Evidence has accumulated over the past 15 years that affect in humans is cyclical. In winter there is a tendency to depression, with remission in summer, and this effect is stronger at higher latitudes. In order to determine whether human cognition is similarly rhythmical, this study investigated the cognitive processes of 100 participants living at 69 degrees N. Participants were tested in summer and winter on a range of cognitive tasks, including verbal memory, attention and simple reaction time tasks. The seasonally counterbalanced design and the very northerly latitude of this study provide optimal conditions for detecting impaired cognitive performance in winter, and the conclusion is negative: of five tasks with seasonal effects, four had disadvantages in summer. Like the menstrual cycle, the circannual cycle appears to influence mood but not cognition.
Pezdek and Blandon-Gitlin (in press) found that 25% of their participants reported as plausible or very plausible that they themselves could have been a victim of childhood sexual abuse without being able to remember it. In addition, they found that the 25% figure increased to 61% for participants who reported that they were likely at some point in their life to seek psychotherapy. Given past work showing that it is easier to implant a false memory for plausible events, and counter to Pezdek and Blandon-Gitlin's conclusions, these data point to a substantial danger of implanting false memories of childhood sexual abuse during therapy in many people and in most people who are likely to go into therapy. Theoretical issues regarding plausibility are discussed.
The present study examined whether the use of human figure diagrams within a well-structured interview was associated with more elaborate and clearer accounts about physical contact that had occurred in the course of an alleged abuse. The sample included investigative interviews of 88 children ranging from 4 to 13 years of age. Children were interviewed using the NICHD Investigative Interview Protocol, and were then asked a series of questions in association with unclothed gender-neutral outline diagrams of a human body. A new coding scheme was developed to examine the types and clarity of touch-related information. Use of the HFDs was associated with reports of new touches not mentioned before and elaborations regarding the body parts reportedly touched. The HFDs especially helped clarify reports by the oldest rather than the youngest children. The clarity of children's accounts of touch was also greater when details were sought using recall prompts.
Adults have difficulties accurately judging how well they have learned text materials; unfortunately, such low levels of accuracy may obscure age-related deficits. Higher levels of accuracy have been obtained when younger adults make postdictions about which test questions they answered correctly. Accordingly, we focus on the accuracy of postdictive judgments to evaluate whether age deficits would emerge with higher levels of accuracy and whether people's postdictive accuracy would benefit from providing an appropriate standard of evlauation. Participants read texts with definitions embedded in them, attempted to recall each definition, and then made a postdictive judgment about the quality of their recall. When making these judgments, participants either received no standard or were presented the correct definition as a standard for evaluation. Age-related equivalence was found in the relative accuracy of these term-specific judgments, and older adults' absolute accuracy benefited from providing standards to the same degree as did younger adults.
Three-hundred and one young adults evaluated medical dilemmas in which a patient (1) was portrayed as either 40 or 70 years old, (2) decided to either refuse or consent to a risky treatment for a serious medical disorder, and (3) received either positively or negatively framed information about the potential effectiveness of a proposed medical treatment. Participants' evaluations of the patients' decisions reflected the implementation of a framing heuristic and an age heuristic. The framing heuristic influenced participants' judgements of patients who refused the proposed treatment. Specifically, information which was positively framed resulted in risk-avoiding judgements, while information which was negatively framed resulted in risk-taking judgements. The age heuristic predisposed participants to recommend that 40 year old patients, more so than 70-year-old patients, opt for high-risk medical treatments that could potentially add a large number of years to their lives.
Viewers looked at print advertisements as their eye movements were recorded. Half of them were asked to rate how much they liked each ad (for convenience, we will generally use the term 'ad' from this point on), while the other half were asked to rate the effectiveness of each ad. Previous research indicated that viewers who were asked to consider purchasing products in the ads looked at the text earlier and more often than the picture part of the ad. In contrast, viewers in the present experiment looked at the picture part of the ad earlier and longer than the text. The results indicate quite clearly that the goal of the viewer very much influences where (and for how long) viewers look at different parts of ads, but also indicate that the nature of the ad per se matters.
Prior research suggests that recognition of a person's face can be facilitated by exaggerating the distinctive features of the face during training. We tested if this 'reverse-caricature effect' would be robust to procedural variations that created more difficult learning environments. Specifically, we examined whether the effect would emerge with frontal rather than three-quarter views, after very brief exposure to caricatures during the learning phase and after modest rotations of faces during the recognition phase. Results indicate that, even under these difficult training conditions, people are more accurate at recognizing unaltered faces if they are first familiarized with caricatures of the faces, rather than with the unaltered faces. These findings support the development of new training methods to improve face recognition.
Using previously collected data of fourth-grade children observed eating school meals and then interviewed, we categorized intrusions (food items reported but not observed eaten) as stretches (on the child's tray) or confabulations (not on the child's tray). We investigated intrusions, confabulations, and stretches, and the role of liking, at different retention intervals (morning interviews about the previous day's intake; evening interviews about that day's intake) and under different reporting-order prompts (forward; reverse). As retention interval between consumption and report increased, the likelihood 1) increased that reported items were intrusions, that reported items were confabulations, and that intrusions were confabulations; and 2) was constant that reported items were stretches. Results concerning reporting-order prompts were inconclusive. Liking ratings were higher for matches (reports of items observed eaten) than stretches, for confabulations than stretches, and for matches than omissions (unreported items observed eaten), but did not vary by retention interval or reporting-order prompts.
The current study examined cognitive-emotional distinctiveness (CED), the extent to which emotions are linked with event information, in memories associated with PTSD. Participants either with PTSD (n=68) or without PTSD (n=40) completed a modified multidimensional scaling technique to measure CED for their most negative and most positive events. The results revealed that participants in the PTSD group evidenced significantly lower levels of CED. This group difference remained significant when we limited the analysis to traumatic events that led to a PTSD diagnosis (n=33) in comparison to control participants who nominated a traumatic event that did not result in PTSD (n=32). Replicating previous findings, CED levels were higher in memories of negative events, in comparison to positive events. These results provide empirical evidence that memories associated with PTSD do contain special organizational features with respect to the links between emotions and memory. Implications for understanding and treating PTSD are discussed.
Experimental evidence and meta-analyses offer some support for gender-related differences in visuo-spatial ability. However, few studies addressed this issue in an ecological context and/or in everyday tasks implying spatial abilities, such as geographical orientation. Moreover, the relation of specific strategies and gender is still unclear. In the present investigation, we compared men and women in a newly designed battery of spatial orientation tasks in which landmark, route and survey knowledge were considered. In addition, four visuo-spatial working memory (VSWM) tasks were presented. Significant differences favouring men in VSWM tasks were reported, supporting existing evidence. However, men and women did not significantly differ in orientation tasks performance. The patterns of correlation between working memory and spatial orientation tasks indicated that men and women used somewhat different strategies in carrying out the orientation tasks. In particular, active processes seem to play a greater role in females' performance, thus confirming the importance of this variable in interpreting gender effect in VSWM tasks. Altogether, results indicate that gender effects could well result from differences in cognitive strategies and support data indicating that adequate training could reduce or eliminate them. Copyright (c) 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
This study identifies a number of sources of individual differences in SAT performance by examining the simultaneous contributions of factors from two otherwise disparate research areas, namely cognition/learning and social/personality. Preliminary analysis revealed that just the cognitive/learning measures accounted for 37.8, 41.4 and 21.9% of the variance in SAT, V-SAT and Q-SAT performance, respectively while just the social/personality measures accounted for 21.4, 18.2 and 17.3% of the variance. When combined, cognitive/learning and social/personality factors accounted for even larger amounts of variance in performance; specifically 43.4, 44.6 and 28% for the SAT, V-SAT and Q-SAT, respectively. Finally, the results revealed that three measures consistently predicted performance on the SAT, V-SAT and Q-SAT; two measures were the learning/cognitive factors of working memory and integration of new text-based information with information from long-term memory and one measure was the social/personality factor, test anxiety.
Collaborative cognition, in which two or more people work together on a cognitive task, may be typical of everyday life, and may even represent an important aspect of everyday cognitive adaptation for older adults. We examined collaborative memory for stories by comparing younger (n = 64) older (n = 66) individuals and dyads with collaborative performance produced by married spouses and stranger dyads. Overall, across four collaborative recall products (two positive and two negative performance indicators), some evidence for our hypothesis of general or selective collaborative effectiveness was observed. Moreover, such evidence was obtained at both an immediate and delayed recall episode. Discussion includes applications, limitations and suggestions for future research.
Mental health clinicians are tasked to diagnose and treat the millions of people worldwide seeking help for mental health issues. This paper investigates the memory clinicians have for patient information. We hypothesize that clinicians encapsulate mental health knowledge through experience into more abstract concepts, as in other domains changing what clinicians remember about patients compared with non-professionals. We tested memory for realistic patient-therapist interactions in experienced clinicians, intermediately trained graduate students, and laypeople. Clinicians recalled fewer facts than intermediate trainees and as many as laypeople. Furthermore, clinicians reported more abstracted information than all other participants, providing the first empirical demonstration of knowledge encapsulation in the memory of mental health clinicians. We discuss how our results fit into the existing literature on clinical expertise in mental health and the implications of our findings for future research relevant to mental health care.
Survey respondents have been found to systematically overreport their participation in political elections. Although the sociodemographic correlates of this response bias are well known, only a few studies have analyzed the determinants predicted by two prominent theoretical explanations for vote overreporting: memory failure and social desirability bias. Both explanations have received empirical support in studies in which the probability of vote overreporting was found to increase (a) with the time between the election and the survey interview and (b) when respondents were more politically involved. In the present paper, we argue that the effect of each of these determinants is not simply additive, but depends on the value of the respective other factor. This interaction effect has been found with data from the American National Election Studies: The probability of vote overreporting increases significantly stronger with the respondents’ political involvement when more time has elapsed since the election day.