Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications

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EISSN : 2365-7464
Total articles ≅ 293
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Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, Volume 6, pp 1-33; doi:10.1186/s41235-021-00311-3

In recent decades, there has been an explosion of research into the crossmodal influence of olfactory cues on multisensory person perception. Numerous peer-reviewed studies have documented that a variety of olfactory stimuli, from ambient malodours through to fine fragrances, and even a range of chemosensory body odours can influence everything from a perceiver’s judgments of another person’s attractiveness, age, affect, health/disease status, and even elements of their personality. The crossmodal and multisensory contributions to such effects are reviewed and the limitations/peculiarities of the research that have been published to date are highlighted. At the same time, however, it is important to note that the presence of scent (and/or the absence of malodour) can also influence people’s (i.e., a perceiver’s) self-confidence which may, in turn, affect how attractive they appear to others. Several potential cognitive mechanisms have been put forward to try and explain such crossmodal/multisensory influences, and some of the neural substrates underpinning these effects have now been characterized. At the end of this narrative review, a number of the potential (and actual) applications for, and implications of, such crossmodal/multisensory phenomena involving olfaction are outlined briefly.
, Christina J. Howard, Iain D. Gilchrist,
Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, Volume 6, pp 1-9; doi:10.1186/s41235-021-00312-2

Visual search in dynamic environments, for example lifeguarding or CCTV monitoring, has several fundamentally different properties to standard visual search tasks. The visual environment is constantly moving, a range of items could become targets and the task is to search for a certain event. We developed a novel task in which participants were required to search static and moving displays for an orientation change thus capturing components of visual search, multiple object tracking and change detection paradigms. In Experiment 1, we found that the addition of moving distractors slowed participants’ response time to detect an orientation changes in a moving target, showing that the motion of distractors disrupts the rapid detection of orientation changes in a moving target. In Experiment 2 we found that, in displays of both moving and static objects, response time was slower if a moving object underwent a change than if a static object did, thus demonstrating that motion of the target itself also disrupts the detection of an orientation change. Our results could have implications for training in real-world occupations where the task is to search a dynamic environment for a critical event. Moreover, we add to the literature highlighting the need to develop lab-based tasks with high experimental control from any real-world tasks researchers may wish to investigate rather than extrapolating from static visual search tasks to more dynamic environments.
Laura E. Matzen, Mallory C. Stites, Zoe. N. Gastelum
Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, Volume 6, pp 1-22; doi:10.1186/s41235-021-00304-2

Eye tracking is a useful tool for studying human cognition, both in the laboratory and in real-world applications. However, there are cases in which eye tracking is not possible, such as in high-security environments where recording devices cannot be introduced. After facing this challenge in our own work, we sought to test the effectiveness of using artificial foveation as an alternative to eye tracking for studying visual search performance. Two groups of participants completed the same list comparison task, which was a computer-based task designed to mimic an inventory verification process that is commonly performed by international nuclear safeguards inspectors. We manipulated the way in which the items on the inventory list were ordered and color coded. For the eye tracking group, an eye tracker was used to assess the order in which participants viewed the items and the number of fixations per trial in each list condition. For the artificial foveation group, the items were covered with a blurry mask except when participants moused over them. We tracked the order in which participants viewed the items by moving their mouse and the number of items viewed per trial in each list condition. We observed the same overall pattern of performance for the various list display conditions, regardless of the method. However, participants were much slower to complete the task when using artificial foveation and had more variability in their accuracy. Our results indicate that the artificial foveation method can reveal the same pattern of differences across conditions as eye tracking, but it can also impact participants’ task performance.
, Sara D. Davis, Jason C. K. Chan
Published: 10 June 2021
by 10.1186
Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, Volume 6, pp 1-22; doi:10.1186/s41235-021-00309-x

Test anxiety is a major concern in education because it causes uncomfortable feelings in test-anxious students and may reduce the validity of exam scores as a measure of learning. As such, brief and cost-effective interventions are necessary to minimize the negative impact of test anxiety on students’ academic performance. In the present experiment, we examine two such interventions: expressive writing (Experiment 1) and an instructional intervention (Experiment 2), with the latter developed from a similar intervention for stereotype threat. Across four authentic exams in a psychology class, students alternated between completing the intervention and a control task immediately before completing the exams. Neither intervention was effective at reducing test anxiety or improving exam performance. The present results suggest that these interventions may not be successful in addressing the impacts of test anxiety in all classroom settings.
Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, Volume 6, pp 1-1; doi:10.1186/s41235-021-00308-y

, Katherine R. Wood, Breanne E. Wylie
Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, Volume 6, pp 1-18; doi:10.1186/s41235-021-00305-1

One of the many sources of information easily available to children is the internet and the millions of websites providing accurate, and sometimes inaccurate, information. In the current investigation, we examined children’s ability to use credibility information about websites when learning about environmental sustainability. In two studies, children studied two different websites and were tested on what they had learned a week later using a multiple-choice test containing both website items and new distracters. Children were given either no information about the websites or were told that one of the websites (the noncredible website) contained errors and they should not use any information from that website to answer the test. In both studies, children aged 7- to 9-years reported information from the noncredible website even when instructed not to, whereas the 10- to 12-year-olds used the credibility warning to ‘edit out’ information that they had learned from the noncredible website. In Study 2, there was an indication that the older children spontaneously assessed the credibility of the website if credibility markers were made explicit. A plausible explanation is that, although children remembered information from the websites, they needed explicit instruction to bind the website content with the relevant source (the individual websites). The results have implications for children’s learning in an open-access, digital age where information comes from many sources, credible and noncredible. Education in credibility evaluation may enable children to be critical consumers of information thereby resisting misinformation provided through public sources.
, Yi Ni Toh, Caitlin A. Sisk, Roger W. Remington, Vanessa G. Lee
Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, Volume 6, pp 1-15; doi:10.1186/s41235-021-00303-3

The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has considerably heightened health and financial concerns for many individuals. Similar concerns, such as those associated with poverty, impair performance on cognitive control tasks. If ongoing concerns about COVID-19 substantially increase the tendency to mind wander in tasks requiring sustained attention, these worries could degrade performance on a wide range of tasks, leading, for example, to increased traffic accidents, diminished educational achievement, and lower workplace productivity. In two pre-registered experiments, we investigated the degree to which young adults’ concerns about COVID-19 correlated with their ability to sustain attention. Experiment 1 tested mainly European participants during an early phase of the pandemic. After completing a survey probing COVID-related concerns, participants engaged in a continuous performance task (CPT) over two, 4-min blocks, during which they responded to city scenes that occurred 90% of the time and withheld responses to mountain scenes that occurred 10% of the time. Despite large and stable individual differences, performance on the scene CPT did not significantly correlate with the severity of COVID-related concerns obtained from the survey. Experiment 2 tested US participants during a later phase of the pandemic. Once again, CPT performance did not significantly correlate with COVID concerns expressed in a pre-task survey. However, participants who had more task-unrelated thoughts performed more poorly on the CPT. These findings suggest that although COVID-19 increased anxiety in a broad swath of society, young adults are able to hold these concerns in a latent format, minimizing their impact on performance in a demanding sustained attention task.
Alyssa L. Harben, Deborah A. Kashy, Shiva Esfahanian, Lanqing Liu, Laura Bix,
Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, Volume 6, pp 1-20; doi:10.1186/s41235-021-00307-z

Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs have many benefits but also carry risks, such as adverse drug reactions, which are more prevalent in older adults. Because these products do not require the oversight of a physician or pharmacist, labeling plays a key role in communicating information required for their safe and effective use. Research suggests that current labels are not terribly effective at communicating potential risk. One reason for their lack of effectiveness is that few consumers attend to critical information (active ingredients and warnings) when making purchases. In two experiments, we used a change detection task to objectively evaluate how novel label designs that employ highlighting and a warning label placed on the package’s front impact attention to critical information among older participants (65 and older). The change detection task is a unique form of visual search which allowed us to assess the attentional priority of critical information among participants who were not explicitly instructed to search for this critical information. This unique aspect of the task is important given research suggesting that consumers rarely have the explicit goal of seeking out warnings and active ingredients when making OTC selections. Our results provide empirical support that both highlighting critical information and positioning it on the package’s front increase its attentional prioritization relative to current, commercial practice. Given that attending to the critical information is prerequisite to utilizing that information, strategies that elicit attention in this way are likely to reduce medication errors.
, Edison Tan, Tania Lim
Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, Volume 6, pp 1-14; doi:10.1186/s41235-021-00306-0

Research on the sharing of fake news has primarily focused on the manner in which fake news spreads and the literary style of fake news. These studies, however, do not explain how characteristics of fake news could affect people’s inclination toward sharing these news articles. Drawing on the Terror Management Theory, we proposed that fake news is more likely to elicit death-related thoughts than real news. Consequently, to manage the existential anxiety that had been produced, people share the news articles to feel connected to close others as a way of resolving the existential anxiety. Across three experimental studies (total N = 416), we found that it was not news type per se (i.e., real versus fake news) that influenced news-sharing intentions; instead, it was the increased accessibility to death-related thoughts elicited from the content of news articles that motivated news-sharing. The findings support the Terror Management framework and contribute to the existing literature by providing an empirical examination of the underlying psychological motive behind fake news-sharing tendencies.
Aumyo Hassan,
Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, Volume 6, pp 1-12; doi:10.1186/s41235-021-00301-5

Repeated information is often perceived as more truthful than new information. This finding is known as the illusory truth effect, and it is typically thought to occur because repetition increases processing fluency. Because fluency and truth are frequently correlated in the real world, people learn to use processing fluency as a marker for truthfulness. Although the illusory truth effect is a robust phenomenon, almost all studies examining it have used three or fewer repetitions. To address this limitation, we conducted two experiments using a larger number of repetitions. In Experiment 1, we showed participants trivia statements up to 9 times and in Experiment 2 statements were shown up to 27 times. Later, participants rated the truthfulness of the previously seen statements and of new statements. In both experiments, we found that perceived truthfulness increased as the number of repetitions increased. However, these truth rating increases were logarithmic in shape. The largest increase in perceived truth came from encountering a statement for the second time, and beyond this were incrementally smaller increases in perceived truth for each additional repetition. These findings add to our theoretical understanding of the illusory truth effect and have applications for advertising, politics, and the propagation of “fake news.”
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