How men and women show love
Our stereotype might be that women are better at expressing love and affection than men, but a new study from researchers at the University of Texas paints a more complicated picture. They recruited more than a hundred newlyweds based on marriage license records in four counties in rural central Pennsylvania and followed the couples for over a decade. When men felt more in love, they were indeed more likely to initiate sex; women feeling more in love were actually less likely to initiate sex. And rather than being more affectionate than their husbands, women mainly expressed love by being less antagonistic and more accommodating. Men feeling more in love, meanwhile, were not less negative—but rather showed it by being more interested in doing things with their wives.
Schoenfeld, E. et al., “Do Men and Women Show Love Differently in Marriage?” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (forthcoming).
Who’s influential online
Facebook fascinates social scientists—as well as advertisers—as a real-time, trackable network of influences. So who really influences whom? Using a Facebook application for discussing the movie industry, researchers at New York University arranged it so that automated messages of users’ activities were randomly sent to users’ friends, to see who was more influential in generating new users and which friends were more susceptible to influence. Older users, it turns out, were generally more influential, especially among peers of the same age, while younger users were generally more susceptible. Men were more influential than women, but women were less susceptible to influence and exerted more influence over men than over other women. In addition, users with a definitive relationship status—either single or married—were more influential than users with relationships in between. Married users were the least susceptible to influence.
Aral, S. & Walker, D., “Identifying Influential and Susceptible Members of Social Networks,” Science (forthcoming).
I can’t tell how you feel
When people seem unfriendly, we often assume they’re indifferent. But it might be something else: a reading (people) disability. Psychologists conducted several experiments with students at North Dakota State University and found that those who reported themselves to be colder to other people were somewhat less accurate in recognizing others’ displays of emotion, determining the proper emotional response to a situation, or evaluating the emotional character of words. Although women reported themselves to be warmer than men, colder women were also more impaired than men in emotional recognition.
Moeller, S. et al., “The Big Chill: Interpersonal Coldness and Emotion-Labeling Skills,” Journal of Personality (June 2012).
Stop choosing to be poor!
In America, freedom of choice is a value embraced across the political spectrum. But it turns out that simply talking about choices may have a political effect. In a series of experiments, researchers found that getting Americans to think about choices—for example, by having them keep track of when someone else makes choices—makes them more economically conservative. After thinking about choices, Americans were less disturbed by statistics showing inequality, less inclined to believe that societal factors help people become wealthy, and less supportive of redistribution of wealth. On the other hand, after thinking about choices, Americans were more supportive of government policies that helped everyone and weren’t redistributive.
Savani, K. & Rattan, A., “A Choice Mind-Set Increases the Acceptance and Maintenance of Wealth Inequality,” Psychological Science (forthcoming).
Derailed by student debt
Student debt is becoming a major issue in the United States, given ever-higher tuition, struggling families, and a weak job market. Analyzing data from an annual survey of young people, sociologists found that debt can even backfire in its main purpose: helping borrowers earn a college diploma. Taking on debt up to around $10,000, they found, increased the odds that a student would graduate. At that point, though, more debt actually reduced the odds of graduating for public college students, especially students from modest backgrounds. (Private college students experienced no such drop-off in the odds of graduating at higher levels of debt.)
Dwyer, R. et al., “Debt and Graduation from American Universities,” Social Forces (forthcoming).