New Research From Psychological Science

Read about the latest research published in Psychological Science:

Shaping Attention With Reward: Effects of Reward on Space- and Object-Based Selection

Sarah Shomstein and Jacoba Johnson

The effect of rewards on conscious choice has been extensively researched, but the effect of reward on automatic processes is still not well understood. To investigate the effect of reward on automatic processes, the researchers investigated whether rewards would affect performance on a space- and object-based selective-attention task. The presence of a reward (money or points) altered participants’ responses during the task. The authors suggest that reward is one component of attentional guidance and that automatic attention processes can be discarded in favor of reward-maximizing strategies.

Personality Maturation Around the World: A Cross-Cultural Examination of Social-Investment Theory

Wiebke Bleidorn, Theo A. Klimstra, Jaap J. A. Denissen, Peter J. Rentfrow, Jeff Potter, and Samuel D. Gosling

What causes personality maturation in early adulthood? Some researchers say maturation is determined by genetic factors (five-factor theory); others say it is related to culture-specific expectations for behavior at a certain age (social-investment theory). The authors examined Big Five personality data, collected as part of the Gosling-Potter Internet Personality Project from participants in 62 countries, and indices of the timing of a variety of socially normative behaviors — such as marriage, parenthood, and entry into the workforce — for those countries. Although personality did mature as people aged, the faster maturation found in countries with earlier transition to adult roles supports social-investment theory.

When Left Is Not Right: Handedness Effects on Learning Object-Manipulation Words Using Pictures With Left- or Right-Handed First-Person Perspectives

Jacqueline A. de Nooijer, Tamara van Gog, Fred Paas, and Rolf A. Zwaan 

The body-specificity hypothesis posits that reading or hearing about an action leads to the creation of a body-specific mental simulation of the action. Left- and right-handed participants saw nonsense words, each of which was paired with a definition and a picture of an action being performed from a left- or right-handed first-person perspective. They were then tested on their knowledge of the definition of each of the nonsense words. Right-handed participants recalled fewer definitions for words that were paired with left-handed pictures, whereas left-handed participants’ recall was not affected by picture perspective. The findings provide new insight into the effects of mental simulation on learning.

Trust in Me: Trustworthy Others Are Seen as More Physically Similar to the Self

Harry Farmer, Ryan McKay, and Manos Tsakiris

Although researchers know that face similarity affects cooperative behavior, little is known about whether the reverse is true. Participants viewed a picture of a “partner” with whom they would be playing a trust game. Participants played two games, and the experimenters manipulated the partner responses so that the participant’s trust was reciprocated in one game and betrayed in the other. Participants’ perceptions of similarity between their own faces and their partners’ faces were measured before and after each trust game. The greater increase in perceptions of face similarity for trustworthy partners than for untrustworthy partners supports the presence of a converse relationship between social interaction and perceived face similarity.

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