New Content From Current Directions in Psychological Science

A Transdiagnostic Perspective on Youth Irritability
Daniel N. Klein, Lea R. Dougherty, Ellen M. Kessel, Jamilah Silver, and Gabrielle A. Carlson

Irritability, which can manifest itself as an angry mood (tonic) or angry outbursts (phasic), has become one of the most common reasons for referring youths for mental health services. It is a criterion for multiple diagnoses, and its different manifestations can predict different outcomes in adulthood. For instance, tonic irritability is associated with internalizing symptoms (e.g., anxiety), whereas phasic irritability is associated with externalizing symptoms (e.g., antisocial behavior). Irritability has been linked to genetic and family environmental factors as well as abnormalities in reward and cognitive-control brain circuits, but genetic and environmental influences in irritability appear to differ among age groups.

Three Perceptual Tools for Seeing and Understanding Visualized Data
Steven L. Franconeri

Franconeri examines how people use their visual system to process data visualizations and extract patterns and relationships from figures and graphics depicting data. He argues that viewers use at least three core perceptual tools to see and understand data visualizations— extraction of statistics, extraction of shapes, and comparisons—and that the selection of each tool can influence which patterns the viewers see and how they understand them. Franconeri explains each tool’s strengths and weaknesses and proposes that a better understanding of these tools may lead to the design of more effective data visualizations.

Narcissism Today: What We Know and What We Need to Learn
Joshua D. Miller, Mitja D. Back, Donald R. Lynam, and Aidan G. C. Wright

Miller and colleagues review the current knowledge about narcissism and outline future directions for its study. Recent advances in narcissism research include the development of measures to assess narcissism’s components, clarification of the relationship between narcissism and self-esteem, understanding of the processes underlying narcissistic actions, and hierarchical conceptualizations of narcissism across one, two (grandiose vs. vulnerable narcissism), or three (agentic extraversion, antagonism, and narcissistic neuroticism) factors. Miller and colleagues recommend that future research explore the development, heritability, stability, and centrality of the three factors of the narcissism hierarchy.

Cultural Evolutionary Mismatches in Response to Collective Threat
Michele J. Gelfand

One of the cultural adaptations human groups evolved to cope with collective threats is cultural tightening, characterized by the adoption of strict social norms and punishments. Gelfand discusses two examples in which interference with threat signals leads to cultural mismatches. In the COVID-19 pandemic, the threat is real but there is resistance to tightening. In contrast, the rise of populist movements shows how an exaggeration of threat leads to unnecessary tightening. Calibrating tightening to the degree of actual threat while maximizing order and openness (i.e., becoming “culturally ambidextrous”) is a key challenge for human societies, Gelfand proposes.

How Field Experiments in Economics Can Complement Psychological Research on Judgment Biases
John A. List

List reviews field experiments examining individual behaviors and decisions across different market settings (e.g., open-air markets; rideshare markets, such as Lyft; and tax-compliance markets). The review indicates that the decision-making biases identified in labs also occur in the marketplace and can influence real-life economic variables, including prices, profits, and taxes paid. List uses examples from his research to illustrate how field experiments in economics can complement psychological research in (a) identifying biases’ moderators and heterogeneity, (b) indicating when findings should be reinterpreted, and (c) showing that market pressures do not automatically or immediately neutralize biases.

Inhibitory Control of Information in Memory Across Domains
M. Teresa Bajo, Carlos J. Gómez-Ariza, and Alejandra Marful

Bajo and colleagues show how inhibitory control—control mechanisms that regulate the activation of specific pieces of knowledge and make distracting information in memory less accessible—may target various types of information in domains such as problem solving, access to personal information (e.g., faces and names), decision making, and language production. The researchers suggest that understanding how and why some memory representations, in different contexts, might be more or less susceptible to inhibitory control. They also posit that the factors affecting inhibitory control may foster understanding of how information in memory is accessed and reshaped during retrieval.

The Development of Communication Across Timescales
Elise A. Piazza, Mira L. Nencheva, and Casey Lew-Williams

How do young children develop their language knowledge across timescales that range from milliseconds to months? Piazza and colleagues suggest that studies on statistical summary, neural processing hierarchies, and neural coupling will be successful in clarifying the dynamic language exchanges between children and adults both in the moment and over time (i.e., aggregating experiences across interactions). The researchers discuss how the study of brain-to-brain and brain-to-behavior coupling between children and adults will advance the knowledge about the development across timescales by highlighting how children’s neural representations become aligned with increasingly complex statistics of communication over time.

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