New Content From Perspectives on Psychological Science

Personality Change Through Arts Education: A Review and Call for Further Research
Michael P. Grosz, Julia M. Lemp, Beatrice Rammstedt, and Clemens M. Lechner

Grosz and colleagues reviewed the literature on how arts education affects personality change. Evidence from the 36 studies examined suggested that arts-education programs may foster extraversion and conscientiousness but not self-esteem. These effects appeared to be stronger in early and middle childhood than in preadolescence and adolescence. However, when analyzing only true experiments, the evidence of arts education’s effects on personality was very limited. Given the heterogeneity of studies and the mixed findings, the current evidence is inconclusive. The authors suggest that more research on arts education and personality change is needed.

The Neuroscientification of Psychology: The Rising Prevalence of Neuroscientific Concepts in Psychology From 1965 to 2016
Nick Haslam, Ekaterina Vylomova, Sean C. Murphy, and Sarah J. Wilson

Haslam and colleagues examined how neuroscientific concepts have been represented in 798,402 psychology articles published from 1965 to 2016. They developed a dictionary of 522 neuroscientific terms and, for each year, calculated the percentage of article abstracts in which at least one term appeared. This percentage increased from 9.15% in 1965 to 16.45% in 2016. Proportions were highest among journals covering neuropsychology and physiological psychology and behavioral neuroscience, and lowest among journals covering social psychology and developmental and educational psychology. Changes in the terms present appeared to reflect historical shifts in technology, topic, and anatomical focus.

Measuring the Frequency of Inner-Experience Characteristics
Russell T. Hurlburt et al.

Inner experiences—inner speech, visual images, feelings—are accepted as naturally occurring observable phenomena. Hurlburt and colleagues present three studies that assessed the frequency of such phenomena using different methods. The studies compared frequencies assessed via questionnaires with frequencies assessed via descriptive experience sampling (i.e., random sampling of experiences throughout the participants’ daily lives) and found that questionnaires produced inner experiences 2 to 4 times more frequently than did descriptive experience sampling. These findings call for caution when interpreting questionnaire-based estimates of inner experience and more studies on inner experience.

Are All “Basic Emotions” Emotions? A Problem for the (Basic) Emotions Construct
Andrew Ortony

What is an emotion? Perhaps researchers should still attend to this question, Ortony suggests. The researcher describes the disagreements among researchers about the classification of basic emotions and how these disagreements unveil a more serious problem—the consensus about what an emotion is. He proposes that for a mental state to be considered an emotion, it must be intentional (i.e., be about something), valenced, and conscious. Using this minimalist account of emotion, Ortony shows that surprise, a widely accepted basic emotion, might not be an emotion at all. He discusses new, more coherent, ways of theorizing about emotions.

Moral Judgment as Categorization (MJAC)
Cillian McHugh, Marek McGann, Eric R. Igou, and Elaine L. Kinsella

McHugh and colleagues present moral judgment as categorization (MJAC), a novel perspective on how people make judgments of “right” and “wrong.” MJAC proposes that people learn that different objects, such as behaviors, events, or people, can be classified as morally right or wrong. Repetition and rehearsal of these classifications result in habitualized categorizations. However, these categorizations result from a dynamic process that is highly sensitive to the context. This explanation of how people develop skills in making context-relevant categorizations explains why moral judgments are so complex. Thus, MJAC goes beyond other explanations of moral judgment.

On Dual- and Single-Process Models of Thinking
Wim De Neys

Dual-process models of thinking propose that humans’ thoughts arise from two different processes: an implicit process that is rapid and automatic and an explicit process that is slow and controlled. Single-process models, on the contrary, posit that the differences between intuitive and deliberate thoughts are a matter of degrees of consciousness rather than a product of two qualitatively different processes. De Neys argues that researchers should leave behind the debate about which view is more correct because there is currently no good evidence supporting one over the other. Even if the debate could be solved, he adds, it would not advance the understanding of human thinking.

Reframing Single- and Dual-Process Theories as Cognitive Models: Commentary on De Neys (2021)
Caleb Dewey

Dewey explores the notion of understanding single- and dual-process theories as claims of whether thought processes implement one or two types of algorithms (in cognitive modeling terms), not as claims of whether thought processes share the same or different properties, respectively. If so, he writes, the debate between single- and dual-process theorists is scientifically consequential. This view is opposed to the one shared by De Neys (2021) because it proposes reframing the debate in terms of cognitive models rather than abandoning it.

Illusory Essences: A Bias Holding Back Theorizing in Psychological Science
C. Brick, B. Hood, V. Ekroll, and L. de-Wit

Brick and colleagues suggest that there might be a pervasive bias in most psychological science fields—the assumption that essences explain psychological phenomena—that might prevent theoretical progress. They theorize that psychological concepts (e.g., intelligence) are assumed to represent definable categories with an underlying essence that can create the illusion of understanding. Brick and colleagues suggest four strategies for avoiding essentialism in theory development: (a) Transparently discuss what is known about mechanisms, (b) evaluate contextual and contingent explanations, (c) explicitly test phenomena for a common underlying cause, and (d) consider using unfamiliar words as construct labels.

Habits and Goals in Human Behavior: Separate but Interacting Systems
Wendy Wood, Asaf Mazar, and David T. Neal

Wood and colleagues describe evidence for the idea that habitual behaviors do not require goals but can be performed jointly with goal pursuit. Research in social and health psychology, behavioral neuroscience, animal learning, and computational modeling has suggested that habits can be independent of goals, including implicit goals. Wood and colleagues explain that the rapid activation of specific responses and the resistance to change that characterize habit memory can explain the different conditions in which people act on habit rather than pursuing goals (e.g., time pressure, stress, and fatigue impede goal pursuit but not habit).

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