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Perspectives on Psychological Science

Perspectives on Psychological Science: Volume 9, Number 4

Perspectives on Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, publishes an eclectic mix of provocative reports and articles, including broad integrative reviews, overviews of research programs, meta-analyses, and theoretical statements.

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Why Ineffective Psychotherapies Appear to Work: A Taxonomy of Causes of Spurious Therapeutic Effectiveness Scott O. Lilienfeld, Lorie A. Ritschel, Steven Jay Lynn, Robin L. Cautin, and Robert D. Latzman

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Special Section on Protective Factors in Cognitive Aging

Selective Engagement of Cognitive Resources: Motivational Influences on Older Adults’ Cognitive Functioning Thomas M. Hess

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Understanding How Prior Knowledge Influences Memory in Older Adults Sharda Umanath and Elizabeth J. Marsh

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Contrary to Psychological and Popular Opinion, There Is No Compelling Evidence That Older Adults Are Disproportionately Victimized by Consumer Fraud Michael Ross,…

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The Process of Problem Solving

People encounter problems every day. Some problems, such as solving the daily Sudoku puzzle, are enjoyable, while others, like figuring out how to retrieve the keys you just locked in the car, are not. Although researchers have examined problem solving, there is still a lot we don’t know about how we strategically work through problems.

In a 2013 article published in the Journal of Cognitive Psychology, Ngar Yin Louis Lee (Chinese University of Hong Kong) and APS William James Fellow Philip N. Johnson-Laird (Princeton University) examined the ways people develop strategies to solve related problems. In a series of three experiments, the researchers asked participants to solve series of matchstick problems.

In matchstick problems, participants are presented with an array of joined squares. Each square in the array is…

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Learning for Survival? Venom Overrides Other Snake Categories

We deal with the world around us by putting it into categories. We are constantly trying to understand the things we encounter by classifying them: Is this a food I really like, one that I would eat only if I were starving, or something I won’t go near? Is this creepy-crawly thing an insect, a spider, or some other form of arthropod?

“Virtually every item can fall into a number of broader or more specific categories, and some levels may be more important to know than others,” write researchers Sharon Noh and colleagues in an article published in Psychological Science.

This is a photo of a pit viper.Noh and colleagues decided to design an experiment to better understand how we learn and form categories, especially categories of different levels and varying importance.

For example, if we focus on learning a…

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Sleep May Help the Brain Integrate New Language Skills

This is a silhouette profile of a person sleeping. Scientists have understood for decades that the brain is “plastic,” meaning that our neural connections change and adapt in response to new experiences. One factor that seems to play a particular role in language plasticity, according to new research, is sleep.

Previous studies have laid the groundwork in associating sleep with memory consolidation and language learning, particularly in learning new words and grammar. Psychological scientist Gareth Gaskell of the University of York in the United Kingdom and colleagues wanted to explore these links further to establish a more complete framework for understanding the connection between language plasticity and memory consolidation.

In a study of 38 adults, participants read aloud 48 tongue-twister sequences of 4 syllables each. These syllables had “constraints,” meaning that certain consonant sounds appeared only in the beginning or the end…

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Taking an Integrative Approach to Understanding Emotions and Clinical Disorders

This is a photo of a person sitting on the floor.Many clinical psychological disorders, including anxiety and depression, are characterized by unhealthy, turbulent, or otherwise maladaptive emotions. Yet the link between emotion and mental illness has typically been investigated separately from basic research on emotion and emotional experience.

A Special Series on Emotions and Psychopathology in the new issue of Clinical Psychological Science aims to link these two areas of investigation, bringing the most recent research from affective science to bear on the ways that clinicians and researchers think about, diagnose, and treat clinical disorders.

“[C]linical researchers are now beginning to draw on the full range of concepts and methods from affective science to better understand the emotional processes that lie at the heart of a wide range of psychopathologies and to develop emotion-targeted interventions,” write psychological scientist Jessica Tracy…

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