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Idealistic Thinking Linked With Economic Slump

Envisioning a bright future should pave the way for success, right? Maybe not. Research suggests that thinking about an idealized future may actually be linked with economic downturn, not upswing.

“[F]antasizing about having attained a desired future may lead people to mentally enjoy the idealized future in the here and now,” explain researchers A. Timur Sevincer of the University of Hamburg and colleagues. As a result, “it prevents them from preparing for possible obstacles and from mobilizing the effort needed to make the events come true.”

Previous research suggests people who think about or imagine a rosy future are actually less likely to put forth effort to achieve such a future and enjoy relatively less success, in domains as diverse as professional accomplishment, personal relationships, and…


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Robinson to Speak on Motivation, Addiction

Robinson_TerryAPS Fellow Terry E. Robinson has been selected as the winner of a 2014 William James Fellow Award. Robinson, the Elliot S. Valenstein Distinguished University Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Michigan, will deliver his award speech on “Individual Variation in Resisting Temptation: Implications for Addiction” at the 2014 APS Annual Convention, which will be held May 22–25, 2014, in San Francisco.

Robinson’s research has focused on “the persistent behavioral and neurobiological consequences of drug use, and the implications of these for addiction and relapse.” He is a former editor-in-chief of Behavioral Brain Research, a journal which publishes research on behavioral neuroscience.

Robinson’s most recent work concerns individual variation in the propensity to attribute motivational properties (incentive salience) to reward cues, and associated neurobiological substrates. His APS award…


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Did You Hear That? Specific Brain Activity Linked With Imagined Hearing

Being able to distinguish what is real and what is not may seem pretty basic, but the inability to perform this task could be a marker of many psychiatric disorders. This task, known to researchers as “reality monitoring,” is at the core of a study from scientists at Yale University.

Previous research has demonstrated that there are specific brain areas related to whether a person correctly identifies a visual stimulus as something that actually happened or was “self-generated.” Researchers Eriko Sugimori, Marcia Johnson, and colleagues at Yale University hypothesized that this relationship may not be specific to just the visual system, and that specific brain activity may also distinguish heard and imagined words.

To find out, the researchers had participants undergo an auditory task in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)…


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The Taxman Cometh: Science Explains Why Some Pay and Others Evade

The first week of April is drawing to a close, which means millions of Americans are making a mad dash to get their taxes done and filed by the April 15th deadline. In the face of an exceedingly arcane tax code, many turn to the help of professionals to make sure their taxes are done right — after all, no one wants to suffer through the all-dreaded audit.

But some will inevitably decide that the government won’t be getting their money this year. What motivates some people to pay and others not?

An article in the April 2014 issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science looks at the factors that drive people to pay, or not pay, their taxes.

“Citizens’ tax compliance is of utmost importance for a state to provide…


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Researchers Make Strides in Early Diagnosis for Autism

It’s World Autism Awareness Day, an annual celebration in which autism organizations across the globe engage in fundraising and educational events to raise public understanding of the developmental disorder. And it falls in the wake of last week’s U.S. government report showing a 30 percent rise in autism rates. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the condition now affects an estimated one of every 68 8-year-old children, up from one in 88 just two years ago.

Fortunately, psychological scientists are helping researchers from other disciplines make progress in early diagnosis and intervention for children with autism.

One of the most promising studies, published last year in Nature, found markers for the disorder within the first 6 months of life.

Biomedical scientist Warren Jones and psychological…


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