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ISSN (Print) 0010-0277
Published by Elsevier Homepage  [3157 journals]
  • Is scaling up harder than scaling down' How children and adults
           visually scale distance from memory
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 185Author(s): Jodie M. Plumert, Alycia M. Hund, Kara M. Recker In three experiments (N = 288), we examined how the direction of the scale translation impacts how 4- to 5-year-old children and adults visually scale distance from memory. Participants first watched an experimenter place an object on a learning mat and then attempted to place a replica object on a test mat that was either identical (no scaling task) or different in scale (scaling task). In Experiment 1, both children and adults had difficulty scaling up from 16 to 128 in. (1:8 scaling ratio) but not scaling down from 128 to 16 in. (8:1 scaling ratio), suggesting that scaling up was harder than scaling down. In Experiment 2, we reduced the scaling ratio from 1:8 to 1:2 and found that children and adults had no difficulty scaling up from 16 to 32 in. or scaling down from 32 to 16 in.. In Experiment 3, we kept the scale ratio the same (1:2) but increased the size of the test mat and found that participants had difficulty with both scaling up from 32 to 64 in. and scaling down from 128 to 64 in.. We conclude that scaling up is not harder than scaling down. Rather, visually scaling distance is more difficult when participants cannot view both edges of the test mat simultaneously while making the scale translation. Across all experiments, 4- to 5-year-olds were less accurate than adults in their placements overall, but they exhibited the same patterns of performance on the scaling and no scaling tasks, suggesting that visual scaling processes are age-independent. The General Discussion focuses on how visual scaling emerges from a complex interplay of cognitive processes and visual constraints.
  • Word frequency effects in sound change as a consequence of perceptual
           asymmetries: An exemplar-based model
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 185Author(s): Simon Todd, Janet B. Pierrehumbert, Jennifer Hay Empirically-observed word frequency effects in regular sound change present a puzzle: how can high-frequency words change faster than low-frequency words in some cases, slower in other cases, and at the same rate in yet other cases' We argue that this puzzle can be answered by giving substantial weight to the role of the listener. We present an exemplar-based computational model of regular sound change in which the listener plays a large role, and we demonstrate that it generates sound changes with properties and word frequency effects seen in corpora. In particular, we consider the experimentally-supported assumption that high-frequency words may be more robustly recognized than low-frequency words in the face of acoustic ambiguity. We show that this assumption allows high-frequency words to change at the same rate as low-frequency words when a phoneme category moves without encroaching on the acoustic space of another, faster than low-frequency words when it moves toward another, and slower than low-frequency words when it moves away from another. We discuss how these predicted word frequency effects apply to different types of sound changes that have been observed in the literature. Importantly, these frequency effects follow from assumptions regarding processes in perception, not production. Frequency-based asymmetries in perception predict different frequency effects for different kinds of sound change.
  • Explanation recruits comparison in a category-learning task
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 185Author(s): Brian J. Edwards, Joseph J. Williams, Dedre Gentner, Tania Lombrozo Generating explanations can be highly effective in promoting category learning; however, the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. We propose that engaging in explanation can recruit comparison processes, and that this in turn contributes to the effectiveness of explanation in supporting category learning. Three experiments evaluated the interplay between explanation and various comparison strategies in learning artificial categories. In Experiment 1, as expected, prompting participants to explain items’ category membership led to (a) higher ratings of self-reported comparison processing and (b) increased likelihood of discovering a rule underlying category membership. Indeed, prompts to explain led to more self-reported comparison than did direct prompts to compare pairs of items. Experiment 2 showed that prompts to compare all members of a particular category (“group comparison”) were more effective in supporting rule learning than were pairwise comparison prompts. Experiment 3 found that group comparison (as assessed by self-report) partially mediated the relationship between explanation and category learning. These results suggest that one way in which explanation benefits category learning is by inviting comparisons in the service of identifying broad patterns.
  • Reference repulsion is not a perceptual illusion
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 184Author(s): Matthias Fritsche, Floris P. de Lange Perceptual decisions are often influenced by contextual factors. For instance, when engaged in a visual discrimination task against a reference boundary, subjective reports about the judged stimulus feature are biased away from the boundary – a phenomenon termed reference repulsion. Until recently, this phenomenon has been thought to reflect a perceptual illusion regarding the appearance of the stimulus, but new evidence suggests that it may rather reflect a post-perceptual decision bias. To shed light on this issue, we examined whether and how orientation judgments affect perceptual appearance. In a first experiment, we confirmed that after judging a grating stimulus against a discrimination boundary, the subsequent reproduction response was indeed repelled from the boundary. To investigate the perceptual nature of this bias, in a second experiment we measured the perceived orientation of the grating stimulus more directly, in comparison to a reference stimulus visible at the same time. Although we did observe a small repulsive bias away from the boundary, this bias was explained by random trial-by-trial fluctuations in sensory representations together with classical stimulus adaptation effects and did not reflect a systematic bias due to the discrimination judgment. Overall, the current study indicates that discrimination judgments do not elicit a perceptual illusion and points towards a post-perceptual locus of reference repulsion.
  • Distinct roles of eye movements during memory encoding and retrieval
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 184Author(s): Claudia Damiano, Dirk B. Walther A long line of research has shown that vision and memory are closely linked, such that particular eye movement behaviour aids memory performance. In two experiments, we ask whether the positive influence of eye movements on memory is primarily a result of overt visual exploration during the encoding or the recognition phase. Experiment 1 allowed participants to free-view images of scenes, followed by a new-old recognition memory task. Exploratory analyses found that eye movements during study were predictive of subsequent memory performance. Importantly, intrinsic image memorability does not explain this finding. Eye movements during test were only predictive of memory within the first 600 ms of the trial. To examine whether this relationship between eye movements and memory is causal, Experiment 2 manipulated participants’ ability to make eye movements during either study or test in a new-old recognition task. Participants were either encouraged to freely explore the scene in both the study and test phases, or had to refrain from making eye movements in either the test phase, the study phase, or both. We found that hit rate was significantly higher when participants moved their eyes during the study phase, regardless of what they did in the test phase. False alarm rate, on the other hand, was affected only by eye movements during the test phase: it decreased when participants were encouraged to explore the scene. Taken together, these results reveal a dissociation of the role of eye movements during the encoding and recognition of scenes. Eye movements during study are instrumental in forming memories, and eye movements during recognition support the judgment of memory veracity.
  • What we know about knowing: Presuppositions generated by factive verbs
           influence downstream neural processing
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 184Author(s): Einat Shetreet, Edward J. Alexander, Jacopo Romoli, Gennaro Chierchia, Gina Kuperberg Presuppositions convey information that comprehenders assume to be true, even when it is tangential to the communicator’s main message. For example, a class of verbs called ‘factives’ (e.g. realize, know) trigger the presupposition that the events or states conveyed by their sentential complements are true. In contrast, non-factive verbs (e.g. think, believe) do not trigger this presupposition. We asked whether, during language comprehension, presuppositions triggered by factive verbs are encoded within the comprehender’s discourse model, with neural consequences if violated by later bottom-up inputs. Using event-related potentials (ERPs), we examined neural activity to words that were either consistent or inconsistent with events/states conveyed by the complements of factive versus non-factive verbs while comprehenders read and actively monitored the coherence of short discourse scenarios. We focused on the modulation of a posteriorly-distributed late positivity or P600. This ERP component is produced when comprehenders constrain their discourse model such that it restricts predictions only to event structures that are compatible with this model, and new input violates these event structure predictions. Between 500 and 700 ms, we observed a larger amplitude late posterior positivity/P600 on words that were inconsistent (versus consistent) with the events/states conveyed by the complements of factive verbs. No such effect was observed following non-factive verbs. These findings suggest that, during active discourse comprehension, the presuppositions triggered by factive verbs are encoded and maintained within the comprehender’s discourse model. Downstream input that is inconsistent with these presuppositions violates event structure predictions and conflicts with this prior model, producing the late posterior positivity/P600.
  • Two’s company, three’s a crowd: Individuation is necessary for
           object recognition
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 184Author(s): Ramakrishna Chakravarthi, Amy Herbert Object recognition is essential for navigating the real world. Despite decades of research on this topic, the processing steps necessary for recognition remain unclear. In this study, we examined the necessity and role of individuation, the ability to select a small number of spatially distinct objects irrespective of their identity, in the recognition process. More specifically, we tested if the ability to rapidly individuate and enumerate a small number of objects (subitizing) can be impaired by crowding. Crowding is flanker-induced interference that specifically impedes the recognition process. We found that subitizing is impaired when objects are close to each other (Experiment 1), and if the target objects are surrounded by irrelevant but perceptually similar flankers (Experiments 2–4). This impairment cannot be attributed to confusion between targets and flankers, wherein flankers are inadvertently included in or targets are excluded from enumeration (Experiments 3–4). Importantly, the flanker induced interference was comparable in both subitizing and crowding tasks (Experiment 4), suggesting that individuation and identification share a common processing pathway. We conclude that individuation is an essential stage in the object recognition pipeline and argue for a cohesive proposal that both crowding and subitizing are due to limitations of selective attention.
  • The cognitive roots of regularization in language
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 184Author(s): Vanessa Ferdinand, Simon Kirby, Kenny Smith Regularization occurs when the output a learner produces is less variable than the linguistic data they observed. In an artificial language learning experiment, we show that there exist at least two independent sources of regularization bias in cognition: a domain-general source based on cognitive load and a domain-specific source triggered by linguistic stimuli. Both of these factors modulate how frequency information is encoded and produced, but only the production-side modulations result in regularization (i.e. cause learners to eliminate variation from the observed input). We formalize the definition of regularization as the reduction of entropy and find that entropy measures are better at identifying regularization behavior than frequency-based analyses. Using our experimental data and a model of cultural transmission, we generate predictions for the amount of regularity that would develop in each experimental condition if the artificial language were transmitted over several generations of learners. Here we find that the effect of cognitive constraints can become more complex when put into the context of cultural evolution: although learning biases certainly carry information about the course of language evolution, we should not expect a one-to-one correspondence between the micro-level processes that regularize linguistic datasets and the macro-level evolution of linguistic regularity.
  • Characterising monitoring processes in event-based prospective memory:
           Evidence from pupillometry
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 184Author(s): Joseph Moyes, Nadia Sari-Sarraf, Sam J. Gilbert In event-based prospective memory (PM) paradigms, participants are engaged in an ongoing task (e.g. lexical decision) while maintaining an intention to produce a special response if they encounter pre-defined targets (e.g. animal words). This leads to slowed response times even on nontarget trials, which might be caused by: (A) a periodic or intermittent process that occurs transiently to check whether the current stimulus is a target, and/or (B) a sustained monitoring process maintained throughout task performance rather than being time-locked to stimulus presentation. These processes are hard to distinguish, seeing as the key difference between them occurs in the gap between trials. Processes occurring in these gaps cannot be measured directly by behavioural methods. Here we measured pupil size as a continuous index of intention-related processing in an event-based prospective memory task. Participants performed a lexical decision task while remembering intentions based on either specific target words or categories (e.g. animal words). In two experiments, response times were slowed during PM conditions. Pupil size was significantly increased in the category but not the specific-word condition. This effect was sustained throughout task performance rather than occurring transiently when stimuli were presented. Therefore there was no evidence for a transient pupillometric response associated with nontarget checking, although there was a strong transient response when targets were presented in either PM condition. These results provide evidence for a sustained PM monitoring process that occurs even in the gaps between trials.
  • Identity-motivated reasoning: Biased judgments regarding political leaders
           and their actions
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 19 December 2018Source: CognitionAuthor(s): Sharon Arieli, Adi Amit, Sari Mentser We investigate how constituents interpret information about political leaders in the course of forming judgments about them. More specifically, we are interested in the intentionality attributed to the actions and decisions taken by political leaders – whether they are perceived as designed to benefit the politician’s own interests, or the interests of the public. In two field studies, we show that the political orientation of constituents plays a central role in driving constituents’ judgments about political leaders and their actions (in terms of beneficiary attributions), reflecting an identity-motivated reasoning process. Political leaders of the ingroup are perceived more favorably than political leaders of the outgroup, in terms of trust and a desire to see that leader represent the country in the international arena. More interestingly, constituents are likely to attribute the actions of ingroup leaders as intended to benefit the country (national interests), and the actions of outgroup leaders as intended to benefit the political leaders themselves (egoistic interests).
  • When humans behave like monkeys: Feedback delays and extensive practice
           increase the efficiency of speeded decisions
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 184Author(s): Nathan J. Evans, Guy E. Hawkins The study of non-human primates has been foundational in understanding the neural origins of human decision processes, yet the approach rests on the assumption that one can validly extrapolate from the animal to the human. In the context of decision making, this requires constancy across species in physiological and cognitive processes. The former cannot be experimentally validated and therefore remains assumed, and recent findings have called into question the latter: non-human primates become increasingly urgent as the time spent making a decision increases, but humans do not; from a normative perspective, monkeys are making closer-to-optimal decisions than humans. Rather than presuming species differences, here we test an alternative hypothesis: previously overlooked differences in methodological procedures from the two research traditions implicitly reinforced fundamentally different decision strategies across the two species. We show that when humans experience decision contexts matched to those experienced by non-human primates – extensive task practice, or time-based penalties – they display increasing levels of urgency as decision time grows longer, in precisely the same manner as non-human primates. Our findings indicate that previously observed differences in decision strategy between humans and non-human primates are eliminated when the decision environment is more closely matched across species, placing a constraint on the interpretation and mapping of neurophysiological results in non-human primates to humans when there are fundamental differences in the task design.
  • Gaze allocation in face-to-face communication is affected primarily by
           task structure and social context, not stimulus-driven factors
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 184Author(s): Roy S. Hessels, Gijs A. Holleman, Alan Kingstone, Ignace T.C. Hooge, Chantal Kemner Gaze allocation to human faces has recently been shown to be greatly dependent on the social context. However, what has not been considered explicitly here, is how gaze allocation may be supportive of the specific task that individuals carry out. In the present study, we combined these two insights. We investigated (1) how gaze allocation to facial features in face-to-face communication is dependent on the task-structure and (2) how gaze allocation to facial features is dependent on the gaze behavior of an interacting partner. To this end, participants and a confederate were asked to converse, while their eye movements were monitored using a state-of-the-art dual eye-tracking system. This system is unique in that participants can look each other directly in the eyes. We report that gaze allocation depends on the sub-task being carried out (speaking vs. listening). Moreover, we show that a confederate’s gaze shift away from the participants affects their gaze allocation more than a gaze shift towards them. In a second experiment, we show that this gaze-guidance effect is not primarily stimulus-driven. We assert that gaze guidance elicited by the confederate looking away is related to the participants’ sub-task of monitoring the confederate for when they can begin speaking. This study exemplifies the importance of both task structure and social context for gaze allocation during face-to-face communication.
  • One of us' how facial and symbolic cues to own- versus other-race
           membership influence access to perceptual awareness
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 184Author(s): Jie Yuan, Xiaoqing Hu, Jian Chen, Galen V. Bodenhausen, Shimin Fu Information that conveys racial group membership plays a powerful role in influencing people’s information processing including perceptual, memory and evaluative judgments. Yet whether own- and other-race information can differentially impact people’s perceptual awareness at a preconscious level remains unclear. Employing a breaking continuous flash suppression (b-CFS) paradigm, we investigated whether compared with other-race stimuli, participants’ own-race stimuli would be prioritized to gain privileged access to perceptual awareness. Across five experiments (N = 136), we firstly found that participants’ own-race faces enjoyed privileged access to perceptual awareness (Experiment 1). In Experiments 2–5, we employed an associative training task to establish associations between otherwise arbitrary visual stimuli and own- vs. other-racial groups. Although otherwise arbitrary visual stimuli were prioritized to represent one’s own race (vs. other-race) during the training, own- and other-race representing stimuli did not differ in their potency in entering perceptual awareness. This dissociation was further corroborated by Bayesian analyses and an internal meta-analysis. Taken together, our findings suggest that people’s perceptual expertise with their own-race members’ faces plays a determining role in shaping perceptual awareness. In contrast, newly learned race-representing stimuli did not influence early perceptual selection processes as indicated by the time they take to emerge into perceptual awareness.
  • A mechanistic account of bodily resonance and implicit bias
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 184Author(s): Rachel L. Bedder, Daniel Bush, Domna Banakou, Tabitha Peck, Mel Slater, Neil Burgess Implicit social biases play a critical role in shaping our attitudes towards other people. Such biases are thought to arise, in part, from a comparison between features of one’s own self-image and those of another agent, a process known as ‘bodily resonance’. Recent data have demonstrated that implicit bias can be remarkably plastic, being modulated by brief immersive virtual reality experiences that place participants in a virtual body with features of an out-group member. Here, we provide a mechanistic account of bodily resonance and implicit bias in terms of a putative self-image network that encodes associations between different features of an agent. When subsequently perceiving another agent, the output of this self-image network is proportional to the overlap between their respective features, providing an index of bodily resonance. By combining the self-image network with a drift diffusion model of decision making, we simulate performance on the implicit association test (IAT) and show that the model captures the ubiquitous implicit bias towards in-group members. We subsequently demonstrate that this implicit bias can be modulated by a simulated illusory body ownership experience, consistent with empirical data; and that the magnitude and plasticity of implicit bias correlates with self-esteem. Hence, we provide a simple mechanistic account of bodily resonance and implicit bias which could contribute to the development of interventions for reducing the negative evaluation of social out-groups.
  • Compounding matters: Event-related potential evidence for early semantic
           access to compound words
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 184Author(s): Charles P. Davis, Gary Libben, Sidney J. Segalowitz Reading words in a native language triggers a largely obligatory cognitive process that we accept as leading to comprehension of the word – we cannot suppress our understanding of word meaning. In this study, we investigated the early stages of this comprehension process by means of event-related potentials (ERPs) to identify when this processing of meaning – that is, semantic processing – first occurs. We report that, when processing visually presented compound words, semantic access at some level occurs as early as the P100 and persists through to the N400. Specifically, we focused on the P100 ERP component, and utilized the unique features of compound words (i.e. variation in the transparency of meaning) to investigate the speed with which we gain access to information about meaning (i.e. semantic access). Twenty-two participants performed a lexical decision task including 40 English compounds, which varied with respect to their constituent semantic transparency. Compounds ranged from full constituent semantic transparency (e.g. grapeseed) to partial transparency (e.g. grapefruit) to full opacity (e.g. hogwash). Regression analyses predicted ERP components from compound constituent transparency, adjusting for word frequency. Word frequency and transparency of both the first and second constituents each uniquely predicted P100 amplitude. Transparency of the second constituent, but not word frequency, predicted later component amplitudes, including that of the N400. The findings suggest that some level of semantic access occurs as early as the P100. Overall, these results support models which emphasize simultaneous processing of form and meaning as opposed to serial or hierarchical approaches.
  • Cognitive mechanisms in violent extremism
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 10 December 2018Source: CognitionAuthor(s): Arie W. Kruglanski, Jessica R. Fernandez, Adam R. Factor, Ewa Szumowska This paper considers the cognitive underpinnings of violent extremism. We conceptualize extremism as stemming from a motivational imbalance in which a given need “crowds out” other needs and liberates behavior from their constraints. In the case of violent extremism, the dominant need in question is the quest for personal significance and the liberated behavior is aggression employed as means to the attainment of significance. The cognitive mechanisms that enable this process are ones of learning and inference, knowledge activation, selective attention, and inhibition. These are discussed via examples from relevant research.
  • Skilled readers’ sensitivity to meaningful regularities in English
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 1 December 2018Source: CognitionAuthor(s): Anastasia Ulicheva, Hannah Harvey, Mark Aronoff, Kathleen Rastle Substantial research has been undertaken to understand the relationship between spelling and sound, but we know little about the relationship between spelling and meaning in alphabetic writing systems. We present a computational analysis of English writing in which we develop new constructs to describe this relationship. Diagnosticity captures the amount of meaningful information in a given spelling, whereas specificity estimates the degree of dispersion of this meaning across different spellings for a particular sound sequence. Using these two constructs, we demonstrate that particular suffix spellings tend to be reserved for particular meaningful functions. We then show across three paradigms (nonword classification, spelling, and eye tracking during sentence reading) that this form of regularity between spelling and meaning influences the behaviour of skilled readers, and that the degree of this behavioural sensitivity mirrors the strength of spelling-to-meaning regularities in the writing system. We close by arguing that English spelling may have become fractionated such that the high degree of spelling-sound inconsistency maximises the transmission of meaningful information.
  • Political cognition helps explain social class divides: Two dimensions of
           candidate impressions, group stereotypes, and meritocracy beliefs
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 27 November 2018Source: CognitionAuthor(s): Susan T. Fiske Political cognitions—particularly impressions and stereotypes along two fundamental dimensions of social evaluations—play some role in explaining social class divides and accompanying resentments. First, the Big Two dimensions (warmth/communion and competence/agency) describe candidate perception, person perception, and group stereotypes. In particular, the stereotype content model and related perspectives show social-class stereotypes depicting elites as competent but cold and lower-income groups as incompetent but warm. This trade-off justifies the system as meritocractic, because elites’ stereotypic competence supports their status based on deservingness. Nevertheless, varied evidence (from social psychology, political science, and sociology) indicates common beliefs that support cross-class resentments: In particular, many citizens express political resentment both downward (toward cheats) and upward (toward elites). In this context, backlash against the system results. Anticipated by systematic theories, these political cognitions (impressions, stereotypes, beliefs) help explain the populist and nativist resentments in current political discourse; all support polarized, dysfunctional politics.
  • Forecasting tournaments, epistemic humility and attitude depolarization
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 30 October 2018Source: CognitionAuthor(s): Barbara Mellers, Philip Tetlock, Hal R. Arkes People often express political opinions in starkly dichotomous terms, such as “Trump will either trigger a ruinous trade war or save U.S. factory workers from disaster.” This mode of communication promotes polarization into ideological in-groups and out-groups. We explore the power of an emerging methodology, forecasting tournaments, to encourage clashing factions to do something odd: to translate their beliefs into nuanced probability judgments and track accuracy over time and questions. In theory, tournaments advance the goals of “deliberative democracy” by incentivizing people to be flexible belief updaters whose views converge in response to facts, thus depolarizing unnecessarily polarized debates. We examine the hypothesis that, in the process of thinking critically about their beliefs, tournament participants become more moderate in their own political attitudes and those they attribute to the other side. We view tournaments as belonging to a broader class of psychological inductions that increase epistemic humility and that include asking people to explore alternative perspectives, probing the depth of their cause-effect understanding and holding them accountable to audiences with difficult-to-guess views.
  • Actively open-minded thinking in politics
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 23 October 2018Source: CognitionAuthor(s): Jonathan Baron The concept of actively open-minded thinking (AOT) provides standards for evaluation of thinking, which apply both to our own thinking and to the thinking of others. AOT is important for good citizenship for three reasons: it provides a prescription for individual thinking about political decisions; it serves as a social norm (when others agree); and, perhaps most importantly, it provides a standard for knowing which sources to trust, including politicians and pundits. I provide a current account of AOT as a general prescriptive theory that defines a standard or norm for all thinking, with emphasis on its role in the judgment of the thinking of others, and in maintaining appropriate confidence. I also contrast AOT with other standards. AOT does not assume that more thinking is always better, and it implies that low confidence in the results of thinking is often warranted and beneficial. I discuss the measurement of AOT and its relation to politics. Finally, I report two preliminary studies of AOT in judgments of others thoughts, and the role of confidence.
  • Re-thinking Cognition’s Open Data Policy: Responding to Hardwicke and
           colleagues’ evaluation of its impact
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 23 October 2018Source: CognitionAuthor(s): Manos Tsakiris, Randi Martin, Johan Wagemans
  • Epistemic spillovers: Learning others’ political views reduces the
           ability to assess and use their expertise in nonpolitical domains
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 19 October 2018Source: CognitionAuthor(s): Joseph Marks, Eloise Copland, Eleanor Loh, Cass R. Sunstein, Tali Sharot On political questions, many people prefer to consult and learn from those whose political views are similar to their own, thus creating a risk of echo chambers or information cocoons. We test whether the tendency to prefer knowledge from the politically like-minded generalizes to domains that have nothing to do with politics, even when evidence indicates that politically like-minded people are less skilled in those domains than people with dissimilar political views. Participants had multiple opportunities to learn about others’ (1) political opinions and (2) ability to categorize geometric shapes. They then decided to whom to turn for advice when solving an incentivized shape categorization task. We find that participants falsely concluded that politically like-minded others were better at categorizing shapes and thus chose to hear from them. Participants were also more influenced by politically like-minded others, even when they had good reason not to be. These results replicate in two independent samples. The findings demonstrate that knowing about others’ political views interferes with the ability to learn about their competency in unrelated tasks, leading to suboptimal information-seeking decisions and errors in judgement. Our findings have implications for political polarization and social learning in the midst of political divisions.
  • Lazy, not biased: Susceptibility to partisan fake news is better explained
           by lack of reasoning than by motivated reasoning
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 20 June 2018Source: CognitionAuthor(s): Gordon Pennycook, David G. Rand Why do people believe blatantly inaccurate news headlines (“fake news”)' Do we use our reasoning abilities to convince ourselves that statements that align with our ideology are true, or does reasoning allow us to effectively differentiate fake from real regardless of political ideology' Here we test these competing accounts in two studies (total N = 3446 Mechanical Turk workers) by using the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) as a measure of the propensity to engage in analytical reasoning. We find that CRT performance is negatively correlated with the perceived accuracy of fake news, and positively correlated with the ability to discern fake news from real news – even for headlines that align with individuals’ political ideology. Moreover, overall discernment was actually better for ideologically aligned headlines than for misaligned headlines. Finally, a headline-level analysis finds that CRT is negatively correlated with perceived accuracy of relatively implausible (primarily fake) headlines, and positively correlated with perceived accuracy of relatively plausible (primarily real) headlines. In contrast, the correlation between CRT and perceived accuracy is unrelated to how closely the headline aligns with the participant’s ideology. Thus, we conclude that analytic thinking is used to assess the plausibility of headlines, regardless of whether the stories are consistent or inconsistent with one’s political ideology. Our findings therefore suggest that susceptibility to fake news is driven more by lazy thinking than it is by partisan bias per se – a finding that opens potential avenues for fighting fake news.
  • I know why you voted for Trump: (Over)inferring motives based on choice
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 10 May 2018Source: CognitionAuthor(s): Kate Barasz, Tami Kim, Ioannis Evangelidis People often speculate about why others make the choices they do. This paper investigates how such inferences are formed as a function of what is chosen. Specifically, when observers encounter someone else’s choice (e.g., of political candidate), they use the chosen option’s attribute values (e.g., a candidate’s specific stance on a policy issue) to infer the importance of that attribute (e.g., the policy issue) to the decision-maker. Consequently, when a chosen option has an attribute whose value is extreme (e.g., an extreme policy stance), observers infer—sometimes incorrectly—that this attribute disproportionately motivated the decision-maker’s choice. Seven studies demonstrate how observers use an attribute’s value to infer its weight—the value-weight heuristic—and identify the role of perceived diagnosticity: more extreme attribute values give observers the subjective sense that they know more about a decision-maker’s preferences, and in turn, increase the attribute’s perceived importance. The paper explores how this heuristic can produce erroneous inferences and influence broader beliefs about decision-makers.
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