Review of General Psychology

Published by Test accounts

Online ISSN: 1939-1552


Print ISSN: 1089-2680


Figure 1.  
The Perennial Debate: Nature, Nurture, or Choice? Black and White Americans' Explanations for Individual Differences
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March 2009


397 Reads

Toby Epstein Jayaratne






Sharon L.R. Kardia
This paper examines three common explanations for human characteristics: genes, the environment, and choice. Based on data from a representative sample of White and Black Americans, respondents indicated how much they believed each factor influenced individual differences in athleticism, nurturance, drive, math ability, violence, intelligence, and sexual orientation. Results show that across traits: 1) Black respondents generally favor choice and reject genetic explanations, whereas White respondents indicate less causal consistency; 2) although a sizeable subset of respondents endorse just one factor, most report multiple factors as at least partly influential; and 3) among White respondents greater endorsement of genetic explanations is associated with less acceptance of choice and the environment, although among Black respondents a negative relationship holds only between genes and choice. The social relevance of these findings is discussed within the context of the attribution, essentialism and lay theory literature. The results underscore the need to consider more complex and nuanced issues than are implied by the simplistic, unidimensional character of the nature/nurture and determinism/free will debates - perennial controversies that have significance in the current genomic era.

A Regression Framework for Effect Size Assessments in Longitudinal Modeling of Group Differences

March 2013


202 Reads

The use of growth modeling analysis (GMA)--particularly multilevel analysis and latent growth modeling--to test the significance of intervention effects has increased exponentially in prevention science, clinical psychology, and psychiatry over the past 15 years. Model-based effect sizes for differences in means between two independent groups in GMA can be expressed in the same metric (Cohen's d) commonly used in classical analysis and meta-analysis. This article first reviews conceptual issues regarding calculation of d for findings from GMA and then introduces an integrative framework for effect size assessments that subsumes GMA. The new approach uses the structure of the linear regression model, from which effect sizes for findings from diverse cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses can be calculated with familiar statistics, such as the regression coefficient, the standard deviation of the dependent measure, and study duration.

Cascades of Emotion: The Emergence of Borderline Personality Disorder From Emotional and Behavioral Dysregulation

September 2009


309 Reads

Theories of borderline personality disorder (BPD) have often considered it a disorder involving both emotional and behavioral dysregulation (Linehan, 1993), yet the connection between these phenomena has been elusive. The following paper proposes the Emotional Cascade Model, a model that attempts to establish a clear relationship between emotional dysregulation and the wide array of dysregulated behaviors found in BPD. In this model, subsequent to an emotional stimulus, ruminative processes result in a positive feedback loop that increases emotional intensity, and this emotional intensity leads to ensuing behavioral dysregulation. These behaviors then provide negative feedback, in the form of distraction, which induces temporary reduction of negative emotion and thus relief. The model is presented in a framework in which BPD is considered an emergent phenomenon (Lewin, 1992), where the disorder arises from the total interactions of a network containing emotional cascades and other important factors. The model is then evaluated in light of various theories and therapeutic traditions, including both cognitive-behavioral and psychodynamic, indicating that it is a model that may transcend traditional theoretical and therapeutic doctrines.

Sexual Hookup Culture: A Review

June 2012


27,539 Reads

"Hookups," or uncommitted sexual encounters, are becoming progressively more engrained in popular culture, reflecting both evolved sexual predilections and changing social and sexual scripts. Hook-up activities may include a wide range of sexual behaviors, such as kissing, oral sex, and penetrative intercourse. However, these encounters often transpire without any promise of, or desire for, a more traditional romantic relationship. A review of the literature suggests that these encounters are becoming increasingly normative among adolescents and young adults in North America, representing a marked shift in openness and acceptance of uncommitted sex. We reviewed the current literature on sexual hookups and considered the multiple forces influencing hookup culture, using examples from popular culture to place hooking up in context. We argue that contemporary hookup culture is best understood as the convergence of evolutionary and social forces during the developmental period of emerging adulthood. We suggest that researchers must consider both evolutionary mechanisms and social processes, and be considerate of the contemporary popular cultural climate in which hookups occur, in order to provide a comprehensive and synergistic biopsychosocial view of "casual sex" among emerging adults today.

What Good Are Positive Emotions?

September 1998


1,210 Reads

This article opens by noting that positive emotions do not fit existing models of emotions. Consequently, a new model is advanced to describe the form and function of a subset of positive emotions, including joy, interest, contentment, and love. This new model posits that these positive emotions serve to broaden an individual's momentary thought-action repertoire, which in turn has the effect of building that individual's physical, intellectual, and social resources. Empirical evidence to support this broaden-and-build model of positive emotions is reviewed, and implications for emotion regulation and health promotion are discussed.

What’s wrong with research literatures? And how to make them right. Review of General Psychology, 13(2), 146-166

June 2009


70 Reads

Meta-analysis is now the accepted procedure for summarizing research literatures in areas of applied psychology. Because of the bias for publishing statistically significant findings, while usually rejecting nonsignificant results, our research literatures yield misleading answers to important quantitative questions (e.g., How much better is the average psychotherapy patient relative to a comparable group of untreated controls? How much more aggressive are children who watch a great deal of violent TV than children who watch little or no violence on TV?). While all such research literatures provide overly optimistic meta-analytic estimates, exactly how practically important are these overestimates? Three studies testing the literature on implementation intentions finds only slightly elevated effectiveness estimates. Conversely, in three studies another growing research literature (the efficacy of remote intercessory prayer) is found to be misleading and is in all likelihood not a real effect (i.e., our three studies suggest the literature likely consists of Type I errors). Rules of thumb to predict which research literatures are likely invalid are offered. Finally, revised publication and data analysis procedures to generate unbiased research literatures in the future are examined. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Multifaceted Nature of Intrinsic Motivation: The Theory of 16 Basic Desires

September 2004


9,246 Reads

R. W. White (1959) proposed that certain motives, such as curiosity, autonomy, and play (called intrinsic motives, or IMs), have common characteristics that distinguish them from drives. The evidence that mastery is common to IMs is anecdotal, not scientific. The assertion that "intrinsic enjoyment" is common to IMs exaggerates the significance of pleasure in human motivation and expresses the hedonistic fallacy of confusing consequence for cause. Nothing has been shown scientifically to be common to IMs that differentiates them from drives. An empirically testable theory of 16 basic desires is put forth based on psychometric research and subsequent behavior validation. The desires are largely unrelated to each other and may have different evolutionary histories. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Individuals as Social Relationships: 18 Ways That Acting Alone Can Be Thought of as Social Behavior

December 2001


976 Reads

This article argues to replace individualistic explanations of behavior with descriptions of social and historical context. Eighteen ways are outlined that playing a guitar alone in a room can be thought of as socially controlled rather than dispositionally controlled. Despite having a skin containing a body, a "person" for the social sciences is a conglomerate of social relationships or interactions that spans space and time. Thinking of people and causes as within a body shapes individualistic biases in our explanations and interventions. Rather than propose a new philosophy, this article reviews 18 concrete ways to begin thinking about people as social interactions and not agentic individuals. This changes the interventions we propose, alters how we view cultural practices, prevents some perennial problems of psychology, and leads the way to integrate psychology in the social sciences. Moving from dispositional explanations to study the historical and social context of social relationships also requires that psychology seriously adapt some of the more intensive research methods from other social sciences. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Between Psoriasis and Ptarmigan : American Encyclopedia Portrayals of Psychology, 1880–1940

March 1997


10 Reads

Articles in encyclopedias represented 1 of several avenues that the new experimental psychologists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries had to portray their science to the public, and as such, these entries are important documents in understanding the agenda of the psychologist authors and the bases for the public's understanding of psychology. This article describes a content analysis of the psychology entries from 174 American encyclopedias published between 1880 and 1940. The analysis focuses on the changes in this content over time and the correspondence of those changes to the evolution of American psychology. The data show that the encyclopedia entries were slow in reporting changes in psychology and often promoted a singular view of the subject matter of psychology. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Changes in Young People's Sexual Behavior and Attitudes, 1943–1999: A Cross-Temporal Meta-Analysis

September 2005


8,530 Reads

A cross-temporal meta-analysis of 530 studies (N = 269,649) showed that young people's sexual attitudes and behavior changed substantially between 1943 and 1999, with the largest shifts occurring among girls and young women. Both young men and women became more sexually active over time, as measured by age at first intercourse (decreasing from 19 to 15 years among young women) and percentage sexually active (increasing from 13% to 47% among young women). Attitudes toward premarital intercourse became more lenient, with approval increasing from 12% to 73% among young women and from 40% to 79% among young men. Feelings of sexual guilt decreased. The correlation between attitudes and behaviors was stronger among young women. These data support theories positing that culture has a larger effect on women's sexuality. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Jewish Quotas in Clinical Psychology?: The Journal of Clinical Psychology and the Scandal of 1945

September 2009


437 Reads

In 1945 Frederick Thorne, editor of the Journal of Clinical Psychology, proposed to limit the acceptance of Jewish applicants to clinical psychology graduate schools. A public scandal erupted over this proposed limit, which was modeled on Jewish quotas in medical education. Criticized by the mass media and most psychologists, Thorne’s proposal was repudiated by the Eastern Psychological Association and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. Using private correspondence, oral histories, and published articles, this mostly forgotten episode in the history of clinical psychology is recreated. It is argued that the 1945 campaign against Jewish quotas prepared activists for the 1950s campaign against racial segregation and the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case. Because the participants in 1945 came from all specialties in psychology, it is suggested that this story is of significance to the field as a whole, rather than just to historians of social issues. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Playing Cards With Thomas Kuhn: A Critical Reexamination of the Bruner and Postman (1949) Experiment

June 2011


1,099 Reads

Two experiments replicated Bruner and Postman (1949), on which Kuhn (1962, 1970) relied in his argument that humans resist experience that is incongruous with their expectations—an argument essential to Kuhn's thesis of scientific revolutions. The first experiment measured reaction times for identifying playing card stimuli in three conditions: (a) where all the stimuli were standard playing cards, (b) where stimuli had color reversed (trick), or (c) which included both regular and trick card stimuli (mixed set). Participants were equally adept at identifying regular and trick stimuli in homogenous sets but took longer to identify the same stimuli in a mixed set. The second experiment, a conceptual replication of Bruner and Postman's original experiment, obtained recognition thresholds for regular and trick stimuli while measuring participants' frustration. Participants responded similarly to procedural difficulties for both trick and regular stimuli. An analysis of participants' responses shows that participants used systematic trial-and-error strategy to identify any ambiguous stimulus. These findings are inconsistent with an interpretation of resistance to incongruities. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Creativity and Discovery as Blind Variation: Campbell's (1960) BVSR Model After the Half-Century Mark

June 2011


361 Reads

This article assesses and extends Campbell's (1960) classic theory that creativity and discovery depend on blind variation and selective retention (BVSR), with special attention given to blind variations (BVs). The treatment begins by defining creativity and discovery, variant blindness versus sightedness, variant utility and selection, and ideational variants versus creative products. These definitions lead to BV identification criteria: (a) intended BV, which entails both systematic and stochastic combinatorial procedures; and (b) implied BV, which involves both variations with properties of blindness (variation superfluity and backtracking) and processes that should yield variant blindness (associative richness, defocused attention, behavioral tinkering, and heuristic search). These conceptual definitions and identification criteria then have implications for four persistent issues, namely, domain expertise, ideational randomness, analogical equivalence, and personal volition. Once BV is suitably conceptualized, Campbell's theory continues to provide a fruitful approach to the understanding of both creativity and discovery. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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Birth Cohort Differences in Self-Esteem, 1988-2008: A Cross-Temporal Meta-Analysis

September 2010


1,590 Reads

Three meta-analyses find increases over the generations in Rosenberg Self-Esteem scale (RSE) scores between 1988 and 2008 among American middle school ( d = 0.78, n = 10,119), high school ( d = 0.39, n = 16,669), and college students ( d = 0.30, n = 28,918). The changes are consistent with an increasing emphasis on self-worth in American culture and, for high school students, with small increases in academic competence over time. College students' scores change only when the RSE is administered with a 4-point Likert scale with no midpoint. By 2008, a score of 40 (perfect self-esteem) was the modal response of college students, chosen by 18% of participants; 51% scored 35 or over. Given these shifts in responses, the possibility of revising the RSE is discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Do Certain Readings of Freud Constitute "Pathological Science"? A Comment on Boag (2006)

December 2007


16 Reads

Boag (see record 2006-05484-005) holds that many psychologists misinterpret Freud's concept of repression as chiefly concerning motivated forgetting of trauma. He characterizes the persistence of this alleged error as an instance of "pathological science" whereby the field's self-correcting mechanisms fail to function properly. The purpose of this comment is to provide an alternative, nonpathological account situated within the context of the recovered memory debate. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Thinking Critically About Critical Thinking Approaches: Comment on Yancher, Slife, and Warne (2008)

September 2009


208 Reads

Yanchar, Slife, and Warne (see record 2008-11592-004) recently contrasted core assumptions of the method-centered, scientific analytic reasoning approach to critical thinking that is dominant in psychology with their own alternative approach emphasizing integration of information from multiple perspectives. They contended that emphasis on the scientific analytic approach is associated with justification and neglects other strategies such as more open-minded and respectful dialogue that could promote innovation and theory development. This commentary on their article examines these claims in light of research on critical-thinking dispositions and scientific discovery. Their claims received mixed support, prompting recommendations for additional research and using the research evidence to revise the psychological claims of their alternative approach. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Fearing the Future of Empirical Psychology: Bem's (2011) Evidence of Psi as a Case Study of Deficiencies in Modal Research Practice

December 2011


481 Reads

In this methodological commentary, we use Bem's (2011) recent article reporting experimental evidence for psi as a case study for discussing important deficiencies in modal research practice in empirical psychology. We focus on (a) overemphasis on conceptual rather than close replication, (b) insufficient attention to verifying the soundness of measurement and experimental procedures, and (c) flawed implementation of null hypothesis significance testing. We argue that these deficiencies contribute to weak method-relevant beliefs that, in conjunction with overly strong theory-relevant beliefs, lead to a systemic and pernicious bias in the interpretation of data that favors a researcher's theory. Ultimately, this interpretation bias increases the risk of drawing incorrect conclusions about human psychology. Our analysis points to concrete recommendations for improving research practice in empirical psychology. We recommend (a) a stronger emphasis on close replication, (b) routinely verifying the integrity of measurement instruments and experimental procedures, and (c) using stronger, more diagnostic forms of null hypothesis testing. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

On the impact of mood on behavior: An integrative theory and a review. Review of General Psychology, 4, 378-408

December 2000


3,815 Reads

Empirical evidence for effects of moods (both naturally occurring and experimentally manipulated) on behavior is reviewed in terms of an integrative theory: the mood-behavior model (MBM). It is posited that moods can influence behavior via 2 processes: (a) by informational effects on behavior-related judgments and appraisals, which in turn will result in behavioral adjustments (i.e., the informational mood impact on behavior), and (b) by influencing behavioral preferences and interests in compliance with a hedonic motive (i.e., the directive mood impact on behavior). The strength of the informational mood impact depends on moods' effective informational weight for behavior-related judgments and on mood-primed associations. The strength of the directive mood impact is predicted to be jointly determined by 2 variables: the strength of a hedonic motive and the instrumentality of possible acts for affect regulation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Methodological and Theoretical Orientation and the Long-Term Disciplinary Impact of 54 Eminent Psychologists

March 2000


108 Reads

The long-term influence of 54 highly eminent psychologists was hypothesized to be a function of their methodological and theoretical orientation. Individual differences in impact were gauged via the Social Sciences Citation Index for 1976-1980 and 1986-1990. Orientation was assessed along 6 dimensions: objectivistic versus subjectivistic, quantitative versus qualitative, elementaristic versus holistic, impersonal versus personal, static versus dynamic, and exogenist versus endogenist (R. W. Coan, 1979). Correlation and regression analyses revealed that long-term influence could be predicted by both method and theory measures. Especially significant was the curvilinear backward-J curve between total citations and a general factor defined by all 6 bipolar dimensions. The most influential psychologists tend to take extreme positions on the controversies that have characterized the history of psychology. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

An Empirically Supported Reconceptualization of African-U.S. Racial Identity Development as an Abnormal Process

December 2004


69 Reads

Transformational, developmental process theories of African-U.S. racial identity development are flawed because they conceptualize ontogenetic experience without embedding it in phylogenetic dictates. As a result, culminating psychological states are not depicting identity progression but actually mask a sophisticated regression to a "deracinated," psychologically misoriented orientation. Therefore, African-U.S. racial identity development is reconceptualized as an abnormal psychology feature of the behavior of otherwise normal persons. This thesis is supported empirically by survey research showing that low identity statuses and purported high identity states evince similar anti-African/Black correlation patterns. African-U.S. identity metamorphosis appears to be a process of identity diffusion, not identity progression. Recommendations for racial identity theory and research and counseling and clinical practice are provided. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Bias in Meta-Analytic Estimates of the Absolute Efficacy of Psychotherapy

December 2007


318 Reads

Meta-analytic estimates of the absolute efficacy of psychotherapy indicate an effect size of approximately 0.80. However, various biases in primary and meta-analytic studies may have influenced this estimate. This study examines 4 nonsystematic biases that increase error variance (i.e., nonrandomized designs, methodological deficiencies, failure to use the study as the unit of analysis, and violations of homogeneity), 4 underestimation biases that primarily concern psychometric issues (i.e., unreliability of outcome measures, failure to report nonsignificant effect sizes, nonoptimal composite outcome measures, and nonstandardized outcome measures), and 8 overestimation biases (i.e., excluding nonsignificant effects from calculations of effect size estimates, failure to adjust for small sample bias, failure to separate studies using single-group pre-post designs vs. control group designs, using unweighted average effect sizes, analyzing biased partial samples that reflect treatment dropout and research attrition, researcher allegiance bias, publication bias, and wait-list control group bias). Wherever possible, evidence regarding the magnitude of these biases is presented, and methods for addressing these biases separately and collectively are discussed. Implications of the meta-analytic evidence on psychotherapy for the effect sizes of other psychological interventions are also considered. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Absolute Judgments Are Relative: A Reinterpretation of Some Psychophysical Ideas

December 2004


218 Reads

A central theoretical assumption in classical psychophysics is that people judge the intensities of stimulus elements; for example, observers directly report the loudness of a tone or the intensity of a shock. A methodological assumption in classical psychophysics is that averaged data demonstrate this theoretical view. It is shown in this article that both assumptions are wrong and that the psychophysical laws of Weber, Fechner, and Stevens are not general. Rather, psychophysical judgments are made in relation to contexts and memories, measures of which provide new information about psychophysical judgments and new understandings of channel capacity, the local-global distinction, and the source of noise in signal detection theory. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Abstracting Grammar From Social-Cognitive Foundations: A Developmental Sketch of Learning

December 2011


192 Reads

Although the understanding of the development of infants' social cognition and cooperative reasoning has progressed significantly, to date, it has yet to be worked through in any detail how this knowledge interacts with and constrains emerging syntactic representations. This review is a step in that direction, aiming to offer a more integrated account of the learning mechanisms that support linguistic generalizations. First, I review the developmental literature that suggests social–cognitive foundations get linguistic constructions “off the ground.” Second, I focus on building layers of abstractions on top of this foundation and the kind of cognitive processes that are involved. Crucially important in this explanation will be the fact that humans possess a unique set of social–cognitive and social motivational-skills that allows language to happen. Furthermore, early linguistic categories are formed around the underlying functional core of concepts and on the basis of their communicative discourse function. This, combined with powerful pattern-detection skills, enables distributional regularities in the input to be paired with what the speakers intend to communicate. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Victimization and Substance Abuse among Women: Contributing Factors, Interventions, and Implications

December 2002


470 Reads

Although the literature indicates that there is an association of victimization with substance abuse, there has been limited research focused on understanding and synthesizing the factors that have been identified as contributing to victimization and substance abuse and on interventions designed to address these contributing factors. The purposes of this article are to (a) review the literature on factors related to victimization and substance abuse, (b) review interventions and outcomes, and (c) discuss clinical implications for interventions and research. Results suggest that there is a high rate of co-occurrence of victimization and substance abuse among women, that the factors contributing to victimization and substance abuse are complex, and that there is a lack of treatment models addressing victimization and substance abuse. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Protection, Dissociation, and Internal Roles: Modeling and Treating the Effects of Child Abuse

December 2003


715 Reads

This article presents a theory of the long-term effects of child abuse that emphasizes the development of internal working models of protection. The theory proposes that abused children do not receive adequate caregiver protection and do not form internal representations of an effective protector. As a result, they have ongoing difficulty defending themselves against interpersonal aggression and internal self-criticism. The model integrates current research and theory in attachment behavior, developmental psychopathology, trauma, dissociation, and experiential psychotherapy. It accounts for many of the clinical symptoms presented by adult survivors of child abuse and suggests specific strategies for treatment. The author provides 3 examples of psychotherapy interventions derived from the model, distinguishes protection and "rescuing", and suggests directions for future research. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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