New Content From Perspectives on Psychological Science

Commentary on Elkjær et al.’s (2020) Meta-Analysis on Expansive Versus Contractive Nonverbal Displays
Robert Körner, Lukas Röseler, and Astrid Schütz

Elkjær and colleagues (2020) conducted a meta-analysis on how bodily postures might influence affective and behavioral responses. Körner and colleagues point out three constraints to the meta-analysis: (a) The procedure did not follow open-science practices, (b) the authors did not check for biases and exclude some articles when selecting articles, and (c) the authors did not distinguish among various types of body positions and movements (e.g., different forms of expansive postures send different power messages).

Contemplative Psychology: History, Key Assumptions, and Future Directions
William Van Gordon, Supakyada Sapthiang, and Edo Shonini

Van Gordon and colleagues provide an overview of contemplative psychology, a field that studies processes and practices such as meditation, mindfulness, yoga, introspection, and reflection. The researchers define an act of contemplation as a purposeful and deliberate focused attention on objects of contemplation that involves a process of exploration and/or reflection toward the object of contemplation. They also present the history and key assumptions of contemplative psychology and discuss how those assumptions result in a need for a whole-discipline approach that will lead to greater intra- and interdisciplinary awareness of the core contemplative psychology attributes.

What Happened to Mirror Neurons?
Cecilia Heyes and Caroline Catmur

Heyes and Catmur present a review of the research about mirror neurons—neurons that fire in response to execution and observation of behaviors—published since 2011. They discuss the origins and function of mirror neurons, concluding that they appear to contribute to complex control systems at relative low-level processing rather than acting alone or dominating systems in the brain. The authors suggest that although the actual role of mirror neurons might sound disappointing relative to some early claims, studying them can still help researchers to better understand body movements, speech perception, and imitation.

The Number of Senders and Total Judgments Matter More Than Sample Size in Deception-Detection Experiments
Timothy R. Levine, Yasuhiro Daiku, and Jaume Masip

How well can people tell truth from lies? Meta-analyses suggest that findings from large-scale experiments converge (accuracy is normally distributed around 54%), but findings from smaller experiments can be discordant. Levine and colleagues report simulations with varied sample size, number of unique senders (i.e., participants or sources who provide truthful and deceptive information), and number of judgments per participant. Results suggest that the stability of findings depends more on the number of judgments than the sample size. Also, experiments with too few senders may yield findings that are less likely to be replicable.

Viewing Development Through the Lens of Culture: Integrating Developmental and Cultural Psychology to Better Understand Cognition and Behavior
Larisa Heiphetz and Shigehiro Oishi

Viewing human developmental milestones through the lens of cultural psychology may shed light on questions about the emergence of new cultures and the role of culture in shaping psychological processes. As development is influenced by shared values and language and the transmission of social norms, viewing it through culture can also clarify developmental topics, such as age-related changes in cognition and behavior and conflicts between individuals at different stages of development. Thus, Heiphetz and Oishi argue that integrating cultural and developmental psychology can improve researchers’ understanding of social and individual cognition and behavior.

Small Effects: The Indispensable Foundation for a Cumulative Psychological Science
Friedrich M. Götz, Samuel D. Gosling, and Peter J. Rentfrow

Götz and colleagues argue that psychological phenomena are most likely determined by a multitude of causes, each with a small effect. They describe the dangers of a publication culture that demands large effects: (a) It rewards inflated effects that are unlikely to be real and encourages questionable practices to obtain such effects, and (b) it hampers the understanding of complex psychological phenomena. The authors recommend using small effects to build a cumulative science. This would allow scholars to, for instance, leverage the power of big data and machine learning, promote preregistration, and change culture to reward accurate and meaningful effects.

Social Processes Associated With Health and Health Behaviors Linked to Early Mortality in People With a Diagnosis of a Serious Mental Illness
Karen L. Fortuna, Ashley Williams, George Mois, Kendra Jason, and Cynthia L. Bianco

Individuals with serious mental illness (SMI) tend to live 10 to 25 years less than the general population, a difference in life expectancy that is increasing despite the development of health promotion interventions for people with SMI. To address this mortality disparity, Fortuna and colleagues present the social processes impacting early mortality in people with SMI paradigm. The paradigm highlights how social processes such as loneliness, stigma, trauma, exclusion, isolation, and social norms can shape the health and health behaviors of people with SMI and influence their early mortality.

A Signal Detection Approach to Understanding the Identification of Fake News
Cédric Batailler, Skylar M. Brannon, Paul E. Teas, and Bertram Gawronski

Batailler and colleagues discuss how signal detection theory (SDT) can help with understanding and disentangling two different aspects in the identification of fake news: the ability to distinguish between real news and fake news, measured by a discrimination parameter (d′), and response biases to judge news as real or fake regardless of news veracity, measured by a criterion parameter (c). The researchers reanalyzed existing data sets to illustrate the use of SDT in fake-news research and deliver insights into how partisan bias, cognitive reflection, and prior exposure influence discrimination and bias in the identification of fake news.

What Makes a Champion? Early Multidisciplinary Practice, Not Early Specialization, Predicts World-Class Performance
Arne Güllich, Brooke N. Macnamara, and David Z. Hambrick

In sports, early multidisciplinary practice rather than specialized practice appears to explain exceptional performance. Güllich and colleagues report on a meta-analysis that used data from 6,096 athletes and 447 effect sizes. Data included each athlete’s starting age, age of reaching performance milestones, and amount of practice in their main sport and other sports. Results indicated that world-class adult athletes engaged in more early multisport practice, started their main sport later, and initially progressed more slowly than national-class athletes. These findings suggest that varied multidisciplinary practice might lead to initially slower discipline-specific progress but greater sustainability of future excellence.


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