New research from Psychological Science

Interpersonal Sensitivity, Status, and Stereotype Accuracy

David A. Kenny, Amanda Snook, Eliane M. Boucher, and Jeffrey T. Hancock

Previous studies have suggested that subordinates are more accurate in judging how their bosses view them than are bosses at judging how subordinates view them. Those studies also suggest that bosses are more accurate in judging how subordinates view themselves than are subordinates in judging how bosses view themselves. However, results of a new analysis, when controlling for stereotype accuracy (e.g., bosses predicting responses of subordinates in general) in previously collected data, suggest that subordinates’ perceptions are generally more accurate than those of their bosses.

Object-Based Warping: An Illusory Distortion of Space Within Objects

Timothy J. Vickery and Marvin M. Chun

In a specific optical illusion, a pair of dots inside an object (e.g., a rectangle) looks farther apart than a pair of dots outside of an object, even though the distances between the dots are the same. To investigate whether this effect is object based, distortion was measured as the structure around the dots was manipulated. Volunteers saw a pair of dots on a monitor and had to indicate, using a second pair of dots, the perceived spacing of the initial pair. Scenes with stronger implied structure surrounding the dots resulted in greater distortion than scenes with weaker degrees of local organization, suggesting that objects may distort perceived space.

Firstborns’ Disadvantage in Kinship Detection

Gwenaël Kaminski , Fabien Ravary, Christian Graff, and Edouard Gentaz

When a firstborn child sees his mother caring for a new baby, the firstborn mentally identifies that baby as a sibling (maternal perinatal association, MPA). Children that are born later cannot apply MPA to elder siblings, so they must rely on other strategies in identifying their brothers and sisters, such as physical resemblance. Volunteers (children and adults) completed a face-matching task (e.g., they had to match up a photo of an infant with photo of their parent). Later-borns (both children and adults) performed better than oldest siblings, suggesting they may be more efficient than older siblings in detecting kinship among strangers. These findings contrast with the traditional cognitive advantage of firstborns.

“You Talkin’ to Me?” Self-Relevant Auditory Signals Influence Perception of Gaze Direction

Raliza S. Stoyanova, Michael P. Ewbank, and Andrew J. Calder

To really get someone’s attention, don’t just look at them–make sure you also say their name. Volunteers viewed neutral faces that were looking directly at them, to the left, or to the right, while hearing someone call their name or someone else’s name. Volunteers were more likely to judge faces as looking directly at them when they heard their name than if another name was called. These results are the first evidence that another person’s communicative intent signaled by what they say may influence where we think they are looking.

The Wolfpack Effect: Perception of Animacy Irresistibly Influences Interactive Behavior

Tao Gao, Gregory McCarthy, and Brian J. Scholl

As a pack of predators stalk their prey, they may not always move directly toward their target (e.g., circling around it), but they may be consistently facing toward it. Results of new study suggest that the human visual system appears to be sensitive to such situations, even in displays involving simple shapes. The wolfpack effect occurs when several randomly moving, oriented shapes that are consistently pointing toward a moving disc seem to, despite their randomness, interact with the disc–as if they are pursuing it. This perception of animacy in the randomly moving shapes influences visual performance and interactive behavior; for example, volunteers selectively avoided such shapes when moving a disc through a display themselves.

Induction, Overhypothesis, and the Origin of Abstract Knowledge: Evidence From 9-Month-Old Infants

Kathryn M. Dewar and Fei Xu

A critical aspect of human cognition is the ability to extract generalizable knowledge from limited data. One form of inductive learning, overhypothesis formation, allows learners to make inferences that take them beyond the limits of direct experience, resulting in abstract knowledge. New findings reveal that the ability to form overhypotheses may arise in children as young as 9-months-old. Infants watched as objects were pulled out of four boxes. The first three boxes each contained different-colored objects of the same shape. For the fourth box, when the second object had a different shape than the first, infants looked longer at it (compared to trials when the second object matched the first object), indicating that they were surprised by the different shape because they may have made inferences about the contents of the final box.

The APS journal Psychological Science is the highest ranked empirical journal in psychology. For copies of these articles and access to other Psychological Science research findings, please contact Keri Chiodo at 202-293-9300 or [email protected].

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