New Content From Perspectives on Psychological Science

Effortful Emotion Regulation as a Unique Form of Cybernetic Control
Maya Tamir

What motivates people to try to regulate their emotions? Tamir addresses this question by considering effortful emotion regulation, which refers to consciously initiating and monitoring one’s emotions while continuously attempting to decrease discrepancies between one’s current state and goal, as a form of cybernetic control. She suggests that, because emotions both indicate and are the target of progress in regulation, people might be less likely to exert effort in regulation when they need it most. Tamir explains the theoretical and practical implications of this analysis and proposes future directions for the field.

Reexamining the Findings of the American Psychological Association’s 2015 Task Force on Violent Media: A Meta-Analysis
Christopher J. Ferguson, Allen Copenhaver, and Patrick Markey

According to a 2015 technical report by an American Psychological Association (APA) task force, video-game violence appeared linked to aggression but not to violent crime. Many scholars criticized (a) the language used in the report for implying conclusive evidence linking violent games to aggression and (b) the methodology used in the meta-analysis that served as the basis of the report. Ferguson and colleagues reevaluated the report meta-analysis and found negligible relationships between violent games and aggressive behavior. These results suggest the need for a more cautious interpretation of the links between violent games and aggression than the one offered in the 2015 report.

Parents’ Role in Addressing Children’s Racial Bias: The Case of Speculation Without Evidence
Katharine E. Scott, Kristin Shutts, and Patricia G. Devine

How should parents address children’s early displays of racial bias? Scott and colleagues analyze current recommendations and conclude that there is limited research about the effectiveness of parental intervention (e.g., having conversations about race, facilitating children’s contact with outgroups). They suggest that research involving parents and their children and yielding specific recommendations could provide evidence and support for good recommendations. Thus, they urge researchers to conduct and disseminate research that will produce empirically supported, specific, shareable suggestions for parents seeking to address their children’s racial bias.

Tilting at Windmills: Why Attacks on Repression Are Misguided
Chris R. Brewin

Brewin suggests that studies of what the general public and other groups believe about repressed memories do not support the idea that “the controversial issue of repressed memories is alive and well and may even be on the rise,” suggested by Otgaar and colleagues in a 2019 article. Brewin reviews data indicating that it is widely accepted that people can forget and later remember traumatic events, but also that no one explains forgetting by arguing in favor of an unconscious form of repression. Brewin believes that evidence does not support the existence of the problem Otgaar et al. proposed.

Bittersweet: The Neuroscience of Ambivalent Affect
Anthony G. Vaccaro, Jonas T. Kaplan, and Antonio Damasio

Do ambivalent affective states, such as bittersweetness, correspond to a rapid vacillation between positive and negative states or to a simultaneously positive and negative state? Vaccaro and colleagues hypothesize that ambivalent affect involves both mechanisms. A rapid vacillating univalent affect is dependent on the brainstem nuclei, an area that allows for a rapid switch between emotions while inhibiting behavioral responses to conflicting emotions. As vacillating occurs, further processing of the “emotional moment” at the level of the insular cortex can allow the experience of one simultaneously positive and negative feeling.

The Bias of Individuals (in Crowds): Why Implicit Bias Is Probably a Noisily Measured Individual-Level Construct
Paul Connor and Ellen R. K. Evers

Connor and Evers argue that implicit bias is best understood as a feature of individuals that is measured with substantial error rather than a feature of situations. They use real and simulated data to show that the empirical puzzles proposed by Payne and colleagues’ bias-of-crowds model result from measurement error. They also show that, in comparison to Payne and colleagues’ suggestion that implicit bias is situation-based, conceptualizing implicit bias as an individual feature measured with error may be a better and simpler solution to the puzzles proposed by Payne and colleagues. The authors also test a hypothesis derived from the bias-of-crowds model and show that the model lacks empirical support.

Recovering the Relational Starting Point of Compassion Training: A Foundation for Sustainable and Inclusive Care
Paul Condon and John Makransky

Condon and Makransky integrate theories and findings from social, developmental, and health psychology with elements from contemplative traditions (e.g., Buddhism) to create a solution for barriers to compassion (e.g., aversion to suffering or feeling alone in suffering). This solution, centered on relationality (i.e, the sense that one is encompassed in the loving care and compassion of others), might improve the cultivation of compassion through meditative training. The authors propose that emphasizing relationality and the importance of extending care and compassion to others may promote compassion. They contrast this approach to modern conceptions of meditation as an autonomous self-help practice, which they explain might exacerbate barriers to compassion.

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