New Research From Psychological Science

Read about the latest research published in Psychological Science:

The Moral Ties That Bind . . . Even to Out-Groups: The Interactive Effect of Moral Identity and the Binding Moral Foundations

Isaac H. Smith, Karl Aquino, Spassena Koleva, and Jesse Graham

Moral foundations can bind a group together, but in doing so they can also promote out-group hostility. To examine whether the adoption of binding moral foundations unavoidably leads to out-group hostility, the authors asked participants to rate the extent to which they believed torture was a justifiable technique for interrogating suspected terrorists. Participants then completed the Moral Foundations Sacredness Scale and a moral-identity scale. Higher moral foundation scores were found to be predictive of greater acceptance of torture, but this relationship was attenuated in participants with high moral-identity scores. The authors suggest that moral identity expands people’s circle of moral regard, thus increasing their concern for others.

The Working Memory Stroop Effect: When Internal Representations Clash With External Stimuli

Anastasia Kiyonaga and Tobias Egner

Some theories of working memory (WM) have described it as internally focused attention. If this is true, then holding items in WM and directing attention to external objects should affect behavior in similar ways. Participants completed a traditional Stroop task and a WM Stroop task. In the WM Stroop task, participants held a color in WM while indicating the color of a rectangular patch that was either the same color as the word held in WM (congruent) or a different color (incongruent). The researchers found that participants’ responses to congruent and incongruent stimuli on the WM Stroop task were similar to their responses to congruent and incongruent stimuli on the traditional Stroop task, a finding that supports the view of WM as internally focused attention.

The Value of Numbers in Economic Rewards

Frank J. Kanayet, John E. Opfer, and William A. Cunningham 

Studies examining the parts of the brain involved in appraising monetary rewards have often conflated numeric and monetary value, making it difficult to determine the effects of number and value on cortical activity within the brain’s valuation network. To separate the two, researchers had participants play a lottery game in which monetary values were presented in dollars or cents in such a way that several values could have either the same number but different values (e.g., $1, 1¢), or different numbers and the same value (e.g., $1, 100¢). Changes in number value activated different parts of the brain than changes in number magnitude, indicating that researchers should pay attention to the way number magnitude and value are represented in studies of monetary reward.

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