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Priming Gender Norms and Levels of Heterosexism as Predictors of Adoption Choices

In this study, my colleagues and I were interested in how priming gender norms and one’s level of heterosexism can affect decisions about which couple can adopt a child.

We tested this by priming people with either gender normative or gender non-normative pictures. We primed a control group with nature scenes. After priming, we presented each participant with an adoption scenario in which they were asked to choose one of three couples to adopt a child. The three couples were a heterosexual couple, a same-sex male couple, and a same-sex female couple. After the participants made their first choice, it was removed as an option, and the participants were asked to choose from the remaining two couples. They were also asked to rate their confidence levels and provide explanations for their decisions.

To measure heterosexism levels, we used Herek’s Attitudes Towards Lesbians and Gay Men scale. We used logistic regression…


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Two APS Fellows Elected to National Academy of Sciences

This is a photo of a stack of books.Two APS fellows are among the 84 newly chosen members and 21 foreign associates recognized by the National Academy of Science for their outstanding contributions to scientific research.

The April 29 announcement featured newly elected member Marcia Johnson, professor of psychology at Yale University, and foreign associate Helen Neville, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Oregon, who holds Canadian citizenship.

Both Johnson and Neville are APS William James fellows.

Johnson is known for her research in memory and cognitive processes. Her lab is currently investigating the component processes that underlie memory; how the brain binds different features, such as color, shape, and location, together to form complex memories; how we distinguish between real and imagined events, also known as reality monitoring; and how memory changes as we age. Johnson has…


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A Captive African Elephant Calf Exhibits Precocious Social Relationships

African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in their native habitats live in groups of 2 to 50 elephants called family units, usually containing genetically related adult females and calves and juveniles of both sexes. A calf spends most of its time near its mother. Older calves increase the time they spend with other members of the family unit. “Allomothers,” usually young female relatives, assist in rearing a calf by providing comfort and safety. The dominant animal in the group (the “matriarch”) plays a critical role in group dynamics and survival.

The Indianapolis Zoo houses an African elephant group with the demographics and group size recommended to promote the health of captive elephants: four adult females, two juveniles, and two calves. We recorded the interactions between Nyah (female calf, under 1 year old) and her mother (Ivory, 30 years old), her older sister (Zahara, 6 years old), and the dominant elephant (Sophi, 44…


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Social Networks May Guide Parents to Particular Autism Interventions

This is a photo of a child engaging in play therapy.After receiving a life-changing diagnosis for themselves or a loved one, people often turn to social networks for support and information. Parents of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) — which includes autism disorder, Asperger’s, and any developmental disorder not otherwise specified — are especially keen to find interventions that will help their children lead a healthy and fulfilling life.

Scientific research has yielded a number of evidence-based practices designed to help children with ASD. These approaches are “clinical practices that are informed by evidence about interventions and clinical expertise, as well as patient needs, values, preferences, and decisions about individual care.”

But there are many interventions available to parents that are not based on scientific evidence, some of which may cause more harm than good.

Psychological scientists Katherine E. Pickard…


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Everyday Aggression: We Hurt Those Closest to Us

When we think of aggression, we might think of road rage or a bar fight, situations in which people are violent toward strangers. But research suggests that aggression is actually most often expressed toward the people we encounter in our day-to-day lives, such as romantic partners, friends, family, and coworkers.

In an article published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, psychological scientist Deborah South Richardson of Georgia Regents University presents an overview of scientific research exploring this “everyday” aggression.

This is a photo of one soccer player yelling at another player.As Richardson explains, only a behavior that is intended to harm someone qualifies as aggression. Aggression shouldn’t be confused with assertiveness or ambition, which don’t necessarily intend harm, or with hostility or anger, which involve expressions of emotion but aren’t behaviors.

Importantly, aggression also involves another living being:

“Breaking a…


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