New Research From Psychological Science

Telling Things Apart: The Distance Between Response Keys Influences Categorization Times

Daniël Lakens, Iris K. Schneider, Nils B. Jostmann, and Thomas W. Schubert

Making gestures can help people organize their thoughts. To test whether space (e.g., the distance between two response keys) would affect how people categorized stimuli, researchers asked volunteers to perform a task in which they pressed one of two response keys to indicate the color of a word. If the keys were far apart, they responded faster on the incongruent trials in which the word did not match the color (e.g., the word “blue” printed in red ink). These findings suggest that the cognitive process of assigning categories can be influenced by concrete spatial distance.

Self-Regulation of Priming Effects on Behavior

Peter M. Gollwitzer, Paschal Sheeran, Roman Trötschel, and Thomas L. Webb

Many human behaviors can be triggered unconsciously, and sometimes these behaviors are at odds with peoples’ intentions. Researchers hypothesized that people could counteract priming effects by using implementation intentions (i.e., if-then plans). In three experiments, volunteers were asked to develop implementation intentions before completing various primed tasks. Those who thought about their intentions showed reduced influence of the primes compared to individuals in a control group, showing that this strategy may be an effective self-regulatory tool to counteract disruptive priming effects.

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