Emotionally charged memories will sweep across the United States today, the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s death. Countless people will recall where they were, whom they were with, and how they reacted at the moment they heard the news of the president’s assassination. And many of those memories will be wrong.
Psychological scientists call these types of recollections flashbulb memories. In the same way a flash camera captures a moment in time, these decisive events create vivid, long-lasting, and poignant memories.
The popular assumption is that people remember details about such highly public events as Princess Diana’s death or the space-shuttle Challenger explosion far better than they do everyday occurrences. Research, however, shows that these recollections are highly inaccurate, no matter how precise we believe them to be.
At the same time, the emotions we feel about those memories are…
We are continuously flooded with sensory information from our physical environment – the sights, sounds, smells, feel of everything around us. We’re flooded with so much information, in fact, that we’re not consciously aware of much of it.
“Considering that people are continuously presented with vast amounts of sensory information, a system is needed to select and prioritize the most relevant information,” Surya Gayet and colleagues write.
The researchers surmised that, in the case of vision, visual working memory (VWM) may be that selection system.
Given that VWM is used to actively retain information for upcoming goal-directed behavior, it seems likely that it would also play a role in selecting the information that is relevant to, and prioritized for, conscious access. Gayet and colleagues investigated their hypothesis in a series of experiments.
In the crucial experiment, participants were shown two colored patches…
About 1 in 4 children in the United States spend some or even all of their early childhood in poverty, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. What does this early exposure to poverty mean for mental health outcomes when these children enter their teens and early 20s?
Psychological scientists Gary Evans and Rochelle Cassells set out to explore this question, using data from almost 200 participants involved in a longitudinal study of rural poverty, cumulative risk, and child development.
As they predicted, participants who spent more time in poverty in early childhood showed signs of worse mental health in emerging adulthood. Specifically, time spent in poverty was associated with higher levels of externalizing symptoms and learned helplessness at age 17.
And the long-term association between early poverty and later mental health were accounted for, at least in part, by cumulative…
Emotion, physiology, and the interaction between them enthrall APS Past President Robert Levenson. A 2013 APS Mentor Award for Lifetime Achievement recipient and 2014 APS William James Fellow Award recipient, Levenson will deliver an award address, “Unraveling Emotional Mysteries: Insights From Studies of Couples, Cultures, Aging, and Patients,” at the 26th APS Annual Convention in San Francisco, May 22–25, 2014.
Levenson’s current research program includes a 20-year longitudinal study focused on how couples in first marriages relate to each other through middle and old age. In addition to achieving a better understanding of emotions and aging, Levenson hopes to pinpoint factors that contribute to couples’ ability to successfully navigate transitions in later life. In another area of his research, Levenson is investigating emotional and biological changes associated with neurodegenerative conditions such as frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
In this interview with June Gruber for the “Experts…
The journal Perspectives on Psychological Science continues to recognize the 25th anniversary of APS by featuring a series of special sections that take a look at how the field has changed over the last 25 years.
The special section in the November issue includes articles that explore a wide range of topics, including the science of well-being, the burgeoning field of social neuroscience, advances in research on autism and dyslexia, integrative approaches to understanding the brain on stress, psychological perspectives on cardiovascular diseases, the challenge of examining health disparities, and the development of parent-training programs.
In the early 1980s, researchers examining subjective well-being (SWB) focused primarily on its demographic correlates; since then, the questions and methodologies used to examine SWB have grown in both variety and scope. In addition to studying the main components of SWB, scientists…