Kevin Lewis

January 06, 2019

Evidence that photos promote rosiness for claims about the future
Eryn Newman et al.
Memory & Cognition, November 2018, Pages 1223–1233


When people rapidly judge the truth of claims about the present or the past, a related but nonprobative photo can produce “truthiness,” an increase in the perceived truth of those claims (Newman, Garry, Bernstein, Kantner, & Lindsay, 2012). What we do not know is the extent to which nonprobative photos cause truthiness for the future. We addressed this issue in four experiments. In each experiment, people judged the truth of claims that the price of certain commodities (such as manganese) would increase (or decrease). Half of the time, subjects saw a photo of the commodity paired with the claim. Experiments 1A and 1B produced a “rosiness” bias: Photos led people to believe positive claims about the future but had very little effect on people’s belief in negative claims. In Experiment 2, rosiness occurred for both close and distant future claims. In Experiments 3A and 3B, we tested whether rosiness was tied to the perceived positivity of a claim. Finally, in Experiments 4A and 4B, we tested the rosiness hypothesis and found that rosiness was unique to claims about the future: When people made the same judgments about the past, photos produced the usual truthiness pattern for both positive and negative claims. Considered all together, our data fit with the idea that photos may operate as hypothesis-confirming evidence for people’s tendency to anticipate rosy future outcomes.

Implicit model of other people’s visual attention as an invisible, force-carrying beam projecting from the eyes
Arvid Guterstam et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2 January 2019, Pages 328-333


As a part of social cognition, people automatically construct rich models of other people’s vision. Here we show that when people judge the mechanical forces acting on an object, their judgments are biased by another person gazing at the object. The bias is consistent with an implicit perception that gaze adds a gentle force, pushing on the object. The bias was present even though the participants were not explicitly aware of it and claimed that they did not believe in an extramission view of vision (a common folk view of vision in which the eyes emit an invisible energy). A similar result was not obtained on control trials when participants saw a blindfolded face turned toward the object, or a face with open eyes turned away from the object. The findings suggest that people automatically and implicitly generate a model of other people’s vision that uses the simplifying construct of beams coming out of the eyes. This implicit model of active gaze may be a hidden, yet fundamental, part of the rich process of social cognition, contributing to how we perceive visual agency. It may also help explain the extraordinary cultural persistence of the extramission myth of vision.

Sensitivity to Deviance and to Dissimilarity: Basic Cognitive Processes Under Activation of the Behavioral Immune System
Ravit Nussinson, Sari Mentser & Nurit Rosenberg
Evolutionary Psychology, November 2018


Throughout evolutionary history, pathogens have imposed strong selection pressures on humans. To minimize humans’ exposure to pathogens, a behavioral immune system that promotes the detection and avoidance of disease-connoting cues has evolved. Although most pathogens cannot be discerned by our sensory organs, they produce discernable changes in their environment. As a result, a common denominator of many disease-connoting cues is morphological deviance — figurative disparity from what is normal, visual dissimilarity to the prototype stored in memory. Drawing on an evolutionary rationale, we examine the hypothesis that activation of the behavioral immune system renders people more sensitive to morphological deviance and more prone to perceive dissimilarities between stimuli. In Study 1 (N = 343), participants who scored higher on disgust sensitivity demonstrated greater differentiation between normal and disfigured faces, reflecting greater sensitivity to morphological deviance in the bodily domain. In Study 2 (N = 109), participants who were primed with pathogen threat demonstrated greater differentiation between perfect and imperfect geometrical shapes, reflecting greater sensitivity to morphological deviance even in stimuli that have nothing to do with health or disease. In Study 3 (N = 621), participants who scored higher on disgust sensitivity perceived pairs of neutral pictures as less similar (i.e., more dissimilar) to each other. Literature on the relations to social deviance and implications for social perception and for social behavior is discussed.

When your heart is in your mouth: The effect of second language use on negative emotions
Alexandra Dylman & Anna Bjärtå
Cognition and Emotion, forthcoming


Research on bilingualism and emotions has shown stronger emotional responses in the native language (L1) compared to a foreign language. We investigated the potential of purposeful second language (L2) use as a means of decreasing the experience of psychological distress. Native Swedish speakers read and answered questions about negative and neutral texts in their L1 (Swedish) and their L2 (English) and were asked to rate their level of distress before or after the questions. The texts and associated questions were either written in the same (within-language), or different languages (cross-language). We found that within-language trials when the text was written in participants’ native language (Swedish–Swedish) resulted in an increase of distress, whilst cross-language trials (Swedish–English) resulted in a decrease of distress. This implies that purposeful second language use can diminish levels of distress experienced following a negative event encoded in one's first language.

The Upper Eye Bias: Rotated Faces Draw Fixations to the Upper Eye
Nicolas Davidenko, Hema Kopalle & Bruce Bridgeman
Perception, forthcoming


There is a consistent left-gaze bias when observers fixate upright faces, but it is unknown how this bias manifests in rotated faces, where the two eyes appear at different heights on the face. In two eye-tracking experiments, we measured participants’ first and second fixations, while they judged the expressions of upright and rotated faces. We hypothesized that rotated faces might elicit a bias to fixate the upper eye. Our results strongly confirmed this hypothesis, with the upper eye bias completely dominating the left-gaze bias in ±45° faces in Experiment 1, and across a range of face orientations (±11.25°, ±22.5°, ±33.75°, ±45°, and ±90°) in Experiment 2. In addition, rotated faces elicited more overall eye-directed fixations than upright faces. We consider potential mechanisms of the upper eye bias in rotated faces and discuss some implications for research in social cognition.

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