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Typical Items Facilitate Fear Learning, Atypical Items Don’t

Have you ever recoiled at something because it reminds you of something else that you’re genuinely afraid of? Research indicates that people have a propensity to generalize their fear — so, for example, a person afraid of doctors might also feel uneasy at the sight of a hospital or medical equipment.

This is a photo of a woman covering her face in fear.Moreover, typical items in a category seem to lend themselves to generalization more than atypical items do. For instance, we’re more likely to generalize information about mice and apply it to bats rather than the other way around, since mice come to mind more easily when we think of mammals.

Bringing these different areas of research together, psychological scientists Joseph E. Dunsmoor and Gregory L. Murphy of New York University wanted to investigate whether we incorporate conceptual knowledge into fear…


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Conference to Focus on Milgram Paradigm

Milgram_call_Dec2014The Obedience to Authority Conference will be held December 9–11, 2014, in Kolomna, Russia. The conference will focus on discussion of research in the field of Stanley Milgram’s experimental obedience paradigm. Russian and international researchers with diverse academic backgrounds and career levels are encouraged to register. For more information, visit



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Higher Implicit Self-Esteem Linked to Positive Evaluation of Spouses

This is a photo of a couple holding hands.It’s often said that we can’t love others unless we love ourselves. According to a new study, this may be true, but perhaps in a different way than we expect — while our reported self-esteem doesn’t predict changes in our implicit, or underlying, feelings about a significant other, our implicit attitudes about ourselves do.

Research has suggested that self-esteem influences how people behave in their relationships: Those with higher self-esteem believe that their partner views them positively and so are more inclined to work at their relationships. In other studies, however, self-esteem didn’t seem to predict relationship satisfaction down the road.

Psychological scientist James K. McNulty of Florida State University and colleagues wondered whether using implicit measures rather than explicit reports of self-esteem and partner evaluations might clear up these discrepancies.

“From an empirical…


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Tracy to Speak at Inaugural ICPS

This is a photo of a man sitting in a chair surrounded by a blue fog with his head in his hands.Psychological scientists have done extensive research on the links between emotion and mental illness as well as on the connections between emotion and emotional experience. Until recently, these two channels of investigation had remained relatively separate, but a Special Series on Emotions and Psychopathology in the new issue of Clinical Psychological Science aims to connect these two areas of study by 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…


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Prentice Named Dean of Faculty at Princeton

Deborah A. Prentice

Deborah A. Prentice

Deborah A. Prentice, an APS Fellow, began her tenure as dean of the faculty at Princeton University on July 1. Previously, Prentice had served as chair of Princeton’s psychology department for 12 years.

Under Prentice’s leadership as department chair, Princeton hired a more diverse psychology faculty, launched the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, and was recognized for having the top-ranked psychology department in the United States. University President Christopher L. Eisgruber said in a statement that Prentice is one of Princeton’s most accomplished department chairs. “Debbie possesses a unique combination of humane judgment, strategic insight, and administrative skill,” Eisgruber said. “I am confident that she will be a superb dean of the faculty.”

Prentice’s own research focuses on how social norms — which she describes as “the unwritten rules and conventions that govern…


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