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Read about the latest research published in Psychological Science.

Time in Perspective

Andrei Gorea and Janice Hau

Researchers know that the perceived size of an object increases as its perceived distance from an observer increases (Emmert’s law) and that the perceived time interval between two consecutively occurring stimuli increases when the distance between them is greater (Kappa effect). What happens when these two perceptual phenomena are induced together? The researchers found that people overestimated the perceived duration of objects moving in a distant plane relative to the perceived duration of the same objects moving in a closer plane. This finding adds to our knowledge of how humans create time constancy in a three-dimensional world.

Rising Stars and Sinking Ships: Consequences of Status Momentum

Nathan C. Pettit, Niro Sivanathan, Eric Gladstone, and Jennifer Carson Marr

How do changes in rank influence people’s judgments about the status of people or objects? Researchers had participants make judgments about people, products, or institutions that had either ascended or dropped to a certain rank. Participants consistently ranked those who had ascended to their positions more favorably than those who had dropped to their positions. This study highlights the importance of including perceptions of changes in rank in research examining social judgments.

Does the “Why” Tell Us the “When?”

Christos Bechlivanidis and David A. Lagnado

Do our causal beliefs affect the way we perceive our surroundings? Participants played or watched a game in which players had to make a series of ordered moves to get a star into a purple box. Participants then watched a game clip that violated the expected order of movement in the game. Participants who had played the game were more likely to perceive the objects as moving in the causal order necessitated by the game, whereas those who had watched the game were more likely to perceive the objects as moving in the order depicted in the video clip. These findings demonstrate that perceptions can be altered to fit people’s causal beliefs.

Unstable Identity Compatibility: How Gender Rejection Sensitivity Undermines the Success of Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Fields

Sheana Ahlqvist, Bonita London, and Lisa Rosenthal

How does the stability of women’s identities contribute to their success in STEM fields? Female STEM majors were assessed over time for their level of gender rejection sensitivity and their perceived compatibility between their gender and STEM identities. Greater gender rejection sensitivity was associated with increased fluctuation in gender-STEM compatibility, which in turn was related to lower STEM performance. This study helps shed light on mechanisms by which women may become less identified with STEM.

The Nature and Nurture of High IQ: An Extended Sensitive Period for Intellectual Development

Angela M. Brant, Yuko Munakata, Dorret I. Boomsma, John C. DeFries, Claire M. A. Haworth, Matthew C. Keller, Nicholas G. Martin, Matthew McGue, Stephen A. Petrill, Robert Plomin, Sally J. Wadsworth, Margaret J. Wright, and John K. Hewitt

Research has suggested that people with a higher IQ may experience a longer sensitive period for IQ development. The researchers examined the timing of changes in the magnitude of genetic and environmental influences on participants’ IQ as a function of their IQ scores. The researchers found that the influences on IQ transition from mainly environmental to mainly genetic as we age; however, people with high IQ still showed large environmental influences into adolescence, whereas those with a lower IQ did not. This pattern is consistent with an extended sensitive period for individuals with high IQ.