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Watch Out for the Experienced Study Participant

This is an image of a person selecting a response on a survey.When conducting psychology studies online or in the lab, researchers might not think about participants’ past experiences as a research subject. But research published in Psychological Science suggests that these experiences could make a difference in study outcomes.

The research shows that participants who are not naïve to research methods or materials—those who have performed the same task multiple times across different studies, for example—may produce varying results, even when they do not remember having participated in similar experiments before.

Psychology researcher Jesse Chandler of the University of Michigan and Mathematica Policy Research and colleagues followed up with participants who earlier had completed a series of psychology tasks online (see Klein et al., 2014). Participants were contacted a few days, about a week, or…


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Perspectives on Psychological Science

Perspectives on Psychological Science: Volume 10, Number 4

Perspectives on Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, publishes an eclectic mix of provocative reports and articles, including broad integrative reviews, overviews of research programs, meta-analyses, theoretical statements, opinion pieces about major issues in the field, and even occasional humorous essays and sketches.

Position Effects in Choice From Simultaneous Displays: A Conundrum Solved Maya Bar-Hillel

Safety, Threat, and Stress in Intergroup Relations: A Coalitional Index Model Pascal Boyer, Rengin Firat, and Florian van Leeuwen

Positive Stereotypes Are Pervasive and Powerful Alexander M. Czopp, Aaron C. Kay, and Sapna Cheryan

Humans as Superorganisms: How Microbes, Viruses, Imprinted Genes, and Other Selfish Entities Shape Our Behavior Peter Kramer and Paola Bressan

Arguments Against a Configural Processing Account of Familiar Face Recognition Mike Burton, Stefan R. Schweinberger, Rob Jenkins,…


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A New You: Behavior Change May Drive Personality Change

EC_large_2Do you want to be more productive at work? Do you want to stop worrying so much, or to be more compassionate toward others? If so, you’re not the only one — judging, that is, by the number of self-help books and seminars that tout personality-change regimens. But what does it really take to alter your personality?

In a 2014 article published in the European Journal of Personality, researchers Marie Hennecke (University of Zurich), Wiebke Bleidorn (University of California, Davis), Jaap Denissen (Humboldt-University Berlin), and Dustin Wood (Wake Forest University) presented a framework describing three preconditions for self-directed personality change. According to this framework, in order to successfully…


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Toddlers and Touchscreens: A Science in Development

In the last decade, smartphones and tablets have gone from being rare luxury devices to essential components of everyday life: Results of a recent survey show, for example, that family ownership of touchscreens in the UK increased from 7% in 2011 to 71% in 2014 (Ofcom, 2014). APS Board Member Annette Karmiloff-Smith and Tim Smith, psychological scientists at Birkbeck, University of London, want to know how this rise in digital technology may be affecting early child development. To do so, the scientists have established the TABLET project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, which aims to document the central role that touchscreen devices seem to play in family life and the enthusiasm that most children show for using the devices — in addition to recording parents’ concerns about digital technology.

This is a photo of a toddler using a tablet.The…


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Brain Activity of Passengers on Terrifying Flight Sheds Light on Trauma Memory

Neuroimaging data collected from a group of passengers who thought they were going to die when their plane ran out of fuel over the Atlantic Ocean in the summer of 2001 are helping psychology researchers better understand trauma memories and how they’re processed in the brain.

A total of eight passengers agreed to undergo fMRI scanning while they looked at video recreation of the Air Transat incident, footage of the 9/11 attacks, and a neutral event. The participants ranged in age from 30s to 60s; while some had a diagnosis of PTSD, most did not.

This is a photo of a plane flying into clouds.“This traumatic incident still haunts passengers regardless of whether they have PTSD or not. They remember the event as though it happened yesterday, when in fact it happened almost a decade ago (at the time of the brain…


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