New Research From Psychological Science

Read about the latest research published in Psychological Science:

Attitudes Toward Arab Ascendance: Israeli and Global Perspectives

Felicia Pratto, Tamar Saguy, Andrew L. Stewart, Davide Morselli, Rob Foels, Antonio Aiello, Maria Aranda, Atilla Cidam, Xenia Chryssochoou, Kevin Durrheim, Veronique Eicher, Laurent Licata, James H. Liu, Li Liu, Ines Meyer, Orla Muldoon, Stamos Papastamou, Nebojsa Petrovic, Francesca Prati, Gerasimos Prodomitis, and Joseph Sweetman

Social dominance theory (SDT) posits that support for dominant ideology mediates the relationship between social dominance orientation (SDO) — a person’s psychological orientation toward acceptance or rejection of intergroup domination — and support for policies that change or sustain intergroup inequality. A group of Israeli Jews (study 1) and a diverse group of participants in 13 other countries (study 2) were assessed for rejectionist ideology, SDO, and attitudes toward Arab rights. The authors found that across both studies, people’s rejection of ideologies that legitimize outside interference with Arabs mediated the relationship between SDO and views on Arab rights. These findings provide evidence that SDT can be applied to transnational intergroup relations and to rejectionist ideologies.

Nonconscious Emotional Activation Colors First Impressions: A Regulatory Role for Conscious Awareness

Regina C. Lapate, Bas Rokers, Tianyi Li, and Richard J. Davidson

Does conscious awareness affect the influence of emotional provocation on unrelated stimuli? Researchers measured participants’ skin-conductance responses — a measure of sympathetic nervous system activity — to neutral (flowers) and emotional (spiders and fearful faces) stimuli. Stimuli were presented visibly or nonvisibly, and in half the trials, participants were asked to rate their liking for a novel neutral face after the stimuli were presented. Skin-conductance responses to fearful faces predicted decreased liking of novel faces only when stimuli were nonvisible. The authors suggest that conscious awareness decouples physiological responses from unrelated stimuli in the environment.

Fertile and Selectively Flirty: Women’s Behavior Toward Men Changes Across the Ovulatory Cycle

Stephanie M. Cantú, Jeffry A. Simpson, Vladas Griskevicius, Yanna J. Weisberg, Kristina M. Durante, and Daniel J. Beal

Past research has shown that men respond differently to women during different parts of their ovulatory cycles. To explore this further, the authors had female participants interact with male participants — who were actually professional actors — on a low-fertility day and on a high-fertility day. The men portrayed themselves as socially dominant but unreliable (“sexy cads”) or as less confident but reliable (“good dads”). Women preferred and flirted more with “sexy cads” than with “good dads” on high fertility days but not on low fertility days. The authors suggest that the changes observed in the women’s behavior may explain why men respond differently to women during different parts of their ovulatory cycles.

Emotion Strengthens High-Priority Memory Traces but Weakens Low-Priority Memory Traces

Michiko Sakaki, Kellie Fryer, and Mara Mather

Research has shown a memory advantage for emotional information, but it is unclear whether emotional arousal affects memory for neutral events that precede or follow it. Participants were shown a series of pictures that included a neutral or emotional “oddball” image and were told to focus on (i.e., prioritize) the oddball image or the image preceding or following the oddball picture. The researchers found that memory for preceding neutral objects was enhanced only when participants prioritized those objects, suggesting that the effects of emotional arousal on preceding neutral information depend on people’s top-down goals during memory formation.

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