New Research From Psychological Science

Read about the latest research published in Psychological Science:

On Race and Time

Gordon B. Moskowitz, Irmak Olcaysoy Okten, and Cynthia M. Gooch

People who show high external motivation to control prejudice (EMCP) feel threatened by the possibility that they may be viewed as biased. This threat causes people high in EMCP to feel increased arousal and anxiety in intergroup situations. The researchers were interested to know whether people concerned with appearing biased experience time-perception distortions in intergroup situations, given that arousal has been shown to influence the perception of time. White participants were shown images of White and Black faces and indicated whether the display duration of the images was longer or shorter than the display duration of a neutral image. Participants high in EMCP reported that Black faces appeared for longer than White faces. The authors suggest that these distortions in time perception may represent a new form of implicit racial bias.

Direct Evidence for Active Suppression of Salient-but-Irrelevant Sensory Inputs

Nicholas Gaspelin, Carly J. Leonard, and Steven J. Luck

Although feature singletons (i.e., objects that differ from a homogeneous background) seem to capture attention, researchers are unsure whether they capture attention regardless of a person’s goals (as stimulus-driven theories would suggest) or capture attention depending on a person’s intentions (as goal-driven theories would suggest). A combination of these theories — the signal-suppression hypothesis — posits that these types of stimuli automatically generate a salience signal that can subsequently be suppressed, preventing attention capture. The researchers tested this hypothesis in four studies. Participants searched an array of shapes for a target shape while ignoring a color singleton or, on infrequent trials, reported letters superimposed on the shapes within the array. Participant responses to both types of trials supported the signal-suppression hypothesis.

Weight Discrimination and Risk of Mortality

Angelina R. Sutin, Yannick Stephan, and Antonio Terracciano

Weight discrimination has been linked to increased loneliness, distress, chronic inflammation, and health-risk behaviors. In a study of two large-scale U.S.-based samples — the Health and Retirement Study and the Midlife in the United States Study — the researchers examined whether weight discrimination is also linked to increased mortality. Participants in both samples reported incidents of everyday discrimination and then attributed the experiences to a number of personal characteristics, such as ancestry, weight, and sexual orientation. The researchers used the National Death Index and communication with the participants’ family members to track participant mortality. Weight discrimination was associated with a 60% increased mortality risk in both samples — an increased risk not accounted for by other physical and psychological risk factors.