Go with it

Kevin Lewis

June 17, 2017

All You Need to Do Is Ask? The Exhortation to Be Creative Improves Creative Performance More for Nonexpert Than Expert Jazz Musicians
David Rosen et al.
Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, forthcoming


Current creativity research reveals a fundamental disagreement about the nature of creative thought, specifically, whether it is primarily based on automatic, associative (Type 1) or executive, controlled (Type 2) cognitive processes. We propose that Type 1 and Type 2 processes make differential contributions to creative production depending on domain expertise and situational factors such as task instructions. We tested this hypothesis with jazz pianists who were instructed to improvise to a novel chord sequence and rhythm accompaniment. Afterward, they were asked to perform again under instructions to be especially creative which, via goal activation, is thought to prompt the musicians to engage Type 2 processes. Jazz experts rated all performances. Overall, performances by more experienced pianists were rated as superior. Moreover, creativity instructions resulted in higher ratings. However, there was an interaction between instructions and expertise, revealing that explicit creativity instructions significantly improved improvisation ratings only for the less experienced musicians. We propose that activating or reconfiguring executive Type 2 processes facilitates creativity for less experienced musicians, but does not improve creative performance significantly for more experienced ones because the latter have largely automatized the processes responsible for high-level improvisation or because they have achieved a near-optimal balance between associative Type 1 and executive Type 2 processes. Thus, increasing controlled Type 2 processing is unlikely to help, and may sometimes even diminish, the creativity of experts’ performances.

An Investigation of Genetic and Environmental Influences Across The Distribution of Self-Control
Joseph Schwartz et al.
Criminal Justice and Behavior, forthcoming


Previous research illustrating a robust, negative association between self-control and various forms of delinquent and criminal behavior has resulted in a more concentrated focus on the etiological development of self-control. The current study aims to contribute to this literature using a sample of twin and sibling pairs from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) to examine genetic and shared environmental influences across levels of self-control. The results of modified DeFries–Fulker (DF) equations revealed that genetic and shared environmental influences were distributed in a nonlinear pattern across levels of self-control. Subsequent biometric quantile regression models revealed that genetic influences on self-control were maximized in the 50th and 60th percentiles, and minimized in the tails of the distribution. Shared environmental influences were nonsignificant at all examined quantiles of self-control with only one exception. The theoretical importance of utilizing genetically informed modeling strategies is discussed in more detail.

Genetic and environmental origins of gambling behaviors from ages 18 to 25: A longitudinal twin family study
Serena King et al.
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, May 2017, Pages 367-374


Gambling behaviors tend to increase in prevalence from late adolescence to young adulthood, and the underlying genetic and environmental influences during this period remain largely understudied. We examined the genetic and environmental influences on gambling behaviors contributing to stability and change from ages 18 to 25 in a longitudinal, behavioral genetic mixed-sex twin study design. Participants were enrolled in the Minnesota Twin Family Study. A range of gambling behaviors (maximum frequency, average frequency, money lost, and gambling problems) were assessed at ages 18 and 25. The results of our study support the following conclusions: (a) the genetic and environmental factors impacting a range of gambling behaviors are largely similar in men and women, (b) genetic factors increase in influence from 18 to 25 (21% at age 18 to 57% at age 25), (c) shared environmental factors are influential at age 18, but tend to decrease from ages 18 to 25 (55% at age 18 to 10% at age 25), and (d) nonshared environmental influences are similarly significant and are small to moderate in magnitude at both ages. The findings add to a small yet important research area regarding determinants of youth gambling behaviors and have the potential to inform prevention and intervention efforts.

Association Between Medication Use for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Risk of Motor Vehicle Crashes
Zheng Chang et al.
JAMA Psychiatry, June 2017, Pages 597-603

Design, Setting, and Participants: For this study, a US national cohort of patients with ADHD (n = 2 319 450) was identified from commercial health insurance claims between January 1, 2005, and December 31, 2014, and followed up for emergency department visits for MVCs. The study used within-individual analyses to compare the risk of MVCs during months in which patients received ADHD medication with the risk of MVCs during months in which they did not receive ADHD medication.

Results: Among 2 319 450 patients identified with ADHD, the mean (SD) age was 32.5 (12.8) years, and 51.7% were female. In the within-individual analyses, male patients with ADHD had a 38% (odds ratio, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.56-0.67) lower risk of MVCs in months when receiving ADHD medication compared with months when not receiving medication, and female patients had a 42% (odds ratio, 0.58; 95% CI, 0.53-0.62) lower risk of MVCs in months when receiving ADHD medication. Similar reductions were found across all age groups, across multiple sensitivity analyses, and when considering the long-term association between ADHD medication use and MVCs. Estimates of the population-attributable fraction suggested that up to 22.1% of the MVCs in patients with ADHD could have been avoided if they had received medication during the entire follow-up.

Decreased Prefrontal Activity During a Cognitive Inhibition Task Following Violent Video Game Play: A Multi-Week Randomized Trial
Tom Hummer et al.
Psychology of Popular Media Culture, forthcoming


There is substantial evidence that exposure to violent media increases aggressive thoughts and behaviors, potentially due in part to alterations to inhibitory mechanisms mediated by prefrontal cortex. Past research has demonstrated that playing a violent video game for short periods decreases subsequent prefrontal activity during inhibition, yet the impact of long-term game play is unclear. To assess how extensive video game play impacts brain activity, young adult males (n = 49; ages 18–29) with limited video game experience performed a go/no-go task during fMRI for 3 consecutive weeks. Following a baseline scan, these men were randomly assigned to extensively play a violent video game (VG) or avoid all video game play (control) during the subsequent week. After 1 week, inhibition-related activity decreased in right inferior frontal gyrus and right cerebellum in the VG group, compared to the control sample, and self-reported executive functioning problems were higher. VG participants assigned to a second week of game play had similarly reduced bilateral prefrontal activity during inhibition, relative to the control group. However, VG participants assigned to avoid game play or play a cognitive training game during the second week demonstrated similar overall changes from baseline as the control group. This research provides preliminary evidence indicating how long-term video game play may impact brain function during inhibition, which may impair control of aggressive behavior.

The Benefits of Emergency Reserves: Greater Preference and Persistence for Goals That Have Slack with a Cost
Marissa Sharif & Suzanne Shu
Journal of Marketing Research, June 2017, Pages 495-509


Marketers of programs that are designed to help consumers reach goals face dual challenges of making the program attractive enough to encourage consumer signup while still motivating consumers to reach desirable goals and thus stay satisfied with the program. The authors offer a possible solution to this challenge: the emergency reserve, or slack with a cost. They demonstrate how an explicitly defined emergency reserve not only is preferred over other options for goal-related programs but can also lead to increased persistence. Study 1 demonstrates that consumers prefer programs with emergency reserves to programs that do not have them, and Study 2 further clarifies that consumers’ preference for an emergency reserve depends on the presence of a superordinate goal. Study 3 reveals that consumers prefer goals with emergency reserves because they perceive them to have both higher attainability and value than other goals. Study 4 demonstrates that reserves can lead to increased goal persistence in a realistic task that involves persistence over time. Finally, Studies 5 and 6 reveal that consumers persist more with reserve goals because they want to avoid using the “emergency” reserve.

Personal Bests as Reference Points
Ashton Anderson & Etan Green
University of Pennsylvania Working Paper, April 2017


Personal bests act as reference points. Examining 133 million chess games, we find that players exert effort to set new personal-best ratings and quit once they have done so. Though specific and difficult goals have been shown to inspire greater motivation than vague pronouncements to “do your best,” doing one’s best can be a specific and difficult goal — and as we show, motivates in a manner predicted by loss aversion.

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