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Release: Nov. 3, 1999

Social psychology research published in UI-edited journal

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Research on predicting the longevity of a romantic relationship, avoiding cultural faux pas and seeking a peer group instead of a close friend will appear in the November 1999 issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, which is published at the University of Iowa and edited by Jerry M. Suls, a UI professor of psychology.



Roommates are more accurate predictors of the longevity of a romantic relationship than are the two people involved in the relationship, say researchers at two Canadian universities. Tara K. MacDonald, of Queen’s University, and Michael Ross, of the University of Waterloo, compared predictions that lovers made about their own dating relationships with the predictions made by their parents and roommates.

The researchers contacted participants six months and one year after they were first interviewed for the study and asked if they were still dating the same partner. This allowed MacDonald and Ross to examine how long the relationships lasted as compared with how long the lovers, roommates, and parents predicted the matches would endure.

The authors found that the lovers were more optimistic that their new dating relationships would last than were their roommates and parents, but that the lovers’ predictions were not more accurate than those of their parents or roommates. In fact, the roommates’ estimates of relationship longevity tended to be the most accurate.

MacDonald and Ross suggest that roommates’ tendencies to assess whether it would be possible for the lovers to find another suitable romantic partner, and their judgments about the future of the relationships may give them an advantage when making predictions about relationship longevity.

For more information, contact MacDonald at (613) 533-2873.



Americans involved in working relationships with international colleagues should be aware that personality traits that are commonly understood among Americans are often not found among natives of other countries, an Arizona State University researcher says.

Robert B. Cialdini, Regents’ Professor of Psychology at ASU, has found that while Americans tend to act in accordance with their own personal track record, natives of Poland pattern their behavior after the actions of their friends, families, and co-workers.

"The U.S. is dominated by individualism, which is an orientation that assigns highest priority to the preferences and rights of the person," Cialdini says. "However, many more nations are dominated by a collective orientation, which assigns highest priority to the preferences and rights of the group."

"I think our results offer a specific example of a general rule that is becoming increasingly important in our globalized environment," he continues. "To be effective in international communication, we must not presume that our values and approaches are shared by members of other societies."

Cialdini conducted his research with Wilhelmina Wosinska, Daniel Barrett, and Jonathan Butner at ASU and Malgorzata Gornik-Durose at the University of Silesia in Poland.

For more information, contact Cialdini at (480) 965-4971.



For people with low self-esteem, being accepted by others can take precedence over being liked and respected by others, say researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and at Florida Atlantic University.

Eric Rudich, of UNC, and Robin Vallacher, of FAU, asked college students with high and low self-esteem to choose between two potential interactions with partners of the same sex. The potential partners differed in how they seemed to view the student, positively or negatively, and in whether they thought they could establish a friendship with the student.

They found that students with high self-esteem tended to choose to interact with the person who viewed him or her favorably, even if the person did not express hope for forming a friendship. Conversely, the students with low self-esteem consistently opted for the person who held out the prospect of accepting them as friends, even if the potential friend offered a negative commentary on their personalities.

The researchers say their findings shed light on why some people are willing to embrace the beliefs and follow the lead of others who offer only the prospect of acceptance in return. "In today’s socially fragmented world, a sense of social connection is lacking for many people," Rudich says. "The consequences of this alienation can have a profound impact, not only on friendship formation, but on participation in groups with varying political and social agendas."

For more information contact Rudich at (919) 962-7636.