New Content From Current Directions in Psychological Science

Collective Narcissism and Its Social Consequences: The Bad and the Ugly
Agnieszka Golec de Zavala and Dorottya Lantos

Collective narcissism is the belief that one’s group is exceptional but not sufficiently recognized by others. This form of love for one’s own group is usually associated with hostility toward other groups and predicts prejudice and intergroup aggression. de Zavala and Lantos explain that a biased perception of one’s group as constantly threatened by other groups is the basis for prejudice and hostility against others. Collective narcissism thus empowers extremists and populist politicians. However, experiences that increase emotional resiliency, such as positive identification with a community, may weaken the association between collective narcissism and intergroup hostility.

Why Do Narcissists Care So Much About Intelligence?
Marcin Zajenkowski and Michael Dufner

Narcissists tend to want high social status, the appearance of competence, and to have autonomy. As intelligence plays a key role in attaining such goals, it should be important for narcissists, Zajenkowski and Dufner propose. They report evidence suggesting that grandiose narcissists consider intelligence a resource that leads to benefits, motivating them to appear intelligent to others. This does not mean that narcissists are more intelligent than non-narcissists, but it does indicate that intelligence plays a role in the way narcissists think, feel, and behave.

Reduced Memory Coherence for Negative Events and Its Relationship to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
James A. Bisby, Neil Burgess, and Chris R. Brewin

Bisby and colleagues review research in healthy individuals showing that negative content appears to disrupt the coherence of memories. By bringing this literature together with literature on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), they explain the memory symptoms that characterize PTSD. In PTSD, sensory and affective representations of an event’s negative content appear to be strengthened, but hippocampal impairment weakens the memory for the context in which the event occurred. This dual representation can explain why people with PTSD involuntarily remember vivid images of the trauma but show impaired coherence of voluntary recall of the traumatic event.

What Your Nose Knows: Affective, Cognitive, and Behavioral Responses to the Scent of Another Person
Marlise K. Hofer, Frances S. Chen, and Mark Schaller

People associate body odors with different types of information, such as personal characteristics or emotional states. Hofer and colleagues review recent research on responses to strangers’ body odors (e.g., the scent of a sick person leads perceivers to judge them as less likeable; the scent of a fearful person increases the perceiver’s anxiety) and new research about the consequences of loved ones’ scents (e.g., a loved one’s body odor reduces stress and enhances sleep). Hofer and colleagues suggest that future research should explore how people acquire the knowledge they use to make odor-based inferences.

Attention Control: A Cornerstone of Higher-Order Cognition
Alexander P. Burgoyne and Randall W. Engle

Why do people who are highly skilled in one cognitive domain also tend to be skilled in other cognitive domains? Burgoyne and Engle suggest that attention control might be a common thread linking complex cognitive tasks. The authors describe how attention control helps people both maintain relevant information (important for working memory tasks) and disengage from no-longer-relevant information (important for problem solving), contributing to their performance in different complex cognitive tasks. Burgoyne and Engle describe newly developed tasks to measure attention control and their applied value for personnel selection assessments.

When Ignoring Negative Feedback Is Functional: Presenting a Model of Motivated Feedback Disengagement
Felix Grundmann, Susanne Scheibe, and Kai Epstude

Sometimes people ignore negative feedback to feel good (i.e., hedonic-goal attainment), Grundmann and colleagues argue. They propose that the negative affect induced by negative feedback might make people more motivated to feel good (i.e., pursue a hedonic goal) than to improve their performance (i.e., pursue an improvement goal). Thus, after forming the intention to regulate their emotions, feedback recipients implement an emotion-regulation strategy that can include engagement (reappraisal and feedback focus) or disengagement (distraction and feedback removal). These strategies will impact feedback results differently.