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Read about the latest research published in Psychological Science.

From Glue to Gasoline: How Competition Turns Perspective Takers Unethical

Jason R. Pierce, Gavin J. Kilduff, Adam D. Galinsky, and Niro Sivanathan

Perspective taking is thought be beneficial for social interactions. In the second of four studies examining whether this is always true, participants were asked to imagine they were going to engage in a negotiation with a person they had cooperated with (cooperation condition) or competed against (competition condition) in the past. Participants were asked to imagine the negotiation from their own (baseline) or the other person’s (perspective-taking) point of view. Perspective taking was associated with a greater willingness to engage in unethical behavior in the competitive condition, but not in the cooperative condition, suggesting that relationship contexts interact with perspective taking to predict unethical behavior.

Facilitation of Voluntary Goal-Directed Action by Reward Cues

Peter F. Lovibond and Ben Colagiuri

Over the past century, researchers have learned a great deal about associative learning; however, less is known about how environmental cues facilitate reward-related behavior. To investigate this, the researchers tested whether Pavlovian stimuli (red or blue lights) paired with a reward (chocolate) would modulate voluntary instrumental responding (pressing a button) for that reward. The researchers found that viewing a stimulus that had previously been paired with a chocolate reward increased the number of times participants voluntarily pressed a button. This provides evidence that reward-related cues can instigate voluntary actions to gain that reward.

Meditation Increases Compassionate Responses to Suffering

Paul Condon, Gaëlle Desbordes, Willa B. Miller, and David DeSteno

Although much is known about the personal benefits of meditation, little is known about its interpersonal effects. Participants were assigned to receive 8 weeks of training in compassion or mindfulness meditation or they were assigned to a waiting-list control group. After the 8-week period, participants were tested to see if they would respond in a compassionate manner to an unknown injured individual. Participants who had received meditation training responded more compassionately than did those on the waiting list, which suggests that meditation increases compassionate responses to others’ suffering.

Just Post It: The Lesson From Two Cases of Fabricated Data Detected by Statistics Alone

Uri Simonsohn

Fabrication of data is rare, but it does occur. Simonsohn identified several journal articles that appeared to have results that were too good to be true. He obtained raw data for each of the studies and used statistical techniques to determine the likelihood of the authors’ obtaining the reported results. Simonsohn also compared the target studies with similar studies by the same authors and by different authors. His analysis provided evidence of possibly fraudulent behavior in connection with the studies. Simonsohn’s methods show that when the raw data are available, statistical techniques can be used to determine whether the data are likely to have been fabricated.