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Research Group
- Tobias Ebert
- Jennifer Eck
- Theresa Entringer
- Jochen Gebauer
- Andreas Nehrlich
- Alexandra Schrade
Psy.de (online-studies)
Sociocultural Motives Perspective on Self & Personality
Jochen E. Gebauer (PI), Andrea E. Abele-Brehm,
Constantine Sedikides, Delroy L. Paulhus, & Mark R. Leary

Big Two personality (agency, communion) and Big Five personality (O[penness], E[xtraversion], A[greeableness], [C]onscientiousness, [N]euroticism) are most widely used personality factor models. The true value of these models hinges on their capacity to predict thought, feeling, and behaviour. Yet, personality psychologists have lamented that the effects of personality factors on their outcomes can grossly diverge across social contexts, posing a validity threat. However, such diversity need not be a threat if it follows theoretical predictions reflecting core features of personality factors. Unfortunately, relevant theories are scarce. Hence, in this application I seek to develop a theoretical perspective on why personality effects should diverge across social contexts: The social motives perspective (SMP). At the heart of the SMP lies the assumption that personality factors are linked to the social master motives for social conformity (swimming with the social tide) and social deviance (swimming against the social tide). Specifically, communion, A, and C are linked to the social conformity motive, whereas agency and O are linked to the social deviance motive. Hence, communion, A, and C should predict outcomes most strongly in social contexts where these outcomes are common, whereas agency and O should predict outcomes most strongly in social contexts where they are uncommon. Consider religiosity as one example. Religious life allows expression of communion, A, and C, which is why they have been described as the pan-cultural personality basis of religiosity. The validity of such expressiveness processes notwithstanding, the SMP makes different predictions. Given that communion, A, and C are linked to the social conformity motive, these personality factors should predict religiosity most strongly in religious social contexts and least strongly in secular social contexts. Further, given that agency and O are linked to the social deviance motive, these personality factors should predict religiosity least strongly in religious social contexts and most strongly in secular social contexts. In highly secular social contexts, then, agency and O may be the sole personality basis of religiosity, reversing classic expressiveness predictions. Our preliminary work supported the SMP regarding the Big Two and religiosity across 11 countries (N = 187,957) and the Big Five and religiosity across 66 countries (N = 1,129,334). Six work packages (WPs) will fully develop the SMP. WP1 will meta-analytically summarize crosscultural differences in personality effects and use the SMP to explain these differences. WP2 will evaluate the most relevant social context for social conformity and social deviance motives. WP3 will offer a first multi-wave longitudinal test. WP4 will provide first experimental evidence. WP5 will apply the SMP to revive the "prosocial personality." Finally, WP6 will result in a theoretical review of the SMP. Across the WPs, the SMP will explain diverse outcomes: other-profitable behaviour, partner preferences, political beliefs, occupational choice, drug abuse, consumer choice, and behaviour to reduce climate change, natural resource depletion, and social inequality. The goal is to establish SMP as a process-oriented, context-attentive, and motive-based theory of personality, which integrates key insights from social, self, motivational, and cultural psychology in order to reconcile discrepant personality effects across social contexts.

Fundingperiod: 10/2014 to 09/2019
Fundingbody: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG; GE 2515/3-1) (1.000.813,00€)
Self-Enhancement and Religiosity
Jochen E. Gebauer (PI), Constantine Sedikides, Delroy L. Paulhus, & Mark R. Leary

Self-enhancement and religiosity are central human phenomena. But how are the two related? World religions describe self-enhancement as something irreligious. They believe that religiosity lets self-enhancement run dry. If this were the case, one would have to doubt the existence of a universal need for self-esteem, because self-enhancement is self-esteem's most reliable expression. Thus, the topic of self-enhancement and religiosity is relevant for the much-debated universality question surrounding self-esteem. The topic is also relevant for the validity of many self-theories, which are based on the assumption that self-esteem and self-enhancement are human universals. Additionally, the topic informs about the suitability of much-discussed techniques to quite self-enhancement permanently. Our research program is the first to investigate the relation between self-enhancement and religiosity: (1) A large-scale cross-cultural analysis of religiosity and self-esteem relations (Gebauer, Sedikides, Bleidorn, Gosling, Rentfrow, & Potter, in prep) seeks further evidence of our Self-Enhancement Increases Religiosity (SEIR) model (Gebauer, Sedikides, & Neberich, 2012; Sedikides & Gebauer, 2010). (2) Experimental analogs of the aforementioned cross-cultural analysis seeks first causal evidence for the SEIR model. (3) A three-wave longitudinal study tests for a complementary effect of religiosity on self-enhancement in the religious domain and this study also seeks to establish religious self-enhancement as a process explaining established religiosity effects. The present research is therefore relevant for the universality of self-enhancement and its implications. The present research is also relevant for a key question of the psychology of religion: Why does religiosity persist?

Fundingperiod: 02/2013 to 01/2016
Fundingbody: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG; GE 2515/2-1) (222.564,00€)
Does True Altruism Exist?
What do Laypeople Believe and What Consequences does this Belief have?
Jochen E. Gebauer (PI), Constantine Sedikides, Mark R. Leary, & Jens B. Asendorpf

Does true Altruism exist, or is all human behavior egoistically motivated? Scientists disuss this question since Aristotel. Neither the philosophical querral between David Hume and Jeau Jaque Russeau, nor the experimental psychological debate between Robert Cialdini and Daniel Batson provided satisfactory answers regarding this altruism question. In this project we examine the laybelief in the existence of true altruism. That is, we ask laypeople to report on their belief in the existence of true altrusim. To this end, we have constructed the Belief in True Altruism Scale (BETA Scale). Using this measure we found thhat most people belief in the existence of true altruism. However, we also found important personality differences in the belief in true altruism, and these personality differences are related with actual behavior. For example, people who believe in the existence of true altruism are particularly helpful. Using experiments and longitudinal studies, we currently examine the processes, which drive this relation.

Fundingperiod: 09/2011 to 09/2013
Fundingbody: Wake Forest University & Templeton Foundation, Winston-Salem, NC ($103,125.10)
East-Asian Self-Enhancement
Jochen E. Gebauer (PI), Xuejun Lei, Huajian Cai, & Constantine Sedikides

Is self-enhancement (i.e., the desire for self-esteem) universal or merely a popular quirk of modern-day individuals? The answer to the universality question has several important implications. For example, it informs classic discussion on the content of a variety of psychological needs. Also, many psychological theories are based on the premise that humans desire self-esteem (e.g., cognitive dissonance theory, terror management theory, self-affirmation theory, social identity theory, the self-enhancement tactician model, and the self-evaluation maintenance model). Thus, the answer to the universality question informs the applicability of all these prominent psychological theories. How can the universality question be examined? Evidence for the universality of self-enhancement would be garnered, if self-enhancement can be found across all cultures. In East-Asian cultures, however, the empirical evidence is not clear. In this project, we develop new assessment tools, suitable to capture East-Asian self-enhancement. The results with these assessment tools show that East-Asians do self-enhance. Hence, self-enhancement appears to be a universal phenomenon.

Fundingperiod: 12/2010 to 12/2012
Fundingbody: Wolfgang Köhler Zentrum für Konfliktforschung (5,000 €)