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Journal of Experimental Psychology: General - Vol 146, Iss 10

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Journal of Experimental Psychology: General The Journal of Experimental Psychology: General publishes articles describing empirical work that bridges the traditional interests of two or more communities of psychology.
Copyright 2017 American Psychological Association
  • Power as an emotional liability: Implications for perceived authenticity and trust after a transgression.
    People may express a variety of emotions after committing a transgression. Through 6 empirical studies and a meta-analysis, we investigate how the perceived authenticity of such emotional displays and resulting levels of trust are shaped by the transgressor’s power. Past findings suggest that individuals with power tend to be more authentic because they have more freedom to act on the basis of their own personal inclinations. Yet, our findings reveal that (a) a transgressor’s display of emotion is perceived to be less authentic when that party’s power is high rather than low; (b) this perception of emotional authenticity, in turn, directly influences (and mediates) the level of trust in that party; and (c) perceivers ultimately exert less effort when asked to make a case for leniency toward high rather than low-power transgressors. This tendency to discount the emotional authenticity of the powerful was found to arise from power increasing the transgressor’s perceived level of emotional control and strategic motivation, rather than a host of alternative mechanisms. These results were also found across different types of emotions (sadness, anger, fear, happiness, and neutral), expressive modalities, operationalizations of the transgression, and participant populations. Altogether, our findings demonstrate that besides the wealth of benefits power can afford, it also comes with a notable downside. The findings, furthermore, extend past research on perceived emotional authenticity, which has focused on how and when specific emotions are expressed, by revealing how this perception can depend on considerations that have nothing to do with the expression itself. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Do rewards reinforce the growth mindset?: Joint effects of the growth mindset and incentive schemes in a field intervention.
    The current study draws on the motivational model of achievement which has been guiding research on the growth mindset intervention (Dweck & Leggett, 1988) and examines how this intervention interacts with incentive systems to differentially influence performance for high- and low-achieving students in Indian schools that serve low-SES communities. Although, as expected, the growth mindset intervention did interact with incentive systems and prior achievement to influence subsequent academic performance, the existing growth mindset framework cannot fully account for the observed effects. Specifically, we found that the growth mindset intervention did facilitate performance through persistence, but only when the incentive system imparted individuals with a sense of autonomy. Such a facilitation effect was only found among those students who had high prior achievement, but not among those who had underperformed. When the incentive did not impart a sense of autonomy, the growth mindset intervention undermined the performance of those who had high initial achievement. To reconcile these discrepancies and to advance understanding of the impacts of psychological interventions on achievement outcomes, we discuss how the existing theory can be extended and integrated with an identity-based motivation framework (Oyserman & Destin, 2010). We also discuss the implications of our work for future research and practice. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Implied reading direction and prioritization of letter encoding.
    Capacity limits hinder processing of multiple stimuli, contributing to poorer performance for identifying two briefly presented letters than for identifying a single letter. Higher accuracy is typically found for identifying the letter on the left, which has been attributed to a right-hemisphere dominance for selective attention. Here, we use rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) of letters in two locations at once. The letters to be identified are simultaneous and cued by rings. In the first experiment, we manipulated implied reading direction by rotating or mirror-reversing the letters to face to the left rather than to the right. The left-side performance advantage was eliminated. In the second experiment, letters were positioned above and below fixation, oriented such that they appeared to face downward (90° clockwise rotation) or upward (90° counterclockwise rotation). Again consistent with an effect of implied reading direction, performance was better for the top position in the downward condition, but not in the upward condition. In both experiments, mixture modeling of participants’ report errors revealed that attentional sampling from the two locations was approximately simultaneous, ruling out the theory that the letter on one side was processed first, followed by a shift of attention to sample the other letter. Thus, the orientation of the letters apparently controls not when the letters are sampled from the scene, but rather the dynamics of a subsequent process, such as tokenization or memory consolidation. Implied reading direction appears to determine the letter prioritized at a high-level processing bottleneck. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Sequential effects modulate spatial biases.
    Healthy individuals usually display a bias toward the left side of space. This effect can be measured in a line bisection task or, alternatively, in a landmark task where prebisected lines are presented to participants. Several factors have been shown to influence pseudoneglect, that is, to vary the magnitude of the left side bias. We performed 2 landmark experiments: 1 online (n = 801) and a 2nd in the laboratory (n = 20). Our results demonstrate that pseudoneglect is strongly modulated by the sequence of trials in a landmark task. Of particular relevance is the fact that, for some histories of responses, pseudoneglect is inverted such that apparently there is a preference for the right side. In addition, we show that the way in which the point of subjective equality depends on the previous sequence of trials is well approximated by an exponential filter, well known from the literature of sequential effects to be related to motor control. In other words, the type of sequential effects we encountered in the landmark task is consistent with a purely motor contribution, further deepening our understanding of the way motor control influences pseudoneglect. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • The secret to happiness: Feeling good or feeling right?
    Which emotional experiences should people pursue to optimize happiness? According to traditional subjective well-being research, the more pleasant emotions we experience, the happier we are. According to Aristotle, the more we experience the emotions we want to experience, the happier we are. We tested both predictions in a cross-cultural sample of 2,324 participants from 8 countries around the world. We assessed experienced emotions, desired emotions, and indices of well-being and depressive symptoms. Across cultures, happier people were those who more often experienced emotions they wanted to experience, whether these were pleasant (e.g., love) or unpleasant (e.g., hatred). This pattern applied even to people who wanted to feel less pleasant or more unpleasant emotions than they actually felt. Controlling for differences in experienced and desired emotions left the pattern unchanged. These findings suggest that happiness involves experiencing emotions that feel right, whether they feel good or not. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Pseudo-set framing.
    Pseudo-set framing—arbitrarily grouping items or tasks together as part of an apparent “set”—motivates people to reach perceived completion points. Pseudo-set framing changes gambling choices (Study 1), effort (Studies 2 and 3), giving behavior (Field Data and Study 4), and purchase decisions (Study 5). These effects persist in the absence of any reward, when a cost must be incurred, and after participants are explicitly informed of the arbitrariness of the set. Drawing on Gestalt psychology, we develop a conceptual account that predicts what will—and will not—act as a pseudo-set, and defines the psychological process through which these pseudo-sets affect behavior: over and above typical reference points, pseudo-set framing alters perceptions of (in)completeness, making intermediate progress seem less complete. In turn, these feelings of incompleteness motivate people to persist until the pseudo-set has been fulfilled. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Modality-switching in the Simon task: The clash of reference frames.
    The representation of spatial information related to an event can influence behavior even when location is task-irrelevant, as in the case of Stimulus–Response (S-R) compatibility effects on the Simon task. However, unlike single-modality situations, which are often used to study the Simon effect, in real-life scenarios various sensory modalities provide spatial information coded in different coordinate systems. Here, we address the expression of S-R compatibility effects in mixed-modality contexts, where events can occur in 1 of various sensory modalities (i.e., vision, touch or audition). The results confirm that, in single-modality cases, Simon effects in vision are expressed in an external spatial frame of reference, while touch information is coded anatomically. Remarkably, when mixing visual and tactile trials in an unpredictable way, the Simon effect disappeared in vision whereas tactile Simon effects remained expressed in their own (anatomical) frame of reference. Mixing visual and auditory stimuli did not obliterate the visual Simon effect and S-R compatibility effects in an external reference frame were evident for both modalities. The extinction of visual Simon effects as a result of mixing visual and tactile modalities can be interpreted as a consequence of the dynamic reorganization of the weights associated to the different sources of spatial information at play. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Is general intelligence little more than the speed of higher-order processing?
    Individual differences in the speed of information processing have been hypothesized to give rise to individual differences in general intelligence. Consistent with this hypothesis, reaction times (RTs) and latencies of event-related potential have been shown to be moderately associated with intelligence. These associations have been explained either in terms of individual differences in some brain-wide property such as myelination, the speed of neural oscillations, or white-matter tract integrity, or in terms of individual differences in specific processes such as the signal-to-noise ratio in evidence accumulation, executive control, or the cholinergic system. Here we show in a sample of 122 participants, who completed a battery of RT tasks at 2 laboratory sessions while an EEG was recorded, that more intelligent individuals have a higher speed of higher-order information processing that explains about 80% of the variance in general intelligence. Our results do not support the notion that individuals with higher levels of general intelligence show advantages in some brain-wide property. Instead, they suggest that more intelligent individuals benefit from a more efficient transmission of information from frontal attention and working memory processes to temporal-parietal processes of memory storage. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • From conscious thought to automatic action: A simulation account of action planning.
    We provide a theoretical framework and empirical evidence for how verbally planning an action creates direct perception-action links and behavioral automaticity. We argue that planning actions in an if (situation)–then (action) format induces sensorimotor simulations (i.e., activity patterns reenacting the event in the sensory and motor brain areas) of the anticipated situation and the intended action. Due to their temporal overlap, these activity patterns become linked. Whenever the previously simulated situation is encountered, the previously simulated action is partially reactivated through spreading activation and thus more likely to be executed. In 4 experiments (N = 363), we investigated the relation between specific if–then action plans worded to activate simulations of elbow flexion versus extension movements and actual elbow flexion versus extension movements in a subsequent, ostensibly unrelated categorization task. As expected, linking a critical stimulus to intended actions that implied elbow flexion movements (e.g., grabbing it for consumption) subsequently facilitated elbow flexion movements upon encountering the critical stimulus. However, linking a critical stimulus to actions that implied elbow extension movements (e.g., pointing at it) subsequently facilitated elbow extension movements upon encountering the critical stimulus. Thus, minor differences (i.e., exchanging the words “point at” with “grab”) in verbally formulated action plans (i.e., conscious thought) had systematic consequences on subsequent actions. The question of how conscious thought can induce stimulus-triggered action is illuminated by the provided theoretical framework and the respective empirical evidence, facilitating the understanding of behavioral automaticity and human agency. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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