New Research in Psychological Science

Practicing Good Laboratory Hygiene, Even in a Pandemic
Dwight J. Kravitz, Stephen R. Mitroff, and Patricia J. Bauer

In this editorial, Bauer and colleagues write about the need for maintaining rigorous research practices even amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic offers unique opportunities to advance psychological science, but the rush to understand its impacts may tempt researchers to place expedience over rigor and transparency, they warn. The authors introduce the Airport Scanner applet to (a) illustrate how practices that seem “logical” and “reasonable” can lead to inflated false-discovery rates and (b) provide suggestions for improving research practices. They also provide a series of links to other resources for reproducible and transparent research.

Action Effects on Visual Perception of Distances: A Multilevel Bayesian Meta-Analysis
Lisa Molto, Ladislas Nalborczyk, Richard Palluel-Germain, and Nicolas Morgado

In this meta-analysis, Molto and colleagues evaluated whether action constraints influence how people perceive distances (e.g., whether people perceive a distance to be longer when it requires more effort to cover it, such as an inclined track vs. a plain track). The researchers performed a multilevel Bayesian meta-analysis of 37 studies and found support for the existence of a small action-constraint effect on distance estimation. This effect varied according to the action-constraint category (effort, weight, tool use). The authors suggest conventions for interpreting effect sizes and minimum sample sizes for this type of research.

Bilingualism Affords No General Cognitive Advantages: A Population Study of Executive Function in 11,000 People
Emily S. Nichols, Conor J. Wild, Bobby Stojanoski, Michael E. Battista, and Adrian M. Owen

Do bilinguals, in comparison with monolinguals, have a general advantage in executive functions, such as selective attention, reasoning, verbal short-term memory, spatial working memory, and cognitive flexibility? This study suggests that the answer might be no. Nichols and colleagues tested more than 11,000 participants on 12 executive tasks and found that when bilinguals and monolinguals were matched to remove potential confounding variables, the two groups performed at the same level. Even when bilinguals and monolinguals were not matched, the bilingualism advantage was negligible.

Can Bad Be Good? The Attraction of a Darker Self
Rebecca J. Krause and Derek D. Rucker

We prefer fictional villains who are similar to us. Krause and Rucker explored data from an online platform that allows users to become “fans” of characters and take a quiz to evaluate their similarity with them. Individuals preferred villains who were similar to themselves. A series of laboratory studies also found an association between similarity of negative traits, when the villain was fictional but not when the villain was a real person, and attraction to the villain.

Comparison of Adopted and Nonadopted Individuals Reveals Gene–Environment Interplay for Education in the UK Biobank
Rosa Cheesman, Avina Hunjan, Jonathan R. I. Coleman, et al.

How much education a person achieves might depend on genetic influences mediated by the home environment. Cheesman and colleagues analyzed a sample of adopted and nonadopted individuals from the UK. They found that polygenic scores (i.e., broad genetic assessments that take into account multiple genetic variations and their weights) were a better explanation for different educational attainment among nonadoptees than among adoptees. These results highlight that the associations between polygenic scores and educational attainment partly reflect the effects of the environments created by parents who are genetically related to their children.

Aggressive Realism: More Efficient Processing of Anger in Physically Aggressive Individuals
Grace M. Brennan and Arielle R. Baskin-Sommers

To explore why physically aggressive individuals tend to interpret ambiguous faces as angry, Brennan and Baskin-Sommers tested men charged with violent crimes. The researchers applied diffusion modeling to identify the contributions of bias, drift rate (efficiency of information accumulation), and threshold separation (extent of information accumulation) to how participants identified emotion in ambiguous faces. Participants who had a greater tendency toward physical aggression more efficiently accumulated information for anger, which led to heightened anger identification. Thus, processing efficiency for anger, rather than bias, appears to drive aberrant emotion identification in aggressive individuals.

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