New Research in Psychological Science

In Generous Offers I Trust: The Effect of First-Offer Value on Economically Vulnerable Behaviors
Martha Jeong, Julia A. Minson, and Francesca Gino

Opening a negotiation with a generous offer appears to increase recipients’ trust in the offer-maker. Jeong and colleagues found that in an online marketplace and laboratory experiments, recipients of a larger initial offer were more likely to disclose negative information about the item they were selling than those who received a smaller offer. A greater trust in the generous offer-makers drove this willingness to disclose negative information. This effect was surprising to negotiators and persisted even when negotiators were debiased after learning the offer-maker did not choose the offer.

Reframing Achievement Setbacks: A Motivation Intervention to Improve 8-Year Graduation Rates for Students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Fields
Jeremy M. Hamm, Raymond P. Perry, Judith G. Chipperfield, Steve Hladkyj, Patti C. Parker, and Bernard Weiner

A theory-informed intervention designed to foster motivation resulted in increased graduation rates for college students in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields who were at risk of dropping out, this research suggests. Hamm and colleagues used data from the Motivation and Academic Achievement Database to review students who had been part of an intervention aimed at changing their attributions for academic setbacks from uncontrollable to controllable causes (e.g., bad study strategies). They found that these students were more likely to graduate from college than those who did not receive the intervention.

B or 13? Unconscious Top-Down Contextual Effects at the Categorical but Not the Lexical Level
Dan Biderman, Yarden Shir, and Liad Mudrik

Biderman and colleagues found that an ambiguous stimulus that could be perceived as the letter B or the number 13 was more likely to be perceived as B when flanked by letters and as 13 when flanked by numbers. This effect occurred regardless of the conscious or unconscious perception of the context (i.e., the letters or numbers). When the contexts were words and nonwords and the stimuli could be read as either, the contextual effect occurred only when the context was perceived consciously. This suggests that effects that require categorization may not need consciousness, but effects that require lexical information may need consciousness.

Neural Representations of Procedural Knowledge
Robert A. Mason and Marcel Adam Just

The knowledge required for complex procedures, such as tying a knot, can be identified from their functional MRI (fMRI) signatures. Mason and Just trained participants to tie different knots, collecting their fMRI data while they either physically tied the knots or imagined tying the knots. Tying or imagining tying each particular knot created a procedural signature (i.e., an activation pattern) in the frontal, parietal, motor, and cerebellar brain regions. fMRI can thus be useful to further understand procedural knowledge.

The Distinct Effects of Empathic Accuracy for a Romantic Partner’s Appeasement and Dominance Negative Emotions
Bonnie M. Le, Stéphane Côté, Jennifer Stellar, and Emily A. Impett

The benefits of accurately reading others’ emotions—empathic accuracy—may depend on the emotion type. Romantic partners rated their relationship quality, discussed the relationship characteristics they wanted to change, and rated their perceptions of their partners’ emotions. For appeasement emotions (e.g., embarrassment), empathic accuracy predicted higher relationship quality. For dominance emotions (e.g., anger), intensity of felt emotions was a better predictor of relationship quality than empathic accuracy. The more intensely someone feels dominance emotions, the lower the quality of their romantic relationship. Empathic accuracy did not predict partners’ motivation to change.

Female Chess Players Show Typical Stereotype-Threat Effects: Commentary on Stafford (2018)
David Smerdon, Hairong Hu, Andrew McLennan, William von Hippel, and Sabina Albrecht

Stafford (2018) reported that skilled female chess players show an inversion of stereotype threat (underperformance by members of stereotyped groups), playing better than would be expected, given their ratings, when facing male opponents. Smerdon and colleagues comment on the rating system used in chess and how it might underestimate the ability of women. This, along with a confound between age and sex (Stafford did not fully account for players’ ages), might mean that Stafford’s results do not represent an actual stereotype-threat inversion. The authors also show other analyses indicating that female chess players might indeed show stereotype threat.

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