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Papers worth reading April 2017

Can a Word Sound Like a Shape Before You Have Seen It? Sound-Shape Mapping Prior to Conscious Awareness
Shao-Min Hung, Suzy J. Styles, Po-Jang Hsieh


Nonarbitrary mappings between sound and shape (i.e., the bouba-kiki effect) have been shown across different cultures and early in development; however, the level of processing at which this effect arises remains unclear. Here we show that the mapping occurs prior to conscious awareness of the visual stimuli. Under continuous flash suppression, congruent stimuli (e.g., “kiki” inside an angular shape) broke through to conscious awareness faster than incongruent stimuli. This was true even when we trained people to pair unfamiliar letters with auditory word forms, a result showing that the effect was driven by the phonology, not the visual features, of the letters. Furthermore, visibility thresholds of the shapes decreased when they were preceded by a congruent auditory word form in a masking paradigm. Taken together, our results suggest that sound-shape mapping can occur automatically prior to conscious awareness of visual shapes, and that sensory congruence facilitates conscious awareness of a stimulus being present.

Psychological Science Vol 28, Issue 3, pp. 263 – 275 First published date: January-01-2017

The Road to Bribery and Corruption
Nils C. Köbis, Jan-Willem van Prooijen, Francesca Righetti, Paul A. M. Van Lange


Major forms of corruption constitute a strong threat to the functioning of societies. The most frequent explanation of how severe corruption emerges is the slippery-slope metaphor—the notion that corruption occurs gradually. While having widespread theoretical and intuitive appeal, this notion has barely been tested empirically. We used a recently developed paradigm to test whether severely corrupt acts happen gradually or abruptly. The results of four experimental studies revealed a higher likelihood of severe corruption when participants were directly given the opportunity to engage in it (abrupt) compared with when they had previously engaged in minor forms of corruption (gradual). Neither the size of the payoffs, which we kept constant, nor evaluations of the actions could account for these differences. Contrary to widely shared beliefs, sometimes the route to corruption leads over a steep cliff rather than a slippery slope.

Psychological Science Vol 28, Issue 3, pp. 297 – 306 First published date: January-01-2017

Same Story, Different Story
Yaara Yeshurun, Stephen Swanson, Erez Simony, , Janice Chen, , Christina Lazaridi, Christopher J. Honey, Uri Hasson,


Differences in people’s beliefs can substantially impact their interpretation of a series of events. In this functional MRI study, we manipulated subjects’ beliefs, leading two groups of subjects to interpret the same narrative in different ways. We found that responses in higher-order brain areas—including the default-mode network, language areas, and subsets of the mirror neuron system—tended to be similar among people who shared the same interpretation, but different from those of people with an opposing interpretation. Furthermore, the difference in neural responses between the two groups at each moment was correlated with the magnitude of the difference in the interpretation of the narrative. This study demonstrates that brain responses to the same event tend to cluster together among people who share the same views.

Psychological Science Vol 28, Issue 3, pp. 307 – 319 First published date: January-01-2017 10.1177/0956797616682029

Why Do We Hate Hypocrites? Evidence for a Theory of False Signaling
Jillian J. Jordan, Roseanna Sommers, Paul Bloom, David G. Rand,


Why do people judge hypocrites, who condemn immoral behaviors that they in fact engage in, so negatively? We propose that hypocrites are disliked because their condemnation sends a false signal about their personal conduct, deceptively suggesting that they behave morally. We show that verbal condemnation signals moral goodness (Study 1) and does so even more convincingly than directly stating that one behaves morally (Study 2). We then demonstrate that people judge hypocrites negatively—even more negatively than people who directly make false statements about their morality (Study 3). Finally, we show that “honest” hypocrites—who avoid false signaling by admitting to committing the condemned transgression—are not perceived negatively even though their actions contradict their stated values (Study 4). Critically, the same is not true of hypocrites who engage in false signaling but admit to unrelated transgressions (Study 5). Together, our results support a false-signaling theory of hypocrisy.

Psychological Science Vol 28, Issue 3, pp. 356 – 368 First published date: January-01-2017

The Novelty Penalty
Gus Cooney, Daniel T. Gilbert, Timothy D. Wilson


People often tell each other stories about their past experiences. But do they tell the right ones? Speakers and listeners predicted that listeners would enjoy hearing novel stories (i.e., stories about experiences the listeners had never had) more than familiar stories (i.e., stories about experiences the listeners had already had). In fact, listeners enjoyed hearing familiar stories much more than novel ones (Studies 1 and 2). This did not happen because the familiar and novel stories differed in their content or delivery (Study 3). Rather, it happened because human speech is riddled with informational gaps, and familiar stories allow listeners to use their own knowledge to fill in those gaps (Study 4). We discuss reasons why novel stories are more difficult to tell, and why familiar stories are more enjoyable to hear, than either speakers or listeners expect.

Psychological Science Vol 28, Issue 3, pp. 380 – 394 First published date: January-01-2017 10.1177/0956797616685870

Shame, Dissociation, and Complex PTSD Symptoms in Traumatized Psychiatric and Control Groups: Direct and Indirect Associations With Relationship Distress
Dorahy, M. J., Corry, M., Black, R., Matheson, L., Coles, H., Curran, D., Seager, L., Middleton, W. and Dyer, K. F. W.



Elevated shame and dissociation are common in dissociative identity disorder (DID) and chronic posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and are part of the constellation of symptoms defined as complex PTSD. Previous work examined the relationship between shame, dissociation, and complex PTSD and whether they are associated with intimate relationship anxiety, relationship depression, and fear of relationships. This study investigated these variables in traumatized clinical samples and a nonclinical community group.

Participants were drawn from the DID (n = 20), conflict-related chronic PTSD (n = 65), and nonclinical (n = 125) populations and completed questionnaires assessing the variables of interest. A model examining the direct impact of shame and dissociation on relationship functioning, and their indirect effect via complex PTSD symptoms, was tested through path analysis.

The DID sample reported significantly higher dissociation, shame, complex PTSD symptom severity, relationship anxiety, relationship depression, and fear of relationships than the other two samples. Support was found for the proposed model, with shame directly affecting relationship anxiety and fear of relationships, and pathological dissociation directly affecting relationship anxiety and relationship depression. The indirect effect of shame and dissociation via complex PTSD symptom severity was evident on all relationship variables.

Shame and pathological dissociation are important for not only the effect they have on the development of other complex PTSD symptoms, but also their direct and indirect effects on distress associated with relationships.

J. Clin. Psychol., 73: 439–448. doi:10.1002/jclp.22339

Perceptual Learning of Intonation Contour Categories in Adults and 9- to 11-Year-Old Children: Adults Are More Narrow-Minded.
Kapatsinski, V., Olejarczuk, P. and Redford, M. A.


We report on rapid perceptual learning of intonation contour categories in adults and 9- to 11-year-old children. Intonation contours are temporally extended patterns, whose perception requires temporal integration and therefore poses significant working memory challenges. Both children and adults form relatively abstract representations of intonation contours: Previously encountered and novel exemplars are categorized together equally often, as long as distance from the prototype is controlled. However, age-related differences in categorization performance also exist. Given the same experience, adults form narrower categories than children. In addition, adults pay more attention to the end of the contour, while children appear to pay equal attention to the beginning and the end. The age range we examine appears to capture the tail-end of the developmental trajectory for learning intonation contour categories: There is a continuous effect of age on category breadth within the child group, but the oldest children (older than 10;3) are adult-like.

Cogn Sci, 41: 383–415. First published: 22 February 2016 doi:10.1111/cogs.12345

Effects of Manipulation on Attributions of Causation, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility.
Murray, D. and Lombrozo, T.


If someone brings about an outcome without intending to, is she causally and morally responsible for it? What if she acts intentionally, but as the result of manipulation by another agent? Previous research has shown that an agent’s mental states can affect attributions of causal and moral responsibility to that agent, but little is known about what effect one agent’s mental states can have on attributions to another agent. In Experiment 1, we replicate findings that manipulation lowers attributions of responsibility to manipulated agents. Experiments 2–7 isolate which features of manipulation drive this effect, a crucial issue for both philosophical debates about free will and attributions of responsibility in situations involving social influence more generally. Our results suggest that “bypassing” a manipulated agent’s mental states generates the greatest reduction in responsibility, and we explain our results in terms of the effects that one agent’s mental states can have on the counterfactual relations between another agent and an outcome.

Cogn Sci, 41: 447–481. First published: 11 February 2016doi:10.1111/cogs.12338

The structure of common emotion regulation strategies: A meta-analytic examination.
Naragon-Gainey, Kristin; McMahon, Tierney P.; Chacko, Thomas P.


Emotion regulation has been examined extensively with regard to important outcomes, including psychological and physical health. However, the literature includes many different emotion regulation strategies but little examination of how they relate to one another, making it difficult to interpret and synthesize findings. The goal of this meta-analysis was to examine the underlying structure of common emotion regulation strategies (i.e., acceptance, behavioral avoidance, distraction, experiential avoidance, expressive suppression, mindfulness, problem solving, reappraisal, rumination, worry), and to evaluate this structure in light of theoretical models of emotion regulation. We also examined how distress tolerance—an important emotion regulation ability —relates to strategy use. We conducted meta-analyses estimating the correlations between emotion regulation strategies (based on 331 samples and 670 effect sizes), as well as between distress tolerance and strategies. The resulting meta-analytic correlation matrix was submitted to confirmatory and exploratory factor analyses. None of the confirmatory models, based on prior theory, was an acceptable fit to the data. Exploratory factor analysis suggested that 3 underlying factors best characterized these data. Two factors—labeled Disengagement and Aversive Cognitive Perseveration—emerged as strongly correlated but distinct factors, with the latter consisting of putatively maladaptive strategies. The third factor, Adaptive Engagement, was a less unified factor and weakly related to the other 2 factors. Distress tolerance was most closely associated with low levels of repetitive negative thought and experiential avoidance, and high levels of acceptance and mindfulness. We discuss the theoretical implications of these findings and applications to emotion regulation assessment.

Psychological Bulletin, Vol 143(4), Apr 2017, 384-427. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/bul0000093

Lying takes time: A meta-analysis on reaction time measures of deception.
Suchotzki, Kristina; Verschuere, Bruno; Van Bockstaele, Bram; Ben-Shakhar, Gershon; Crombez, Geert


Lie detection techniques are frequently used, but most of them have been criticized for the lack of empirical support for their predictive validity and presumed underlying mechanisms. This situation has led to increased efforts to unravel the cognitive mechanisms underlying deception and to develop a comprehensive theory of deception. A cognitive approach to deception has reinvigorated interest in reaction time (RT) measures to differentiate lies from truths and to investigate whether lying is more cognitively demanding than truth telling. Here, we provide the results of a meta-analysis of 114 studies (n = 3307) using computerized RT paradigms to assess the cognitive cost of lying. Results revealed a large standardized RT difference, even after correction for publication bias (d = 1.049; 95% CI [0.930; 1.169]), with a large heterogeneity amongst effect sizes. Moderator analyses revealed that the RT deception effect was smaller, yet still large, in studies in which participants received instructions to avoid detection. The autobiographical Implicit Association Test produced smaller effects than the Concealed Information Test, the Sheffield Lie Test, and the Differentiation of Deception paradigm. An additional meta-analysis (17 studies, n = 348) showed that, like other deception measures, RT deception measures are susceptible to countermeasures. Whereas our meta-analysis corroborates current cognitive approaches to deception, the observed heterogeneity calls for further research on the boundary conditions of the cognitive cost of deception. RT-based measures of deception may have potential in applied settings, but countermeasures remain an important challenge.

Psychological Bulletin, Vol 143(4), Apr 2017, 428-453. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/bul0000087

Lifestyle intervention effects on the frequency and duration of daily moderate–vigorous physical activity and leisure screen time.
Conroy, David E.; Hedeker, Donald; McFadden, H. G.; Pellegrini, Christine A.; Pfammatter, Angela F.; Phillips, Siobhan M.; Siddique, Juned; Spring, Bonnie


Objective: How a healthy lifestyle intervention changes the frequency and duration of daily moderate–vigorous physical activity and sedentary behavior has not been well characterized. Secondary analyses of data from the Make Better Choices randomized controlled trial were conducted to evaluate how interventions to increase physical activity or reduce leisure screen time affected the frequency and duration of these behaviors during treatment initiation and follow-up. Method: Participants were 202 adults who exhibited insufficient physical activity, excessive screen time and poor diet during a 14-day baseline screening period. The design was a randomized controlled trial with a 3-week intervention period followed by eight 3- to 7-day bursts of data collection over the 6-month follow-up period after intervention termination. Participants self-reported on their physical activity and screen time at the end of each day. Results: A 2-part multilevel model indicated that, relative to baseline levels, the physical activity intervention increased the odds of daily moderate–vigorous intensity physical activity (frequency) but not the duration of activity during the intervention period and these effects persisted (albeit somewhat more weakly) during the follow-up period. The screen time intervention reduced both the frequency and duration of daily screen time from the beginning of the intervention through the follow-up period. Conclusions: A 3-week intervention increased daily physical activity frequency but not duration, and reduced both the frequency and duration of daily leisure screen time. These effects were maintained over 20 weeks following the end of the intervention.

Health Psychology, Vol 36(4), Apr 2017, 299-308. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/hea0000418

Bidirectional associations between personality and physical activity in adulthood.
Allen, Mark S.; Magee, Christopher A.; Vella, Stewart A.; Laborde, Sylvain


Objective: Personality and physical activity are important for critical life outcomes. This study tested the hypothesis that there is a bidirectional association between personality and physical activity. Method: A nationally representative sample of 10,227 Australian adults (5,422 women; 4,805 men) completed self-report measures of physical activity and personality in 2006 (Time 1), 2010 (Time 2), and 2014 (Time 3). A latent change score modeling approach was used to test bidirectional associations, controlling for age, sex, education, physical health, and mental health. Results: Conscientiousness and openness predicted subsequent increases in physical activity, whereas agreeableness predicted subsequent decreases in physical activity. Physical activity was associated with increases in openness (and conscientiousness for women) at Time 1–Time 2, but was unrelated to change in personality between Time 2–Time 3. In addition, there was some evidence that temporal associations between personality and physical activity were moderated by participant age. Conclusions: These findings indicate that personality is important for change in physical activity, but physical activity is relatively unimportant for change in personality.

Health Psychology, Vol 36(4), Apr 2017, 332-336. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/hea0000371

Self-affirmation increases defensiveness toward health risk information among those experiencing negative emotions: Results from two national samples.
Ferrer, Rebecca A.; Klein, William M. P.; Graff, Kaitlin A.


Objective: Self-affirmation can promote health behavior change and yield long-term improvements in health via its effect on receptiveness to risk information in behavior change interventions. Across 2 studies, we examined whether the emotional state of the person presented with health risk information moderates self-affirmation effectiveness. Method: Data were collected from 2 U.S. national samples (n = 652, n = 448) via GfK, an Internet-based survey company. Female alcohol consumers completed an emotion induction (fear, anger, or neutral). They then completed a standard self-affirmation (or no-affirmation) essay-writing task, and subsequently received a health message linking alcohol to breast cancer. Results: There was a significant interaction between emotion and self-affirmation conditions, such that self-affirmation reduced the specificity of health behavior change plans among those experiencing negative emotion (Study 1: B = −0.55, p < .001), with consistent but not significant effects for anger (Study 2: B = −.47, p = .069. Among self-affirmed participants, essays were rated as significantly less self-affirming for individuals experiencing negative emotion (or anger). Mediation analyses limited to the self-affirmation condition revealed an indirect effect of negative emotion condition on health behavior change plan specificity via self-affirmation ratings of essay content in Study 1: β = 0.04, p = .041. Conclusions: The salutary effect of self-affirmation on plan specificity was reversed with negative emotion. These findings may be attributed to disruption of the self-affirmation process. Individuals who enter interventions using self-affirmation in a negative emotion state may be less prepared to benefit from other intervention content, and may even be less likely to change health behaviors as a result of the intervention. Health Psychology, Vol 36(4), Apr 2017, 380-391. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/hea0000460 [/toggle] Mindful eating reduces impulsive food choice in adolescents and adults.
Hendrickson, Kelsie L.; Rasmussen, Erin B.


Objective: The present study tested the extent to which age and obesity predicted impulsive choices for food and monetary outcomes and tested how a brief mindful-eating training would alter delay discounting for food and money choices compared with control groups. Method: First, 172 adolescents (Mage = 13.13 years) and 176 (Mage = 23.33 years) adults completed the Food Choice Questionnaire (FCQ) and Monetary Choice Questionnaire (MCQ) as measures of food and money delay discounting, respectively. Then, participants returned to the lab and were randomly assigned to complete a brief mindful-eating training, watch a DVD on nutrition, or serve as a control. Participants completed the FCQ and MCQ again as a postmanipulation measure. Results: Participants with high percent body fat (PBF) were more impulsive for food than those with low PBF. Adults with high PBF were also more impulsive for money compared with adults with low PBF; no PBF-related differences were found for adolescents. Participants in the mindful-eating group exhibited more self-controlled choices for food, but not for money. The control conditions did not exhibit changes. Conclusion: The study suggests that individuals with high PBF make more impulsive food choices relative to those with low PBF, which could increase the risk of obesity over time. It also is the first to demonstrate shifts in choice patterns for food and money using a brief mindful-eating training with adolescents. Mindful eating is a beneficial strategy to reduce impulsive food choice, at least temporarily, that may impede weight gain.

Health Psychology, Vol 36(3), Mar 2017, 226-235. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/hea0000440

A brief tool to differentiate factors contributing to insomnia complaints.
Townsend, Donald; Kazaglis, Louis; Savik, Kay; Smerud, Adam; Iber, Conrad


Objective: A complaint of insomnia may have many causes. A brief tool examining contributing factors may be useful for nonsleep specialists. This study describes the development of the Insomnia Symptoms Assessment (ISA) for examining insomnia complaints. Method: ISA questions were designed to identify symptoms that may represent 1 of 8 possible factors contributing to insomnia symptoms, including delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS), shift work sleep disorder (SWSD), obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), mental health, chronic pain, restless leg syndrome (RLS), poor sleep hygiene, and psychophysiological insomnia (PI). The ISA was completed by 346 new patients. Patients met with a sleep specialist who determined primary and secondary diagnoses. Results: Mean age was 45 (18–85) years and 51% were male. Exploratory factor analysis (n = 217) and confirmatory factor analysis (n = 129) supported 5 factors with good internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha), including RLS (.72), OSA (.60), SWSD (.67), DSPS (.64), and PI (.80). Thirty percent had 1 sleep diagnosis with a mean of 2.2 diagnoses per patient. No diagnosis was entered for 1.2% of patients. The receiver operating characteristics were examined and the area under the curves calculated as an indication of convergent validity for the primary diagnosis (N = 346) were .97 for SWSD, .78 for OSA, .67 for DSPS, .54 for PI, and .80 for RLS. Conclusion: The ISA demonstrated good internal consistency and corresponds well to expert diagnoses. Next steps include setting sensitivity/specificity cutoffs to suggest initial treatment recommendations for use in other settings.

Health Psychology, Vol 36(3), Mar 2017, 291-297. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/hea0000442

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