Brock Bastian

Brock Bastian
University of Melbourne | MSD · Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences

PhD

About

160
Publications
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7,106
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Publications

Publications (160)
Article
Defendants can deny they have agency, and thus responsibility, for a crime by using a defense of mental impairment. We argue that although this strategy may help defendants evade blame, it may carry longer-term social costs, as lay people’s perceptions of a person’s agency might determine some of the moral rights they grant them. Three randomized b...
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At the beginning of 2020, COVID-19 became a global problem. Despite all the efforts to emphasize the relevance of preventive measures, not everyone adhered to them. Thus, learning more about the characteristics determining attitudinal and behavioral responses to the pandemic is crucial to improving future interventions. In this study, we applied ma...
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What are the things that we think matter morally, and how do societal factors influence this? To date, research has explored several individual-level and historical factors that influence the size of our ‘moral circles.' There has, however, been less attention focused on which societal factors play a role. We present the first multi-national explor...
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Identity fusion is traditionally conceptualized as innately parochial, with fused actors motivated to commit acts of violence on out-groups. However, fusion’s aggressive outcomes are largely conditional on threat perception, with its effect on benign intergroup relationships underexplored. The present article outlines the fusion-secure base hypothe...
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Prosocial behaviors benefit others, but what benefits do they hold for those who enact them? Prosociality can enhance the actor’s well-being, yet whether it is one’s sense of happiness or meaning that is impacted, and how this plays out in everyday life, has received limited attention. We address this gap in knowledge by examining how prosociality...
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The question of pet ownership contributing to human well-being has received mixed empirical evidence. This contrasts with the lay intuition that pet ownership contributes positively to wellness. In a large representative sample, we investigate the differences that may exist between pet vs. non-pet owners in terms of their well-being during the COVI...
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Physical attractiveness is a heuristic that is often used as an indicator of desirable traits. In two studies (N = 1254), we tested whether facial attractiveness leads to a selective bias in attributing moral character—which is paramount in person perception—over non-moral traits. We argue that because people are motivated to assess socially import...
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Happiness is a valuable experience, and societies want their citizens to be happy. Although this societal commitment seems laudable, overly emphasizing positivity (versus negativity) may create an unattainable emotion norm that ironically compromises individual well-being. In this multi-national study (40 countries; 7443 participants), we investiga...
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Changing collective behaviour and supporting non-pharmaceutical interventions is an important component in mitigating virus transmission during a pandemic. In a large international collaboration (Study 1, N = 49,968 across 67 countries), we investigated self-reported factors associated with public health behaviours (e.g., spatial distancing and str...
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In this study we investigated how social anxiety and expressed friendship relate to the perceived friendship network of adolescent girls. We define an expressed friendship as a friendship choice made by an individual, and a perceived friend as one whom the individual perceives as choosing them as a friend; expressed and perceived friends need not b...
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Research on the Beauty-is-Good stereotype shows that unattractive people are perceived to have worse moral character than attractive individuals. Yet research has not explored what kinds of moral character judgments are particularly biased by attractiveness. In this work, we tested whether attractiveness particularly biases moral character judgment...
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The study of meaning in life has largely centered on its relationship with personal well-being, while a focus on how meaning is related to enhancing the well-being of others has received less research attention. Although searching for meaning may imply lower personal well-being, we find that meaning-seekers are more motivated to perform costly pros...
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The COVID-19 pandemic has extensively changed the state of psychological science from what research questions psychologists can ask to which methodologies psychologists can use to investigate them. In this article, we offer a perspective on how to optimize new research in the pandemic’s wake. Because this pandemic is inherently a social phenomenon—...
Preprint
Supernatural beliefs are common in every human society, and people frequently invoke the supernatural to explain natural (e.g., storms, disease outbreaks) and social (e.g., murder, warfare) events. However, evolutionary and psychological theories of religion raise competing hypotheses about whether supernatural explanations should more commonly foc...
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Researchers have tended to focus on mind perception as integral to judgments of moral standing, yet a smaller body of evidence suggests that beauty may also be an important factor (for some people and animals). Across six studies ( N = 1,662), we investigated whether beauty increases moral standing attributions to a wide range of targets, including...
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Full-text available
Defendants can deny they have agency, and thus responsibility, for a crime by using a defense of mental impairment. We argue that although this strategy may help defendants evade blame, it may carry longer-term social costs, as lay people’s perceptions of a person’s agency might determine some of the moral rights they grant them. In this registered...
Article
Conservationists have sought to identify avenues through which to gain public support for efforts to halt the accelerating decline in animal diversity. Previous research has identified perceived internal qualities of animals that lead people to view them as deserving of protection for their own sake; that is, increase their moral standing. In two s...
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Many people agree that reducing the consumption of meat has good ends (e.g., for animal welfare, the environment, and human health). However, the question of which advocacy strategies are most effective in enabling wide-spread meat reduction remains open. We explored this by prescribing four different meat reduction diets to omnivorous participants...
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Recent research has uncovered a downside to the pursuit of happiness; placing a high value on happiness can ironically lead to lower well-being. Not all approaches have this effect, however, and individuals who seek positivity within their day-to-day routines may experience higher well-being. The current research investigated whether the difference...
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We propose an integrative framework in which the self‐image of perpetrators and victims in interpersonal conflictual relationships becomes tethered to each other. To the extent that both parties stop seeing themselves as fully human when interpersonal harm is inflicted, we theorize that this state motivates attempts at restoration. Specifically, we...
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The current cultural standard in western societies expects people to be happy and not sad. While the pursuit of positive emotion is strongly encouraged in modern societal discourse, occasionally feeling negative is easily considered maladaptive or abnormal. It is in our human nature to comply with social expectations, and the extent to which we are...
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Abstract What does it mean to be happy? The vast majority of cross-cultural studies on happiness have employed a Western-origin, or “WEIRD” measure of happiness that conceptualizes it as a self-centered (or “independent”), high-arousal emotion. However, research from East�ern cultures, particularly Japan, conceptualizes happiness as including an in...
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Full-text available
What does it mean to be happy? The vast majority of cross-cultural studies on happiness have employed a Western-origin, or “WEIRD” measure of happiness that conceptualizes it as a self-centered (or “independent”), high-arousal emotion. However, research from Eastern cultures, particularly Japan, conceptualizes happiness as including an interpersona...
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Background: First-episode psychosis typically has its onset during adolescence. Prolonged deficits in social functioning are common in FEP and yet often variance in functioning remains unexplained. Developmental psychology frameworks may be useful for understanding these deficits. Eudaimonic well-being (EWB), or positive self-development, is a deve...
Preprint
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The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a devastating global health crisis. Without a vaccine or effective medication, the best hope for mitigating virus transmission is collective behavior change and support for public health interventions (e.g., physical distancing, physical hygiene, and endorsement of health policies). In a large-scale international co...
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Objective The current exploratory study sought to examine dispositional optimism, or the general expectation for positive outcomes, around the world. Method Dispositional optimism and possible correlates were assessed across 61 countries (N = 15,185; mean age = 21.92; 77% female). Mean‐level differences in optimism were computed along with their r...
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Little is known about the psychology of ugliness. We propose that ugliness judgments are linked to the behavioral immune system, alerting us to objects that may contain potentially harmful diseases. Exploring this possibility, in five studies ( N = 1,552), we found that ugly human faces (Studies 1a and 1b), ugly animals (Study 2), and—to a lesser d...
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Moral vitalism refers to a tendency to view good and evil as actual forces that can influence people and events. The Moral Vitalism Scale had been designed to assess moral vitalism in a brief survey form. Previous studies established the reliability and validity of the scale in US-American and Australian samples. In this study, the cross-cultural c...
Preprint
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Researchers have identified several factors that may increase the moral value that people place on various entities (e.g., mind perception), yet the role of aesthetic judgment has never been investigated. We suggest that perceptions of beauty extend beyond mere preference, also signalling that beautiful targets possess a moral value that is worthy...
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Neuroticism is one of the major traits describing human personality, and a predictor of mental and physical disorders with profound public health significance. Individual differences in emotional variability are thought to reflect the core of neuroticism. However, the empirical relation between emotional variability and neuroticism may be partially...
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Objective: To compare estimated levels of psychological distress in the Australian population as measured by online versus face-to-face survey methodologies. Method: Kessler Psychological Distress Scale scores from a nationally representative online survey of 955 Australians were compared to results from the 2014–2015 and 2017–2018 National Healthy...
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Can we experience positive (PA) and negative affect (NA) separately (i.e., affective independence), or do these emotional states represent the mutually exclusive ends of a single bipolar continuum (i.e., affective bipolarity)? Building on previous emotion theories, we propose that the relation between PA and NA is not invariable, but rather fluctua...
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Pathogens represent a significant threat to human health leading to the emergence of strategies designed to help manage their negative impact. We examined how spiritual beliefs developed to explain and predict the devastating effects of pathogens and spread of infectious disease. Analysis of existing data in studies 1 and 2 suggests that moral vita...
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Moralization has major social and political implications. Although there is a depth of research on the nature and implications of moral attitudes and moral convictions, there has been less of a focus on the psychological processes by which actions, attitudes, or entities become moralized, or move from lesser to greater moral significance, and the r...
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Societal inequality has been found to harm the mental and physical health of its members and undermine overall social cohesion. Here, we tested the hypothesis that economic inequality is associated with a wish for a strong leader in a study involving 28 countries from five continents (Study 1, N = 6,112), a study involving an Australian community s...
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What makes an experience meaningful? Diverse lines of research have provided contrasting evidence; that either positive or negative events are found particularly meaningful. In this paper, we propose that the extremity of an event, rather than its valence per se, may drive meaning, and test multiple mechanisms that might explain this effect. Across...
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Our relations with other animals are ubiquitous in human life, yet the psychological structure of our connection with animals is just beginning to receive empirical attention. Drawing on theories of social identification and intergroup relations, we investigate the various ways that people identify with animals. Across 7 studies, we introduce the I...
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Pain overlap theory has generated decades of controversy and still receives considerable research attention. A major advance has been the revelation that social and physical pain activate similar neural regions, providing suggestive evidence of a “piggybacked” alarm system that coevolved to detect social exclusion. Recent developments, however, hav...
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The investment model of close relationships has focused on satisfaction and dependence (as it pertains to viable alternatives) as important indicators of relationship commitment and success. In this review, I apply a dehumanization perspective to understanding why abusive relationships can increase dependence in the context of low relationship sati...
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Four studies examined whether pain offset reduces rumination in response to anger or sadness. Past research has demonstrated that, following the offset of pain, individuals show a distinct state of relief involving both reduction in negative affect and an increase in positive affect. This response may help to explain why people sometimes seek out p...
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Why do societies commemorate war? The persistence of war commemorations suggests they serve a purpose in society. We examine one possibility: Commemorating past sacrifices may serve an “inspirational” function, by evoking pride and gratitude for soldiers’ actions and promoting a willingness to endure future sacrifices for the group. We contrast thi...
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In the current era, building more innovative teams is key to organizational success, yet there is little consensus on how best to achieve this. Common wisdom suggests that positive reinforcement through shared positive rewards builds social support within teams, and in turn facilitates innovation. Research on basic group processes, cultural rituals...
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Enhancing human cooperation in the use of limited and depletable resources is of central concern to environmental management and human welfare. Behavioral models of cooperation have, to date, focused on inter-party dynamics such as reciprocity, punishment, or reputation in distribution of resources generally indexed by points, money, or effort. We...
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Thinspiration and fitspiration are classes of social media content characterised by idealised depictions of excessively thin and overtly fit/lean bodies, respectively. It is currently unknown whether and how exposure to thinspiration and fitspiration relates to symptom severity within high-risk clinical populations. Thus, in a clinical sample of in...
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Moral expansiveness refers to the range of entities (human and non-human) deemed worthy of moral concern and treatment. Previous research has established that the Moral Expansiveness Scale (MES) is a powerful predictor of altruistic moral decision-making and captures a unique dimension of moral cognition. However, the length of the full MES may be...
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People's relationship between positive and negative affect varies on a continuum from relatively independent to bipolar opposites, with stronger bipolar opposition being termed affective bipolarity. Experiencing more depressive symptoms is associated with increased bipolarity, but the processes underlying this relation are not yet understood. Here,...
Article
Ethical dilemmas are common. Just as commonly, however, these motivational conflicts are overlooked or actively avoided in behavioral decision making. Raising awareness of the ethical implications of action can be a powerful route to changing behavior, yet this approach also risks defensive responding and the potential for backfire effects. Current...
Preprint
Full-text available
People’s relationship between positive and negative affect varies on a continuum from relatively independent to bipolar opposites, with stronger bipolar opposition being termed affective bipolarity. Experiencing more depressive symptoms is associated with increased bipolarity, but the processes underlying this relation are not yet understood. Here,...
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Full-text available
Publicly displayed, sexualized depictions of women have proliferated, enabled by new communication technologies, including the internet and mobile devices. These depictions are often claimed to be outcomes of a culture of gender inequality and female oppression, but, paradoxically, recent rises in sexualization are most notable in societies that ha...
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Objective Eating disorders stigmatization is common and is associated with greater eating disorders symptom severity. This study sought to elucidate stigma internalization as a potential mechanism underlying this association. Two central aspects of stigma internalization were focused on: alienation and social withdrawal. Method A cross‐national sa...
Data
People differ in the extent to which they experience positive (PA) and negative affect (NA) rather independently or as bipolar opposites. Here, we examine the proposition that the nature of the relation between positive and negative affect in a person’s emotional experience is indicative of psychological well-being, in particular the experience of...
Article
Full-text available
People differ in the extent to which they experience positive (PA) and negative affect (NA) rather independently or as bipolar opposites. Here, we examine the proposition that the nature of the relation between positive and negative affect in a person’s emotional experience is indicative of psychological well-being, in particular the experience of...
Article
Full-text available
Theorists have long noted that people’s moral circles have expanded over the course of history, with modern people extending moral concern to entities—both human and nonhuman—that our ancestors would never have considered including within their moral boundaries. In recent decades, researchers have sought a comprehensive understanding of the psychol...
Preprint
People differ in the extent to which they experience positive (PA) and negative affect (NA) rather independently or as bipolar opposites. Here, we examine the proposition that the nature of the relation between positive and negative affect in a person’s emotional experience is indicative of psychological well-being, in particular the experience of...
Article
Although pain typically evokes avoidance, individuals sometimes choose to engage in activities that produce pain. Past research has shown that, under certain circumstances, pain offset may down-regulate negative emotions, so one possibility is that individuals may sometimes choose painful activities to regulate emotion. Thus, painful activities may...
Article
The proposed model overlooks the contribution of a relational/prosocial dimension to the enjoyment of negative emotion in art reception. Negative experiences have a unique capacity to build social bonds and may also increase motivation to “connect” with the artist. This affiliative motivation ensures that people experience an artwork as more emotio...
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Research indicates that existential threat may motivate in-group members to retaliate against out-group members. Less is known about the impact of alignment with one’s religious or national group on retaliatory activity. We addressed this deficiency in a longitudinal study before, and soon after, the beginning of the 2015 Palestinian Stabbing Intif...
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Lifetime rates of clinical depression and anxiety in the West tend to be approximately 4 to 10 times greater than rates in Asia. In this review, we explore one possible reason for this cross-cultural difference, that Asian cultures think differently about emotion than do Western cultures and that these different systems of thought help explain why...
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Research from a variety of disciplines suggests a positive relationship between Western cultural sexualization and women's likelihood of suffering harm. In the current experiment, 157 young men were romantically rejected by a sexualized or non-sexualized woman then given the opportunity to blast the woman with loud bursts of white noise. We tested...
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Promoting happiness within society is good for health, but could the overpromotion of happiness have a downside? Across 2 studies, we investigate 2 emotion norms associated with an emphasis on happiness-the importance of (a) seeking positive emotion, and (b) avoiding negative emotion-and whether these norms have implications for how people respond...
Article
We live in a world that values justice; when a crime is committed, just punishment is expected to follow. Keeping one’s misdeed secret therefore appears to be a strategic way to avoid (just) consequences. Yet, people may engage in self-punishment to right their own wrongs to balance their personal sense of justice. Thus, those who seek an escape fr...
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This research integrates different social psychological theories to test whether human–animal similarity promotes affiliation with animals and lowers the need to affirm humans’ superiority relative to animals. On the basis of theories of intergroup relations, terror management theory, and work conducted in the field of human–animal relations, we ex...