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Focusing on the Past or Future Shapes Spatial Perception of Time

This is a photo of a young woman walking on a path.We often think about the future as being in front of us and the past as being at our back – as we walk, places we pass are behind us, and places we have yet to reach lie ahead.

But not every culture views time the same way. For instance, although the Arabic dialect spoken in Morocco refers to time in the same way that English does, previous research suggests that Moroccans have a tendency to see the past as being in front of them and the future as being behind them.

Psychological scientist Juanma de la Fuente of the University of Granada and colleagues hypothesized that differences in how we perceive time result not from language or from how our bodies are oriented, but from whether we’re more focused on…


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Ebola Scare Could Heighten Fears About Other Illnesses, Research Suggests

EbolaAmericans are now fretting over an illness that they have almost no chance of contracting. Schools have closed, businesses have temporarily shut down, and people who have traveled to West Africa are being shunned — all due to three confirmed cases, and one fatality, of Ebola in Dallas.

As APS Fellow Paul Slovic tells Time, the chilling lethality of the Ebola virus leads people to worry about contracting the disease despite the miniscule probability they will do so.

What’s more, research suggests that the public panic over Ebola may prompt people to start worrying about their health in general. During the 2009 swine flu pandemic, psychological scientists Spike W. S. Lee, Norbert Schwarz, Danielle Taubman, and Mengyuan Hou from the University of Michigan conducted…


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Comorbidity Among Mental Disorders: A New Approach

ECMental disorders have traditionally been viewed as distinct categorical entities, but about 50% of people who meet the criteria for one disorder also meet the criteria for a second disorder. The large number of people with comorbid disorders suggests there may be a simpler underlying structure to psychopathology than the one implied by the current classification system.

APS Fellow Avshalom Caspi (Duke University, Kings College London) and colleagues examined the structure of psychopathology using data from the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study — a prospective longitudinal study of health and behavior. Participants in the study were repeatedly assessed for mental health disorders between ages 18 and 38.

The authors tested several models using confirmatory factor…


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McClelland Receives Heineken Prize


James L. “Jay” McClelland Photo credit: Linda A. Cicero

The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) presented the $200,000 C.L. de Carvalho-Heineken Prize for Cognitive Sciences to James L. (“Jay”) McClelland on October 2, 2014, in Amsterdam. McClelland is Lucie Stern Professor in the Social Sciences and Director of the Center for Mind, Brain, and Computation at Stanford University. He is a past recipient of the APS William James Fellow Award.

McClelland received the Heineken Prize in recognition of his work modeling cognitive processes with neural networks, a departure from earlier models that described the brain in terms of a computer processor that stores and retrieves information. In 1986, McClelland and his colleagues published a now seminal…


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Psychological Scientists Awarded Nobel for Discovering Brain’s “GPS”

PAFF_101014_NobelEdvardMoser_NewsfeatureThree European psychological scientists will share the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work discovering the brain’s “GPS system.”

John O’Keefe (University College London) and husband-and-wife team May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) are being awarded the prize in recognition of their basic research on memory and cognition that has contributed to our understanding of how the brain situates us in our physical environment and guides us from one place to another.

The Karolinska Institute in Sweden, which awards the Nobel Prize, said the three scientists have “solved a problem that has occupied philosophers and scientists for centuries — how does the brain create a map of the space surrounding us and how can we navigate our way through a complex environment?”

In 1971, O’Keefe identified nerve…


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