New Research in Psychological Science

Turtle, Task Ninja, or Time Waster? Who Cares? Traditional Task-Completion Strategies Are Overrated
Lisa Vangsness and Michael E. Young

Individuals who initiate tasks as soon as possible (precrastinators) as well as those who delay beginning tasks (procrastinators) seem to struggle to finish tasks on time. Vangsness and Young analyzed when and how 8,500 students received credit for research participation. A latent profile analysis, which identified patterns among students’ behaviors, was better than using single behaviors to identify task-completion strategies. In comparison to students who adopted a steady work habit, students who precrastinated or procrastinated were less likely to gain credits through research participation.

Thinking of You: How Second-Person Pronouns Shape Cultural Success
Grant Packard and Jonah Berger

Second-person pronouns (i.e., you, your, yours, and yourself) might contribute to the popularity of some songs. Packard and Berger found that songs on the Billboard charts that used “you” words more often had a higher sales rank. This was especially true when “you” was the object of someone’s actions (e.g., “cats love you”) rather than the subject (e.g., “you love cats”). The authors suggest that “you” might evoke another person in the listener’s mind and foster social connection. Three laboratory experiments supported these findings, indicating that pronouns can shape cultural success.

Probing Ovulatory-Cycle Shifts in Women’s Preferences for Men’s Behaviors
Julia Stern, Tanja M. Gerlach, and Lars Penke

Women’s preferences for certain male behaviors do not seem to change across the ovulatory cycle, this research suggests. Stern and colleagues found that women rated the sexual and long-term attractiveness of males displaying courtship or competitiveness behaviors the same regardless of where they were in their ovulatory cycle. Hormonal levels and relationship status did not affect the results. These findings are inconsistent with the theory that in the fertile (late follicular) phase, women shift their preferences toward indicators of men’s genetic quality, including dominant or competitive behaviors.

Ongoing Cognitive Processing Influences Precise Eye-Movement Targets in Reading
Klinton Bicknell, Roger Levy, and Keith Rayner

The human brain might have learned to optimize eye movements in reading, this research suggests. Bicknell and colleagues tracked readers’ eyes while they read individual sentences that contained a target word. Immediately before readers’ eyes reached the target word, the text shifted to the right, shifted to the left, or remained stationary. The characters’ shifts affected readers’ eye movements, indicating that rapid eye movements while reading are not determined solely by oculomotor heuristics but reflect ongoing word identification and can be affected by character positioning.