New Content From Current Directions in Psychological Science

Ten Things You Should Know About Sign Languages
Karen Emmorey

Emmorey identifies facts people should know about sign languages: (1) They have phonology and poetry. (2) They vary in linguistic structure and family history but share typological features due to their shared manual production. (3) They share similarities in perceiving and producing speech and sign, but their different modality can impact processing. (4) Iconicity is pervasive and can play a role in sign language’s acquisition and processing. (5) Deaf and hard-of-hearing children are at risk for language deprivation. (6) Signers gesture when signing. (7) Understanding sign language enhances some visual-spatial skills. (8) The same left-hemisphere brain regions support spoken and sign languages, but some neural regions are specific to sign language. (9) Individuals who use sign and spoken languages can produce sign and speech at the same time (code-blend), whereas speech bilinguals cannot say a word in two languages at the same time. In other words, producing speech does not inhibit sign, and vice-versa. (10) The emergence of new sign languages reveals patterns of language creation and evolution.   

Embedding Cognition: Judgment and Choice in an Interdependent and Dynamic World
Elke U. Weber, Sara M. Constantino, and Maja Schlüter

Deeper theorizing about the temporal dynamics and feedback between individuals and the broader contexts in which they are embedded might help cognitive psychologists to better understand complex societal problems and how individual and collective action can drive broader social change, Weber and colleagues suggest. They review literature emphasizing the role of context in psychological processes as well as emerging research considering individuals as embedded in complex adaptive systems. By pointing to theories and methods that integrate across levels of analysis and account for coupled nature-society systems, this perspective might foster the identification of solution pathways to complex, multilevel challenges.   

What Is the Power of Identity? Examining the Moderating Role of Racial-Identity Latent Profiles on the Relationship Between Race-Related Stress and Trauma Symptoms Among Black American Women
Ifrah S. Sheikh et al.

This study illustrates how stress from racial discrimination may influence symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and how racial identity profiles may moderate this relationship. Sheikh and colleagues investigated these issues in a sample of nontreatment-seeking, trauma-exposed Black American women in an urban setting. Three racial-identity profiles emerged from latent profile analyses: undifferentiated (average views), detached (appeared to have negative views about being Black), and nationalist (pro-Black attitudes and placed significance on being of African descent). The nationalist profile group experienced significantly higher race-related stress compared with the detached and undifferentiated profiles. However, the nationalist profile type buffered the effects of race-related stress on PTSD symptoms, whereas the detached and undifferentiated profiles appeared to exacerbate the effects.   

Lie Detection: What Works?
Tim Brennen and Svein Magnussen

Reliable lie-detection methods would be useful in forensic contexts, but most methods are not very reliable and must be used with caution. Research has indicated that humans can rarely pick up lies on the basis of nonverbal cues. Humans are somewhat better at identifying lies when they use systematic methodologies that analyze verbal cues and physiological and neuroscientific methods, but these methods still fall well below the legal standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Recent research identifies two methods that might help in lie detection: 1) interviews based on a free account, in which the person tells their story in their own words, without any interruption followed by investigators gradually introducing the evidence, and 2) automated machine-learning methods. 

“What Does It Take to Succeed Here?”: The Belief That Success Requires Brilliance Is an Obstacle to Diversity
Melis Muradoglu, Sophie H. Arnold, Sarah-Jane Leslie, and Andrei Cimpian 

To gain insights into obstacles to diversity, Muradoglu and colleagues propose a conceptual framework—the field-specific ability beliefs (FAB) model. This model suggests that gender and racial/ethnic imbalances in a field or occupation result in part from two beliefs: (a) success in that field or occupation requires high levels of intellectual ability (“brilliance”) and (b) intellectual ability is associated with (White) men more than other groups. The researchers detail the evidence for the FAB model, including that its core beliefs are present even among children. Muradoglu and colleagues propose that research on the FAB model might be applied to improve diversity in all fields and occupations. 

Humans’ Bias Blind Spot and Its Societal Significance
Emily Pronin and Lori Hazel  

Humans have a bias blind spot; they see bias everywhere but sometimes not in themselves, Pronin and Hazel say. They suggest that the bias blind spot is rooted in a differentiation between self- and social perception and in self-esteem motives. This blind spot generalizes across social, cognitive, and behavioral biases, hinders self-knowledge, and fuels interpersonal misunderstanding. It begins in childhood and appears across cultures, occurring even in high-stakes contexts such as investing, medicine, human resources, and law. Importantly, the bias blind spot can prevent bias-reduction strategies from working. Pronin and Hazel propose research-based solutions for reducing it. 

See related article in the 2023 September/October Observer.

Embodied and Embedded Learning: Child, Caregiver, and Context
Catherine S. Tamis-LeMonda and Lillian R. Masek

Tamis-LeMonda and Masek highlight the embodied and embedded nature of infant learning. Learning is embodied in that an infant serendipitously creates an ideal curriculum through varied time-distributed practice across behavioral domains. Learning is embedded in that an infant’s behavior elicits timely responses from caregivers that are situated in richly informative and structured environments. Feedback loops generated by the active infant, the salience of caregiver responses, and the regularity of environmental contexts propel learning, Tamis-LeMonda and Masek suggest. They propose that the study of natural behaviors in natural environments spotlights the roles of infant, caregiver, and context in everyday learning. 

The Cascading Development of Visual Attention in Infancy: Learning to Look and Looking to Learn
Lisa M. Oakes

Where and how long an infant looks is typically used as an index of the development of their visual attention. However, visual attention and looking are complex systems that are multiply determined and interconnected, Oakes argues. Infants learn to look, reflecting cascading effects of changes in their attention, visual system, and motor control as well as the information they learn about the world around them. But infants also look to learn, as their looking behavior provides the input they use to perceive the world. Thus, Oakes suggests that appreciating the cascading effects of changes across these intertwined domains could foster a deeper understanding of infant development. 

The New Reality: Non-Eyewitness Identifications in a Surveillance World
Kathy Pezdek and Tamar Lerer

Non-eyewitnesses are people who testify about who they think a video depicts on the basis of their prior familiarity with that person. Pezdek and Lerer explore seven factors that affect the accuracy of non-eyewitness identifications. These factors can be organized into three categories of bias—case-specific bias, person-specific bias, and general cognitive bias—that are likely to reduce the probability of correct identification. The authors propose that the quality of the video and an evaluation of these factors should be used for determining the admissibility of non-eyewitness identifications in court. They also call for the adoption of legal safeguards against non-eyewitness misidentifications. 

See related article in the 2023 September/October Observer.

The Use of Ontologies to Accelerate the Behavioral Sciences: Promises and Challenges
Carla Sharp, Robert M. Kaplan, and Timothy J. Strauman

Sharp and colleagues summarize a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine consensus report on the development and use of ontologies to accelerate the behavioral sciences. They highlight the advantages of ontologies, including enhanced organization and retrieval of research evidence, improved scientific communication, reduced duplication, and enhanced scientific replicability; and they consider the challenges that may impede the development and use of ontologies in the behavioral sciences, including the complexity of constructs and their non-observable nature. The researchers also highlight the steps needed to further develop ontologies in behavioral sciences, including the need for more research and funding. 

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