New Content From Perspectives on Psychological Science

Person Perception, Meet People Perception: Exploring the Social Vision of Groups
Nicholas P. Alt and L. Taylor Phillips

How can we understand how groups, teams, and collectives of people perceive other people? Alt and Phillips review recent research from vision science and organizational-behavior research to extract core principles of people perception: efficiency and effortlessness, capacity (i.e., people perception demands more capacity compared with person perception), and complexity (people perception requires observers to process emergent complexity, such as diversity or hierarchy). Focusing on complexity, Alt and Phillips examine how people perception modifies person-perception processes and enables the perception of group dynamics. On the basis of their review, the researchers propose future directions for research in people perception.

Race, Ethnicity, and the Scarr-Rowe Hypothesis: A Cautionary Example of Fringe Science Entering the Mainstream
Evan J. Giangrande and Eric Turkheimer

The Scarr-Rowe hypothesis posits that, compared with higher socioeconomic status, lower socioeconomic status during childhood leads to decreased heritability of intelligence. In 2020, Pesta and colleagues published a meta-analysis suggesting that the heritability of intelligence did not differ across racial groups in the United States, which they claimed challenged the Scarr-Rowe hypothesis and instead supported the idea that IQ differences among racial groups are attributable to genetic differences rather than to environmental disparities. Giangrande and Turkheimer explain several flaws of Pesta et al.’s meta-analysis and conclusions, concluding that their most reliable finding is consistent with the Scarr-Rowe hypothesis. 

Values in Psychometrics
Lisa D. Wijsen, Denny Borsboom, and Anna Alexandrova

Wijsen and colleagues characterize contemporary psychometrics—the discipline concerned with the measurement and prediction of traits, behaviors, and aptitudes—as a socially and politically value-laden scientific discipline whose methods and assumptions reflect value systems and should be evaluated as such. The authors discuss four values that permeate psychometric decisions: the conceptualization of individual differences as quantitative (not qualitative), the aims of objectivity and fairness of measurement, and the preference for practical utility over theoretical truth. Rather than criticizing psychometrics for reflecting these values, Wijsen and colleagues show that these values are not always unavoidable and should be systematically evaluated.

Applying the Evidence We Have: Support for Having Race Conversations in White U.S. Families
Sylvia P. Perry, Allison L. Skinner-Dorkenoo, Jamie L. Abaied, and Sara F. Waters

In this commentary on Scott and colleagues’ 2020 article suggesting that parents might do more harm than good by talking to their children about race, Perry and colleagues suggest that White families might be able to successfully navigate such conversations. They support Scott and colleagues’ call for more research on the topic but also note that current research on racial socialization and parenting and on parent-children communication appears to indicate that parents having conversations about race can result in better outcomes for children.

White Parents’ Socialization of Racial Attitudes: A Commentary on Scott et al. (2020)
Rebecca S. Bigler, Erin Pahlke, Amber D. Williams, and Brigitte Vittrup

In 2020, Scott and colleagues suggested that parents might do more harm than good by talking to their children about race and that more research is needed to support any generalizations about this issue. In this commentary, Bigler and colleagues support Scott and colleagues’ call for more rigorous research on racial socialization but argue that current research supports a recommendation for parents to discuss race and racism with their children. Bigler and colleagues describe research on racial socialization, intergroup contact, and cognitive development, and they argue that parents may be the ideal socializers of racial attitudes.

A Description–Experience Framework of the Psychology of Risk
Ralph Hertwig and Dirk U. Wulff

How individuals learn about risks—from climate change to cyberwarfare—shapes the success of risk countermeasures. Hertwig and Wulff distinguish between two teachers of risk: descriptions (e.g., warnings and statistics) and personal experience. They argue that one reason why responses to risk depend on learning mode is the discrepant cognitive impact that rare events (risk events) and common events (nonoccurrence of risk events) have on decision makers. Thus, they propose a description–experience framework that emphasizes the impact of each mode of learning and its interplay on individuals’ and collectives’ responses to risk.

Good Theories in Need of Better Data: Combining Clinical and Social Psychological Approaches to Study the Mechanisms Linking Relationships and Health
Allison K. Farrell, Sarah C. E. Stanton, and David A. Sbarra

Farrell and colleagues draw on the science of behavior change and discuss methodologies across psychological science fields that may stimulate the study of the mechanisms linking relationships and health. These methodologies should provide researchers with a better causal understanding of the mechanisms underlying the connection between relationships and health. The authors warn that these methods are most effective when used together and within a program of research or teams of collaborators. To foster cross-research group collaborations, they recommend that researchers who have data on this area submit them to the Love Consortium data-science initiative (

The Conceptual, Cunning, and Conclusive Experiment in Psychology
Stijn Debrouwere and Yves Rosseel

Debrouwere and Rosseel believe that psychology is fundamentally incompatible with hypothesis-driven theoretical science. They suggest that, in psychology, predictions are loosely connected to hypotheses, which are loosely connected to theories. Thus, it is impossible for experimental evidence to truly test theories. The authors propose that the cunning, confirmatory, and conclusive experiment (the gold standard for experiments in fields such as physics) is not the engine for scientific progress in psychology and, therefore, proposals to improve psychological science that call for stricter statistical standards, preregistration, and replication are not sufficient. Instead, researchers must recalibrate their ideas about what psychological science ought to be.

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