Friday, January 28, 2011

What Qualities Make A Person Likeable?

As a clinical psychologist I often work with clients with low self-confidence. This low self-confidence can sometimes be attributed to negative biases in thinking which causes the person to underestimate the number of positive qualities they have, and overestimate the number of negative ones. You could refer to this bias in thinking as reflecting a problem with accuracy - the person is not accurately evaluating themselves.

At other times, clients also exhibit another type of error in thinking. Instead of inaccurately evaluating themselves, they examine the wrong qualities. When I say the "wrong qualities," I am referring to those qualities that only play a limited role in determining how likeable someone is to others. For example, if someone believes that they are unlikeable almost solely because of their physical appearance, then they are misinformed about the factors that determine likeability.

So, I thought it would be a good idea to write about the actual factors that do determine likeability. Specifically, I'm going to report the findings from a great study that was published a few years back in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships*. The authors sought to answer the following question:

When it comes to having a relationship with another person, what qualities do people want the other person to have?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Benefits of Stress and Adversity

Do stress and negative life events may us weaker or stronger?

A recent longitudinal study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology* sheds light on this question. The researchers followed a large, representative sample of people over a period of several years. They asked participants to indicate how many negative life events they had experienced in their lives, out of a list of 37 events (ex: illness or injury; assault; financial problems). They also measured other psychological variables such as life satisfaction, distress, impairment in functioning (i.e., difficulty performing social/ work activities because of physical or emotional health problems), and the presence of post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTS).

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Colour Red Makes Women More Attractive

While doing some research for my book, I came across a fun and interesting article* in the highly respected Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. I've been meaning to write about the results for a while, but kept forgetting. So here's the study in a nutshell...