Dr Erica Hepper

Lecturer in Personality/Social Psychology
Ph.D. Psychology, PGCert Academic Practice


Areas of specialism

Social psychology; Personality and individual differences; Close relationships; Attachment theory; Nostalgia; Self and identity; Narcissism

University roles and responsibilities

  • Co-Director of Postgraduate Taught Programmes in Psychology (2023-)
  • Sustainability Fellow at Institute for Sustainability, focusing on psychological underpinnings of sustainable behaviour and social/personal wellbeing as part of the notion of sustainability
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies in Psychology (2016-2019)
  • Quality & Standards Subcommittee (2016-2020)


    Research interests


    Postgraduate research supervision

    Postgraduate research supervision



    E Hepper, C Sedikides, H Cai (2013)Self-enhancement and self-protection strategies in China: Cultural expressions of a fundamental human motive, In: Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology44(1)pp. 5-23 Sage Publications

    The motive to enhance and protect positive views of the self manifests in a variety of cognitive and behavioral strategies but its universality versus cultural specificity is debated by scholars. We sought to inform this debate by soliciting self-reports of the four principal types of self-enhancement and self-protection strategy (positivity embracement, favorable construals, self-affirming reflections, defensiveness) from a Chinese sample and comparing their structure, levels, and correlates to a Western sample. The Chinese data fit the same factor structure, and were subject to the same individual differences in regulatory focus, self-esteem, and narcissism, as the Western data. Chinese participants reported lower levels of (enhancement-oriented) positivity embracement but higher levels of (protection-oriented) defensiveness than Western participants. Levels of favorable construals were also higher in the Chinese sample, with no differences in self-affirming reflections. These findings support and extend the universalist perspective on the self by demonstrating the cross-cultural structure, yet culturally sensitive manifestation, of self-enhancement motivation.

    Sapphira R. Thorne, Peter Hegarty, Erica G. Hepper (2020)Love is heterosexual‐by‐default: Cultural heterosexism in default prototypes of romantic love, In: British Journal of Social Psychology John Wiley & Sons Ltd

    Cultural heterosexist ideologies assume heterosexuality to be the default norm. Four studies investigated when concepts of romantic love are heterosexual‐by‐default (N = 685). In Studies 1–2, participants generated features of romantic love, in general (i.e., the default prototype) or among one of three sexual orientation‐specific couples (lesbian, gay, or heterosexual). Heterosexual‐identified participants’ default prototypes were more similar to heterosexual than same‐gender prototypes (Study 1). Lesbian‐ and gay‐identified participants’ default prototypes were more similar to both heterosexual and gay male than lesbian prototypes, whereas bisexual‐identified participants’ sexual orientation‐specific prototypes were equivalently similar to the default (Study 2). However, heterosexual‐identified participants rated presented features of love similarly across sexual orientation‐specific conditions (Study 3). In a timed feature‐verification task (Study 4), participants categorized fewer peripheral features of romantic love as relevant to same‐gender than mixed‐gender couples. Activating sexual orientation‐specific representations affected subsequent default concepts of romantic love. We discuss implications for heterosexism theories and intervention.

    Yiu-Fai Yung, ERICA HEPPER, Tim Wildschut, Constantine Sedikides (2022)Criteria and methods for assessing cultural universality of cognitive representations of underlying complex psychological constructs, In: Handbook of Advances in Culture and Psychology Oxford University Press

    We propose criteria for assessing the cross-cultural universality of cognitive representations that underlie complex psychological constructs. According to prototype theory, complex constructs are cognitively represented in terms of central and peripheral features. The cross-cultural universality of a complex construct, then, pertains to the level of agreement among cultures with regard to these central and peripheral features. We specify four criteria for cross-cultural universality: (1) similar ordinality in features, (2) consistency in rating central (compared to peripheral) features, (3) distinctiveness of feature sets, and (4) similar elevations in prototypicality for feature sets. We suggest simple statistical techniques to evaluate these criteria and demonstrate them in a case study assessing the cross-cultural universality of nostalgia conceptions. The proposed methodology is generative and provides a viable alternative to the restrictive multiple-group confirmatory factor analysis procedures that have impeded progress in this research area.

    C Sedikides, MA Luke, Erica Hepper (2016)Enhancing Feedback and Improving Feedback: Subjective Perceptions, Psychological Consequences, Behavioral Outcomes, In: Journal of Applied Social Psychology46(12)pp. 687-700 Wiley

    Three experiments examined subjective perceptions, psychological consequences, and behavioral outcomes of enhancing versus improving feedback. Across experiments, feedback delivery and assessment were sequential (i.e., at each testing juncture) or cumulative (i.e., at the end of the testing session). Although enhancing feedback was seen as more satisfying than useful, and improving feedback was not seen as more useful than satisfying, perceptions differed as a function of short-term versus long-term feedback delivery and assessment. Overall, however, enhancing feedback was more impactful psychologically and behaviorally. Enhancing feedback engendered greater success consistency, overall satisfaction and usefulness, optimism, state self-esteem, perceived ability, and test persistence intentions; improving feedback, on the other hand, engendered greater state improvement. The findings provide fodder for theory development and applications.

    Naomi E. Winstone, Erica G. Hepper, Robert A. Nash (2019)Individual differences in self-reported use of assessment feedback: The mediating role of feedback beliefs, In: Educational Psychology Taylor & Francis

    Feedback can rarely enhance learning unless it is used; however, few studies have examined individual differences in students’ engagement with feedback. The present study explored a) the extent to which personality variables and achievement goal orientation are associated with students’ self-reported use of feedback; and b) whether beliefs about feedback (utility, accountability, self-efficacy, and volition to implement feedback) mediate these associations. Students aged 16-18 (N = 746) completed self-report measures assessing each of these constructs. Self-reported feedback use was greater among students who scored high in mastery approach goals, performance approach goals, and conscientiousness. Controlling for academic achievement (which correlated weakly with self-reported feedback use), all of these associations were mediated by self-efficacy, and a subset of the associations were also mediated by the perceived utility of feedback and volition to implement feedback. Supporting students to feel competent in using feedback should be a key priority for interventions.

    Shannon L. Hirst, Erica G. Hepper, Harriet R. Tenenbaum (2019)Attachment dimensions and forgiveness of others: A meta-analysis, In: Journal of Social and Personal Relationships36(11-12)pp. pp 3960-3985 SAGE Publications

    Forgiveness, as a response to interpersonal transgressions, has multiple societal and individual benefits. Individual differences in attachment have been identified as a predictor not only of forgiveness but of state responses frequently associated with forgiveness. The current meta-analysis is the first systematic analysis of the effect of attachment dimensions (i.e., anxiety and avoidance) on forgiveness of others. Analysis of published and unpublished studies (k = 26) identified significant, small-to-medium effects of attachment anxiety (r = −.25) and attachment avoidance (r = −.18) on forgiveness of others. No significant difference was obtained between measures of state and trait forgiveness. The moderating effects of study paradigm, attachment measure, publication type, and sample population were also investigated. The findings of a stable negative effect of insecure attachment dimensions on forgiveness of others provide a base for future research that may focus on reducing attachment anxiety and avoidance to support forgiveness.

    KB Carnelley, E Hepper, C Hicks, W Turner (2011)Perceived parental reactions to coming out, attachment, and romantic relationship views, In: Attachment and Human Development13(3)pp. 217-236 Taylor & Francis

    Coming out as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) to one’s parents can be a challenging experience and may lead to acceptance or rejection. Attachment theory can help predict parents’ reactions to coming out and consequences for romantic attachment. In a crosssectional study of 309 LGB individuals, we found that those who perceived their mother as accepting in childhood were more likely to have come out to her. Moreover, parents perceived as accepting and independence-encouraging in childhood were reported to react more positively to their child’s sexual orientation. Mothers’ positive reactions were associated with lower romantic attachment anxiety for men. The links between parent-child relationship quality and optimism and trust in romantic relationships were mediated by romantic attachment patterns. Findings support the contention that LGB pair bonds are attachment relationships, and underline the importance of prior parent-child relationships for predicting LGB individuals’ experience of coming out and romantic relationships.

    Erica Hepper, CM Hart, AP Gregg, C Sedikides (2011)Motivated expectations of positive feedback in social interactions, In: Journal of Social Psychology151(4)pp. 455-477 Taylor & Francis

    People self-enhance in a variety of ways. For example, they generally expect to perform better than others, to be in control of events, and to have a brighter future. Might they also self-enhance by expecting to receive positive feedback in social interactions? Across five studies, we found that they did. People’s desire for feedback correlated with how positive they expected it to be (Study 1), and their feedback expectations were more positive for themselves than for others (Study 2). People’s positive feedback expectations also covaried with trait tendencies to self-enhance (i.e., self-esteem and narcissism; Study 3) and with a direct situational manipulation of self-enhancement motivation (Study 4). Finally, people expected to receive positive feedback but did not consistently expect to receive self-verifying feedback (Study 5). These findings are consistent with social expectations being driven in part by the self-enhancement motive.

    E Hepper, R Gramzow, Sedikides C (2010)Individual differences in self-enhancement and self-protection strategies: An integrative analysis, In: Journal of Personality78(2)pp. 781-814 Wiley

    Research has identified a large number of strategies that people use to self-enhance or self-protect. We aimed for an empirical integration of these strategies. Two studies used self-report items to assess all commonly recognized self-enhancement or self-protection strategies. In Study 1 (N = 345), exploratory factor analysis identified four reliable factors. In Study 2 (N = 416), this model was validated using confirmatory factor analysis. The factors related differentially to the key personality variables of regulatory focus, self-esteem, and narcissism. Expanding this integrative approach in the future can reveal a great deal about the structure and dynamics of self-enhancement and self-protection motivation.

    E Hepper, TD Ritchie, C Sedikides, T Wildschut (2012)Odyssey’s end: Lay conceptions of nostalgia reflect its original Homeric meaning, In: Emotion12(1)pp. 102-119 American Psychological Association (APA)

    Nostalgia fulfills pivotal functions for individuals, but lacks an empirically-derived and comprehensive definition. We examined lay conceptions of nostalgia using a prototype approach. In Study 1, participants generated open-ended features of nostalgia, which were coded into categories. In Study 2, participants rated the centrality of these categories, which were subsequently classified as central (e.g., memories, relationships, happiness) or peripheral (e.g., daydreaming, regret, loneliness). Central (compared to peripheral) features were more often recalled and falsely recognized (Study 3), were classified more quickly (Study 4), were judged to reflect more nostalgia in a vignette (Study 5), better characterized participants’ own nostalgic (vs. ordinary) experiences (Study 6), and prompted higher levels of actual nostalgia and its intrapersonal benefits when used to trigger a personal memory, regardless of age (Study 7). These findings highlight that lay people view nostalgia as a self-relevant and social blended emotional and cognitive state, featuring a mixture of happiness and loss. The findings also aid understanding of nostalgia’s functions and identify new methods for future research.

    Sapphira Thorne, Peter Hegarty, Erica Hepper (2019)Equality in Theory: From a Heteronormative to an Inclusive Psychology of Romantic Love, In: THEORY & PSYCHOLOGY29(1)pp. 240-257 SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD

    Since 1970, research on romantic relationships has burgeoned, but its theories and methods were shaped by a heteronormative cultural context. Heteronormativity is an ideology that implicitly holds that heterosexuality is, and should be, the only, dominant, or taken-for-granted sexuality for all. The movement towards sexual equality, particularly legal recognition of equal marriage, now allows psychologists to investigate romantic love in a more equal manner than ever before. To orient psychology towards less heteronormative theories of love, we make explicit how researchers in the past have (1) defined love and relationships as heterosexual; (2) presumed heterosexual patterns of love to generalize to all; (3) used methodologies that introduce heterosexual bias; and (4) located differences in same-sex couples rather than between same-sex and opposite-sex couples. We conclude with recommendations of how critical thinking at all stages of research can make the difference between heteronormative and inclusive research on romantic love and relationships.

    Wing-Yee Cheung, Erica G. Hepper, Chelsea A. Reid, Jeffrey D. Green, Tim Wildschut, Constantine Sedikides (2019)Anticipated Nostalgia: Looking Forward to Looking Back, In: Cognition and Emotion Taylor & Francis (Routledge)

    Anticipated nostalgia is a new construct that has received limited empirical attention. It concerns the anticipation of having nostalgic feelings for one’s present and future experiences. In three studies, we assessed its prevalence, content, emotional profile, and implications for self-regulation and psychological functioning. Study 1 revealed that anticipated nostalgia most typically concerns interpersonal relationships, and also concerns goals, plans, current life, and culture. Further, it is affectively laden with happiness, sadness, bittersweetness, and sociality. Studies 2 and 3 assessed the implications of anticipated nostalgia for self-regulation and psychological functioning. In both studies, positive evaluation of a personal experience was linked to stronger anticipated nostalgia, and anticipated nostalgia was linked to savoring of the experience. In Study 3, anticipated nostalgia measured prior to an important life transition predicted nostalgia a few months after the transition, and post-transition nostalgia predicted heightened self-esteem, social connectedness, and meaning in life.

    A Gregg, E Hepper, C Sedikides (2011)Quantifying self-motives: Functional links between dispositional desires., In: European Journal of Social Psychology41(7)pp. 840-852 Wiley-Blackwell

    Previous research has sought to establish the existence, or gauge the relative strength, of key self-evaluation motives (i.e., self-enhancement, self-verification, self-assessment, self-improvement). Here, we attempted, across five samples, to quantify individual differences in self-motive strength, and explore their empirical ramifications. We devised brief self-report indices for each self-motive, and checked their factor structure, reliability, and validity. We found that self-enhancement covaried mainly with self-verification, and that self-assessment covaried mainly with self-improvement, thus validating key hypotheses regarding their functional links. Moreover, self-enhancement and self-verification covaried with positive personality traits, as well as with preferences for receiving positive feedback and perceptions of its accuracy. In sum, self-reported variations in dispositional self-motive strength form theoretically meaningful patterns.

    A Millings, E Hepper, C Hart, L Swift, A Rowe (2016)Holding back the tears: Individual differences in adult crying proneness reflect attachment orientation and attitudes to crying, In: Frontiers in Psychology7 Frontiers Media

    Despite being a universal human attachment behavior, little is known about individual differences in crying. To facilitate such examination we first recommend shortened versions of the attitudes and proneness sections of the Adult Crying Inventory using two independent samples. Importantly, we examine attachment orientation differences in crying proneness and test the mediating role of attitudes toward crying in this relationship. Participants (Sample 1 N=623, Sample 2 N=781), completed online measures of adult attachment dimensions (avoidance and anxiety), attitudes towards crying, and crying proneness. Exploratory factor analyses in Sample 1 revealed four factors for crying attitudes: crying helps one feel better; crying is healthy; hatred of crying; and crying is controllable; and three factors for crying proneness: threat to self; sadness; and joy. Confirmatory factor analyses in Sample 2 replicated these structures. Theoretically and statistically justified short forms of each scale were created. Multiple mediation analyses revealed similar patterns of results across the two samples, with the attitudes ‘crying is healthy’ and ‘crying is controllable’ consistently mediating the positive links between attachment anxiety and crying proneness, and the negative links between attachment avoidance and crying proneness. Results are discussed in relation to attachment and emotion regulation literature.

    E Hepper, KB Carnelley (2010)Adult attachment and feedback-seeking patterns in relationships and work, In: European Journal of Social Psychology40(3)pp. 448-464 Wiley

    Adults with different attachment orientations rely on different areas of life to maintain self-views. This paper reports two studies that examine the link between attachment and feedback-seeking patterns in interpersonal and competence-related domains. Participants in Study 1 imagined receiving feedback from a friend. Participants in Study 2 completed dyadic tasks and were promised feedback from interpersonal- and competence-relevant sources. Across both studies, secure individuals consistently chose the most positive feedback. Individuals high in attachment avoidance sought negative feedback over positive, although dismissing-avoidant individuals sought positive hypothetical feedback about autonomy. Study 2 further suggested that highly avoidant individuals were more open to negative feedback than positive feedback and than were secure individuals. Moreover, individuals high in attachment anxiety failed to seek positive interpersonal feedback but pursued interpersonal over competence feedback. Results highlight the role of feedback-seeking in maintenance of positive or negative self-views for adults with different attachment orientations.

    J Walsh, E Hepper, S Bagge, F Wadephul, J Jomeen (2013)Maternal-fetal relationships and psychological health: Emerging research directions, In: Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology31(5)pp. 490-499

    Maternal representations of, and relationships with, the unborn baby appear to be associated with psychological health in pregnancy and beyond, and might play an important role in identifying women who need additional support, as well as providing an arena to develop positive pregnancy experiences. The mechanisms and pathways linking maternal–fetal relationships, psychological health and important outcomes are complex. This article provides an overview of some of the key findings in this area and identifies some important emerging directions for future research: the nature and form of maternal–fetal relationships and how best to measure them, the mediating and moderating factors linking maternal–fetal relationships with psychological health and other outcomes in pregnancy and beyond, and the importance and acceptability of the concept of maternal–fetal relationships to women.

    C Sedikides, W-Y Cheung, T Wildschut, Erica Hepper, E Baldursson, B Pedersen (2017)Nostalgia Motivates Pursuit of Important Goals by Increasing Meaning in Life, In: European Journal of Social Psychology48(2)pp. 209-216 Wiley

    This research focused on existential and motivational implications of the emotion of nostalgia. Nostalgia (relative to control) increased meaning in life, which, in turn, galvanised intentions to pursue one’s most important goal (Experiment 1) and to pursue one’s most important, but not least important, goal (Experiment 2). The basic pattern held in two cultures (British and Danish) independently of positive affect. This is first evidence that nostalgia has specific motivational consequences (i.e., pursuit of more, but not less, important goals) and transmits these consequences via meaning in life. Also, this is first evidence that meaning is associated with specific motivational consequences. Discussion considers the relevance of the findings for the emotion and motivation literatures.

    Georgios Abakoumkin, Erica G. Hepper, Tim Wildschut, Constantine Sedikides (2019)From nostalgia through social connectedness to self-continuity: replication and extension, In: Hellenic Journal of Psychology16(2)pp. pp 127-144 Psychological Society of Northern Greece

    Prior research, relying mostly on samples from the UK and the US, has indicated that nostalgia serves as a source of self-continuity (a sense that one’s past is interwoven with one’s present), and it does so by increasing social connectedness (a sense of belongingness and acceptance). The present research aimed to conceptually replicate and extend these findings in two experiments. Indeed, the study findings replicated those of previous research in another culture (Greece; Experiment 1), with a different control group (Experiment 1), and using an alternative nostalgia manipulation (a prototype-based technique; Experiment 2). The reported experiments established that nostalgia increases self-continuity by fostering social connectedness.

    Erica Hepper, Tim Wildschut, Constantine Sedikides, Sara Robertson, Clay D. Routledge (2020)Time Capsule: Nostalgia Shields Psychological Wellbeing from Limited Time Horizons, In: Emotion American Psychological Association

    Nostalgia is a bittersweet—albeit predominantly positive—self-relevant and social emotion that arises from reflecting on fond and meaningful autobiographical memories. Nostalgia might facilitate successful aging by serving as a socioemotional selectivity strategy in the face of limited time horizons. Four studies tested the role of nostalgia in maintaining psychological wellbeing across the adult lifespan and across differing time perspectives. In Study 1, community adults (N = 443, age 18-91) completed measures of nostalgia proneness and six psychological wellbeing dimensions. Age was more positively related to wellbeing for those high than low on nostalgia proneness: High-nostalgic individuals showed a maintenance or increase in psychological wellbeing with age, whereas low-nostalgic individuals did not. In Study 2 (N = 35, age 18-25), experimentally inducing a limited time perspective—a core trigger of socioemotional selectivity—in young adults prompted greater nostalgia. In Study 3 (N = 93, age 18-33) and Study 4 (N = 376, age 18-55), experimentally inducing a limited time perspective reduced some aspects of wellbeing among those who recalled an ordinary (Study 3) or lucky (Study 4) autobiographical memory, but this effect was eliminated among those who recalled a nostalgic memory. Nostalgia buffers perceptions of limited time and facilitates the maintenance of psychological wellbeing across the adult lifespan.

    CM Hart, RD Bush-Evans, Erica Hepper, HM Hickman (2017)The Children of Narcissus: Insights into Narcissists' Parenting Styles, In: Personality and Individual Differences117pp. 249-254 Elsevier

    Individuals scoring high on trait narcissism are characterised by grandiosity, self-centredness, and lack of empathy, resulting in troubled interpersonal relationships (e.g., with acquaintances and relationship partners). Do these troubled relationships extend to their own children? In this online study of 368 parents, we examined whether grandiose narcissists are less likely to adopt optimal parenting styles (authoritative) and more likely to adopt non-optimal parenting styles (authoritarian and permissive) and began to explore underlying mechanisms in terms of low empathy and unresponsive-caregiving. Narcissism was negatively associated with optimal parenting, and positively associated with non-optimal parenting, controlling for Big Five personality and attachment dimensions. Sequential mediation revealed that narcissists’ low empathy predicts unresponsive-caregiving towards their child(ren), which in turn predicts low optimal and high non-optimal parenting practices. These effects are driven by narcissists’ maladaptive traits. Exploring links between parental personality and parenting allows researchers to identify individuals at risk of poor parenting. Understanding the mechanisms that explain this relationship will assist in the development of effective interventions.

    E Hepper, KB Carnelley (2012)The self-esteem roller coaster: Adult attachment moderates the impact of daily feedback, In: Personal Relationships19(3)pp. 504-520 Wiley

    People with different attachment orientations rely on different sources of self-esteem. This 14-day diary study examined the impact of different types of feedback on self-esteem for adults of different attachment orientations. Consistent with theory, higher (vs. lower) anxious participants’ daily self-esteem fluctuated more with daily interpersonal feedback conveying rejection or coming from a romantic partner; they also self-reported stronger reactions to idiosyncratic negative interpersonal feedback. Higher (vs. lower) avoidant participants showed weaker daily self-esteem fluctuation with positive interpersonal feedback, and those with a fearful-avoidant attachment pattern reported stronger reactions to positive agentic feedback. Self-reported emotional reactions mediated links between attachment dimensions and self-reported impact of feedback on self-evaluations. Results highlight the importance of affect-regulation strategies in influencing regulation of self-esteem.

    C Sedikides, E Hepper (2009)Self-improvement., In: Social and Personality Psychology Compass3(6)pp. 899-917 Wiley

    This article approaches the topic of improvement from a self-evaluation perspective, namely the interplay between the self-improvement motive and social or evaluative feedback. The self-improvement motive is reflected in conscious desire. It is also reflected in preferences for continuous upward feedback trajectories, upward comparison feedback, and feedback that may be self-threatening in the present but is likely to be useful in the future. The last type of feedback preference is stronger following a resource-bolstering experience (e.g. good mood, success feedback, self-affirmation). Moreover, both direct and indirect activation of the self-improvement motive facilitates recall of improvement-oriented feedback. Such feedback is associated with increased satisfaction or positive affect, a pattern qualified by individual differences (e.g. self-esteem, self-theories). Finally, improvement-oriented feedback yields better performance, a pattern also qualified by individual differences (e.g. self-enhancement, self-appraisal) as well as feedback attributes (gradual vs. sudden). This territory-mapping review will hopefully prove useful to future theorizing and research.

    C Sedikides, T Wildschut, C Routledge, J Arndt, Erica Hepper, X Zhou (2015)To nostalgize: Mixing memory with affect and desire, In: Advances in Experimental Social Psychology51(1)pp. 189-273 Elsevier

    Nostalgia is a self-conscious, bittersweet but predominantly positive and fundamentally social emotion. It arises from fond memories mixed with yearning about one's childhood, close relationships, or atypically positive events, and it entails a redemption trajectory. It is triggered by a variety of external stimuli or internal states, is prevalent, is universal, and is experienced across ages. Nostalgia serves a self-oriented function (by raising self-positivity and facilitating perceptions of a positive future), an existential function (by increasing perceptions of life as meaningful), and a sociality function (by increasing social connectedness, reinforcing socially oriented action tendencies, and promoting prosocial behavior). These functions are independent of the positive affect that nostalgia may incite. Also, nostalgia-elicited sociality often mediates the self-positivity and existential functions. In addition, nostalgia maintains psychological and physiological homeostasis along the following regulatory cycle: (i) Noxious stimuli, as general as avoidance motivation and as specific as self-threat (negative performance feedback), existential threat (meaninglessness, mortality awareness), social threat (loneliness, social exclusion), well-being threat (stress, boredom), or, perhaps surprisingly, physical coldness intensify felt nostalgia; (ii) in turn, nostalgia (measured or manipulated) alleviates the impact of threat by curtailing the influence of avoidance motivation on approach motivation, buttressing the self from threat, limiting defensive responding to meaninglessness, assuaging existential anxiety, repairing interpersonal isolation, diminishing the blow of stress, relieving boredom through meaning reestablishment, or producing the sensation of physical warmth. Nostalgia has a checkered history, but is now rehabilitated as an adaptive psychological resource.

    P Lockwood, A Millings, E Hepper, AC Rowe (2013)If I cry, do you care? Individual differences in empathy moderate the facilitation of caregiving words after exposure to crying faces, In: Journal of Individual Differences34(1)pp. 41-47 Hogrefe Publishing

    Crying is a powerful solicitation of caregiving, yet little is known about the cognitive processes underpinning caring responses to crying others. This study examined (1) whether crying (compared to sad and happy) faces differentially elicited semantic activation of caregiving, and (2) whether individual differences in cognitive and emotional empathy moderated this activation. Ninety participants completed a lexical decision task in which caregiving, neutral, and non-words were presented after subliminal exposure (24ms.) to crying, sad, and happy faces. Individuals low in cognitive empathy had slower reaction times to caregiving (vs. neutral) words after exposure to crying faces, but not after sad or happy faces. Results are discussed in relation to the role of empathy in response to crying others.

    A Millings, J Walsh, E Hepper, M O'Brien (2013)Good partner, good parent: Caregiving mediates the link between romantic attachment and parenting style, In: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin39(2)pp. 170-180 Sage publications

    This cross-sectional, dyadic questionnaire study examined the contribution of romantic attachment and responsive caregiving to parenting style, investigating both gender and partner effects. One hundred and twenty-five couples with children aged 7 to 8 years completed measures of attachment styles, responsive caregiving toward partner, and parenting styles. Structural Equation Modeling was used to examine the intra- and interpersonal associations between romantic attachment, caregiving responsiveness, and parenting styles. Attachment avoidance and anxiety were both negatively associated with responsive caregiving to partner, which in turn was positively associated with authoritative (optimal) parenting styles and negatively associated with authoritarian and permissive (nonoptimal) parenting styles. Responsive caregiving mediated all links between attachment and parenting, with an additional direct association between attachment anxiety and nonoptimal parenting styles that was not explained by caregiving responsiveness. Findings are discussed with reference to attachment theory.

    Marios Biskas, Wing-Yee Cheung, Jacob Juhl, Constantine Sedikides, Tim Wildschut, Erica Hepper (2018)A Prologue to Nostalgia: Savoring Creates Nostalgic Memories that Foster Optimism, In: Cognition and Emotion33(3)pp. 417-427 Taylor & Francis

    How are nostalgic memories created? We considered savoring as one process involved in the genesis of nostalgia. Whereas nostalgia refers to an emotional reflection upon past experiences, savoring is a process in which individuals deeply attend to and consciously capture a present experience for subsequent reflection. Thus, having savored an experience may increase the likelihood that it will later be reflected upon nostalgically. Additionally, to examine how cognitive and emotional processes are linked across time, we tested whether nostalgia for a previously savored experience predicts optimism for the future. Retrospective reports of having savored a positive event were associated with greater nostalgia for the event (Study 1). Retrospective reports of savoring a time period (college) were associated with greater nostalgia for that time period when participants were in a setting (alumni reunion event) that prompted thoughts of the time period (Study 2). Savoring an experience predicted nostalgia for the experience 4-9 months later (Study 3). Additionally, nostalgia was associated with greater optimism (Studies 2-3). Thus, savoring provides a foundation for nostalgic memories and an ensuing optimism.

    C Sedikides, T Wildschut, WY Cheung, C Routledge, E Hepper, J Arndt, K Vail, X Zhou, K Brackstone, AJJM Vingerhoets (2016)Nostalgia Fosters Self-Continuity: Uncovering the Mechanism (Social Connectedness) and Consequence (Eudaimonic Wellbeing), In: Emotion American Psychological Association

    Nostalgia, a sentimental longing for one’s past, is an emotion that arises from self-relevant and social memories. Nostalgia functions, in part, to foster self-continuity, that is, a sense of connection between one’s past and one’s present. This article examined, in six experiments, how nostalgia fosters self-continuity and the implications of that process for wellbeing. Nostalgia fosters self-continuity by augmenting social connectedness, that is, a sense of belongingness and acceptance (Experiments 1-4). Nostalgia-induced self-continuity, in turn, confers eudaimonic wellbeing, operationalized as subjective vitality (i.e., a feeling of aliveness and energy; Experiments 5-6). The findings clarify and expand the benefits of nostalgia for both the self-system and psychological adjustment.

    Erica Hepper, T Wildschut, C Sedikides, TD Ritchie, Y-F Yung, N Hansen, G Abakoumkin, G Arikan, SZ Cisek, DB Demasosso, JE Gebauer, JP Gerber, R Gonzalez, T Kusumi, G Misra, M Rusu, O Ryan, E Stephan, AJJM Vingerhoets, X Zhou (2014)Pancultural Nostalgia: Prototypical Conceptions Across Cultures, In: Emotion14(4)pp. 733-747 American Psychological Association

    Nostalgia is a frequently-experienced complex emotion, understood by laypersons in the United Kingdom and United States of America to (1) refer prototypically to fond, self-relevant, social memories and (2) be more pleasant (e.g., happy, warm) than unpleasant (e.g., sad, regretful). This research examined whether people across cultures conceive of nostalgia in the same way. Students in 18 countries across 5 continents (N = 1704) rated the prototypicality of 35 features of nostalgia. The samples showed high levels of agreement on the rank-order of features. In all countries, participants rated previously-identified central (vs. peripheral) features as more prototypical of nostalgia, and showed greater inter-individual agreement regarding central (vs. peripheral) features. Cluster analyses revealed subtle variation among groups of countries with respect to the strength of these pancultural patterns. All except African countries manifested the same factor structure of nostalgia features. Additional exemplars generated by participants in an open-ended format did not entail elaboration of the existing set of 35 features. Findings identified key points of cross-cultural agreement regarding conceptions of nostalgia, supporting the notion that nostalgia is a pancultural emotion.

    Erica Hepper, CM Hart, R Meek, SZ Cisek, C Sedikides (2014)Narcissism and empathy in young offenders and non-offenders, In: European Journal of Personality28(2)pp. 201-210 Wiley

    Understanding the individual factors that predispose persons to criminal behaviour is vital to reducing offending and rehabilitating those who have been sentenced to prison. This study examined the roles of narcissism (at both clinical and subclinical trait levels) and empathy, by comparing levels in young adult males currently serving a prison sentence to those with no history of criminal convictions. Prison participants had significantly higher levels of narcissism—in particular entitlement—than control participants, and this link was sequentially mediated by lower perspective-taking and subsequently lack of empathic concern. Trait narcissism showed stronger effects than Narcissistic Personality Disorder symptoms. Narcissistic young men’s feelings of entitlement and ensuing lack of empathy for others may account for their greater likelihood of criminal behaviour.

    Georgios Abakoumkin, Erica G. Hepper, Tim Wildschut, Constantine Sedikides (2018)From nostalgia through social connectedness to self-continuity: replication and extension, In: Hellenic Journal of Psychology Ellinika Grammata

    Prior research, relying mostly on samples from the UK and the US, has indicated that nostalgia serves as a source of self-continuity (a sense that one’s past is interwoven with one’s present), and it does so by increasing social connectedness (a sense of belongingness and acceptance). The present research aimed to conceptually replicate and extend these findings in two experiments. Indeed, the study findings replicated those of previous research in another culture (Greece; Experiment 1), with a different control group (Experiment 1), and using an alternative nostalgia manipulation (a prototype-based technique; Experiment 2). The reported experiments established that nostalgia increases self-continuity by fostering social connectedness.

    KB Carnelley, E Hepper (2015)Stigma, attachment and relationship dissolution: Commentary on Meanings of Intimacy, In: Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy Wiley

    The chief difference between Frost’s same-sex and heterosexual couples was that same-sex couples experienced more stigma and discrimination. We discuss implications of these stressors for relationship outcomes and consider the role of attachment orientations. We also consider the imminent changes that might occur in these processes due to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the USA. In particular, we hope that stigma and discrimination against LGB couples might decrease, and that attachment security might increase, together reducing their vulnerabilities for relationship dissolution. Legalization of same-sex marriage should also provide new opportunities to investigate committed same-sex relationships alongside committed heterosexual relationships.

    WY Cheung, T Wildschut, C Sedikides, E Hepper, J Arndt, AJJM Vingerhoets (2013)Back to the future: Nostalgia increases optimism, In: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin39(11)pp. 1484-1496 Sage Publications

    This research examined the proposition that nostalgia is not simply a past-oriented emotion, but its scope extends into the future, and, in particular, a positive future. We adopted a convergent validation approach, using multiple methods to assess the relation between nostalgia and optimism. Study 1 tested whether nostalgic narratives entail traces of optimism; indeed, nostalgic (compared to ordinary) narratives contained more expressions of optimism. Study 2 manipulated nostalgia through the recollection of nostalgic (vs. ordinary) events, and showed that nostalgia boosts optimism. Study 3 demonstrated that the effect of nostalgia (induced with nomothetically-relevant songs) on optimism is mediated by self-esteem. Finally, Study 4 established that nostalgia (induced with idiographically-relevant lyrics) fosters social connectedness, which subsequently increases self-esteem, which then boosts optimism. The nostalgic experience is inherently optimistic and paints a subjectively rosier future.

    ERICA HEPPER, Lyn Ellett, DANIELLE LOUISE KERLEY, Jessica L. Kingston (2021)Are They Out to Get Me? Individual Differences in Nonclinical Paranoia as a Function of Narcissism and Defensive Self-Protection, In: Journal of personality Wiley

    Objective: Three studies tested a novel model of the narcissism-paranoia link, whereby narcissism (primarily its socially maladaptive facets) is associated with paranoia via over-use of defensive self-protection and/or under-use of self-affirmation. Methods: In Study 1, 245 online volunteers (87% female; MAGE=20.92; 44% White-British) completed trait measures of narcissism, self-enhancement/protection strategies and paranoia. In Study 2, 116 students (82% female; MAGE=20.23; 70% White-British) completed baseline measures, then reported state reactions and paranoia following two difficult and two pleasant interpersonal events after 3-10 days. In Study 3, 517 online volunteers (64% female; MAGE=22.76; 77% White/Caucasian) completed baseline measures, experienced a standardised social exclusion (vs. neutral) manipulation (Cyberball), then reported state reactions and paranoia. Results: In Study 1, narcissism was associated with higher paranoia via defensiveness. In Study 2, this was replicated in difficult but not pleasant events, and was driven by the Entitlement/Exploitativeness facet of narcissism. In Study 3, narcissistic rivalry and vulnerable narcissism, but not admiration, were associated with Cyberball-related paranoia via general defensiveness and denigration of others. Conclusions: Individuals high in narcissism—especially its socially maladaptive facets—who over-rely on defensive self-protection strategies in response to threat, are particularly vulnerable to paranoia. Findings help to understand individual differences in paranoia.

    AMELIA MIA DENNIS, JANE E OGDEN, ERICA HEPPER (2020)Evaluating the impact of a time orientation intervention on well-being during the COVID-19 lockdown: past, present or future?, In: Journal of Positive Psychology

    Lockdown policies brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic pose a threat to well-being. This study examined the effectiveness of three positive psychology interventions, with different time-orientations, on well-being as well as predictors of well-being during lockdown. Participants (n=216) completed measures of lockdown characteristics, attachment orientation, and emotion regulation, were then randomly allocated to one of four interventions; nostalgia (past), gratitude (present), best possible self (BPS; future) or control (recalling a TV show), and completed outcome measures of well-being and affect. Results showed that BPS resulted in higher positive affect and that both BPS and gratitude resulted in higher social connectedness than the nostalgia intervention. Further, greater well-being during lockdown was predicted by greater attachment security, greater emotion regulation, and more social interactions. In sum, focusing on the present or future during lockdown is more effective for well-being than focusing on the past, which alongside trait characteristics predict well-being under lockdown.

    Nicholas D. Evans, Jacob Juhl, ERICA HEPPER, Tim Wildschut, Constantine Sedikides, Adam K. Fetterman (2022)Romantic nostalgia as a resource for healthy relationships, In: Journal of Social and Personal Relationships SAGE Publications

    Nostalgia is an emotion that confers psychological benefits. The literature has neglected romantic nostalgia—that is, nostalgia specifically for past experiences shared with one’s partner—and its potential advantages for relationships. We examined romantic nostalgia in one correlational study, two experiments, and one daily diary study (N = 638). Romantic nostalgia was positively associated with greater relationship commitment, satisfaction, and closeness (Study 1). Additionally, inducing romantic nostalgia via a writing task (Study 2) or music (Study 3) strengthened relational benefits. Finally, participants reported more positive relationship-specific experiences on days when they felt greater romantic nostalgia (Study 4). We discuss contributions to the nostalgia and relationships literatures.

    GRETA URBONAVICIUTE, Erica Hepper (2020)When is narcissism associated with low empathy? A meta-analytic review, In: Journal of research in personality89104036 Elsevier

    Narcissism is commonly associated with low empathy, but empirical studies have used diverse methods, yielding mixed findings. The present meta-analysis examined the overall magnitude of the association between grandiose and vulnerable narcissism and affective and cognitive empathy (N = 32200). Grandiose narcissism was significantly negatively associated with self-reported cognitive (r =-0.085) and affective (r =-0.145) empathy. When empathy was measured behaviourally, grandiose narcissism was significantly associated only with affective empathy (r =-0.251) but not cognitive empathy (r =-0.052). Vulnerable narcissism was significantly negatively associated with self-reported cognitive and affective empathy (r =-0.179 and r =-0.105 respectively). The association between vulnerable narcissism and cognitive empathy measured behaviourally was not significant (r =-0.069). The association between narcissism and empathy is nuanced and depends on various conceptual and methodological factors. (C) 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

    We review recent evidence of nostalgia’s ability to enhance and buffer different types of wellbeing. Nostalgia has been associated with increased hedonic wellbeing (e.g., life satisfaction, happiness) in various contexts. Nostalgia is triggered by and can mitigate against threats to hedonic wellbeing. Nostalgia also increases eudaimonic wellbeing (e.g., perceptions of vitality, environmental mastery, positive relationships) and mitigates threats to eudaimonic wellbeing through varying mechanisms. Two applications of these wellbeing benefits are being explored in recent research: nostalgia can help understand how people buffer negative psychological effects of the COVID-19 pandemic; and is being harnessed for wellbeing interventions. More experimental and longitudinal research is needed to establish and maximize the potential of nostalgia for bolstering resilience.

    E Hepper, CM Hart (2013)Can narcissists be empathic?

    Low empathy is assumed in theoretical models of narcissism. However, research has not examined which aspects of narcissism are linked to empathy or tested whether narcissists’ low empathy reflects inability or motivation. Study 1 (N=533) showed that the maladaptive facets of narcissism (i.e., entitlement, exploitativeness, exhibitionism) were negatively associated with dispositional cognitive and affective empathy. Study 2 (N=98) examined whether narcissists are capable of empathy. Female participants watched an empathy-inducing video clip under instructions to take the target’s perspective or no instructions. High (versus low) maladaptive-narcissists reported lower empathy for the target in the control condition, but this difference was no longer significant in the perspective-taking condition. Study 3 (N=39) examined whether narcissists’ lack of empathy is reflected at a physiological level. Physiological responses were recorded while participants listened to an empathy-inducing audio blog. High (versus low) maladaptive-narcissists showed lower heart rate during the blog controlling for baseline. Although narcissists lack empathy at both a self-reported and automatic level, there is promising evidence they are capable if forced to take another’s perspective.

    E Hepper, KB Carnelley (2012)Attachment and romantic relationships: The role of models of self and other, In: M Paludi (eds.), The psychology of love1pp. 133-154 Praeger

    Romantic love relationships are among the most endlessly fascinating, yet frustratingly complex, parts of life: inspiring more art, literature, and music than any other topic. Making sense of how and why romantic relationships function the way they do is, therefore, a research endeavour at once most rewarding and yet never-ending. Why do some relationships sail through everything that life throws at them, when others flounder at the first hiccup? Why does one friend experience drama after tumultuous drama with each new boyfriend, when another can’t trust or open up to anyone enough to get beyond a second date? Attachment theory (Bowlby, 1969, 1973, 1980) draws on clinical, developmental, social, personality, and cognitive psychology and provides a rich theoretical framework for examining and answering such perennial questions. Although it was developed originally in the context of infants and their caregivers, in recent decades the theory has also provided insight into the development and functioning of romantic relationships. This chapter describes romantic relationship processes from an attachment perspective. We highlight in particular the cognitive models of self and others that form a person’s attachment pattern or orientation. These models colour the lens with which he or she views the self and the social world, and in turn underlie individual differences in romantic relationship functioning.

    E Hepper, C Sedikides (2012)Self-enhancing feedback, In: R Sutton, M Hornsey, K Douglas (eds.), Feedback: The communication of praise, criticism, and advice(4)pp. 43-56 Peter Lang

    The social world is rife with opportunities for feedback. People are surrounded with evaluative information from the moment they awake, through a day that may include any number of social interactions and displays of mastery (or lack of), to the moment they hit the pillow to sleep (Sutton, Hornsey, & Douglas, this volume). However, despite this wealth of available personal data, most healthy adults do not possess commendably accurate or objective views of themselves (Dunning, 2005). Moreover, this inaccuracy is not random: it is systematically biased in a self-flattering manner. Put another way, people usually see themselves through rose-colored glasses (Alicke & Sedikides, 2009; Taylor & Brown, 1988). At least three key questions are raised by this observation. First, why do people possess a positivity bias? Second, how do they maintain this bias despite the seemingly contradictory feedback available to them? And third, why does it matter: what consequences does this bias have for psychological and behavioral functioning? In this chapter, we will address all three questions, but will dedicate most of our attention to the second one. In so doing, we hope to illustrate the inventive ways that people use (and sometimes abuse) feedback for the sake of self-positivity.

    CM Hart, TD Ritchie, E Hepper, J Gebauer (2015)The Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding Short Form (BIDR-16), In: SAGE Open SAGE Publications

    Self-report studies often call for assessment of socially desirable responding. Many researchers use the Marlowe-Crowne Scale for its brief versions; however, this scale is outdated and contemporary models of social-desirability emphasise its multi-dimensional nature. The 40-item Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding incorporates Self-Deceptive Enhancement (honest but overly-positive responding) and Impression Management (bias toward pleasing others). However, its length limits its practicality. This article introduces the BIDR-16. In four studies we shorten the BIDR from 40 items to 16 items, whilst retaining its two-factor structure, reliability, and validity. This short form will be invaluable to researchers wanting to assess social desirability when time is limited.

    E Hepper, CM Hart, C Sedikides (2014)Moving Narcissus: Can narcissists be empathic?, In: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

    Empathy plays a critical role in fostering and maintaining social relations. Narcissists lack empathy, and this may account for their interpersonal failures. But why do narcissists lack empathy? Are they incapable, or is change possible? Three studies addressed this question. Study 1 showed that the link between narcissism and low empathy generalizes to a specific target person presented in a vignette. The effect was driven by maladaptive narcissistic components (i.e., entitlement, exploitativeness, exhibitionism). Study 2 examined the effect of perspective-taking (vs. control) instructions on self-reported responses to a video. Study 3 examined the effect of the same manipulation on autonomic arousal (heart rate) during an audio-recording. Perspective-taking ameliorated negative links between maladaptive narcissism and both self-reported empathy and heart rate. That is, narcissists can be moved by another’s suffering, if they take that person’s perspective. The findings demonstrate that narcissists’ low empathy does not reflect inability, implying potential for intervention.

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