Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences - Research Publications

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    Positive and meaningful lives: Systematic review and meta-analysis of eudaimonic well-being in first-episode psychosis
    Gleeson, JFM ; Eleftheriadis, D ; Santesteban-Echarri, O ; Koval, P ; Bastian, B ; Penn, DL ; Lim, MH ; Ryan, RM ; Alvarez-Jimenez, M (WILEY, 2020-10-10)
    BACKGROUND: First-episode psychosis typically has its onset during adolescence. Prolonged deficits in social functioning are common in FEP and yet often variance in functioning remains unexplained. Developmental psychology frameworks may be useful for understanding these deficits. Eudaimonic well-being (EWB), or positive self-development, is a developmental psychology construct that has been shown to predict mental health outcomes across multiple populations but has not been systematically reviewed in FEP. AIM: Our aim was to systematically review the evidence for: the predictors of EWB, the effectiveness of EWB interventions and to examine the quality of this research in FEP. METHODS: Selected studies measured either composite or components of EWB. A systematic search produced 2876 abstracts and 122 articles were identified for full screening which produced 17 final papers with 2459 participants. RESULTS: Studies comprised six RCTs, eight prospective follow-up studies and three case-controlled studies. Self-esteem and self-efficacy were the most commonly measured components. A meta-analysis of RCTs revealed no statistically significant effect of interventions on self-esteem. The extant research indicates that character strengths may be associated with higher EWB. Self-esteem may be lower in FEP compared with age matched controls but not different from ultra-high risk patients. Self-esteem appears to be associated with poorer insight and improved therapeutic alliance. Significant problems with both external and internal validity of reviewed studies were apparent. CONCLUSIONS: The hypotheses that lowered EWB is a risk factor for both onset of FEP and for poorer functional outcomes warrant further investigation. There is currently no evidence for effective interventions for EWB in FEP.
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    Neuroticism may not reflect emotional variability
    Kalokerinos, EK ; Murphy, SC ; Koval, P ; Bailen, NH ; Crombez, G ; Hollenstein, T ; Gleeson, J ; Thompson, RJ ; Van Ryckeghem, DML ; Kuppens, P ; Bastian, B (NATL ACAD SCIENCES, 2020-04-28)
    Neuroticism is one of the major traits describing human personality, and a predictor of mental and physical disorders with profound public health significance. Individual differences in emotional variability are thought to reflect the core of neuroticism. However, the empirical relation between emotional variability and neuroticism may be partially the result of a measurement artifact reflecting neuroticism's relation with higher mean levels-rather than greater variability-of negative emotion. When emotional intensity is measured using bounded scales, there is a dependency between variability and mean levels: at low (or high) intensity, it is impossible to demonstrate high variability. As neuroticism is positively associated with mean levels of negative emotion, this may account for the relation between neuroticism and emotional variability. In a metaanalysis of 11 studies (N = 1,205 participants; 83,411 observations), we tested whether the association between neuroticism and negative emotional variability was clouded by a dependency between variability and the mean. We found a medium-sized positive association between neuroticism and negative emotional variability, but, when using a relative variability index to correct for mean negative emotion, this association disappeared. This indicated that neuroticism was associated with experiencing more intense, but not more variable, negative emotions. Our findings call into question theory, measurement scales, and data suggesting that emotional variability is central to neuroticism. In doing so, they provide a revisionary perspective for understanding how this individual difference may predispose to mental and physical disorders.
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    Essentialist beliefs predict automatic motor-responses to social categories
    Bastian, B ; Loughnan, S ; Koval, P (SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD, 2011-07-01)
    Essentialist thinking has been implicated in producing segregation between social groups even in the absence of negative attitudes. This mode of category representation brings social group information to the fore in social information processing, suggesting that the social consequences of essentialism are associated with basic categorization processes. Drawing on recent work demonstrating that automatic approach and avoidance behaviors are directly embedded in intergroup categorization, we show that people who hold essentialist beliefs about human attributes are faster to approach their ingroup. Moreover this relationship is not accounted for by explicit prejudice towards the outgroup and essentialist beliefs were unrelated to implicit evaluation of either group. The findings demonstrate that essentialist beliefs are associated with immediate behavioral responses attached to social category exemplars, highlighting the links between these beliefs and basic categorization processes.
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    Blaming, praising, and protecting our humanity: The implications of everyday dehumanization for judgments of moral status
    Bastian, B ; Laham, SM ; Wilson, S ; Haslam, N ; Koval, P (WILEY, 2011-09-01)
    Being human implies a particular moral status: having moral value, agency, and responsibility. However, people are not seen as equally human. Across two studies, we examine the consequences that subtle variations in the perceived humanness of actors or groups have for their perceived moral status. Drawing on Haslam's two-dimensional model of humanness and focusing on three ways people may be considered to have moral status - moral patiency (value), agency, or responsibility - we demonstrate that subtly denying humanness to others has implications for whether they are blamed, praised, or considered worthy of moral concern and rehabilitation. Moreover, we show that distinct human characteristics are linked to specific judgments of moral status. This work demonstrates that everyday judgments of moral status are influenced by perceptions of humanness.
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    Feeling Bad About Being Sad: The Role of Social Expectancies in Amplifying Negative Mood
    Bastian, B ; Kuppens, P ; Hornsey, MJ ; Park, J ; Koval, P ; Uchida, Y (AMER PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOC, 2012-02-01)
    Our perception of how others expect us to feel has significant implications for our emotional functioning. Across 4 studies the authors demonstrate that when people think others expect them not to feel negative emotions (i.e., sadness) they experience more negative emotion and reduced well-being. The authors show that perceived social expectancies predict these differences in emotion and well-being both more consistently than-and independently of-personal expectancies and that they do so by promoting negative self-evaluation when experiencing negative emotion. We find evidence for these effects within Australia (Studies 1 and 2) as well as Japan (Study 2), although the effects of social expectancies are especially evident in the former (Studies 1 and 2). We also find experimental evidence for the causal role of social expectancies in negative emotional responses to negative emotional events (Studies 3 and 4). In short, when people perceive that others think they should feel happy, and not sad, this leads them to feel sad more frequently and intensely.
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    Our Flaws Are More Human Than Yours: Ingroup Bias in Humanizing Negative Characteristics
    Koval, P ; Laham, SM ; Haslam, N ; Bastian, B ; Whelan, JA (SAGE PUBLICATIONS INC, 2012-03-01)
    Four studies investigated whether people tend to see ingroup flaws as part of human nature (HN) to a greater degree than outgroup flaws. In Study 1, people preferentially ascribed high HN flaws to their ingroup relative to two outgroups. Study 2 demonstrated that flaws were rated higher on HN when attributed to the ingroup than when attributed to an outgroup, and no such difference occurred for positive traits. Study 3 replicated this humanizing ingroup flaws (HIF) effect and showed that it was (a) independent of desirability and (b) specific to the HN sense of humanness. Study 4 replicated the results of Study 3 and demonstrated that the HIF effect is amplified under ingroup identity threat. Together, these findings show that people humanize ingroup flaws and preferentially ascribe high HN flaws to the ingroup. These ingroup humanizing biases may serve a group-protective function by mitigating ingroup flaws as "only human."
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    Sad and Alone: Social Expectancies for Experiencing Negative Emotions Are Linked to Feelings of Loneliness
    Bastian, B ; Koval, P ; Erbas, Y ; Houben, M ; Pe, M ; Kuppens, P (SAGE PUBLICATIONS INC, 2015-07-01)
    Western culture has become obsessed with happiness, while treating negative emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety as pathological and nonnormative. These salient cultural norms communicate social expectations that people should feel “happy” and not “sad.” Previous research has shown that these “social expectancies” can increase feelings of sadness and reduce well-being. In this study, we examined whether these perceived social pressures might also lead people to feel socially disconnected—lonely—when they do experience negative emotions? Drawing on a large stratified sample prescreened for depressive symptoms and utilizing both trait measures and moment-to-moment “experience sampling” over a 7-day period, we found that people who felt more negative emotions and also believe that others in society disapprove of these emotions reported more loneliness. Our data suggest that social pressures to be happy and not sad can make people feel more socially isolated when they do feel sad.