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New Research From Psychological Science

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Read about the latest research published in Psychological Science:

Mismatch or Cumulative Stress: The Pathway to Depression Is Conditional on Attention Style

Esther Nederhof, Johan Ormel, and Albertine J. Oldehinkel

It has been suggested that people use their childhood environment to predict how their future environment will be and develop accordingly. However, on the basis of this theory, a mismatch between a childhood and an adult environment could be detrimental. Adolescents were split into attention-style groups (shifting, sustained, or more balanced) and were assessed for early life stress, recent life stress, and major depression. A mismatch between early and recent stress was predictive of depression in those with a sustained attention style but not in those with a shifting or a more balanced attention style. This finding indicates that attention is a conditional adaptation and provides additional support for the mismatch hypothesis.

Positive and Negative Correlations Between Confidence and Accuracy for the Same Events in Recognition of Categorized Lists

K. Andrew DeSoto and Henry L. Roediger, III

In this study, participants learned lists of items belonging to several categories. They were then shown previously studied words (target words), related unstudied words (related lures), and unrelated unstudied words (unrelated lures), and they had to indicate whether each word had been studied or not. For each decision they made, the participants reported their confidence level. The relationship between accuracy and confidence was found to vary depending on the type of word examined and the type of analysis used. Highly related lures were found to be particularly prone to confidence-accuracy inversions, suggesting that researchers should use caution when examining confidence ratings for this type of information.

Come listen to Henry L. Roediger, III, give the Bring the Family Address “Make It Stick: How Memory Athletes Perform and How their Techniques Can Help You” and speak as part of several other programs at the 26th APS Annual Convention in San Francisco, CA, USA.

Racial Bias Shapes Social Reinforcement Learning

Björn Lindström, Ida Selbing, Tanaz Molapour, and Andreas Olsson 

To examine how emotional facial expressions interact with racial bias to influence social reinforcement learning, participants of European decent were shown two abstract fractal images, each of which was associated with a certain probability of being followed by a happy or angry White or Black face. Participants were told to pick the image that would lead to the least amount of exposure to an emotional face. The researchers found that racial bias modulated the rate at which exposure to threatening out-group faces influenced future behavior, which led to more efficient learning of avoidance.

Optical Origins of Opposing Facial Expression Actions

Daniel H. Lee, Reza Mirza, John G. Flanagan, and Adam K. Anderson

People often widen their eyes when experiencing fear and narrow their eyes when experiencing disgust. Do these expressive eye behaviors affect perception? Participants’ visual sensitivity and acuity were tested while they made disgusted, fearful, or neutral expressions. Visual sensitivity was found to be greatest when participants made fearful expressions, whereas visual acuity was found to be greatest when participants made disgusted expressions. This suggests that emotional expressions may alter perception in ways that prioritize detection of (sensitivity) or discrimination among (acuity) surrounding stimuli.