New Research From Psychological Science

Read about the latest research published in Psychological Science:


Don’t Do It Again: Directed Forgetting of Habits

Gesine Dreisbach and Karl-Heinz T. Bäuml

Can directed forgetting be used to eliminate habits? Participants completed a directed-forgetting task where they associated words with either a left or a right button press. Participants were told to remember or to forget the original associations before being reshown the words. In the new presentation, half of the word/button-press associations were compatible with those in the original presentation and half were not. Participants who were directed to forget the original associations had similar response times for compatible and incompatible words, whereas those who were directed to remember the original associations had faster response times for compatible words than for incompatible words. This suggests that directed forgetting can be used to reduce the influence of newly learned habits.

The Dopamine D4 Receptor Gene (DRD4) Moderates Cultural Difference in Independent Versus Interdependent Social Orientation

Shinobu Kitayama, Anthony King, Carolyn Yoon, Steve Tompson, Sarah Huff, and Israel Liberzon   

Research has indicated that some cultural groups are more socially independent and others are more socially interdependent. The current study examined whether genetic factors interact with culture to influence social behavior. European Americans (EA) and Asian-born Asians (AA) were assessed for the 7R or 2R alleles of the DRD4 gene — associated with increased dopamine signaling — and for their levels of independent and interdependent social orientation. Cultural differences in social orientation were found only in carriers of the 7R/2R DRD4 alleles. No cultural differences were observed between EA and AA noncarriers, making this one of the first studies to demonstrate the role of DRD4 in modulating cultural influences.

Living Among the Affluent: Boon or Bane?

Louis Tay, Mike Morrison, and Ed Diener

Does national income influence people’s levels of subjective well-being (SWB) over and above the influence of personal income? When the authors examined data on SWB and income from the Gallup World Poll, which surveyed 158 nations from 2005 to 2011, they found that national wealth does influence SWB over and above the influence of personal wealth and that the relationship between income and SWB is stronger in richer nations. Although national wealth was found to have generally positive effects on people’s evaluations of their lives, it had a negative effect on affective SWB, with individuals in richer nations experiencing more worry and anger. These findings indicate that a nation’s wealth has important influences on its citizens’ happiness.

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