Publications by authors named "Jay J Van Bavel"

70 Publications

A multi-national test on self-reported compliance with COVID-19 public health measures: The role of individual age and gender demographics and countries' developmental status.

Soc Sci Med 2021 10 20;286:114335. Epub 2021 Aug 20.

Department of Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.

Rationale/objective: The COVID-19 pandemic has brought far-reaching consequences on individual and societal levels. Social distancing and physical hygiene constitute effective public health measures to limit the spread of the virus. This study investigated age and gender demographics, in tandem with national levels of human development, as crucial factors influencing self-reported compliance with COVID-19-related public health measures.

Methods: The present study leveraged a large multi-national sample that ranged across the adult lifespan (18-100 years) and comprised 45,772 women and men from 66 countries/territories. Data were collected in Spring (2020) during the earlier phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Self-reports of compliance with two public health measures (spatial distancing and physical hygiene) were assessed via online survey. Human Development Index (HDI), developed by the United Nations Development Program, was used as a proxy of a country's achievement in key dimensions of human development.

Results: Older age, female gender, and lower HDI were independently associated with greater self-reported compliance. A significant three-way interaction further revealed that self-reported compliance was lowest in young males from well-developed countries, while highest among females across all ages from less-developed countries.

Conclusion: The study offers an integration of individual-level and country-level demographic predictors of self-reported compliance and allows for robust testing in a large multi-national adult lifespan sample for enhanced generalizability. The results highlight the potential of data-driven, tailored (i.e., towards specific demographics, countries) health campaigns and public policies in the fight against a global pandemic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2021.114335DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8378016PMC
October 2021

How social media shapes polarization.

Trends Cogn Sci 2021 Aug 21. Epub 2021 Aug 21.

Department of Psychology, New York University, New York, NY, USA. Electronic address:

This article reviews the empirical evidence on the relationship between social media and political polarization. We argue that social media shapes polarization through the following social, cognitive, and technological processes: partisan selection, message content, and platform design and algorithms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2021.07.013DOI Listing
August 2021

Out-group animosity drives engagement on social media.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2021 Jun;118(26)

Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3RQ, United Kingdom;

There has been growing concern about the role social media plays in political polarization. We investigated whether out-group animosity was particularly successful at generating engagement on two of the largest social media platforms: Facebook and Twitter. Analyzing posts from news media accounts and US congressional members ( = 2,730,215), we found that posts about the political out-group were shared or retweeted about twice as often as posts about the in-group. Each individual term referring to the political out-group increased the odds of a social media post being shared by 67%. Out-group language consistently emerged as the strongest predictor of shares and retweets: the average effect size of out-group language was about 4.8 times as strong as that of negative affect language and about 6.7 times as strong as that of moral-emotional language-both established predictors of social media engagement. Language about the out-group was a very strong predictor of "angry" reactions (the most popular reactions across all datasets), and language about the in-group was a strong predictor of "love" reactions, reflecting in-group favoritism and out-group derogation. This out-group effect was not moderated by political orientation or social media platform, but stronger effects were found among political leaders than among news media accounts. In sum, out-group language is the strongest predictor of social media engagement across all relevant predictors measured, suggesting that social media may be creating perverse incentives for content expressing out-group animosity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2024292118DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8256037PMC
June 2021

Stewardship of global collective behavior.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2021 Jul;118(27)

Department of Psychology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544.

Collective behavior provides a framework for understanding how the actions and properties of groups emerge from the way individuals generate and share information. In humans, information flows were initially shaped by natural selection yet are increasingly structured by emerging communication technologies. Our larger, more complex social networks now transfer high-fidelity information over vast distances at low cost. The digital age and the rise of social media have accelerated changes to our social systems, with poorly understood functional consequences. This gap in our knowledge represents a principal challenge to scientific progress, democracy, and actions to address global crises. We argue that the study of collective behavior must rise to a "crisis discipline" just as medicine, conservation, and climate science have, with a focus on providing actionable insight to policymakers and regulators for the stewardship of social systems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2025764118DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8271675PMC
July 2021

Racial bias in the sharing economy and the role of trust and self-congruence.

J Exp Psychol Appl 2021 Apr 29. Epub 2021 Apr 29.

Social Identity and Morality Laboratory.

The rise of peer-to-peer platforms has represented one of the major economic and societal developments observed in the last decade. We investigated whether people engage in racial discrimination in the sharing economy, and how such discrimination might be explained and mitigated. Using a set of carefully controlled experiments ( = 1,599), including a pre-registered study on a nationally representative sample, we find causal evidence for racial discrimination. When an identical apartment is presented with a racial out-group (vs. in-group) host, people report more negative attitudes toward the apartment, lower intentions to rent it, and are 25% less likely to choose the apartment over a standard hotel room in an incentivized choice. Reduced self-congruence with apartments owned by out-group hosts mediates these effects. Left-leaning liberals rated the out-group host as trustworthy than the in-group host in non-committing judgments and hypothetical choice, but showed the same in-group preference as right-leaning conservatives when making a real choice. Thus, people may overstate their moral and political aspirations when doing so is cost-free. However, even in incentivized choice, racial discrimination disappeared when the apartment was presented with an explicit trust cue, as a visible top-rating by other consumers (5/5 stars). (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xap0000355DOI Listing
April 2021

The neural basis of ideological differences in race categorization.

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 2021 04 22;376(1822):20200139. Epub 2021 Feb 22.

Department of Psychology and Center for Neural Science, New York University, 6 Washington Place, New York, NY 10003, USA.

Multiracial individuals are often categorized as members of their 'socially subordinate' racial group-a form of social discrimination termed hypodescent-with political conservatives more likely than liberals to show this bias. Although hypodescent has been linked to racial hierarchy preservation motives, it remains unclear political ideology influences categorization: Do conservatives and liberals see, feel or think about mixed-race faces differently? Do they differ in sensitivity to Black prototypicality (i.e. skin tone darkness and Afrocentric features) or racial ambiguity (i.e. categorization difficulty) of Black/White mixed-race faces? To help answer these questions, we collected a politically diverse sample of White participants and had them categorize mixed-race faces as Black or White during functional neuroimaging. We found that conservatism was related to greater anterior insula activity to racially ambiguous faces, and this pattern of brain activation mediated conservatives' use of hypodescent. This demonstrates that conservatives' greater sensitivity to racial ambiguity (rather than Black prototypicality) gives rise to greater categorization of mixed-race individuals into the socially subordinate group and tentatively suggests that conservatives may differ from liberals in their affective reactions to mixed-race faces. Implications for the study of race categorization and political psychology are discussed. This article is part of the theme issue 'The political brain: neurocognitive and computational mechanisms'.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2020.0139DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7934910PMC
April 2021

Toward a neuropsychology of political orientation: exploring ideology in patients with frontal and midbrain lesions.

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 2021 04 22;376(1822):20200137. Epub 2021 Feb 22.

Department of Psychology, New York University, New York, NY, USA.

How do people form their political beliefs? In an effort to address this question, we adopt a neuropsychological approach. In a natural experiment, we explored links between neuroanatomy and ideological preferences in two samples of brain lesion patients in New York City. Specifically, we compared the political orientations of patients with frontal lobe lesions, patients with amygdala lesions and healthy control subjects. Lesion type classification analyses revealed that people with frontal lesions held more conservative (or less liberal) beliefs than those with anterior temporal lobe lesions or no lesions. Additional analyses predicting ideology by extent of damage provided convergent evidence that greater damage in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex-but not the amygdala-was associated with greater conservatism. These findings were robust to model specifications that adjusted for demographic, mood, and affect-related variables. Although measures of executive function failed to mediate the relationship between frontal lesions and ideology, our findings suggest that the prefrontal cortex may play a role in promoting the development of liberal ideology. Our approach suggests useful directions for future work to address the issue of whether biological developments precede political attitudes or -or both. This article is part of the theme issue 'The political brain: neurocognitive and computational mechanisms'.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2020.0137DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7935085PMC
April 2021

Preregistered Replication of "Feeling Superior Is a Bipartisan Issue: Extremity (Not Direction) of Political Views Predicts Perceived Belief Superiority".

Psychol Sci 2021 03 16;32(3):451-458. Epub 2021 Feb 16.

Department of Psychology, New York University.

There is currently a debate in political psychology about whether dogmatism and belief superiority are symmetric or asymmetric across the ideological spectrum. Toner, Leary, Asher, and Jongman-Sereno (2013) found that dogmatism was higher among conservatives than liberals, but both conservatives and liberals with extreme attitudes reported higher perceived superiority of beliefs. In the current study, we conducted a preregistered direct and conceptual replication of this previous research using a large nationally representative sample. Consistent with Toner et al.'s findings, our results showed that conservatives had higher dogmatism scores than liberals, whereas both conservative and liberal extreme attitudes were associated with higher belief superiority compared with more moderate attitudes. As in their study, we also found that whether conservative or liberal attitudes were associated with higher belief superiority was topic dependent. Contrasting Toner et al.'s findings, our results also showed that ideologically extreme individuals had higher dogmatism. We discuss implications of these results for theoretical debates in political psychology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0956797620968792DOI Listing
March 2021

Speaking my truth: Why personal experiences can bridge divides but mislead.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2021 02;118(8)

Psychology Department, School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2100280118DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7923648PMC
February 2021

Partisan differences in physical distancing are linked to health outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nat Hum Behav 2020 11 2;4(11):1186-1197. Epub 2020 Nov 2.

Department of Psychology, New York University, New York, NY, USA.

Numerous polls suggest that COVID-19 is a profoundly partisan issue in the United States. Using the geotracking data of 15 million smartphones per day, we found that US counties that voted for Donald Trump (Republican) over Hillary Clinton (Democrat) in the 2016 presidential election exhibited 14% less physical distancing between March and May 2020. Partisanship was more strongly associated with physical distancing than numerous other factors, including counties' COVID-19 cases, population density, median income, and racial and age demographics. Contrary to our predictions, the observed partisan gap strengthened over time and remained when stay-at-home orders were active. Additionally, county-level consumption of conservative media (Fox News) was related to reduced physical distancing. Finally, the observed partisan differences in distancing were associated with subsequently higher COVID-19 infection and fatality growth rates in pro-Trump counties. Taken together, these data suggest that US citizens' responses to COVID-19 are subject to a deep-and consequential-partisan divide.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41562-020-00977-7DOI Listing
November 2020

Inter-brain synchrony in teams predicts collective performance.

Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 2021 01;16(1-2):43-57

Department of Psychology, New York University, New York, NY, USA.

Despite decades of research in economics and psychology attempting to identify ingredients that make up successful teams, neuroscientists have only just begun to study how multiple brains interact. Recent research has shown that people's brain activity becomes synchronized with others' (inter-brain synchrony) during social engagement. However, little is known as to whether inter-brain synchrony relates to collective behavior within teams. Here, we merge the nascent field of group neuroscience with the extant literature of team dynamics and collective performance. We recruited 174 participants in groups of 4 and randomly assigned them to complete a series of problem-solving tasks either independently or as a team, while simultaneously recording each person's brain activity using an electroencephalography hyperscanning setup. This design allowed us to examine the relationship between group identification and inter-brain synchrony in explaining collective performance. As expected, teammates identified more strongly with one another, cooperated more on an economic game, and outperformed the average individual on most problem-solving tasks. Crucially, inter-brain synchrony, but not self-reported group identification, predicted collective performance among teams. These results suggest that inter-brain synchrony can be informative in understanding collective performance among teams where self-report measures may fail to capture behavior.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsaa135DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7812618PMC
January 2021

Is the Political Slant of Psychology Research Related to Scientific Replicability?

Perspect Psychol Sci 2020 11 19;15(6):1310-1328. Epub 2020 Aug 19.

Department of Psychology, New York University.

Social science researchers are predominantly liberal, and critics have argued this representation may reduce the robustness of research by embedding liberal values into the research process. In an adversarial collaboration, we examined whether the political slant of research findings in psychology is associated with lower rates of scientific replicability. We analyzed 194 original psychology articles reporting studies that had been subject to a later replication attempt ( = 1,331,413 participants across replications) by having psychology doctoral students (Study 1) and an online sample of U.S. residents (Study 2) from across the political spectrum code the political slant (liberal vs. conservative) of the original research abstracts. The methods and analyses were preregistered. In both studies, the liberal or conservative slant of the original research was not associated with whether the results were successfully replicated. The results remained consistent regardless of the ideology of the coder. Political slant was unrelated to both subsequent citation patterns and the original study's effect size and not consistently related to the original study's sample size. However, we found modest evidence that research with greater political slant-whether liberal or conservative-was less replicable, whereas statistical robustness consistently predicted replication success. We discuss the implications for social science, politics, and replicability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1745691620924463DOI Listing
November 2020

The MAD Model of Moral Contagion: The Role of Motivation, Attention, and Design in the Spread of Moralized Content Online.

Perspect Psychol Sci 2020 07 8;15(4):978-1010. Epub 2020 Jun 8.

Department of Psychology, New York University.

With more than 3 billion users, online social networks represent an important venue for moral and political discourse and have been used to organize political revolutions, influence elections, and raise awareness of social issues. These examples rely on a common process to be effective: the ability to engage users and spread moralized content through online networks. Here, we review evidence that expressions of moral emotion play an important role in the spread of moralized content (a phenomenon we call ). Next, we propose a psychological model called the motivation, attention, and design (MAD) model to explain moral contagion. The MAD model posits that people have group-identity-based to share moral-emotional content, that such content is especially likely to capture our , and that the of social-media platforms amplifies our natural motivational and cognitive tendencies to spread such content. We review each component of the model (as well as interactions between components) and raise several novel, testable hypotheses that can spark progress on the scientific investigation of civic engagement and activism, political polarization, propaganda and disinformation, and other moralized behaviors in the digital age.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1745691620917336DOI Listing
July 2020

The time course of moral perception: an ERP investigation of the moral pop-out effect.

Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 2020 05;15(2):235-246

Department of Psychology, University of Alberta, Edmonton T6G 2R3, Canada.

Humans are highly attuned to perceptual cues about their values. A growing body of evidence suggests that people selectively attend to moral stimuli. However, it is unknown whether morality is prioritized early in perception or much later in cognitive processing. We use a combination of behavioral methods and electroencephalography to investigate how early in perception moral words are prioritized relative to non-moral words. The behavioral data replicate previous research indicating that people are more likely to correctly identify moral than non-moral words in a modified lexical decision task. The electroencephalography data reveal that words are distinguished from non-words as early as 200 ms after onset over frontal brain areas and moral words are distinguished from non-moral words 100 ms later over left-posterior cortex. Further analyses reveal that differences in brain activity to moral vs non-moral words cannot be explained by differences in arousal associated with the words. These results suggest that moral content might be prioritized in conscious awareness after an initial perceptual encoding but before subsequent memory processing or action preparation. This work offers a more precise theoretical framework for understanding how morality impacts vision and behavior.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsaa030DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7304512PMC
May 2020

Using social and behavioural science to support COVID-19 pandemic response.

Nat Hum Behav 2020 05 30;4(5):460-471. Epub 2020 Apr 30.

Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

The COVID-19 pandemic represents a massive global health crisis. Because the crisis requires large-scale behaviour change and places significant psychological burdens on individuals, insights from the social and behavioural sciences can be used to help align human behaviour with the recommendations of epidemiologists and public health experts. Here we discuss evidence from a selection of research topics relevant to pandemics, including work on navigating threats, social and cultural influences on behaviour, science communication, moral decision-making, leadership, and stress and coping. In each section, we note the nature and quality of prior research, including uncertainty and unsettled issues. We identify several insights for effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic and highlight important gaps researchers should move quickly to fill in the coming weeks and months.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41562-020-0884-zDOI Listing
May 2020

Shifting prosocial intuitions: neurocognitive evidence for a value-based account of group-based cooperation.

Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 2020 06;15(4):371-381

Department of Psychology & Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York, NY 10003, USA.

Cooperation is necessary for solving numerous social issues, including climate change, effective governance and economic stability. Value-based decision models contend that prosocial tendencies and social context shape people's preferences for cooperative or selfish behavior. Using functional neuroimaging and computational modeling, we tested these predictions by comparing activity in brain regions previously linked to valuation and executive function during decision-making-the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC), respectively. Participants played Public Goods Games with students from fictitious universities, where social norms were selfish or cooperative. Prosocial participants showed greater vmPFC activity when cooperating and dlPFC-vmPFC connectivity when acting selfishly, whereas selfish participants displayed the opposite pattern. Norm-sensitive participants showed greater dlPFC-vmPFC connectivity when defying group norms. Modeling expectations of cooperation was associated with activity near the right temporoparietal junction. Consistent with value-based models, this suggests that prosocial tendencies and contextual norms flexibly determine whether people prefer cooperation or defection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsaa055DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7308656PMC
June 2020

The social function of rationalization: An identity perspective.

Behav Brain Sci 2020 04 15;43:e52. Epub 2020 Apr 15.

Department of Psychology, New York University, New York, NY10003.

In this commentary, we offer an additional function of rationalization. Namely, in certain social contexts, the proximal and ultimate function of beliefs and desires is social inclusion. In such contexts, rationalization often facilitates distortion of rather than approximation to truth. Understanding the role of social identity is not only timely and important, but also critical to fully understand the function(s) of rationalization.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X19002097DOI Listing
April 2020

Debate around leadership in the Stanford Prison Experiment: Reply to Zimbardo and Haney (2020) and Chan et al. (2020).

Am Psychol 2020 04;75(3):406-407

School of Psychology, University of Queensland.

Access to the Stanford University archive has revealed new material that makes it possible to debate the precise nature and causes of events in the Stanford Prison Experiment. What the authors see as important is that these materials show the experimenters engaged in processes of identity leadership, which encouraged guard cruelty by presenting it as necessary for the achievement of noble collective goals. However, the authors encourage students, teachers, and researchers to engage with this new material themselves to explore alternative perspectives on what actually occurred in the study. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/amp0000627DOI Listing
April 2020

The dark side of social movements: social identity, non-conformity, and the lure of conspiracy theories.

Curr Opin Psychol 2020 10 21;35:1-6. Epub 2020 Feb 21.

Department of Psychology, New York University, New York, NY 10003, USA. Electronic address:

Social change does not always equal social progress-there is a dark side of social movements. We discuss conspiracy theory beliefs - beliefs that a powerful group of people are secretly working towards a malicious goal - as one contributor to destructive social movements. Research has linked conspiracy theory beliefs to anti-democratic attitudes, prejudice and non-normative political behavior. We propose a framework to understand the motivational processes behind conspiracy theories and associated social identities and collective action. We argue that conspiracy theories comprise at least two components - content and qualities-that appeal to people differently based on their motivations. Social identity motives draw people foremost to contents of conspiracy theories while uniqueness motives draw people to qualities of conspiracy theories.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.copsyc.2020.02.007DOI Listing
October 2020

Crowdsourcing hypothesis tests: Making transparent how design choices shape research results.

Psychol Bull 2020 05 16;146(5):451-479. Epub 2020 Jan 16.

Department of Psychology, University of the Andes.

To what extent are research results influenced by subjective decisions that scientists make as they design studies? Fifteen research teams independently designed studies to answer five original research questions related to moral judgments, negotiations, and implicit cognition. Participants from 2 separate large samples (total N > 15,000) were then randomly assigned to complete 1 version of each study. Effect sizes varied dramatically across different sets of materials designed to test the same hypothesis: Materials from different teams rendered statistically significant effects in opposite directions for 4 of 5 hypotheses, with the narrowest range in estimates being d = -0.37 to + 0.26. Meta-analysis and a Bayesian perspective on the results revealed overall support for 2 hypotheses and a lack of support for 3 hypotheses. Overall, practically none of the variability in effect sizes was attributable to the skill of the research team in designing materials, whereas considerable variability was attributable to the hypothesis being tested. In a forecasting survey, predictions of other scientists were significantly correlated with study results, both across and within hypotheses. Crowdsourced testing of research hypotheses helps reveal the true consistency of empirical support for a scientific claim. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/bul0000220DOI Listing
May 2020

Attentional capture helps explain why moral and emotional content go viral.

J Exp Psychol Gen 2020 Apr 5;149(4):746-756. Epub 2019 Sep 5.

Department of Psychology and Center for Neural Science.

Our social media newsfeeds are filled with a variety of content all battling for our limited attention. Across 3 studies, we investigated whether moral and emotional content captures our attention more than other content and if this may help explain why this content is more likely to go viral online. Using a combination of controlled lab experiments and nearly 50,000 political tweets, we found that moral and emotional content are prioritized in early visual attention more than neutral content, and that such attentional capture is associated with increased retweets during political conversations online. Furthermore, we found that the differences in attentional capture among moral and emotional stimuli could not be fully explained by differences in arousal. These studies suggest that attentional capture is 1 basic psychological process that helps explain the increased diffusion of moral and emotional content during political discourse on social media, and shed light on ways in which political leaders, disinformation profiteers, marketers, and activist organizations can spread moralized content by capitalizing on natural tendencies of our perceptual systems. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xge0000673DOI Listing
April 2020

Identity leadership: Managing perceptions of conflict for collective action.

Behav Brain Sci 2019 08 13;42:e136. Epub 2019 Aug 13.

Department of Psychology, New York University, New York, NY 10003.

We argue that how players perceive the attack-defense game might matter far more than its actual underlying structure in determining the outcomes of intergroup conflict. Leaders can use various tactics to dynamically modify these perceptions, from collective victimization to the distortion of the perceived payoffs, with some followers being more receptive than others to such leadership tactics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X19000876DOI Listing
August 2019

Rethinking the nature of cruelty: The role of identity leadership in the Stanford Prison Experiment.

Am Psychol 2019 10 5;74(7):809-822. Epub 2019 Aug 5.

Department of Psychology, New York University.

The Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE) is one of the most famous studies in the history of psychology. For nearly a half century it has been understood to show that assigning people to a toxic role will, on its own, unlock the human capacity to treat others with cruelty. In contrast, principles of identity leadership argue that roles are unlikely to elicit cruelty unless leaders encourage potential perpetrators to identify with what is presented as a noble ingroup cause and to believe their actions are necessary for the advancement of that cause. Although identity leadership has been implicated in behavior ranging from electoral success to obedience to authority, researchers have hitherto had limited capacity to establish whether role conformity or identity leadership provides a better account of the cruelty observed in the SPE. Through examination of material in the SPE archive, we present comprehensive evidence that, rather than guards conforming to role of their own accord, experimenters directly encouraged them to adopt roles and act tough in a manner consistent with tenets of identity leadership. Implications for the analysis of conformity and cruelty as well as for interpretation of the SPE are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/amp0000443DOI Listing
October 2019

Young children police group members at personal cost.

J Exp Psychol Gen 2020 Jan 16;149(1):182-191. Epub 2019 May 16.

Department of Psychology, New York University.

Humans' evolutionary success has depended in part on their willingness to punish, at personal cost, bad actors who have not harmed them directly-a behavior known as costly third-party punishment. The present studies examined the psychological processes underlying this behavior from a developmental perspective, using a novel, naturalistic method. In these studies (ages 3-6, total N = 225), participants of all ages enacted costly punishment, and rates of punishment increased with age. In addition, younger children (ages 3-4), when in a position of authority, were more likely to punish members of their own group, whereas older children (ages 5-6) showed no group- or authority-based differences. These findings demonstrate the developmental emergence of costly punishment, and show how a sense of authority can foster the kind of group-regulatory behavior that costly punishment may have evolved to serve. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xge0000613DOI Listing
January 2020

Perceptual contributions to racial bias in pain recognition.

J Exp Psychol Gen 2019 May;148(5):863-889

Department of Psychology, New York University.

The pain of Black Americans is systematically underdiagnosed and undertreated, compared to the pain of their White counterparts. Extensive research has examined the psychological factors that might account for such biases, including status judgments, racial prejudice, and stereotypes about biological differences between Blacks and Whites. Across seven experiments, we accumulated evidence that lower-level perceptual processes also uniquely contribute to downstream racial biases in pain recognition. We repeatedly observed that White participants showed more stringent thresholds for perceiving pain on Black faces, compared to White faces. A tendency to see painful expressions on Black faces less readily arose, in part, from a disruption in configural processing associated with other-race faces. Subsequent analyses revealed that this racial bias in pain perception could not be easily attributed to stimulus features (e.g., color, luminance, or contrast), subjective evaluations related to pain tolerance and experience (e.g., masculinity, dominance, etc.), or objective differences in face structure and expression intensity between Black and White faces. Finally, we observed that racial biases in perception facilitated biases in pain treatment decisions, and that this relationship existed over and above biased judgments of status and strength, explicit racial bias, and endorsement of false beliefs regarding biological differences. A meta-analysis across 9 total experiments (N = 1,289) confirmed the robustness and size of these effects. This research establishes a subtle, albeit influential, perceptual pathway to intergroup bias in pain care and treatment. Implications for racial bias, face perception, and medical treatment are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xge0000600DOI Listing
May 2019

An ideological asymmetry in the diffusion of moralized content on social media among political leaders.

J Exp Psychol Gen 2019 Oct 27;148(10):1802-1813. Epub 2018 Dec 27.

Department of Psychology.

Online social networks constitute a major platform for the exchange of moral and political ideas, and political elites increasingly rely on social media platforms to communicate directly with the public. However, little is known about the processes that render some political elites more influential than others when it comes to online communication. Here, we gauge influence of political elites on social media by examining how message factors (characteristics of the communication) interact with source factors (characteristics of elites) to impact the diffusion of elites' messages through Twitter. We analyzed messages ( = 286,255) sent from federal politicians (presidential candidates, members of the Senate and House of Representatives) in the year leading up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election-a period in which Democrats and Republicans sought to maximize their influence over potential voters. Across all types of elites, we found a "moral contagion" effect: elites' use of moral-emotional language was robustly associated with increases in message diffusion. We also discovered an ideological asymmetry: conservative elites gained greater diffusion when using moral-emotional language compared to liberal elites, even when accounting for extremity of ideology and other source cues. Specific moral emotion expressions related to moral outrage-namely, moral anger and disgust-were impactful for elites across the political spectrum, whereas moral emotion expression related to religion and patriotism were more impactful for conservative elites. These findings help inform the scientific understanding of political propaganda in the digital age, and the antecedents of political polarization in American politics. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xge0000532DOI Listing
October 2019

Dissociable contributions of the prefrontal cortex in group-based cooperation.

Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 2018 Apr;13(4):349-356

Department of Psychology, New York University, New York, NY 10003, USA.

The success of our political institutions, environmental stewardship and evolutionary fitness all hinge on our ability to prioritize collective-interest over self-interest. Despite considerable interest in the neuro-cognitive processes that underlie group cooperation, the evidence to date is inconsistent. Several papers support models of prosocial restraint, while more recent work supports models of prosocial intuition. We evaluate these competing models using a sample of lesion patients with damage to brain regions previously implicated in intuition and deliberation. Compared to matched control participants (brain damaged and healthy controls), we found that patients with dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) damage were less likely to cooperate in a modified public goods game, whereas patients with ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) damage were more likely to cooperate. In contrast, we observed no association between cooperation and amygdala damage relative to controls. These findings suggest that the dlPFC, rather than the vmPFC or amygdala, plays a necessary role in group-based cooperation. These findings suggest cooperation does not solely rely on intuitive processes. Implications for models of group cooperation are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsy023DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5928404PMC
April 2018

The Partisan Brain: An Identity-Based Model of Political Belief.

Trends Cogn Sci 2018 03 20;22(3):213-224. Epub 2018 Feb 20.

Social Perception and Evaluation Laboratory, New York University, NY 10003, USA; Social and Organizational Psychology Institute, Leiden University, The Netherlands.

Democracies assume accurate knowledge by the populace, but the human attraction to fake and untrustworthy news poses a serious problem for healthy democratic functioning. We articulate why and how identification with political parties - known as partisanship - can bias information processing in the human brain. There is extensive evidence that people engage in motivated political reasoning, but recent research suggests that partisanship can alter memory, implicit evaluation, and even perceptual judgments. We propose an identity-based model of belief for understanding the influence of partisanship on these cognitive processes. This framework helps to explain why people place party loyalty over policy, and even over truth. Finally, we discuss strategies for de-biasing information processing to help to create a shared reality across partisan divides.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2018.01.004DOI Listing
March 2018

In Defense of Tradition: Religiosity, Conservatism, and Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage in North America.

Pers Soc Psychol Bull 2017 Oct 22;43(10):1455-1468. Epub 2017 Jul 22.

3 New York University, New York City, USA.

Arguments opposing same-sex marriage are often made on religious grounds. In five studies conducted in the United States and Canada (combined N = 1,673), we observed that religious opposition to same-sex marriage was explained, at least in part, by conservative ideology and linked to sexual prejudice. In Studies 1 and 2, we discovered that the relationship between religiosity and opposition to same-sex marriage was mediated by explicit sexual prejudice. In Study 3, we saw that the mediating effect of sexual prejudice was linked to political conservatism. Finally, in Studies 4a and 4b we examined the ideological underpinnings of religious opposition to same-sex marriage in more detail by taking into account two distinct aspects of conservative ideology. Results revealed that resistance to change was more important than opposition to equality in explaining religious opposition to same-sex marriage.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0146167217718523DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5665159PMC
October 2017
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