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Social Baseline Theory: The Social Regulation of Risk and Effort

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... Social baseline theory (SBT) argues that the human brain assumes that social resources are construed as bioenergetic resources, and as a way to economize behavior 14,15 . More precisely, "[the] social baseline indicates the degree to which an individual incorporates others in their network of social resources" 11 -and the higher the baseline is, the more an individual incorporates social resources (SR) into their economy of action. ...
... The more they see these resources as a benefit, the more they are open to incorporate them into their economy of action. This is a key assumption in the Social Baseline Theory (SBT), where SR are considered as bio-energetic resources, and a way to share the load 15 . We argue that, to some extent, technical resources such as tools can be viewed in the same way. ...
... On the other hand, the perceived benefit of the SR could also have been modulated by the fact that it was a stranger. Indeed, according to SBT, load sharing is facilitated by trust and interdependence 15 . Thus, reinforcing the social proximity between participants and the SR (e.g., choosing a friend or a family member) could have increase the perception of SR as a means to distribute the costs of the action. ...
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Social baseline theory states that there are differences in how humans integrate social resources into their economy of action when they face environmental demands. However, although several authors suggested that extraversion may be an indicator of the social baseline, no study has demonstrated it. The present study aims to test this hypothesis and, in particular, examines whether extraversion is a specific indicator of the social baseline. In two experiments, participants were asked to move rolls either alone (with their hands), or with the help of a social resource (Experiment 1), or a tool (Experiment 2). Results showed that extraversion predicted the choice to use both types of resource. Specifically, the more participants were extraverted, the more they tended to consider the use of the social resource or the tool as beneficial. We argue that these results indicate that extraversion is not specifically an indicator of the social baseline, but rather an indicator of how individuals integrate technical and social resources into their economy of action. In addition, this study encourages future research endeavors to define what constitutes a resource and how it could fit into the Social Baseline Theory.
... Yet thus far, the majority of this work on neuroregulatory functioning has studied individuals in isolation from their social context. Arguably, this might be considered a species atypical situation-threatening in and of itselfbecause humans are ultrasocial animals that heavily rely on supportive others (Coan & Sbarra, 2015;Holt-Lunstad et al., 2015). In this regard, it is interesting to note that the right dlPFC response to threat can be socially regulated, downregulating when adults are in the physical presence of a supportive partner, an effect that is greater among those reporting higher quality relationships with, or greater perceived social support from, the partner (Coan et al., 2006(Coan et al., , 2017. ...
... In line with our hypothesis, infants with more-engaged mothers showed faster visual fixation (reduced avoidance) and increased left dlPFC activity, suggesting reduced threat sensitivity and greater access to neural correlates of cognitive control when under threat among infants in the context of receiving greater social support. These results are consistent with prior work finding a reduction in threat bias among preschool children when in physical contact with their caregivers with whom they have a highquality relationship as well as broader theories of the social regulation of emotion postulating reduced threat responding and greater regulation in the physical context of more supportive others (Coan & Sbarra, 2015;Tottenham, 2020). However, using caregiver behavior as a proxy measure of the variation of social support did not reveal evidence that infants' right dlPFC response to threat is socially downregulated as it is among adults (Coan et al., 2006(Coan et al., , 2017, as we had also hypothesized. ...
... Baseline Theory (Coan & Sbarra, 2015) proposes that the human brain assumes proximity to supportive others, and in doing so, maps the social resources provided by the supportive other onto the self when perceiving threat in the environment. Application of this theory during development would suggest that a present and supportive caregiver takes on threats in the environment so that the infant does not have to address them-the infant effectively "outsource[s]" (p. ...
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The early development of threat perception in infancy might be dependent on caregiver context, but this link has not yet been studied in human infants. This study examined the emergence of the young infant's response to threat in the context of variations in caregiving behavior. Eighty infant-caregiver dyads (39 female infants, all of western European descent) visited the laboratory when the infant was 5 months old. Each dyad completed a free-play task, from which we coded for the mother's level of engagement: the amount of talking, close proximity, positive affect, and attention directed toward the infant. When the infant was 7 months old, they came back to the laboratory and we used functional near infrared spectroscopy and eye tracking to measure infants’ neural and attentional responses to threatening angry faces. In response to threat, infants of more-engaged mothers showed increased brain responses in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex—a brain region associated with emotion regulation and cognitive control among adults—and reduced attentional avoidance. These results point to a role for caregiver behavioral context in the early development of brain systems involved in human threat responding.
... First, we add social baseline theory (SBT) to this body of literature, which explains how individuals save energy and resources through their social relationship network (Beckes & Coan, 2011;Coan & Sbarra, 2015). In this way, we extend the SBT perspective to the work context and highlight the important role work relationships play in conserving one's energy and resources and the detrimental effects on employee well-being and behaviors when those relationships are interrupted. ...
... That is, the brain's default mode presumes a certain social network "characterized by familiarity, joint attention, shared goals, and interdependence" (Beckes & Coan, 2011: 977). A disruption to a valued relationship upsets one's social baseline and creates a loss of self and shift toward a condition of being alone (Coan & Sbarra, 2015). The forced and abrupt change to remote work disrupted habituated social relationships at work and therefore upset employee social baselines ultimately, contributing to feelings of loneliness (Henriksen et al., 2014). ...
... The move to remote work caused by the COVID-19 outbreak swiftly cut-off in-person contact between coworkers, thus isolating employees from important workplace relationships. One of the key tenants of SBT is that individuals have unique baselines for their social relationship networks and will react differently to disruptions of, or threats to, their personal baseline (Coan & Sbarra, 2015). Therefore, we also expect the forced change to remote work impacts individual employees in different ways depending on how disruptive the change to remote work was for their social baseline network and their individual preferences for communication. ...
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This paper investigates the impact of job control and work‐related loneliness on employee work behaviors and well‐being during the massive and abrupt move to remote work amid the COVID‐19 pandemic. We draw on job‐demands control and social baseline theory to link employee perceived job control and work‐related loneliness to emotional exhaustion and work‐life balance and posit direct and indirect effects on employee minor counterproductive work behaviors, depression, and insomnia. Using a two‐wave data collection with a sample of U.S. working adults to test our predictions, we find that high job control was beneficially related to emotional exhaustion and work‐life balance, while high work‐related loneliness showed detrimental relationships with our variables of interest. Moreover, we find that the beneficial impact of high perceived job control was conditional on individual segmentation preferences such that the effects were stronger when segmentation preference was low. Our research extends the literature on remote work, job control, and workplace loneliness. It also provides insights for human resource professionals to manage widespread remote work that is likely to persist long after the COVID‐19 pandemic.
... Several studies, for example, have found short-term links between situational changes in perceptions of threat vs. safety and corresponding short-term changes in vagal tone (Brosschot et al., 2016(Brosschot et al., , 2017Smith et al., 2020). Social baseline theory suggests that the absence of supportive others violates the default expectations of the brain, and is thus likely to create at least a mild degree of heightened experience of threat (Coan & Sbarra, 2015). A range of studies, from cross-sectional to longitudinal, has linked vagal tone to social relationship qualities. ...
... Finally, lower vagal tone was predicted by lack of observed warmth from a romantic partner in a videorecorded interaction task at age 27. These findings are consistent with both attachment and social baseline theories, which highlight the role of important social relationships in providing an experience of safety and security that has been linked to greater parasympathetic activity (Bowlby, 1980;Coan & Sbarra, 2015). One explanation for these findings is that the observed relationship difficulties create a chronic, perhaps low-grade absence of experiences of security and safety. ...
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Understanding whether and how the absence of positive relationships may predict longer-term physical health outcomes is central to building a working conceptual model of the interplay of social and physical development across the lifespan. This study sought to examine the extent to which difficulties establishing positive social relationships from adolescence onward serve as long-term predictors of low adult vagal tone, which in turn has been linked to numerous long-term health problems. A diverse community sample of 141 individuals was followed via multiple methods and reporters from age 13 to 29. Across this span, social relationship quality was assessed via close friend and peer reports, observations of romantic interactions, and self-reported romantic relationship satisfaction. A range of potential personality and functional covariates was also considered. Vagal tone while at rest was assessed at age 29. Adult vagal tone was predicted across periods as long as 16 years by: adolescents’ difficulty establishing themselves as desirable companions among peers; early adults’ inability to establish strong close friendships; and lack of warmth in romantic relationships as an adult. Poor early adult friendship quality statistically mediated the link from adolescent peer difficulties to adult vagal tone. A range of potential confounding factors was examined but was not linked to vagal tone. Within the limits of the correlational design of the study, robust connections between adult vagal tone and social relationship quality from adolescence onward suggest at least a possible mechanism by which relationship difficulties may get ‘under the skin’ to influence future physiological functioning.
... All life must strategically conserve and allocate resources in order to meet the challenges of living. Social Baseline Theory (Beckes & Coan, 2011;Coan & Sbarra, 2015;SBT) suggests that human behavior and ecophysiology is particularly driven by social context and the affordances and threats there in. Importantly, SBT posits that the presence and social behavior of other humans constitutes the human ecological niche. ...
... For humans, the brain assumes access to social resources and removal from our social context incurs a bioenergetic cost which we see especially in systems involved in vigilance, conscious effort, and problem solving (Coan & Sbarra, 2015). In the handholding studies, our most consistent effects are in neural structures commonly associated with signaling sensitivity to bodily sensations associated with emotion, a need for top-down cognitive control, and self-regulation and (Coan et al., 2013(Coan et al., , 2017b: insula (Menon & Uddin, 2010), dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) (MacDonald, Cohen, Andrew Stenger, & Carter, 2000), and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) (Coan et al., 2017b(Coan et al., , 2006Gonzalez, Beckes, Chango, Allen, & Coan, 2014) respectively. ...
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All life must strategically conserve and allocate resources in order to meet the challenges of living. Social Baseline Theory suggests that, for humans, social context and the social resources therein are a central ecology in human phylogeny. In ontogeny, this manifests in flexible bioenergetic strategies that vary in the population based on social history. We introduce yielding, a conservation process wherein we relax physiological investment in response to a challenge when in the presence of a relational partner. The availability of these conserved resources then impact response to subsequent challenges while alone and if this pattern is habitual, it can reciprocally influence strategies used to solve or cope with typical stress. We discuss neural targets of this resource conservation and reframe our lab's previous studies on the social regulation of neural threat responding within this framework. We then show functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data indicating the presence of relational partners decreases blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) response to threat in key targets of resource conservation (e.g, dlPFC, dACC, and insula) and that stronger signal reduction in these areas coincide with less BOLD in pre-frontal (vmPFC, dlPFC) and visuo-sensory integration (occipital cortex, precuneus, superior parietal lobule) regions during ostracism. Finally, we show that these neural relationships are associated with less use of self-regulation-based coping strategies two years post scanning. Taken together, we show the utility of yielding both as a concept and as a bioenergetic process which helps to conserve energy in this social primate.
... Relationships provide an ideal context in which to explore these issues. As much as relationships can offer joy, connection, and growth, they also represent opportunities for profound loss, rejection, and vulnerability (Baumeister & Leary, 1995;Coan & Sbarra, 2015;Holmes & Rempel, 1989;Rusbult et al., 1999;Simpson, 2007). Inevitably, all partners experience a conflicting covariation of interests, which lead to discord or dissatisfaction despite the positives of the relationship. ...
... However, the tendency to affirm the availability and reliability of the interdependence structure, and to draw from these structures in times of distress, is not considered an indicator of growth or change per se by relationship scholars. Rather, it is an adaptive response reflecting the value of close relationships in the defense against existential harms (Coan & Sbarra, 2015;Florian et al., 2002;Murray et al., 2018;Plusnin et al., 2018;Slavich, 2020). ...
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People have a tremendous ability to grow and change for the better following adverse life events. This capacity for growth has captured the attention of psychologists interested in understanding the mechanisms underpinning both personality and well-being. This paper advocates for a greater integration of relationship science into this area of study as a means of advancing post-traumatic growth and personality change research. Relationships, both as an impetus for change and as evidence of growth, have featured consistently in the post-traumatic growth and adversity literatures. Drawing from interdependence theory in particular, this paper highlights how the unique structure of close relationships and relationship dynamics can be applied to address outstanding theoretical questions related to the advancement of post-traumatic growth research as well as offers a critique of the practice of using relationship outcomes (e.g., connection) as evidence of post-traumatic growth. Finally, this paper encourages psychologists across subdisciplines to share their unique skills and insights to help generate more robust psychological theories and methods.
... La répartition des risques ferait référence à la répartition statistique des risques environnementaux entre les individus d'un même groupe, et le partage des charges permettrait la distribution des efforts à fournir pour l atteinte d un objectif. Ensemble, ces mécanismes agiraient sur de nombreux processus cognitifs, influençant l économie d action des individus et la manière dont ils interagiraient avec leur environnement(Beckes & Coan, 2011; Coan & Maresh, 2014;Coan & Sbarra, 2015;Gross & Medina-DeVilliers, 2020;Gross & Proffitt, 2013. Selon la théorie de la base sociale, le degré auquel les ressources sociales influenceraient l économie d action des individus serait fonction des attentes de ces derniers concernant la répartition des risques et des charges. ...
... Selon la théorie de la base sociale, le degré auquel les ressources sociales influenceraient l économie d action des individus serait fonction des attentes de ces derniers concernant la répartition des risques et des charges. Ainsi, lorsque les attentes d un individu seraient satisfaites, celui-ci produirait un effort cognitif minimal et à l inverse si les individus sont seuls ou en dessous de leurs attentes, cela provoquerait des processus cognitifs et comportementaux supplémentaires pour compenser le déficit(Beckes & Coan, 2011; Coan & Maresh, 2014;Coan & Sbarra, 2015;Gross & Medina-DeVilliers, 2020;Gross & Proffitt, 2013. En soi, il est possible de retrouver des preuves expérimentales d une telle considération dans le cadre de la thermorégulation(IJzerman et al., 2012) ou encore de l activité cérébrale associé à la gestion de la menace(Coan et al., 2006(Coan et al., , 2017López-Solà et al., 2019). ...
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La cognition, la perception et l’action peuvent être considérées comme faisant partie d'un même processus dynamique avant tout orienté vers le maintien adaptatif des individus. Ce que perçoivent les individus, ce n’est pas un environnement objectif et indépendant d’eux, mais c’est un environnement leur offrant des opportunités d’action (e.g., des affordances). En se couplant à l’environnement, les organismes créeront leur propre domaine de signification, ce qui leur permettra en retour d’entreprendre des actions adaptées. Un principe illustrant bien une telle conception au niveau écologique est le principe d’économie d’action. Ce principe stipule que pour survivre, grandir et se reproduire, les organismes doivent conserver leurs énergies dans le temps. Cela, implique alors qu’ils puissent se maintenir autour d’une ligne de base homéostatique autour de laquelle les coûts énergétiques de leurs actions pourront être évalués. Chez l'homme, cette ligne de base serait fonction à la fois des ressources physiologiques, mais également des ressources sociales. Cette idée est notamment défendue par la théorie de la base sociale qui suggère que le fonctionnement par défaut de la cognition humaine serait d’agir au sein d’un environnement social. Selon cette théorie, lorsque les individus feraient face à des demandes environnementales, ils auraient tendance à partager la charge afin de minimiser le coût de leurs interactions avec le monde. Se basant sur cette approche incarnée des relations sociales, cette thèse aura donc pour objectif de comprendre comment s’opère ce partage des charges lorsque les individus anticipent d’agir dans un environnement donné. Précisément, elle sera de montrer que l’impact du partage des charges sur l’économie d’action, est fonction des caractéristiques de la situation (axe 1) mais également du niveau de base sociale des individus (axe 2).
... Relationships are an important resource in life (Coan and Sbarra, 2015;Kiecolt-Glaser and Wilson, 2017). Coping with a challenge together expands the resources of the individual on the partner, and it not only activates individual resources like self-regulation and self-efficacy but also adds genuine relational processes to the regulation equation (Bodenmann, 1997;Rohrbaugh et al., 2004;Helgeson et al., 2018;Rentscher, 2019). ...
... Accordingly, it has been suggested that establishing perceived responsiveness and psychological intimacy is an indirect socio-affective pathway of emotion regulation (Debrot et al., 2013;Horn et al., 2018). Calling against the "lone man against the element" view on emotion regulation, relationships have been interpreted as resources for the co-regulation of emotions not only in early childhood but also throughout the life span (Coan and Sbarra, 2015;Kiecolt-Glaser and Wilson, 2017). A central interpersonal emotion regulation strategy is disclosure (Manne et al., 2004) or social sharing, which is fulfilling socio-affective needs after emotional upheavals (Rimé, 2007). ...
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Background: Retirement is a central transition in late adulthood and requires adjustment. These processes not only affect the retired individuals but also their romantic partners. The aim of this study is to investigate the interplay of intrapersonal emotion regulation (rumination) with interpersonal regulation processes (disclosure quality). Furthermore, the associations of daily retirement-related disclosure with adjustment symptoms in disclosing and the listening partner will be investigated. It is expected that the effects of disclosure alter after providing the couples with a self-applied solitary written disclosure task in order to support their intrapersonal emotion regulation. Methods: In this dyadic online-diary study, 45 couples ( N = 45) with one partner perceiving the adjustment to a recent retirement as challenging reported rumination, perceived disclosure quality (repetitive, focused on negative content, hard to follow, disclosing partner open for common/authentic), retirement-related disclosure, and ICD-11 adjustment symptoms preoccupation and failure to adapt were assessed at the end of the day over 14 days. In the middle of this assessment period, couples performed a modified online-expressive writing about their thoughts and feelings regarding the transition to retirement. Results: The double-intercept multilevel Actor–Partner Interdependence Models (APIM) reveal that on days with more daily rumination, the spouse perceived that disclosure of the retiree is more difficult to follow, more negative, and repetitive. In contrast, the retiree perceived less authenticity and openness to comments during disclosure on days when the spouse reports more rumination. Retirement-related disclosure showed no within-couple association with failure to adapt but actor effects on preoccupation. Moreover, a partner effect of disclosure of the retirees on the preoccupation of spouses could be observed. This contagious effect of the retiree disclosure, however, disappeared during the week after writing. Conclusion: Our results support the notion that disclosure processes are altered during maladaptive intrapersonal emotion regulation processes. This in turn seems to lead to less effective interpersonal regulation and contagious spilling over of symptoms. Supporting intrapersonal emotion regulation seems to have the potential to allow more favorable interpersonal regulation processes and to free interpersonal resources for an individual adjustment. This has implications for further planning of support for couples facing life transitions and aging-related changes.
... Far from being a philosophical platitude, this statement is an empirical fact: In almost every domain of human existence, high-quality social relationships are associated with improved well-being and health [1]. Social baseline theory (SBT) provides a useful vantage point to make sense of these positive associations and holds that humans' primary ecology is a social ecology [2,3]. We are not adapted to a specific physical niche; rather, humans use an incredible breadth of social activity to thrive nearly anywhere on the planet. ...
... Returning to the idea of Bayesian prediction, SBT would explain the López-Solà et al. [14] findings via prediction processes that alter perception as a function of social resources. Coan and Sbarra [3] argued that one way this occurs is through the expansion of the self to include the other. Indeed, Beckes et al. [36] found that the brain responds to threats to friends, but not strangers, in a manner highly correlated with the way it responds to threats to the self. ...
Article
Social Baseline Theory (SBT) maintains that the primary human ecology is a social ecology. Because of this fact, the theory predicts that humans will find it easier and less energetically taxing to regulate emotion and act when in proximity to familiar and predictable others. This paper reviews new empirical and theoretical work related to SBT and highlights areas of needed research. Among these exciting developments are investigations of the neural mechanisms of social emotion regulation, the creation of a model of social allostasis, and work investigating at the impact of social proximity in real world contexts. SBT continues to accrue support and inspire new theoretical and empirical contributions.
... Social baseline theory argues that our neural processing has evolved to automatically 534 assume that we are embedded in a supportive social network (Coan,Schaefer & Davidson,535 2006; Coan & Sbarra, 2015). In other words, our brain assumes social connection as the 536 default situation and our homeostatic state is defined by interconnection with other people at 537 all levels (e.g., psychological, behavioral, biological; Saxbe et al., 2020). ...
... As such, it enables us to respond efficiently as an interpersonal system to 543 challenges and opportunities, and then return to our interpersonal homeostatic baseline 544 afterward. Social baseline theory further suggests that high quality relationships 545 automatically reduce threat responding, thereby freeing up resources for social partners to 546 engage flexibly with each other and the world (Coan, Schaefer & Davidson, 2006; Coan & 547 Sbarra, 2015). In other words, high quality relationships both promote and rely on 548 coregulation. ...
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[This corrects the article DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.619255.].
... In Canada, Pearce and Kristjansson [80] reported a positive correlation between the scale of social networks and the availability of built-up environmental factors (such as parks and services), indicating that the scale of social networks may increase with the improvement of the availability of built up environmental factors in neighborhoods. The increase in the scale of social networks improves the possibility of informal meetings between the elderly [81,82] and meets the daily social needs of the brain, which plays a significant role in improving health outcomes [83]. Moreover, diversified land use can shorten the distance between places for leisure activities and increase people's social interaction opportunities [84], which helps to reduce the risk of obesity and chronic diseases and improve physical health [85]. ...
... Neighborhoods closed to bus or subway stations, with too many bus and subway stations, will suffer more noise pollution [111]. It will reduce the frequency of social interaction activity (such as chatting, playing cards, and chess), reduce the possibility of informal meetings between the elderly [81,82], and fail to meet the daily social needs of the brain, thereby harming physical and mental health [83]. Secondly, many Chinese elderly people live with their adult children. ...
Article
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The built environment refers to the objective material environment built by humans in cities for living and production activities. Existing studies have proven that the built environment plays a significant role in human health, but little attention is paid to the elderly in this regard. At the same time, existing studies are mainly concentrated in Western developed countries, and there are few empirical studies in developing countries such as China. Based on POI (point of interest) data and 882 questionnaires collected from 20 neighborhoods in Guangzhou, we employ multilevel linear regression modeling, mediating effect modeling, to explore the path and mechanism of the impact of the built environment on elderly individuals’ physical health, especially the mediating effects of physical and social interaction activity. The results show that the number of POIs, the distance to the nearest park and square, and the number of parks and squares are significantly positively correlated with the physical health of the elderly, while the number of bus and subway stations and the distance to the nearest station are significantly negatively correlated. Secondly, physical activity and social networks play a separate role in mediating the effect of the built environment on elderly individuals’ physical health. The results enrich the research on the built environment and elderly individuals’ health in the context of high-density cities in China and provide some reference basis for actively promoting spatial intervention and cultivating a healthy aging society.
... Researchers suggest that the brain expects to establish harmonious social relations including mutual trust and interdependence. If these expectations are not met, the brain will perceive less positive resources and more stress, and increase more negative attitudes toward the external environment (62,63). Youths who perceived or experienced more enacted stigma are more likely to have a negative attitude toward the external environment. ...
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Parental illness or death due to HIV/AIDS has long-term impacts on children’s social well-being, potentially challenging the children’s basic developmental needs and future. Based on the theoretical model of social well-being, the present study tested a moderated mediation model that HIV-related stigma moderated the mediating role of social trust on the relationship between perceived social support (PSS) and social well-being. A sample of 297 youths aged 20–30 years affected by parental HIV/AIDS (57.2% male), including 129 (43.40%) AIDS orphans and 168 vulnerable youths (56.60%) completed questionnaires of perceived social support, social well-being, social trust, and HIV-related stigma. IBM SPSS 25.0 was used to conduct descriptive statistics and multiple regressions. Results showed that the mean score of PSS was 61.34 (SD = 13.99), social well-being was 57.33 (SD = 10.15), social trust was 56.21 (SD = 11.55), perceived stigma was 64.44 (SD = 16.72), and enacted stigma was 21.91 (SD = 9.73) among youths affected by parental HIV/AIDS and the PSS could predict increasing social well-being via increasing social trust. Moreover, the positive influence of PSS on social trust was moderated by the enacted stigma (p = 0.03), in which the positive influence was stronger among youths affected by parental HIV/AIDS who perceived or experienced low enacted stigma than those who perceived or experienced high enacted stigma. The positive impact of social trust on social well-being was moderated by perceived stigma (p = 0.04), in which the positive impact was more significant among youths affected by parental HIV/AIDS who perceived or experienced high perceived stigma than those who perceived or experienced low perceived stigma. These findings explained how and when the PSS affected social well-being and contributed toward an understanding of the experiences and perceptions of HIV-related stigma among youths affected by parental HIV/AIDS. This understanding may inform future research and policies toward improving the social well-being of youths affected by parental HIV/AIDS. The study also highlighted the importance of strengthening interventions on social relations and reducing HIV-related stigma for them.
... These results are in line with the previous literature conferring a mood-regulatory role on the therapist (e.g., [29]). Specifically, the results of the present study indicate that beneficial emotion regulation occurs not only because clients share their emotions with their therapists (as has been predicted, for example, by the social baseline theory [38]) but also because they synchronize their arousal levels with those of their therapists (but only when the temporal sequence has the therapist in the lead and is client-following). This is particularly interesting because this process typically happens outside of awareness. ...
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Imagery rescripting (IR), an effective intervention technique, may achieve its benefits through various change mechanisms. Previous work has indicated that client–therapist physiological synchrony during IR may serve as one such mechanism. The present work explores the possibility that therapist-led vs. client-led synchrony may be differentially tied to clients’ emotional experiences in therapy. The analyses were conducted with data taken from an open trial of a brief protocol for treating test anxiety (86 IR sessions from 50 client–therapist dyads). Physiological synchrony in electrodermal activity was indexed using two cross-correlation functions per session: once for client leading and again for therapist leading (in both cases, with lags up to 10 s). The clients’ and therapists’ in-session emotions were assessed with the Profile of Mood States. Actor–partner interdependence models showed that certain client (but not therapist) in-session emotions, namely higher contentment and lower anxiety and depression, were tied to therapist-led (but not client-led) physiological synchrony. The results suggest that therapist-led synchrony (i.e., clients’ arousal tracking therapists’ earlier arousal) is tied to more positive and less negative emotional experiences for clients.
... Similarly, based on prior literature detailing the efficacy of different providers of social support (e.g., Uchino et al., 2011), we expected that 6) the support coming from a known person (e.g., a friend or an intimate partner) would be stronger in terms of stress reduction than the one provided by a stranger. Additionally, based on Social Baseline Theory (e.g., Beckes & Coan, 2011;Coan & Sbarra, 2015) and meta-analyses on the importance of social proximity on health (e.g., Holt-Lunstad et al., 2015), any form of physical social support (e.g., hand holding; Coan et al., 2006) should be stronger than simply being reminded about social support and/or verbal social support. We therefore expected that 7) physical social support to be stronger than other types of emotional social support. ...
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This meta-analysis explored whether being in nature and emotional social support are effective in reducing levels of stress through a Registered Report. We retrieved all the relevant articles that investigated a connection between one of these two strategies and various components of stress (physiological, affective and cognitive) as well as affective consequences of stress. We followed a stringent analysis workflow (including permutation-based selection models and multilevel regression-based models) to provide publication bias-corrected estimates. We found [no evidence for the efficacy of either strategy/evidence for one of the two strategies/evidence for both strategies] with an estimated mean effect size of [xx/xx] and we recommend [recommendation will be provided if necessary].
... Besides, social baseline theory assumes that people will find it energetically easier to act and regulate emotion when they have close relationships with others around (Coan & Sbarra, 2015). It suggests that when a person suffers from negative social experience like ostracism, things would seem to be more difficult and burdensome to them, and their self-regulation would also be damaged (Beckes & Sbarra, 2022). ...
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Problematic smartphone use has become a prominent social problem, and factors shaping this behavior have been a research focus. Based on the Interaction of Person-Affect-Cognition-Execution model, we examined the association between ostracism and problematic smartphone use, and individual differences in the relation (i.e., the mediating role of social self-efficacy and the moderating role of rejection sensitivity). A sample of 800 undergraduates were recruited to complete questionnaires. The SPSS PROCESS was used to test the moderated mediation model and the Johnson-Neyman method was used to analyze the moderating effect of rejection sensitivity. As predicted, ostracism was positively associated with problematic smartphone use. Social self-efficacy partially mediated this relation. Rejection sensitivity moderated the relation between ostracism and social self-efficacy—with the association being weaker for students with higher rejection sensitivity. The results have both theoretical and practical implications.
... This process has been termed dyadic coping (Bodenmann, 2005) or communal coping (Lyons et al., 1998). Within this shared stress experience, close relationships represent a valuable resource that goes beyond their individual coping resources (Coan & Sbarra, 2015). In the Systemic-Transactional Model (STM), dyadic coping has been introduced as a reciprocal and dynamic interplay between one partner's stress signals and the other partner's support (Bodenmann, 1995). ...
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In dyadic interaction, a verbal focus on one individual (“you-talk”, “I-talk”), rather than on the couple (“we-talk”) has predominantly been linked to dysfunctional relationship processes. However, context differences in these links have not yet been systematically examined. Is it functional to asymmetrically focus on one partner during support interactions but problematic during conflict? Does a high level of couple-focus represent a resource across contexts? In this preregistered study, we investigated dyad-level pronoun use (we-/I-/you-talk) and their link to situational relationship functioning (SRF) across three interaction tasks (one conflict, two dyadic coping tasks) within couples (N = 365). More specifically, we examined associations of couple-means, i.e., pronoun use as a shared resource/vulnerability between partners, and couple-differences, i.e., functional/dysfunctional asymmetric pronoun use with observed interaction positivity and relationship climate. Results revealed both context differences and similarities. Asymmetric partner-focus (i.e. you-talk) was dysfunctional in conflict, whereas asymmetric partner- and self-focus (i.e., you-talk/I-talk; focus on the stressed partner) were functional in dyadic coping. Beyond asymmetry, you-talk (couple-mean) showed consistent negative associations with SRF in all tasks studied. We-talk (couple-mean) was positively linked to SRF, but only in conflict interactions. In conflict, couple-focus thus represented a shared resource that can buffer from dysfunctional conflict interaction characterized by partner-focus. In line with conceptual frameworks, the dyadic coping results emphasize the importance of focusing on the partner in need. The study corroborates the prospect of pronoun use as a context-specific indicator of relationship functioning. Gender differences, implications for future research and possible interventions are discussed.
... The capacity for epistemic trust allows for identifying knowledge conveyed by others as personally relevant and generalizable to other contexts. This capacity is an important evolutionary advantage which bypasses having to work out cultural knowledge oneself (very timeconsuming, difficult, and often impossible), but allows the recipient of information (e.g., a young child) to rely on the authority and perceived trustworthiness of the person communicating that information (e.g., a caregiver or teacher; Coan & Sbarra, 2015;Gergely, 2013;Konner, 2010;Sperber et al., 2010;Tomasello, 2010). The default mode of functioning of humans is not epistemic trust, but epistemic vigilance or the ability to identify and filter out information conveyed by others that is perceived to be misleading, inaccurate, or deceitful. ...
Chapter
Depression and personality disorder, in particular borderline personality disorder as defined by DSM and ICD classifications, are characterized by great phenomenological heterogeneity, and high comorbidity with each other and with other psychiatric disorders. These characteristics suggest that several domains of mental functioning are differentially affected, to give rise to one or another diagnosis and their comorbidities. This chapter reviews and links the evidence related to the impairments in functioning of the self-other domain, particularly in adult depression, through advancing a model based on three of its main component systems: stress regulation (negative valence and arousal/regulatory systems), reward (positive valence systems), and mentalizing (system for social processes or social cognition) systems, which we see as interconnected. For each of these systems, we review and link the evidence arising from genetic, neurophysiological and behavioral domains. The chapter follows a developmental psychopathology perspective, which highlights the developmental cascades that give rise to such psychopathology. Finally, we propose an understanding of comorbidity and heterogeneity, future lines for research and for the development of evidence-based interventions.
... Previous research has shown that adaptive self-regulatory processes are sensitive to perceptions of resources and social support availability, affecting outcomes from health to physical performance [11][12][13]. Perceived social support influences the adaptive processes that govern energetic resource allocation, protect homeostasis, produce feelings, and motivate behavior [6,[14][15][16][17][18][19]. ...
Article
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Perceptions of social support influence adaptive self-regulatory processes that maintain health, produce feelings and motivate behavior. Although associations between sociality and health are increasingly well-understood, there is little systematic research into the effects of social support on fatigue, physical discomfort, exertion, and output regulation in physical activity. We conducted an experimental study to investigate the effect of social support on performance and perceived difficulty in a handgrip force task while controlling for audience and reputational factors. Effects were compared with those of another established psychogenic performance enhancer (a placebo ergogenic supplement). During handgrip trials over varying levels of objective difficulty, participants viewed photographs of a support figure or stranger while in a placebo or control condition. Results revealed a significant main effect of the social support cue on handgrip performance outputs, and a significant interaction with objective trial difficulty – relative to the stranger cue, the support-figure cue significantly increased handgrip performance outputs and the effect was larger in more objectively difficult trials. Moreover, despite producing greater handgrip outputs, participants perceived trials to be significantly less difficult. Though there was a non-significant main effect of placebo (vs. control) on performance outputs, participants perceived trials in the placebo condition to be significantly less difficult. The research contributes new evidence and theory on the role of perceived social support – an important (energetic) resource – in human performance and motivates further enquiry into how cues to support alter perceived effort and performance outputs in strenuous physical challenges.
... A useful way to investigate whether social feelings are a naturally occurring neurobiological kind, identifiable and conducive to scientific inquiry, is to consider studies that directly induce real or imagined interpersonal stress (i.e., the presence of conflict or threat, or the loss or absence of belonging or connection) and ask participants to provide ratings for their emotional feeling states (Coan and Sbarra, 2015). Current understanding of the central neurobiology of social feelings in this context is limited because such studies have been dominated by a focus on peripheral physiology. ...
Article
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Social feelings have conceptual and empirical connections with affect and emotion. In this review, we discuss how they relate to cognition, emotion, behavior and well-being. We examne the functional neuroanatomy and neurobiology of social feelings and their role in adaptive social functioning. Existing neuroscience literature is reviewed to identify concepts, methods and challenges that might be addressed by social feelings research. Specific topic areas highlight the influence and modulation of social feelings on interpersonal affiliation, parent-child attachments, moral sentiments, interpersonal stressors, and emotional communication. Brain regions involved in social feelings were confirmed by meta-analysis using the Neurosynth platform for large-scale, automated synthesis of functional magnetic resonance imaging data. Words that relate specifically to social feelings were identfied as potential research variables. Topical inquiries into social media behaviors, loneliness, trauma, and social sensitivity, especially with recent physical distancing for guarding public and personal health, underscored the increasing importance of social feelings for affective and second person neuroscience research with implications for brain development, physical and mental health, and lifelong adaptive functioning.
... Higher inclusion-of-other-in-self in a romantic relationship promotes a variety of health and well-being outcomes [31], including reducing the effort required of either individual in the dyad as burdens become more shared [32,33] ...
Article
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Relationship closeness promotes desirable health outcomes. Most interventions to increase relationship closeness are verbal, which may not suit all couples. We consider whether Orgasmic Meditation (OM), a structured, partnered, largely non-verbal practice that includes genital touch, also increases relationship closeness. We hypothesized that OM would increase feelings of closeness for both romantic and non-romantic partners. This is important, because intimate touch with non-romantic partners is commonly considered deleterious by clinicians, which may inadvertently increase feelings of shame. Dyads (n = 125) reported their feelings of closeness before and after OM. Approximately half of the participants were romantic partners, while the other half only engaged in OM together (non-romantic). Closeness after OM increased on average across participants. Non-romantic dyads increased self-other overlap more than romantic dyads. These data support that a partnered, largely non-verbal practice is associated with increased feelings of closeness in the moment, including for individuals who are not in a romantic relationship.
... Fundamentally, individuals are driven to seek proximity to (and care from) a supportive other during times of need. This drive for social support is thought to reflect the output of basic biological mechanisms that aim to maintain an expected, baseline level of social connection; sustaining such a level may reduce the bioenergetic requirements of bodily functions and conserve resources [4]. According to this model, deviations from this baseline, optimal level of social contact, or "set point", will trigger behavioral responses that aim to correct such deviations (i.e., allostasis) [5,6]. ...
Article
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Background Attachment, or affiliative bonding among conspecifics, is thought to involve neural mechanisms underlying behavioral responses to threat and reward -related social signals. However, attachment-oriented responses may also rely on basic sensorimotor processes. One sensorimotor system that may play a role in attachment is the parietofrontal cortical network that responds to stimuli that are near or approaching the body, the peripersonal space (PPS) monitoring system. We hypothesized that this network may vary in responsivity to such potentially harmful stimuli, particularly those with social salience, based on individual differences in attachment styles. Methods Young adults viewed images of human faces or cars that appeared to move towards or away from them, while functional magnetic resonance imaging data were collected. Correlations between each of four adult attachment styles, measured using the Relationship Questionnaire, and responses of the PPS network to approaching (versus withdrawing) stimuli were measured. Results A region-of-interest (ROI) analysis, focused on six cortical regions of the PPS network that showed significant responses to approaching versus withdrawing face stimuli in an independent sample (n = 80), revealed that anxious attachment style (but not the other 3 attachment styles) was significantly positively correlated with responses to faces (but not to cars) in all six ROIs (r = 0.36 - 0.52, p = 0.01- 0.0001, n = 50). Conclusions These findings suggest that anxious attachment is associated with over-responsivity of a sensorimotor network involved in attending to social stimuli near the body.
... The social baseline theory proposes that we are social beings and therefore naturally require social connections to reproduce and survive [11]. When these requirements are unmet (e.g., in quarantine, which by definition limits our social interaction), psychological and physiological consequences occur in response to the restriction of our social environment [12]. This is evident in the reported morbidities and early mortalities associated with social isolation [4,5], as well as the alarming health consequences of pathological loneliness (where day-to-day activities are affected) [4,13]. ...
Article
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The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a predominantly global quarantine response that has been associated with social isolation, loneliness, and anxiety. The foregoing experiences have been amply documented to have profound impacts on health, morbidity, and mortality. This narrative review uses the extant neurobiological and theoretical literature to explore the association between social isolation, loneliness, and anxiety in the context of quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic. Emerging evidence suggests that distinct health issues (e.g., a sedentary lifestyle, a diminished overall sense of well-being) are associated with social isolation and loneliness. The health implications of social isolation and loneliness during quarantine have a heterogenous and comorbid nature and, as a result, form a link to anxiety. The limbic system plays a role in fear and anxiety response; the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, amygdala, HPA axis, hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, insula, and locus coeruleus have an impact in a prolonged anxious state. In the conclusion, possible solutions are considered and remarks are made on future areas of exploration.
... Beyond thoughts about a social category, thoughts about anything can be regarded as social if they are represented from the personal plural perspective of a collective agent. Ultimately, whereas social identity scholarship is an application of cognition to social relations (Brewer, 2007), collective agency scholarship constitutes the reverse-it is an application of social relations to cognition (e.g., social baseline theory, Coan & Sbarra, 2015; types of solidarity, Durkheim, 1893Durkheim, /1984relational models, Fiske, 1992; thought as internalized dialogue, Vygotsky, 1978). Together, we believe that these two frameworks provide complementary perspectives on the social worlds that humans, as selfreflective beings, inhabit. ...
Preprint
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Contemporary research on human sociality is heavily influenced by the social identity approach, positioning social categorization as the primary mechanism governing social life. Building on the distinction between agency and identity in the individual self (“I” versus “Me”), we emphasize the analogous importance of distinguishing collective agency from collective identity (“We” versus “Us”). While collective identity is anchored in the unique characteristics of group members, collective agency involves the adoption of a shared subjectivity that is directed toward some object of our attention, desire, emotion, belief, or action. These distinct components of the collective self are differentiated in terms of their mental representations, neuro-cognitive underpinnings, conditions of emergence, mechanisms of social convergence, and functional consequences. Overall, we show that collective agency provides a useful complement to the social categorization approach, with unique implications for multiple domains of human social life, including collective action, responsibility, dignity, violence, dominance, ritual, and morality.
... 38 The Social Baseline Theory posits that the normal, or baseline, adaptive human neurological state is predicated on social proximity to and relationships with others as a necessary resource, whereas lack of social relationships puts the neurological system into an alert state due to an implied or perceived increased risk and increased level of effort needed to reach goals. 39 When this state is prolonged, it can lead to depletion in neurological and physical resources and function. Physiological changes of this type may be associated with suicide risk. ...
Article
Both social disconnection and suicide are significant public health concerns among older adults, and social disconnection is associated with greater risk for suicide-related thoughts and behaviors in late life. We present a synthesis of research discussed during a workshop hosted by the NIMH on social disconnection and late-life suicide. Social disconnection is related to suicide risk in late life via a variety of mechanisms, including biological, behavioral, and psychological correlates. Researchers in several scientific fields have begun to establish these connections and identify targets for interventions to reduce risk in late life. While research has demonstrated that social connection is amenable to change, there is little research to date on the most evidence-based interventions to mitigate social disconnection or the related risks. However, there are several promising biological, behavioral, and psychological interventions that may target various mechanisms, as well as social disconnection itself. With a relative paucity of research in this area, these lines of study are ripe for innovative investigation. In order to most effectively advance the field, we must establish more consistent definitions of social connection and disconnection; more accurately measure and assess older adults’ social needs; examine the most effective approaches and modalities for assessment and intervention; take into account important contextual factors; and apply a translational, convergent scientific approach.
... Integrative theoretical approaches have been proposed, such as Baumeister and Leary's (1995) influential social motivational account of humans' "need to belong," Beckes and Coan's (2011) and Coan and Sbarra's (2015) ecological social baseline theory and later extensions to relational affect (Sbarra & Coan, 2018), and Aktipis et al.'s (2018) evolutionary "fitness interdependence" framework. Although the focus of each approach is distinct, these integrative frameworks commonly point to humans' interdependent social ecology as a default evolutionary and developmental context in which cognitive, affective, and physiological function emerges and adapts. ...
Article
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Social relationships and mental health are functionally integrated throughout the lifespan. Although recent laboratory‐based research has begun to reveal psychological pathways linking social interaction, interdependence, bonding and wellbeing, more evidence is needed to integrate and understand the potential significance of these accounts for real‐world events and interventions. In a questionnaire‐based, repeated measures design, we measured the wellbeing of 13‐ to 19‐year‐old participants (n = 226) in the Ten Tors Challenge (United Kingdom) 7–10 days before (T1) and after (T4) the event. Immediately before (T2) and after (T3) the event, we administered measures of team bonding, perceived and experienced interdependence, perceived and received support, physical pain and fatigue, and performance satisfaction. There was a significant increase in participants' wellbeing (pre‐to‐post event). Post‐event social bonding and performance satisfaction positively predicted the wellbeing increase. Bonding was, in turn, positively predicted by experienced interdependence, received support, pain and fatigue, and the sense of having done better as a team than expected. Results provide novel field‐based evidence on the associations between meaningful bonds of mutual reliance in a challenging team event and adolescent wellbeing. Team challenge events potentially offer effective contexts for forging social interactions, interdependencies, and bonds that can support mental and physical health.
... In megacities such as Guangzhou, the public transportation network shows continuous improvement with the increase in population density. However, if surrounded by too many public transit stations, communities may suffer from noise and exhaust pollution (79), decreasing the willingness of older adults to engage in social interactions, which is not conducive to improving their mental health (80)(81)(82). Long-term exposure to exhaust pollution is also detrimental to physical and mental health. ...
Article
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Many studies revealed a significant correlation between low-density built environment and the mental health of older adults in developed countries. However, scholars and decision-makers recently began to pay close attention to the effect of this relationship in high-density built environments and in developing countries. Using point-of-interest (POI) data from Baidu and data on 20 communities in Guangzhou, China, which were collected through a questionnaire survey, this study aimed to examine the relationship between built environment and the mental health of older adults as well as the physiological–psychological mediating paths between the two, so as to enrich the research on population aging in the high-density urban context in developing countries. The findings indicated that facility accessibility and distance to parks significantly positively correlated with the mental health of older adults and the number of public transit stations, and the distance to these stations significantly negatively correlated with the mental health of older adults. Also, the perceptions of community cohesion and community safety had a significant mediating effect between the built environment and the mental health of older adults. Furthermore, the moderating effect analysis results verified the moderating effect of income: with an increase in income, the perception of community cohesion enhanced the protection of the mental health of older adults and reduced the mediating effect of the perception of community safety. The results provided a reference for policy-makers and urban planners in their efforts to plan and build health-supporting communities and a healthy aging society.
... This is due to the phylogenetic adaptation based on an assumption that to be embedded in a social network offers opportunities for connection, belonging, and support. 63,64 Consequently, when humans are integrated into social communities and feel like they contribute to them in meaningful ways, their bodily systems tend to function in biologically adaptive ways, facilitating long-term mental and physical health benefits. On the other hand, when their sense of belonging and social integration is chronically thwarted, biological processes become dysregulated, allostatic load accumulates, and bodily systems succumb to their wear and tear, leading to increased propensity for morbidity and early mortality. ...
Article
Social networks are the persons surrounding a patient who provide support, circulate information, and influence health behaviors. For patients seen by neurologists, social networks are one of the most proximate social determinants of health that are actually accessible to clinicians, compared with wider social forces such as structural inequalities. We can measure social networks and related phenomena of social connection using a growing set of scalable and quantitative tools increasing familiarity with social network effects and mechanisms. This scientific approach is built on decades of neurobiological and psychological research highlighting the impact of the social environment on physical and mental well-being, nervous system structure, and neuro-recovery. Here, we review the biology and psychology of social networks, assessment methods including novel social sensors, and the design of network interventions and social therapeutics.
... This heightened neural activity may reflect the rewarding and saliency aspects of risk taking-aspects that may be enhanced by negative peer relationships and the anticipation of peer approval by engaging in risky behavior. This is consistent with the stress-buffering model of social relationships (Coan & Sbarra, 2015;Cohen et al., 2001) and underscores the importance of the quality of adolescents' peer relationships for risk-taking behavior. Taken together, these findings suggest that conforming to peers is instrumental for gaining social acceptance and establishing stronger peer connections, an effect that is exacerbated in youth who experienced chronic peer victimization or chronic peer conflict. ...
Article
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In peer relations research, interest is increasing in studying the neural underpinnings of peer experiences in order to understand how peer interactions relate to adjustment and well-being. This review provides an overview of 27 studies examining how positive and negative peer experiences with personally familiar peers relate to neural processes. The review illustrates the ways that researchers have creatively designed controlled functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiments employing real-life relationships. The review highlights evidence supporting the role of reward and affect sensitivity, as well as neural sensitivity to social exclusion in relation to peer experiences. Further, the review highlights research about how peer experiences modulate neural underpinnings of risk-taking and prosocial behavior. The review concludes with the challenges that studies aiming to combine peer and brain research face and provides avenues for future research.
... They also report that interacting with (and sometimes the mere presence of) a trusted person confers a multitude of regulatory benefts, including allowing them to participate in environments they would otherwise fnd overwhelming [11,17]. (For a review of empirical research confrming the regulatory benefts of being with a trusted other-particularly in potentially stressful situations, see [6]). ...
... The key point is that constant attachment bonds create strong and safe attachment relationships that cannot easily be changed [16]. Accordingly, it seems that individuals would like to continue old relation-ships because they are reluctant to have cognitive effort to create new social interactions [17]. ...
Article
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The home cultural attachment (HCA) theory deals with long-term relationships among humans and how they react when they leave their beloved family members and friends and their homeland. It is essential to explore the factors influencing it. In this regard, the present study explores the role of age and gender on Iranian university students’ HCA quantitatively and qualitatively. To this end, a total of 201 university students, including both genders, were selected from Ayatollah Boroujerdi University through a random sampling method. The required quantitative data were collected using the HCA questionnaire, validated by Shahsavandi et al. (2010) and the qualitative data were gathered through a reflective written statement from 20 university students who completed the questionnaire. The data were analyzed using an independent sample t -test, a one-way ANOVA test, and a content analysis approach. Findings evidenced that there was not any statistically significant difference between the two genders concerning HCA. The results indicated that age was not a strong predictor of HCA. Besides, the complementary qualitative findings confirmed that gender and age do not play a role in Iranian university students’ HCA. The study ends with offering some implications for stakeholders.
... Unison experience vs. millisecond or technical glitch lags (Coan 2015) Attention Focused, immersed vs. multitasking vs. attention ...
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Editorial The RSD10 symposium was held at the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Delft University of Technology, 2nd-6th November 2021. After a successful (yet unforeseen) online version of the RSD 9 symposium, RSD10 was designed as a hybrid conference. How can we facilitate the physical encounters that inspire our work, yet ensure a global easy access for joining the conference, while dealing well with the ongoing uncertainties of the global COVID pandemic at the same time? In hindsight, the theme of RSD10 could not have been a better fit with the conditions in which it had to be organized: “Playing with Tensions: Embracing new complexity, collaboration and contexts in systemic design”. Playing with Tensions Complex systems do not lend themselves for simplification. Systemic designers have no choice but to embrace complexity, and in doing so, embrace opposing concepts and the resulting paradoxes. It is at the interplay of these ideas that they find the most fruitful regions of exploration. The main conference theme explored design and systems thinking practices as mediators to deal fruitfully with tensions. Our human tendency is to relieve the tensions, and in design, to resolve the so-called “pain points.” But tensions reveal paradoxes, the sites of connection, breaks in scale, emergence of complexity. Can we embrace the tension and paradoxes as valuable social feedback in our path to just and sustainable futures? The symposium took off with two days of well-attended workshops on campus and online. One could sense tensions through embodied experiences in one of the workshops, while reframing systemic paradoxes as fruitful design starting points in another. In the tradition of RSD, a Gigamap Exhibition was organized. The exhibition showcased mind-blowing visuals that reveal the tension between our own desire for order and structure and our desire to capture real-life dynamics and contradicting perspectives. Many of us enjoyed the high quality and diversity in the keynotes throughout the symposium. As chair of the SDA, Dr. Silvia Barbero opened in her keynote with a reflection on the start and impressive evolution of the Relating Systems thinking and Design symposia. Prof.Dr. Derk Loorbach showed us how transition research conceptualizes shifts in societal systems and gave us a glimpse into their efforts to foster desired ones. Prof.Dr. Elisa Giaccardi took us along a journey of technologically mediated agency. She advocated for a radical shift in design to deal with this complex web of relationships between things and humans. Indy Johar talked about the need to reimagine our relationship with the world as one based on fundamental interdependence. And finally, Prof.Dr. Klaus Krippendorf systematically unpacked the systemic consequences of design decisions. Together these keynote speakers provided important insights into the role of design in embracing systemic complexity, from the micro-scale of our material contexts to the macro-scale of globally connected societies. And of course, RSD10 would not be an RSD symposium if it did not offer a place to connect around practical case examples and discuss how knowledge could improve practice and how practice could inform and guide research. Proceedings RSD10 has been the first symposium in which contributors were asked to submit a full paper: either a short one that presented work-in-progress, or a long one presenting finished work. With the help of an excellent list of reviewers, this set-up allowed us to shape a symposium that offered stage for high-quality research, providing a platform for critical and fruitful conversations. Short papers were combined around a research approach or methodology, aiming for peer-learning on how to increase the rigour and relevance of our studies. Long papers were combined around commonalities in the phenomena under study, offering state-of-the-art research. The moderation of engaged and knowledgeable chairs and audience lifted the quality of our discussions. In total, these proceedings cover 33 short papers and 19 long papers from all over the world. From India to the United States, and Australia to Italy. In the table of contents, each paper is represented under its RSD 10 symposium track as well as a list of authors ordered alphabetically. The RSD10 proceedings capture the great variety of high-quality papers yet is limited to only textual contributions. We invite any reader to visit the rsdsymposium.org website to browse through slide-decks, video recordings, drawing notes and the exhibition to get the full experience of RSD10 and witness how great minds and insights have been beautifully captured! Word of thanks Let us close off with a word of thanks to our dean and colleagues for supporting us in hosting this conference, the SDA for their trust and guidance, Dr. Peter Jones and Dr. Silvia Barbero for being part of the RSD10 scientific committee, but especially everyone who contributed to the content of the symposium: workshop moderators, presenters, and anyone who participated in the RSD 10 conversation. It is only in this complex web of (friction-full) relationships that we can further our knowledge on systemic design: thanks for being part of it! Dr. JC Diehl, Dr. Nynke Tromp, and Dr. Mieke van der Bijl-Brouwer Editors RSD10
... For example, being married to a person high in perceived support might simply be less stressful compared to being married to someone low in support [18,30]. Given that the partner has adequate support, they would have the resources needed to attend to their partner's socio-emotional needs [31,32]. Additionally, perceived support is related to received support. ...
Article
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Social support has been linked to lower cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. However, most studies have examined perceived support as an intrapersonal construct. A dyadic approach to social support highlights how interdependence between individuals within relationships, including partner perceptions and interactions, can influence one’s health. This study’s overall purpose was to test actor–partner models linking perceived social support to inflammation. Ninety-four cisgender married couples completed perceived support measures and had their blood drawn for CRP and IL-6 to produce an overall inflammatory index. The primary results indicate that only a partner’s level of perceived support was related to lower inflammation in their spouse. Our sample size, although moderate for inflammatory studies, was probably not large enough to detect actor influences. These data highlight the importance of taking a dyadic perspective on modeling perceived support and its potential mechanism.
... Beyond thoughts about a social category, thoughts about anything can be regarded as social if they are represented from the personal plural perspective of a collective agent. Ultimately, whereas social identity scholarship is an application of cognition to social relations (Brewer, 2007), collective agency scholarship constitutes the reverse-it is an application of social relations to cognition (e.g., social baseline theory, Coan & Sbarra, 2015; types of solidarity, Durkheim, 1893Durkheim, /1984relational models, Fiske, 1992; thought as internalized dialogue, Vygotsky, 1978). Together, we believe that these two frameworks provide complementary perspectives on the social worlds that humans, as selfreflective beings, inhabit. ...
Article
Full-text available
Contemporary research on human sociality is heavily influenced by the social identity approach, positioning social categorization as the primary mechanism governing social life. Building on the distinction between agency and identity in the individual self (“I” vs. “Me”), we emphasize the analogous importance of distinguishing collective agency from collective identity (“We” vs. “Us”). While collective identity is anchored in the unique characteristics of group members, collective agency involves the adoption of a shared subjectivity that is directed toward some object of our attention, desire, emotion, belief, or action. These distinct components of the collective self are differentiated in terms of their mental representations, neurocognitive underpinnings, conditions of emergence, mechanisms of social convergence, and functional consequences. Overall, we show that collective agency provides a useful complement to the social categorization approach, with unique implications for multiple domains of human social life, including collective action, responsibility, dignity, violence, dominance, ritual, and morality.
... Several reviews have documented evidence of plausible biological mechanisms (e.g., 10,45,71,96). Social experiences, and our perceptions of them, can influence health through central processing that in turn influences peripheral health-relevant biology (18). Reviews of this evidence have found that social connection factors influence specific biological pathways, including chronic allostatic load (82), cardiovascular reactivity (95), blood pressure (29), oxidative stress (59), neuroendocrine dysregulation (10), immune functioning (19,58,63,67,77), inflammation (98), and gut-microbiome interactions (92). ...
Article
There is growing interest in and renewed support for prioritizing social factors in public health both in the USA and globally. While there are multiple widely recognized social determinants of health, indicators of social connectedness (e.g., social capital, social support, social isolation, loneliness) are often noticeably absent from the discourse. This article provides an organizing framework for conceptualizing social connection and summarizes the cumulative evidence supporting its relevance for health, including epidemiological associations, pathways, and biological mechanisms. This evidence points to several implications for prioritizing social connection within solutions across sectors, where public health work, initiatives, and research play a key role in addressing gaps. Therefore, this review proposes a systemic framework for cross-sector action to identify missed opportunities and guide future investigation, intervention, practice, and policy on promoting social connection and health for all. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Public Health, Volume 43 is April 2022. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.
... Some studies have found that groups that experience physical contact are more cooperative, increasing the probability of competitive success in activities with other groups (Kraus et al., 2010;Coan and Sbarra, 2015). An interesting neurophysiological study found better outcomes in the Stroop test (color-word interference) in the context of physical contact; the authors see their results as indicating that interpersonal contact can induce intrinsic motivation by supporting autonomy and self-confidence (Lurquin et al., 2014). ...
Article
Full-text available
Rather than occurring abstractly (autonomously), ethical growth occurs in interpersonal relationships (IRs). It requires optimally functioning cognitive processes [attention, working memory (WM), episodic/autobiographical memory (AM), inhibition, flexibility, among others], emotional processes (physical contact, motivation, and empathy), processes surrounding ethical, intimacy, and identity issues, and other psychological processes (self-knowledge, integration, and the capacity for agency). Without intending to be reductionist, we believe that these aspects are essential for optimally engaging in IRs and for the personal constitution. While they are all integrated into our daily life, in research and academic work, it is hard to see how they are integrated. Thus, we need better theoretical frameworks for studying them. That study and integration thereof are undertaken differently depending on different views of what it means to live as a human being. We rely on neuroscientific data to support the chosen theory to offer knowledge to understand human beings and interpersonal relational growth. We should of course note that to describe what makes up the uniqueness of being, acting, and growing as a human person involves something much more profound which requires too, a methodology that opens the way for a theory of the person that responds to the concerns of philosophy and philosophical anthropology from many disciplines and methods ( Orón Semper, 2015 ; Polo, 2015 ), but this is outside the scope of this study. With these in mind, this article aims to introduce a new explanatory framework, called the Interprocessual-self (IPS), for the neuroscientific findings that allow for a holistic consideration of the previously mentioned processes. Contributing to the knowledge of personal growth and avoiding a reductionist view, we first offer a general description of the research that supports the interrelation between personal virtue in IRs and relevant cognitive, emotional, and ethic-moral processes. This reveals how relationships allow people to relate ethically and grow as persons. We include conceptualizations and descriptions of their neural bases. Secondly, with the IPS model, we explore neuroscientific findings regarding self-knowledge, integration, and agency, all psychological processes that stimulate inner exploration of the self concerning the other. We find that these fundamental conditions can be understood from IPS theory. Finally, we explore situations that involve the integration of two levels, namely the interpersonal one and the social contexts of relationships.
Article
Objective: To understand the impact of family separation on refugees living in Australia. Method: Thirteen participants with a refugee background and experiencing separation from family participated in a semi-structured qualitative interview. Interviews were coded and a thematic analysis was conducted using NVivo software. Results: Identified themes were organised under four domains. Domain 1 focused on the personal impact of family separation. Themes were the effects on mental health and functioning, driven by incessant worrying about the safety of family and the absence of key attachment figures, the specific effects of having missing family, alterations to self-identity and family dynamics. Domain 2 focused on themes relating to actions taken to find missing family, connect or reunite with separated family. Domain 3 highlighted the coping strategies, support mechanisms and protective factors used by participants. Domain 4 identified core beliefs about the importance of family unity, focusing on security, settlement and a happy future. Conclusions: Family separation has an enduring effect on the wellbeing of refugees, with key pathways being ongoing fear and insecurity, disrupted social attachments and identity shifts in relation to the future self. Implications for public health: Refugees separated from or missing family struggle with ongoing stress and adjustment issues.
Article
This study examined struggles to establish autonomy and relatedness with peers in adolescence and early adulthood as predictors of advanced epigenetic aging assessed at age 30. Participants ( N = 154; 67 male and 87 female) were observed repeatedly, along with close friends and romantic partners, from ages 13 through 29. Observed difficulty establishing close friendships characterized by mutual autonomy and relatedness from ages 13 to 18, an interview-assessed attachment state of mind lacking autonomy and valuing of attachment at 24, and self-reported difficulties in social integration across adolescence and adulthood were all linked to greater epigenetic age at 30, after accounting for chronological age, gender, race, and income. Analyses assessing the unique and combined effects of these factors, along with lifetime history of cigarette smoking, indicated that each of these factors, except for adult social integration, contributed uniquely to explaining epigenetic age acceleration. Results are interpreted as evidence that the adolescent preoccupation with peer relationships may be highly functional given the relevance of such relationships to long-term physical outcomes.
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The COVID‐19 pandemic has had a significant impact on people's lives, requiring a shift in focus to short‐term survival and management of changes in relationships, academic and work environments, and future career options. Understandably, one of the most seminal aspects of career development—deciding on a future career—can seem overwhelming or even irrelevant in the face of such challenges. Neuroscience research offers a scientifically grounded framework for understanding the impact of chronic acute stressors, such as COVID‐19, on functioning and can provide direction for interventions that foster resilience and support clients' ability to reengage in career decision‐making. We discuss research related to the neuroscience of stress and resilience and ways to apply that information within career counseling.
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The influence of social relationships extends beyond emotional well-being to influence long-term physical-health outcomes, including mortality risk. Despite the varied measurement approaches used to examine social relationships within the health literature, the data can be synthesized using social connection as an organizing framework. This review discusses cumulative scientific evidence of links between various aspects of social connection and mortality, as well as supporting evidence for links with morbidity and plausible mechanisms. This evidence fulfills the criteria outlined in the Bradford Hill guidelines for establishing causality. Despite strong evidence currently available, several gaps remain and will need to be addressed if society is to rise to the challenge of developing effective interventions to reduce risk associated with social disconnection. This evidence has important broader implications for medical practice and public health.
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Social support is associated with mental well-being and favorable therapy outcomes. As autonomy-connectedness, the capacity for self-governance in interpersonal context, may affect reliance on others, we investigated whether stress-modulating effects of social support are moderated by autonomy-connectedness. Ninety-seven undergraduates completed measures on autonomy-connectedness and trait social anxiety, and attended a laboratory session with a friend (support) or alone (control). All underwent a virtual Trier Social Stress Test and completed anxiety, cortisol and heart rate (variability) measures. Preregistered analyses revealed that social support reduced anxiety reactivity and delayed heart rate variability decreases, but not heart rate. Contrary to hypotheses, autonomy-connectedness did not predict stress-reactivity or interact with condition. Exploratory analyses suggested effects of social support on cortisol reactivity and indicated that reported support quality varied by trait anxiety and self-awareness. Our findings underline the stress-modulating effects of social support and suggest that social support can benefit individuals with varying levels of autonomy-connectedness.
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Social performances pervade human interactions. Some autistic people describe their social performances as ‘camouflaging’ and engage in these performances to mitigate social challenges and survive in the neurotypical world. Here, we reconsider autistic camouflaging under the unifying framework of impression management (IM) by examining overlapping and unique motivations, neurocognitive mechanisms, and consequences. Predictive coding and Bayesian principles are synthesized into a computational model of IM that applies to autistic and neurotypical people. Throughout, we emphasize the inherently transactional, context-dependent nature of IM, the distinct computational challenges faced by autistic people, and the psychological toll that compelled IM can take. Viewing camouflaging through this lens highlights the pressing needs to change societal attitudes, destigmatize autism, refine social skills-building programs for autistic individuals, and integrate these programs with environment-focused support.
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Whether exclusion hurts or inclusion feels good is debated within social psychology, and research designs often compare people who are excluded from those who are included. Here, we examined how participants differ when they are excluded or included relative to when they are not engaging in social interactions. Participants completed an ecological momentary assessment study (7 days, six measures a day). Participants indicated if they were having a social interaction, whether the interaction was inclusionary or exclusionary, and their mood and basic needs. We found that when people were excluded, relative to no interaction, they had lower basic needs and worsened mood; the reverse was true during inclusion episodes. We also found that the within-person effect of exclusion was larger than the within-person effect of inclusion and that exclusion experiences were relatively uncommon (≈10% of all reported social interactions). Future research and the importance of examining within-person effects are discussed.
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The current study explores the relationship between three constructs of high relevance in the context of adversities which have, however, not yet been systematically linked on the level of psychological dispositions: psychological vulnerability, psychological resilience, and social cohesion. Based on previous theoretical and empirical frameworks, a collection of trait questionnaires was assessed in a Berlin sample of 3,522 subjects between 18 and 65 years of age. Using a confirmatory factor analytical approach, we found no support for a simple three-factor structure. Results from exploratory structural analyses suggest that instead of psychological resilience and psychological vulnerability constituting two separate factors, respective indicators load on one bipolar latent factor. Interestingly, some psychological resilience indicators contributed to an additional specific latent factor, which may be interpreted as adaptive capacities, that is, abilities to adapt to changes or adjust to consequences of adversities. Furthermore, instead of evidence for one single social cohesion factor on the psychological level, indicators of perceived social support and loneliness formed another specific factor of social belonging, while indicators of prosocial competencies were found to form yet another distinct factor, which was positively associated to the other social factors, adaptive capacities and social belonging. Our results suggest that social cohesion is composed of different independent psychological components, such as trust, social belonging, and social skills. Furthermore, our findings highlight the importance of social capacities and belonging for psychological resilience and suggest that decreasing loneliness and increasing social skills should therefore represent a valuable intervention strategy to foster adaptive capacities.
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Social isolation and loneliness were already pressing concerns prior to the pandemic, but recent trends suggest a potential broadening of this public health crisis. Social connections have potent influences on health and longevity, and lacking social connection qualifies as a risk factor for premature mortality. However, social factors are often overlooked in medical and healthcare practice. There is also evidence documenting effects on biomarkers and health-relevant behaviors, as well as more proximal means social connection influences physical health. A recent National Academy of Science consensus committee report provides recommendations for how this evidence can inform medical and healthcare. Clinicians play an important role in assessing, preventing, and mitigating the adverse effects of social isolation and loneliness.
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Background and objectives: Animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) are increasingly popular as treatments to reduce anxiety. However, there is little empirical evidence testing the mechanisms of action in AAIs, especially among adolescents. We examined whether two possible mechanisms, social interaction and/or physical contact with a therapy dog, might reduce anxiety during a social stressor. Design and methods: To test these mechanisms, we randomly assigned 75 adolescents with low, middle, and high levels of social anxiety to complete a laboratory-based social evaluative stressor in one of three conditions: social interaction with a therapy dog (no physical interaction), social plus physical interaction with a therapy dog, or no interaction with a therapy dog. We measured self-reported anxiety and autonomic reactivity during the social stressor to assess the effects of contact with a therapy dog. Results and conclusions: We found no evidence that the presence of a real dog, with or without the opportunity to touch it, reduced anxiety or autonomic reactivity or improved cognitive performance relative to the presence of a stuffed dog in the control condition, regardless of levels of preexisting social anxiety.Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT03249116.
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The intellectual tradition of individualism treats the individual person as the fundamental unit of analysis and reduces all things social to the motives and actions of individuals. Most methods in clinical psychology are influenced by individualism and therefore treat the individual as the primary object of therapy/training, even when recognizing the importance of nurturing social relationships for individual wellbeing. Multilevel selection theory offers an alternative to individualism in which individuals become part of something larger than themselves that qualifies as an organism in its own right. Seeing individuals as parts of social organisms provides a new perspective with numerous implications for improving wellbeing at all scales, from individuals to the planet.
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Loneliness is a key determinant in the etiology of mental health disorders such as depression and has profound impacts on health, quality of life, and economic productivity. This narrative review uses extant neurobiology and evolutionary literature to propose a construct through which loneliness may induce depression in adulthood via the reward system (including symptom and treatment aspects). Early childhood (distal) factors were found to be important in influencing adult (proximal) factors, which lead to the formulation of the construct. Due to the heterogenous and comorbid nature of depression, a new subtype known as 'reward depression' was distinguished along with distinct symptoms to aid practitioners when assessing patient treatment options. Furthermore, an evolutionary perspective was applied to the current impaired reward construct to discuss how the ancestral purpose and environment (in terms of reward) clashes with the modern one. Finally, theoretical treatment and prevention ideas were examined and discussed, leading into future work that needs to build upon and confirm the outlined construct.
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Introduction: Romantic partners’ emotions show a degree of interdependence, a process that is often described as emotional linkage. The current study sought to test the effects of emotional linkage in emotionally reactive individuals (i.e., those who easily become emotionally aroused and find it hard to regulate their emotions) and their partners. Specifically, we examined the interplay between emotional linkage and reactivity in predicting partners’ depressive symptoms over time. Method: To assess emotional linkage and reactivity, we collected daily diary data from two samples of cohabiting couples (N couples =76 and 84 in samples 1 and 2, respectively). Partners’ depressive symptoms were assessed before and after the diary. Results: In dyads with low emotional linkage men's emotional reactivity predicted their greater depressive symptoms in Sample 1, and women's greater depressive symptoms in Sample 2. Discussion: The study's results suggest that dyads’ emotional linkage can moderate the negative effects of men's emotional reactivity on their and their partners’ psychological distress.
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Objective Social Baseline Theory (SBT) proposes that close relationships aid in metabolic resource management and that individuals without significant relationships may experience more demands on their own neural metabolic resources on a daily basis when solving problems, remaining vigilant against potential threats and regulating emotional responses. This study tests a hypothesised consequence derived from SBT: relative social isolation leads to increased levels of sugar intake. Methods Based on cross-sectional, self-reported data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (N = 90 084), information on social integration and the consumption of both sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened sodas and juices was obtained from a large number of women in early pregnancy. Multiple regression analyses were conducted to assess whether loneliness, marital status, relationship satisfaction, advice from others than partner, and cohesion at work is associated with consumption of sodas and juices. Results Perceived loneliness was associated with elevated intake of all sugary beverages, while relationship satisfaction was negatively associated with all sugary beverages. Being married or cohabitating, having supportive friends, and having a sense of togetherness at work were associated with lower intake of two out of three sugar-containing beverages. These associations were significant, even after controlling for factors such as body mass index, weight related self-image, depression, physical activity, educational level, age and income. In comparison, a statistically significant relationship emerged between relationship satisfaction and artificially sweetened cola. No other predictor variables were significantly associated with any type of artificially sweetened beverage. Conclusions This study indicates that loneliness and social integration influence the level of consumption of sugary beverages. The results support the hypothesis derived from the Social Baseline Theory that relative social isolation leads to increased levels of sugar intake.
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The current study tests an explanation inspired by social baseline theory (Beckes & Coan, 2011. Social baseline theory: The role of social proximity in emotion and economy of action. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 5, 976–988. doi:10.1111/j.1751-9004.2011.00400) for the mixed blessings associated with received emotional support from one's partner. We reason that the receipt of emotional support engenders benefits only up to individualized baseline points—that is, support effects will be nonmonotonic. In two dyadic daily-diary samples (N ¼ 38/80 couples, over 21/35 days, respectively), we used piecewise multilevel modeling, finding support for our hypotheses. Receiving emotional support exceeding one's baseline was associated with little affective change; receiving emotional support falling short of one's baseline was consistently associated with worsened moods and relationship feelings. This work highlights the importance of individuals' baseline levels as reference or comparison points for understanding support's effects.
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Morbidity and mortality are reliably lower for the married compared with the unmarried across a variety of illnesses. What is less well understood is how a couple uses their relationship for recommended lifestyle changes associated with decreased risk for illness. Partners for Life compared a patient and partner approach to behavior change with a patient only approach on such factors as exercise, nutrition, and medication adherence. Ninety-three patients and their spouses/partners consented to participate (26% of those eligible) and were randomized into either the individual or couples condition. However, only 80 couples, distributed across conditions, contributed data to the analyses, due to missing data and missing data points. For exercise, there was a significant effect of couples treatment on the increase in activity and a significant effect of couples treatment on the acceleration of treatment over time. In addition, there was an interaction between marital satisfaction and treatment condition such that patients who reported higher levels of marital distress in the individuals condition did not maintain their physical activity gains by the end of treatment, while both distressed and nondistressed patients in the couples treatment exhibited accelerating gains throughout treatment. In terms of medication adherence, patients in the couples treatment exhibited virtually no change in medication adherence over time, while patients in the individuals treatment showed a 9% relative decrease across time. There were no condition or time effects for nutritional outcomes. Finally, there was an interaction between baseline marital satisfaction and treatment condition such that patients in the individuals condition who reported lower levels of initial marital satisfaction showed deterioration in marital satisfaction, while non satisfied patients in the couples treatment showed improvement over time.
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Survival for any organism, including people, is a matter of resource management. To ensure survival, people necessarily budget their resources. Spatial perceptions contribute to resource budgeting by scaling the environment to an individual's available resources. Effective budgeting requires setting a balance of income and expenditures around some baseline value. For social resources, this baseline assumes that the individuals are embedded in their social network. A review of the literature supports the proposal that our visual perceptions vary based on the implicit budgeting of physical and social resources, where social resources, as they fluctuate relative to a baseline, can directly alter our visual perceptions.
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Social relationships are tightly linked to health and well-being. Recent work suggests that social relationships can even serve vital emotion regulation functions by minimizing threat-related neural activity. But relationship distress remains a significant public health problem in North America and elsewhere. A promising approach to helping couples both resolve relationship distress and nurture effective interpersonal functioning is Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples (EFT), a manualized, empirically supported therapy that is strongly focused on repairing adult attachment bonds. We sought to examine a neural index of social emotion regulation as a potential mediator of the effects of EFT. Specifically, we examined the effectiveness of EFT for modifying the social regulation of neural threat responding using an fMRI-based handholding procedure. Results suggest that EFT altered the brain's representation of threat cues in the presence of a romantic partner. EFT-related changes during stranger handholding were also observed, but stranger effects were dependent upon self-reported relationship quality. EFT also appeared to increase threat-related brain activity in regions associated with self-regulation during the no-handholding condition. These findings provide a critical window into the regulatory mechanisms of close relationships in general and EFT in particular.
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Social support may normalize stress reactivity among highly anxious individuals, yet little research has examined anxious reactions in social contexts. We examined the role of both state and trait anxiety in the link between social support and the neural response to threat. We employed an fMRI paradigm in which participants faced the threat of electric shock under three conditions: alone, holding a stranger's hand, and holding a friend's hand. We found significant interactions between trait anxiety and threat condition in regions including the hypothalamus, putamen, precentral gyrus, and precuneus. Analyses revealed that highly trait anxious individuals were less active in each of these brain regions while alone in the scanner-a pattern that suggests the attentional disengagement associated with the perception of high intensity threats. These findings support past research suggesting that individuals high in anxiety tend to have elevated neural responses to mild or moderate threats but paradoxically lower responses to high intensity threats, suggesting a curvilinear relationship between anxiety and threat responding. We hypothesized that for highly anxious individuals, shock cues would be perceived as highly threatening while alone in the scanner, possibly due to attentional disengagement, but this perception would be mitigated if they were holding someone's hand. The disengagement seen in highly anxious people under conditions of high perceived threat may thus be alleviated by social proximity. These results suggest a role for social support in regulating emotional responses in anxious individuals, which may aid in treatment outcomes.
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Two ideas have dominated neuropsychology concerning the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). One holds that OFC regulates emotion and enhances behavioral flexibility through inhibitory control. The other ascribes to OFC a role in updating valuations on the basis of current motivational states. Neuroimaging, neurophysiological and clinical observations are consistent with either or both hypotheses. Although these hypotheses are compatible in principle, we present results supporting the latter view of OFC function and arguing against the former. We found that excitotoxic, fiber-sparing lesions confined to OFC in monkeys did not alter either behavioral flexibility, as measured by object reversal learning, or emotion regulation, as assessed by fear of snakes. A follow-up experiment indicated that a previously reported loss of inhibitory control resulted from damage to nearby fiber tracts and not from OFC dysfunction. Thus, OFC has a more specialized role in reward-guided behavior and emotion than has been thought, a function that includes value updating.
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According to the Cooperative Breeding Hypothesis, allomaternal assistance was essential for child survival during the Pleistocene. This breeding system — quite novel for an ape — permitted hominid females to produce costly offspring without increasing inter-birth intervals, and allowed humans to move into new habitats, eventually expanding out of Africa. Reliance on allomaternal assistance would make maternal commitment more dependent on the mother's perception of probable support from others than is the case in most other primates. One artifact of such conditional maternal investment would be newborns who needed to monitor and engage mothers, as well as older infants and juveniles who needed to elicit care from a range of caretakers across the prolonged period of dependence characteristic of young among cooperative breeders. Implications of this evolutionary context for the sociocognitive and emotional development of infants are explored.
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Brains, it has recently been argued, are essentially prediction machines. They are bundles of cells that support perception and action by constantly attempting to match incoming sensory inputs with top-down expectations or predictions. This is achieved using a hierarchical generative model that aims to minimize prediction error within a bidirectional cascade of cortical processing. Such accounts offer a unifying model of perception and action, illuminate the functional role of attention, and may neatly capture the special contribution of cortical processing to adaptive success. This target article critically examines this "hierarchical prediction machine" approach, concluding that it offers the best clue yet to the shape of a unified science of mind and action. Sections 1 and 2 lay out the key elements and implications of the approach. Section 3 explores a variety of pitfalls and challenges, spanning the evidential, the methodological, and the more properly conceptual. The paper ends (sections 4 and 5) by asking how such approaches might impact our more general vision of mind, experience, and agency.
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Recent studies have shown that the presence of a caring relational partner can attenuate neural responses to threat. Here we report reanalyzed data from Coan, Schaefer, and Davidson (20069. Coan, J. A., Schaefer, H. S., & Davidson, R. J. (2006). Lending a hand: Social regulation of the neural response to threat. Psychological Science, 17, 1032–1039.[CrossRef], [PubMed], [Web of Science ®]View all references), investigating the role of relational mutuality in the neural response to threat. Mutuality reflects the degree to which couple members show mutual interest in the sharing of internal feelings, thoughts, aspirations, and joys – a vital form of responsiveness in attachment relationships. We predicted that wives who were high (versus low) in perceived mutuality, and who attended the study session with their husbands, would show reduced neural threat reactivity in response to mild electric shocks. We also explored whether this effect would depend on physical contact (hand-holding). As predicted, we observed that higher mutuality scores corresponded with decreased neural threat responding in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and supplementary motor cortex. These effects were independent of hand-holding condition. These findings suggest that higher perceived mutuality corresponds with decreased self-regulatory effort and attenuated preparatory motor activity in response to threat cues, even in the absence of direct physical contact with social resources.
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A reduction in individual vigilance with an increase in group size is one of the most frequently reported relationships in the study of animal behaviour. It has been argued that this phenomenon may not be a direct consequence of an increase in group size but may be due to other factors relating to increased group size, such as increased foraging competition. However, there is evidence for a direct relationship between group size and vigilance where other variables have been controlled. The aim of this review is to highlight the fact that the functional explanation of the group size effect remains unclear. Some authors have considered just one hypothesis, the group vigilance or ‘many eyes’ hypothesis. This states that, by taking advantage of the vigilance of other group members, individuals can reduce their own vigilance. However, there is an alternative, or additional, possibility that if individual vigilance declines with a reduction in individual predation risk, the group size effect could be accounted for by a reduction in individual risk at higher group sizes, as is widely thought to occur through encounter, dilution and confusion effects. In this review, it is shown that evidence previously interpreted in terms of one hypothesis may also be interpreted in terms of the other. Future research should be directed towards explicit consideration of the two effects and empirical tests to distinguish their relative importance. It is proposed that the individual risk hypothesis, with group vigilance as one element, provides a more general framework for understanding variation in vigilance behaviour with group size and with other factors.
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Close proximity to an attachment figure, such as a caregiver, has been shown to attenuate threat-related activity in limbic regions such as the hypothalamus in healthy individuals. We hypothesized that such features might be similarly attenuated by proximity during a potentially stressful situation in a clinically anxious population of youths. Confirmation of this hypothesis could support the role of attachment figures in the management of anxiety among children and adolescents. Three groups were analyzed: anxious children and adolescents who requested that their caregiver accompany them in the scanner room, anxious children and adolescents without their caregiver in the scanner room and healthy controls (each of N = 10). The groups were matched for age and, among the two anxious groups, for diagnosis (mean age 9.5). The children and adolescents were exposed to physical threat words during an fMRI assessment. Results indicate that activity in the hypothalamus, ventromedial, and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex were significantly reduced in anxious children and adolescents who requested that their caregiver accompany them in the scanner room compared to those without their caregiver in the scanner room. Mean activity in these regions in anxious children and adolescents with their caregiver in the scanner room was comparable to that of healthy controls. These data suggest links between social contact and neural mechanisms of emotional reactivity; specifically, presence of caregivers moderates the increase in anxiety seen with stressful stimuli. Capitalizing on the ability of anxious youths to manifest low levels of anxiety-like information processing in the presence of a caregiver could help in modeling adaptive function in behavioral treatments.
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We propose that the crucial difference between human cognition and that of other species is the ability to participate with others in collaborative activities with shared goals and intentions: shared intentionality. Participation in such activities requires not only especially powerful forms of intention reading and cultural learning, but also a unique motivation to share psychological states with others and unique forms of cognitive representation for doing so. The result of participating in these activities is species-unique forms of cultural cognition and evolution, enabling everything from the creation and use of linguistic symbols to the construction of social norms and individual beliefs to the establishment of social institutions. In support of this proposal we argue and present evidence that great apes (and some children with autism) understand the basics of intentional action, but they still do not participate in activities involving joint intentions and attention (shared intentionality). Human children's skills of shared intentionality develop gradually during the first 14 months of life as two ontogenetic pathways intertwine: (1) the general ape line of understanding others as animate, goal-directed, and intentional agents; and (2) a species-unique motivation to share emotions, experience, and activities with other persons. The developmental outcome is children's ability to construct dialogic cognitive representations, which enable them to participate in earnest in the collectivity that is human cognition.
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Individuals in adult attachment relationships regulate one another via overt emotional and social behavior. Attachment-related styles of utilizing social support moderate these regulatory effects. In recent years, the social and affective neurosciences have begun to clarify how these processes are instantiated in the brain, including the likely neural mechanisms of long-term felt security following past attachment experiences and the neural circuitry supporting the regulation of emotion by relational partners. In this brief review, I describe the neural systems involved in the formation and maintenance of adult attachment relationships and review the small amount of work to date on the neuroscience of adult attachment style. I then offer my own speculations about how adult attachment relationships conserve the brain’s metabolic resources, especially those of the prefrontal cortex.
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Neurobiological investigations of empathy often support an embodied simulation account. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we monitored statistical associations between brain activations indicating self-focused threat to those indicating threats to a familiar friend or an unfamiliar stranger. Results in regions such as the anterior insula, putamen and supramarginal gyrus indicate that self-focused threat activations are robustly correlated with friend-focused threat activations but not stranger-focused threat activations. These results suggest that one of the defining features of human social bonding may be increasing levels of overlap between neural representations of self and other. This article presents a novel and important methodological approach to fMRI empathy studies, which informs how differences in brain activation can be detected in such studies and how covariate approaches can provide novel and important information regarding the brain and empathy.
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The visual perception of geographical slant is influenced by physiological resources, such as physical fitness, age, and being physically refreshed. In two studies we tested whether a psychosocial resource, social support, can also affect the visual perception of slants. Participants accompanied by a friend estimated a hill to be less steep when compared to participants who were alone (Study 1). Similarly, participants who thought of a supportive friend during an imagery task saw a hill as less steep than participants who either thought of a neutral person or a disliked person (Study 2). In both studies, the effects of social relationships on visual perception appear to be mediated by relationship quality (i.e., relationship duration, interpersonal closeness, warmth). Artifacts such as mood, social desirability, and social facilitation did not account for these effects. This research demonstrates that an interpersonal phenomenon, social support, can influence visual perception.
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Theoretical and empirical research has linked poor emotion regulation abilities with dysfunctional frontolimbic circuitry. Consistent with this, research on borderline personality disorder (BPD) finds that frontolimbic dysfunction is a predominant neural substrate underlying the disorder. Emotion regulation is profoundly compromised in BPD. However, BPD is also associated with broad impairment across multiple domains, including impulse control, interpersonal relationships, and cognitive functioning. To date, BPD research has focused largely on single areas of dysfunction, failing to account for overlap at either the biological or behavioral levels of analysis. We examine the literature on frontolimbic dysfunction in BPD within the context of Coan's social baseline theory. Social baseline theory proposes that healthy human functioning is dependent upon adequate social support and that, at baseline, biological systems are adapted to operate interdependently rather than independently. The social baseline perspective is particularly useful for understanding borderline personality development because the impulsive and emotionally dysregulated behaviors common among those with BPD occur almost invariably within an interpersonal context. We discuss clinical and research implications of this work.
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Collective rituals are present in all known societies, but their function is a matter of long-standing debates. Field observations suggest that they may enhance social cohesion and that their effects are not limited to those actively performing but affect the audience as well. Here we show physiological effects of synchronized arousal in a Spanish fire-walking ritual, between active participants and related spectators, but not participants and other members of the audience. We assessed arousal by heart rate dynamics and applied nonlinear mathematical analysis to heart rate data obtained from 38 participants. We compared synchronized arousal between fire-walkers and spectators. For this comparison, we used recurrence quantification analysis on individual data and cross-recurrence quantification analysis on pairs of participants' data. These methods identified fine-grained commonalities of arousal during the 30-min ritual between fire-walkers and related spectators but not unrelated spectators. This indicates that the mediating mechanism may be informational, because participants and related observers had very different bodily behavior. This study demonstrates that a collective ritual may evoke synchronized arousal over time between active participants and bystanders. It links field observations to a physiological basis and offers a unique approach for the quantification of social effects on human physiology during real-world interactions.
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Tactile communication, or physical touch, promotes cooperation between people, communicates distinct emotions, soothes in times of stress, and is used to make inferences of warmth and trust. Based on this conceptual analysis, we predicted that in group competition, physical touch would predict increases in both individual and group performance. In an ethological study, we coded the touch behavior of players from the National Basketball Association (NBA) during the 2008-2009 regular season. Consistent with hypotheses, early season touch predicted greater performance for individuals as well as teams later in the season. Additional analyses confirmed that touch predicted improved performance even after accounting for player status, preseason expectations, and early season performance. Moreover, coded cooperative behaviors between teammates explained the association between touch and team performance. Discussion focused on the contributions touch makes to cooperative groups and the potential implications for other group settings.
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Psychologists have repeatedly shown that a single statistical factor--often called "general intelligence"--emerges from the correlations among people's performance on a wide variety of cognitive tasks. But no one has systematically examined whether a similar kind of "collective intelligence" exists for groups of people. In two studies with 699 people, working in groups of two to five, we find converging evidence of a general collective intelligence factor that explains a group's performance on a wide variety of tasks. This "c factor" is not strongly correlated with the average or maximum individual intelligence of group members but is correlated with the average social sensitivity of group members, the equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking, and the proportion of females in the group.
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The quality and quantity of individuals' social relationships has been linked not only to mental health but also to both morbidity and mortality. This meta-analytic review was conducted to determine the extent to which social relationships influence risk for mortality, which aspects of social relationships are most highly predictive, and which factors may moderate the risk. Data were extracted on several participant characteristics, including cause of mortality, initial health status, and pre-existing health conditions, as well as on study characteristics, including length of follow-up and type of assessment of social relationships. Across 148 studies (308,849 participants), the random effects weighted average effect size was OR = 1.50 (95% CI 1.42 to 1.59), indicating a 50% increased likelihood of survival for participants with stronger social relationships. This finding remained consistent across age, sex, initial health status, cause of death, and follow-up period. Significant differences were found across the type of social measurement evaluated (p<0.001); the association was strongest for complex measures of social integration (OR = 1.91; 95% CI 1.63 to 2.23) and lowest for binary indicators of residential status (living alone versus with others) (OR = 1.19; 95% CI 0.99 to 1.44). The influence of social relationships on risk for mortality is comparable with well-established risk factors for mortality. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
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As a social species, humans rely on a safe, secure social surround to survive and thrive. Perceptions of social isolation, or loneliness, increase vigilance for threat and heighten feelings of vulnerability while also raising the desire to reconnect. Implicit hypervigilance for social threat alters psychological processes that influence physiological functioning, diminish sleep quality, and increase morbidity and mortality. The purpose of this paper is to review the features and consequences of loneliness within a comprehensive theoretical framework that informs interventions to reduce loneliness. We review physical and mental health consequences of loneliness, mechanisms for its effects, and effectiveness of extant interventions. Features of a loneliness regulatory loop are employed to explain cognitive, behavioral, and physiological consequences of loneliness and to discuss interventions to reduce loneliness. Loneliness is not simply being alone. Interventions to reduce loneliness and its health consequences may need to take into account its attentional, confirmatory, and memorial biases as well as its social and behavioral effects.
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When locomoting in a physically challenging environment, the body draws upon available energy reserves to accommodate increased metabolic demand. Ingested glucose supplements the body's energy resources, whereas non-caloric sweetener does not. Two experiments demonstrate that participants who had consumed a glucose-containing drink perceived the slant of a hill to be less steep than did participants who had consumed a drink containing non-caloric sweetener. The glucose manipulation influenced participants' explicit awareness of hill slant but, as predicted, it did not affect a visually guided action of orienting a tilting palmboard to be parallel to the hill. Measured individual differences in factors related to bioenergetic state, such as fatigue, sleep quality, fitness, mood, and stress, also affected perception: lower energetic states were associated with steeper perceptions of hill slant. This research shows that the perception of the spatial layout of the environment is influenced by the energetic resources available for locomotion within it. Our findings are consistent with the view that spatial perceptions are influenced by bioenergetic factors.
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Romantic relationships alter the selves of the individuals within them. Partners develop shared friends and activities and even overlapping self-concepts. This intertwining of selves may leave individuals' self-concepts vulnerable to change if the relationship ends. The current research examines several different types of self-concept change that could occur after a breakup and their relation to emotional distress. Across three studies, using varied methodologies, the authors examined change in both the content (Study 1a and 1b) and the structure of the self-concept, specifically, reduced self-concept clarity (Studies 1 through 3). As predicted, individuals experienced self-concept content change and reduced self-concept clarity post-breakup. Additionally, reduced clarity uniquely predicted post-breakup emotional distress.
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Background and Objectives This study investigated the effect of a couple-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) on the intimate partners of patients. Previous research has shown this intervention to be efficacious in reducing OCD symptoms and comorbidities in patients. Method In an open-treatment trial, 16 couples completed the 16-session manualized treatment, and were followed up 6- and 12-months post-treatment. Results Multilevel modeling analyses were conducted to examine change over time, and results indicated that relative to baseline, partners showed improvements in relationship functioning, communication, and criticalness in the short-term, and maintained their gains in communication skills over the long-term. Limitations The non-controlled design and small sample size limit the certainty of the study’s findings. Conclusions Overall, this investigation offers preliminary evidence that including intimate partners in couple-based CBT for OCD has no negative effects on partners, and in fact, can provide them with residual positive effects.