Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Psychological manipulation


Cyberbullying has been portrayed as a rising ‘epidemic’ amongst children and adolescents. But does it create many new victims beyond those already bullied with traditional means (physical, relational)? Our aim was to determine whether cyberbullying creates uniquely new victims, and whether it has similar impact upon psychological and behavioral outcomes for adolescents, beyond those experienced by traditional victims. This study assessed 2745 pupils, aged 11-16, from UK secondary schools. Pupils completed an electronic survey that measured bullying involvement, self-esteem and behavioral problems. Twenty-nine percent reported being bullied but only 1% of adolescents were pure cyber-victims (i.e., not also bullied traditionally). Compared to direct or relational victims, cyber-victimization had similar negative effects on behavior (z = -0.41) and self-esteem (z = -0.22) compared to those not involved in bullying. However, those bullied by multiple means (poly-victims) had the most difficulties with behavior (z = -0.94) and lowest self-esteem (z = -0.78). Cyberbullying creates few new victims, but is mainly a new tool to harm victims already bullied by traditional means. Cyberbullying extends the reach of bullying beyond the school gate. Intervention strategies against cyberbullying may need to include approaches against traditional bullying and its root causes to be successful.

Concepts: Psychology, Relational aggression, High school, Motivation, Self-esteem, Abuse, Bullying, Psychological manipulation


Abstract Background: While intimate partner violence (IPV) affects 25% of women and impairs health, current societal conditions-including the normalization of abuse in popular culture such as novels, film, and music-create the context to support such violence. Fifty Shades of Grey, a best-selling novel, depicts a “romantic” and “erotic” relationship involving 28-year-old megamillionaire, Christian Grey, and a 22-year-old college student, Anastasia Steele. We argue that the relationship is characterized by IPV, which is harmful to Anastasia. Methods: All authors engaged in iterative readings of the text, and wrote narrative summaries to elucidate themes. Validity checks included double review of the first eight chapters of the novel to establish consistency in our analysis approach, iterative discussions in-person and electronically to arbitrate discrepancies, and review of our analysis with other abuse and sexual practice experts. To characterize IPV, we used the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s definitions of emotional abuse (intimidation/threats; isolation; stalking; and humiliation) and sexual violence (forced sex acts/contact against a person’s will, including using alcohol/drugs or intimidation/pressure). To characterize harm, we used Smith’s conceptualizations of perceived threat, managing, altered identity, yearning, entrapment, and disempowerment experienced by abused women. Results: Emotional abuse is present in nearly every interaction, including: stalking (Christian deliberately follows Anastasia and appears in unusual places, uses a phone and computer to track Anastasia’s whereabouts, and delivers expensive gifts); intimidation (Christian uses intimidating verbal and nonverbal behaviors, such as routinely commanding Anastasia to eat and threatening to punish her); and isolation (Christian limits Anastasia’s social contact). Sexual violence is pervasive-including using alcohol to compromise Anastasia’s consent, as well as intimidation (Christian initiates sexual encounters when genuinely angry, dismisses Anastasia’s requests for boundaries, and threatens her). Anastasia experiences reactions typical of abused women, including: constant perceived threat (“my stomach churns from his threats”); altered identity (describes herself as a “pale, haunted ghost”); and stressful managing (engages in behaviors to “keep the peace,” such as withholding information about her social whereabouts to avoid Christian’s anger). Anastasia becomes disempowered and entrapped in the relationship as her behaviors become mechanized in response to Christian’s abuse. Conclusions: Our analysis identified patterns in Fifty Shades that reflect pervasive intimate partner violence-one of the biggest problems of our time. Further, our analysis adds to a growing body of literature noting dangerous violence standards being perpetuated in popular culture.

Concepts: Sexual intercourse, Domestic violence, Child abuse, Abuse, Psychological abuse, Bullying, Psychological manipulation, Intimidation


The study of moral disengagement has greatly informed research on aggression and bullying. There has been some debate on whether cyberbullies and other cyber-aggressors show more or less of a tendency for moral disengagement than traditional aggressors and bullies. However, according to the triadic model of reciprocal determinism, an individual’s behavior influences and is influenced by both personal factors and his/her social environment. This article reviews the literature to propose a new conceptual framework addressing how features of the online context may enable specific mechanisms that facilitate moral disengagement. Specific affordances for moral disengagement proposed here include the paucity of social-emotional cues, the ease of disseminating communication via social networks, and the media attention on cyberbullying, which may elicit moral justification, euphemistic labeling, palliative comparison, diffusion and displacement of responsibility, minimizing and disregarding the consequences for others, dehumanization, and attribution of blame. These ideas suggest that by providing affordances for these mechanisms of moral disengagement, online settings may facilitate cyber-aggression and cyberbullying.

Concepts: Sociology, Aggression, Relational aggression, Violence, Social psychology, Abuse, Bullying, Psychological manipulation


This study examined the effectiveness of two types of verbal appeals (external and internal motivators) and expected punishment in 372 children’s (4- to 8-year-olds) truth-telling behavior about a transgression. External appeals to tell the truth emphasized social approval by stating that the experimenter would be happy if the children told the truth. Internal appeals to tell the truth emphasized internal standards of behavior by stating that the children would be happy with themselves if they told the truth. Results indicate that with age children are more likely to lie and maintain their lie during follow-up questioning. Overall, children in the External Appeal conditions told the truth significantly more compared with children in the No Appeal conditions. Children who heard internal appeals with no expected punishment were significantly less likely to lie compared with children who heard internal appeals when there was expected punishment. The results have important implications regarding the impact of socialization on children’s honesty and promoting children’s veracity in applied situations where children’s honesty is critical.

Concepts: Sociology, Motivation, Appeal, Fact, Core issues in ethics, Psychological manipulation, Cannonball


Child maltreatment is a public health concern with well-established sequelae. However, compared to research on physical and sexual abuse, far less is known about the long-term impact of emotional maltreatment on mental health. The overall purpose of this study was to examine the association of emotional abuse, emotional neglect, and both emotional abuse and neglect with other types of child maltreatment, a family history of dysfunction, and lifetime diagnoses of several Axis I and Axis II mental disorders. Data were from the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions collected in 2004 and 2005 (n=34,653). The most prevalent form of emotional maltreatment was emotional neglect only (6.2%), followed by emotional abuse only (4.8%), and then both emotional abuse and neglect (3.1%). All categories of emotional maltreatment were strongly related to other forms of child maltreatment (odds ratios [ORs] ranged from 2.1 to 68.0) and a history of family dysfunction (ORs ranged from 2.2 to 8.3). In models adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics, all categories of emotional maltreatment were associated with increased odds of almost every mental disorder assessed in this study (adjusted ORs ranged from 1.2 to 7.4). Many relationships remained significant independent of experiencing other forms of child maltreatment and a family history of dysfunction (adjusted ORs ranged from 1.2 to 3.0). The effects appeared to be greater for active (i.e., emotional abuse) relative to passive (i.e., emotional neglect) forms of emotional maltreatment. Childhood emotional maltreatment, particularly emotionally abusive acts, is associated with increased odds of lifetime diagnoses of several Axis I and Axis II mental disorders.

Concepts: Mental disorder, Child abuse, Abuse, Psychological abuse, Neglect, Family therapy, Bullying, Psychological manipulation


There are various reasons why efforts to promote “support for self-management” have rarely delivered the kinds of sustainable improvements in healthcare experiences, health and wellbeing that policy leaders internationally have hoped for. This paper explains how the basis of failure is in some respects built into the ideas that underpin many of these efforts. When (the promotion of) support for self-management is narrowly oriented towards educating and motivating patients to adopt the behaviours recommended for disease control, it implicitly reflects and perpetuates limited and somewhat instrumental views of patients. It tends to: restrict the pursuit of respectful and enabling ‘partnership working’; run the risk of undermining patients' self-evaluative attitudes (and then of failing to notice that as harmful); limit recognition of the supportive value of clinician-patient relationships; and obscure the practical and ethical tensions that clinicians face in the delivery of support for self-management. We suggest that a focus on enabling people to live (and die) well with their long-term conditions is a promising starting point for a more adequate conception of support for self-management. We then outline the theoretical advantages that a capabilities approach to thinking about living well can bring to the development of an account of support for self-management, explaining, for example, how it can accommodate the range of what matters to people (both generally and more specifically) for living well, help keep the importance of disease control in perspective, recognize social influences on people’s values, behaviours and wellbeing, and illuminate more of the rich potential and practical and ethical challenges of supporting self-management in practice.

Concepts: Sociology, Theory, Motivation, Social psychology, Support, Technical support, Social influence, Psychological manipulation


The ability to detect deception is of vital importance in human society, playing a crucial role in communication, cooperation, and trade between societies, businesses, and individuals. However, numerous studies have shown, remarkably consistently, that we are only slightly above chance when it comes to detecting deception [1]. Here we investigate whether inconsistency between one’s own opinion and the stated opinion of another impairs judgment of the veracity of that statement, in the same way that one’s own mental, affective, and action states, when inconsistent, can interfere with representation of those states in another [2]. Within the context of lie detection, individuals may be less accurate when judging the veracity of another’s opinion when it is inconsistent with their own opinion. Here we present a video-mediated lie-detection task to confirm this prediction: individuals correctly identified truths or lies less often when the other’s expressed opinion was inconsistent with their own (experiment 1). Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) of the temporoparietal junction (TPJ) has previously been shown to improve the ability to selectively represent the self or another [3-5]. We therefore predicted that TPJ stimulation would enable lie detectors to inhibit their own views, enhance those of the other, and improve their ability to determine whether another was presenting their true opinion. Experiment 2 confirmed this second prediction: anodal tDCS of the TPJ improved lie detection specifically when one’s own and others' views were conflicting.

Concepts: Better, Improve, Transcranial direct current stimulation, Political philosophy, Society, Self, Lie, Psychological manipulation


Sustained cooperative social interactions are key to successful outcomes in many real-world contexts (e.g., climate change and energy conservation). We explore the self-regulatory roles of anger and guilt, as well as prosocial or selfish social preferences in a repeated social dilemma game framed around shared electricity use at home. We explore the proposal that for sustained cooperation, guilty repair needs to override angry retaliation. We show that anger is damaging to cooperation as it leads to retaliation and an increase of defection, while, through guilt, cooperation is repaired resulting in higher levels of cooperation. We demonstrate a disconnect between the experience of anger and subsequent retaliation which is a function of participants' social preferences. While there is no difference in reports of anger between prosocial and selfish individuals after finding out that others use more energy from the communal resource, prosocials are less likely to act on their anger and retaliate. Selfish individuals are motivated by anger to retaliate but not motivated by guilt to repair and contribute disproportionately to the breakdown of cooperation over repeated interactions. We suggest that guilt is a key emotion to appeal to when encouraging cooperation.

Concepts: Sociology, Empathy, Philosophy of life, Social psychology, Emotions, Psychological manipulation


Do people know when they are seen as pressing too hard, yielding too readily, or having the right touch? And does awareness matter? We examined these questions in four studies. Study 1 used dyadic negotiations to reveal a modest link between targets' self-views and counterparts' views of targets' assertiveness, showing that those seen as under- and over-assertive were likely to see themselves as appropriately assertive. Surprisingly, many people seen as appropriately assertive by counterparts mistakenly thought they were seen as having been over-assertive, a novel effect we call the line crossing illusion. We speculated that counterparts' orchestrated displays of discomfort might be partly responsible-behaviors we termed strategic umbrage. Study 2 revealed evidence for widespread strategic umbrage in real-world negotiations and Study 3 linked these behaviors to the line crossing illusion in a controlled negotiation. Study 4 showed that this illusion predicted outcomes in a multi-round negotiation.

Concepts: Psychology, Human behavior, Awareness, Link, Self-awareness, Negotiation, Psychological manipulation, Assertiveness


Deception is a central component of the personality ‘Dark Triad’ (Machiavellianism, Psychopathy and Narcissism). However, whether individuals exhibiting high scores on Dark Triad measures have a heightened deceptive ability has received little experimental attention. The present study tested whether the ability to lie effectively, and to detect lies told by others, was related to Dark Triad, Lie Acceptability, or Self-Deceptive measures of personality using an interactive group-based deception task. At a group level, lie detection accuracy was correlated with the ability to deceive others-replicating previous work. No evidence was found to suggest that Dark Triad traits confer any advantage either to deceive others, or to detect deception in others. Participants who considered lying to be more acceptable were more skilled at lying, while self-deceptive individuals were generally less credible and less confident when lying. Results are interpreted within a framework in which repeated practice results in enhanced deceptive ability.

Concepts: Lie, Deception, Propaganda, Psychological manipulation