New Research From Psychological Science

Read about the latest research published in Psychological Science:

Can Authoritarianism Lead to Greater Liking of Out-Groups? The Intriguing Case of Singapore

Arne Roets, Evelyn W. M. Au, and Alain Van Hiel

Authoritarians are people with a tendency to submit to authorities who are deemed to be legitimate and to confirm to norms endorsed by society. They often show a general aggressiveness and dislike of people who do not conform to societal norms, such as out-groups and minorities. The researchers examined whether the association between authoritarianism and dislike of out-groups would still hold in countries — Singapore, for example — in which the established authority explicitly endorsed multiculturalism. Singaporean and Belgian students were assessed for their authoritarian values, out-group views, and their perception of the government’s stance on multiculturalism. Authoritarianism was associated with positive attitudes toward out-groups in students from Singapore but not in students from Belgium. Government support for multiculturalism was found to account for this link. These unique findings suggest that authoritarianism need not be associated with prejudice.

Homosexuality as a Discrete Class

Alyssa L. Norris, David K. Marcus, and Bradley A. Green

Whether the construct of sexual orientation is best described as discrete categories or as lying on a continuum is controversial. Data from more than 35,000 participants in the U.S.-based National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions were analyzed for three indicators of sexual orientation: attraction, identity, and behavior. Taxometric analysis indicated that sexual orientation was best described as discrete classes rather than as a continuum. Interestingly, men who were not exclusively heterosexual were almost always included in the taxon group that indicated same-sex sexuality, whereas non-exclusively heterosexual women were not, indicating that women’s sexuality may be more fluid than men’s; thus, more research many be needed to validate a female homosexuality taxon.

Exogenous Attention Enables Perceptual Learning

Sarit F. A. Szpiro and Marisa Carrasco

People can improve their visual perception through training, although it is generally a time-consuming process. The researchers examined the role of attention in perceptual learning by having participants perform an orientation-comparison task and a spatial-frequency task. The researchers manipulated participants’ attention by including task-irrelevant exogenous cues or task-irrelevant neutral cues in trials during the training portion of the task. The task was designed such that training with the neutral cue would not lead to perceptual learning. The inclusion of the exogenous cue led to learning, and this learning was found to be maintained during a posttest that included only stimuli presented with neutral cues. This study is one of the first to isolate the effects of exogenous attention, showing that it boosts perceptual learning.


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