Subscribe: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied - Vol 15, Iss 4
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Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied - Vol 22, Iss 3

The mission of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied is to publish original empirical investigations in experimental psychology that bridge practically oriented problems and psychological theory. The journal also publishes research aimed at deve

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Copyright: Copyright 2016 American Psychological Association

Promoting protection against a threat that evokes positive affect: The case of heat waves in the United Kingdom.


Heat waves can cause death, illness, and discomfort, and are expected to become more frequent as a result of climate change. Yet, United Kingdom residents have positive feelings about hot summers that may undermine their willingness to protect themselves against heat. We randomly assigned United Kingdom participants to 1 of 3 intervention strategies intended to promote heat protection, or to a control group. The first strategy aimed to build on the availability heuristic by asking participants to remember high summer temperatures, but it elicited thoughts of pleasantly hot summer weather. The second strategy aimed to build on the affect heuristic by evoking negative affect about summer temperatures, but it evoked thoughts of unpleasantly cold summer weather. The third strategy combined these 2 approaches and succeeded in evoking thoughts of unpleasantly hot summer weather. Across 2 experiments, the third (combined) strategy increased participants’ expressed intentions to protect against heat compared with the control group, while performing at least as well as the 2 component strategies. We discuss implications for developing interventions about other “pleasant hazards.” (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Reducing prospective memory error and costs in simulated air traffic control: External aids, extending practice, and removing perceived memory requirements.


In air traffic control (ATC), forgetting to perform deferred actions—prospective memory (PM) errors—can have severe consequences. PM demands can also interfere with ongoing tasks (costs). We examined the extent to which PM errors and costs were reduced in simulated ATC by providing extended practice, or by providing external aids combined with extended practice, or by providing external aids combined with instructions that removed perceived memory requirements. Participants accepted/handed-off aircraft and detected conflicts. For the PM task, participants were required to substitute alternative actions for routine actions when accepting aircraft. In Experiment 1, when no aids were provided, PM errors and costs were not reduced by practice. When aids were provided, costs observed early in practice were eliminated with practice, but residual PM errors remained. Experiment 2 provided more limited practice with aids, but instructions that did not frame the PM task as a “memory” task led to high PM accuracy without costs. Attention-allocation policies that participants set based on expected PM demands were modified as individuals were increasingly exposed to reliable aids, or were given instructions that removed perceived memory requirements. These findings have implications for the design of aids for individuals who monitor multi-item dynamic displays. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Metacognitive inferences from other people’s memory performance.


Three studies show that people draw metacognitive inferences about events from how well others remember the event. Given that memory fades over time, detailed accounts of distant events suggest that the event must have been particularly memorable, for example, because it was extreme. Accordingly, participants inferred that a physical assault (Study 1) or a poor restaurant experience (Studies 2–3) were more extreme when they were well remembered one year rather than one week later. These inferences influence behavioral intentions. For example, participants recommended a more severe punishment for a well-remembered distant rather than recent assault (Study 1). These metacognitive inferences are eliminated when people attribute the reporter’s good memory to an irrelevant cause (e.g., photographic memory), thus undermining the informational value of memory performance (Study 3). These studies illuminate how people use lay theories of memory to learn from others’ memory performance about characteristics of the world. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The role of visual representations in college students’ understanding of mathematical notation.


Developing understanding of fractions involves connections between nonsymbolic visual representations and symbolic representations. Initially, teachers introduce fraction concepts with visual representations before moving to symbolic representations. Once the focus is shifted to symbolic representations, the connections between visual representations and symbolic notation are considered to be less useful, and students are rarely asked to connect symbolic notation back to visual representations. In 2 experiments, we ask whether visual representations affect understanding of symbolic notation for adults who understand symbolic notation. In a conceptual fraction comparison task (e.g., Which is larger, 5 / a or 8 / a?), participants were given comparisons paired with accurate, helpful visual representations, misleading visual representations, or no visual representations. The results show that even college students perform significantly better when accurate visuals are provided over misleading or no visuals. Further, eye-tracking data suggest that these visual representations may affect performance even when only briefly looked at. Implications for theories of fraction understanding and education are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Interpolated testing influences focused attention and improves integration of information during a video-recorded lecture.


Although learning through a computer interface has become increasingly common, little is known about how to best structure video-recorded lectures to optimize learning. In 2 experiments, we examine changes in focused attention and the ability for students to integrate knowledge learned during a 40-min video-recorded lecture. In Experiment 1, we demonstrate that interpolating a lecture with memory tests (tested group), compared to studying the lecture material for the same amount of time (restudy group), improves overall learning and boosts integration of related information learned both within individual lecture segments and across the entire lecture. Although mind wandering rates between the tested and restudy groups did not differ, mind wandering was more detrimental for final test performance in the restudy group than in the tested group. In Experiment 2, we replicate the findings of Experiment 1, and additionally show that interpolated tests influence the types of thoughts that participants report during the lecture. While the tested group reported more lecture-related thoughts, the restudy group reported more lecture-unrelated thoughts; furthermore, lecture-related thoughts were positively related to final test performance, whereas lecture-unrelated thoughts were negatively related to final test performance. Implications for the use of interpolated testing in video-recorded lectures are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The effects of curiosity-evoking events on activity enjoyment.


Whereas prior literature has studied the positive effects of curiosity-evoking events that are integral to focal activities, we explore whether and how a curiosity-evoking event that is incidental to a focal activity induces negative outcomes for enjoyment. Four experiments and 1 field study demonstrate that curiosity about an event that is incidental to an activity in which individuals are engaged, significantly affects enjoyment of a concurrent activity. The reason why is that curiosity diverts attention away from the concurrent activity and focuses attention on the curiosity-evoking event. Thus, curiosity regarding an incidental event decreases enjoyment of a positive focal activity but increases enjoyment of a negative focal activity. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Almost human: Anthropomorphism increases trust resilience in cognitive agents.


We interact daily with computers that appear and behave like humans. Some researchers propose that people apply the same social norms to computers as they do to humans, suggesting that social psychological knowledge can be applied to our interactions with computers. In contrast, theories of human–automation interaction postulate that humans respond to machines in unique and specific ways. We believe that anthropomorphism—the degree to which an agent exhibits human characteristics—is the critical variable that may resolve this apparent contradiction across the formation, violation, and repair stages of trust. Three experiments were designed to examine these opposing viewpoints by varying the appearance and behavior of automated agents. Participants received advice that deteriorated gradually in reliability from a computer, avatar, or human agent. Our results showed (a) that anthropomorphic agents were associated with greater trust resilience, a higher resistance to breakdowns in trust; (b) that these effects were magnified by greater uncertainty; and c) that incorporating human-like trust repair behavior largely erased differences between the agents. Automation anthropomorphism is therefore a critical variable that should be carefully incorporated into any general theory of human–agent trust as well as novel automation design. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Effects of cues in a binary categorization task on dual-task performance, mental workload, and effort.


Binary cues help operators perform binary categorization tasks, such as monitoring for system failures. They may also allow them to attend to other tasks they concurrently perform. If the time saved by using cues is allocated to other concurrent tasks, users’ overall effort may remain unchanged. In 2 experiments, participants performed a simulated quality control task, together with a tracking task. In half the experimental blocks cues were available, and participants could use them in their decisions about the quality of products (intact or faulty). In Experiment 1, the difficulty of tracking was constant, while in Experiment 2, tracking difficulty differed in the 2 halves of the experiment. In both experiments, participants reported on the NASA Task Load Index that cues improved their performance and reduced their frustration. Consequently, their overall score on mental workload (MWL) was lower with cues. They also reported, however, that cues did not reduce their effort. We conclude that cues and other forms of automation may support task performance and reduce overall MWL, but this will not necessarily mean that users will work less hard. Thus, effort and overall MWL should be evaluated separately, if one wants to obtain a full picture of the effects of automation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Face-off: A new identification procedure for child eyewitnesses.


In 2 experiments, we introduce a new “face-off” procedure for child eyewitness identifications. The new procedure, which is premised on reducing the stimulus set size, was compared with the showup and simultaneous procedures in Experiment 1 and with modified versions of the simultaneous and elimination procedures in Experiment 2. Several benefits of the face-off procedure were observed: it was significantly more diagnostic than the showup procedure; it led to significantly more correct rejections of target-absent lineups than the simultaneous procedures in both experiments, and it led to greater information gain than the modified elimination and simultaneous procedures. The face-off procedure led to consistently more conservative responding than the simultaneous procedures in both experiments. Given the commonly cited concern that children are too lenient in their decision criteria for identification tasks, the face-off procedure may offer a concrete technique to reduce children’s high choosing rates. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)