New Research From Psychological Science

Read about the latest research published in Psychological Science:

Failure of Intuition When Choosing Whether to Invest in a Single Goal or Split Resources Between Two Goals

Alasdair D. F. Clarke and Amelia R. Hunt

How do people respond when asked to perform two similar tasks simultaneously? In theory, if both tasks are easy, they should divide their attention and try to complete both; however, once the tasks become more demanding, they should change strategies and prioritize one task at the expense of the other. In a series of four studies, participants completed simultaneous detection (Study 1), throwing (Study 2), memory (Study 3), or reaching (Study 4) tasks. The majority of participants did not change strategies as the tasks become more difficult, except in the reaching task (Study 4). In the reaching task, participants displayed optimal performance. The authors suggest that the simple and basic nature of this task may have led participants to be more certain about their ability, thereby promoting appropriate strategy shifts.

Beyond Faces and Expertise: Facelike Holistic Processing of Nonface Objects in the Absence of Expertise

Mintao Zhao, Heinrich H. Bülthoff, and Isabelle Bülthoff

Current theories of holistic processing — the tendency to perceive objects as a whole rather than individual parts — assert that nonface objects cannot elicit facelike holistic processing in the absence of expertise, that is, without having extensive experience or training with the nonface object. In this study, the authors show that this may not always be the case. In two experiments, the researchers created line-pattern stimuli that displayed the gestalt principles of connectedness, closure, and continuity — similar to a human face. Participants completed a task in which they made same/different judgments about the top and bottom portions of faces and of the line-pattern stimuli. Participants’ patterns of responses suggest that they processed both the faces and the line-pattern stimuli holistically, a finding that challenges current theories of holistic processing.


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