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Current Topics

Association for Psychological
Science

www.psychologicalscience.org

Is the Map in Our Head Oriented
North?


Psychological
Science February 2012 23: 120
-
125, first published on December 29,
2011


Julia
Frankenstein, Center for Cognitive Science, University
of Freiburg,
Friedrichstrasse

50, 79098 Freiburg,
Germany


Tobias
Meilinger
, Max Planck Institute for Biological
Cybernetics,
Spemannstrasse

38, 72076
Tübingen


Abstract


We examined how a highly familiar environmental space

one’s city of
residence

is represented in memory. Twenty
-
six participants faced a
photo
-
realistic virtual model of their hometown and completed a task in
which they pointed to familiar target locations from various orientations.
Each participant’s performance was most accurate when he or she was
facing north, and errors increased as participants’ deviation from a north
-
facing orientation increased. Pointing errors and latencies were not
related to the distance between participants’ initial locations and the
target locations. Our results are inconsistent with accounts of orientation
-
free memory and with theories assuming that the storage of spatial
knowledge depends on local reference frames. Although participants
recognized familiar local views in their initial locations, their strategy for
pointing relied on a single, north
-
oriented reference frame that was likely
acquired from maps rather than experience from daily exploration. Even
though participants had spent significantly more time navigating the city
than looking at maps, their pointing behavior seemed to rely on a north
-
oriented mental map.

The Misperception of Sexual Interest


Carin

Perilloux
, Judith A. Easton, and David M.
Buss


Psychological
Science February 2012 23: 146
-
151, first published on January 18, 2012

Abstract


In the current study (
N

= 199), we utilized a speed
-
meeting
methodology to investigate misperceptions of sexual interest. This
method allowed us to evaluate the magnitude of men’s
overperception

of women’s sexual interest, to examine whether
and how women misperceive men’s sexual interest, and to assess
individual differences in susceptibility to sexual misperception. We
found strong support for the prediction that women would
underestimate men’s sexual interest. Men who were more oriented
toward short
-
term mating strategies or who rated themselves more
attractive were more likely to
overperceive

women’s sexual interest.
The magnitude of men’s
overperception

of women’s sexual interest
was predicted by the women’s physical attractiveness. We discuss
implications of gender differences and within
-
sex individual
differences in susceptibility to sexual misperception.

Religiosity, Social Self
-
Esteem, and
Psychological Adjustment: On the Cross
-
Cultural Specificity of the Psychological Benefits
of Religiosity



Jochen

E.
Gebauer
, Constantine
Sedikides
, and
Wiebke

Neberich


Psychological
Science February 2012 23: 158
-
160, first published on January 5, 2012

Conculsions


The religiosity
-
as
-
social
-
value hypothesis posits that the
psychological benefits of religiosity (benefits to social self
-
esteem
and psychological adjustment) are culturally specific: They should
be stronger in countries that tend to value religiosity more. Data
from more than 180,000 individuals across 11 countries were
consistent with this prediction.


Overall, believers claimed greater social self
-
esteem and
psychological adjustment than nonbelievers did. However, culture
qualified this effect. Believers enjoyed psychological benefits in
countries that tended to value religiosity, but did not differ from
nonbelievers in countries that did not tend to value religiosity.
Replication of this pattern with non
-
self
-
report data would be
desirable. Regardless, the results suggest that religiosity, albeit a
potent force, confers benefits by riding on cultural values.

Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes


Lower Cognitive Ability Predicts Greater
Prejudice Through Right
-
Wing Ideology and
Low Intergroup Contact



Gordon
Hodson

& Michael A.
Busseri


Psychological Science February 2012 vol. 23
no. 2 187
-
195


Abstract


Despite their important implications for interpersonal behaviors and relations,
cognitive abilities have been largely ignored as explanations of prejudice.


We
proposed and tested mediation models in which lower cognitive ability
predicts greater prejudice, an effect mediated through the endorsement of right
-
wing ideologies (social conservatism, right
-
wing authoritarianism) and low levels of
contact with out
-
groups.


In
an analysis of two large
-
scale, nationally representative United Kingdom data
sets (
N

= 15,874), we found that lower general intelligence (
g
) in childhood
predicts greater racism in adulthood, and this effect was largely mediated via
conservative ideology.


A
secondary analysis of a U.S. data set confirmed a predictive effect of poor
abstract
-
reasoning skills on
anti
-
homosexual
prejudice, a relation partially
mediated by both authoritarianism and low levels of intergroup contact. All
analyses controlled for education and socioeconomic status
.


Our
results suggest that cognitive abilities play a critical, albeit underappreciated,
role in prejudice. Consequently, we recommend a heightened focus on cognitive
ability in research on prejudice and a better integration of cognitive ability into
prejudice models.

Living
Large


The Powerful Overestimate Their Own Height



Psychological Science

January 2012
vol. 23 no.
1
36
-
40


Abstract


In three experiments, we tested the prediction that individuals’
experience of power influences their perceptions of their own
height. High power, relative to low power, was associated with
smaller estimates of a pole’s height relative to the self (Experiment
1), with larger estimates of one’s own height (Experiment 2), and
with choice of a taller avatar to represent the self in a second
-
life
game (Experiment 3). These results emerged regardless of whether
power was experientially primed (Experiments 1 and 3) or
manipulated through assigned roles (Experiment 2).


Although
a great deal of research has shown that more physically
imposing individuals are more likely to acquire power, this work is
the first to show that powerful people feel taller than they are. The
discussion considers the implications for existing and future
research on the physical experience of power.

Identifying and Remediating Failures
of Selective Attention in Older Drivers



Alexander
Pollatsek
, Matthew R. E.
Romoser
, and
Donald L. Fisher


Current
Directions in Psychological Science February
2012 21: 3
-
7
,



Together, these findings indicate that older drivers’ less
frequent scanning of regions at intersections from
which hazards may emerge may be due to their
developing something like an unsafe habit rather than
to deteriorating physical or mental capabilities and
thus that training may be effective in reducing crashes.

The Nature and Organization of Individual
Differences in Executive Functions: Four
General Conclusions


Current
Directions in Psychological Science
February 2012 21: 8
-
14,

Abstract


Executive functions (EFs)

a set of general
-
purpose control
processes that regulate one’s thoughts and behaviors

have
become a popular research topic lately and have been studied in
many
subdisciplines

of psychological science. This article
summarizes the EF research that our group has conducted to
understand the nature of individual differences in EFs and their
cognitive and biological underpinnings.


In
the context of a new theoretical framework that we have been
developing (the unity/diversity framework), we describe four
general conclusions that have emerged. Specifically, we argue that
individual differences in EFs, as measured with simple laboratory
tasks, (a) show both unity and diversity (different EFs are correlated
yet separable), (b) reflect substantial genetic contributions, (c) are
related to various clinically and societally important phenomena,
and (d) show some developmental stability.

More in latest issue of Current
Directions in Psychological Science


Self
-
Control and Aggression


Risky
Decisions: Active Risk Management


Beyond
Comprehension: The Role of
Numeracy in Judgments and
Decisions


Broken
Hearts and Broken Bones: A Neural
Perspective on the Similarities Between
Social and Physical
Pain


Dissociation and Dissociative Disorders:
Challenging Conventional Wisdom

More …


Motivational Salience: Amygdala Tuning
From Traits, Needs, Values, and
Goal


Patients’ Perceptions of Their Illness: The
Dynamo of Volition in Health
Care


Psychopathic Personality: Bridging the Gap
Between Scientific Evidence and Public
Policy


Linking Process and Outcome in the Study of
Emotion and Aging