Psychology In the News

  • Read the full article, Gold (2014), here.


    "How efficiently do people integrate the disconnected image fragments that fall on their eyes when they view partly occluded objects? In the present study, I used a psychophysical summation-at-threshold technique to address this question by measuring discrimination performance with both isolated and combined features of physically fragmented but perceptually complete objects. If visual completion promotes superior integration efficiency, performance with a visually completed object should exceed what would be expected from performance with the individual object parts shown in isolation. Contrary to this prediction, results showed that discrimination performance with both static and moving versions of physically fragmented but perceptually complete objects was significantly worse than would be expected from performance with their constituent parts. These results present a challenge for future theories of visual completion."

  • The abstract for  Duñabeitia, Orihuela, & Carreiras (2014) below, click here to read the article.

    "We investigated how literacy modifies one of the mechanisms of the visual system that is essential for efficient reading: flexible position coding. To do so, we focused on the abilities of literates and illiterates to compare two-dimensional strings of letters (Experiment 1) and symbols (Experiment 2) in which the positions of characters had been manipulated. Results from two perceptual matching experiments revealed that literates were sensitive to alterations in characters’ within-string position and identity, whereas illiterates are almost blind to these changes. We concluded that letter-position coding is a mechanism that emerges during literacy acquisition and that the recognition of sequences of objects is highly modulated by reading skills. These data offer new insights about the manner in which reading acquisition shapes the visual system by making it highly sensitive to the internal structure of sequences of characters."

  • To read the Gustavson, Miyake, Hewitt, & Freidman (2014) click here.


    "Previous research has revealed a moderate and positive correlation between procrastination and impulsivity. However, little is known about why these two constructs are related. In the present study, we used behavior-genetics methodology to test three predictions derived from an evolutionary account that postulates that procrastination arose as a by-product of impulsivity: (a) Procrastination is heritable, (b) the two traits share considerable genetic variation, and (c) goal-management ability is an important component of this shared variation. These predictions were confirmed. First, both procrastination and impulsivity were moderately heritable (46% and 49%, respectively). Second, although the two traits were separable at the phenotypic level (r= .65), they were not separable at the genetic level (rgenetic = 1.0). Finally, variation in goal-management ability accounted for much of this shared genetic variation. These results suggest that procrastination and impulsivity are linked primarily through genetic influences on the ability to use high-priority goals to effectively regulate actions."


  • "Not everyone is destined to follow one misdeed with another, but a new study reveals what type of person is likely to be a “repeat offender”. In a series of experiments, behavioral researcher Shu Zhang of Columbia Business School and her colleagues found that people who derive a sense of security from the status quo are significantly more likely to follow one ethical lapse with another than are people who are comfortable with change."

    Read the full APS review here.

  • What causes personality maturation in early adulthood? Some researchers say maturation is determined by genetic factors (five-factor theory); others say it is related to culture-specific expectations for behavior at a certain age (social-investment theory). In the research reported here, Bleidorn et al. (2013) examined Big Five personality data, collected as part of the Gosling-Potter Internet Personality Project from participants in 62 countries, and indices of the timing of a variety of socially normative behaviors — such as marriage, parenthood, and entry into the workforce — for those countries. Although personality did mature as people aged, the faster maturation found in countries with earlier transition to adult roles supports social-investment theory.

  • Work on synesthesia has predominantly focused on confirming the authenticity of synesthetic experience, but much less research has been conducted to examine the extent to which synesthesia is linked to broader perceptual differences. The research reported here examines whether synesthesia is associated with differences in color and motion processing by comparing these abilities in synesthetes who experience color as their evoked sensation with nonsynesthetic participants.

  • Does Facebook make us unhappy?

    September 19, 2013

    No one joins Facebook to be sad and lonely. But a new study from the University of Michigan psychologist Ethan Kross argues that that’s exactly how it makes us feel. Read the study here.

  • Researchers at Columbia University shed new light on how we attend to information in environments with numerous stimuli.