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Read about the latest research published in Psychological Science:

Task-Focused Behavior Mediates the Associations Between Supportive Interpersonal Environments and Students’ Academic Performance

Noona Kiuru, Eija Pakarinen, Kati Vasalampi, Gintautas Silinskas, Kaisa Aunola, Anna-Maija Poikkeus, Riitta-Leena Metsäpelto, Marja-Kristiina Lerkkanen, and Jari-Erik Nurmi

Does providing students with a supportive environment help them learn, and if so, how? Participating children were followed from the 1st through the 4th grades. Measures of parental authoritative behavior, teacher support, and peer acceptance were collected for children when they were in the 1st grade. Children’s task-focused behavior was measured in the 2nd and 3rd grades, and their academic performance was measured in the 1st and 4th grades. Children with more supportive interpersonal environments displayed higher levels of task-focused behavior. Task-focused behavior, in turn, was predictive of their level of academic performance.

Prelinguistic Infants Are Sensitive to Space-Pitch Associations Found Across Cultures

Sarah Dolscheid, Sabine Hunnius, Daniel Casasanto, and Asifa Majid  

Some languages — such as English and Dutch — encode pitch in terms of height, while other languages — such as Farsi and Turkish — encode pitch in terms of thickness. How do these cross-modal mappings come about? Preverbal, 4-month-old infants completed a height-pitch task or a thickness-pitch task. In the tasks, a ball rose or fell or a tube grew thicker or thinner, in accordance with or in opposition to the sound of a sliding whistle. The researchers found that infants looked longer at the congruent animations in both tasks. This indicates that both height- and thickness-pitch associations are present prior to language acquisition, but that language may serve to strengthen one type of association over time.

Does Confidence Use a Common Currency Across Two Visual Tasks?

Vincent de Gardelle and Pascal Mamassian

Is confidence represented in a task-specific or in a generic task-independent format? Participants performed orientation-discrimination and spatial-frequency-discrimination tasks. After each pair of trials, participants made a comparative judgment, indicating on which trial they felt more likely to have been correct. Trial comparisons were made within the same task (orientation trial vs. orientation trial or spatial-frequency trial vs. spatial-frequency trial) or between tasks (orientation trial vs. spatial-frequency trial). Participants’ confidence comparisons were similar regardless of how the tasks were compared, indicating that confidence is accessed as an abstract and task-independent quantity.