Journal Alert: Current Directions 21:4 Now Available Online

This is a photo of the Current Directions in Psychological Science logo.Current Directions in Psychological Science

Volume 21, Number 4

Prospective Memory in Workplace and Everyday Situations

R. Key Dismukes

Forgetting to perform intended actions — also known as failure of prospective memory(PM) — can have serious consequences, especially at work. Dismukes says that workplace PM failures are likely to occur when a critical set of steps is interrupted, when highly practiced habitual tasks are disrupted, when one step in a procedure is replaced with a different step, or when people are asked to multi-task. Dismukes provides tips for avoiding PM failures, such as creating reminder cues for upcoming tasks.

How Do Infants Become Experts at Native-Speech Perception?

Janet F. Werker, H. Henny Yeung, and Katherine A. Yoshida

At birth, babies are ready to learn any language, but as they age, they quickly specialize in their native tongue. Werker, Yeung, and Yoshida present Distributional Learning (DL) as a possible mechanism for language acquisition in which infants use phonetic distributions in language to learn phonetic categories. The authors discuss the limitations of DL, suggesting that acquired distinctiveness — whereby different contexts in which sounds frequently occur help infants distinguish sounds’ relative values — supplements DL processes.

Mechanisms of Cognitive Control: The Functional Role of Task Rules

Gesine Dreisbach

Cognitive control can help us switch between tasks or help us stay on track. Dreisbach
examines the functional role of task rules in the task-switching paradigm popularly
applied to cognitive control processes, asking why people use task rules instead
of learning individual stimulus-response rules. She finds that task rules — unlike
stimulus-response rules — shield us from irrelevant task information and help guide
our attention to task-relevant stimulus features.

Young Children Enforce Social Norms

Marco F. H. Schmidt and Michael Tomasello

By age three, children not only follow most social norms, but also enforce those
norms in other people. Schmidt and Tomasello describe different types of social
norms and discuss how and why children pick up and enforce them. They suggest that
norm enforcement appears when children begin trying to identify with their cultural
group. Children try to become a member of the group both by following the customary
rules that govern behavior in the group and by trying to make others do the same.

Mood Regulation in Real Time: Age Differences in the Role of Looking

Derek M. Isaacowitz

Research has shown that older adults display more positive affect and are quicker
to regulate out of negative emotional states than younger adults. In this article,
Isaacowitz looks at “positive looking” as a possible mechanism by which adults regulate
their moods. He presents evidence indicating that older adults prefer positive looking
patterns — eye fixations directed away from negative or toward positive material
— and that in adults with good attentional abilities, positive looking patterns
can lead to positive affect.

It’s All Relative: Sexual Aversions and Moral Judgments Regarding Sex Among Siblings

Debra Lieberman and Adam Smith

For most people, the thought of a sexual relationship with a sibling elicits feelings
of intense disgust, but some are not as disgusted by the thought of sibling incest
as others. Lieberman and Smith suggest that duration of cohabitation and maternal-infant
perinatal associations are two main cues through which siblings are identified.
They posit that individuals who do not experience these sibling cues — such as

Transcending Temptation Through Abstraction: The Role of Construal Level in Self-Control

Kentaro Fujita and Jessica J. Carnevale

Many of the long term goals people strive for — like losing weight — require that
they use self-control and forgo immediate gratification. In this article, Fujita
and Carnevale describe decision making from the perspective of construal-level
theory. They suggest that construal level can affect self-control by influencing
whether people focus on broader goal-relevant implications of choices or on the
incidental implications of their choices. The authors provide support for this
theory and describe possible mechanisms linking construal level to self-control.

The Self and Science: Is It Time for a New Approach to the Study of Human Experience?

Stanley B. Klein

What does it mean when we measure the self? Can scientists do so accurately? In
discussing the components of the epistemological and the ontological self, Klein
suggests that although many different neurocognitive systems help create the
epistemological self, no one of these systems is necessary for maintaining the
experience of the self. In contrast, the ontological self is too poorly understood to
adequatelydefine and as such is not yet a good candidate for psychological research.

Working Memory Capacity, Attentional Focus, and Problem Solving

Jennifer Wiley and Andrew F. Jarosz

Working Memory Capacity (WMC) — a measure of attentional control — plays an important
role in problem solving. In this article, Wiley and Jaroz discuss the role of WMC
in analytic and creative problem solving. They review evidence that high WMC is
associated with positive performance on analytic tasks and negative performance
on creative tasks and suggest that the differing effects illustrate the need for
dual-process models of problem solving.

Bridging Levels of Analysis for Probabilistic Models of Cognition

Thomas L. Griffiths, Edward Vul, and Adam N. Sanborn

Probabilistic models of cognition characterize the abstract computational problems
that underpin inductive inferences and help identify their solutions. According
to Griffiths, Vul, and Sanborn, the best way to evaluate these models is by understanding
the relationships among computational, algorithmic, and implementation levels of
analysis. The authors discuss the use of rational process models and Monte Carlo
methods to try to bridge the gaps between and better understand the relationships
among these levels of analysis.

Across the Event Horizon

Gabriel A. Radvansky

Transitions between events — also known as event boundaries — can both hinder
and improve memory. According to Radvansky, event transitions can lead to increases
in processing activity, which in turn help enhance memory. However, when information
is mentally linked to several events (such as when event transitions occur), memory
for those events can be decreased. The author introduces Event Horizon Model to
explain the seemingly opposite memory effects seen during event transitions.

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