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Current Directions in Psychological Science

Joanne Arciuli, Christopher M Conway
Statistical learning plays an important role in the acquisition of spoken and written language. It has been proposed that impaired or atypical statistical learning may be linked with language difficulties in developmental disabilities. However, research on statistical learning in individuals with developmental disabilities such as autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, and specific language impairment, and in individuals with cochlear implants, has produced divergent findings. It is unclear whether, and to what extent, statistical learning is impaired or atypical in each of these developmental disabilities...
December 2018: Current Directions in Psychological Science
Senne Braem, Tobias Egner
Cognitive flexibility refers to the ability to quickly reconfigure our mind, like when we switch between different tasks. This review highlights recent evidence showing that cognitive flexibility can be conditioned by simple incentives typically known to drive lower-level learning, such as stimulus-response associations. Cognitive flexibility can also become associated with, and triggered by, bottom-up contextual cues in our environment, including subliminal cues. Therefore, we suggest that the control functions that mediate cognitive flexibility are grounded in, and guided by, basic associative learning mechanisms, and abide by the same learning principles as more low-level forms of behavior...
December 2018: Current Directions in Psychological Science
Jonathan B Freeman
Over the past decade, mouse-tracking in choice tasks has become a popular method across psychological science. This method exploits hand movements as a measure of multiple response activations that can be tracked continuously over hundreds of milliseconds. Whereas early mouse-tracking research focused on specific debates, researchers have realized the methodology has far broader theoretical value. This more recent work demonstrates that mouse-tracking is a widely applicable measure across the field, capable of exposing the micro-structure of real-time decisions including their component processes and millisecond-resolution time-course in ways that inform theory...
October 2018: Current Directions in Psychological Science
C Emily Durbin
Effortful control (EC) is an important target for many interventions intended to facilitate positive psychosocial outcomes. The first wave of these efforts have emphasized adult-to-child instruction and individualized practice at target skills. Future tests of these ideas will be facilitated by efforts to critically evaluate and improve the construct validity of EC measures. New avenues for these applied approaches will also grow out of a more complete understanding of the processes that govern EC development...
October 1, 2018: Current Directions in Psychological Science
Henry Otgaar, Mark L Howe, Harald Merckelbach, Peter Muris
Suggestibility is regarded as a major issue when children testify in court. Many legal professionals and memory researchers view children as inferior witnesses. Although differences in suggestibility exist between children and adults, they are much more complex than is usually assumed. We show that under certain conditions, adults are more susceptible than children to suggestion and false memories. We provide evidence that age-related shifts in suggestibility and false memory appear contingent on how quickly and automatically children and adults make associations when experiencing events...
October 2018: Current Directions in Psychological Science
William H Warren
The balletic motion of bird flocks, fish schools, and human crowds is believed to emerge from local interactions between individuals, in a process of self-organization. The key to explaining such collective behavior thus lies in understanding these local interactions. After decades of theoretical modeling, experiments using virtual crowds and analysis of real crowd data are enabling us to decipher the 'rules' governing these interactions. Based on such results, we build a dynamical model of how a pedestrian aligns their motion with that of a neighbor, and how these binary interactions are combined within a neighborhood in a crowd...
August 2018: Current Directions in Psychological Science
Paul A M Van Lange, Jeff Joireman, Manfred Milinski
Can psychological science offer evidence-based solutions to climate change? Using insights and principles derived from the literature on social dilemmas and human cooperation, we discuss evidence in support of three solutions: crossing the borders of thought, time, and space. First, borders of thought could be crossed by using persuasion that is concrete and tailored to local circumstances and by highlighting information about people's efforts as evidence against the myth of self-interest. Second, borders of time could be crossed by using kinship cues, which can help make the future less distant, and relatively uninvolved advisors, who may help make the future salient...
August 2018: Current Directions in Psychological Science
Ruud Hortensius, Beatrice de Gelder
The bystander effect, the reduction in helping behavior in the presence of other people, has been explained predominantly by situational influences on decision making. Diverging from this view, we highlight recent evidence on the neural mechanisms and dispositional factors that determine apathy in bystanders. We put forward a new theoretical perspective that integrates emotional, motivational, and dispositional aspects. In the presence of other bystanders, personal distress is enhanced, and fixed action patterns of avoidance and freezing dominate...
August 2018: Current Directions in Psychological Science
Maria Gendron, Carlos Crivelli, Lisa Feldman Barrett
It has long been claimed that certain facial movements are universally perceived as emotional expressions. The critical tests of this universality thesis were conducted between 1969 and 1975 in small-scale societies in the Pacific using confirmation-based research methods. New studies conducted since 2008 have examined a wider sample of small-scale societies, including on the African and South American continents. They used more discovery-based research methods, providing an important opportunity for reevaluating the universality thesis...
August 2018: Current Directions in Psychological Science
Steven M Weisberg, Nora S Newcombe
The proposal that humans can develop cognitive maps of their environment has a long and controversial history. We suggest an individual-differences approach to this question instead of a normative one. Specifically, there is evidence that some people derive flexible map-like representations from information acquired during navigation whereas others store much less accurate information. Our research uses a virtual-reality paradigm in which two routes are learned and must be related to each other. It defines 3 groups: Integrators, Non-integrators, and Imprecise Navigators...
August 2018: Current Directions in Psychological Science
Tené T Lewis, Miriam E Van Dyke
Research examining associations between self-reported experiences of discrimination overall (e.g. potentially due to race, gender, socioeconomic status, age, etc…) and health -particularly among African-Americans - has grown rapidly over the past two decades. Yet recent findings suggest that self-reported experiences of racism alone may be less impactful for the health of African-Americans than previously hypothesized. Thus, an approach that captures a broader range of complexities in the study of discrimination and health among African-Americans may be warranted...
June 2018: Current Directions in Psychological Science
Tiffany Yip
Given the prominence of ethnicity/race in the United States, many youths construct an ethnic/racial identity (ERI). However, ERI development occurs against a backdrop of prejudice, oppression, and discrimination. This synthetic review explores (a) how identity and discrimination are related and (b) their association with psychological health. There is a reciprocal developmental association between ERI and discrimination, in which each informs the other. Although discrimination is detrimental for mental health, its impact depends on identity...
June 2018: Current Directions in Psychological Science
Stefan Van der Stigchel, Andrew Hollingworth
Humans make frequent movements of the eyes (saccades) to explore the visual environment. Here we argue that visuo-spatial working memory (VSWM) is a fundamental component of the eye movement system. Memory representations in VSWM are functionally integrated at all stages of orienting, from selection of the target, to maintenance of visual features across the saccade, to processes supporting the experience of perceptual continuity after the saccade, to the correction of gaze when the eyes fail to land on the intended object...
April 2018: Current Directions in Psychological Science
Susan T Fiske
Two dimensions persist in social cognition, whether people are making sense of individuals or groups. The Stereotype Content Model terms the basic dimensions perceived warmth (trustworthiness, friendliness) and competence (capability, assertiveness). Measured reliably and validly, these Big Two dimensions converge across methods: survey, cultural, laboratory, and biobehavioral approaches. Generality across place, levels, and time further support the framework. Parallel pairs have emerged repeatedly over the history of psychology and in current theories...
April 2018: Current Directions in Psychological Science
Brian Knutson, Alexander Genevsky
Advances in brain-imaging design and analysis have allowed investigators to use neural activity to predict individual choice, while emerging Internet markets have opened up new opportunities for forecasting aggregate choice. Here, we review emerging research that bridges these levels of analysis by attempting to use group neural activity to forecast aggregate choice. A survey of initial findings suggests that components of group neural activity might forecast aggregate choice, in some cases even beyond traditional behavioral measures...
April 2018: Current Directions in Psychological Science
Karen Wynn, Paul Bloom, Ashley Jordan, Julia Marshall, Mark Sheskin
Many scholars draw on evidence from evolutionary biology, behavioral economics, and infant research to argue that humans are "noble savages", endowed with indiscriminate kindness. We believe this is mistaken. While there is evidence for an early-emerging moral sense - even infants recognize and favor instances of fairness and kindness amongst third parties - altruistic behaviors are selective from the start. Babies and young children favor those who have been kind to them in the past, and favor familiar individuals over strangers...
February 2018: Current Directions in Psychological Science
Ken A Paller
Neuroscientific insights into learning and memory have mostly concerned input and output, but intervening processing during the time between acquisition and retrieval is also critical. Indeed, intervening memory reactivation may regulate memory longevity, and a growing body of evidence implicates sleep in changing memory storage. For example, subtle auditory stimulation can be used experimentally to selectively encourage memory reactivation during sleep, which thereby improves learning. Much remains to be elucidated about how learning depends on sleep...
December 2017: Current Directions in Psychological Science
Karen M Douglas, Robbie M Sutton, Aleksandra Cichocka
What psychological factors drive the popularity of conspiracy theories , which explain important events as secret plots by powerful and malevolent groups? What are the psychological consequences of adopting these theories? We review the current research and find that it answers the first of these questions more thoroughly than the second. Belief in conspiracy theories appears to be driven by motives that can be characterized as epistemic (understanding one's environment), existential (being safe and in control of one's environment), and social (maintaining a positive image of the self and the social group)...
December 2017: Current Directions in Psychological Science
Giovanni Sala, Fernand Gobet
Chess masters and expert musicians appear to be, on average, more intelligent than the general population. Some researchers have thus claimed that playing chess or learning music enhances children's cognitive abilities and academic attainment. We here present two meta-analyses assessing the effect of chess and music instruction on children's cognitive and academic skills. A third meta-analysis evaluated the effects of working memory training-a cognitive skill correlated with music and chess expertise-on the same variables...
December 2017: Current Directions in Psychological Science
Amie M Gordon, Wendy Berry Mendes, Aric A Prather
Sleep problems have become a public health epidemic with recent data suggesting that over 69% of US adults get less sleep than they need. Despite the important role that sleep plays in our lives, sleep as a variable of interest in interpersonal processes has been historically absent from the psychological literature. Recently, however, researchers have shed some light on the link between sleep and a wide array of social processes. This work illuminates the important role that sleep plays in our social experiences, from basic social perception to complex social interactions...
October 2017: Current Directions in Psychological Science
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