Max Weisbuch

University of Denver, Denver, Colorado, United States

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Publications (32)98.82 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: In two studies, we examined whether apparent motion of a face (either toward or away from an observer) influences the recognition of facial displays of anger and fear. Based on theories regarding the signal value of specific threat displays (i.e., shared signal hypothesis), we predicted that anger (an approach-oriented threat display) would be more readily recognized in faces that appear to be approaching the observer, whereas fear (an avoidance-oriented threat display) would be more readily recognized in faces that appear to be withdrawing. Consistent with these predictions, we found that angry faces were recognized more accurately when approaching versus withdrawing, and vice versa for fearful faces. This occurred not only for faces that were made to appear moving by changing the size of the stimulus (Study 1), but also for faces that were presented after a visual illusion that gave the perception that the faces were approaching or withdrawing (Study 2). These findings suggest that the ability to recognize threat from facial expressions is influenced by apparent motion in an ecologically relevant manner, matching the underlying action tendency (fight/flight) associated with each emotion.
    Social Cognition 12/2013; 31(6):745-757. · 1.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Rigid social categorization can lead to negative social consequences such as stereotyping and prejudice. The authors hypothesized that bodily experiences of fluidity would promote fluidity in social-categorical thinking. Across a series of experiments, fluid movements compared with nonfluid movements led to more fluid lay theories of social categories, more fluidity in social categorization, and consequences of fluid social-categorical thinking, decreased stereotype endorsement, and increased concern for social inequalities. The role of sensorimotor states in fluid social cognition, with consequences for social judgment and behavior, is discussed.
    Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 10/2013; · 2.22 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A voluminous literature has examined how primates respond to nonverbal expressions of status, such as taking the high ground, expanding one's posture, and tilting one's head. We extend this research to human intergroup processes in general and interracial processes in particular. Perceivers may be sensitive to whether racial group status is reflected in group members' nonverbal expressions of status. We hypothesized that people who support the current status hierarchy would prefer racial groups whose members exhibit status-appropriate nonverbal behavior over racial groups whose members do not exhibit such behavior. People who reject the status quo should exhibit the opposite pattern. These hypotheses were supported in three studies using self-report (Study 1) and reaction time (Studies 2 and 3) measures of racial bias and two different status cues (vertical position and head tilt). For perceivers who supported the status quo, high-status cues (in comparison with low-status cues) increased preferences for White people over Black people. For perceivers who rejected the status quo, the opposite pattern was observed.
    Psychological Science 09/2013; · 4.43 Impact Factor
  • Max Weisbuch, Reginald B. Adams
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    ABSTRACT: Fleeting nonverbal emotion expressions trigger a variety of spontaneous responses in human observers. To account for these effects, we introduce a functional forecast model (FFM) of emotion expression processing. The FFM assumes that emotion expressions provide timely forecasts of impending events. Responses to these forecasts are adaptive and may be learned or innately prepared, but in either case, observers need not infer mental states to exhibit immediate responses to emotion expressions. We postulate a diffuse route that operates pre-attentively and activates appetitive and defensive motivational systems in response to gross affective meaning relevant to imminent environmental threats and available or scarce survival resources. We postulate a focal route that requires attention to efficiently and spontaneously activate specific, though tacit behavioral expectations. We explain how the FFM accounts for a variety of responses to emotion expressions, including physiological responses, affective responses, behavioral responses, trait attributions, and emotion recognition. Lastly, we describe how the FFM relates to other models of emotion, and describe future directions based on the model.
    Social and Personality Psychology Compass 07/2012; 6(7).
  • Max Weisbuch, Kristin Pauker
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    ABSTRACT: Social and policy interventions over the last half-century have achieved laudable reductions in blatant discrimination. Yet members of devalued social groups continue to face subtle discrimination. In this article, we argue that decades of anti-discrimination interventions have failed to eliminate intergroup bias because such bias is contagious. We present a model of bias contagion in which intergroup bias is subtly communicated through nonverbal behavior. Exposure to such nonverbal bias "infects" observers with intergroup bias. The model we present details two means by which nonverbal bias can be expressed-either as a veridical index of intergroup bias or as a symptom of worry about appearing biased. Exposure to this nonverbal bias can increase perceivers' own intergroup biases through processes of implicit learning, informational influence, and normative influence. We identify critical moderators that may interfere with these processes and consequently propose several social and educational interventions based on these moderators.
    Social Issues and Policy Review 12/2011; 5(1):257-291.
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    ABSTRACT: To reconcile empirical inconsistencies in the relationship between emotionally-negative families and daughters' abnormal eating, we hypothesized a critical moderating variable: daughters' vulnerability to emotion contagion. A nonclinical sample of undergraduate females (N = 92) was recruited via an advertisement and completed self-report measures validated for assessing: families' expressive negativity, daughters' susceptibility to emotion contagion, dietary restraint, and disinhibition, eating attitudes, and several control variables (interpersonal orientation, alexithymia, and the big five personality traits: extraversion, conscientiousness, openness, neuroticism, and agreeableness). All variables and interactions were entered as predictors in a multistep multiple regression equation. Only an emotion contagion by family expressivity interaction term significantly predicted unhealthy eating attitudes (β = .29, p = .02) and dietary restraint (β = .27, p = .03). Negatively expressive families significantly induced unhealthy eating and restraint but only among young women susceptible to emotion contagion (ps < .05). Young women susceptible to emotion contagion may be at increased risk for eating disorders.
    International Journal of Eating Disorders 12/2011; 44(8):716-20. · 2.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recent evidence shows that gender modulates the morphology of facial expressions and might thus alter the meaning of those expressions. Consequently, we hypothesized that gender would moderate the relationship between facial expressions and the perception of direct gaze. In Study 1, participants viewed male and female faces exhibiting joy, anger, fear, and neutral expressions displayed with direct and averted gazes. Perceptions of direct gaze were most likely for male faces expressing anger or joy and for female faces expressing joy. Study 2 established that these results were due to facial morphology and not to gender stereotypes. Thus, the morphology of male and female faces amplifies or constrains emotional signals and accordingly alters gaze perception.
    Emotion 12/2011; 11(6):1439-44. · 3.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Few things seem more natural and functional than wanting to be happy. We suggest that, counter to this intuition, valuing happiness may have some surprising negative consequences. Specifically, because striving for personal gains can damage connections with others and because happiness is usually defined in terms of personal positive feelings (a personal gain) in western contexts, striving for happiness might damage people's connections with others and make them lonely. In 2 studies, we provide support for this hypothesis. Study 1 suggests that the more people value happiness, the lonelier they feel on a daily basis (assessed over 2 weeks with diaries). Study 2 provides an experimental manipulation of valuing happiness and demonstrates that inducing people to value happiness leads to relatively greater loneliness, as measured by self-reports and a hormonal index (progesterone). In each study, key potential confounds, such as positive and negative affect, were ruled out. These findings suggest that wanting to be happy can make people lonely. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
    Emotion 09/2011; 12(5):908-12. · 3.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Physiological activation is thought to be a part of the constellation of responses that accompany social anxiety, but evidence regarding the nature of such activation is mixed. In two studies, the relationship between trait social anxiety and responses during social interaction was explored using on-line cardiovascular indexes of threat. Across Studies 1 and 2, women higher in trait social anxiety exhibited cardiovascular responses consistent with greater threat during the social interaction than those lower in social anxiety. Retrospective self-reports (Studies 1 and 2), as well as partner ratings and interaction behavior (Study 2), also revealed consistent differences as a function of trait social anxiety. Study 2 added male participants, among whom a divergence emerged between results for physiological measures and other responses. These findings have implications for understanding physiological as well as psychological processes among people with social anxiety during social interaction.
    Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 01/2011; 37(1):94-106. · 2.22 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Emerging evidence has shown that human thought can be embodied within physical sensations and actions. Indeed, abstract concepts such as morality, time, and interpersonal warmth can be based on metaphors that are grounded in bodily experiences (e.g., physical temperature can signal interpersonal warmth). We hypothesized that social-category knowledge is similarly embodied, and we tested this hypothesis by examining a sensory metaphor related to categorical judgments of gender. We chose the dimension of "toughness" (ranging from tough to tender), which is often used to characterize differences between males and females. Across two studies, the proprioceptive experience of toughness (vs. tenderness) was manipulated as participants categorized sex-ambiguous faces as male or female. Two different manipulations of proprioceptive toughness predictably biased the categorization of faces toward "male." These findings suggest that social-category knowledge is at least partially embodied.
    Psychological Science 01/2011; 22(1):26-8. · 4.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Previous research has characterized insight as the product of internal processes, and has thus investigated the cognitive and motivational processes that immediately precede it. In this research, however, we investigate whether insight can be catalyzed by a cultural artifact, an external object imbued with learned meaning. Specifically, we exposed participants to an illuminating lightbulb - an iconic image of insight - prior to or during insight problem-solving. Across four studies, exposing participants to an illuminating lightbulb primed concepts associated with achieving an insight, and enhanced insight problem-solving in three different domains (spatial, verbal, and mathematical), but did not enhance general (non-insight) problem-solving.
    Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 07/2010; 46(4):696-700. · 2.22 Impact Factor
  • Nalini Ambady, Max Weisbuch
    06/2010; , ISBN: 9780470561119
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    ABSTRACT: The factors that predict academic performance are of substantial importance yet are not understood fully. This study examined the relationship between cardiovascular markers of challenge/threat motivation and university course performance. Before the first course exam, participants gave speeches on academics-relevant topics while their cardiovascular responses were recorded. Participants who exhibited cardiovascular markers of relative challenge (lower total peripheral resistance and higher cardiac output) while discussing academic interests performed better in the subsequent course than those who exhibited cardiovascular markers of relative threat. This relationship remained significant after controlling for two other important predictors of performance (college entrance exam score and academic self-efficacy). These results have implications for the challenge/threat model and for understanding academic goal pursuit.
    Psychophysiology 05/2010; 47(3):535-9. · 3.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Behavioral consistency has been at the center of debates regarding the stability of personality. We argue that people are consistent but that such consistency is best observed in nonverbal behavior. In Study 1, participants' verbal and nonverbal behaviors were observed in a mock interview and then in an informal interaction. In Study 2, medical students' verbal and nonverbal behaviors were observed during first- and third-year clinical skills evaluation. Nonverbal behavior exhibited consistency across context and time (a duration of 2 years) whereas verbal behavior did not. Discussion focuses on implications for theories of personality and nonverbal behavior.
    Journal of Nonverbal Behavior 03/2010; 34(1):43. · 1.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: One of the most replicable findings reported in the social psychological literature is the cross-race memory effect. We argue this effect derives from higher-order interactions among social cues that determine the perceived relevance of a face to an observer. The current research tested this hypothesis by examining the combined influences of eye gaze direction and race on face memory. The physical subtlety of eye gaze belies its powerful influence on social perception, and in this case helps specify the relevance of same- versus other-race faces. We found that only in faces making direct eye contact-not those displaying averted eye gaze-was the cross-race memory effect evident. Likewise, only in same-race faces did direct relative to averted gaze enhance face memory. These findings have implications for our general understanding of the combinatorial nature of social perception and help clarify the underlying cause of the cross-race memory effect.
    Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 03/2010; 46(2):478-481. · 2.22 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Extant research suggests that people seem deceitful and difficult to understand when their verbal behavior is inconsistent with their nonverbal behavior. Building on this literature, we examined the impact of behavioral coherence on impression formation: We expected people to be likeable to the extent that their verbal and nonverbal behavior was consistent (i.e., coherent). In two studies, participants were videotaped during interpersonal interactions. In both studies, judges with access to only transcripts or silent videos rated participants with respect to emotions (Study 1) or interpersonal concern (Study 2). Other judges—with access to full-audio video—rated participants’ likeability. Consistency across verbal (transcript) and nonverbal (silent video) channels was associated with likeability. Discussion focuses on the role of behavioral coherence in impression formation.
    Basic and Applied Social Psychology - BASIC APPL SOC PSYCHOL. 01/2010; 32(3):261-268.
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    Max Weisbuch, Kristin Pauker, Nalini Ambady
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    ABSTRACT: Compared with more explicit racial slurs and statements, biased facial expressions and body language may resist conscious identification and thus produce a hidden social influence. In four studies, we show that race biases can be subtly transmitted via televised nonverbal behavior. Characters on 11 popular television shows exhibited more negative nonverbal behavior toward black than toward status-matched white characters. Critically, exposure to prowhite (versus problack) nonverbal bias increased viewers' bias even though patterns of nonverbal behavior could not be consciously reported. These findings suggest that hidden patterns of televised nonverbal behavior influence bias among viewers.
    Science 12/2009; 326(5960):1711-4. · 31.20 Impact Factor
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    Max Weisbuch, Nalini Ambady
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    ABSTRACT: The authors examined the extent to which nonverbal behavior contributes to culturally shared attitudes and beliefs. In Study 1, especially slim women elicited especially positive nonverbal behaviors in popular television shows. In Study 2, exposure to this nonverbal bias caused women to have especially slim cultural and personal ideals of female beauty and to have especially positive attitudes toward slim women. In Study 3, individual differences in exposure to such nonverbal bias accounted for substantial variance in pro-slim attitudes, anti-fat attitudes, and personal ideals of beauty, even after controlling for several third variables. In Study 4, regional differences in exposure to nonverbal bias accounted for substantial variance in regional unhealthy dieting behaviors, even after controlling for several third variables.
    Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 07/2009; 96(6):1104-19. · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    Mark D Seery, Max Weisbuch, Jim Blascovich
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    ABSTRACT: Previous findings support that cardiovascular markers of challenge/threat reflect one's relative balance of resource versus demand evaluations during task performance. We report a novel investigation of the effects of performance outcome framing (potential for gain vs. loss) on these cardiovascular markers. Before completing a test, participants learned they could gain or lose money, or neither, based on performance. Results revealed that during the test, gain and loss framings led to higher heart rate and lower pre-ejection period than no incentive, consistent with greater task engagement; gain framing led to lower total peripheral resistance and higher cardiac output than loss framing, consistent with relative challenge. Implications for challenge/threat and related research and theories are discussed.
    International journal of psychophysiology: official journal of the International Organization of Psychophysiology 06/2009; 73(3):308-12. · 3.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Exponential increases in multiracial identities, expected over the next century, create a conundrum for perceivers accustomed to classifying people as their own- or other-race. The current research examines how perceivers resolve this dilemma with regard to the own-race bias. The authors hypothesized that perceivers are not motivated to include ambiguous-race individuals in the in-group and therefore have some difficulty remembering these individuals. Both racially ambiguous and other-race faces were misremembered more often than own-race faces (Study 1), though memory for ambiguous faces was improved among perceivers motivated to include biracial individuals in the in-group (Study 2). Racial labels assigned to racially ambiguous faces determined memory for these faces, suggesting that uncertainty provides the motivational context for discounting ambiguous faces in memory (Study 3). Finally, an inclusion motivation fostered cognitive associations between racially ambiguous faces and the in-group. Moreover, the extent to which perceivers associated racially ambiguous faces with the in-group predicted memory for ambiguous faces and accounted for the impact of motivation on memory (Study 4). Thus, memory for biracial individuals seems to involve a flexible person construal process shaped by motivational factors.
    Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 05/2009; 96(4):795-810. · 5.08 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

261 Citations
98.82 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2012
    • University of Denver
      Denver, Colorado, United States
  • 2008–2011
    • Tufts University
      • Department of Psychology
      Medford, MA, United States
  • 2010
    • Pennsylvania State University
      • Department of Psychology
      State College, PA, United States
  • 2009–2010
    • University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
      • Department of Psychology
      Buffalo, NY, United States
  • 2003
    • University of California, Santa Barbara
      • Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
      Santa Barbara, California, United States