This page features posters and slide decks of recent work featured at recent academic conferences and meetings.
Testosterone and closeness: Moderation by self-construal
Oral presentation (Conference Symposium)
Emerging theory and evidence suggest that testosterone differentially affects social behavior depending on self-construal. In this study, we examined the joint interactive effects of self-construal and testosterone within 70 same sex dyads. Participants indicated their self-construal, completed a 45 minute interaction designed to manipulate high vs. low levels of closeness, along with post-interaction measures of closeness. Dyadic actor-partner multilevel models found that basal testosterone was positively associated with closeness in those with an interdependent view of the self (viewed the self as interconnected with others and social groups) and negatively associated with feelings of closeness in those with an independent view of the self. These results held when controlling for other personality traits that predict dyadic closeness. Considering recent evidence that testosterone and self-construal jointly modulate aggression and risk-taking behavior, these findings suggest that self-construal is critical for understanding how testosterone affects a wide array of social behavior.
A Dyadic investigation: Agreeable people feel closer, extroverts show it
Although personality has been found to predict closeness in relationships, less is known about how personality affects initial interactions. This study examined how personality traits predicted the quality of friendship formation in zero-acquaintance dyads. 70 same-sex dyads indicated their personality traits, completed a 45-min recorded interaction designed to manipulate high vs. low levels of closeness, along with post-interaction measures of closeness, responsiveness, enjoyment of the interaction, and self-disclosure. Videos were coded for closeness, responsiveness and self-disclosure. Dyadic actor-partner multilevel models revealed that actor agreeableness predicted closeness and enjoyment during interactions. Both actor and partner neuroticism predicted self-disclosure, suggesting that people high in neuroticism reveal more personal information when forming friendships. Interaction codes indicated that extraversion is related to higher self-disclosure, responsiveness and intimacy during interactions. In summary, the results suggest that agreeableness contributes to feelings of closeness and intimacy, whereas extraversion contributes to the perception of intimacy from others.
Trait mindfulness predicts closeness factors and emotionality in zero-acquaintance dyadic conversations
Mindfulness entails self-regulating attention to bring awareness towards one’s lived experiences whilst adopting an orientation denoted by openness, acceptance and curiosity. It is usually examined in relation to its effects on intrapersonal qualities (e.g. anxiety, stress) and as a tool for psychotherapy but little work has focused on its interpersonal effects. The current study examines how trait mindfulness predicts the quality of interpersonal interactions. After assessing trait mindfulness, 70 same-sex, zero-acquaintance dyads interacted in a high vs. low self-disclosure setting and afterwards completed a measure of closeness, self-disclosure, responsiveness, enjoyment of interaction and affect. The actor-partner interdependence model (APIM) was used for dyadic analysis. Results of the study showed mindfulness predicted responsiveness whereas partner mindfulness predicted enjoyment of interaction. Both actor and partner mindfulness predicted more positive emotionality following the interaction. Findings of the study highlight the contribution of mindfulness on relationship quality in addition to personal wellbeing.
Dual-hormone regulation of psychopathy: Replicating the findings of Welker and colleagues (2014)
Previous research suggests that men’s psychopathy is characterized by higher testosterone levels when cortisol is high. This study attempted to replicate this work by examining testosterone, cortisol, and psychopathy within 165 men. Failing to replicate previous work, this study did not find evidence of an interaction between testosterone and cortisol.
This research has now been published as Study 1 (of 2) in the following paper:
Roy, A. R. K., Cook, T., Carré, J. C., & Welker, K. M. (2019). Dual-Hormone Regulation of Psychopathy: Evidence from Mass Spectrometry. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 99, 243-250. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2018.09.006
Competition underscores much of human social interaction and can be affected by emotional states. One mood disorder that may affect competitive behavior is depression. The social theory of competition argues that depression desensitizes a person and protects one against potential losses, while signaling submission to the winning party. Yet, those with depression are typically sensitive to negative emotionality, which may be heightened by losses. The current study examined the effects of depressive symptoms on reactions to winning vs. losing a video competition. Specifically, 126 undergraduates completed the Beck Depression Inventory (Short form) and were randomly assigned to win vs. lose a video game competition. They completed self-report measures of competitive engagement and enjoyment after each activity. Analyses using moderated regression analysis revealed that competitive outcomes did not significantly interact with depression scores to predict any emotional outcomes during competition. Thus, we did not find any evidence supporting the idea that depression affects experiences of competition, either making participants less sensitive or more sensitive to losses. However, exploratory analyses suggested that depression was negatively associated with calmness during the competitive interaction. We discuss these results in terms of the social competition hypothesis and research suggesting depression is characterized with negative emotionality. Further research on depression and competitive interactions might focus on using clinical populations rather than the general population.
Developing a scale to assess status seeking motivation and pathways to higher status
Status hierarchies pervade virtually all societies and many people seek to ascend social ranks. Yet, not all people pursue status through the same ways and by the same means. Across three studies, we developed and validated a scale that measures motivation to attain a higher status and different means to pursuing status. In Study 1, we developed the items for the scale and tested factor structure and reliability within a sample of 258 participants. This process revealed 7 subscales: status motivation, antisociality, dishonesty, collaboration, independence, self-promotion, and dominance. This scale structure was tested for replication using confirmatory factor analysis and validation in two separate samples of undergraduates and community members (Studies 2 and 3). In Studies 2 (N = 213) and 3 (N=121), we also examined how the status pursuit scale predicted relevant personality traits, empathic accuracy, academic motivation, and testosterone, which is theorized to promote status pursuit and dominance. Collectively, this research suggests that people motivated to pursue status report greater status, trait dominance, psychopathy, positive affect, aggression, self-monitoring, and an independent self-construal. It also suggests those who pursue status through collaboration with others have greater academic motivation, an interdependent self, and greater empathic accuracy when reading emotions from faces. However, pursuing status independently of others, through antisocial means, and deceptively were associated with increased risk of mood disorders. Finally, dominant status pursuit was associated with men’s testosterone. Overall, there appear to be multiple facets of status seeking behavior patterns with distinct psychological and social outcomes.
Help-Seeking and the Concept of Self: The Effect of Self-Construal on Help-Seeking Behaviours
Despite the availability of mental health services and psychological help, many do not seek psychological help. We hypothesize that people with more independent self-construals may be reluctant to disclose personal distress, be dependent on others for help, and seek psychological help. The present study investigated how self-construal was associated with attitudes toward psychological help-seeking and disclosing distress in a primarily Caucasian US sample recruited via MTurk and a primarily African sample recruited via snow-ball sampling. Results revealed in the MTurk sample that having a more relational-interdependent self-construal was associated with more positive attitudes toward seeking psychological help and disclosing distress. These results suggest that the extent to which people define their self-concept in relation to others affects their likelihood of seeking help for mental health related issues. A better understanding of relational needs may help improve access to mental health services and outreach to those who need mental health services.
The kit that fits: Comparing EIA-based testosterone measurement to tandem mass spectrometry
Oral Presentation (Datablitz)
Measuring salivary testosterone with enzyme-linked immunoassays (ELISAs) is of critical interest to social neuroendocrinologists studying testosterone’s role putative in aggression, risk-taking, relationships, and dominance, among others. However, testosterone concentration measurements between various ELISAs differ considerably, and little is known about how accurately different ELISAs assess testosterone. In this research, we compare 100 testosterone concentrations from a mixed-sex sample between the ELISAs of three commonly used manufacturers (DRG International, Salimetrics, and IBL) to a highly accurate reference method, liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Using nonlinear nonlinear, heteroscedasticity-corrected regressions and structural equation modeling, we found that compared to ELISAs from Salimetrics and IBL, ELISAs manufactured by DRG International provided the closest approximation to LC-MS/MS testosterone concentrations with the least measurement error. Additionally, the correspondence between DRG and Salimetrics was nonlinear, with correspondence flattening in the highest of testosterone concentrations, potentially due to increased measurement error. Our results also suggest differences in the accuracy of different ELISAs for assessing testosterone in males and females, with DRG ELISAs providing the most accurate assessment for both men and women. Broadly, the popular testosterone ELISAs were not as accurate compared to consistencies between cortisol ELISAs and LC-MS/MS in previous research. Overall, this work provides researchers with information to better measure testosterone in their research and compare testosterone measurements from different ELISAs. We close recommending critical next steps to improve testosterone assessment in social neuroendocrinology research.
This research has now been published in the following paper:
Welker, K. M., Lassetter, B., Brandes, C., Prasad, S., Koop, D., Mehta, P. H. (2016). A comparison of salivary testosterone measurement using immunoassays and tandem mass spectrometry. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 71, 180-188. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2016.05.022