Friday, November 23, 2007

"It’s Agapē" (Love Styles)

I hope everyone is having a nice Thanksgiving weekend. Our next song involves the concept of "love styles," which were proposed by John Alan Lee of the University of Toronto and converted into a questionnaire measure by Clyde and Susan Hendrick, to whom I've dedicated the song. Clyde and Susan are colleagues of mine at Texas Tech, although we're in different departments (I'm in human development and family studies, and they're in psychology).

In doing research for this entry, I found a fairly extensive Wikipedia page on love styles, which I spruced up a bit. Specifically, I added the section about the Hendricks' measure and created the References section. Anyone interested in background information and further readings is invited to visit the Wikipedia page.

Today's song alludes to the six love styles: eros, ludus, storgē, pragma, mania, and agapē. Enjoy...


It’s Agapē (please pronounce ē like “ay”)
Lyrics by Alan Reifman, Dedicated to Clyde and Susan Hendrick
(May be sung to the tune of “Have a Nice Day,” Bon Jovi/Sambora/Shanks)

What kind of a lover, do you want to find?
Should it be the eros or the storgē kind?
The ludus kind of lover likes to fool around,
The pragma person’s preferences just abound,
The mania type could fall right out of control,
How do you decide, before you get too old?

Ooh, if there’s one trait that I’m drawn to,
So we may rise above,
Selfishness, I know, will surely haunt you,
I want agapic love,

Eros reflects passion, friendship is storgē,
You have to decide, by the end of the day,

What choice will you come up with?
I say, it’s agapē,
It’s agapē…

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"Positive Illusions"

The idea that holding overly positive, "rose-colored" impressions of one's spouse/partner seems to improve the quality of relationships may strike some as counterintuitive. It could be argued, for example, that viewing one's partner realistically might be more likely to promote personal improvement in the partner, than would the apparent overlooking of any shortcomings.

However, as studied by the trenchant trio of Sandra Murray (whom I know from my years in Buffalo), John Holmes, and Dale Griffin, such "positive illusions" appear to be beneficial for couples. As summarized by Murray and colleagues (2003, p. 290):

...[individuals] were happier in their relationships when they saw their partner more generously than their partner saw himself or herself. In fact, people were also happier in their relationships when their partner put the best possible spin on the available evidence and idealized them.

Over the longer term, these types of positive illusions had positive, self-fulfilling effects. Specifically, people ultimately reported relatively greater satisfaction, less conflict, and fewer doubts about their partner the more they idealized their partner initially and the more their partner idealized them initially.

Also doing research in this area is Sylvia Niehuis, a new colleague of mine on the Human Development and Family Studies faculty at Texas Tech University. Sylvia's arrival got me looking at the positive-illusions literature again, which in turn, inspired me to write the following song...


Positive Illusions
Lyrics by Alan Reifman
(May be sung to the tune of “The Grand Illusion,” Dennis DeYoung, for Styx)

How do lovers, view their partners?
Honestly, with warts and all?
Or is it, through glasses tinted rose?

Does inflating, your perception?
Raise your, satisfaction level?
Or does it, contribute to your woes?

Are we fooled by, being in love?
Seeing just, what we want to see,
Getting ideas of, what coupled life should be,
Is it real, or fantasy?

So if your relationship, lacks complete effusion,
Don’t worry, help is on the way,
Thriving couples hold, positive illusions,
And happiness, is here to stay,
It’s here to stay…


Further Reading

Fowers, B.J., Fışıloğlu, H., & Procacci, E. (in press). Positive marital illusions and culture: A comparison of American and Turkish spouses’ perceptions of their marriages. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

Fowers, B.J., Lyons, E., Montel, K., & Shaked, N. (2001). Positive illusions about marriage among married and single individuals. Journal of Family Psychology, 15, 95-109.

Fowers, B.J., Veingrad, M.R., & Dominicis, C. (2002). The unbearable lightness of positive illusions: Engaged individuals' explanations of unrealistically positive relationship perceptions. Journal of Marriage and Family, 64, 450–460.

Miller, P.J., Niehuis, S., & Huston, T.L. (2006). Positive illusions in marital relationships: A 13-year longitudinal study. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 1579-1594.

Murray, S.L., Holmes, J.G., & Griffin, D.W. (1996a). The benefits of positive illusions: Idealization and the construction of satisfaction in close relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 79–98.

Murray, S. L., Holmes, J. G., & Griffin, D. W. (1996b). The self-fulfilling
nature of positive illusions in romantic relationships: Love is not blind, but prescient. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71, 1155–1180.

Murray, S.L., Holmes, J.G., Griffin, D.W. (2003). Reflections on the self-fulfilling effects of positive illusions. Psychological Inquiry, 14, 289-295.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

"Wegner's Thought-Suppression Dare (Don't Think of a White Bear)"

(Updated April 23, 2015)

For over 20 years, Dan Wegner (who died of ALS in 2013) and colleagues studied what they called the paradoxical effects of thought suppression. Their basic paradigm was to instruct research subjects not to think of some object (a white bear, which is a Dostoevsky reference). Subjects tended not to be able to suppress thoughts of a white bear and, in an open-thought session later in the experiment, they exhibited an increased frequency of white-bear thoughts relative to a control group that did not have to suppress white-bear thoughts earlier.

After you've sung the following song, try not to think about it...


Wegner’s Thought-Suppression Dare
Lyrics by Alan Reifman
(May be sung to the tune of “Living on a Prayer,” Bon Jovi/Sambora/Child)

Want to keep a thought, out of mind?
Actively blocking, ain’t going to work,
You’ll find, you’ll find,

If you try to block, something out,
It’s gonna rebound, harder than before,
There is, no doubt,

You know, we can’t control thoughts, that’s what it seems,
It only helps a little, if you try different schemes,
Yes, it’s futile, to try and block out memes,
They’ll intrude, right into your dreams…

Oh-h-h, Wegner’s thought-suppression dare,
Doh…on’t think of a white bear!
The target, will re-appear,
If you, try to block white bears…



For the most part, the lyrics should be self-explanatory. The phrasing of how cognitive "schemes" can "help a little" refers to a finding in the original Wegner et al. (1987) Experiment 2. Subjects in a variation of a thought-suppression condition were instructed to substitute the thought of a red Volkswagen for the forbidden white bear, and this technique made the suppression somewhat more effective than suppression instructions alone. The part about intrusion "right into your dreams" is based on an actual study (Wegner et al., 2004).

Further Reading

In addition to the articles listed below, there are several websites that provide information related to thought-suppression research. The topic has a Wikipedia entry. A self-report questionnaire measure from Wegner's lab on suppression and control of thoughts, known as the "White Bear Suppression Inventory" is available here. Finally, a news release on the research from Rice University, the home of collaborator David Schneider, is available here.

Wegner, D.M. (1989). White bears and other unwanted thoughts: Suppression, obsession, and the psychology of mental control. New York: Viking/Penguin. (1994 Edition, New York: Guilford Press.)

Wegner, D.M. (1992). You can't always think what you want: Problems in the suppression of unwanted thoughts. In M. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 25, pp. 193-225). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Wegner, D.M., & Schneider, D.J. (2003). The white bear story. Psychological Inquiry, 14, 326-329.

Wegner, D.M., Schneider, D.J., Carter, S.R., & White, T.L. (1987). Paradoxical effects of thought suppression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 5–13.

Wegner, D.M., Wenzlaff, R.M., & Kozak, M.. (2004). Dream rebound: The return of suppressed thoughts in dreams. Psychological Science, 15, 232-236.

Wenzlaff, R.M., & Wegner, D.M. (2000). Thought suppression. In S.T. Fiske (Ed.), Annual review of psychology (Vol. 51, pp. 59-91). Palo Alto, CA: Annual Reviews.