel, MD ; Cislak, A ; Lockwood, PL ; Ross, RM ; Abts, K ; Agadullina, E ; Aruta, JJB ; Besharati, SN ; Bor, A ; Choma, BL ; Crabtree, CD ; Cunningham, WA ; De, K ; Ejaz, W ; Elbaek, CT ; Findor, A ; Flichtentrei, D ; Franc, R ; Gjoneska, B ; Gruber, J ; Gualda, E ; Horiuchi, Y ; Toan, LDH ; Ibanez, A ; Imran, MA ; Israelashvili, J ; Jasko, K ; Kantorowicz, J ; Kantorowicz-Reznichenko, E ; Krouwel, A ; Laakasuo, M ; Lamm, C ; Leygue, C ; Lin, M-J ; Mansoor, MS ; Marie, A ; Mayiwar, L ; Mazepus, H ; McHugh, C ; Minda, JP ; Mitkidis, P ; Olsson, A ; Otterbring, T ; Packer, DJ ; Perry, A ; Petersen, MB ; Puthillam, A ; Riano-Moreno, JC ; Rothmund, T ; Santamaria-Garcia, H ; Schmid, PC ; Stoyanov, D ; Tewari, S ; Todosijevic, B ; Tsakiris, M ; Tung, HH ; Umbres, RG ; Vanags, E ; Vlasceanu, M ; Vonasch, A ; Yucel, M ; Zhang, Y ; Abad, M ; Adler, E ; Akrawi, N ; Mdarhri, HA ; Amara, H ; Amodio, DM ; Antazo, BG ; Apps, M ; Ay, FC ; Ba, MH ; Barbosa, S ; Bastian, B ; Berg, A ; Bernal-Zarate, MP ; Bernstein, M ; Bialek, M ; Bilancini, E ; Bogatyreva, N ; Boncinelli, L ; Booth, JE ; Borau, S ; Buchel, O ; Cameron, CD ; Carvalho, CF ; Celadin, T ; Cerami, C ; Chalise, HN ; Cheng, X ; Cian, L ; Cockcroft, K ; Conway, J ; Andres Cordoba-Delgado, M ; Crespi, C ; Crouzevialle, M ; Cutler, J ; Dabrowska, J ; Cypryanska, M ; Daniels, MA ; Davis, VH ; Dayley, PN ; Delouvee, S ; Denkovski, O ; Dezecache, G ; Dhaliwal, NA ; Diato, AB ; Di Paolo, R ; Drosinou, M ; Dulleck, U ; Ekmanis, J ; Ertan, AS ; Etienne, TW ; Farhana, HH ; Farkhari, F ; Farmer, H ; Fenwick, A ; Fidanovski, K ; Flew, T ; Fraser, S ; Frempong, RB ; Fugelsang, JA ; Gale, J ; Begona Garcia-Navarro, E ; Garladinne, P ; Ghajjou, O ; Gkinopoulos, T ; Gray, K ; Griffin, SM ; Gronfeldt, B ; Gumren, M ; Gurung, RL ; Halperin, E ; Harris, E ; Herzon, V ; Hruska, M ; Huang, G ; Hudecek, MFC ; Isler, O ; Jangard, S ; Jorgensen, FJ ; Kachanoff, F ; Kahn, J ; Dangol, AK ; Keudel, O ; Koppel, L ; Koverola, M ; Kubin, E ; Kunnari, A ; Kutiyski, Y ; Laguna, O ; Leota, J ; Lermer, E ; Levy, J ; Levy, N ; Li, C ; Long, EU ; Longoni, C ; Maglic, M ; McCashin, D ; Metcalf, AL ; Miklousic, I ; El Mimouni, S ; Miura, A ; Molina-Paredes, J ; Monroy-Fonseca, C ; Morales-Marente, E ; Moreau, D ; Muda, R ; Myer, A ; Nash, K ; Nesh-Nash, T ; Nitschke, JP ; Nurse, MS ; Ohtsubo, Y ; de Mello, VO ; O'Madagain, C ; Onderco, M ; Soledad Palacios-Galvez, M ; Palomaki, J ; Pan, Y ; Papp, Z ; Parnamets, P ; Paruzel-Czachura, M ; Pavlovic, Z ; Payan-Gomez, C ; Perander, S ; Pitman, MM ; Prasad, R ; Pyrkosz-Pacyna, J ; Rathje, S ; Raza, A ; Rego, GG ; Rhee, K ; Robertson, CE ; Rodriguez-Pascual, I ; Saikkonen, T ; Salvador-Ginez, O ; Sampaio, WM ; Santi, GC ; Santiago-Tovar, N ; Savage, D ; Scheffer, JA ; Schonegger, P ; Schultner, DT ; Schutte, EM ; Scott, A ; Sharma, M ; Sharma, P ; Skali, A ; Stadelmann, D ; Stafford, CA ; Stanojevic, D ; Stefaniak, A ; Sternisko, A ; Stoica, A ; Stoyanova, KK ; Strickland, B ; Sundvall, J ; Thomas, JP ; Tinghog, G ; Torgler, B ; Traast, IJ ; Tucciarelli, R ; Tyrala, M ; Ungson, ND ; Uysal, MS ; Van Lange, PAM ; van Prooijen, J-W ; van Rooy, D ; Vastfjall, D ; Verkoeijen, P ; Vieira, JB ; von Sikorski, C ; Walker, AC ; Watermeyer, J ; Wetter, E ; Whillans, A ; Willardt, R ; Wohl, MJA ; Wojcik, AD ; Wu, K ; Yamada, Y ; Yilmaz, O ; Yogeeswaran, K ; Ziemer, C-T ; Zwaan, RA ; Boggio, PS (NATURE PORTFOLIO, 2022-01-26)
    Changing collective behaviour and supporting non-pharmaceutical interventions is an important component in mitigating virus transmission during a pandemic. In a large international collaboration (Study 1, N = 49,968 across 67 countries), we investigated self-reported factors associated with public health behaviours (e.g., spatial distancing and stricter hygiene) and endorsed public policy interventions (e.g., closing bars and restaurants) during the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic (April-May 2020). Respondents who reported identifying more strongly with their nation consistently reported greater engagement in public health behaviours and support for public health policies. Results were similar for representative and non-representative national samples. Study 2 (N = 42 countries) conceptually replicated the central finding using aggregate indices of national identity (obtained using the World Values Survey) and a measure of actual behaviour change during the pandemic (obtained from Google mobility reports). Higher levels of national identification prior to the pandemic predicted lower mobility during the early stage of the pandemic (r = -0.40). We discuss the potential implications of links between national identity, leadership, and public health for managing COVID-19 and future pandemics.
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    Perceiving societal pressure to be happy is linked to poor well-being, especially in happy nations
    Dejonckheere, E ; Rhee, JJ ; Baguma, PK ; Barry, O ; Becker, M ; Bilewicz, M ; Castelain, T ; Costantini, G ; Dimdins, G ; Espinosa, A ; Finchilescu, G ; Friese, M ; Gastardo-Conaco, MC ; Gomez, A ; Gonzalez, R ; Goto, N ; Halama, P ; Hurtado-Parrado, C ; Jiga-Boy, GM ; Karl, JA ; Novak, L ; Ausmees, L ; Loughnan, S ; Mastor, KA ; McLatchie, N ; Onyishi, IE ; Rizwan, M ; Schaller, M ; Serafimovska, E ; Suh, EM ; Jr, WBS ; Tong, EMW ; Torres, A ; Turner, RN ; Vinogradov, A ; Wang, Z ; Yeung, VW-L ; Amiot, CE ; Boonyasiriwat, W ; Peker, M ; Van Lange, PAM ; Vauclair, C-M ; Kuppens, P ; Bastian, B (NATURE PORTFOLIO, 2022-02-17)
    Happiness is a valuable experience, and societies want their citizens to be happy. Although this societal commitment seems laudable, overly emphasizing positivity (versus negativity) may create an unattainable emotion norm that ironically compromises individual well-being. In this multi-national study (40 countries; 7443 participants), we investigate how societal pressure to be happy and not sad predicts emotional, cognitive and clinical indicators of well-being around the world, and examine how these relations differ as a function of countries' national happiness levels (collected from the World Happiness Report). Although detrimental well-being associations manifest for an average country, the strength of these relations varies across countries. People's felt societal pressure to be happy and not sad is particularly linked to poor well-being in countries with a higher World Happiness Index. Although the cross-sectional nature of our work prohibits causal conclusions, our findings highlight the correlational link between social emotion valuation and individual well-being, and suggest that high national happiness levels may have downsides for some.
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    Searching for meaning is associated with costly prosociality
    Dakin, BC ; Laham, SM ; Tan, NP-J ; Bastian, B ; Jong, J (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2021-10-25)
    The study of meaning in life has largely centered on its relationship with personal well-being, while a focus on how meaning is related to enhancing the well-being of others has received less research attention. Although searching for meaning may imply lower personal well-being, we find that meaning-seekers are more motivated to perform costly prosocial actions for the sake of others' well-being, given the perceived meaningfulness of these behaviors. Studies 1-4 (N = 780) show that meaning-seeking correlates with the motivation to engage in a range of costly prosocial behaviors. Meaning-seeking is further shown to be distinct from pursuing happiness in its relationship with costly prosociality (Study 2 & 3) and to share a stronger association with high-cost than low-cost prosociality (Study 3 & 4). Study 5 (N = 370; pre-registered) further shows that the search for meaning is related to costly prosocial behavior in the recent past. While our studies are cross-sectional, the pattern of findings suggests that seeking meaning (rather than happiness) may play an important role in motivating altruistic tendencies.
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    Heightened male aggression toward sexualized women following romantic rejection: The mediating role of sex goal activation
    Blake, KR ; Bastian, B ; Denson, TF (WILEY, 2018-01-01)
    Research from a variety of disciplines suggests a positive relationship between Western cultural sexualization and women's likelihood of suffering harm. In the current experiment, 157 young men were romantically rejected by a sexualized or non-sexualized woman then given the opportunity to blast the woman with loud bursts of white noise. We tested whether the activation of sexual goals in men would mediate the relationship between sexualization and aggressive behavior after romantic rejection. We also tested whether behaving aggressively toward a woman after romantic rejection would increase men's feelings of sexual dominance. Results showed that interacting with a sexualized woman increased men's sex goals. Heightened sex goal activation, in turn, predicted increased aggression after romantic rejection. This result remained significant despite controlling for the effects of trait aggressiveness and negative affect. The findings suggest that heightened sex goal activation may lead men to perpetrate aggression against sexualized women who reject them.
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    Perceiving social pressure not to feel negative predicts depressive symptoms in daily life
    Dejonckheere, E ; Bastian, B ; Fried, EI ; Murphy, SC ; Kuppens, P (WILEY, 2017-09-01)
    BACKGROUND: Western societies often overemphasize the pursuit of happiness, and regard negative feelings such as sadness or anxiety as maladaptive and unwanted. Despite this emphasis on happiness, the amount of people suffering from depressive complaints is remarkably high. To explain this apparent paradox, we examined whether experiencing social pressure not to feel sad or anxious could in fact contribute to depressive symptoms. METHODS: A sample of individuals (n = 112) with elevated depression scores (Patient Health Questionnaire [PHQ-9] ≥ 10) took part in an online daily diary study in which they rated their depressive symptoms and perceived social pressure not to feel depressed or anxious for 30 consecutive days. Using multilevel VAR models, we investigated the temporal relation between this perceived social pressure and depressive symptoms to determine directionality. RESULTS: Primary analyses consistently indicated that experiencing social pressure predicts increases in both overall severity scores and most individual symptoms of depression, but not vice versa. A set of secondary analyses, in which we adopted a network perspective on depression, confirmed these findings. Using this approach, centrality analysis revealed that perceived social pressure not to feel negative plays an instigating role in depression, reflected by the high out- and low instrength centrality of this pressure in the various depression networks. CONCLUSIONS: Together, these findings indicate how perceived societal norms may contribute to depression, hinting at a possible malignant consequence of society's denouncement of negative emotions. Clinical implications are discussed.