Exciting New Trends in Social & Personality Psychology (SPSPotlight: March)

Exciting New Trends in Social & Personality Psychology

By Your 2014-2015 GSC

We asked each member of the outgoing GSC to write about his or her favorite aspect of the 2015 SPSP Annual Convention in Long Beach, California. From special sessions to preconferences to symposia, read all about what we learned right here!

Liz Keneski, Outgoing GSC President

I most enjoyed hearing about the plethora of jobs available for social and personality psychologists at the Training Committee and GSC Preconference. I was inspired to see that my peers can do everything from improve graduation rates of first-generation college students through tailored teaching techniques, to evaluate and improve non-profit humanitarian programs, to change the nature of racial prejudice research and policy, to influence daily social interactions and connections on Facebook. Check SPSP's YouTube Channel mid-March to view the videos of these sessions!


Stefanie Tignor, Member-at-Large

A highlight of my convention experience was hearing Katherine Nelson speak about the role gender plays in the link between parenthood and well-being. Across several studies, she and her coauthor, Sonja Lyubomirsky, demonstrated that parenthood is associated with greater happiness, life satisfaction, daily positive emotions, and daily meaningful moments, as well as fewer depressive symptoms. This was only true for fathers, however; none of the above relationships were consistently seen in mothers. The authors of this research suggested that perhaps women’s and men’s differing expectations regarding parenthood may underlie these phenomena.  As a female academic, I found these studies to be simultaneously fascinating and troubling. I am looking forward to further research on this topic, including practical suggestions regarding how women might begin to experience the positive effects of parenthood seen in their male counterparts.

Alexa Lord, Member-at-Large

A highlight of my convention experience was the symposium about practical, specific strategies for implementing the new recommendations of the field. I liked that the speakers addressed how to adopt quality research practices (QRP’s) by explaining exactly what they do in their own labs. They emphasized that we don’t need to wait to implement these practices until the field has reached some unanimous decision, but that we can be implementing them right now. Their talks made everything seem more do-able and concrete and less intimidating and abstract, which was exactly the information that I have been craving amidst all of the changes going on in our field. One specific practice that I plan to adopt is the use of an experiment archive form (see link below) in order to better organize my data and avoid false memory.


Ledgerwood Lab Experiment Archive Form: https://ucdavis.app.box.com/s/z4uslyih8schc8b11gqpxsgjvj1gsv1v

Rebecca Friesdorf, Member-at-Large

A highlight of my convention experience was seeing Kiley Hamlin speak at the Justice and Morality Preconference. In her work with pre-verbal infants, Kiley Hamlin presented some early evidence for an evolutionary basis of morality.  She found that infants (as young as 3 and 6 months) privilege intentions over outcomes.  Specifically, they prefer (reaching/preferential looking) failed helpers (good intentions, bad outcome) over failed hinderers (bad intentions, good outcome).  She also found that 19-month old infants prefer an anti-social character who punishes a “bad” character (one who acted negatively toward a target earlier) to a social character who acts positively toward a “bad” character, suggesting that they have a sense of retribution. 

Nick Brown, Member-at-Large for Undergraduate Affairs

This year I learned that psychology is truly leveraging big data to understand personality and social psychological processes. For instance, I found out that it's possible to extract morality from Twitter, and that tweets can even predict heart disease better than "classical predictors" (such as education, income, and smoking). Beyond social media, there are a number of smartphone apps that can make experience-sampling studies much easier to conduct. I'm excited to implement the methods introduced at SPSP 2015 in my own research!

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