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Journal: Journal of personality and social psychology


Grit-perseverance and passion for long-term goals-has been shown to be a significant predictor of academic success, even after controlling for other personality factors. Here, for the first time, we use a U.K.-representative sample and a genetically sensitive design to unpack the etiology of Grit and its prediction of academic achievement in comparison to well-established personality traits. For 4,642 16-year-olds (2,321 twin pairs), we used the Grit-S scale (perseverance of effort and consistency of interest), along with the Big Five personality traits, to predict grades on the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) exams, which are administered U.K.-wide at the end of compulsory education. Twin analyses of Grit perseverance yielded a heritability estimate of 37% (20% for consistency of interest) and no evidence for shared environmental influence. Personality, primarily conscientiousness, predicts about 6% of the variance in GCSE grades, but Grit adds little to this prediction. Moreover, multivariate twin analyses showed that roughly two-thirds of the GCSE prediction is mediated genetically. Grit perseverance of effort and Big Five conscientiousness are to a large extent the same trait both phenotypically (r = 0.53) and genetically (genetic correlation = 0.86). We conclude that the etiology of Grit is highly similar to other personality traits, not only in showing substantial genetic influence but also in showing no influence of shared environmental factors. Personality significantly predicts academic achievement, but Grit adds little phenotypically or genetically to the prediction of academic achievement beyond traditional personality factors, especially conscientiousness. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Scientific method, Genetics, Prediction, Futurology, Greek loanwords, Big Five personality traits, Trait theory, 16 Personality Factors


Perceptions of physical attractiveness vary across cultural groups, particularly for female body size and shape. It has been hypothesized that visual media propagates Western “thin ideals.” However, because cross-cultural studies typically consider groups highly differentiated on a number of factors, identifying the causal factors has thus far been impossible. In the present research, we conducted “naturalistic” and controlled experiments to test the influence of media access on female body ideals in a remote region of Nicaragua by sampling from villages with and without regular TV access. We found that greater TV consumption remained a significant predictor of preferences for slimmer, curvier female figures after controlling for a range of other factors in an ethnically balanced sample of 299 individuals (150 female, aged 15-79) across 7 villages. Within-individual analyses in 1 village over 3 years also showed an association between increased TV consumption and preferences for slimmer figures among some participants. Finally, an experimental study in 2 low-media locations demonstrates that exposure to media images of fashion models can directly impact participants' body size ideals. We provide the first converging cross-sectional, longitudinal, and experimental evidence from field-based research, that media exposure can drive changes in perceptions of female attractiveness. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2019 APA, all rights reserved).


Previous research has found that most people want to change their personality traits. But can people actually change their personalities just because they want to? To answer this question, we conducted 2, 16-week intensive longitudinal randomized experiments. Across both studies, people who expressed goals to increase with respect to any Big Five personality trait at Time 1 tended to experience actual increases in their self-reports of that trait-as well as trait-relevant daily behavior-over the subsequent 16 weeks. Furthermore, we tested 2 randomized interventions designed to help participants attain desired trait changes. Although 1 of the interventions was inefficacious, a second intervention that trained participants to generate implementation intentions catalyzed their ability to attain trait changes. We also tested several theoretical processes through which volitional changes might occur. These studies suggest that people may be able to change their self-reported personality traits through volitional means, and represent a first step toward understanding the processes that enable people to do so. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, Neuroticism, Big Five personality traits, Trait theory, Personality traits, Psychoticism, Openness to experience


The scent of another person can activate memories, trigger emotions, and spark romantic attraction; however, almost nothing is known about whether and how human scents influence responses to stress. In the current study, 96 women were randomly assigned to smell one of three scents (their romantic partner’s, a stranger’s, or a neutral scent) and exposed to an acute stressor (Trier Social Stress Test). Perceived stress and cortisol were measured continuously throughout the study (5 and 7 times, respectively). Perceived stress was reduced in women who were exposed to their partner’s scent. This reduction was observed during stress anticipation and stress recovery. Cortisol levels were elevated in women who were exposed to a stranger’s scent. This elevation was observed throughout stress anticipation, peak stress, and stress recovery. The current work speaks to the critical role of human olfactory cues in social communication and reveals that social scents can impact both psychological and physiological reactions to stress. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Psychology, Cognition, Olfaction, Odor, Olfactory fatigue, Electronic nose, Olfactometer, Smell


Little work has examined whether implicit evaluations can be effectively “undone” after learning new revelations. Across 7 experiments, participants fully reversed their implicit evaluation of a novel target person after reinterpreting earlier information. Revision occurred across multiple implicit evaluation measures (Experiments 1a and 1b), and only when the new information prompted a reinterpretation of prior learning versus did not (Experiment 2). The updating required active consideration of the information, as it emerged only with at least moderate cognitive resources (Experiment 3). Self-reported reinterpretation predicted (Experiment 4) and mediated (Experiment 5) revised implicit evaluations beyond the separate influence of how thoughtfully participants considered the new information in general. Finally, the revised evaluations were durable 3 days later (Experiment 6). We discuss how these results inform existing theoretical models, and consider implications for future research. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Scientific method, Evaluation, Evaluation methods, Science, Empiricism, Experiment, Hypothesis, Theory


Individuals differ in the degree to which they tend to habitually accept their emotions and thoughts without judging them-a process here referred to as habitual acceptance. Acceptance has been linked with greater psychological health, which we propose may be due to the role acceptance plays in negative emotional responses to stressors: acceptance helps keep individuals from reacting to-and thus exacerbating-their negative mental experiences. Over time, experiencing lower negative emotion should promote psychological health. To test these hypotheses, Study 1 (N = 1,003) verified that habitually accepting mental experiences broadly predicted psychological health (psychological well-being, life satisfaction, and depressive and anxiety symptoms), even when controlling for potentially related constructs (reappraisal, rumination, and other mindfulness facets including observing, describing, acting with awareness, and nonreactivity). Next, in a laboratory study (Study 2, N = 156), habitual acceptance predicted lower negative (but not positive) emotional responses to a standardized stressor. Finally, in a longitudinal design (Study 3, N = 222), acceptance predicted lower negative (but not positive) emotion experienced during daily stressors that, in turn, accounted for the link between acceptance and psychological health 6 months later. This link between acceptance and psychological health was unique to accepting mental experiences and was not observed for accepting situations. Additionally, we ruled out potential confounding effects of gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and life stress severity. Overall, these results suggest that individuals who accept rather than judge their mental experiences may attain better psychological health, in part because acceptance helps them experience less negative emotion in response to stressors. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Scientific method, Psychology, Sociology, Experience, Philosophy of science, Hypothesis, Psychiatry, Emotion


We investigate the consequences and predictors of emitting signals of victimhood and virtue. In our first three studies, we show that the virtuous victim signal can facilitate nonreciprocal resource transfer from others to the signaler. Next, we develop and validate a victim signaling scale that we combine with an established measure of virtue signaling to operationalize the virtuous victim construct. We show that individuals with Dark Triad traits-Machiavellianism, Narcissism, Psychopathy-more frequently signal virtuous victimhood, controlling for demographic and socioeconomic variables that are commonly associated with victimization in Western societies. In Study 5, we show that a specific dimension of Machiavellianism-amoral manipulation-and a form of narcissism that reflects a person’s belief in their superior prosociality predict more frequent virtuous victim signaling. Studies 3, 4, and 6 test our hypothesis that the frequency of emitting virtuous victim signal predicts a person’s willingness to engage in and endorse ethically questionable behaviors, such as lying to earn a bonus, intention to purchase counterfeit products and moral judgments of counterfeiters, and making exaggerated claims about being harmed in an organizational context. (PsycInfo Database Record © 2020 APA, all rights reserved).


We hypothesized that individuals may differ in the dispositional tendency to have positive vs. negative attitudes, a trait termed the dispositional attitude. Across 4 studies, we developed a 16-item Dispositional Attitude Measure (DAM) and investigated its internal consistency, test-retest reliability, factor structure, convergent validity, discriminant validity, and predictive validity. DAM scores were (a) positively correlated with positive affect traits, curiosity-related traits, and individual preexisting attitudes; (b) negatively correlated with negative affect traits; and © uncorrelated with theoretically unrelated traits. Dispositional attitudes also significantly predicted the valence of novel attitudes while controlling for theoretically relevant traits (such as the Big 5 and optimism). The dispositional attitude construct represents a new perspective in which attitudes are not simply a function of the properties of the stimuli under consideration, but are also a function of the properties of the evaluator. We discuss the intriguing implications of dispositional attitudes for many areas of research, including attitude formation, persuasion, and behavior prediction. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2013 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Scientific method, Prediction, Futurology, Prophecy, Psychometrics, Validity, Reliability, All rights reserved


Taxometric methods enable determination of whether the latent structure of a construct is dimensional or taxonic (nonarbitrary categories). Although sex as a biological category is taxonic, psychological gender differences have not been examined in this way. The taxometric methods of mean above minus below a cut, maximum eigenvalue, and latent mode were used to investigate whether gender is taxonic or dimensional. Behavioral measures of stereotyped hobbies and physiological characteristics (physical strength, anthropometric measurements) were examined for validation purposes, and were taxonic by sex. Psychological indicators included sexuality and mating (sexual attitudes and behaviors, mate selectivity, sociosexual orientation), interpersonal orientation (empathy, relational-interdependent self-construal), gender-related dispositions (masculinity, femininity, care orientation, unmitigated communion, fear of success, science inclination, Big Five personality), and intimacy (intimacy prototypes and stages, social provisions, intimacy with best friend). Constructs were with few exceptions dimensional, speaking to Spence’s (1993) gender identity theory. Average differences between men and women are not under dispute, but the dimensionality of gender indicates that these differences are inappropriate for diagnosing gender-typical psychological variables on the basis of sex. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2013 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Psychology, Gender, Gender role, Gender identity, Masculinity, Gender differences, Gender studies, Biology of gender


The five-factor model (FFM) of personality variation has been replicated across a range of human societies, suggesting the FFM is a human universal. However, most studies of the FFM have been restricted to literate, urban populations, which are uncharacteristic of the majority of human evolutionary history. We present the first test of the FFM in a largely illiterate, indigenous society. Tsimane forager-horticulturalist men and women of Bolivia (n = 632) completed a translation of the 44-item Big Five Inventory (Benet-Martínez & John, 1998), a widely used metric of the FFM. We failed to find robust support for the FFM, based on tests of (a) internal consistency of items expected to segregate into the Big Five factors, (b) response stability of the Big Five, © external validity of the Big Five with respect to observed behavior, (d) factor structure according to exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, and (e) similarity with a U.S. target structure based on Procrustes rotation analysis. Replication of the FFM was not improved in a separate sample of Tsimane adults (n = 430), who evaluated their spouses on the Big Five Inventory. Removal of reverse-scored items that may have elicited response biases produced factors suggestive of Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness, but fit to the FFM remained poor. Response styles may covary with exposure to education, but we found no better fit to the FFM among Tsimane who speak Spanish or have attended school. We argue that Tsimane personality variation displays 2 principal factors that may reflect socioecological characteristics common to small-scale societies. We offer evolutionary perspectives on why the structure of personality variation may not be invariant across human societies. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2012 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Psychology, Evolution, Personality psychology, Factor analysis, Confirmatory factor analysis, Big Five personality traits, Raymond Cattell, 16 Personality Factors