On the Newsstand

Read All About It: Simpler Fonts Make Simpler Tasks

Los Angeles Times

November 2, 2008

“Researchers found that the more difficult instructions are to read, the more that task is perceived as challenging. Identical instructions were…given for making sushi to 27 men and women, in both easy and difficult-to-read fonts. They perceived the recipe in the plainer font as taking less time to make and were more inclined to prepare it than the same recipe in the other font.”

Coverage of “If It’s Hard to Read, It’s Hard to Do: Processing Fluency Affects Effort Prediction and Motivation” in Psychological Science (Hyunjin Song and Norbert Schwarz, Volume 19(10), 986-988).

Cleanliness is Next to Godlessness

Economist

November 20, 2008

“Public displays of untidiness, such as graffiti, may promote bad behavior, but when it comes to personal cleanliness the opposite appears to be true. A study just published in Psychological Science shows that washing with soap and water makes people view unethical activities as more acceptable and reasonable than they would if they had not washed themselves. ”

Coverage of “With a Clean Conscience: Cleanliness Reduces the Severity of Moral Judgments” in Psychological Science (Simone Schnall, Jennifer Benton and Sophie Harvey, Volume 19(12), 1219-1222).

Bad News Can Be Better Than Nothing

New York Times

November 22, 2008

“No one likes bad news, but for some people, no news is worse. People who are mildly neurotic are stressed by uncertainty even more than by bad news, a new study finds. In the real world, such a heightened response might occur when an employee is up for a promotion but does not know the outcome, said Jacob B. Hirsh, lead author of the paper. A highly neurotic individual would respond less intensely to losing the promotion, Mr. Hirsh said.”

Coverage of “The Devil You Know: Neuroticism Predicts Neural Response to Uncertainty” in Psychological Science (Jacob B. Hirsh and Michael Inzlicht, Volume 19(10), 962-967).

U.S. Teens Brimming With Self-Esteem

Washington Post

November 12, 2008

“Today’s American high school students are far likelier than those in the 1970s to believe they’ll make outstanding spouses, parents and workers, new research shows. The findings, published in Psychological Science, support the idea that the ‘self-esteem’ movement popular among today’s parents and teachers may have gone too far, the study’s co-author said”

Coverage of “Increases in Positive Self-Views Among High School Students: Birth-Cohort Changes in Anticipated Performance, Self-Satisfaction, Self-Liking, and Self-Competence” in Psychological Science (Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell, Volume 19(11), 1082-1086).

Observer Vol.22, No.1 January, 2009

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