New Research From Psychological Science

Read about the latest research published in Psychological Science:

Gossiping About Deviance: Evidence That Deviance Spurs the Gossip That Builds Bonds

Kim Peters, Jolanda Jetten, Dagmar Radova, and Kacie Austin

In this study, the researchers examined whether gossip about deviant behavior serves to build social bonds. In two studies, pairs of participants viewed a video of someone engaging in a positive or a negative deviant behavior or a neutral behavior. In the first study, participants rated how much they would like to discuss the video with their partner and whether the video had influenced their understanding of social norms. The second study used the same videos as the first study, but after watching them, participants had a conversation with their partner about the video. Participants then completed measures assessing their perception of the conversation with their partner, their perception of the partner, and how their conversation had influenced their understanding of social norms. Although the researchers found that merely being exposed to deviance was sufficient to provide clarification of social norms, they also found that the length of time participants spent discussing the deviant act fully mediated the relationship between their exposure to deviance and their sense that conversation about the deviance clarified their understanding of social norms. This finding suggests that gossiping may be a mechanism through which deviance can have positive social influences.

Parents’ Spatial Language Mediates a Sex Difference in Preschoolers’ Spatial Language Use

Shannon M. Pruden and Susan C. Levine

Do male and female children differ in their spatial-language use and, if so, could differential exposure to such language be a contributor to this disparity? To examine this, the researchers videotaped everyday interactions between 58 children and their primary caregivers. Parent-child dyads were videotaped for 90 minutes every 4 months between the ages of 14 and 49 months, making a total of nine observation sessions. The researchers coded each video, focusing on words describing the size, shape, and spatial properties of objects and spaces (i.e., “what” words). The researchers found that boys between 34 and 46 months of age spoke more “what” spatial words than girls did at the same age. Parental production of these words fully mediated the sex differences in children’s production of these words. This finding suggests that parental input is an important contributor to children’s own production of spatial language.

Sample-Size Planning for More Accurate Statistical Power: A Method Adjusting Sample Effect Sizes for Publication Bias and Uncertainty

Samantha F. Anderson, Ken Kelley, and Scott E. Maxwell

How can studies be planned so they have appropriate statistical power? One common method is to use a sample effect size from a previously published work as an estimate of the expected effect in a future study. In a series of simulations, the authors pit this commonly used method against a likelihood-based method created by Taylor and Muller (1996) that adjusts effect-size estimates for varying degrees of publication bias and uncertainty. Using three simulated experiments, the researchers calculated the power, suggested sample size, and achieved assurance that resulted from using both a previous sample and Taylor and Muller’s method to determine effect size. They found that using Taylor and Muller’s method led to greater power and achieved assurance compared with using an effect size from a previous study. The authors have developed a freely-available R package (BUCSS) and a Shiny Web application that allows researchers to easily implement the Taylor and Muller method in their own research.


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