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

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General - Vol 146, Iss 5

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: Mon, 29 May 2017 16:00:10 EST

Copyright: Copyright 2017 American Psychological Association

Investigating the cognitive structure of stereotypes: Generic beliefs about groups predict social judgments better than statistical beliefs.


Stereotypes are typically defined as beliefs about groups, but this definition is underspecified. Beliefs about groups can be generic or statistical. Generic beliefs attribute features to entire groups (e.g., men are strong), whereas statistical beliefs encode the perceived prevalence of features (e.g., how common it is for men to be strong). In the present research, we sought to determine which beliefs—generic or statistical—are more central to the cognitive structure of stereotypes. Specifically, we tested whether generic or statistical beliefs are more influential in people’s social judgments, on the assumption that greater functional importance indicates greater centrality in stereotype structure. Relative to statistical beliefs, generic beliefs about social groups were significantly stronger predictors of expectations (Studies 1–3) and explanations (Study 4) for unfamiliar individuals’ traits. In addition, consistent with prior evidence that generic beliefs are cognitively simpler than statistical beliefs, generic beliefs were particularly predictive of social judgments for participants with more intuitive (vs. analytic) cognitive styles and for participants higher (vs. lower) in authoritarianism, who tend to view outgroups in simplistic, all-or-none terms. The present studies suggest that generic beliefs about groups are more central than statistical beliefs to the cognitive structure of stereotypes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Practice increases procedural errors after task interruption.


Positive effects of practice are ubiquitous in human performance, but a finding from memory research suggests that negative effects are possible also. The finding is that memory for items on a list depends on the time interval between item presentations. This finding predicts a negative effect of practice on procedural performance under conditions of task interruption. As steps of a procedure are performed more quickly, memory for past performance should become less accurate, increasing the rate of skipped or repeated steps after an interruption. We found this effect, with practice generally improving speed and accuracy, but impairing accuracy after interruptions. The results show that positive effects of practice can interact with architectural constraints on episodic memory to have negative effects on performance. In practical terms, the results suggest that practice can be a risk factor for procedural errors in task environments with a high incidence of task interruption. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Decoding “us” and “them”: Neural representations of generalized group concepts.


Humans form social coalitions in every society on earth, yet we know very little about how the general concepts us and them are represented in the brain. Evolutionary psychologists have argued that the human capacity for group affiliation is a byproduct of adaptations that evolved for tracking coalitions in general. These theories suggest that humans possess a common neural code for the concepts in-group and out-group, regardless of the category by which group boundaries are instantiated. The authors used multivoxel pattern analysis to identify the neural substrates of generalized group concept representations. They trained a classifier to encode how people represented the most basic instantiation of a specific social group (i.e., arbitrary teams created in the lab with no history of interaction or associated stereotypes) and tested how well the neural data decoded membership along an objectively orthogonal, real-world category (i.e., political parties). The dorsal anterior cingulate cortex/middle cingulate cortex and anterior insula were associated with representing groups across multiple social categories. Restricting the analyses to these regions in a separate sample of participants performing an explicit categorization task, the authors replicated cross-categorization classification in anterior insula. Classification accuracy across categories was driven predominantly by the correct categorization of in-group targets, consistent with theories indicating in-group preference is more central than out-group derogation to group perception and cognition. These findings highlight the extent to which social group concepts rely on domain-general circuitry associated with encoding stimuli’s functional significance. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Coding of serial order in verbal, visual and spatial working memory.


In the domain of working memory, recent theories postulate that the maintenance of serial order is driven by position marking. According to this idea, serial order is maintained though associations of each item with an independent representation of the position that the item constitutes in the sequence. Recent studies suggest that those position markers are spatial in nature, with the beginning items associated with left side and the end elements with the right side of space (i.e., the ordinal position effect). So far however, it is unclear whether serial order is coded along the same principles in the verbal and the visuospatial domain. The aim of the current study was to investigate whether serial order is coded in a domain general fashion or not. To unravel this question, 6 experiments were conducted. The first 3 experiments revealed that the ordinal position effect is found with verbal but not with spatial information. In the subsequent experiments, the authors isolated the origin of this dissociation and conclude that to obtain spatial coding of serial order, it is not the nature of the encoded information (verbal, visual, or spatial) that is crucial, but whether the memoranda are semantically processed or not. This work supports the idea that serial order is coded in a domain general fashion, but suggests that position markers are only spatially coded when the to-be-remembered information is processed at the semantic level. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

“Cumulative weighing of time in intertemporal tradeoffs”: Correction to Scholten, Read, and Sanborn (2016).


Reports an error in "Cumulative weighing of time in intertemporal tradeoffs" by Marc Scholten, Daniel Read and Adam Sanborn (Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 2016[Sep], Vol 145[9], 1177-1205). In the article, there was an error in Table 1. The preference for faster accumulation read {1,000, 0, 1,000} > {0, 500, 0}. It should read {0, 1,000, 0} > {500, 0, 500}. In addition, in the section Descriptive Accuracy, all the equations with the inequality “>” should read “≥” instead. The impact of this change is that, when considering the best model for each participant, as measured by Bayes Factors, the absolute goodness of fit, as measured by Bayesian p-values, were better than reported in both Table A2 and the text. All of the corrected cells in Table A2 are 0%, meaning that none of the participants across Experiments 2–4 had a significantly (p 2016-41092-003.) We examine preferences for sequences of delayed monetary gains. In the experimental literature, two prominent models have been advanced as psychological descriptions of preferences for sequences. In one model, the instantaneous utilities of the outcomes in a sequence are discounted as a function of their delays, and assembled into a discounted utility of the sequence. In the other model, the accumulated utility of the outcomes in a sequence is considered along with utility or disutility from improvement in outcome utilities and utility or disutility from the spreading of outcome utilities. Drawing on three threads of evidence concerning preferences for sequences of monetary gains, we propose that the accumulated utility of the outcomes in a sequence is traded off against the duration of utility accumulation. In our first experiment, aggregate choice behavior provides qualitative support for the tradeoff model. In three subsequent experiments, one of which incentivized, disaggregate choice behavior provides quantitative support for the tradeoff model in Bayesian model contests. One thread of evidence motivating the tradeoff model is that, when, in the choice between two single dated outcomes, it is conveyed that receiving less sooner means receiving nothing later, preference for receiving more later increases, but when it is conveyed that receiving more later means receiving nothing sooner, preference is left unchanged. Our results show that this asymmetric hidden-zero effect is indeed driven by those supporting the tradeoff model. The tradeoff model also accommodates all remaining evidence on preferences for sequences of monetary gains. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Failure to pop out: Feature singletons do not capture attention under low signal-to-noise ratio conditions.


Pop-out search implies that the target is always the first item selected, no matter how many distractors are presented. However, increasing evidence indicates that search is not entirely independent of display density even for pop-out targets: search is slower with sparse (few distractors) than with dense displays (many distractors). Despite its significance, the cause of this anomaly remains unclear. We investigated several mechanisms that could slow down search for pop-out targets. Consistent with the assumption that pop-out targets frequently fail to pop out in sparse displays, we observed greater variability of search duration for sparse displays relative to dense. Computational modeling of the response time distributions also supported the view that pop-out targets fail to pop out in sparse displays. Our findings strongly question the classical assumption that early processing of pop-out targets is independent of the distractors. Rather, the density of distractors critically influences whether or not a stimulus pops out. These results call for new, more reliable measures of pop-out search and potentially a reinterpretation of studies that used relatively sparse displays. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Word order and world order: Titles of intergroup conflicts may increase ethnocentrism by mentioning the in-group first.


The title of a historical event is usually the first thing we learn about that event. This article investigates whether group order in supposedly neutral conflict titles (e.g., Polish–Russian War) is systematically biased toward naming the in-group first (e.g., Polish–Russian War in Polish; Russian–Polish War in Russian) and whether group order affects perceptions of the groups involved. Based on linguistic evidence that individuals have the tendency to name themselves first, we expected and found a systematic tendency to name the in-group first in N = 172 real-world titles of historical conflicts from more than 40 languages (Study 1), under controlled conditions with participants from different cultures (Studies 2a and 2b), and in a minimal group experiment (Study 3), which identifies group membership as a crucial factor and rules out alternative explanations. Furthermore, based on findings on perception, it is predicted and found in 3 studies (Study 4, 5a, and 5b) that a group is perceived as more important when mentioned first rather than second. This effect depended, however, on group order in the questions asked. Additionally, the first group was consistently associated with more power. Combined, seemingly neutral conflict titles may therefore increase ethnocentrism as it is the in-group that is mostly mentioned first and because of that perceived as more important. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The paradox of group mind: “People in a group” have more mind than “a group of people”.


Three studies examine how subtle shifts in framing can alter the mind perception of groups. Study 1 finds that people generally perceive groups to have less mind than individuals. However, Study 2 demonstrates that changing the framing of a group from “a group of people” to “people in a group,” substantially increases mind perception—leading to comparable levels of mind between groups and individuals. Study 3 reveals that this change in framing influences people’s sympathy for groups, an effect mediated by mind perception. We conclude that minor linguistic shifts can have big effects on how groups are perceived—with implications for mind perception and sympathy for mass suffering. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Expectations for future relationship satisfaction: Unique sources and critical implications for commitment.


Contemporary perspectives on relationship commitment posit that intimates decide whether or not to maintain a relationship based on their commitment to that relationship, and that they base such commitment partially on their current satisfaction with that relationship. Nevertheless, given that ending a relationship requires knowing about both the current state of the relationship and the likely future state of the relationship, we propose that people base their commitment to a relationship more on their expected future satisfaction with the relationship than on their current satisfaction with that relationship. Six studies provided evidence for these ideas. Study 1 demonstrated that expected satisfaction is shaped by not only current satisfaction but also several unique indicators of the likelihood of future satisfaction, including anticipated life events, plans to improve the relationship, and individual differences. Then, using a combination of cross-sectional, experimental, and longitudinal methods, Studies 2 through 6 demonstrated that (a) expected satisfaction was a stronger predictor of relationship commitment, maintenance behaviors, and/or divorce than was current satisfaction and (b) expected satisfaction mediated the association between current satisfaction and these outcomes. These findings highlight not only the need to incorporate expected satisfaction into extent perspectives on commitment, but also the importance of expectations for decision-making processes more broadly. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The relational luring effect: Retrieval of relational information during associative recognition.


Here we argue that semantic relations (e.g., works in: nurse–hospital) have abstract independent representations in long-term memory (LTM) and that the same representation is accessed by all exemplars of a specific relation. We present evidence from 2 associative recognition experiments that uncovered a novel relational luring effect (RLE) in recognition memory. Participants studied word pairs, and then discriminated between intact (old) pairs and recombined lures. In the first experiment participants responded more slowly to lures that were relationally similar (table–cloth) to studied pairs (floor–carpet), in contrast to relationally dissimilar lures (pipe–water). Experiment 2 extended the RLE by showing a continuous effect of relational lure strength on recognition times (RTs), false alarms, and hits. It used a continuous pair recognition task, where each recombined lure or target could be preceded by 0, 1, 2, 3 or 4 different exemplars of the same relation. RTs and false alarms increased linearly with the number of different previously seen relationally similar pairs. Moreover, more typical exemplars of a given relation lead to a stronger RLE. Finally, hits for intact pairs also rose with the number of previously studied different relational instances. These results suggest that semantic relations exist as independent representations in LTM and that during associative recognition these representations can be a spurious source of familiarity. We discuss the implications of the RLE for current models of semantic and episodic memory, unitization in associative recognition, analogical reasoning and retrieval, as well as constructive memory research. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Impact bias or underestimation? Outcome specifications predict the direction of affective forecasting errors.


Affective forecasts are used to anticipate the hedonic impact of future events and decide which events to pursue or avoid. We propose that because affective forecasters are more sensitive to outcome specifications of events than experiencers, the outcome specification values of an event, such as its duration, magnitude, probability, and psychological distance, can be used to predict the direction of affective forecasting errors: whether affective forecasters will overestimate or underestimate its hedonic impact. When specifications are positively correlated with the hedonic impact of an event, forecasters will overestimate the extent to which high specification values will intensify and low specification values will discount its impact. When outcome specifications are negatively correlated with its hedonic impact, forecasters will overestimate the extent to which low specification values will intensify and high specification values will discount its impact. These affective forecasting errors compound additively when multiple specifications are aligned in their impact: In Experiment 1, affective forecasters underestimated the hedonic impact of winning a smaller prize that they expected to win, and they overestimated the hedonic impact of winning a larger prize that they did not expect to win. In Experiment 2, affective forecasters underestimated the hedonic impact of a short unpleasant video about a temporally distant event, and they overestimated the hedonic impact of a long unpleasant video about a temporally near event. Experiments 3A and 3B showed that differences in the affect-richness of forecasted and experienced events underlie these differences in sensitivity to outcome specifications, therefore accounting for both the impact bias and its reversal. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Trust, trolleys and social dilemmas: A replication study.


The present manuscript addresses how perceived trustworthiness of cooperative partners in a social dilemma context is influenced by the moral judgments those partners make on Trolley-type moral dilemmas; an issue recently investigated by Everett, Pizarro, and Crockett (2016). The present research comprises 2 studies that were conducted independently, simultaneously with, and incognizant of the Everett studies. Whereas the present studies aimed at investigating the same research hypothesis, a different and more elaborate methodology was used, as such providing a conceptual replication opportunity and extension to the Everett et al. studies. Overall, the present studies clearly confirmed the main finding of Everett et al., that deontologists are more trusted than consequentialists in social dilemma games. Study 1 replicates Everett et al.’s effect in the context of trust games. Study 2 generalizes the effect to public goods games, thus demonstrating that it is not specific to the type of social dilemma game used in Everett et al. Finally, both studies build on these results by demonstrating that the increased trust in deontologists may sometimes, but not always, be warranted: deontologists displayed increased cooperation rates but only in the public goods game and not in trust games. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)