Subscribe: Review of General Psychology - Vol 10, Iss 2
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Review of General Psychology - Vol 21, Iss 2

Review of General Psychology publishes innovative theoretical, conceptual, and methodological articles that crosscut the traditional subdisciplines of psychology. The journal contains articles that advance theory, evaluate and integrate research literatur

Last Build Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2017 16:00:00 EST

Copyright: Copyright 2017 American Psychological Association

How gullible are we? A review of the evidence from psychology and social science.


A long tradition of scholarship, from ancient Greece to Marxism or some contemporary social psychology, portrays humans as strongly gullible—wont to accept harmful messages by being unduly deferent. However, if humans are reasonably well adapted, they should not be strongly gullible: they should be vigilant toward communicated information. Evidence from experimental psychology reveals that humans are equipped with well-functioning mechanisms of epistemic vigilance. They check the plausibility of messages against their background beliefs, calibrate their trust as a function of the source’s competence and benevolence, and critically evaluate arguments offered to them. Even if humans are equipped with well-functioning mechanisms of epistemic vigilance, an adaptive lag might render them gullible in the face of new challenges, from clever marketing to omnipresent propaganda. I review evidence from different cultural domains often taken as proof of strong gullibility: religion, demagoguery, propaganda, political campaigns, advertising, erroneous medical beliefs, and rumors. Converging evidence reveals that communication is much less influential than often believed—that religious proselytizing, propaganda, advertising, and so forth are generally not very effective at changing people’s minds. Beliefs that lead to costly behavior are even less likely to be accepted. Finally, it is also argued that most cases of acceptance of misguided communicated information do not stem from undue deference, but from a fit between the communicated information and the audience’s preexisting beliefs. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The variability-stability-flexibility pattern: A possible key to understanding the flexibility of the human mind.


Flexibility is a defining characteristic of our species. The current literature presents cognitive flexibility as having several meanings; this lack of a single definition may hinder work on understanding the concept. In this article, I begin with describing the variability–stability–flexibility pattern in the development of various abilities and then argue that as part of this chain, flexibility can be considered a property of the cognitive system and not in itself an ability. The implications of and challenges to this view are discussed. This view can foster progress in the understanding of cognitive flexibility: It can serve as a unifying framework in which to study the dynamic flow of stability and flexibility in the functioning of the cognitive system. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Rumination, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts: A meta-analytic review.


Rumination has been implicated as a risk factor for suicidal ideation and attempts, yet the literature to date has not been synthesized. We conducted a meta-analysis of the association between rumination and both suicidal ideation and attempts to consolidate the existing literature (k = 29). Results indicated that the relationships between global rumination (k = 13; Hedge’s g = .74, p < .001, 95% CI [.45, 1.04]), brooding (k = 12; Hedge’s g = .63, p < .001, 95% CI [.35, .90]), and reflection (k = 12; Hedge’s g = .38, p = .002, 95% CI [.10, .65]) with suicidal ideation were significant. Associations between global rumination (k = 3; Hedge’s g = .26, p < .001, 95% CI [.08, .44]) and brooding (k = 4; Hedge’s g = .47, p = .004, 95% CI [.02, .91]) and suicide attempts were significant, but reflection (k = 4; Hedge’s g = .09, p = .646, 95% CI [−.54, .72]) was unrelated. However, given the limited studies included in suicide attempt analyses—and the exclusive use of cross-sectional designs and heterogeneity with regard to samples and measures—these parameters should be taken with caution. Generally, age, gender, race/ethnicity, and year of publication were not moderators, and there was little evidence for publication bias across effects, with the exception of the effect of global rumination on suicidal ideation. Several future research directions are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The varieties of self-transcendent experience.


Various forms of self-loss have been described as aspects of mental illness (e.g., depersonalization disorder), but might self-loss also be related to mental health? In this integrative review and proposed organizational framework, we focus on self-transcendent experiences (STEs)—transient mental states marked by decreased self-salience and increased feelings of connectedness. We first identify common psychological constructs that contain a self-transcendent aspect, including mindfulness, flow, peak experiences, mystical-type experiences, and certain positive emotions (e.g., love, awe). We then propose psychological and neurobiological mechanisms that may mediate the effects of STEs based on a review of the extant literature from social psychology, clinical psychology, and affective neuroscience. We conclude with future directions for further empirical research on these experiences. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Confucian conceptions of human intelligence.


The work of Confucius has been—and continues to be—part of the foundation of Chinese culture. Understanding his work provides insights into many aspects of Chinese societies, ranging from politics to the arts, from economies to education systems. The present article summarizes Confucius’ view of human intelligence, comparing and contrasting it with Western theory and research on related constructs. Confucius’ formulation encompassed qualities such as (a) the ability to identify areas of intelligence in others, (b) self-knowledge, (c) problem-solving skills, (d) verbal fluency, (e) the ability to think actively and flexibly, and (f) the capacity to make healthy personal decisions. Confucius and his followers also developed classification systems for categorizing individuals based on their intelligence. For average people, Confucius held an incremental view of intelligence that relied heavily on extensive study, inquiry, reflection, and transfer. For people with very high or very low intelligence, however, he saw intelligence as being determined by heaven or their inborn nature. A thorough understanding of Confucian conceptions of intelligence provides insight into the present-day study of intelligence within China. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Finding Sarah: 49-year reunion with the chimpanzee of David Premack’s language studies.


Sarah the chimpanzee was the primary participant in David Premack’s language studies initiated at University of California at Santa Barbara in 1967. The first author was an undergraduate assistant training Sarah from 1967 to 1969. This article describes some of the early work with Sarah and our recent search for her. Sarah’s whereabouts during the intervening years, and subsequent reunion with her in 2016 at Chimp Haven, a chimpanzee sanctuary in Louisiana, are described. It was found that despite her illness, Sarah engaged with the first author and demonstrated that she remembered him and the mechanics of the communication procedure that served as the foundation for testing Sarah’s cognitive reasoning abilities as they pertained to language. There was no evidence she remembered any of the 5 symbolic nouns that were presented during a matching-to-sample procedure. The authors expressed their gratitude to the staff at Chimp Haven for the excellent care of Sarah. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)