Posts tagged with "Southern Methodist University"

Single-minded: Being unattached beats being in a bad relationship—or even in a ‘neutral’ one

October 22, 2019

Are people who have life partners happier than those who go it alone? Not necessarily, according to a study performed recently by psychologists Nathan Hudson of Southern Methodist University and Richard Lucas and M. Brent Donnellan of Michigan State University.

Indeed, the researchers found—out of a cohort of more than 300 respondents, ages 19 to 92 (average age: 53)—people in romantic relationships were “better off” than single people in only one way. On the other six measures, people in romantic relationships did better than single people only if they said their relationships were of the very highest quality.

In other words, single people were more satisfied with their lives than people in bad romantic relationships. But they also did better than people in romantic relationships that were not that bad at all.

What was the one way in which people in relationships were more fulfilled and contented with their lives? The people in committed romantic relationships did not experience more positive feelings than the single people did. They also did not experience fewer negative feelings or any more of a sense of meaning.

Indeed, according to a report by Psychology Today, they were only doing better in one way: They said they were more satisfied with their lives.

The researchers posited that It’s possible that they were proud of themselves for being in a romantic relationship, since those relationships are so valued in our society—and perhaps that’s why they were more satisfied with their lives. Compared to single people, though, they did not feel any better emotionally and they did not experience their lives as being more meaningful.

One subset of people in romantic relationships were doing better than single people in every way—the coupled people who agreed most strongly with every positive statement about their relationship. In every way, they described their relationship in the most positive terms possible—a seven on the seven-point scale.

As for the coupled people who gave middle-of-the-scale ratings of their relationships—for example, they neither agreed nor disagreed that their relationship made them happy—they were worse off in every way (either significantly or nearly so) than the people who were single. The truism was also true: being single was better than being in a bad relationship.

When it came to negative feelings (frustration, worry, sadness, and anger), the results were even more ominous. Even those who rated their romantic relationships as fairly high in quality (5.5 on the 1-to-7 scale) experienced significantly more negative feelings when they were with their partner than when their partner was not around. As the authors concluded:

The research findings have been published online in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.   

Research contact: @PsychToday

Do ‘Queen Bees’ bully other women at work?

April 26, 2018

Many of us remember Mean Girls, the 2004 film (now been revived as a Broadway musical) that focused on the behavioral phenomenon of high school Queen Bees—those pretty, well-dressed girls who bully others in order to call attention to their own popularity

Now, a similar situation has been documented in offices nationwide, based on findings of a study sponsored by the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management.

And, the researchers say, it’s only getting worse. As women have increased their ranks in the workplace, most will admit to experiencing rude behavior and incivility.

“Studies show [that] women report more incivility experiences overall than men, but we wanted to find out who was targeting women with rude remarks,” said Allison Gabriel, assistant professor of Management and Organizations at Eller College.

Gabriel and her co-authors at several other institutions set out to answer that question across three studies. Men and women who were employed full-time answered questions about the rude treatment they had experienced at work during the past month.

The questions singled out experiences with co-workers who had been condescending to study participants; made demeaning or derogatory remarks; ignored them in a meeting; or addressed them in unprofessional terms. Each set of questions was answered twice, once for male co-workers and once for female co-workers.

“Across the three studies, we found consistent evidence that women reported higher levels of incivility from other women than their male counterparts,” Gabriel said. “In other words, women are ruder to each other than they are to men, or than men are to women.

“This isn’t to say men were off the hook or [that] they weren’t engaging in these behaviors,” she noted. “But when we compared the average levels of incivility reported, female-instigated incivility was reported more often than male-instigated incivility by women in our three studies.”

Participants also were asked to complete trait inventories of their personalities and behaviors to determine whether there were any factors that contributed to women being treated badly. The research showed that women who defied gender norms by being more assertive and dominant at work were more likely to be targeted by their female counterparts, compared to women who exhibited fewer of those traits.

The researchers also found that when men acted assertive and warm—in gen—they reported less incivility from their male counterparts. This suggests men actually get a social credit for partially deviating from their gender stereotypes, a benefit that women are not afforded.

Gabriel, whose co-authors are Marcus Butts from Southern Methodist University, Zhenyu Yuan of the University of Iowa, Rebecca Rosen of Indiana University and Michael Sliter of First Person Consulting, said the research is important not only from the standpoint of individual employee health but also in terms of organizational management.

Evidence emerged in the three studies that companies may face a greater risk of losing female employees who experience female-instigated incivility, as they reported less satisfaction at work and increased intentions to quit their current jobs in response to these unpleasant experiences. Paired with estimates that incivility can cost organizations an estimated $14,000 per employee, this presents a problem for organizations.

Gabriel noted that the findings are an opportunity for companies to re-evaluate their cultures and how they address this issue.

The study, “Further Understanding Incivility in the Workplace: The Effects of Gender, Agency and Communion,” is forthcoming in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

Research contact: