Does the Working Class Handle Interpersonal Conflicts Better Than The Middle Class? Interview with:
“working class” by arileu is licensed under CC BY 2.0Igor Grossmann, Ph.D
Director, Wisdom and Culture Laboratory
Associate Professor of Psychology
University of Waterloo, Canada
Associate Editor, Emotion What is the background for this study?

Response: Our Wisdom & Culture laboratory studies the concepts of wisdom and cultural factors. For wisdom, we specifically focus on pragmatic reasoning that can help people to better understand and navigate uncertain contexts – strategies that philosophers for millennia discussed as “epistemic virtues.” In our prior work, my colleagues and I have observed that wisdom tends to be lower in situations when self-interests are salient, and higher when one adopted an socially-sensitive interdependent mindset. In other work by myself and several other labs, consistent finding emerged showing that lower social class tends to be more socially interdependent, whereas middle class (both in the US, Russia, and even China) tends to be more self-focused.

This led to the present research, which combines prior insights to examine how wise reasoning varies across social classes. Because lower class situation involves more uncertainty and more resource-scare life circumstances, we questioned whether these situations would also evoke more wise reasoning from people who are in them. Higher class situations are assumed to provide conditions that benefit people in every way. But in so doing, they may also encourage entitlement, self-focus and thereby intellectual humility and open-mindedness – key features of a wise thought. As such, our studies show that it turns out that middle class conditions are not beneficial in at least one way – they may discourage reasoning wisely.

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Married People Have Lower Stress Cortisol Levels Interview with:

Brian Chin, B.S. PhD Student Doctoral Student Department of Psychology Carnegie Mellon University

Brian Chin

Brian Chin, B.S. PhD Student
Doctoral Student
Department of Psychology
Carnegie Mellon University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Numerous studies demonstrate that married people tend to be healthier than those who are single, divorced, or widowed. However, less clear are the psychological and biological mechanisms through which this occurs. To this end, recent research has focused on how the unmarried may experience either greater amounts of stress or different types of stressful situations that put them at increased risk for morbidity and mortality.

Models linking stress and disease often implicate the HPA axis as one pathway through which these stressful experiences can affect health. One way to index HPA axis activity is by measuring cortisol, a hormone that plays a regulatory role for many immunological and metabolic processes in the body. The primary aim of our study was to examine whether cortisol could be one biological mechanism through which marital status impacts health.

Over three non-consecutive days, 572 healthy adult participants between 21-55 years old provided multiple saliva samples that were used to measure cortisol. Relative to their never married or previously married counterparts, married people had both lower cortisol outputs and steeper daily declines – both of which have been shown to be associated with better health outcomes.

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Witnesses More Likely to Confuse Innocent and Guilty Suspects When One Member of Lineup Has Distinctive Feature Interview with:
Melissa F. Colloff PhD student and
Kimberley A. Wade PhD,
Department of Psychology
University of Warwick What is the background for this study?

Response: Eyewitnesses of crimes often have to attempt to make identification decisions as to whether the police suspect is, or is not, the real culprit of the crime. In an identification parade (UK), or a lineup (US), the suspect is presented alongside similar-looking people (who are known to be innocent) and the witness has to identify the real culprit if he or she is there, or state that the real culprit is not present.

Eyewitness identification decisions can be very influential in how a case progresses through the criminal justice system. An incorrect identification can result in a guilty person going free, or an innocent person being charged of a crime they did not commit. So generally speaking, our research investigates which identification procedures enhance a person’s ability to identify a guilty suspect.

In our study, we wanted to find out how the police should accommodate suspects with distinctive facial features (e.g., tattoos, scars, piercings, bruising) in lineups. If the police suspect stands out in a lineup because he has a distinctive feature, this is not a good test of the witness’s memory. The witness might pick the suspect simply because it is obvious that he is the focus of the police investigation. Alternatively, the witness might pick the suspect just because he is the best match—but not necessarily an exact match—to their memory of the culprit, compared to the other lineup members. Basically, if a distinctive suspect stands out, a witness is likely to pick the distinctive suspect, even if he is not the real culprit. Estimates suggest that over one third of all police suspects have distinctive facial features. But police guidelines on how to accommodate distinctive suspects in lineups are not currently guided by research—in fact, there are thousands of studies on lineups, but only a handful that explore lineups for distinctive suspects.

In our study, we examined three techniques currently used by the police to prevent distinctive suspects from standing out and compared these techniques to doing nothing to prevent the distinctive suspect from standing out. Let’s say the suspect has a black eye. One thing the police might do is digitally add a black eye to all of the other faces in the lineup (i.e., “replication”). Or, they might cover up the suspect’s black eye and cover up a similar area on the faces of the other lineup members. In practice, the police can cover up the feature by either overlaying the area of the feature with a black block (i.e., “block”), or by pixelating the area of the feature (i.e., “pixelation”). In our study, we compared replication, pixelation and block lineup techniques against lineups in which nothing was done to prevent a distinctive suspect from standing out—that is, lineups in which the suspect was the only person with a black eye.



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