Subscribe: Journal of Experimental Psychology: General - Vol 138, Iss 4
Preview: Journal of Experimental Psychology: General - Vol 138, Iss 4

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General - Vol 146, Iss 2

The Journal of Experimental Psychology: General publishes articles describing empirical work that bridges the traditional interests of two or more communities of psychology.

Last Build Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2017 15:00:11 EST

Copyright: Copyright 2017 American Psychological Association

Charting the expansion of strategic exploratory behavior during adolescence.


Although models of exploratory decision making implicate a suite of strategies that guide the pursuit of information, the developmental emergence of these strategies remains poorly understood. This study takes an interdisciplinary perspective, merging computational decision making and developmental approaches to characterize age-related shifts in exploratory strategy from adolescence to young adulthood. Participants were 149 12–28-year-olds who completed a computational explore–exploit paradigm that manipulated reward value, information value, and decision horizon (i.e., the utility that information holds for future choices). Strategic directed exploration, defined as information seeking selective for long time horizons, emerged during adolescence and maintained its level through early adulthood. This age difference was partially driven by adolescents valuing immediate reward over new information. Strategic random exploration, defined as stochastic choice behavior selective for long time horizons, was invoked at comparable levels over the age range, and predicted individual differences in attitudes toward risk taking in daily life within the adolescent portion of the sample. Collectively, these findings reveal an expansion of the diversity of strategic exploration over development, implicate distinct mechanisms for directed and random exploratory strategies, and suggest novel mechanisms for adolescent-typical shifts in decision making. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

True happiness: The role of morality in the folk concept of happiness.


Recent scientific research has settled on a purely descriptive definition of happiness that is focused solely on agents’ psychological states (high positive affect, low negative affect, high life satisfaction). In contrast to this understanding, recent research has suggested that the ordinary concept of happiness is also sensitive to the moral value of agents’ lives. Five studies systematically investigate and explain the impact of morality on ordinary assessments of happiness. Study 1 demonstrates that moral judgments influence assessments of happiness not only for untrained participants, but also for academic researchers and even in those who study happiness specifically. Studies 2 and 3 then respectively ask whether this effect may be explained by general motivational biases or beliefs in a just world. In both cases, we find evidence against these explanations. Study 4 shows that the impact of moral judgments cannot be explained by changes in the perception of descriptive psychological states. Finally, Study 5 compares the impact of moral and nonmoral value, and provides evidence that unlike nonmoral value, moral value is part of the criteria that govern the ordinary concept of happiness. Taken together, these studies provide a specific explanation of how and why the ordinary concept of happiness deviates from the definition used by researchers studying happiness. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Time on your hands: Perceived duration of sensory events is biased toward concurrent actions.


Perceptual systems must rapidly generate accurate representations of the world from sensory inputs that are corrupted by internal and external noise. We can typically obtain more veridical representations by integrating information from multiple channels, but this integration can lead to biases when inputs are, in fact, not from the same source. Although a considerable amount is known about how different sources of information are combined to influence what we perceive, it is not known whether temporal features are combined. It is vital to address this question given the divergent predictions made by different models of cue combination and time perception concerning the plausibility of cross-modal temporal integration, and the implications that such integration would have for research programs in action control and social cognition. Here we present four experiments investigating the influence of movement duration on the perceived duration of an auditory tone. Participants either explicitly (Experiments 1–2) or implicitly (Experiments 3–4) produced hand movements of shorter or longer durations, while judging the duration of a concurrently presented tone (500–950 ms in duration). Across all experiments, judgments of tone duration were attracted toward the duration of executed movements (i.e., tones were perceived to be longer when executing a movement of longer duration). Our results demonstrate that temporal information associated with movement biases perceived auditory duration, placing important constraints on theories modeling cue integration for state estimation, as well as models of time perception, action control and social cognition. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Repeated evaluative pairings and evaluative statements: How effectively do they shift implicit attitudes?


Six experiments, involving a total of 6,492 participants, were conducted to investigate the relative effectiveness of repeated evaluative pairings (REP; exposure to category members paired with pleasant or unpleasant images), evaluative statements (ES; verbally signaling upcoming pairings without actual exposure), and their combination (ES + REP) in shifting implicit social and nonsocial attitudes. Learning modality (REP, ES, and ES + REP) was varied between participants and implicit attitudes were assessed using an Implicit Association Test (IAT). Study 1 (N = 675) used fictitious social groups (NIFFs and LAAPs), Study 2 (N = 1,034) used novel social groups (humans with long vs. square faces), Study 3 (N = 1,072) used nonsocial stimuli (squares vs. rectangles), and Study 4 (N = 848) and Study 5 (N = 958) used known social groups (young vs. elderly; American vs. foreign). ES were more effective than REP and no less superior than ES + REP in producing implicit attitude change. Results were robust across social and nonsocial domains and for known and novel groups. Study 6 (N = 1,905) eliminated time on intervention, levels of construal, and expectancy effects as possible explanations for these findings. Associative theories of implicit evaluation posit that implicit attitudes should shift piecemeal over time; yet, in these experiments, one-shot language-based learning led to larger shifts in implicit attitude than exposure to stimulus pairings. Moreover, the redundancy observed in REP + ES suggests that attitude acquisition from repeated pairings and evaluative instructions may rely on shared mental representations. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Conscious visual memory with minimal attention.


Is conscious visual perception limited to the locations that a person attends? The remarkable phenomenon of change blindness, which shows that people miss nearly all unattended changes in a visual scene, suggests the answer is yes. However, change blindness is found after visual interference (a mask or a new scene), so that subjects have to rely on working memory (WM), which has limited capacity, to detect the change. Before such interference, however, a much larger capacity store, called fragile memory (FM), which is easily overwritten by newly presented visual information, is present. Whether these different stores depend equally on spatial attention is central to the debate on the role of attention in conscious vision. In 2 experiments, we found that minimizing spatial attention almost entirely erases visual WM, as expected. Critically, FM remains largely intact. Moreover, minimally attended FM responses yield accurate metacognition, suggesting that conscious memory persists with limited spatial attention. Together, our findings help resolve the fundamental issue of how attention affects perception: Both visual consciousness and memory can be supported by only minimal attention. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Generalization from newly learned words reveals structural properties of the human reading system.


Connectionist accounts of quasiregular domains, such as spelling–sound correspondences in English, represent exception words (e.g., pint) amid regular words (e.g., mint) via a graded “warping” mechanism. Warping allows the model to extend the dominant pronunciation to nonwords (regularization) with minimal interference (spillover) from the exceptions. We tested for a behavioral marker of warping by investigating the degree to which participants generalized from newly learned made-up words, which ranged from sharing the dominant pronunciation (regulars), a subordinate pronunciation (ambiguous), or a previously nonexistent (exception) pronunciation. The new words were learned over 2 days, and generalization was assessed 48 hr later using nonword neighbors of the new words in a tempo naming task. The frequency of regularization (a measure of generalization) was directly related to degree of warping required to learn the pronunciation of the new word. Simulations using the Plaut, McClelland, Seidenberg, and Patterson (1996) model further support a warping interpretation. These findings highlight the need to develop theories of representation that are integrally tied to how those representations are learned and generalized. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The accuracy of less: Natural bounds explain why quantity decreases are estimated more accurately than quantity increases.


Five studies show that people, including experts such as professional chefs, estimate quantity decreases more accurately than quantity increases. We argue that this asymmetry occurs because physical quantities cannot be negative. Consequently, there is a natural lower bound (zero) when estimating decreasing quantities but no upper bound when estimating increasing quantities, which can theoretically grow to infinity. As a result, the “accuracy of less” disappears (a) when a numerical or a natural upper bound is present when estimating quantity increases, or (b) when people are asked to estimate the (unbounded) ratio of change from 1 size to another for both increasing and decreasing quantities. Ruling out explanations related to loss aversion, symbolic number mapping, and the visual arrangement of the stimuli, we show that the “accuracy of less” influences choice and demonstrate its robustness in a meta-analysis that includes previously published results. Finally, we discuss how the “accuracy of less” may explain asymmetric reactions to the supersizing and downsizing of food portions, some instances of the endowment effect, and asymmetries in the perception of increases and decreases in physical and psychological distance. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Social affiliation in same-class and cross-class interactions.


Historically high levels of economic inequality likely have important consequences for relationships between people of the same and different social class backgrounds. Here, we test the prediction that social affiliation among same-class partners is stronger at the extremes of the class spectrum, given that these groups are highly distinctive and most separated from others by institutional and economic forces. An internal meta-analysis of 4 studies (N = 723) provided support for this hypothesis. Participant and partner social class were interactively, rather than additively, associated with social affiliation, indexed by affiliative behaviors and emotions during structured laboratory interactions and in daily life. Further, response surface analyses revealed that paired upper or lower class partners generally affiliated more than average-class pairs. Analyses with separate class indices suggested that these patterns are driven more by parental income and subjective social class than by parental education. The findings illuminate the dynamics of same- and cross-class interactions, revealing that not all same-class interactions feature the same degree of affiliation. They also reveal the importance of studying social class from an intergroup perspective. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Public perception and communication of scientific uncertainty.


Understanding how the public perceives uncertainty in scientific research is fundamental for effective communication about research and its inevitable uncertainty. Previous work found that scientific evidence differentially influenced beliefs from individuals with different political ideologies. Evidence that threatens an individual’s political ideology is perceived as more uncertain than nonthreatening evidence. The authors present 3 studies examining perceptions of scientific uncertainty more broadly by including sciences that are not politically polarizing. Study 1 develops scales measuring perceptions of scientific uncertainty. It finds (a) 3 perceptual dimensions of scientific uncertainty, with the primary dimension representing a perception of precision; (b) the precision dimension of uncertainty is strongly associated with the perceived value of a research field; and (c) differences in perceived uncertainty across political affiliations. Study 2 manipulated these dimensions, finding that Republicans were more sensitive than Democrats to descriptions of uncertainty associated with a research field (e.g., psychology). Study 3 found that these views of a research field did not extend to the evaluation of individual results produced by the field. Together, these studies show that perceptions of scientific uncertainty associated with entire research fields are valid predictors of abstract perceptions of scientific quality, benefit, and allocation of funding. Yet, they do not inform judgments about individual results. Therefore, polarization in the acceptance of specific results is not likely due to individual differences in perceived scientific uncertainty. Further, the direction of influence potentially could be reversed, such that perceived quality of scientific results could be used to influence perceptions about scientific research fields. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)