New Content From Perspectives on Psychological Science

Perceptual Representations and the Vividness of Stimulus-Triggered and Stimulus-Independent Experiences
Peter Fazekas, Georgina Nemeth, and Morten Overgaard

Fazekas and colleagues attempt to link features of neural activity with the vividness (i.e., clarity and liveliness) of experiences in different forms of consciousness, such as mind wandering, hallucinations, dreaming, or maintenance of information in working memory (i.e., experiences triggered by a stimulus and stimulus-independent experiences). They investigate the associations between (a) mechanisms that underlie mental imagery and its relation to working memory and (b) the processes responsible for mind wandering and its similarity with dreaming. These neural signatures can help to understand the specific phenomenology of conscious experiences.

Bored Into Depletion? Toward a Tentative Integration of Perceived Self-Control Exertion and Boredom as Guiding Signals for Goal-Directed Behavior
Wanja Wolff and Corinna S. Martarelli

Wolff and colleagues propose that boredom might affect the results of self-control research. They propose that the causes of boredom and its functional role (i.e., signaling that one should change activity) suggest that boredom has been a confound in ego-depletion studies, which assess how performing self-control tasks affects performance on subsequent self-control tasks. The authors provide a model that integrates boredom and evidence from reward-based models of self-control to explain the effects of self-control exertion and boredom on subsequent self-control.

The Taboo Against Explicit Causal Inference in Nonexperimental Psychology
Michael P. Grosz, Julia M. Rohrer, and Felix Thoemmes

Grosz and colleagues note that nonexperimental psychologists typically do not talk openly about causal inferences—but should. These researchers could then take advantage of other fields’ advances in causal reasoning and analysis and understand how causal mechanisms can inform future research, theory, and policymaking. The authors argue that the taboo against explicitly defining causal assumptions in nonexperimental psychology impairs study design and data analysis, limiting the field’s relevance.

Doubting Driverless Dilemmas
Julian De Freitas, Sam E. Anthony, Andrea Censi, and George A. Alvarez

In efforts to create a “global-preference scale” to inform driverless autonomous vehicles (AVs) policy, many researchers have studied people’s reactions to scenarios in which AVs have to choose whom to harm and whom to save (e.g., a pedestrian or a driver). De Freitas and colleagues acknowledge that these projects are impressive in scope and a valuable contribution to understanding people’s moral intuition. But they argue that the projects mostly use trolley-like dilemmas (e.g., a forced choice between the vehicle killing a homeless person or a mother), which are not realistic or frequent enough scenarios to be of practical use. Instead, AV training should focus on minimizing harm.

Rethinking Concepts and Categories for Understanding the Neurodevelopmental Effects of Childhood Adversity
Karen E. Smith and Seth D. Pollak

Smith and Pollak discuss the central problems in understanding the processes through which early adverse experiences affect children’s brain development. They suggest that one of the main problems involves relying on categorizations created by lumping and splitting different types of adversity, such as domestic violence and poverty, resulting in categories that overlap or that lack consistent biological evidence. The authors propose that expanding understanding of children’s experiences of and responses to adversity can clarify individual differences that influence how neurobiological systems may shape future health and behavior. This understanding could also inform the efficacy of different interventions for different individuals.

Training Learning Strategies to Promote Self-Regulation and Transfer: The Knowledge, Belief, Commitment, and Planning Framework
Mark A. McDaniel and Gilles O. Einstein

Students tend to use study strategies that do not result in more learning. Why not train them to use more effective learning strategies? McDaniel and Einstein propose the knowledge, belief, commitment, and planning (KBCP) framework to guide strategy training and foster the use of effective learning strategies. Using the KBCP framework, training must include: (a) providing knowledge about the strategies; (b) fostering beliefs that the strategy works; (c) creating commitment to using the strategy, and; (d) helping with the planning of strategy implementation. The authors provide a concrete training protocol based on the KBCP framework.

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