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New Research From Current Directions in Psychological Science

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Fact and Fiction in Cognitive Ability Testing for Admissions and Hiring Decisions

Nathan R. Kuncel and Sarah A. Hezlett

Standardized tests of cognitive abilities are used to predict performance in educational and work settings. Group differences often occur with standardized cognitive tests, and these differences have been falsely attributed to predictive biases inherent to the tests. Although evidence suggests that test-score differences reflect developed-skill differences, it is important for scientists, citizens, and policymakers to critically examine these tests and their uses, due to the important implications they have for school and job placement.

 

Distress Tolerance: Theory, Measurement, and Relations to Psychopathology    

Michael J. Zvolensky, Anka A. Vujanovic, Amit Bernstein, and Teresa Leyro

Distress tolerance is the perceived capacity to withstand negative emotional states and the behavioral act of withstanding distressing internal states elicited by a stressor. Individuals with higher levels of distress tolerance may be more able to adaptively respond to distress than are individuals with lower levels of distress tolerance. Distress tolerance has increasingly been viewed as important to the development and maintenance of multiple forms of psychopathology and may be useful in a number of clinical interventions.

 

Propositions for the Study of Moral Personality Development    

Patrick L. Hill and Brent W. Roberts

Why do some people act more morally than do others? Personality variables may play an important role in predicting moral action. When studying moral development, researchers should use a framework that incorporates various aspects of personality including how individuals construct their identity and how personality changes across the life span. 

 

Cognitive Strategy Variations During Aging

Patrick Lemaire 

Changes in the use of cognitive strategies occur during aging: decrease in the size of strategy repertoire (which strategies are used for cognitive tasks), changes in frequency of use of strategies, less efficient execution of strategies, and poorer choices among strategies. These changes suggest that older adults may compensate for age-related declines in cognitive abilities by selecting strategies they can more easily and more accurately execute. 

 

A New Look at Selective-Exposure Effects: An Integrative Model  

Peter Fischer and Tobias Greitemeyer 

It can be difficult sometimes to make decisions. Individuals tend to prefer information that is consistent with their choices over information that is inconsistent with their choices, a phenomenon known as selective exposure to confirmatory information. However, selective exposure often leads to poor decisions. Research examining the moderating role of defense and accuracy motivations on selective exposure has been inconsistent. A new model suggests that similar motivations may result in opposite effects depending on whether they are introduced during decision making or during the subsequent information-search task. 

 

Beyond the Threshold Hypothesis: Even Among the Gifted and Top Math/Science Graduate Students, Cognitive Abilities, Vocational Interests, and Lifestyle Preferences Matter for Career Choice, Performance, and Persistence

Kimberley Ferriman Robertson, Stijn Smeets, David Lubinski, and Camilla P. Benbow 

Conventional wisdom suggests that above a certain threshold of cognitive ability, differences in cognitive ability do not matter as much to individual differences in achievement as do hard work, personality, and opportunity. However, recent evidence suggests that even in the top 1% of cognitive ability, higher levels of cognitive abilities do make a person more likely to make outstanding achievements. Furthermore, while ability level predicts level of achievement, ability pattern (the relationships among an individual’s math, verbal, and spatial abilities) may influence which educational and occupational domains gifted adolescents choose.