New Content From Perspectives on Psychological Science

Thinking Structurally: A Cognitive Framework for Understanding How People Attribute Inequality to Structural Causes
Jamie Amemiya, Elizabeth Mortenson, Gail D. Heyman, and Caren M. Walker

Amemiya and colleagues propose a new cognitive framework to specify how people attribute inequality to structural causes (i.e., stable, interconnected societal forces that systematically advantage some social groups and disadvantage others). This framework suggests that people will recognize structural factors as causal when they perceive them to affect inequality above and beyond any intrinsic causes (e.g., abilities, motivation). Thus, people may attribute inequality to structural causes when they make two observations: The disadvantaged groups’ outcomes improve under better societal conditions, and the advantaged group members whose baseline traits are similar to the disadvantaged group experience more favorable societal conditions and life outcomes.   

It’s Not You, It’s Me: A Review of Individual Differences in Visuospatial Perspective Taking
Steven Samuel, Geoff G. Cole, and Madeline J. Eacott  

Visuospatial perspective taking (VSPT) is the ability to understand something about the visual relationship between an observer and their target. The heterogeneity of results from VSPT tasks suggests the existence of multiple VSPT strategies, individual differences in performance, and context-specific factors that influence the accuracy of outcomes. Samuel and colleagues report several predictors of VSPT performance and identify gaps in understanding. These gaps suggest pathways for future research and, possibly, a theory of VSPT. The authors make the case that focusing on understanding the perspective taker, rather than their target, will aid understanding of VSPT.  

Global Diversity of Authors, Editors, and Journal Ownership Across Subdisciplines of Psychology: Current State and Policy Implications
Zhicheng Lin and Ningxi Li

Lin and Li surveyed 68 top psychology journals in 10 subdisciplines and examined the global diversity of authors, editors, and journal ownership. Results showed that (a) the global diversity of authorship, editorship, and ownership is low; (b) disparity intensifies along the hierarchy of authors, editors, and journal ownership and substantially differs between subdisciplines and journal types; (c) removing authors, editors, and publishers in the United States markedly increases global diversity and eliminates differences in diversity between subdisciplines and between authorship and editorship; and (d) more authors and editors are from the journal’s home country and the editor-in-chief’s home country, biases that are most pronounced in U.S.-based journals.   

Not All Effects Are Indispensable: Psychological Science Requires Verifiable Lines of Reasoning for Whether an Effect Matters
Farid Anvari et al.

Psychological science needs to more rigorously assess when psychological findings matter for the contexts that researchers want to generalize to, according to Anvari and colleagues. They propose that researchers transparently provide verifiable lines of reasoning to justify their claims about an effect’s importance or unimportance. The authors urge researchers to think thoroughly about the various mechanisms that may both amplify and counteract the importance of an observed effect size and to draw on these mechanisms when an effect is being generalized to a new and likely more dynamic context. Such reasoning should help researchers identify when effects are dispensable.  

How Effective Altruism Can Help Psychologists Maximize Their Impact
Izzy Gainsburg et al.

Effective altruism—a growing movement aimed at doing the most good by using science and reason to inform efforts—may be the key to maximizing the impact of psychologists interested in making the world a better place, Gainsburg and colleagues suggest. The authors review principles of effective altruism that can be applied to how psychologists approach their work and discuss ideas for increasing the positive impact of psychological science. Gainsburg and colleagues aim to stimulate new areas of research and inspire the psychology community to engage in effective altruism.  

Challenging the White = Neutral Framework in Psychology
Steven O. Roberts and Elizabeth Mortenson

Roberts and Mortenson argue that portraying White samples as if they were generalizable to all humans is rooted in a “White = neutral” framework. They argue that the continued use of this framework will prevent psychology from becoming a truly objective and inclusive science because: (a) Research with White samples will be valued over research with samples of color, (b) norms that maintain White neutrality will remain unchallenged, and (c) the role of White identity in psychological processes will remain underexamined. The authors provide recommendations to move toward a framework in which all samples are identified for the unique and diverse perspectives that they bring to the world.  

Is Religion Special?
Jordan W. Moon, Adam B. Cohen, Kristin Laurin, and David P. MacKinnon

Religion is psychologically important, but there is no strong evidence that it is psychologically special apart from its possible effects on health, Moon and colleagues suggest. Religion is related to many domains of psychological interest, such as morality, well-being, and self-control. However, it does not appear to act on these domains via special mechanisms (e.g., beliefs in supernatural agents, providing ultimate meaning, and providing literal immortality). Moon and colleagues note that future research aimed at demonstrating that religion is psychologically special would have to include, for instance, careful definitions of religion and careful attention to experimental design.  

On the Role of Interoception in Body and Object Perception: A Multisensory-Integration Account
Wladimir Kirsch and Wilfried Kunde

A person seeing a fake hand can feel it as their own hand. Feeling a heavy weight may make hills look steeper. These are examples of “embodied perception,” which suggests that what people sense of their body influences what they perceive of the environment and vice versa. Kirsch and Kunde argue that embodied perception results from multisensory integration of interoceptive signals from the body and exteroceptive signals from the environment. This view challenges theories attributing a special role to the body itself and various phenomenon-specific explanations. 

Awe as a Pathway to Mental and Physical Health
Maria Monroy and Dacher Keltner

How do experiences in nature, in spiritual contemplation, or in being moved by music or with psychedelics promote mental and physical health? Through awe, according to Monroy and Keltner. They review recent advances in the scientific study of awe, an emotion often considered ineffable and beyond measurement. Awe engages five processes that benefit well-being—shifts in neurophysiology, a diminished focus on the self, increased prosocial relationality, greater social integration, and a heightened sense of meaning. The authors also describe how experiences of awe strengthen the mind and body.  

A Systematic Review of Black People Coping With Racism: Approaches, Analysis, and Empowerment
Grace Jacob et al.

How do Black people in Western societies regulate their emotions when coping with racism, which coping strategies do they use, and which strategies promote well-being? Jacob and colleagues review 26 studies, quantitative and qualitative, and all from the United States or Canada. Findings indicate that Black people tend to cope with racism through social support (friends, family, support groups), religion (prayer, church, spirituality), avoidance (attempting to avoid stressors), and problem-focused coping (confronting the situation directly). Jacob and colleagues also underscore the importance of encouraging personal empowerment to promote psychological well-being.   

How Do People Come to Judge What Is “Reasonable”? Effects of Legal and Sociological Systems on Human Psychology
Mikaela Spruill and Neil A. Lewis, Jr. 

How do people decide what is reasonable? Spruill and Lewis, Jr. look through the lens of situated cognition to review and integrate findings from social psychology, judgment and decision-making, communication, law, and sociology to generate a framework for conceptualizing judgments of reasonableness and the judgments’ implications for how people make decisions, particularly in the context of the legal system. They theorize that differences in structural and social contexts create information asymmetries that shape people’s beliefs about what is and is not reasonable as well as how they update these beliefs in the face of new information. The authors also discuss the practical implications of the framework for addressing inequities in law and social policy.  

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