The aim of the current study was to examine the relationship between individual differences in anxiety and the social judgements of trustworthiness and approachability. We assessed levels of state and trait anxiety in eighty-two participants who rated the trustworthiness and approachability of a series of unexpressive faces. Higher levels of trait anxiety (controlling for age, sex and state anxiety) were associated with the judgement of faces as less trustworthy. In contrast, there was no significant association between trait anxiety and judgements of approachability. These findings indicate that trait anxiety is a significant predictor of trustworthiness evaluations and illustrate the importance of considering the role of individual differences in the evaluation of trustworthiness. We propose that trait anxiety may be an important variable to control for in future studies assessing the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying trustworthiness. This is likely to be particularly important for studies involving clinical populations who often experience atypical levels of anxiety.
Although misjudgment is an issue of primary concern to the justice system and public safety, the response to misjudgment by the human brain remains unclear. We used fMRI to record neural activity in participants that encountered four possible judgments by the justice system with two basic components: whether the judgment was right or wrong [accuracy: right vs. wrong (misjudgment)] and whether the judgment was positive or negative [valence: positive vs. negative]. As hypothesized, the rostral ACC specifically processes the accuracy of judgment, being more active for misjudgment than for right judgment, while the striatum was uniquely responsible for the valence of judgment, being recruited to a larger extent by positive judgment compared to negative judgment. Furthermore, the activity in the rACC for positive misjudgments was positively correlated with that for negative misjudgments, which confirmed the misjudgment-specificity of the rACC. These results demonstrate that the brain can distinguish a misjudgment from a right judgment and regard a misjudgment as an emotionally arousing stimulus, independent of whether it is positive or negative, while positive judgment is considered as hedonic information, regardless of whether it is right or wrong. Our study is the first to reveal the neural mechanism that underlies judgment processing. This mechanism may constitute the basis of future studies to develop a novel marker for the detection of lies.
The current study explored whether earned entitlement modulated the perception of fairness in three experiments. A preliminary resource earning task was added before players decided how to allocate the resource they jointly earned. Participants’ decision in allocation, their responses to equal or unequal offers, whether advantageous or disadvantageous, and subjective ratings of fairness were all assessed in the current study. Behavioral results revealed that participants proposed more generous offers and showed enhanced tolerance to disadvantageous unequal offers from others when they performed worse than their presumed “partners,” while the reverse was true in the better-performance condition. The subjective ratings also indicated the effect of earned entitlement, such that worse performance was associated with higher perceived feelings of fairness for disadvantageous unequal offers, while better performance was associated with higher feelings of fairness for advantageous unequal offers. Equal offers were considered “fair” only when earned entitlement was even between two parties. In sum, the perception of fairness is modulated by an integration of egalitarian motivation and entitlement. In addition to justice principles, participants were also motivated by self-interest, such that participants placed more weight on entitlement in the better-performance condition than in the worse-performance condition. These results imply that earned entitlement is evaluated in a self-serving way.
Can traces of rapid socio-economic changes within a society be reflected in experimental games? The post-Mao reforms in China provide a unique natural quasi-experiment to study people from the same society who were raised with radically different values about distribution of wealth and altruistic behavior. We tested whether the size of offers in the ultimatum and dictator games are an increasing function of the number of years Chinese citizens experienced of the Mao era (“planned economy”). For the cohort that lived throughout the entire Mao era, we found that mean offers in the two games were substantially higher than what is typically offered in laboratory studies. These offers were also higher than those of two younger Chinese cohorts. In general, the amount offered decreased with less time spent under Mao, while in the oldest group in which every member spent the same amount of time under Mao, the younger members tended to offer more, suggesting an additional effect of early education under Mao and contradicting the alternative hypothesis that generosity increases with age. These results suggest that some of the observed individual differences in the offers made in experimental games can be traced back to the values of the socio-economic era in which individuals grew up.
Every year thousands of dollars are spent on psychics who claim to “know” the future. The present research questions why, despite no evidence that humans are able to psychically predict the future, do people persist in holding irrational beliefs about precognition? We argue that believing the future is predictable increases one’s own perceived ability to exert control over future events. As a result, belief in precognition should be particularly strong when people most desire control–that is, when they lack it. In Experiment 1 (N = 87), people who were experimentally induced to feel low in control reported greater belief in precognition than people who felt high in control. Experiment 2 (N = 53) investigated whether belief in precognition increases perceived control. Consistent with this notion, providing scientific evidence that precognition is possible increased feelings of control relative to providing scientific evidence that precognition was not possible. Experiment 3 (N = 132) revealed that when control is low, believing in precognition helps people to feel in control once more. Prediction therefore acts as a compensatory mechanism in times of low control. The present research provides new insights into the psychological functions of seemingly irrational beliefs, like belief in psychic abilities.
The present online-questionnaire study examined two fundamental social behaviors, social curiosity and gossip, and their interrelations in an English (n = 218) and a German sample (n = 152). Analyses showed that both samples believed that they are less gossipy but more curious than their peers. Multidimensional SEM of self and trait conceptions indicated that social curiosity and gossip are related constructs but with different patterns of social functions. Gossip appears to serve predominantly entertainment purposes whereas social curiosity appears to be more driven by a general interest in gathering information about how other people feel, think, and behave and the need to belong. Relationships to other personality traits (N, E, O) provided additional evidence for divergent validity. The needs for gathering and disseminating social information might represent two interlinked but different drives of cultural learning.
Past research has found that playing a classic prosocial video game resulted in heightened prosocial behavior when compared to a control group, whereas playing a classic violent video game had no effect. Given purported links between violent video games and poor social behavior, this result is surprising. Here our aim was to assess whether this finding may be due to the specific games used. That is, modern games are experienced differently from classic games (more immersion in virtual environments, more connection with characters, etc.) and it may be that playing violent video games impacts prosocial behavior only when contemporary versions are used.
Methods and Findings
Experiments 1 and 2 explored the effects of playing contemporary violent, non-violent, and prosocial video games on prosocial behavior, as measured by the pen-drop task. We found that slight contextual changes in the delivery of the pen-drop task led to different rates of helping but that the type of game played had little effect. Experiment 3 explored this further by using classic games. Again, we found no effect.
We failed to find evidence that playing video games affects prosocial behavior. Research on the effects of video game play is of significant public interest. It is therefore important that speculation be rigorously tested and findings replicated. Here we fail to substantiate conjecture that playing contemporary violent video games will lead to diminished prosocial behavior.
Intrusive thoughts and attempts to suppress them are common, but while suppression may be effective in the short-term, it can increase thought recurrence in the long-term. Because intentional suppression involves controlled processing, and many aspects of controlled processing decline with age, age differences in thought suppression outcomes may emerge, especially over repeated thought suppression attempts as cognitive resources are expended. Using multilevel modeling, we examined age differences in reactions to thought suppression attempts across four thought suppression sequences in 40 older and 42 younger adults. As expected, age differences were more prevalent during suppression than during free monitoring periods, with younger adults indicating longer, more frequent thought recurrences and greater suppression difficulty. Further, younger adults’ thought suppression outcomes changed over time, while trajectories for older adults’ were relatively stable. Results are discussed in terms of older adults’ reduced thought recurrence, which was potentially afforded by age-related changes in reactive control and distractibility.
Research suggests that older adults display a positivity bias at the level of information processing. However, because studies investigating attentional bias for emotional information in older adults have produced mixed findings, research identifying inter-individual differences that may explain these inconsistent results is necessary. Therefore, we investigated whether mood, symptoms of depression, symptoms of anxiety and future time perspective are related to attentional bias in older adults.
Thirty-seven healthy older adults and 25 healthy middle-aged adults completed questionnaires to assess mood, symptoms of depression, symptoms of anxiety and future time perspective. Attentional bias towards happy, sad and neutral information was measured using a modified exogenous cueing paradigm with long cue presentations, to measure maintained attention versus avoidance of emotional stimuli.
Older adults showed attentional avoidance for all emotional faces, whereas no attentional biases were found in the middle-aged group. Moreover, in the older adult group, avoidance for negative information was related to anxiety. Future time perspective was unrelated to attentional bias.
These findings suggest that anxiety may lead to inter-individual differences in attentional bias in older adults, and that avoidance from negative information may be an emotion regulation strategy.
When innocents are intentionally harmed, people are motivated to see that offenders get their “just deserts”. The severity of the punishment they seek is driven by the perceived magnitude of the harm and moral outrage. The present research extended this model of retributive justice by incorporating the role of offender dehumanization. In three experiments relying on survey methodology in Australia and the United States, participants read about different crimes that varied by type (child molestation, violent, or white collar – Studies 1 and 2) or severity (Study 3). The findings demonstrated that both moral outrage and dehumanization predicted punishment independently of the effects of crime type or crime severity. Both moral outrage and dehumanization mediated the relationship between perceived harm and severity of punishment. These findings highlight the role of offender dehumanization in punishment decisions and extend our understanding of processes implicated in retributive justice.
Men are traditionally thought to have more problems in understanding women compared to understanding other men, though evidence supporting this assumption remains sparse. Recently, it has been shown, however, that meńs problems in recognizing women’s emotions could be linked to difficulties in extracting the relevant information from the eye region, which remain one of the richest sources of social information for the attribution of mental states to others. To determine possible differences in the neural correlates underlying emotion recognition from female, as compared to male eyes, a modified version of the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test in combination with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was applied to a sample of 22 participants. We found that men actually had twice as many problems in recognizing emotions from female as compared to male eyes, and that these problems were particularly associated with a lack of activation in limbic regions of the brain (including the hippocampus and the rostral anterior cingulate cortex). Moreover, men revealed heightened activation of the right amygdala to male stimuli regardless of condition (sex vs. emotion recognition). Thus, our findings highlight the function of the amygdala in the affective component of theory of mind (ToM) and in empathy, and provide further evidence that men are substantially less able to infer mental states expressed by women, which may be accompanied by sex-specific differences in amygdala activity.
The Scale of Positive and Negative Experience (SPANE) is a new instrument that assesses subjective feelings of well-being and ill-being and overcome several limitations of previous popular instruments. The current study examined the scale's psychometric properties with a large Chinese sample.
Data were collected form 21,322 full-time workers from the power industry. The psychometric properties were assessed in term of internal consistency reliability, factorial validity, convergent validity, and measurement invariance across gender, age, marital status, education level, and income level. The results demonstrate that the SPANE has high internal consistency reliability, a correlated two-factor structure (with the uniqueness of three general and specific items of positive and negative feelings allowed to correlate with each other), strict equivalence across gender, age and marital status, and strong equivalence across education and income. Furthermore, the SPANE converges well with two measures of life satisfaction.
The Chinese version of the SPANE behaves consistently with the original and can be used in future studies of emotional well-being. The scale norms are presented in terms of percentile rankings, and implications and directions for future research are discussed.
The ability to assess frontal lobe function in a rapid, objective, and standardized way, without the need for expertise in cognitive test administration might be particularly helpful in mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), where objective measures are needed. Functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is a reliable technique to noninvasively measure local hemodynamic changes in brain areas near the head surface. In this paper, we are combining fNIRS and frameless stereotaxy which allowed us to co-register the functional images with previously acquired anatomical MRI volumes. In our experiment, the subjects were asked to perform a task, evaluating the complexity of daily life activities, previously shown with fMRI to activate areas of the anterior frontal cortex. We reconstructed averaged oxyhemoglobin and deoxyhemoglobin data from 20 healthy subjects in spherical coordinate. The spherical coordinate is a natural representation of surface brain activation projection. Our results show surface activation projected from the medial frontopolar cortex which is consistent with previous fMRI results. With this original technique, we will construct a normative database for a simple cognitive test which can be useful in evaluating cognitive disability such as mild traumatic brain injury.
Near infrared spectroscopy; frameless stereotaxy; frontal cortex; group study
Although cognitive neuroscience has made remarkable progress in understanding the involvement of the prefrontal cortex in executive control, the broader functional networks that support high-level cognition and give rise to general intelligence remain to be well characterized. Here, we investigated the neural substrates of the general factor of intelligence (g) and executive function in 182 patients with focal brain damage using voxel-based lesion–symptom mapping. The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale and Delis–Kaplan Executive Function System were used to derive measures of g and executive function, respectively. Impaired performance on these measures was associated with damage to a distributed network of left lateralized brain areas, including regions of frontal and parietal cortex and white matter association tracts, which bind these areas into a coordinated system. The observed findings support an integrative framework for understanding the architecture of general intelligence and executive function, supporting their reliance upon a shared fronto-parietal network for the integration and control of cognitive representations and making specific recommendations for the application of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale and Delis–Kaplan Executive Function System to the study of high-level cognition in health and disease.
fronto-parietal network; general intelligence; executive function; voxel-based lesion–symptom mapping
Sociologists, political scientists, and economists all suggest that culture plays a pivotal role in the development of large-scale cooperation. In this study, I used generalized trust as a measure of culture to explore if and how culture impacts intentional homicide, my operationalization of cooperation. I compiled multiple cross-national data sets and used pooled time-series linear regression, single-equation instrumental-variables linear regression, and fixed- and random-effects estimation techniques on an unbalanced panel of 118 countries and 232 observations spread over a 15-year time period. Results suggest that culture and large-scale cooperation form a tenuous relationship, while economic factors such as development, inequality, and geopolitics appear to drive large-scale cooperation.
We report data from laboratory experiments where participants were primed using phrases related to markets and trade. Participants then participated in trust games with anonymous strangers. The decisions of primed participants are compared to those of a control group. We find evidence that priming for market participation affects positively the beliefs regarding the trustworthiness of anonymous strangers and increases trusting decisions.
A common finding in social sciences is that member change hinders group functioning and performance. However, questions remain as to why member change negatively affects group performance and what are some ways to alleviate the negative effects of member change on performance? To answer these questions we conduct an experiment in which we investigate the effect of newcomers on a group’s ability to coordinate efficiently. Participants play a coordination game in a four-person group for the first part of the experiment, and then two members of the group are replaced with new participants, and the newly formed group plays the game for the second part of the experiment. Our results show that the arrival of newcomers decreases trust among group members and this decrease in trust negatively affects group performance. Knowing the performance history of the arriving newcomers mitigates the negative effect of their arrival, but only when newcomers also know the oldtimers performance history. Surprisingly, in groups that performed poorly prior to the newcomers’ arrival, the distrust generated by newcomers is mainly between oldtimers about each other rather than about the newcomers.
One in five adults in the United States is functionally innumerate; they do not possess the mathematical competencies needed for many modern jobs. We administered functional numeracy measures used in studies of young adults’ employability and wages to 180 thirteen-year-olds. The adolescents began the study in kindergarten and participated in multiple assessments of intelligence, working memory, mathematical cognition, achievement, and in-class attentive behavior. Their number system knowledge at the beginning of first grade was defined by measures that assessed knowledge of the systematic relations among Arabic numerals and skill at using this knowledge to solve arithmetic problems. Early number system knowledge predicted functional numeracy more than six years later (ß = 0.195, p = .0014) controlling for intelligence, working memory, in-class attentive behavior, mathematical achievement, demographic and other factors, but skill at using counting procedures to solve arithmetic problems did not. In all, we identified specific beginning of schooling numerical knowledge that contributes to individual differences in adolescents’ functional numeracy and demonstrated that performance on mathematical achievement tests underestimates the importance of this early knowledge.
Under what conditions will a bystander intervene to try to stop a violent attack by one person on another? It is generally believed that the greater the size of the crowd of bystanders, the less the chance that any of them will intervene. A complementary model is that social identity is critical as an explanatory variable. For example, when the bystander shares common social identity with the victim the probability of intervention is enhanced, other things being equal. However, it is generally not possible to study such hypotheses experimentally for practical and ethical reasons. Here we show that an experiment that depicts a violent incident at life-size in immersive virtual reality lends support to the social identity explanation. 40 male supporters of Arsenal Football Club in England were recruited for a two-factor between-groups experiment: the victim was either an Arsenal supporter or not (in-group/out-group), and looked towards the participant for help or not during the confrontation. The response variables were the numbers of verbal and physical interventions by the participant during the violent argument. The number of physical interventions had a significantly greater mean in the in-group condition compared to the out-group. The more that participants perceived that the Victim was looking to them for help the greater the number of interventions in the in-group but not in the out-group. These results are supported by standard statistical analysis of variance, with more detailed findings obtained by a symbolic regression procedure based on genetic programming. Verbal interventions made during their experience, and analysis of post-experiment interview data suggest that in-group members were more prone to confrontational intervention compared to the out-group who were more prone to make statements to try to diffuse the situation.
Anger is a common cause of strained negotiations. This research investigated the effects of experiencing anger (Experiment 1) and regulating anger (Experiment 2) on ultimatum bargaining. Experiment 1 showed that relative to a control condition, angered participants proposed less fair offers and rejected more offers when bargaining with the person who angered them. Experiment 2 replicated Experiment 1, and additionally showed that regulating anger via reappraisal and distraction both reduced anger. However, only reappraisal effectively reduced anger for the duration of the negotiation. Participants who reappraised proposed fairer offers than those in the distraction condition, but did not differ in offers accepted. This research may have implications for what emotion regulation strategy should be employed in economic bargaining. However, future research is required to determine the most effective timing and components of reappraisal for promoting beneficial outcomes in bargaining contexts.
At the top of parents’ many wishes is for their children to be happy, to be good, and to be well-liked. Our findings suggest that these goals may not only be compatible but also reciprocal. In a longitudinal experiment conducted in 19 classrooms in Vancouver, 9- to 11-year olds were instructed to perform three acts of kindness (versus visit three places) per week over the course of 4 weeks. Students in both conditions improved in well-being, but students who performed kind acts experienced significantly bigger increases in peer acceptance (or sociometric popularity) than students who visited places. Increasing peer acceptance is a critical goal, as it is related to a variety of important academic and social outcomes, including reduced likelihood of being bullied. Teachers and interventionists can build on this study by introducing intentional prosocial activities into classrooms and recommending that such activities be performed regularly and purposefully.
Motivated thinking leads people to perceive similarity between the self and ingroups, but under some conditions, people may recognize that personal beliefs are misaligned with the beliefs of ingroups. In two focal experiments and two replications, we find evidence that perceived belief similarity moderates ingroup favoritism. As part of a charity donation task, participants donated money to a community charity or a religious charity. Compared to non-religious people, Christians favored religious charities, but within Christians, conservative Christians favored religious charities more than liberal Christians did. Experiment 2 demonstrated that the perceived political beliefs of the charity accounted for the differences in ingroup favoritism between liberal and conservative Christians. While reporting little awareness of the influence of ideology, Christian conservatives favored religious charities because they perceived them as conservative and liberal Christians favored the community charity because they perceived it as liberal.
Perspective (route or survey) during the encoding of spatial information can influence recall and navigation performance. In our experiment we investigated a third type of perspective, which is a slanted view. This slanted perspective is a compromise between route and survey perspectives, offering both information about landmarks as in route perspective and geometric information as in survey perspective. We hypothesized that the use of slanted perspective would allow the brain to use either egocentric or allocentric strategies during storage and recall. Twenty-six subjects were scanned (3-Tesla fMRI) during the encoding of a path (40-s navigation movie within a virtual city). They were given the task of encoding a segment of travel in the virtual city and of subsequent shortcut-finding for each perspective: route, slanted and survey. The analysis of the behavioral data revealed that perspective influenced response accuracy, with significantly more correct responses for slanted and survey perspectives than for route perspective. Comparisons of brain activation with route, slanted, and survey perspectives suggested that slanted and survey perspectives share common brain activity in the left lingual and fusiform gyri and lead to very similar behavioral performance. Slanted perspective was also associated with similar activation to route perspective during encoding in the right middle occipital gyrus. Furthermore, slanted perspective induced intermediate patterns of activation (in between route and survey) in some brain areas, such as the right lingual and fusiform gyri. Our results suggest that the slanted perspective may be considered as a hybrid perspective. This result offers the first empirical support for the choice to present the slanted perspective in many navigational aids.
Motivational and cognitive abnormalities are frequently reported in pathological gambling. However, studies simultaneously investigating motivational and cognitive processing in problematic gamblers are lacking, limiting our understanding of the interplay between these systems in problematic gambling. Studies in non-clinical samples indicate that interactions between dorsal “executive” and ventral “affective” processing systems are necessary for adequate responses in various emotive situations.
We conducted a generalized Psycho-Physiological Interaction (gPPI) analysis to assess the influence of affective stimuli on changes in functional connectivity associated with response inhibition in 16 treatment seeking problematic gamblers (PRGs) and 15 healthy controls (HCs) using an affective Go-NoGo fMRI paradigm including neutral, gambling-related, positive and negative pictures as neutral and affective conditions.
Across groups, task performance accuracy during neutral inhibition trials was positively correlated with functional connectivity between the left caudate and the right middle frontal cortex. During inhibition in the gambling condition, only in PRGs accuracy of task performance was positively correlated with functional connectivity within sub-regions of the dorsal executive system. Group interactions showed that during neutral inhibition, HCs exhibited greater functional connectivity between the left caudate and occipital cortex than PRGs. In contrast, during inhibition in the positive condition, PRGs compared to HCs showed greater functional connectivity between the left caudate and occipital cortex. During inhibition trials in the negative condition, a stronger functional connectivity between the left caudate and the right anterior cingulate cortex in PRGs compared to HCs was present. There were no group interactions during inhibition in the gambling condition.
During gamble inhibition PRGs seem to benefit more from functional connectivity within the dorsal executive system than HCs, because task accuracy in this condition in PRGs is positively correlated with functional connectivity, although the groups show similar connectivity patterns during gamble inhibition. Greater functional connectivity between the ventral affective system and the dorsal executive system in PRGs in the affective conditions compared to HCs, suggests facilitation of the dorsal executive system when affective stimuli are present specifically in PRGs.
Knowledge of factors that trigger human response to climate change is crucial for effective climate change policy communication. Climate change has been claimed to have low salience as a risk issue because it cannot be directly experienced. Still, personal factors such as strength of belief in local effects of climate change have been shown to correlate strongly with responses to climate change and there is a growing literature on the hypothesis that personal experience of climate change (and/or its effects) explains responses to climate change. Here we provide, using survey data from 845 private forest owners operating in a wide range of bio-climatic as well as economic-social-political structures in a latitudinal gradient across Europe, the first evidence that the personal strength of belief and perception of local effects of climate change, highly significantly explain human responses to climate change. A logistic regression model was fitted to the two variables, estimating expected probabilities ranging from 0.07 (SD ±0.01) to 0.81 (SD ±0.03) for self-reported adaptive measures taken. Adding socio-demographic variables improved the fit, estimating expected probabilities ranging from 0.022 (SD ±0.008) to 0.91 (SD ±0.02). We conclude that to explain and predict adaptation to climate change, the combination of personal experience and belief must be considered.