Think “Hunger Games” and you’ll undoubtedly think of heroine Katniss Everdeen fighting against a totalitarian state in the blockbuster series of books and movies. Fortunately for us, those Hunger Games are entirely fictional, but new research suggests that we may have developed a different kind of real-world “hunger games” as a way of getting others to share a particularly precious resource: Food.
Researchers Lena Aarøe and Michael Bang Petersen of Aarhus University in Denmark hypothesized that, because resource sharing was so critical to survival, our modern inclinations toward social welfare may actually reflect a basic evolutionary strategy aimed at getting others to share what they have.
To test this hypothesis, the researchers asked participants to fast before arriving at the lab. When they got there, some were given regular soda to drink, effectively boosting their blood-glucose levels; others were given a soda…
It’s that time of year again – the time to gather with family and friends, to celebrate the passing of another year…to spend hours in a car dealing with pent-up roadway aggression?
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, long-distance trips increase by 54% in the 6-day period surrounding Thanksgiving and by 23% in the weeks around Christmas and New Year’s. Most of those trips take place in personal automobiles.
Being stuck in traffic on a regular day is frustrating enough, but racing to be home for the holidays could make driving at this time of year a particularly fraught endeavor.
In a new article in Current Directions in Psychological Science, researcher Christine Wickens of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto and colleagues at York University investigate the factors that contribute to aggressive driving, and the measures we…
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…