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Read about the latest research published in Psychological Science and Clinical Psychological Science:

Immediate Effect of Internal Reward on Visual Adaptation

David Pascucci and Massimo Turatto

Can exposure to rewards influence our visual experiences? To answer this question, the authors had participants perform a discrimination task during an adaptation period meant to induce the tilt aftereffect — a visual illusion in which prolonged exposure to an oriented stimulus affects the perception of subsequent stimuli orientations. The tilt aftereffect was magnified by the rewarding experience during the adaptation period, which indicates that endogenous rewards can rapidly alter visual experiences.

Coming to Grips With the Past: Effect of Repeated Simulation on the Perceived Plausibility of Episodic Counterfactual Thoughts

Felipe De Brigard, Karl K. Szpunar, and Daniel L. Schacter

When people revisit past experiences, they often imagine alternative ways the events could have occurred. In this study, the authors asked participants to generate a better, worse, or similar alternative outcome to past autobiographical events. The next day, participants recalled the alternative event either once or four times. Participants judged alternative outcomes that were recalled four times as being less plausible than those that were recalled only once. The authors posit that the observed reduction in the plausibility of alternative events may prevent people from ruminating about what might have been.

Men Seek Social Standing, Women Seek Companionship: Sex Differences in Deriving Self-Worth From Relationships

Tracy Kwang, Erin E. Crockett, Diana T. Sanchez, and William B. Swann, Jr.

Do men and women derive the same benefits from relationships? In several experiments, men and women reported the ways their relationships affected their self-esteem, self-construal, and feelings of self-worth. The researchers found that men valued their relationships as sources of social standing, whereas women viewed relationships as sources of connectedness. These findings indicate that relationships bolster self-worth in both men and women but in different ways.

Conditioning the Mind’s Eye: Associative Learning With Voluntary Mental Imagery

David E. Lewis, Matthew J. O’Reilly, Sieu K. Khuu, and Joel Pearson

Associative-learning techniques are often used in the treatment of anxiety disorders. In this study, the authors examined whether mental imagery — also used in treatments of anxiety — can undergo associative learning in the same way as perceptual stimuli. Participants performed a perceptual associative-learning task in which imagined or perceived Gabor patches were associated with pleasant or aversive photographs. The imagined Gabor patches formed the same associations with the photographs as did the perceived Gabor patches. The similarity in associative learning between the imagined and perceived images supports the use of clinical practices that combine both associative-learning and mental-imagery techniques.

Social Meaning of Ambiguous Sounds Influences Retrospective Duration Judgments

Narayanan Srinivasan, Nick Hopkins, Stephen D. Reicher, Sammyh S. Khan, Tushar Singh, and Mark Levine

Does the social meaning of sounds affect the way we experience them? Indian participants estimated the duration of an ambiguous sound clip. They were told the source of the noise (a busy commercial street or a Hindu festival) either before (prestimulus) or after (poststimulus) hearing the clip. Those in the poststimulus group judged the clips to be of equal duration, whereas those in the prestimulus group judged the Hindu festival clip to be longer, which indicates that social meaning affects the way sounds are processed.