Social Psychology Network

Maintained by Scott Plous, Wesleyan University

Sara H. Konrath

Sara H. Konrath

I joined the faculty of the Research Center for Group Dynamics in Fall 2009, after graduating with a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Michigan in December 2007 (with Dr. Norbert Schwarz, Dr. Brad Bushman, and Dr. David Winter). Before coming to the University of Michigan I worked with Dr. Michael Ross at the University of Waterloo and Dr. Anne Wilson (now at Wilfrid Laurier University) in Ontario, Canada.

My research is primarily focused on the various combinations of self-focus (e.g. narcissism, individualism) and other-focus (e.g., empathy, collectivism, authoritarianism), both as a personality trait and as a situational variable (i.e., through priming). Self-focus and other-focus can be seen as relatively stable traits that can be measured with self-report scales much like other ones. Rather than being represented on a unipolar continuum starting from self-focus and ending at other-focus, there is accumulating research evidence that these two traits are orthogonal, or two separate uncorrelated variables. This means that people can be high in one and low in the other, high in both, or low in both.

My dissertation specifically focused on the consequences of an excess in self-focus without a simultaneous focus on others, which my colleagues and I call “social atomization.” Socially atomized people have difficulty considering the larger web-like social context in which all humans are embedded. One trait that I primarily focused on as an example of this state was narcissism (inflated self-esteem), and I discovered predictable intrapersonal, cognitive, and interpersonal outcomes associated with this socially atomized state. I also found ways to attenuate the aggression that is associated with narcissism by treating self-focus and other-focus as situational variables that can be manipulated.

Current projects include:

(1) Examining the psychological, relational, and physical health consequences of the four quadrants of self-focus and other-focus. We hypothesize the most positive health outcomes for those people who see themselves as balanced (high in self-focus and high in other-focus). If we find this across a number of health domains, we will attempt to design targeted interventions to move people into a more balanced state.

(2) Working with Dr. Stephanie Brown to examine the psychophysiological effects of helping behavior.

(3) Measuring authoritarianism “at a distance,” that is, in written or verbal materials. This work is sponsored by the David C. McClelland Fellowship and the American Association of University Women.

(4) Attentuating negative effects associated with authoritarianism (e.g., reducing authoritarianism after threat, or reducing outgroup aggression and prejudice).

(5) In past research we have found that male politicians in United States, Canada, Norway, and Australia have more facial prominence (“face-ism”) in official government websites than female politicians. We are further exploring these findings through meta-analytically analyzing the online representation of politicians in several more countries worldwide.

Primary Interests:

  • Aggression, Conflict, Peace
  • Emotion, Mood, Affect
  • Health Psychology
  • Helping, Prosocial Behavior
  • Personality, Individual Differences
  • Political Psychology
  • Self and Identity
  • Social Cognition

Research Group or Laboratory:

Journal Articles:

Sara H. Konrath
Research Center for Group Dynamics
Institute for Social Research
426 Thompson Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106
United States

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