Coefficient alpha is the most popular measure of reliability (and certainly of internal consistency reliability) reported in psychological research. This is noteworthy given the numerous deficiencies of coefficient alpha documented in the psychometric literature. This mismatch between theory and practice appears to arise partly because users of psychological scales are unfamiliar with the psychometric literature on coefficient alpha and partly because alternatives to alpha are not widely known. We present a brief review of the psychometric literature on coefficient alpha, followed by a practical alternative in the form of coefficient omega. To facilitate the shift from alpha to omega, we also present a brief guide to the calculation of point and interval estimates of omega using a free, open source software environment.
The relationship of locomotor behavior in animals to physical objects, such as obstacles, is discussed, along with ideas related to object perception and visual kinesthesis. Meanwhile, apparent space perception is attributed to the animal's visual orientation both to light and to the surfaces of its environment. Consequences of these findings for maze-learning are emphasized.
About a decade ago, psychology of the arts started to gain momentum owing to a number of drives: technological progress improved the conditions under which art could be studied in the laboratory, neuroscience discovered the arts as an area of interest, and new theories offered a more comprehensive look at aesthetic experiences. Ten years ago, Leder, Belke, Oeberst, and Augustin (2004) proposed a descriptive information‐processing model of the components that integrate an aesthetic episode. This theory offered explanations for modern art's large number of individualized styles, innovativeness, and for the diverse aesthetic experiences it can stimulate. In addition, it described how information is processed over the time course of an aesthetic episode, within and over perceptual, cognitive and emotional components. Here, we review the current state of the model, and its relation to the major topics in empirical aesthetics today, including the nature of aesthetic emotions, the role of context, and the neural and evolutionary foundations of art and aesthetics.
The construct of trait emotional intelligence (trait EI or trait emotional self-efficacy) provides a comprehensive operationalization of emotion-related self-perceptions and dispositions. In the first part of the present study (N=274, 92 males), we performed two joint factor analyses to determine the location of trait EI in Eysenckian and Big Five factor space. The results showed that trait EI is a compound personality construct located at the lower levels of the two taxonomies. In the second part of the study, we performed six two-step hierarchical regressions to investigate the incremental validity of trait EI in predicting, over and above the Giant Three and Big Five personality dimensions, six distinct criteria (life satisfaction, rumination, two adaptive and two maladaptive coping styles). Trait EI incrementally predicted four criteria over the Giant Three and five criteria over the Big Five. The discussion addresses common questions about the operationalization of emotional intelligence as a personality trait.
The construct of trait emotional intelligence (trait El or trait emotional self-efficacy) provides a comprehensive operationalization of emotion-related self-perceptions and dispositions. In the first part of the present study (N = 274, 92 males), we performed two joint factor analyses to determine the location of trait El in Eysenckian and Big Five factor space. The results showed that trait El is a compound personality construct located at the lower levels of the two taxonomies. In the second part of the study, we performed six two-step hierarchical regressions to investigate the incremental validity of trait El in predicting, over and above the Giant Three and Big Five personality dimensions, six distinct criteria (life satisfaction, rumination, two adaptive and two maladaptive coping styles). Trait El incrementally predicted four criteria over the Giant Three and five criteria over the Big Five. The discussion addresses common questions about the operationalization of emotional intelligence as a personality trait.
Human infants as young as 14 to 18 months of age help others attain their goals, for example, by helping them to fetch out-of-reach objects or opening cabinets for them. They do this irrespective of any reward from adults (indeed external rewards undermine the tendency), and very likely with no concern for such things as reciprocation and reputation, which serve to maintain altruism in older children and adults. Humans' nearest primate relatives, chimpanzees, also help others instrumentally without concrete rewards. These results suggest that human infants are naturally altruistic, and as ontogeny proceeds and they must deal more independently with a wider range of social contexts, socialization and feedback from social interactions with others become important mediators of these initial altruistic tendencies.
Studies of amniotic testosterone in humans suggest that fetal testosterone (fT) is related to specific (but not all) sexually dimorphic aspects of cognition and behaviour. It has also been suggested that autism may be an extreme manifestation of some male-typical traits, both in terms of cognition and neuroanatomy. In this paper, we examine the possibility of a link between autistic traits and fT levels measured in amniotic fluid during routine amniocentesis. Two instruments measuring number of autistic traits (the Childhood Autism Spectrum Test (CAST) and the Child Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ-Child)) were completed by these women about their children (N = 235), ages 6-10 years. Intelligence Quotient (IQ) was measured in a subset of these children (N = 74). fT levels were positively associated with higher scores on the CAST and AQ-Child. This relationship was seen within sex as well as when the sexes were combined, suggesting this is an effect of fT rather than of sex per se. No relationships were found between overall IQ and the predictor variables, or between IQ and CAST or AQ-Child. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that prenatal androgen exposure is related to children exhibiting more autistic traits. These results need to be followed up in a much larger sample to test if clinical cases of ASC have elevated fT.
Psychological studies of relationships tend to focus on specific types of close personal relationships (romantic, parentoffspring, friendship) and examine characteristics of both the individuals and the dyad. This paper looks more broadly at the wider range of relationships that constitute an individual's personal social world. Recent work on the composition of personal social networks suggests that they consist of a series of layers that differ in the quality and quantity of relationships involved. Each layer increases relationship numbers by an approximate multiple of 3 (515-50150) but decreasing levels of intimacy (strong, medium, and weak ties) and frequency of interaction. To account for these regularities, we draw on both social and evolutionary psychology to argue that relationships at different layers serve different functions and have different cost-benefit profiles. At each layer, the benefits are asymptotic but the costs of maintaining a relationship at that level (most obviously, the time that has to be invested in servicing it) are roughly linear with the number of relationships. The trade-off between costs and benefits at a given level, and across the different types of demands and resources typical of different levels, gives rise to a distribution of social effort that generates and maintains a hierarchy of layered sets of relationships within social networks. We suggest that, psychologically, these trade-offs are related to the level of trust in a relationship, and that this is itself a function of the time invested in the relationship.
The current studies explored the social consequences of exposure to conspiracy theories. In Study 1, participants were exposed to a range of conspiracy theories concerning government involvement in significant events such as the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Results revealed that exposure to information supporting conspiracy theories reduced participants' intentions to engage in politics, relative to participants who were given information refuting conspiracy theories. This effect was mediated by feelings of political powerlessness. In Study 2, participants were exposed to conspiracy theories concerning the issue of climate change. Results revealed that exposure to information supporting the conspiracy theories reduced participants' intentions to reduce their carbon footprint, relative to participants who were given refuting information, or those in a control condition. This effect was mediated by powerlessness with respect to climate change, uncertainty, and disillusionment. Exposure to climate change conspiracy theories also influenced political intentions, an effect mediated by political powerlessness. The current findings suggest that conspiracy theories may have potentially significant social consequences, and highlight the need for further research on the social psychology of conspiracism.
Voices carry large amounts of socially relevant information on persons, much like 'auditory faces'. Following Bruce and Young (1986)'s seminal model of face perception, we propose that the cerebral processing of vocal information is organized in interacting but functionally dissociable pathways for processing the three main types of vocal information: speech, identity, and affect. The predictions of the 'auditory face' model of voice perception are reviewed in the light of recent clinical, psychological, and neuroimaging evidence.
Studies investigating developmental synaesthesia have sought to describe a number of qualities that might capture in behavioural terms the defining characteristics of this unusual phenomenon. The task of generating a definition is made more difficult by the fact that any description of synaesthesia must be broad enough to capture the 61 different variants of the condition already reported to date. Given these difficulties, the current literature now contains a number of conflicting assumptions about the nature of this condition. Here, I attempt to address several of these divisive areas from a set of contemporary definitions. I present evidence that might argue against previous claims that synaesthesia is (a) a merging of the senses, which (b) gives rise to consistent synaesthetic associations over time, with (c) synaesthetic associations that are spatially extended. I then investigate the possible benefits of moving from a behavioural definition to a neurobiological one and explore the ways in which this might force a rethink about the potential outermost boundaries of this fascinating condition.
Although aesthetic experiences are frequent in modern life, there is as of yet no scientifically comprehensive theory that explains what psychologically constitutes such experiences. These experiences are particularly interesting because of their hedonic properties and the possibility to provide self-rewarding cognitive operations. We shall explain why modern art's large number of individualized styles, innovativeness and conceptuality offer positive aesthetic experiences. Moreover, the challenge of art is mainly driven by a need for understanding. Cognitive challenges of both abstract art and other conceptual, complex and multidimensional stimuli require an extension of previous approaches to empirical aesthetics. We present an information-processing stage model of aesthetic processing. According to the model, aesthetic experiences involve five stages: perception, explicit classification, implicit classification, cognitive mastering and evaluation. The model differentiates between aesthetic emotion and aesthetic judgments as two types of output.
Recent research has revealed a striking tendency in young children to imitate even causally irrelevant actions, a phenomenon dubbed 'over-imitation'. To investigate whether children develop beyond this, we allowed both adults and children to witness either a child or adult model performing goal-relevant and goal-irrelevant actions to extract a reward from a transparent puzzle box. Surprisingly, copying of irrelevant actions increased with age, with the adults performing the task with less efficiency than the children. Participants of all ages were more likely to perform the irrelevant actions performed by an adult model, than by a child model. These results suggest that people may become more imitative as they mature, whilst selectively copying particular models with a high level of fidelity. We suggest that this combination of faithful copying and selectivity underwrites the powerful social learning necessary for the level of cultural transmission on which our species depends.
Despite evidence of widespread belief in conspiracy theories, there remains a dearth of research on the individual difference correlates of conspiracist ideation. In two studies, we sought to overcome this limitation by examining correlations between conspiracist ideation and a range of individual psychological factors. In Study 1, 817 Britons indicated their agreement with conspiracist ideation concerning the July 7, 2005 (7/7), London bombings, and completed a battery of individual difference scales. Results showed that stronger belief in 7/7 conspiracy theories was predicted by stronger belief in other real-world conspiracy theories, greater exposure to conspiracist ideation, higher political cynicism, greater support for democratic principles, more negative attitudes to authority, lower self-esteem, and lower Agreeableness. In Study 2, 281 Austrians indicated their agreement with an entirely fictitious conspiracy theory and completed a battery of individual difference measures not examined in Study I. Results showed that belief in the entirely fictitious conspiracy theory was significantly associated with stronger belief in other real-world conspiracy theories, stronger paranormal beliefs, and lower crystallized intelligence. These results are discussed in terms of the potential of identifying individual difference constellations among conspiracy theorists.
Several previous studies have suggested that basic decoding skills may develop less effectively in English than in some other European orthographies. The origins of this effect in the early (foundation) phase of reading acquisition are investigated through assessments of letter knowledge, familiar word reading, and simple nonword reading in English and 12 other orthographies. The results confirm that children from a majority of European countries become accurate and fluent in foundation level reading before the end of the first school year. There are some exceptions, notably in French, Portuguese, Danish, and, particularly, in English. The effects appear not to be attributable to differences in age of starting or letter knowledge. It is argued that fundamental linguistic differences in syllabic complexity and orthographic depth are responsible. Syllabic complexity selectively affects decoding, whereas orthographic depth affects both word reading and nonword reading. The rate of development in English is more than twice as slow as in the shallow orthographies. It is hypothesized that the deeper orthographies induce the implementation of a dual (logographic + alphabetic) foundation which takes more than twice as long to establish as the single foundation required for the learning of a shallow orthography.
The Bruce and Young (1986) framework makes a number of important distinctions between the types of representation needed to recognize a familiar face. Here, we return to these, focussing particularly on face recognition units. We argue that such representations need to incorporate idiosyncratic within-person variability, asking questions such as 'What counts as a picture of Harrison Ford?'. We describe a mechanism for achieving this, and discuss the relation between image variability and episodic face memories, in the context of behavioural and neurophysiological data.
As virtual reality (VR) technology and systems become more commercially available and accessible, more and more psychologists are starting to integrate VR as part of their methods. This approach offers major advantages in experimental control, reproducibility, and ecological validity, but also has limitations and hidden pitfalls which may distract the novice user. This study aimed to guide the psychologist into the novel world of VR , reviewing available instrumentation and mapping the landscape of possible systems. We use examples of state‐of‐the‐art research to describe challenges which research is now solving, including embodiment, uncanny valley, simulation sickness, presence, ethics, and experimental design. Finally, we propose that the biggest challenge for the field would be to build a fully interactive virtual human who can pass a VR Turing test – and that this could only be achieved if psychologists, VR technologists, and AI researchers work together.
It is regarded as best practice for psychologists to report effect size when disseminating quantitative research findings. Reporting of effect size in the psychological literature is patchy - though this may be changing - and when reported it is far from clear that appropriate effect size statistics are employed. This paper considers the practice of reporting point estimates of standardized effect size and explores factors such as reliability, range restriction and differences in design that distort standardized effect size unless suitable corrections are employed. For most purposes simple (unstandardized) effect size is more robust and versatile than standardized effect size. Guidelines for deciding what effect size metric to use and how to report it are outlined. Foremost among these are: (i) a preference for simple effect size over standardized effect size, and (ii) the use of confidence intervals to indicate a plausible range of values the effect might take. Deciding on the appropriate effect size statistic to report always requires careful thought and should be influenced by the goals of the researcher, the context of the research and the potential needs of readers.
Although links between music training and cognitive abilities are relatively well-established, unresolved issues include the generality of the association, the direction of causation, and whether the association is mediated by executive function. Musically trained and untrained 9- to 12-year olds were compared on a measure of IQ and five measures of executive function. IQ and executive function were correlated. The musically trained group had higher IQs than their untrained counterparts and the advantage extended across the IQ subtests. The association between music training and executive function was negligible. These results provide no support for the hypothesis that the association between music training and IQ is mediated by executive function. When considered jointly with the available literature, the findings suggest that children with higher IQs are more likely than their lower-IQ counterparts to take music lessons, and to perform well on a variety of tests of cognitive ability except for those measuring executive function.
First impressions made to photographs of faces can depend as much on momentary characteristics of the photographed image (within‐person variability) as on consistent properties of the face of the person depicted (between‐person variability). Here, we examine two important sources of within‐person variability: emotional expression and viewpoint. We find more within‐person variability than between‐person variability for social impressions of key traits of trustworthiness, dominance, and attractiveness, which index the main dimensions in theoretical models of facial impressions. The most important source of this variability is the emotional expression of the face, but the viewpoint of the photograph also affects impressions and modulates the effects of expression. For example, faces look most trustworthy with a happy expression when they are facing the perceiver, compared to when they are facing elsewhere, whereas the opposite is true for anger and disgust. Our findings highlight the integration of these different sources of variability in social impression formation.