New Research From Psychological Science

Read about the latest research published in Psychological Science:

Implicit Theories of Interest: Finding Your Passion or Developing It?
Paul A. O’Keefe, Carol S. Dweck, Gregory M. Walton

Open data, open materials, preregistration badgesPeople are often told to find their passion, as though they only need to discover interests that are inherent. But this fixed theory of interest has hidden implications for their motivation. In a study that examined participants’ implicit theories of interest, O’Keefe and colleagues asked participants whether they identified themselves as more interested in technology or in humanities, then had them rate their level of interest in a technology article and a humanities article. Results indicated that theories of interest did not change the curiosity about the topics in which participants were originally interested; however, participants with a growth theory thought the topic that didn’t match their original interest was more appealing than participants with a fixed theory did. Moreover, participants who endorsed a fixed theory were less likely to believe that pursuing a new passion would be difficult at times and were more likely to believe that passion would provide endless motivation. They were also more likely to show waning interest when encountering difficulty with a new topic. Thus, implicit theories of interest seem to influence people’s openness to areas outside of their core interests, their way of dealing with difficulties, and their expectations about motivation.

Native Language Promotes Access to Visual Consciousness
Martin Maier and Rasha Abdel Rahman

Open data and preregistered badgesTo test the relationship between language and visual perception, Maier and Abdel Rahman examined visual perception in native Greek and Russian speakers, whose languages have distinct words for light blue and dark blue (galazio and ble, and siniy and goluboy, respectively). The researchers used an attentional blink paradigm in which two visual targets (T1 and T2) are rapidly presented, and the detection of T2 depends on the lag between T1 and T2. They also collected brain activity data using electroencephalography. Greek and Russian participants showed boosted perception of T2 targets that had a light blue/dark blue contrast relative to targets that had a light green/dark green contrast. This advantage for blue contrasts was accompanied by electrophysiological signatures of early visual processing; these signatures were absent for green contrasts, indicating a genuine perceptual advantage. Maier and Abdel Rahman found no difference in perception of blue and green contrasts in native German speakers, whose language does not have separate words to distinguish between shades of blue. These results suggest that one’s language might influence one’s conscious perception.

Speech Is Silver, Nonverbal Behavior Is Gold: How Implicit Partner Evaluations Affect Dyadic Interactions in Close Relationships
Ruddy Faure, Francesca Righetti, Magdalena Seibel, and Wilhelm Hofmann

Open Materials badgeImplicit partner evaluations – automatic positive or negative associations involving one’s partner – can predict changes in relationship satisfaction, but why is that the case? Faure and colleagues video-recorded couples discussing a topic on which the partners had different preferences and then coded the videos for verbal and nonverbal behaviors (e.g., gestures and tone of voice). They also measured each partner’s explicit relationship satisfaction, satisfaction with the conversation, implicit partner associations (using a Single Category Implicit Association Test), and relationship satisfaction over the following 8 days. The data showed that the more positive participants’ implicit partner associations were, the more satisfied they were with both the conversation and their relationship over time, which was due in part to more positive and constructive nonverbal behaviors during the conversation. Verbal behaviors were not correlated with implicit associations, and explicit relationship satisfaction did not predict verbal or nonverbal behavior. These findings support the idea that spontaneous nonverbal behaviors that are influenced by implicit partner evaluations may play a role in relationship success.

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