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Solo and Selfish: The Effects of Social Distancing and Rejection Sensitivity on Greedy Behavior


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Principal Investigator(s):

Alexander Browman
Northwestern University
Email:browman@u.northwestern.edu
Home page: http://www.psychology.northwestern.edu/people/graduate-students/index.html

Sample size: 308
Field period: 09/26/2012-03/25/2013

 

Abstract:

Previous research has linked the desire for money with a lack of interpersonal closeness. Building from these findings, we proposed that people experiencing social distancing or rejection, especially those who are especially sensitive to experiences of social rejection, might be more prone to engage in greedy behaviors to compensate for the loss of support. In other words, we predicted that rejected individuals high in rejection sensitivity would demonstrate more greedy behaviour than their non-rejected and less sensitive counterparts. Participants were randomly assigned to recall and write about a time when they either felt intensely rejected, accepted, experienced an intense failure in an intellectual domain, or did not complete a writing task. They then completed measures of greedy intentions and were given an opportunity to behave greedily. Rejection-sensitive participants in the rejection, acceptance, and failure conditions reported greedier intentions than their less sensitive counterparts, although the relationship between rejection sensitivity and greedy intentions was non-significantly stronger in the rejection condition than in the others. No significant results emerged on the behavioural measure, although participants’ written responses indicated that they likely did not understand the behavioral task.

Hypotheses:

People experiencing social distancing or rejection, especially those who are especially sensitive to experiences of social rejection, will be more prone to engage in greedy behaviors to compensate for the loss of support than their non-rejected or less rejection sensitive counterparts.

Experimental Manipulations:

Participants were randomly assigned to recall and write about a time when they (1) felt intensely rejected, (2) felt very accepted, or (3) experienced an intense failure in an intellectual domain (negative control), or (4) the layout of their local grocery store (neutral control).

Key Dependent Variables:

(1) Measure of greedy behavior: deception game (Gneezy, 2005; modified by Cohen et al., 2009)

(2) Measure of greedy intentions: unethical business decisions scale (Ashton & Lee, 2008)

Summary of Findings:

Rejection sensitivity (RS) was a significant positive predictor of greedy intentions. This main effect was qualified by a significant condition x RS interaction predicting greedy intentions. Simple slopes analyses revealed that high-RS participants in the rejection condition reported greedier intentions than their less sensitive counterparts. However, similar patterns emerged in the acceptance and failure conditions, and the relationship between rejection sensitivity and greedy intentions was non-significantly stronger in the rejection condition than in the others. No significant results emerged on the behavioural measure, although participants’ written responses indicated that they likely did not understand the behavioral task.

Additional Information:

A large proportion of participants either did not complete the manipulation or provided responses to the manipulations prompts that indicated that the manipulation procedure may have been ineffective for them. In addition, participants’ written responses following the behavioral measure of greed indicated that they likely did not understand the task. Careful screening of the data is required.

 


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