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Infants Can Tell If You’re a Reliable Informant

This is a photo of a baby peeking out of a doorway.It’s hard to know how babies think, since they’re still getting a handle on language skills. One strategy that researchers use to gain some insight is eye tracking, which allows them to see where babies direct their gaze and for how long.

In light of research suggesting that children trust other people’s testimony based on prior experience with them, psychological scientist Kristen Swan Tummeltshammer of the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development at Birkbeck, University of London and colleagues conducted two experiments to determine whether infants could discern a person’s trustworthiness and act on this knowledge — a crucial skill for successful learning.

In the first experiment, 24 8-month-old infants watched a screen on which one of two video-recorded female faces appeared and said, “Wow, look!” When the face turned toward…


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Memrise Prize Aimed at Spurring Innovations in Language Learning

Memrise_webDavid Shanks and Rosalind Potts, scientists in the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences at University College London, United Kingdom, have teamed up with the online learning community Memrise to tackle an age-old problem: how to learn a new language — fast.

The $10,000 Memrise Prize challenges contestants to “create the most powerful methodology for memorizing new information.” Contestants will devise a 1-hour learning program to teach English speakers previously unfamiliar Lithuanian vocabulary. Those programs that perform well against a control method will pass to the next round of the contest to be reviewed by independent judges, including experts on memory and neuroscience.

Entries selected as finalists by the expert judges will…


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APS Announces Third Replication Project


Two months after APS published its first Registered Replication Report (RRR), the plan for the third RRR has been finalized and editors are accepting proposals from researchers who would like to participate in the large-scale replication by running the study in their lab.

Roy Baumeister and colleagues (1998; Muraven, Tice, & Baumeister, 1998) proposed that performance on tasks requiring self-control is governed by a general, unitary, and finite “internal” resource. Engaging in tasks requiring self-control is believed to deplete the resource, reducing performance on subsequent tasks that require self-control, a phenomenon known as “ego depletion.”

The classic evidence for the phenomenon comes from a simple paradigm involving two consecutive tasks. For participants randomly assigned to the experimental (ego-depletion) group, both tasks require self-control. For participants assigned to the comparison (no depletion) group, only the second task requires self-control, with the…


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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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