New Research From Psychological Science

Read about the latest research published in Psychological Science:

An Event-Based Account of Conformity

Diana Kim and Bernhard Hommel

Why do people conform to the behaviors and judgments of others? In two sessions, female participants rated the attractiveness of faces on a scale of 1 to 8. In the first session only, after each picture, participants were shown a number or a short video clip of someone pushing a number button. Participants’ attractiveness ratings in the second session were influenced by the number and video presentations shown in the first rating session. The authors posit that actions people take and the events they perceive are coded in a common format. Because people code their own and others’ actions in similar formats, they may fail to distinguish between these two categories of actions. This means that future behavior is based on a combination of previous actions and the actions of others.

Two Languages, Two Minds: Flexible Cognitive Processing Driven by Language of Operation

Panos Athanasopoulos, Emanuel Bylund, Guillermo Montero-Melis, Ljubica Damjanovic, Alina Schartner, Alexandra Kibbe, Nick Riches, and Guillaume Thierry

In this study, bilingual German-English speakers watched three film clips: One (the target) showed movement toward — but not arrival at — a goal location. Another clip showed arrival at a goal, and a third showed motion toward a possible goal in the distance. Participants had to indicate which alternative clip was most like the target clip. They also completed an interference task in either German or English while watching the film clips. When participants completed the interference task in German, their categorization of the film clips was more like that of English monolingual speakers. When they completed the interference task in English, their categorization of the film clips was more like German monolingual speakers. These findings show that language can influence cognitive processes associated with the categorization of events.

Sadness Shifts to Anxiety Over Time and Distance From the National Tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut

Bruce Doré, Leonard Ort, Ofir Braverman, and Kevin N. Ochsner

Common sense indicates that as the temporal and spatial distance from a traumatic event increases, the intensity of the emotional response related to that event decreases. The authors investigated this assumption by examining tweets (short messages containing a maximum of 140 characters) occurring in the 6 months following the shooting that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012. They found that as the time and distance from the tragedy increased, the amount of sadness indicators in tweets decreased and the number of anxiety indicators in tweets increased. The researchers found that this increase in anxiety was associated with increases in language reflecting causal thinking about the event.

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