Dr Erica Hepper

Lecturer in Personality/Social Psychology; Director of Undergraduate Studies in Psychology
Ph.D. Psychology, PGCert Academic Practice
11 AD 02
Semester 2, 2018/19: Monday, 10-11am, Tuesday 2-3pm (term-time only)


University roles and responsibilities

  • Director of Undergraduate Studies in Psychology
  • Quality & Standards Subcommittee


Research interests

Research collaborations

My teaching


Postgraduate research supervision

Postgraduate research supervision

My publications


Hart C, Bush-Evans R, Hepper E, Hickman H (2017) The Children of Narcissus: Insights into Narcissists' Parenting Styles, Personality and Individual Differences 117 pp. 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.
Lockwood P, Millings A, Hepper E, Rowe AC (2013) If I cry, do you care? Individual differences in empathy moderate the facilitation of caregiving words after exposure to crying faces, Journal of Individual Differences 34 (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.
Millings A, Hepper EG, Hart CM, Swift L, Rowe AC (2016) Holding Back the Tears: Individual Differences in Adult Crying Proneness Reflect Attachment Orientation and Attitudes to Crying, FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY 7 ARTN 1003 FRONTIERS MEDIA SA
Carnelley KB, Hepper E, Hicks C, Turner W (2011) Perceived parental reactions
to coming out, attachment, and romantic relationship views,
Attachment and Human Development 13 (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.
Hepper E, Hart CM (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.
Hepper E, Sedikides C (2012) Self-enhancing feedback, In: Sutton R, Hornsey M, Douglas K (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
Sedikides C, Hepper E (2009) Self-improvement., Social and Personality Psychology Compass 3 (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.
Gregg A, Hepper E, Sedikides C (2011) Quantifying self-motives: Functional links between dispositional desires., European Journal of Social Psychology 41 (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.
Hepper E, Hart CM, Sedikides C (2014) Moving Narcissus: Can narcissists be empathic?, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 40 (9) pp. 1079-1079
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.
Hart CM, Ritchie TD, Hepper E, Gebauer J (2015) The Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding Short Form (BIDR-16), SAGE Open 5 (4) pp. 1-9 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.
Hepper E, Carnelley KB (2012) The self-esteem roller coaster: Adult attachment moderates the impact of daily feedback, Personal Relationships 19 (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.
Hepper E, Sedikides C, Cai H (2013) Self-enhancement and self-protection strategies in China: Cultural expressions of a fundamental human motive, Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 44 (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.
Millings A, Walsh J, Hepper E, O'Brien M (2013) Good partner, good parent: Caregiving mediates the link between romantic attachment and parenting style, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 39 (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.
Hepper E, Ritchie TD, Sedikides C, Wildschut T (2012) Odyssey?s end: Lay conceptions of nostalgia reflect its original Homeric meaning, Emotion 12 (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.
Walsh J, Hepper E, Bagge S, Wadephul F, Jomeen J (2013) Maternal-fetal relationships and psychological health: Emerging research directions, Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology 31 (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.
Hepper E, Carnelley KB (2012) Attachment and romantic relationships: The role of models of self and other, In: Paludi M (eds.), The psychology of love 1 pp. 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.
Hepper E, Gramzow R, Sedikides C (2010) Individual differences in self-enhancement and self-protection strategies: An integrative analysis, Journal of Personality 78 (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.
Cheung WY, Wildschut T, Sedikides C, Hepper E, Arndt J, Vingerhoets AJJM (2013) Back to the future: Nostalgia increases optimism, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 39 (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
Hepper E, Carnelley KB (2010) Adult attachment and feedback-seeking patterns in relationships and work, European Journal of Social Psychology 40 (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.
Sedikides C, Wildschut T, Cheung W-Y, Routledge C, Hepper EG, Arndt J, Vail K, Zhou X, Brackstone K, Vingerhoets AJJM (2016) Nostalgia Fosters Self-Continuity: Uncovering the Mechanism (Social Connectedness) and Consequence (Eudaimonic Well-Being), EMOTION 16 (4) pp. 524-539 AMER PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOC
Walsh J, Hepper E, Marshall B (2014) Investigating attachment, caregiving, and mental health: A model of maternal-fetal relationships, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 14 pp. 383-383 BioMed Central
Background: Maternal-fetal relationships have been associated with psychosocial outcomes for women and children,
but there has been a lack of conceptual clarity about the nature of the maternal relationship with the unborn child,
and inconsistent findings assessing its predictors. We proposed and tested a model whereby maternal-fetal relationship
quality was predicted by factors relating to the quality of the couple relationship and psychological health. We
hypothesized that the contribution of individual differences in romantic attachment shown in past research
would be mediated by romantic caregiving responsiveness, as maternal-fetal relationships reflect the beginnings
of the caregiving system.
Methods: 258 women in pregnancy (13, 23, and 33-weeks gestation) completed online measures of attachment
to partner, caregiving responsiveness to partner, mental health, and thoughts about their unborn baby. Structural
equation modeling was used to test a model of maternal-fetal relationships.
Results: Maternal-fetal relationship quality was higher for women at 23-weeks than 13-weeks gestation. Women
in first pregnancies had higher self-reported scores of psychological functioning and quality of maternal-fetal
relationships than women in subsequent pregnancies. Structural equation models indicated that the quality of
the maternal-fetal relationship was best predicted by romantic caregiving responsiveness to partner and women?s
own psychological health, and that the association between adult romantic attachment avoidance and maternal-fetal
relationships was fully mediated by caregiving responsiveness to partner, even after controlling for other factors. These
data support the hypothesis that maternal-fetal relationships better reflect the operation of the caregiving system than
the care-seeking (i.e., attachment) system.
Conclusions: Models of maternal-fetal relationships and interventions with couples should consider the role of
caregiving styles of mothers to partners and the relationship between expectant parents alongside other known
predictors, particularly psychological health.
Sedikides C, Wildschut T, Routledge C, Arndt J, Hepper EG, Zhou X (2015) To nostalgize: Mixing memory with affect and desire, Advances in Experimental Social Psychology 51 (1) pp. 189-273
© 2015 Elsevier Inc.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.
Hepper E, Hart C, Gregg A, Sedikides C (2011) Motivated expectations of positive feedback in social interactions, Journal of Social Psychology 151 (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.
Hepper E, Hart C, Meek R, Cisek S, Sedikides C (2014) Narcissism and empathy in young offenders and non-offenders, European Journal of Personality 28 (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.
Hepper E, Wildschut T, Sedikides C, Ritchie T, Yung Y, Hansen N, Abakoumkin G, Arikan G, Cisek S, Demasosso D, Gebauer J, Gerber J, Gonzalez R, Kusumi T, Misra G, Rusu M, Ryan O, Stephan E, Vingerhoets A, Zhou X (2014) Pancultural Nostalgia: Prototypical Conceptions Across Cultures, Emotion 14 (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.
Sedikides C, Luke M, Hepper E (2016) Enhancing Feedback and Improving Feedback: Subjective Perceptions, Psychological Consequences, Behavioral Outcomes, Journal of Applied Social Psychology 46 (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.
The Research Dossier consists of a literature review and two empirical studies. The literature review critically evaluates depression in Black African and Caribbean people living in the UK. The first study utilises a qualitative methodology and explores Nigerian peoples? understanding of the term depression. The second study adopts a quantitative approach which investigates perceived ethnic discrimination, shame related beliefs and emotional well-being of Black Africans compared to White British adults.
Sedikides C, Cheung W, Wildschut T, Hepper E, Baldursson E, Pedersen B (2017) Nostalgia Motivates Pursuit of Important Goals by Increasing Meaning in Life, European Journal of Social Psychology 48 (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.
Heteronormativity is an ideology that presumes that heterosexuality is, and should be, the only, the dominant, or the taken-for-granted sexuality for all. In the present thesis, I aim to develop a cognitive understanding of romantic love, as a heteronormative construct. In Chapter 1, I explore a history of psychological research on romantic love to develop my argument that researchers have typically taken heterosexuality as the default in research on romantic love. In Chapter 2, I expand on this argument and postulate that concepts (particularly social concepts) can encode heteronormative ways of thinking about the world. The next four chapters focus on exploring the cognitive construction of romantic love, and explore if participants? take heterosexual as the default when thinking about romantic love. Heterosexual participants were found to construct romantic love differently depending of task demands. When the task appeared difficult, participants responded with heterosexual as the default (Chapters 3 and 5). In contrast, when the task appeared easy participants responded equally across sexuality conditions (Chapters 4 and 5). Lesbians, gay men and bisexual individuals were found to construct very different understandings of romantic love from heterosexual individuals (Chapter 6). The following two chapters explore how different understandings of romantic love influence perceptions of romantic relationships. In Chapter 7, I observed that participants draw upon a cognitive construction of romantic love when developing an understanding of a romantic relationship. Building on this, in Chapter 8, I found that the prototype of romantic love only predicted the perceived validity of a heterosexual relationship. In the conclusion (Chapter 9), I propose that heterosexual people may construct an understanding of romantic love on the basis of heterosexuality, which biases the perceptions of same-sex relationships. However, this construct of romantic love is not absolute, and can change.
Biskas M, Cheung W, Juhl J, Sedikides C, Wildschut T, Hepper E (2018) A Prologue to Nostalgia: Savoring Creates Nostalgic Memories that Foster Optimism, Cognition and Emotion 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.
Abakoumkin Georgios, Hepper Erica G., Wildschut Tim, Sedikides Constantine (2018) From nostalgia through social connectedness to self-continuity: replication and extension, 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.
Objective: To explore whether nostalgia, a bittersweet emotion characterised by sentimental longing for the past, can improve well-being in older adults and buffer against threats to well-being in this population. Design: A between-subjects experimental design was conducted with random group assignment for participants to recall either a nostalgic memory or an ordinary memory (control group). Ryff & Keyes (1995) Psychological Well-being factors and Life Satisfaction were measured post-intervention and potential threats to wellbeing: loneliness, time-limitedness, and activity levels were measured pre-intervention. Participants: 161 older adults (age 65 years and above) completed the questionnaire on paper or via an internet survey and 132 were able to be used in data analysis. They were recruited through opportunity sample from local community groups and residential homes in England with the majority being White British, retired and living independently alone or with a partner.
Results: Method of survey completion (paper vs. online) was found to represent different sub-populations of the sample and to have a significant impact upon findings. Well-being (both life satisfaction and scales of psychological well-being (total, environmental mastery and self-acceptance) was significantly higher for older adults in the nostalgia condition comparative to control (for those who completed the questionnaire online). Nostalgia was found to buffer against loneliness to protect well-being (for those who completed the questionnaire on paper).
Conclusions: This research partly supports the beneficial effects of nostalgia specifically in older adult populations. Future research can build upon the findings of this study, in particular, recruiting older adults experiencing high levels of threats to well-being such as loneliness. Should a body of literature begin to form around the benefits of nostalgia in older adults, this population could be supported to not just be living longer, but also to be living a better quality of life.
Forgiveness is a prosocial mechanism that facilitates both intra- and inter-personal wellbeing. Attachment security has been identified as supporting forgiveness through positive representations of self and other. This thesis examined attachment theory as a framework for understanding forgiveness. This was achieved through two overarching research areas: initial examination of the mechanisms between trait insecure attachment dimensions (anxiety and avoidance) and forgiveness of close other, and the potential of state attachment security (via attachment security priming) as a means of supporting forgiveness.
One meta-analysis and four empirical studies examined the influence of insecure attachment dimensions on forgiveness of others. Study 1 was a meta-analysis of 26 studies and demonstrated a small-to-moderate negative effect of attachment anxiety and avoidance on forgiveness of others. Study 2 examined the association between insecure attachment dimensions and forgiveness of a hypothetical relationship partner. Attachment anxiety and avoidance both negatively predicted forgiveness, regardless of severity of transgression and presence/ absence of apology. Indirect effects of rumination, empathy, and negative attributions were present for both attachment anxiety and avoidance, but unique indirect effects were also identified. Fear mediated the anxiety-forgiveness association and motivation to sustain the relationship mediating the avoidance-forgiveness association. This study also clarified the factor structure of forgiveness and related post-transgression responses. Study 3 assessed the efficacy of attachment security priming on boosting forgiveness of a hypothetical transgression and clarified the type of fear that mediates the anxiety-forgiveness association (i.e., fear of losing relationship partner). Attachment security priming successfully boosted Positive Forgiveness but did not reduce the negative effects of Revenge, Avoidance, and Grudge Motivations. Study 4 examined the effect of attachment security priming on forgiveness of an experimentally manipulated transgression using real-life romantic couples in the lab. No effect of prime or transgression was identified. Methodological considerations are discussed. Study 5 examined forgiveness of daily transgressions over a 2-week period and assessed the effect of attachment security priming on forgiveness during this time. Security priming was effective in boosting forgiveness and reducing negative post-transgression responses over the 2-week period, but not at a 2-week follow up.
Overall, findings support a negative association between insecure attachment dimensions and forgiveness of relationship partners and highlight the unique role of fear and motivation. This thesis also demonstrates the first use of attachment security priming to boost forgiveness. These findings support the use of attachment theory as a framework for examining when and why we forgive.
Thorne Sapphira, Hegarty Peter, Hepper Erica (2019) Equality in Theory: From a Heteronormative to an Inclusive Psychology of Romantic Love, THEORY & PSYCHOLOGY 29 (1) 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.

Additional publications