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Read about the latest research published in Psychological Science.

Vividness of the Future Self Predicts Delinquency

Jean-Louis van Gelder, Hal E. Hershfield, and Loran F. Nordgren

Does failure to think about the future lead people to engage in delinquent behavior? Participants wrote a letter to themselves either 20 years or 3 months in the future. They were then asked how they would respond to several scenarios involving committing delinquent acts. Participants who wrote letters to a more distant future self made fewer delinquent choices than did those who wrote to a less distant future self. This supports the idea that delinquency stems in part from difficulties imagining oneself in the future.

Manual Experience Shapes Object Representations

Eiling Yee, Evangelia G. Chrysikou, Esther Hoffman, and Sharon L. Thompson-Schill

Brain areas related to action are activated when people think about a manipulable object, but is this activation incidental or is it directly related to the mental representation of the object? Participants performed a manual or visuospatial task while simultaneously judging whether heard words were abstract or concrete. Participants’ level of real-world experience manipulating the concrete objects modulated interference caused by the manual task but not interference caused by the visuospatial task. This supports the idea that the brain activity underlying manual action reflects the mental representation of manipulated objects and is not merely incidental.

Visual Long-Term Memory Has the Same Limit on Fidelity as Visual Working Memory

Timothy F. Brady, Talia Konkle, Jonathan Gill, Aude Oliva, and George A. Alvarez 

Are representations in long-term memory more or less detailed than representations in working memory? Participants were shown objects in a variety of colors and asked to report the color of the object while they looked at it (perception condition), after a short delay (working-memory condition), and after a longer delay (long-term-memory condition). The researchers found similar levels of detail in color representation in both working and long-term memory, which indicates there may be a common constraint on the fidelity needed to retrieve information from memory.

Loneliness Promotes Inflammation During Acute Stress

Lisa M. Jaremka, Christopher P. Fagundes, Juan Peng, Jeanette M. Bennett, Ronald Glaser, William B. Malarkey, and Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser

Past research has suggested that loneliness is associated with increased inflammation and problems with immune system regulation. To investigate the link between loneliness and immune response in the context of stress, researchers measured participants’ level of proinflammatory cytokines before and 45 minutes and 2 hours after completing a stressful task. The researchers found that participants who reported higher levels of loneliness had higher proinflammatory cytokine production in response to the stressful task than did those who reported lower levels of loneliness, a finding that sheds light on the ways social relationships can affect our well-being.