New Content From Perspectives on Psychological Science

A Role for Uncertainty in the Neural Distinction Between Social and Nonsocial Thought
Dilara Berkay and Adrianna C. Jenkins

A network of brain regions appears to be more engaged when people think about other people than when they engage in nonsocial tasks. Activations in this “mentalizing network” have been interpreted as evidence for the domain-specificity of cognitive processes supporting social thought. However, Berkay and Jenkins show that some of these activations may reflect domain-general processes of uncertainty reduction. They reconsider findings from existing functional MRI studies suggesting that (a) social tasks used in past studies had higher levels of uncertainty than their nonsocial comparison tasks, and (b) activation in a brain region associated with social cognition, the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, may be associated with uncertainty surrounding both social and nonsocial inferences.   

Examination of the COVID-19 Pandemic’s Impact on Mental Health From Three Perspectives: Global, Social, and Individual
Lauren E. Thomas et al.  

Different factors from diverse domains of examination influence how the COVID-19 pandemic affected mental health. Thomas and colleagues examine this impact from three perspectives: international/cultural, social, and individual. Both the enduring threat of COVID-19 infection and the protective measures to contain contagion have important consequences on mental health. Focusing on these consequences along with possible remedial interventions, Thomas and colleagues hope this work will stimulate more research and will suggest factors to consider in coordinating responses to future global threats. 

A New Look at Young Children’s Referential Informativeness
Jared Vasil

How important are cues to common ground (CG), which provide evidence for the shared knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes of interlocutors, to the linguistic referential informativeness of 2- to 5-year-olds? Speakers typically use less informative expressions, such as pronouns (e.g., “it”), to refer to referents in CG. Conversely, speakers tend to use more informative expressions, such as lexical noun phrases (e.g., “the cup”) when placing referents into CG. Thus, using CG saves can be a more efficient way of communicating Vasil reviews experimental evidence suggesting that 2-year-olds use inferences about CG to appropriately scale their linguistic informativeness. The author proposes a process model that considers how updates to Bayesian beliefs about CG shape reference. 

The Benefits, Barriers, and Risks of Big-Team Science
Patrick S. Forscher et al.

An emphasis on big-team science can help address challenges concerning replicability, generalizability, strategy selection, and inferential and computational reproducibility, Forscher and colleagues suggest. Big-team science allows researchers to pool their resources together for studies. However, the authors note, academic science’s current incentives, infrastructure, and institutions have developed under the assumption that science is conducted by solo principal investigators and their dependent trainees, creating barriers to sustainable big-team science. Forscher and colleagues also consider potential risks of big-team science and how to address them. 

Overcoming Limitations in Peer-Victimization Research That Impede Successful Intervention: Challenges and New Directions
Herbert W. Marsh et al.

Reviewing current research on the worldwide problem of peer victimization at school, Marsh and colleagues identify solutions including (a) introducing measures to assess bullying and victimization, (b) analyzing cross-national data sets, and (c) embracing a social-ecological perspective emphasizing the motivation of bullies, the importance of bystanders, pro-defending and antibullying attitudes, classroom climate, and a multilevel perspective. For instance, teachers can be trained to create a supportive climate that helps student-bystanders overcome the tendency to reinforce bullies. Recommendations for future research and practice include studying bullying and victimization simultaneously and targeting classroom climate and bystander roles as critical intervention outcomes. 

Learning in Individual Organisms, Genes, Machines, and Groups: A New Way of Defining and Relating Learning in Different Systems
Jan De Houwer and Sean Hughes

Communication about research on learning is hampered by the fact that different researchers define learning in different ways, De Houwer and Hughes suggest. They suggest that their extended functional definition of learning can be applied to individual organisms, genes, machines, and groups. Using the extended functional definition (a) reveals a heuristic framework for research that can be applied across scientific disciplines, (b) allows researchers to engage in intersystem analyses that relate behavior to learning of different systems, and (c) clarifies how learning differs from other phenomena such as (changes in) behavior, damaging systems, and programming systems.  
See a related news release

Complex Racial Trauma: Evidence, Theory, Assessment, and Treatment
Jude Mary Cénat

Similar to complex trauma, racial trauma surrounds the victims’ life course and engenders consequences on their physical and mental health, behavior, cognition, relationships with others, self-concept, and social and economic life. Cénat presents evidence for complex racial trauma (CoRT), a theoretical framework of CoRT, and guidelines for its assessment and treatment.   

Improving Scale Equivalence by Increasing Access to Scale-Specific Information
Alicia B. W. Clifton, Alexander G. Stahlmann, Jennifer Hofmann, Alice Chirico, Rive Cadwallader, and Jeremy D. W. Clifton

Clifton and colleagues explore the possibility that measure-specific translation guides be created by original scale builders for the most widely used measures of important psychological constructs. They describe why such guides are needed, when they are needed, what they might look like, their feasibility, and next steps, providing a complete example guide.   

Self-Prioritization Reconsidered: Scrutinizing Three Claims
Marius Golubickis and C. Neil Macrae  

Golubickis and Macrae challenge the idea that the prioritized processing of arbitrary stimuli (e.g., colors, shapes) associated with the self is automatic. They argue that the prioritization of arbitrary self-related stimuli appears to be a task-dependent product of ordinary cognitive processes. 

Understanding and Addressing Older Adults’ Loneliness: The Social Relationship Expectations Framework
Samia C. Akhter-Khan, Matthew Prina, Gloria Hoi-Yan Wong, Rosie Mayston, and Leon Li

Loneliness is thought to result from a perceived discrepancy between expected and actual social relationships, but previous research and interventions have not sufficiently addressed what older adults expect from their social relationships. To address this gap, Akhter-Khan and colleagues propose a framework that outlines six social relationship expectations of older adults: availability of social contacts, receiving care and support, intimacy and understanding, enjoyment and shared interests, generativity and contribution, and being respected and valued. The researchers argue that a complete understanding of loneliness requires understanding how contextual factors (e.g., culture, functional limitations, social network changes) affect the fulfillment of relationship expectations.   

Thirty Years of Psychological Wisdom Research: What We Know About the Correlates of an Ancient Concept
Mengxi Dong, Nic M. Weststrate, and Marc A. Fournier

How does wisdom correlate with other constructs? Dong and colleagues use multilevel meta-analyses to elucidate this question, summarizing wisdom’s correlations with age, intelligence, the Big Five personality traits, narcissism, self-esteem, social desirability, and well-being. They also examine whether these correlations are moderated by the general approach to conceptualizing and measuring wisdom (i.e., phenomenological wisdom as indexed by self-report vs. performative wisdom as indexed by performance ratings), specific wisdom measures, and variable-specific factors (e.g., age range, type of intelligence measures, and well-being type). They found that phenomenological and performative approaches to wisdom were both correlated with openness, hedonic well-being, and eudaimonic well-being.   

Too Good to Be True: Bots and Bad Data From Mechanical Turk
Margaret A. Webb and June P. Tangney

In 2015, up to an estimated 45% of articles published in the top behavioral and social science journals included at least one study conducted on MTurk. Webb and Tangney summarize their experience using MTurk for one study in which their sample, they deduced, was only 2.6% valid (i.e., 14 participants out of a sample of 529). Issues with data collected included failures to meet eligibility criteria, despite the filters enabled, failures to complete the experiment and pass attention checks, unrealistic response times, and unusual qualitative responses. The authors share these results as a warning and call for caution.   

Beyond Infant’s Looking: The Neural Basis for Infant Prediction Errors
Andrea Berger and Michael I. Posner

Berger and Posner review empirical evidence supporting the idea that predictive processes can be found in infancy, especially emphasizing the contribution of electrophysiology as a potential method for testing the similarity of the brain mechanisms for processing prediction errors in infants to those of adults. 

C-H-E-A-T: Wordle Cheating Is Related to Religiosity and Cultural Tightness
Alexandra S. Wormley and Adam B. Cohen

People in states higher in religiousness and cultural tightness (strict social norms and harsh punishment for violating those norms) appear to be less likely to cheat on Wordle, an online brainteaser that became widespread in early 2022. Wormley and Cohen analyzed data from Google Trends and found that states higher in religiosity and cultural tightness were less likely to search for the answer to the day’s Wordle puzzle. Although correlational and reflecting a benign example of cheating behavior, these findings highlight how popular trends can be used as case-studies of group behavior. 

Feedback on this article? Email [email protected] or login to comment. Interested in writing for us? Read our contributor guidelines

APS regularly opens certain online articles for discussion on our website. Effective February 2021, you must be a logged-in APS member to post comments. By posting a comment, you agree to our Community Guidelines and the display of your profile information, including your name and affiliation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations present in article comments are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of APS or the article’s author. For more information, please see our Community Guidelines.

Please login with your APS account to comment.