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Example research essay topic: Personality And Social Psychology Negative Affect - 1,882 words

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... nal attributes, face saving, outlet for discussing positive events, and self presentational inhibitors of complaining. (Kowalski 186 - 188) Conveying impressions of personal attributes is the regulating of complaints whether they be inhibiting them or facilitating them to form an impression on others. For example, many complain because by doing so they are creating an impression of similarity by conforming to the opinions and values of those around them. If two people take the same class and one begins to complain about the behaviors of the teacher, the other student may also complain as a means of conforming to the other students opinion, thereby inducing liking. People may also complain about certain situations to make others believe that they are knowledgeable in that subject.

For example, a person might complain about the food or wine at a restaurant to convey the impression that he or she is knowledgeable about foods and wines and very selective in his or her choices. Alicke at al. suggested that negative evaluators tend to be evaluated more favorably than positive evaluators. (Kowalski, 186) Other people may complain about the actions or behaviors of others to make themselves look superior or intimidating. We could see this in many workplaces where the boss intimidates and criticizes his or her employees behaviors to make him / herself seem superior and to obtain compliance from them. The simple act of complaining may in itself convey an air of superiority. Through these kinds of complaints we can give the message that our expectations are higher and are not being met.

This gives the message that one has high standards. (Kowalski, 186) Face saving is the third function of complaining. This of course influences the opinions that others have on them. For example, If you set out to do something and for some reason or other you fail to accomplish it, this may form a negative impression on others about you. But if you complain about it you can save face. Complaints motivated by face-saving come in a number of flavors and disguises. (Kowalski, 186) Blasting is the act of putting down others in an effort to make yourself look better. We can clearly see this in the relationship between siblings and parents.

When a child is getting blamed for something or is being corrected for a certain behavior, he or she may point out the siblings faults as a means of shifting responsibility and saving face with the parent. By pointing out and derogating the behaviors of the sibling, the child looks better and more obedient. In an effort to save face complaints may also come as excuses. These are often used to explain past, present and future behaviors. They could also be used to protect ones self esteem by shifting casual attributes from internal, central aspects of the self to internal, less central aspects of the self or to external causes. They can also be used in the service of self-presentational goals.

In short what complaints can do for you in the form of excuses is to make the individual making the excuse not responsible for an undesired behavior. In this way, he or she may not only defend against negative impressions but also receive positive outcomes in the form of attention or sympathy. For example, if you set out to win a race but fail to do so, you might save face by complaining about the weather conditions, your physical self, the others cheating, etc. (Kowalski, 186 - 187) Another way that an individual may be able to save face is by complaining about symptoms. Complaints about discomfort provide individuals with an excuse for possible failure on an evaluative task and, therefore, potentially alter the evaluative implications of their behavior in the eyes of others.

For example, If an individual complains of an illness such as being hung over before making a presentation, that individual has set up an excuse in the event of a possible poor performance on that particular presentation, in turn he or she has affected the impressions that others form of them. Illness is the most popular excuse but others are depression and social anxiety. Benefits to be gained from illness include increased attention from significant other persons; relief from social, financial, and work obligations; and the displaced expression of dissatisfaction with ones life circumstances. Interestingly Alicke et al. found that doctors say that 75 % of the cases they see are some form of Psychosomatic illnesses. We could then assume that these are complaints are to gain secondary gains such as the ones mentioned above like attention and sympathy. (Kowalski, 187) Another function of complaints is the outlet for discussing positive events.

For example, if you and your friend apply for the same job and you get it and he doesnt knowing that he or she wanted it more than you, by complaining about it you can find a socially acceptable avenue for discussing this positive event. You can complain about the long hours or the fines you must pay, this way you are discussing this positive event with your friend without hurting his or her feelings. By complaining about it allows you to acknowledge and talk about your getting this new job. (Kowalski, 187) Still another function is that of social comparison process. many behaviors are performed to obtain information about the thoughts and feelings of others. In this way, people can test the The last function of complaining discussed is that of calling for accounts. This is relatively simple, by complaining about someones behavior y validity of and support for their own ideas, a process referred to as social comparison.

Complaining may be one behavior that provides social comparison information to the complainer. For example, if a person complains of the difficulty after performing a certain task to the others involved, he or she acquires social comparison information about the other peoples perception of the same task. This however is not always beneficial. If that same person thinks that by complaining about the task others will think less of him, he or she may choose to not voice his or her complaints. (Kowalski, 188) ou are probably attempting to change or modify their behavior. Used as calls for accounts, complaints may be viewed as manipulative tools by which the complainer can attempt to get others to engage in desired behaviors or not to perform undesired behaviors.

For example, If you constantly complain about another being late you are actively attempting to induce the other to arrive earlier. (Kowalski, 189) There are of course consequences for every complaint, for both the complainer and his or her audience. The first is expressed in a saying that they have in social psychology, saying is believing. This is saying that eventually the complainer could start to believe his or her complaints. For example, if an individual chronically complains about a certain situation whether it is true or not for the complainer, they could start believing the complaint. We already saw that on some occasions people complain not because they are dissatisfied with the object of the complaint but because complaining serves other goals, such as being liked, or receiving attention or sympathy. (Kowalski, 188 - 189) Complaining is also often contagious. For instance, listening to another person complain, may lead to a more in depth introspection of your own feelings and may subsequently facilitate complaining on your part as a listener.

It could also enhance your own feelings of dissatisfaction, in turn, this would lower your dissatisfaction threshold and make you more willing to complain. One person complaining can affect the mood of a listener therefore increasing the listeners negative affect having the same results as mentioned above. A third explanation may be a desire for one-upmanship. The purpose of this could be to gain attention, sympathy or appraisal. An example of this is upon listening to a complaint, for instance a misfortune, the other often mentions a worse misfortune to somehow come out on top. (Kowalski, 189) People also react in many ways to different kinds of complaints, ranging from very supportive responses to complete dismissal of the persons expression of dissatisfaction. Some of the possible responses could be; agreeing, disagreeing, justifying the behavior called into question, denial, expressing sympathy, problem solving-that is attempting to resolve the problem, counter complaining-complaining in response to a complaint, noncompeting-neutral response, or passing-that is ignoring the complaint.

Depending on mainly three factors these different responses are selected. These three are: the focus of the complaint, the affect accompanying the complaint, and the content of the complaint. (Kowalski, 190) The first is whether the complaint was directed at the individual or at some person or event. Obviously complaints directed at the source of the satisfaction are more likely to produce a negative response. The second factor that determines the response is how much affect accompanies the complaint. If it is accompanied by intense negative affect or anger the response is less likely to be met with agreement or support than complaints that are expressed in a nonthreatening manner. The third factor determining the response is the content of the complaint, at least as determined by the listeners perception.

Four dimensions that can be used to differentiate a complaint are: Authentic vs. inauthentic, verifiable vs. non verifiable, Instrumental vs. expressive, and direct vs. indirect. (Kowalski, 190 - 191) To review, complaining produces a number of effects including the internalization of expressed complaints, contagious complaining by others, and interpersonal effects.

Although a given complaint does not result in all of these outcomes, a particular complaint is likely to produce some desired or undesired effect either on the listener or on the complainer. (Kowalski, 191) As we have seen, complaining can be a powerful tool to achieve certain outcomes, whether they are desired or undesired, and whether they help to achieve interpersonal or intra psychic goals Hopefully some of the questions posed at the beginning of this paper were answered. Although the research I found was quite inclusive, I believe that there is still much to be explained about the simple but neglected interpersonal behavior of complaining. Future research in this area can hopefully shed some light in fields as diverse as health psychology, marketing, and conflict resolution. Alicke, M. D. , Braun, J. C. , Go, J.

E. , Klotz, M. L. , Magee, J. , Sederholm, H. , & Siegel, R. (1992). Complaining behavior in social interaction. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 18, 286 - 295. Kowalski, Robin, M. (1996). Complaints and Complaining: Functions, Antecedents, and Consequences.

Psychological Bulletin, 119, No. 2, 179 - 196. Buss, D. M. , Gomes, M. , Higgins, D. S. , & Lauterbach, K. (1987). Tactics of Manipulation.

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