The American Journal of Psychology (AM J PSYCHOL )


AJP was founded in the interest of general experimental psychology and is devoted to the basic science of the mind. The Journal publishes reports of original experimental reserach, theoretical presentations, combined theoretical and experimental analyses, historical commentaries, shorter notes and discussions, and reviews of books in the area.

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    American Journal of Psychology website
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    The American journal of psychology, AJP
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    Periodical, Internet resource
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    Journal / Magazine / Newspaper, Internet Resource

Publications in this journal

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: At one time, psychologists aspired to build a science composed of interrelated descriptive laws and the theories that explain them--a nomothetic science. For various reasons this goal was abandoned. In its place, we have a collection of theories that, for the most part, are organized by topic and subdiscipline or by themes and shared language (e.g., characterization of cognition in terms of information processing, which is neither a law nor a rigorous theory but a viewpoint or approach). As things stand, although our theories and research are scientific, we have failed to create a coherent science. In this article the nomothetic goal is reconsidered, and an example of how we might begin to achieve it is described.
    The American Journal of Psychology 01/2014; 127(1):1-18.
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    ABSTRACT: Little is known about the mental workload, or psychological costs, associated with information processing tasks in children. We adapted the highly regarded NASA Task Load Index (NASA-TLX) multidimensional workload scale (Hart & Staveland, 1988) to test its efficacy for use with elementary school children. We developed 2 types of tasks, each with 2 levels of demand, to draw differentially on resources from the separate subscales of workload. In Experiment 1, our participants were both typical and school-labeled gifted children recruited from 4th and 5th grades. Results revealed that task type elicited different workload profiles, and task demand directly affected the children's experience of workload. In general, gifted children experienced less workload than typical children. Objective response time and accuracy measures provide evidence for the criterion validity of the workload ratings. In Experiment 2, we applied the same method with 1st- and 2nd-grade children. Findings from Experiment 2 paralleled those of Experiment 1 and support the use of NASA-TLX with even the youngest elementary school children. These findings contribute to the fledgling field of educational ergonomics and attest to the innovative application of workload research. Such research may optimize instructional techniques and identify children at risk for experiencing overload.
    The American Journal of Psychology 01/2014; 127(1):107-25.
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    ABSTRACT: In Experiments 1-3 participants heard pairs of audio clips, each corresponding to half of a phrase (linguistic or musical), in a forward direction or a backward direction, where the second half came first. They judged whether the second clip was from a familiar source or from the same source as the first clip. In both tasks participants were faster and more accurate when the clips were from the same source and faster with linguistic stimuli. Longer temporal distances impaired performance, although greater flexibility was shown with linguistic materials. In Experiment 4, single extended clips were played in temporal or scrambled order. Judgments of familiarity were slower with scrambled song melodies than with instrumental melodies, and processing of music was disrupted more than that of language when temporal order was violated. These results suggest that semantic meaning enhances processing of temporal order information and modulates access.
    The American Journal of Psychology 01/2014; 127(1):87-106.
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    ABSTRACT: This study examined whether the emotional memory effect (i.e., superior recall for emotionally arousing events relative to neutral events) is sensitive to encoding instructions focusing participants' attention on denotation, connotation, or surface information and on the passage of time. Participants encoded taboo and neutral words under one type of instructions and then performed a free recall task after a variable delay. Attention to denotation negatively affected the emotional memory effect. Time elapsed from encoding weakened recall of neutral words but not of emotional words. These findings suggest that although attentional control can influence the emotional memory effect, distinctiveness can shield retrieval of taboo words from the passage of time.
    The American Journal of Psychology 01/2014; 127(1):63-73.
  • The American Journal of Psychology 01/2014; 2014, 127(1), 132-133.
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    ABSTRACT: In 2 studies we evaluated the efficiency of training raters with a short version of the Aberdeen Report Judgment Scales (ARJS-STV-S) in assessing the truthfulness of transcribed accounts. Participants told both truthful and deceptive accounts of either illegal or immoral actions. In the truthful accounts, the participants described their own misdeeds honestly (true confessions). In the deceptive accounts, the participants also described their own misdeeds but attributed them to someone else (false accusations). In Study 1, guided (n = 32) and unguided (n = 32) raters evaluated 64 transcribed accounts (16 per rater). Only a few ARJS-STV-S criteria differed significantly between false and true accounts. In Study 2 (N = 29), guided raters evaluated the same transcripts using only the most promising criteria of Study 1. Judgments in Study 2 were less biased (in terms of signal detection theory), and the classification of deceptive accounts was significantly better compared with a no-guidance control group and the guided group of Study 1. A Brunswikian lens model analysis showed that with the smaller set of cues there is a better correspondence between the ecological validities and the subjective utilities, which may explain the higher accuracy rates. When the criteria have little or no diagnostic value, or when true and false stories are very similar, providing raters with a larger set of truth criteria does not increase accuracy but instead may bias raters toward making truth judgments. Practical implications for content-based training programs are outlined.
    The American Journal of Psychology 01/2014; 127(1):43-61.
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    ABSTRACT: We tested the incremental validity of an ability measure of emotional intelligence (EI) in predicting academic achievement in undergraduate students, controlling for cognitive abilities and personality traits. Academic achievement has been conceptualized in terms of the number of exams, grade point average, and study time taken to prepare for each exam. Additionally, gender differences were taken into account in these relationships. Participants flled in the Mayer–Salovey–Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT), the Raven’s Advanced Progressive Matrices, the reduced version of the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire, and academic achievement measures. Results showed that EI abilities were positively related to academic achievement indices, such as the number of exams and grade point average; total EI ability and the Perceiving branch were negatively associated with the study time spent preparing for exams. Furthermore, EI ability adds a percentage of incremental variance with respect to cognitive ability and personality variables in explaining scholastic success. The magnitude of the associations between EI abilities and academic achievement measures was generally higher for men than for women. Jointly considered, the present fndings support the incremental validity of the MSCEIT and provide positive indications of the importance of EI in students’ academic development. The helpfulness of EI training in the context of academic institutions is discussed.
    The American Journal of Psychology 01/2014; 127(4):447-461.
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    ABSTRACT: First-year undergraduates participated in a short-term longitudinal study of real-life decision making over their first 14 months of college. They were surveyed about 7 different decisions: choosing courses for an upcoming term (3 different terms), choosing an academic major (twice), planning for the upcoming summer, and planning for sophomore-year housing. Participants showed moderate levels of consistency in the options they considered and in the criteria they used to decide between options, with about half of the options or criteria being used at 2 different points on the decision repeatedly studied. Participants varied somewhat in structural consistency, the tendency to consider the same number of options or criteria across decisions. They also varied in the way they integrated information across decision-making tasks. We suggest that people attempt to keep the information demands of the task within workable limits, sometimes sacrificing consistency as a result.
    The American Journal of Psychology 01/2014; 127(1):19-31.
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    ABSTRACT: School days can be a difficult time especially when students are faced with subjects which require motivational investment along with cognitive effort, such as mathematics and sciences. In the present study, we investigated the effects of teachers’ Emotional Intelligence (EI) ability, self-efficacy, and emotional states and students’ self-esteem, perceptions of ability and metacognitive beliefs in predicting school achievement. We hypothesized that the level of teacher EI ability would moderate the impact of students’ self-perceptions and beliefs regarding their achievements in mathematics and sciences. Students from Italian junior high schools (N = 338) and their math teachers (N = 12) were involved in the study and a multilevel approach was employed. Findings showed that that teachers’ EI has a positive role in promoting students’ achievement, by enhancing the effects of students’ self-perceptions of ability and self-esteem. These results have implications for the implementation of intervention programs on the emotional, motivational, and metacognitive correlates of studying and learning behaviour.
    The American Journal of Psychology 01/2014; 127(4):431-445.
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    ABSTRACT: This study used a matrix game to explore adolescents' and young adults' flexibility of theory of mind (ToM) and to examine whether prediction could promote a person's ToM reasoning when the opponent's level of ToM changed during the course of the game. A total of 202 participants of different ages (13, 16, 19, and 24 years) were presented with the task. Results showed that the ToM flexibility in prediction and decision making was not significantly different across the age groups. A person's flexibility of ToM was better when the opponent's level was stable than when the level changed. It was even more difficult for a person to adapt when the opponent changed from a higher-order to lower-order level. The results showed prediction to be a kind of information clue that would prompt people to think further. It is both feasible and discriminative to explore even higher levels of ToM with matrix games.
    The American Journal of Psychology 01/2014; 127(1):75-85.
  • The American Journal of Psychology 01/2014; 37:58-68.
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    ABSTRACT: First-year undergraduates participated in a short-term longitudinal study of real-life decision making over their first 14 months of college. They were surveyed about 7 different decisions: choosing courses for upcoming terms (on 3 different occasions), choosing an academic major (twice), planning for the upcoming summer, and planning for sophomore-year housing. They also completed a survey of self-reported decision-making styles and the Need for Cognition survey (Cacioppo & Petty, 1982) to assess their focus on rationality and enjoyment of analytic thinking. Results showed few statistically significant correlations between stylistic measures and behavioral measures of decision making, in either the amount of information considered or the way in which the information integration tracked predictions of linear models of decision making applied to each participant's data. However, there were consistent correlations, across the 7 decisions, between stylistic measures and affective reactions to, or retrospective descriptions of, episodes of decision making. We suggest that decision-making styles instruments may better reflect the construction of narratives of self as a decision maker more than they do actual behavior during decision making.
    The American Journal of Psychology 01/2014; 127(1):33-42.
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    ABSTRACT: Despite being challenged for their ecological validity, studies of emotion perception have often relied on static, posed expressions. One of the key reasons is that dynamic, spontaneous expressions are difficult to control because of the existence of display rules and frequent co-occurrence of non-emotion related facial movements. The present study investigated cross-cultural patterns in the perception of emotion using an expressive regulation paradigm for generating facial expressions. The paradigm largely balances out the competing concerns for ecological and internal validity. Americans and Hong Kong Chinese (expressors) were presented with positively and negatively valenced pictures and were asked to enhance, suppress, or naturally display their facial expressions according to their subjective emotions. Videos of naturalistic and dynamic expressions of emotions were rated by Americans and Hong Kong Chinese (judges) for valence and intensity. The 2 cultures agreed on the valence and relative intensity of emotion expressions, but cultural differences were observed in absolute intensity ratings. The differences varied between positive and negative expressions. With positive expressions, ratings were higher when there was a cultural match between the expressor and the judge and when the expression was enhanced by the expressor. With negative expressions, Chinese judges gave higher ratings than their American counterparts for Chinese expressions under all 3 expressive conditions, and the discrepancy increased with expression intensity; no cultural differences were observed when American expressions were judged. The results were discussed with respect to the "decoding rules" and "same-culture advantage" approaches of emotion perception and a negativity bias in the Chinese collective culture.
    The American Journal of Psychology 01/2013; 126(3):261-73.
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    ABSTRACT: Harris and Livesey (2008) reported that patterning discriminations were easier to learn than biconditional discriminations in a human causal reasoning task, consistent with the predictions of the attentional buffer model of Harris (2006) and inconsistent with the predictions of configural cue models. However, their evaluation of patterning and biconditional tasks also failed to find a positive patterning advantage, which has been a hallmark prediction of many configural cue theories. This failure raises the question of whether Harris and Livesey's method was appropriate for a general evaluation of the role of configural cues in learning complex discriminations. Using a design that does produce a positive patterning advantage, the study reported here shows negative patterning discriminations to be at least as difficult to learn as biconditional discriminations, consistent with configural cue models.
    The American Journal of Psychology 01/2013; 126(1):11-21.
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    ABSTRACT: We conducted research on transfer of skills using basic stimulus-response compatibility tasks and applied tasks requiring control of a hydraulic excavator simulator. The basic tasks show rapid acquisition of practiced spatial mappings, for which transfer is specific to the procedures used in training. The applied tasks show transfer across alternative control configurations that maintain practiced spatial mappings, as well as from part to whole practice. Transfer from simulated to real equipment also seems to occur; however, studies involving cooperation of academia and industry are needed to provide more definitive evidence on this question.
    The American Journal of Psychology 01/2013; 126(4):401-15.
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    ABSTRACT: For each of the 5 needs in Maslow's motivational hierarchy (physiological, safety-security, belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization), operational definitions were developed from Maslow's theory of motivation. New measures were created based on the operational definitions (1) to assess the satisfaction of each need, (2) to assess their expected correlations (a) with each of the other needs and (b) with four social and personality measures (i.e., family support, traditional values, anxiety/worry, and life satisfaction), and (3) to test the ability of the satisfaction level of each need to statistically predict the satisfaction level of the next higher-level need. Psychometric tests of the scales conducted on questionnaire results from 386 adult respondents from the general population lent strong support for the validity and reliability of all 5 needs measures. Significant positive correlations among the scales were also found; that is, the more each lower-level need was satisfied, the more the next higher-level need was satisfied. Additionally, as predicted, family support, traditional values, and life satisfaction had significant positive correlations with the satisfaction of all 5 needs, and the anxiety/worry facet of neuroticism had significant negative correlations with the satisfaction of all the needs. Multiple regression analyses revealed that the satisfaction of each higher-level need was statistically predicted by the satisfaction of the need immediately below it in the hierarchy, as expected from Maslow's theory.
    The American Journal of Psychology 01/2013; 126(2):155-77.
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    ABSTRACT: The susceptibility of eyewitnesses to verbal suggestion has been well documented, although little attention has been paid to the role of nonverbal communication in misinformation. Three experiments are reported; in each, participants watched footage of a crime scene before being questioned about what they had observed. In Experiments 1 and 2, an on-screen interviewer accompanied identically worded questions with gestures that either conveyed accurate information about the scene or conveyed false, misleading information. The misleading gestures significantly influenced recall, and participants' responses were consistent with the gestured information. In Experiment 3, a live interview was conducted, and the gestural misinformation effect was found to be robust; participants were influenced by misleading gestures performed by the interviewer during questioning. These findings provide compelling evidence for the gestural misinformation effect, whereby subtle hand gestures can implant information and distort the testimony of eyewitnesses. The practical and legal implications of these findings are discussed.
    The American Journal of Psychology 01/2013; 126(3):301-14.

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