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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Looming

 

Sizing up the threat: The envisioned physical formidability of terrorists tracks their leaders' failures and successes

Colin Holbrook & Daniel Fessler
Cognition, April 2013, Pages 46-56

Abstract:
Victory in modern intergroup conflict derives from complex factors, including weaponry, economic resources, tactical outcomes, and leadership. We hypothesize that the mind summarizes such factors into simple metaphorical representations of physical size and strength, concrete dimensions that have determined the outcome of combat throughout both ontogenetic and phylogenetic experience. This model predicts that in the aftermath of tactical victories (e.g., killing an enemy leader), members of defeated groups will be conceptualized as less physically formidable. Conversely, reminders that groups possess effective leadership should lead their members to be envisioned as more physically formidable. Consonant with these predictions, in both an opportunistic study conducted immediately after Osama bin Laden's death was announced (Study 1) and a follow-up experiment conducted approximately a year later (Study 2), Americans for whom the killing was salient estimated a purported Islamic terrorist to be physically smaller/weaker. In Studies 3 and 4, primes of victorious terrorist leaders led to inflated estimates of terrorists' physical attributes. These findings elucidate how the mind represents contemporary military power, and may help to explain how even largely symbolic victories can influence reasoning about campaigns of coalitional aggression.

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The End of History Illusion

Jordi Quoidbach, Daniel Gilbert & Timothy Wilson
Science, 4 January 2013, Pages 96-98

Abstract:
We measured the personalities, values, and preferences of more than 19,000 people who ranged in age from 18 to 68 and asked them to report how much they had changed in the past decade and/or to predict how much they would change in the next decade. Young people, middle-aged people, and older people all believed they had changed a lot in the past but would change relatively little in the future. People, it seems, regard the present as a watershed moment at which they have finally become the person they will be for the rest of their lives. This "end of history illusion" had practical consequences, leading people to overpay for future opportunities to indulge their current preferences.

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Adding Small Differences Can Increase Similarity and Choice

Jongmin Kim, Nathan Novemsky & Ravi Dhar
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Similarity plays a critical role in many judgments and choices. Traditional models of similarity posit that increasing the number of differences between objects cannot increase judged similarity between them. In contrast to these previous models, the present research shows that introducing a small difference in an attribute that previously was identical across objects can increase perceived similarity between those objects. We propose an explanation based on the idea that small differences draw more attention than identical attributes do and that people's perceptions of similarity involve averaging attributes that are salient. We provide evidence that introducing small differences between objects increases perceived similarity. We also show that an increase in similarity decreases the difficulty of choice and the likelihood that a choice will be deferred.

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The Social Distance Theory of Power

Joe Magee & Pamela Smith
Personality and Social Psychology Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
We propose that asymmetric dependence between individuals (i.e., power) produces asymmetric social distance, with high-power individuals feeling more distant than low-power individuals. From this insight, we articulate predictions about how power affects (a) social comparison, (b) susceptibility to influence, (c) mental state inference and responsiveness, and (d) emotions. We then explain how high-power individuals' greater experienced social distance leads them to engage in more abstract mental representation. This mediating process of construal level generates predictions about how power affects (a) goal selection and pursuit, (b) attention to desirability and feasibility concerns, (c) subjective certainty, (d) value-behavior correspondence, (e) self-control, and (f) person perception. We also reassess the approach/inhibition theory of power, noting limitations both in what it can predict and in the evidence directly supporting its proposed mechanisms. Finally, we discuss moderators and methodological recommendations for the study of power from a social distance perspective.

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What Happens Why? Psychological Distance and Focusing on Causes Versus Consequences of Events

SoYon Rim, Jochim Hansen & Yaacov Trope
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
When do people focus more on the causes versus the consequences of events, and how does differential focus affect downstream judgments and choices? Building on construal level theory (Trope & Liberman, 2010), we propose a bidirectional relationship between psychological distance and causal focus, such that distance (vs. proximity) leads to a greater focus on causes (vs. consequences), and likewise, focusing on causes (vs. consequences) leads to greater estimates of psychological distance from events. This should be the case because causes are features of events that are more high-level relative to consequences (as shown in Experiments 1 and 2). We demonstrate that temporal (Experiment 3) and social (Experiment 4) distances lead to a greater tendency to focus on the causes (vs. consequences) of events and that, conversely, thinking about causes (vs. consequences) leads to greater perceptions of temporal (Experiment 5) and spatial (Experiment 6) distances from events. Additionally, we explored some downstream effects of this distance-dependent focus on causes versus consequences for predictive judgments, experiences, and behavioral choice (Experiments 7, 8, and 9). Broader implications of the results for moral decision making, power and leadership, and self-regulation are discussed.

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The Future Looks "Right": Effects of the Horizontal Location of Advertising Images on Product Attitude

Boyoun (Grace) Chae & JoAndrea Hoegg
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Consumers from cultures that read from left to right possess a spatial representation of time whereby the past is visualized on the left and the future is visualized on the right. Across four studies, the current research investigates whether and how this past-left, future-right conceptualization of time impacts attitudes toward time-related products. Specifically, when consumers view advertisements in which product images are positioned congruently (incongruently) with their spatial representation of time, they have more (less) favorable attitudes toward the product. This effect occurs both for products that naturally involve the progression of time (e.g., self-improvement products), and also for products for which a time component is a desired attribute (e.g., antiques). The effect of horizontal position reverses among consumers who read from right-to-left. The mediating role of processing fluency is highlighted as an underlying mechanism, and the moderating role of need for structure is identified.

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Urbanization Decreases Attentional Engagement

Karina Linnell et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Exposure to the urban environment has been shown dramatically to increase the tendency to process contextual information. To further our understanding of this effect of urbanization, we compared performance on a local-selection task of a remote people, the Himba, living traditionally or relocated to town. We showed that (a) spatial attention was defocused in urbanized Himba but focused in traditional Himba (Experiment 1), despite urbanized Himba performing better on a working memory task (Experiment 3); (b) imposing a cognitive load made attention as defocused in traditional as in urbanized Himba (Experiment 2); and (c) using engaging stimuli/tasks made attention as focused in urbanized Himba, and British, as in traditional Himba (Experiments 4 and 5). We propose that urban environments prioritize exploration at the expense of attentional engagement and cognitive control of attentional selection.

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How quickly can you detect it? Power facilitates attentional orienting

Letitia Slabu, Ana Guinote & David Wilkinson
Social Psychology, Winter 2013, Pages 37-41

Abstract:
This study investigated how power impacts the ability to orient attention across space. Participants were assigned to a high-power or control role and then performed a computerized spatial cueing task that required them to direct their attention to a target preceded by either a valid or invalid location cue. Compared to participants in the control condition, power holders were better at overriding the misinformation provided by invalid cues. This advantage occurred only at 500 ms stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA), whereas at 1000 ms SOA, when there was more time to prepare a response, no differences were found. These findings are taken to support the growing idea that social power affects cognitive flexibility.

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A look into the ballot box: Gaze following conveys information about implicit attitudes toward politicians

Marco Tullio Liuzza et al.
Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, February 2013, Pages 209-216

Abstract:
Although considered a predominantly automatic social behaviour, gaze following (GF) is sensitive to complex social factors like political affiliation and ideology. The present study aimed to determine whether the differential proneness to in-group leaders' gaze is related to attitudes towards politicians as measured by other implicit procedures. A GF paradigm was used to test the extent to which electors were prone to gaze following when attending to two female candidates who competed for the position of governor in an Italian election campaign. Results showed that GF significantly predicts voting intentions. Also, it was found that GF is significantly and positively correlated with the Implicit Association Test (IAT). Hierarchical multiple regression models illustrated that GF and IAT uniquely predict voting intentions, accounting for a substantial proportion of variance. Thus GF and IAT, even though significantly related, seem to account for different aspects of the attitudes towards candidates. A multivariate regression model showed that, while IAT scores are predicted by explicit emotions toward the candidate, GF is predicted by the candidates' perceived influence within their political coalition.

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The Big Picture for Large-Screen Television Viewing: For Both Programming and Advertising, Audiences Are More Attentive, More Absorbed, and Less Critical

Michael McNiven, Dean Krugman & Spencer Tinkham
Journal of Advertising Research, Fall 2012, Pages 421-432

Abstract:
Large-screen televisions have gained prominence in the marketplace. Focus groups and a national survey were used to investigate viewing of large-screen televisions as they relate to attitudes toward advertising and the way advertising and programming are viewed. Results indicate that larger screens positively impact how advertising and television programming are consumed. Large-screen television viewers were less skeptical of advertising than small-screen viewers; more positive toward advertising; and paid more attention to both commercials and programming. Also, large-screen viewers were more absorbed in television programming - a phenomenon that mediates the impact of screen size on attention, evaluation, and skepticism toward television advertising.

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Major memory for microblogs

Laura Mickes et al.
Memory & Cognition, forthcoming

Abstract:
Online social networking is vastly popular and permits its members to post their thoughts as microblogs, an opportunity that people exploit, on Facebook alone, over 30 million times an hour. Such trivial ephemera, one might think, should vanish quickly from memory; conversely, they may comprise the sort of information that our memories are tuned to recognize, if that which we readily generate, we also readily store. In the first two experiments, participants' memory for Facebook posts was found to be strikingly stronger than their memory for human faces or sentences from books - a magnitude comparable to the difference in memory strength between amnesics and healthy controls. The second experiment suggested that this difference is not due to Facebook posts spontaneously generating social elaboration, because memory for posts is enhanced as much by adding social elaboration as is memory for book sentences. Our final experiment, using headlines, sentences, and reader comments from articles, suggested that the remarkable memory for microblogs is also not due to their completeness or simply their topic, but may be a more general phenomenon of their being the largely spontaneous and natural emanations of the human mind.

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Vicissitudes of Desire: A Matching Mechanism for Subliminal Persuasion

Chris Loersch, Geoffrey Durso & Richard Petty
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent research on subliminal persuasion has documented effects primarily when people have a preexisting need related to the target of influence. Based on the situated inference model of priming effects (Loersch & Payne, 2011), we propose a novel matching mechanism and describe how it expands the circumstances under which subliminal primes can produce persuasive effects, doing so without a consideration of preexisting need states. In two studies, we alter the desirability of various products by selecting subliminal primes that address the basic questions participants consider while judging product desirability. Subliminal persuasion depends on the precise match between the subliminal primes and the question under consideration. These results are evident when the question participants consider varies naturally due to the type of product that is judged, and when the core question is directly manipulated by altering the aspect of a product on which participants focus.

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Einstein's jacket: Evidence for long-term perceptual specificity in mental imagery

David Pearson & James Hollings
Consciousness and Cognition, March 2013, Pages 148-154

Abstract:
To what extent are visual fantasies constrained by our perceptual experience of the real world? Our study exploits the fact that people's knowledge of the appearance of individuals from the early 20th Century (e.g., Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill) derives predominantly from viewing black-and-white media images. An initial experiment shows that mental imagery for individuals from this period are experienced as significantly less colourful than imagery for individuals from the era of colour media. A second experiment manipulated whether participants were instructed to explicitly imagine using colour or not (i.e., "imagine Albert Einstein wearing a green jacket" vs. "imagine Albert Einstein wearing a jacket"). Results show that colour manipulation only influences imagery for black-and-white era individuals, with no comparable effect on imagery for colour era individuals. This finding is replicated in a third experiment that includes an additional control condition of imagining generic characters (i.e., "Imagine a knight wearing a cloak" vs. "imagine a knight wearing a red cloak"). Again, only imagery for black-and-white era individuals is affected by the colour manipulation. Overall these results provide evidence for long-term perceptual specificity effects in mental imagery. We argue that visual fantasies can be constrained by surface features of underlying representations in memory, even when imagining something we have never directly perceived.

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Beauty Beyond Compare: Effects of Context Extremity and Categorization on Hedonic Contrast

Elizabeth Cogan, Scott Parker & Debra Zellner
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Three studies investigated the effects of extreme context stimuli and categorization on hedonic contrast by having subjects judge the attractiveness of faces. Experiment 1 demonstrated hedonic contrast in both directions by using 2 sets of stimuli presented in different orders. Preceding moderately unattractive faces with moderately attractive faces made the unattractive faces more unattractive. When the order of presentation was reversed, the moderately attractive faces became more attractive. Experiment 2 found that this hedonic contrast was eliminated when the moderately attractive faces were replaced with extremely attractive faces. Experiment 3 showed that even with those 2 sets of extremely different stimuli, hedonic contrast occurred if subjects were instructed to think of both sets of stimuli as belonging to the same category. These findings, using hedonic judgments, parallel Sarris's (1967, 1968) finding with weights that when 2 sets of stimuli are too different in the dimension being judged, no contrast occurs. They also lend support to his explanation for this result. When the 2 sets of stimuli are too different they are not seen as belonging to the same category. They are therefore not compared, and contrast does not occur. The authors propose that these principles might apply to contrast in all settings.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM