GradPSYCH - January 2012 - (Page 12)
Innovative research from today’s psychology graduate students.
by chrisToPhEr MuNsEy • gradPSYCH staff
Looking on the bright side helps older adults avoid stroke
Optimism appears to protect against stroke, according to a study by University of Michigan graduate psychology student Eric Kim, published in the October issue of Stroke. For two years, Kim and his advisers followed a group of 6,044 men and women drawn from the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative sample of adults age 50 and older. Participants completed a variety of demographic, health and behavioral measures, including the Life Orientation Test-Revised, which gauges optimism. The people who endorsed statements on the test such as, “In uncertain times, I usually expect the best” and “Overall, I expect more good things to happen to me than bad” were later less likely to experience strokes, even when researchers controlled for risk factors such as smoking, age and activity level. A sunny perspective may lead people to engage in healthier behaviors, such as having an active social life and taking medicine as directed by a physician, past research suggests. Therefore, interventions that encourage optimism might save lives someday, especially given that stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, Kim says. “The general public understands that factors like depression and anxiety can hurt physical health,” he says. “I’m hoping they’ll be open to the idea that positive psychological variables can enhance health.”
People who see the glass half full may live longer, healthier lives.
Narcissistic leaders: Big talk, poor results
Teams led by narcissists rate themselves as highly effective, but actually perform poorly, according to a study led by barbara Nevicka, a psychology doctoral candidate at the university of amsterdam, and published in the November issue of Psychological Science. Nevicka and her colleagues divided 150 participants into three-member teams, each with a randomly assigned leader. Participants received nine pieces of information about three job candidates, such as “can fly a helicopter” and “starts stuttering under pressure.” Then, their teams had to decide collectively which candidate would make the best secret agent. Teams with leaders who scored high on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory — which asks people how much they agree with statements such as, “If I ruled the world, it would be a better place” — had a greater likelihood of selecting the worst job candidates. In fact, the more narcissistic the group leader, the lower the quality of the group decisionmaking, Nevicka found. The bad performance may lie in narcissists’ poor listening skills and tendency to make decisions without seeking feedback from others. groups led by narcissists shared less information about candidates, so negative information was less likely to be revealed or discussed. Those groups also weren’t aware of their subpar performance, and even rated their narcissistic leaders as highly effective, she found. The results highlight the risks of putting narcissists in charge, says Nevicka. “If you put them in a highpower role, that could be a problem if you need individual people to share their unique information,” she says.
12 • gradPSYCH • January 2012
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of GradPSYCH - January 2012
GradPSYCH - January 2012
Psychology grad school enrollment drops, despite record numbers of applicants
Students leave their iPods at home during ‘crunch time’
Hot careers: Video game design and development
Friends and co-workers
Time to bail?
Scaling Mount Publication
Need to heal thyself?
Matters to a Degree
Power up your PowerPoint
Dissertations vs. diapers
Searching for answers
Jobs, internships, postdocs and other opportunities
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GradPSYCH - January 2012