New Research in Psychological Science

Anger Damns the Innocent
Katherine A. DeCelles, Gabrielle S. Adams, Holly S. Howe, and Leslie K. John

Angrily denying an accusation might lead other people to perceive guilt, this research indicates. DeCelles and colleagues examined how people use anger as a signal of guilt in different types of accusations (e.g., serious vs. trivial, physically aggressive vs. not physically aggressive) and contexts (e.g., more formal vs. less formal). They found that online panelists as well as professionals such as fraud investigators use suspects’ angry responses to accusations as cues of guilt. In reality, anger is a cue of innocence rather than guilt; accused individuals are angrier when they are falsely accused than when they are guilty.

The Attitude–Behavior Relationship Revisited
Christopher J. Bechler, Zakary L. Tormala, and Derek D. Rucker

Bechler and colleagues show that the relationship between people’s attitudes and their behavior might be systematically nonlinear, calling into question assumptions about attitude–behavior correspondence. The researchers collected data online and compiled data from online reviews and found three shifts in behavior across different contexts as attitudes moved from extremely negative to extremely positive: A flat shift at the beginning (i.e., from extremely to moderate negative), a steep shift when attitudes change from negative to positive, and a flat shift again when attitudes move from positive to extremely positive. These findings might enhance researchers’ ability to predict behaviors from attitudes.

Are Sex Differences in Human Brain Structure Associated With Sex Differences in Behavior?
Liza van Eijk et al.

Men and women are subject to different social and cultural norms, but they also appear to show differences in behavior. Here, van Eijk and colleagues explored whether sex differences in behavior and brain structure (e.g., brain size) might be related. They used data from the Human Connectome Project and the Queensland Twin IMaging study to examine individual differences in male and female brain structure and whether these differences were associated with physical and behavioral measures such as endurance, body mass index, cognition, and personality traits. They found a weak association between brain differences and behavioral differences, driven mostly by differences in brain size.

What Is Time Good for in Working Memory?
Eda Mızrak and Klaus Oberauer

Having more time to process information might benefit working memory in ways not yet addressed. Participants were shown lists of seven consonants, presented one at a time, and asked to recall the consonants in the same order they had been presented. Researchers varied the position and duration of free time (pauses) between consonants. Results indicated that longer pauses improved participants’ recall of consonants shown after the pause and did not increase their forgetting of consonants presented before the pause. These findings suggest that free time helps working memory prepare for future information: That is, free time has a proactive benefit rather than a retroactive benefit and might not provide short-term consolidation or add temporal distinctiveness, as previous theories had suggested.

Search for the Unknown: Guidance of Visual Search in the Absence of an Active Template
Oryah C. Lancry-Dayan, Matthias Gamer, and Yoni Pertzov

People appear to be able to find a familiar face among unfamiliar faces even without knowing they are actively searching for the familiar face in advance (i.e., without an active search template), this research suggests. Participants searched for the familiar face of a celebrity among unfamiliar faces. When all the faces were visible from the beginning of the task, participants were able to guide their search and identify the familiar face merely by using extrafoveal processing (i.e., identifying faces without directly gazing at them). However, when the faces were hidden and each face was uncovered only when participants were gazing directly at it, the lack of familiar faces in the array made it more difficult for participants to guide their gaze and impaired identification. These findings suggest that long-term memory and extrafoveal processing can guide visual search in the absence of an active search template.

Do Diversity Awards Discourage Applicants From Marginalized Groups From Pursuing More Lucrative Opportunities?
Adriana L. Germano, Sianna A. Ziegler, Laura Banham, and Sapna Cheryan

Offering awards to applicants from marginalized groups might unintentionally discourage applicants from pursuing more lucrative awards with unrestricted eligibility criteria. In four studies, Germano and colleagues found that participants from marginalized groups were more likely to prioritize the more lucrative of two unrestricted awards. However, when a less lucrative diversity award was also offered, they were more likely to prioritize it—in part because they felt the diversity award was for someone like them. These results suggest the need to change unrestricted awards to increase equity, such as by automatically entering applicants into unrestricted pools, more explicitly valuing diversity, and ensuring that election committees are equally likely to select applicants from marginalized and nonmarginalized groups.

The Psychological Burden of the COVID-19 Pandemic Is Associated With Antisystemic Attitudes and Political Violence
Henrikas Bartusevičius, Alexander Bor, Frederik Jørgensen, and Michael Bang Petersen

Bartusevičius and colleagues surveyed adults in the United States, Denmark, Italy, and Hungary to test whether the perceived burden of the COVID-19 pandemic was related to antisystemic attitudes (i.e., dissatisfaction with the fundamental political and social order), peaceful political activism, and/or political violence. They found that despite low overall levels of antisystemic attitudes and intention to participate in political violence, higher perceptions of COVID-19 burden were associated with higher levels of antisystemic attitudes and intention to participate in political violence (but not in peaceful activism). These findings suggest that pandemic management might need to include prevention of citizens’ alienation.

Read the entire news release here.


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