New Content From Current Directions in Psychological Science

Assessing Attention in Category Learning by Animals
Edward A. Wasserman and Leyre Castro

Human and nonhuman animals use attention to learn how different stimuli should be categorized differently. Wasserman and Castro introduce new experimental and computational tools for studying attention in pigeons. Research using these tools has indicated that during category learning, pigeons behave like humans and allocate their attention to stimuli features that are relevant for the category and task. But after learning a category, pigeons are more likely than humans to focus on the probabilistic features of the category members, showing a more distributed attention. Results from this field might further researchers’ understanding of the evolution and mechanisms of categorization.

Transdiagnostic Approaches to Sexual- and Gender-Minority Mental Health
Nicholas R. Eaton, Craig Rodriguez-Seijas, and John E. Pachankis

Eaton and colleagues argue that transdiagnostic approaches might facilitate understanding and reduction of the mental health disparities affecting individuals from sexual and gender minorities. Research has indicated that sexual and gender minorities experience stress related to their minority status, which translates into disproportionate mental health problems. Contrary to traditional diagnostic approaches, science-based transdiagnostic approaches that account for patterns of disparities and comorbidity across mental health problems might more efficiently help researchers identify the mechanisms linking minority stress to poor mental health, develop interventions to reduce stigma, and identify when treatment of the negative outcomes of minority stress could be the most effective.

The Missing Side of Acculturation: How Majority-Group Members Relate to Immigrant and Minority-Group Cultures
Jonas R. Kunst, Katharina Lefringhausen, David L. Sam, John W. Berry, and John F. Dovidio

How do majority-group members acculturate in increasingly diverse societies? Kunst and colleagues review what is known about how majority-group members change their cultural orientations as a result of increased contact with other cultures and members of historical minority groups and/or immigrants. Kunst and colleagues provide an overview of what individual and social processes might shape these changes and the implications of such changes. They propose a model to guide future research, including variables at the group/cultural level (e.g., power differentials and cultural similarity), the individual level (e.g., type of contact and individual differences), and the socio-structural level (e.g., ideologies and policies).

Emotion as Information in Early Social Learning
Yang Wu, Laura E. Schulz, Michael C. Frank, and Hyowon Gweon

Wu and colleagues propose that infants and children can use others’ emotional expressions not only to infer emotional states but also to learn about the physical and social world. The researchers propose an “emotion as information” framework to explain how humans, in their early life, learn how events and mental states influence others’ emotional expressions and then use those expressions to infer hidden mental states and unobserved physical-world events (e.g., guessing which object elicited a given emotional response). This framework integrates affective, developmental, and computational cognitive sciences, extending the type of signals that count as “information” in early learning to emotional expressions.

Does Stigma Moderate the Efficacy of Mental- and Behavioral-Health Interventions? Examining Individual and Contextual Sources of Treatment-Effect Heterogeneity
Mark L. Hatzenbuehler and John E. Pachankis

Hatzenbuehler and Pachankis argue that stigma may be an important but underrecognized source of heterogeneity in outcomes from mental- and behavioral-health interventions. The researchers review evidence from randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses suggesting that individuals with more stigma experiences may benefit more from mental- and behavioral-health interventions than those with fewer stigma experiences. However, communities with greater structural stigma may undermine the benefits of such interventions. Thus, individual and contextual stigmas appear to impact the treatment effects of health interventions differently. Hatzenbuehler and Pachankis hope this review fosters more research on the role stigma plays in health interventions.

Translating Thoughts Into Action: Optimizing Motor Performance and Learning Through Brief Motivational and Attentional Influences
Gabriele Wulf and Rebecca Lewthwaite

What factors influence the learning and performance of motor skills? The Optimizing Performance Through Intrinsic Motivation and Attention for Learning (OPTIMAL) theory proposes conditions that give the performer a sense of autonomy, enhance expectancies for future performance, and encourage an external focus of attention to keep the performer’s attention directed at the task goal and reduce detrimental self-focus, leading to successful motor performance. Wulf and Lewthwaite comment on the implications of OPTIMAL for fostering or improving the motor performance of athletes and musicians and facilitating the reacquisition of functional capabilities in patients with altered mobility.

The Golden Rule as a Paradigm for Fostering Prosocial Behavior With Virtual Reality
Mel Slater and Domna Banakou

The Golden Rule of ethics states that you should not do to others what you would not want others to do to you. This ethical principle can become a paradigm for promoting prosocial behavior in virtual reality (VR), in which participants can directly experience the harm they inflict from the victim’s perspective. This is possible because in VR, participants can experience the illusion of owning a virtual body, including that of their own victim. Slater and Banakou describe how this phenomenon has been used to influence implicit attitudes and provide examples of how applying the golden rule in VR can increase helping behavior.

Do Social Networking Sites Influence Well-Being? The Extended Active-Passive Model
Philippe Verduyn, Nino Gugushvili, and Ethan Kross

According to the active-passive model, social networking sites (SNSs) can increase well-being when used actively to interact with others but can decrease well-being when their content is passively consumed. However, this distinction might not fully capture the sites’ nuanced effects on well-being. Verduyn and colleagues propose the extended active-passive model of SNS use, which organizes active use into reciprocity and communion facets, organizes passive use into achievement and self-relevance facets, and crosses all usage types with user characteristics. Thus, active use may not always be positive, and passive use may not always be negative. 

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