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Review of General Psychology - Vol 17, Iss 4

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Review of General Psychology 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 literatures, provide a new historical analyses, or discuss new methodological developments in psychology as a whole.
Copyright 2014 American Psychological Association
  • Equal time for psychological and biological contributions to human variation.
    The recent increase in the number of studies designed to document the contributions of biological processes to human psychological variation has been accompanied by a decreased interest in discovering the particular experiences that are associated with class of rearing and identifications that contribute to the same outcomes. This editorial suggests 4 reasons for this state of affairs. They are the technological advances in biology; the favorable attitude toward materialistic explanations; the failure by earlier generations of social scientists to acknowledge the influences of temperamental biases and identifications with family, class, and ethnicity; and an emerging sentiment characterized by a reluctance to assign responsibility to victims for their states of distress. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Making sense of relational processes and other psychological phenomena: The participatory perspective as a post-Cartesian alternative to Gergen’s relational approach.
    Gergen’s (2009, 2011a, 2011b) relational approach and the participatory perspective (Westerman, 2005, 2006, 2014; Westerman & Steen, 2007) both subscribe to the view that we need to depart from treating the individual as the bounded, separate agent of the Cartesian framework. However, whereas Gergen’s position moves away from individualistic accounts by holding that all psychological processes originate in relational processes in the dyad, the participatory perspective accomplishes this shift by viewing the person from the outset as a participant in the world of practical activities. In this article, I discuss implications that follow from this difference in starting points, including a number of ways in which the participatory perspective avoids problematic features of Gergen’s approach. I argue that the participatory perspective offers a more sound framework for studying psychological phenomena, including interpersonal, or relational, processes themselves, the founding term of Gergen’s relational approach. Regarding relational processes, it enables us to address questions about (a) continuity in interpersonal behavior across relationship contexts, and (b) how relational processes within a dyad change. I maintain that the limitations of Gergen’s relational approach reflect the fact that it actually represents a variant of the Cartesian framework, even though Gergen’s goal was to depart from that framework. In addition, I maintain that the participatory perspective provides a more adequate basis for work in the field because it successfully goes beyond Cartesianism. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Creative thoughts as acts of free will: A two-stage formal integration.
    This article integrates two topics usually considered disciplines apart, namely, creativity and free will. In particular, creative thoughts are conceived as acts of free will. This integration begins by reviewing recent advances in a specific two-stage theory of creative problem solving, namely blind variation and selective retention (BVSR). After discussing the parallel two-stage theory of free will (chance then choice), both two-stage theories are then integrated into a single formal representation entailing choice initial probabilities, final utilities, and prior knowledge values. These three parameters are used to define the creativity of any given solution and the “sightedness” of any generated thought or choice. Both creativity and free will vanish as sightedness increases, but their relation to blindness is more complex, yielding a triangular joint distribution that mandates a second-stage selection or decision process. In addition, to accommodate the need to create choices actively rather than just decide among given choices, the treatment expands to encompass both thoughts and choices as combinatorial products. This extension connects the discussion of free will with both combinatorial models of creativity and the research on the factors that enable a person to engage in free combinatorial processes. The article closes with suggestions of future empirical and theoretical research with respect to psychology, philosophy, and potential future exchanges between the two disciplines. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • The “genius” and “madness” of Bobby Fischer: His life from three psychobiographical lenses.
    Robert (Bobby) James Fischer (1943–2008) remains one of the most puzzling and enigmatic personalities in modern American history. In 1972, at the height of Cold War tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States, Bobby Fischer defeated Soviet Boris Spassky to become the first official world chess champion from the United States. Two decades later, after playing a rematch with Spassky in war-torn Yugoslavia, Fischer became a fugitive from U.S. justice. Although always an independent, autonomous, and forthright person, Fischer’s behavior after the 1972 championship grew increasingly strange and bizarre. “Who was Bobby Fischer and what happened to him” is a lingering question that has not been adequately answered by psychologists, historians, and biographers. The present article examines the life of Bobby Fischer from three diverse psychobiographical lenses: Erikson’s (Erikson, E. H. [1950]. Childhood and society. New York, NY: Norton) psychosocial development model; the clinical diagnostic model of the Shedler-Westen Assessment Procedure (SWAP; Shedler, J. [2009]. Guide to SWAP-200 Interpretation. Shedler-Westen Assessment Procedure: Where Science Meets Practice.; and a strengths-based positive psychology model (Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. [2004]. Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.). Suggestions for advancing the science of psychobiography are put forth with particular emphasis on incorporating mixed methods approaches to research. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Evaluating an animal model of compulsive hoarding in humans.
    Recently, researchers have begun to advocate use of an animal model for understanding compulsive hoarding in humans. Nevertheless, a comprehensive review of the literature for this argument is lacking. We compare data for compulsive hoarding behavior in humans with hoarding in several vertebrates (rat, bird, and primate) to examine the potential validity of an animal model of hoarding. Although the strength of each animal model varies, there is provisional evidence in support of an analogue between hoarding in nonhuman animals (especially rodents) and humans, most notably on neurobiological grounds. Nevertheless, substantially more evidence is needed before this relationship can be confirmed with confidence. We identify gaps in the literature and offer suggestions for further investigation of the validity of animal models of human hoarding. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Is a pejorative view of power assertion in the socialization process justified?
    Power assertion is foundational to the authoritative parenting style and the authoritative parenting style is consistently acknowledged to be optimal so that a pejorative view of power assertion per se is unwarranted. In contrast to the “child-centered” presumption that power assertion by parents is detrimental to the well-being of children and bears an antinomian relation to reasoning, I argue that reasoning and confrontive power assertion are independent processes that, when synthesized, account for the benefits of authoritative parenting relative to the other primary parenting styles (authoritarian, permissive, disengaged) in which either or both confrontive power assertion and reasoning are minimal. Directive parenting, a newly identified power-assertive parenting style that is as demanding as the authoritarian style, but is not arbitrary, hostile, or punitive, has also been found to be beneficial. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Cognitive traits as sexually selected fitness indicators.
    The evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller has argued that various features of human psychology have been sculpted, at least in part, by the evolutionary process of sexual selection via mate choice. This paper specifically examines the central claim of Miller’s account, namely that certain cognitive traits have evolved to function as good genes fitness indicators. First, I expound on and clarify key foundational concepts comprising the focal hypothesis, especially condition-dependence, mutation target size, and mutation-selection balance. Second, I proceed to highlight some subtle distinctions with respect to the concepts of exaptation and adaptation, as well as Fisherian runaway selection and good genes sexual selection, all of which in turn bear importantly on the overall framework of cognitive traits as fitness indicators. Third and finally, I close out the paper by examining various conceptual and methodological criteria which are integral to identifying sexually selected adaptations, then briefly examine some empirical work that has aimed to test the hypothesis that traits such as humor and creativity function as sexually attractive fitness indicators. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Moral ambivalence: Modeling and measuring bivariate evaluative processes in moral judgment.
    Moral judgments often appear to arise from quick affectively toned intuitions rather than from conscious application of moral principles. Sometimes people feel that an action they observe or contemplate could be judged as either right or wrong. Models of moral intuition need to specify mechanisms that could account for such moral ambivalence. The basic implication of moral ambivalence is that right and wrong are regions of a bivariate scale rather than a bipolar scale. The former allows for equally strong positive and negative evaluations of a stimulus, but the latter requires one evaluation to get weaker as the other one gets stronger (Cacioppo & Berntson, 1994). Covariation of evaluative activations is supported by classic animal research on approach–avoidance conflict showing that when rats are both rewarded and punished in the goal region of a runway, their approach and avoidance tendencies both increase as they get closer to the goal. The relevance of this research to moral judgment is underscored by recent studies indicating that judgments of right and wrong are fundamentally expressions of approach and avoidance motivation. Experimental and historical analyses illustrate 2 potential effects of ambivalence on moral judgment, vacillation and suppression, and a proposed model shows how the bivariate scale can be applied to existing formulations, including Haidt’s moral foundations theory. Studies of moral judgment that use rating scales, questionnaires, or interviews should give participants the option to express ambivalence (e.g., “can’t decide,” “don’t know”) instead of requiring definitive judgments, which is the current practice. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Mind the gap in mindfulness research: A comparative account of the leading schools of thought.
    The literature on mindfulness has been dominated by the two leading schools of thought: one advanced by Langer and her colleagues; the other developed by Kabat-Zinn and his associates. Curiously, the two strands of research have been running in parallel lines for more than 30 years, scarcely addressing each others’ work, and with almost no attempt to clarify the relationship between them. In view of this gap, this article sought to systematically compare and contrast the two lines of research. The comparison between the two schools of thought suggests that although there are some similarities in their definitions of mindfulness, they differ in several core aspects: their philosophies, the components of their constructs, their goals, their theoretical scope, their measurement tools, their conceptual focus, their target audiences, the interventions they employ, the mechanisms underlying these interventions, and the outcomes of their interventions. However, the analysis also revealed that self-regulation is a core mechanism in both perspectives, which seems to mediate the impact of their interventions. In view of the differences between the two strands of research, we propose that they be given different titles that capture their prime features. We suggest “creative mindfulness” for Langer and her colleagues’ scholarship, and “meditative mindfulness” for Kabat-Zinn and his associates’ scholarly work. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Postscript: From the outgoing editor.
    This issue of the Review of General Psychology marks a transition of editors and the composition of the Editorial Review Board, many of whom have served since the origination of the journal in 1996 under the supervision of Peter Salovey, the founding editor. The outgoing editor and the readership here publish words of gratitude to the members of the Editorial Review Board, the ad hoc reviewers, and to the authors who entrusted their work to Review of General Psychology. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)
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