Convergence: Connecting Levels of Analysis in Psychological Science
 In the past, our field harbored distinct, and often competing, schools of thought that tackled different problems and produced findings that often appeared to diverge. Today, investigators attack shared problems at complementary levels of analysis and produce results that converge. Studies of people in a social world; mental systems of cognition and emotion; and biological mechanisms of the genome and the nervous system interconnect and yield an integrated psychological science. The APS 23rd Annual Convention displays, and celebrates, these advances in our field.

Invited Symposium

Beyond Threat and Defense in the Science of Meaning

Saturday, May 26, 2012, 1:00 PM - 2:20 PM

Laura A. King Chair: Laura A. King
University of Missouri, Columbia

Mark J. Landau

More Than Words: Metaphorical Thought in Social Life
Mark J. Landau
University of Kansas
Metaphor, traditionally viewed as a superfluous linguistic ornament, is in fact a cognitive tool used to understand an abstract concept in terms of a dissimilar, more concrete concept. This talk presents an overview of research exploring metaphor’s role in social perceptions, attitudes, and behavior. Avenues for future research are discussed.

Sascha Topolinski

Measuring and Inducing Gut Feelings in Intuitive Judgments
Sascha Topolinski
Universität Würzburg, Germany
The underlying cognitive and affective mechanisms driving intuitive judgments of coherence and artificial grammar learning (processing fluency and resulting affect) are investigated. By measuring and experimentally manipulating these operating mechanisms, one can influence, switch off, and even reverse intuitions without participants' awareness.

Laura Kray

From What Might Have Been to What Must Have Been: Counterfactual Thinking Creates Meaning
Laura Kray
University of California, Berkeley
Four experiments explored whether two uniquely human characteristics -—counterfactual thinking (imagining alternatives to the past) and the fundamental drive to create meaning in life -—are causally related. Rather than implying a random quality to life, the authors hypothesized and found that counterfactual thinking heightens the meaningfulness of key life experiences. Reflecting on alternative pathways to pivotal turning points even produced greater meaning than directly reflecting on the meaning of the event itself. Fate perceptions ('it was meant to be') and benefit-finding (recognition of positive consequences) were identified as independent causal links between counterfactual thinking and the construction of meaning. Through counterfactual reflection, the upsides to reality are identified, a belief in fate emerges, and ultimately more meaning is derived from important life events.

Read the APS Daily Observation on Laura Kray.
Laura Kray in the news: The New York Times (April 6, 2012).

Subject Area: Personality/Emotion

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