Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences - Research Publications

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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.
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    How might eating disorders stigmatization worsen eating disorders symptom severity? Evaluation of a stigma internalization model
    Griffiths, S ; Mitchison, D ; Murray, SB ; Mond, JM ; Bastian, BB (WILEY, 2018-08-01)
    OBJECTIVE: Eating disorders stigmatization is common and is associated with greater eating disorders symptom severity. This study sought to elucidate stigma internalization as a potential mechanism underlying this association. Two central aspects of stigma internalization were focused on: alienation and social withdrawal. METHOD: A cross-national sample of individuals with self-reported eating disorders (N = 260) completed measures of eating disorders stigmatization, symptom severity, alienation, and social withdrawal. RESULTS: The model evidenced excellent fit. Eating disorders stigmatization directly predicted both alienation and social withdrawal, which, in turn, directly predicted symptom severity. Indirect effect analyses indicated that greater eating disorders stigmatization ultimately predicted greater symptom severity via alienation and social withdrawal. Moreover, social withdrawal mediated the association of alienation with symptom severity. Fitting a direct pathway from eating disorder stigmatization to symptom severity did not improve model fit. DISCUSSION: Our model provides a potentially useful account of the mechanisms by which eating disorders stigmatization might worsen eating disorder symptom severity. Specifically, the stigma internalization processes of alienation and social withdrawal may be important factors linking stigmatization with symptom severity. The findings have implications for clinicians attempting to help individuals with eating disorders to monitor and modify their responses to eating disorders stigmatization.
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    The evolution of extreme cooperation via shared dysphoric experiences!
    Whitehouse, H ; Jong, J ; Buhrmester, MD ; Gomez, A ; Bastian, B ; Kavanagh, CM ; Newson, M ; Matthews, M ; Lanman, JA ; Mckay, R ; Gavrilets, S (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2017-03-14)
    Willingness to lay down one's life for a group of non-kin, well documented historically and ethnographically, represents an evolutionary puzzle. Building on research in social psychology, we develop a mathematical model showing how conditioning cooperation on previous shared experience can allow individually costly pro-group behavior to evolve. The model generates a series of predictions that we then test empirically in a range of special sample populations (including military veterans, college fraternity/sorority members, football fans, martial arts practitioners, and twins). Our empirical results show that sharing painful experiences produces "identity fusion" - a visceral sense of oneness - which in turn can motivate self-sacrifice, including willingness to fight and die for the group. Practically, our account of how shared dysphoric experiences produce identity fusion helps us better understand such pressing social issues as suicide terrorism, holy wars, sectarian violence, gang-related violence, and other forms of intergroup conflict.
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    Income inequality not gender inequality positively covaries with female sexualization on social media
    Blake, KR ; Bastian, B ; Denson, TF ; Grosjean, P ; Brooks, RC (NATL ACAD SCIENCES, 2018-08-28)
    Publicly displayed, sexualized depictions of women have proliferated, enabled by new communication technologies, including the internet and mobile devices. These depictions are often claimed to be outcomes of a culture of gender inequality and female oppression, but, paradoxically, recent rises in sexualization are most notable in societies that have made strong progress toward gender parity. Few empirical tests of the relation between gender inequality and sexualization exist, and there are even fewer tests of alternative hypotheses. We examined aggregate patterns in 68,562 sexualized self-portrait photographs ("sexy selfies") shared publicly on Twitter and Instagram and their association with city-, county-, and cross-national indicators of gender inequality. We then investigated the association between sexy-selfie prevalence and income inequality, positing that sexualization-a marker of high female competition-is greater in environments in which incomes are unequal and people are preoccupied with relative social standing. Among 5,567 US cities and 1,622 US counties, areas with relatively more sexy selfies were more economically unequal but not more gender oppressive. A complementary pattern emerged cross-nationally (113 nations): Income inequality positively covaried with sexy-selfie prevalence, particularly within more developed nations. To externally validate our findings, we investigated and confirmed that economically unequal (but not gender-oppressive) areas in the United States also had greater aggregate sales in goods and services related to female physical appearance enhancement (beauty salons and women's clothing). Here, we provide an empirical understanding of what female sexualization reflects in societies and why it proliferates.
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    The Roles of Dehumanization and Moral Outrage in Retributive Justice
    Bastian, B ; Denson, TF ; Haslam, N ; Krueger, F (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2013-04-23)
    When innocents are intentionally harmed, people are motivated to see that offenders get their "just deserts". The severity of the punishment they seek is driven by the perceived magnitude of the harm and moral outrage. The present research extended this model of retributive justice by incorporating the role of offender dehumanization. In three experiments relying on survey methodology in Australia and the United States, participants read about different crimes that varied by type (child molestation, violent, or white collar - Studies 1 and 2) or severity (Study 3). The findings demonstrated that both moral outrage and dehumanization predicted punishment independently of the effects of crime type or crime severity. Both moral outrage and dehumanization mediated the relationship between perceived harm and severity of punishment. These findings highlight the role of offender dehumanization in punishment decisions and extend our understanding of processes implicated in retributive justice.
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    Moral expansiveness short form: Validity and reliability of the MESx
    Crimsto, D ; Hornsey, MJ ; Bain, PG ; Bastian, B ; Wetherell, G (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2018-10-18)
    Moral expansiveness refers to the range of entities (human and non-human) deemed worthy of moral concern and treatment. Previous research has established that the Moral Expansiveness Scale (MES) is a powerful predictor of altruistic moral decision-making and captures a unique dimension of moral cognition. However, the length of the full MES may be restrictive for some researchers. Here we establish the reliability and validity of a reduced moral expansiveness scale, the MESx. Consistent with the full version, the MESx is strongly associated with (but not reducible to) theoretically related constructs, such as endorsement of universalism values, identification with all humanity, and connectedness to nature. The MESx also predicted measures of altruistic moral decision-making to the same degree as the full MES. Further, the MESx passed tests of discriminant validity, was unrelated to political conservatism (unlike the full MES), only mildly associated with the tendency to provide socially desirable responses, and produced moderate reliability over time. We conclude that the MESx is a psychometrically valid alternative for researchers requiring a short measure of moral expansiveness.
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    Shared Adversity Increases Team Creativity Through Fostering Supportive Interaction
    Bastian, B ; Jetten, J ; Thai, HA ; Steffens, NK (FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2018-11-23)
    In the current era, building more innovative teams is key to organizational success, yet there is little consensus on how best to achieve this. Common wisdom suggests that positive reinforcement through shared positive rewards builds social support within teams, and in turn facilitates innovation. Research on basic group processes, cultural rituals, and the evolution of pro-group behavior has, however, revealed that sharing adverse experiences is an alternative path to promoting group bonding. Here, we examined whether sharing an adverse experience not only builds social support within teams, but also in turn enhances creativity within novel teams. Drawing on behavioral observation of an experimental group interaction we find evidence that sharing an adverse (vs. non-adverse) experience leads to increased supportive interactions between team members and this in turn boosts creativity within a novel team. These effects were robust across different indicators of creativity: objective measures of creativity, third party ratings of the creativity of group products, and participants' own perceptions of group creativity. Our findings offer a new perspective from which to understand how best to boost innovation and creative output within teams.