New Research in Psychological Science

The Temporal Dynamics of Brain-to-Brain Synchrony Between Students and Teachers Predict Learning Outcomes
Ido Davidesco et al.

Brain-to-brain synchrony between teachers and students might reflect better learning, this research suggests, while also highlighting the potential benefits of collecting brain data from learners in ecologically valid settings. Davidesco and colleagues recorded electroencephalography (EEG) data from nine groups —each with four students and a teacher—during a lecture. They found that the level of brain-to-brain synchrony between students and teachers predicted student learning: Students whose brain responses were more similar to those of other students and their teacher showed better performance in immediate and delayed tests. Moreover, students answered more questions correctly when the questions corresponded to specific lecture segments in which brain-to-brain synchrony had been higher.   

Preschoolers and Adults Learn From Novel Metaphors
Rebecca Zhu and Alison Gopnik

This research indicates that metaphors may be a powerful cognitive tool that helps people learn about the world. Zhu and Gopnik investigated whether adults and 3- and 4-year-olds can use metaphors to make new inferences. Participants heard information about novel artifacts, conveyed through only positive metaphors (e.g., “Daxes are suns”) or positive and negative metaphors (e.g., “Daxes are suns. Daxes are not clouds.”). In both conditions, participants of all ages formed metaphor-consistent inferences about the artifacts’ abstract, functional features (e.g., daxes light up rather than release water). Moreover, participants frequently provided explanations related to the metaphors when justifying their responses. 

Thinking About God Encourages Prosociality Toward Religious Outgroups: A Cross-Cultural Investigation
Michael H. Pasek et al.

This study suggests that thinking about God may promote prosociality even between different religious groups. Pasek and colleagues conducted field and online experiments with Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and Jewish adults in the Middle East, Fiji, and the United States. They manipulated whether participants were asked to think about their god(s) before they could choose to share money with strangers, including those from different ethno-religious groups. Results indicated that thinking about their god(s) increased giving by 11% among both ingroup and outgroup members. Thus, reminders of belief in a higher power may facilitate intergroup cooperation, particularly in economic transactions.   

Younger Than Ever? Subjective Age Is Becoming Younger and Remains More Stable in Middle-Age and Older Adults Today
Markus Wettstein et al.

There is a historical trend toward middle-aged and older individuals feeling younger than previous generations did. Wettstein and colleagues investigated historical trends in trajectories of subjective age—that is, whether middle-aged and older adults feel younger today than the birth cohorts before them felt. The authors used longitudinal data (observations over 24 years) from adults who were between 40 and 85 years old when they entered the study. They found that later-born cohorts felt younger and had a more stable subjective age over time compared with earlier-born cohorts. Factors such as education and health did not explain this trend.   

iGen or shyGen? Generational Differences in Shyness
Louis A. Schmidt et al.

Generation Z (1997–2012) has been characterized in the popular media as more socially inhibited, cautious, and risk-averse than prior generations, but are these differences real? Schmidt and colleagues examined generational differences in self-reported shyness among groups of undergraduates attending the same university approximately 20 years apart. Compared with young adults from the millennial generation (1981–1996), young adults from Generation Z had higher mean levels of shyness. Moreover, a Generation Z group tested during the COVID-19 pandemic had higher levels of shyness than a Generation Z group tested before the pandemic. Schmidt and colleagues suggest that these differences might be linked to sociocultural changes related to different generations (e.g., technology advancements).   

Intelligence Polygenic Score Is More Predictive of Crystallized Measures: Evidence From the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study
Robert J. Loughnan et al.

In children, crystallized measures (e.g., reading ability) of intelligence might exhibit a greater degree of gene–environment correlation than fluid measures (e.g., solving a puzzle), this study suggests. Analyzing data from 8,518 participants between 9 and 11 years old, Loughnan and colleagues found that polygenic predictors of intelligence test performance and educational attainment predicted neurocognitive performance. Moreover, both polygenic predictors were more strongly associated with crystallized measures of intelligence than with fluid measures. These results are compatible with heritability differences reported previously in adults and suggest similar associations in children.   

Surviving Racism and Sexism: What Votes in the Television Program Survivor Reveal About Discrimination
Erin M. O’Mara Kunz, Jennifer L. Howell, and Nicole Beasley

Being a White man appears to be most advantageous for surviving Survivor, a reality-television game in which contestants compete for up to 39 days to win $1 million. What is least advantageous? Being a woman who is Black, Indigenous, or a person of color. Kunz and colleagues found that among 731 contestants across 40 seasons of Survivor, women were more likely than men to be voted out of their tribe first and less likely to make it to the individual-competition stage of the game. BIPOC contestants faced the same disadvantage compared with White contestants. Women were also less likely to win than men.

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We Are Still Here: Omission and Perceived Discrimination Galvanized Civic Engagement Among Native Americans
J. Doris Dai et al.

Leading up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election, Native American organizations and tribes launched get-out-the-vote campaigns that motivated Native peoples to vote in record numbers. Dai and colleagues examined the social and cultural factors explaining this historic engagement. Results indicated that the more participants identified as being Native, the more they reported (a) engaging in civic activities, including get-out-the-vote behaviors; (b) civic engagement more broadly across 5 years; and (c) intentions to engage in civic activities in the future. Moreover, participants who more strongly identified as Native were more likely to perceive the omission of their group from society and greater group discrimination, which predicted greater civic engagement. These results suggest that leveraging the link between Native identification and group injustices can motivate action. 

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The Time Course of Person Perception From Voices: A Behavioral Study
Nadine Lavan

Hearing someone’s voice leads listeners to form impressions of the speaker’s physical characteristics (e.g., their age, gender, health) before forming impressions of their social (poshness, level of education, professionalism) and trait (trustworthiness, attractiveness, dominance) characteristics, this research suggests. After hearing voice recordings ranging from 25 ms to 800 ms in duration, listeners rated physical, trait, and social characteristics. Lavan found that impressions of physical characteristics and dominance emerged fastest, showing high agreement after only 25 ms of exposure. In contrast, agreement for trait and social characteristics was initially low to moderate and gradually increased. These findings suggest that some impressions are formed faster and could influence later ones. 

No Fixed Limit for Storing Simple Visual Features: Realistic Objects Provide an Efficient Scaffold for Holding Features in Mind
Yong Hoon Chung, Timothy F. Brady, and Viola S. Störmer

Working memory for simple visual features might improve when these features are part of a meaningful object, this research suggests. Across five experiments, Chung and colleagues found that visual working memory capacity for color was greater when colors were part of recognizable (vs. unrecognizable) real-world objects. For example, participants were more likely to remember the color of a notebook than of an object that had been manipulated to become unrecognizable. Thus, meaningful stimuli, by increasing the object’s distinctiveness and reducing interference from other objects might provide a scaffold to help maintain simple visual feature information. 

Cultures in Water-Scarce Environments Are More Long-Term Oriented
Hamidreza Harati and Thomas Talhelm

Cultures in water-scarce environments might place more value on thinking for the long term and less on indulgence (living in the moment), this research indicates. Harati and Talhelm conducted four studies with Iranian participants. They found that Iranians in a water-scarce province were more long-term oriented and less indulgent than Iranians in a nearby water-rich province. The water-scarce group also sent more resumés for a long-term job opportunity, whereas those from the water-rich province sent more resumés for a short-term, flexible job. Merely priming students in Iran to think about the environment’s increasing water scarcity also led them to endorse long-term orientation more and indulgence less. Accordingly, in a survey of 82 countries, long-run water scarcity predicted long-term orientation.   

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