News & Comment

  • World View |

    The human tendency to impose a single interpretation in ambiguous situations carries huge dangers in addressing COVID-19. We need to search actively for multiple interpretations, and governments need to choose policies that are robust if their preferred theory turns out to be wrong, argues Nick Chater.

    • Nick Chater
  • World View |

    In the current absence of medical treatment and vaccination, the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic can only be brought under control by massive and rapid behaviour change. To achieve this we need to systematically monitor and understand how different individuals perceive risk and what prompts them to act upon it, argues Cornelia Betsch.

    • Cornelia Betsch
  • World View |

    The global practice of monetizing ecosystems to further national economic development has laid fertile ground for the COVID-19 pandemic and others like it, writes Cobus van Staden.

    • Cobus van Staden
  • Editorial |

    Over the past decades, the availability of new methods and digitization has dramatically changed how scientific data are recorded, stored and analysed. This has enabled researchers to pull together the data underlying single research efforts into larger standardized datasets for reuse. The publication of these datasets - in the Resource format in our pages - represents a contribution of exceptional value to the scientific community.

  • News & Views |

    Although disease dynamics of prey are influenced by predator behaviour, little is known about the potential effects of wide-ranging post-industrial hunters. Mysterud et al. describe the movement behaviour of Norwegian hunters using more than 165,000 hunting records from 2001–2017, showing that hunters migrate to and from areas of high prey density, potentially moving pathogens into previously unaffected areas.

    • Chris T. Darimont
    •  & Heather M. Bryan
  • Editorial |

    Behavioural interventions can improve choices across many domains, but we must remember that they are not universally effective.

  • News & Views |

    When making economic decisions, our choices are often influenced by irrelevant information. One prominent explanation appeals to normalisation in neural circuits. A new paper by Gluth and colleagues suggests that instead, attentional processes may be responsible.

    • Christopher Summerfield
    •  & Tsvetomira Dumbalska
  • Comment |

    Why is there no consensual way of conducting Bayesian analyses? We present a summary of agreements and disagreements of the authors on several discussion points regarding Bayesian inference. We also provide a thinking guideline to assist researchers in conducting Bayesian inference in the social and behavioural sciences.

    • Balazs Aczel
    • , Rink Hoekstra
    • , Andrew Gelman
    • , Eric-Jan Wagenmakers
    • , Irene G. Klugkist
    • , Jeffrey N. Rouder
    • , Joachim Vandekerckhove
    • , Michael D. Lee
    • , Richard D. Morey
    • , Wolf Vanpaemel
    • , Zoltan Dienes
    •  & Don van Ravenzwaaij
  • Editorial |

    Every research paper tells a story, but the pressure to provide ‘clean’ narratives is harmful for the scientific endeavour.

  • News & Views |

    Motivated control processes help us optimize our behaviour to deal with competing task demands: seeking rewards while minimizing the associated effort. A new study in Nature Human Behaviour argues that the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, a key contributor to motivated control, tracks a computational quantity akin to surprise that is generated when events differ from our expectations.

    • Matthew D. Bachman
    •  & Scott A. Huettel
  • Comment |

    The behavioral sciences underestimate the uncertainty of research findings and thus overestimate replicability. Metrologists in the physical sciences quantify all material components of uncertainty, even if some components must be quantified using non-statistical means. Behavioral science should follow suit.

    • Edward E. Rigdon
    • , Marko Sarstedt
    •  & Jan-Michael Becker
  • News & Views |

    What is the connection between the curated narrative of a society and the representations of memories in the individual brains of its members? In a new study, Gagnepain and colleagues show that the organization of memories in the brain reflects the structure of a culture’s shared discourse.

    • Matthew Siegelman
    •  & Christopher Baldassano
  • Comment |

    This paper calls for actors working to end violence against children to situate online violence within the broader violence against children agenda. This requires a common conceptual framework that addresses violence in all areas of children’s lives, improved data collection efforts and integrated implementation guidance for prevention.

    • Daniel Kardefelt-Winther
    •  & Catherine Maternowska
  • Editorial |

    From December 2019, authors of research articles submitted to Nature Human Behaviour will have the option to publish the full peer-review records of their manuscripts, including reviewer comments, editorial decision letters and their own responses to reviewer and editorial comments.

  • News & Views |

    Conveying an impression of competence is important for jobseekers and politicians alike. New work from Oh, Shafir and Todorov suggests that subtle differences in clothing shape our impressions of how competent people are. In particular, subtly richer-looking clothes elicit greater perceived competence.

    • Bradley D. Mattan
    •  & Jennifer T. Kubota
  • News & Views |

    With diversity rising in the United States, do people believe that progress for black Americans means increased discrimination against white Americans? Despite prior evidence of such ‘zero-sum’ beliefs, a provocative new study by Earle and Hodson challenges this narrative with large, nationally representative samples.

    • Sylvia P. Perry
    •  & James E. Wages
  • News & Views |

    Interventions to reverse harmful traditions, such as female genital cutting, have had mixed success, sometimes backfiring. Policymakers’ intentions collide with cultural traditions and the ethics of tolerance collide with universal human rights. New research introduces a cultural evolutionary modelling framework to explain previous results and guide future campaigns for endogenous change.

    • Michael Muthukrishna
  • News & Views |

    There is a longstanding debate about whether culture shapes regimes or regimes shape culture. New research by Ruck et al. resolves the debate in favor of culture’s causal primacy.

    • Christian Welzel
  • Comment
    | Open Access

    We present a consensus-based checklist to improve and document the transparency of research reports in social and behavioural research. An accompanying online application allows users to complete the form and generate a report that they can submit with their manuscript or post to a public repository.

    • Balazs Aczel
    • , Barnabas Szaszi
    • , Alexandra Sarafoglou
    • , Zoltan Kekecs
    • , Šimon Kucharský
    • , Daniel Benjamin
    • , Christopher D. Chambers
    • , Agneta Fisher
    • , Andrew Gelman
    • , Morton A. Gernsbacher
    • , John P. Ioannidis
    • , Eric Johnson
    • , Kai Jonas
    • , Stavroula Kousta
    • , Scott O. Lilienfeld
    • , D. Stephen Lindsay
    • , Candice C. Morey
    • , Marcus Munafò
    • , Benjamin R. Newell
    • , Harold Pashler
    • , David R. Shanks
    • , Daniel J. Simons
    • , Jelte M. Wicherts
    • , Dolores Albarracin
    • , Nicole D. Anderson
    • , John Antonakis
    • , Hal R. Arkes
    • , Mitja D. Back
    • , George C. Banks
    • , Christopher Beevers
    • , Andrew A. Bennett
    • , Wiebke Bleidorn
    • , Ty W. Boyer
    • , Cristina Cacciari
    • , Alice S. Carter
    • , Joseph Cesario
    • , Charles Clifton
    • , Ronán M. Conroy
    • , Mike Cortese
    • , Fiammetta Cosci
    • , Nelson Cowan
    • , Jarret Crawford
    • , Eveline A. Crone
    • , John Curtin
    • , Randall Engle
    • , Simon Farrell
    • , Pasco Fearon
    • , Mark Fichman
    • , Willem Frankenhuis
    • , Alexandra M. Freund
    • , M. Gareth Gaskell
    • , Roger Giner-Sorolla
    • , Don P. Green
    • , Robert L. Greene
    • , Lisa L. Harlow
    • , Fernando Hoces de la Guardia
    • , Derek Isaacowitz
    • , Janet Kolodner
    • , Debra Lieberman
    • , Gordon D. Logan
    • , Wendy B. Mendes
    • , Lea Moersdorf
    • , Brendan Nyhan
    • , Jeffrey Pollack
    • , Christopher Sullivan
    • , Simine Vazire
    •  & Eric-Jan Wagenmakers
  • Editorial |

    Journals differ in how they evaluate submissions, depending on their aims and scope. Here we share how the Nature Human Behaviour editorial team evaluates research manuscripts submitted to the journal.

  • News & Views |

    There is a consensus that obesity and addiction are similar, showing overlap in cognition, neural activity and personality traits. A new study using a more nuanced approach for analysing traits reveals how obesity and addiction are less similar than previously thought, while the construct of uncontrolled eating is closely related to addiction.

    • Elliot C. Brown
    •  & Soyoung Q. Park
  • World View |

    Religious restrictions on the scientific teaching of evolution have no place in a balanced society, writes Mohammed Alassiri.

    • Mohammed Alassiri
  • News & Views |

    We have known for a while that different doctors can produce different effects using the same substance, or even placebo, such that otherwise effective treatments might become ineffective or placebo becomes effective. Chang and colleagues now clarify that such differential effects are likely transmitted by subtle facial cues, using a placebo–pain model.

    • Harald Walach
  • World View |

    Deepshikha Chatterjee, an Assistant Professor in Organisational Psychology, argues that noncitizen scientists in the US are structurally disadvantaged in a system that offers them fewer opportunities in training but later measures them against their citizen peers as if both groups had started on a level playing field.

    • Deepshikha Chatterjee
  • World View |

    The pressure to outperform others can gradually lead PhD students to believe their academic achievements define who they are, argues PhD student Toby Bartle; he calls on his peers to focus on learning—not achievement—and never lose track of their identities.

    • Toby Bartle
  • World View |

    Graduate students suffer from publication fever, the all-encompassing feeling that they need to publish at all costs, argues Michel Landgrave. This single-minded focus puts them at risk of exploitation and increases hostility among peers. But great mentorship offers a way out.

    • Michelangelo Landgrave
  • World View |

    The pressure to publish during PhD training is only the beginning of a career in an environment that places intractable expectations on academics, argues Jennifer Lavers, a Lecturer in Marine Science; unrealistic demands to excel in publications, grants and outreach lead even outwardly successful academics to question their career choices.

    • Jennifer L. Lavers
  • Editorial |

    Publications are commonly used to evaluate PhD students’ aptitude and have the appeal of a single, ‘objective’ measure. A collection of World Views in this issue, however, suggests that this creates only an illusion of true meritocracy. Not only assessments but PhD training per se require substantive improvements to benefit science and scientists.

  • World View |

    A culture of publication-worship unwittingly incentivizes questionable scientific practices and gluts the economy of scientific papers, argues Ava Kiai. To protect trust in science, we must focus on methodological rigour, rather than publishability.

    • Ava Kiai
  • World View |

    Mandating publications for graduation places a poor metric on PhD students’ skills and has detrimental effects on PhD training, argues Sharif Moradi, an Assistant Professor at the Royan Institute in Tehran; committees and future employers should focus on the many other skills that PhD students master.

    • Sharif Moradi
  • World View |

    Publications are often considered a hard currency for evaluating PhD students by graduation committees and funders alike. Anne-Marie Coriat of the Wellcome Trust calls for a change in how PhDs are assessed, placing more emphasis on other aspects of training.

    • Anne-Marie Coriat