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Research

    Projects

  • Emmy-Noether Group “Self & Society”

    Jochen E. Gebauer (PI), Andrea E. Abele-Brehm,
    Constantine Sedikides, Delroy L. Paulhus, & Mark R. Leary
    Big Two personality (agency, communion) and Big Five personality (O[penness], E[xtraversion], A[greeableness], [C]onscientiousness, [N]euroticism) are most widely used personality factor models. The true value of these models hinges on their capacity to predict thought, feeling, and behaviour. Yet, personality psychologists have lamented that the effects of personality factors on their outcomes can grossly diverge across social contexts, posing a validity threat. However, such diversity need not be a threat if it follows theoretical predictions reflecting core features of personality factors. Unfortunately, relevant theories are scarce. Hence, in this application I seek to develop a theoretical perspective on why personality effects should diverge across social contexts: The sociocultural motives perspective (SMP). At the heart of the SMP lies the assumption that personality factors are linked to the social master motives for social conformity (swimming with the social tide) and social deviance (swimming against the social tide). Specifically, communion, A, and C are linked to the social conformity motive, whereas agency and O are linked to the social deviance motive. Hence, communion, A, and C should predict outcomes most strongly in social contexts where these outcomes are common, whereas agency and O should predict outcomes most strongly in social contexts where they are uncommon. Consider religiosity as one example. Religious life allows expression of communion, A, and C, which is why they have been described as the pan-cultural personality basis of religiosity. The validity of such expressiveness processes notwithstanding, the SMP makes different predictions. Given that communion, A, and C are linked to the social conformity motive, these personality factors should predict religiosity most strongly in religious social contexts and least strongly in secular social contexts. Further, given that agency and O are linked to the social deviance motive, these personality factors should predict religiosity least strongly in religious social contexts and most strongly in secular social contexts. In highly secular social contexts, then, agency and O may be the sole personality basis of religiosity, reversing classic expressiveness predictions. The goal of the Emmy-Noether Group is to establish the SMP as a process-oriented, context-attentive, and motive-based theory of personality, which integrates key insights from social, self, motivational, and cultural psychology in order to reconcile discrepant personality effects across social contexts.
    Funding period:10/2014 to 03/2020
    Funding body:Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG;
    GE 2515/3-1) (1.000.813,00€)
  • Geographical Personality Differences and Economic Success

    Jochen E. Gebauer (PI) & Tobias Ebert

    The spatial concentration of economic activities is an essential characteristic of modern societies. However, despite great research efforts, classic models cannot fully explain the emergence and persistence of these economic disparities. One reason why existing models might not be able to fully explain economic disparities is their neglect of the cultural context in which economic actions are embedded. While several prominent regional economic theories assume cultural differences to be very important for economic development, it was long impossible to empirically assess these cultural differences. In recent years, research at the nexus of economics, economic geography, and psychology made progress in reliably measuring and revealing cultural differences. Specifically, this research shows that not only individuals, but also geographical areas have their own personalities. We here make use of this new stream of research and systematically examine the relationship between geographical personality differences and economic success.

    Funding period:06/2019 to 09/2020
    Funding body:Vestische Forschungsstiftung e.V. (49.300,00€)
  • Self-Enhancement and Religiosity

    Jochen E. Gebauer (PI), Constantine Sedikides, Delroy L. Paulhus, & Mark R. Leary
    Self-enhancement and religiosity are central human phenomena. But how are the two related? World religions describe self-enhancement as something irreligious. They believe that religiosity lets self-enhancement run dry. If this were the case, one would have to doubt the existence of a universal need for self-esteem, because self-enhancement is self-esteem's most reliable expression. Thus, the topic of self-enhancement and religiosity is relevant for the much-debated universality question surrounding self-esteem. The topic is also relevant for the validity of many self-theories, which are based on the assumption that self-esteem and self-enhancement are human universals. Additionally, the topic informs about the suitability of much-discussed techniques to quite self-enhancement permanently. Our research program is the first to investigate the relation between self-enhancement and religiosity: (1) A large-scale cross-cultural analysis of religiosity and self-esteem relations (Gebauer, Sedikides, Bleidorn, Gosling, Rentfrow, & Potter, in prep) seeks further evidence of our Self-Enhancement Increases Religiosity (SEIR) model (Gebauer, Sedikides, & Neberich, 2012; Sedikides & Gebauer, 2010). (2) Experimental analogs of the aforementioned cross-cultural analysis seeks first causal evidence for the SEIR model. (3) A three-wave longitudinal study tests for a complementary effect of religiosity on self-enhancement in the religious domain and this study also seeks to establish religious self-enhancement as a process explaining established religiosity effects. The present research is therefore relevant for the universality of self-enhancement and its implications. The present research is also relevant for a key question of the psychology of religion: Why does religiosity persist?
    Funding period:02/2013 to 01/2016
    Funding body:       Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG; GE 2515/2-1) (222.564,00€)
  • Does True Altruism Exist? What do Laypeople Believe and What Consequences does this Belief have?

    Jochen E. Gebauer (PI), Constantine Sedikides, Mark R. Leary, & Jens B. Asendorpf
    Does true Altruism exist, or is all human behavior egoistically motivated? Scientists disuss this question since Aristotel. Neither the philosophical querral between David Hume and Jeau Jaque Russeau, nor the experimental psychological debate between Robert Cialdini and Daniel Batson provided satisfactory answers regarding this altruism question. In this project we examine the laybelief in the existence of true altruism. That is, we ask laypeople to report on their belief in the existence of true altrusim. To this end, we have constructed the Belief in True Altruism Scale (BETA Scale). Using this measure we found thhat most people belief in the existence of true altruism. However, we also found important personality differences in the belief in true altruism, and these personality differences are related with actual behavior. For example, people who believe in the existence of true altruism are particularly helpful. Using experiments and longitudinal studies, we currently examine the processes, which drive this relation.
    Funding period:09/2011 to 09/2013
    Funding body:       Wake Forest University & Templeton Foundation, Winston-Salem, NC ($103.125,10)
  • East-Asian Self-Enhancement

    Jochen E. Gebauer (PI), Xuejun Lei, Huajian Cai, & Constantine Sedikides
    Is self-enhancement (i.e., the desire for self-esteem) universal or merely a popular quirk of modern-day individuals? The answer to the universality question has several important implications. For example, it informs classic discussion on the content of a variety of psychological needs. Also, many psychological theories are based on the premise that humans desire self-esteem (e.g., cognitive dissonance theory, terror management theory, self-affirmation theory, social identity theory, the self-enhancement tactician model, and the self-evaluation maintenance model). Thus, the answer to the universality question informs the applicability of all these prominent psychological theories. How can the universality question be examined? Evidence for the universality of self-enhancement would be garnered, if self-enhancement can be found across all cultures. In East-Asian cultures, however, the empirical evidence is not clear. In this project, we develop new assessment tools, suitable to capture East-Asian self-enhancement. The results with these assessment tools show that East-Asians do self-enhance. Hence, self-enhancement appears to be a universal phenomenon.
    Funding period:12/2010 to 12/2012
    Funding body:Wolfgang Köhler Zentrum für Konfliktforschung (5.000 €)

    Measures

  • Communal Narcissism Inventory

    Narcissists possess strong narcissistic self-motives for grandiosity, esteem, entitlement, and power. The classic view assumes that narcissists solely capitalize on agentic means to satisfy their narcissistic self-motives. For example, they overestimate their own competence, intelligence, and agentic knowledge. We are currently examining the possibility that there are also narcissists who capitalize on communal means to satisfy their narcissistic self-motives for grandiosity, esteem, entitlement, and power. For example, these “communal narcissists” should overestimate their own interpersonal qualities, prosociality, and communal knowledge. Evidence supports this two-dimensional perspective of narcissism. We devised a 16-item self-report measure of communal narcissism, the Communal Narcissism Inventory (CNI; Gebauer, Sedikides, Verplanken, & Maio, 2012). The CNI can be found here.

    Gebauer, J. E., Sedikides, C., Verplanken, B., & Maio, G. R. (2012). Communal narcissism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 103,854-878. doi: 10.1037/a0029629

  • Agentic-Communal Over-Claiming Questionnaire 12 (AGCO-OCQ12)

    Self-enhancement is a prevalent and momentous phenomenon. Hence, there lies much interest in valid self-enhancement assessments. Paulhus, Harms, Bruce, and Lycy (2003) have developed the Over-Claiming Technique ,in which participants are asked to report how knowledgeable they are regarding different knowledge-domains (e.g., “How familiar are you with each of the following physics items? (a) Alloy, (b) photon, (c) ultra-lipid;" Rating scale: (0) I never heard of it, (6) I am very familiar with it). Participants do not know that some items do not exist in reality (here: ultra-lipid). Self-declared expertise regarding non-existent items serve as indicator for self-enhancement. The AGCO-OCQ12 separately assesses such self-enhancement for the two big content-dimensions of self-enhancement: Agency and communion. The AGCO-OCQ12 can be found here.

    Gebauer, J. E., Paulhus, D. L., Sedikides, C., & Elliot, A. J. (in prep). Socially desirable responding as agentic and communal self-enhancement. Manuscript in preparation. University of Mannheim, Germany.

  • Self-Burdensomeness Scale

    Other-burdensomeness, the feeling that one is a burden on other people's life, is a major risk factor for suicide ideation. We are currently examining the role of the self-concept in the effect of other-burdensomeness on suicide ideation. Our research shows that other-burdensomeness poses a burden on the self (i.e., self-burdensomeness), which in turn leads to suicide ideation. In other words, self-burdensomeness is a central process mitigating the effect of other-burdensomeness on suicide ideation. We devised a 5-item self-report measure of self-burdensomeness, the Self-Burdensomeness Scale (SBS). The SBS can be found here.

    Gebauer, J. E., Joiner, T. E., Baumeister, R. F., Göritz, A. S., & Teismann, T. (in prep.). Altruistic suicide or escaping a burdened self: Why does suicide ideation increase when one feels like a burden on others? Manuscript in preparation, Universität Mannheim.

  • Global Religiosity Measure

    Religiosity possesses many facets. The 4-item Global Religiosity Measure (GRM; Gebauer & Maio, 2012) is a self-report scale that assesses global religiosity with face-valid items. Two items pertain to religious belief (i.e., belief in God and felt religiosity) and two items pertain to religious behavior (i.e., frequency of church attendance and prayer). The GRM is internally consistent and possesses good construct validity and predictive validity. Note: Because the response-format differs between items, each item has to be standardized before they can be averaged. The GRM can be found here.

    Gebauer, J. E., & Maio, G. R. (2012). The need to belong can motivate belief in God. Journal of Personality, 80, 465-501. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.2011.00730.x

  • Name-Liking Measure

    The implicit assessment of global self-esteem is considered to be difficult but important. The 1-item Name-Liking Measure (NLM; Gebauer, Riketta, Broeemer, & Maio, 2008) is one of several approaches to implicitly assess global self-esteem. Similar to Nuttin's Name-Letter-Task, the NLM capitalizes on the idea that people should project their self-esteem onto self-related objects. Accordingly, people should project their self-esteem onto their name. This, in turn, should make high self-esteem people like their name a lot, whereas low self-esteem people should like their name only little. Given the NLM's brevity, the measure is particularly well suited when assessment time is scarce. Given known caveats of implicit measures of self-esteem in general, a meta-analysis of NLM results may be helpful in due time. Thus, I would be grateful, if you informed me about your NLM results. The NLM can be found here.

    Gebauer, J. E., Riketta, M., Broemer, P., & Maio, G. R. (2008). “How much do you like your name?” An implicit measure of global self-esteem. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 1346-1354. doi: 10.1016/j.jesp.2008.03.016

  • Pleasure and Pressure based Prosocial Motivation Scale – Revised

    There are many motives why people help others. Two major motives that frequently emerge in the literature are self-feelings of pleasure (approaching positive emotions) and self-feelings of pressure (avoiding negative emotions). The Pleasure and Pressure based Prosocial Motivation Scale (3PMS; Gebauer, Riketta, Broemer, & Maio, 2008) assesses these distinct prosocial motives. Compared to the original scale, we currently use a slightly longer version with improved psychometric properties, the 10-item 3PMS-revised (Gebauer, Sedikides, Leary, & Asendorpf, in prep). The 3PMS-revised can be found here.

    Gebauer, J. E., Riketta, M., Broemer, P., & Maio, G. R. (2008). Pleasure and pressure based prosocial motivation: Divergent relationships to subjective well-being. Journal of Research in Personality, 42, 399-420. doi: 10.1016/j.jrp.2007.07.002