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Cultural Differences in Emotion Recogntion

This project is designed to address three issues in cultural differences in the emotion recognition research: (1) an out-group advantage in emotion recognition (Elfenbein & Ambady, 2002), (2) majority-minority group relations in emotion recognition, and (3) communication channels. The main purpose of the proposed study is to reevaluate the validity of the out-group advantage using more ecologically valid measures of emotional expressions (e.g., spontaneous emotional expressions displayed during a face-to-face interview). The current project will also explore the underlying factors that contribute to individual differences in emotion recognition and their possible implications for social adjustment.

Multiple Social Task and Social Impairment in High-Functioning Autism/Asperger Syndrome

The purpose of this project is to assess individual differences in social adjustment by applying the concept of working memory and its framework to the area of social intelligence. By adopting a working memory perspective, I define social intelligence as the mental ability to handle multiple social tasks efficiently and hypothesize that individuals with a larger capacity of social working memory should be recognized as more socially and interpersonally adjusted than those with a lower capacity. To test this hypothesis, a new social intelligence task called the “Multiple Social Tasks (MST)” has been developed. To establish the construct validity of the MST, a series of studies are under way. They will explore whether performance on the MST can predict social skills assessed by peer- and observer-ratings (predictive validity) and also distinguishes individuals with high-functioning autism or Asperger syndrome from normally developed individuals. If the construct validity of the MST is successfully established through those studies, this new test can be a useful tool to reevaluate a spectrum of interpersonal adjustment problems including social impairment in high-functioning autism or Asperger syndrome.

Relative Importance of Empathic accuracy, Emotional Expressivity, and Agreeableness in Predicting Relationship Quality

This research project has been conducted to explore the relative importance of empathic accuracy, emotional expressivity, and personality in maintaining interpersonal relationships using two different measures of relationship quality: self-reported (Study 1) and peer-rated (Study 2) relationship quality. As the first step of this project, twenty-six college students were interviewed to develop a stimulus video for the assessment of empathic accuracy. In Study 1, participants (N=209) watched the stimulus video and asked to identify the emotions of the interviewees on tape. Then, they filled out a questionnaire packet that included self-report measures for emotional expressivity, the Big-Five Personality, and relationship quality. Empathic accuracy scores were obtained by comparing the actual comments from the interviewees and the inferences made by participants. Results indicate that Agreeableness and emotional expressivity contribute more to relationship quality than empathic accuracy in Study 1. But when peer-ratings on relationship quality was used for outcome measure of relationship quality in Study 2 (N = 46), the results show that Agreeableness and empathic accuracy contribute more to relationship quality than emotional expressivity. We are currenlty working on a manuscript for submission and this study was presented at the Seventh Annual Meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in 2006.

Personality Change and Continuity: Their implications for social adaptation

The main purpose of this study is to explore how personality change and continuity would be associated with adjustment to college environments, satisfaction with college life, and psychological well-being during the first year of the college among students in the University of Notre Dame. Several unique characteristics of the University of Notre Dame provide an ideal setting to address this question; all the first-year students are randomly assigned to one of the residential halls and required to live with roommates who are total strangers during the freshmen year. This condition provides a wonderful opportunity to explore how the first-year students develop and maintain their interpersonal relationships over the first year and adjust to a new environment and how personality change and continuity would be associated with their adjustment and psychological well-being. All the first year students were invited to participate in this study by mail and email contact. Over 400 subjects completed a web-questionnaire that includes personality and social adjustment measures for two times with a six-month interval. They also rated their roommates in terms of their personality and social and interpersonal adjustment. We are currently analyzing the data and working on a manuscript based on this study (Kang & Serobyan, 2006).


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