Letters

  • Letter |

    Does holding a rose in mind make you see the world through rose-tinted glasses? Combining working memory and perceptual decision-making tasks in three studies, Teng and Kravitz show that internal representations can affect perception of the environment.

    • Chunyue Teng
    •  & Dwight J. Kravitz
  • Letter |

    Porfiri et al. show that firearm acquisitions in the United States increase with mass shootings, and this growth may be driven by anticipation of stricter regulations as media coverage about gun control increases with shooting events.

    • Maurizio Porfiri
    • , Raghu Ram Sattanapalle
    • , Shinnosuke Nakayama
    • , James Macinko
    •  & Rifat Sipahi
  • Letter |

    What aspect of faces do we use to recognize familiar people? Zhan et al. model the three-dimensional information contents that represent faces in the memory of their colleagues. This information is relevant for recognition across viewpoints, age and sex.

    • Jiayu Zhan
    • , Oliver G. B. Garrod
    • , Nicola van Rijsbergen
    •  & Philippe G. Schyns
  • Letter |

    Risi et al. apply machine learning prediction models to nearly two million US Department of State cables from the 1970s to show that, although it is possible to develop ‘artificial archivists’, historical significance is extremely difficult to predict.

    • Joseph Risi
    • , Amit Sharma
    • , Rohan Shah
    • , Matthew Connelly
    •  & Duncan J. Watts
  • Letter |

    Using misconduct data on 35,000 officers and staff from London’s Metropolitan Police Service, researchers demonstrate that earlier misconduct among peers causes an increase in an officer’s own current misconduct.

    • Edika G. Quispe-Torreblanca
    •  & Neil Stewart
  • Letter |

    By analysing data from more than 4,500 9- to 10-year-olds, Dick et al. found no evidence that bilingual children have an advantage in executive functions, the cognitive abilities that are central to the voluntary control of thoughts and behaviours.

    • Anthony Steven Dick
    • , Nelcida L. Garcia
    • , Shannon M. Pruden
    • , Wesley K. Thompson
    • , Samuel W. Hawes
    • , Matthew T. Sutherland
    • , Michael C. Riedel
    • , Angela R. Laird
    •  & Raul Gonzalez
  • Letter |

    Fung et al. show that participants’ trait anxiety is associated with earlier escape decisions when facing slowly approaching threats. Anxiety correlates with task-driven blood-oxygen-level-dependent activity in the cognitive fear circuits.

    • Bowen J. Fung
    • , Song Qi
    • , Demis Hassabis
    • , Nathaniel Daw
    •  & Dean Mobbs
  • Letter |

    Attention and working memory both fluctuate over time. Here deBettencourt et al. demonstrate that fluctuations in attention and memory in distinct tasks are synchronous, providing additional evidence for the tight integration of these cognitive processes.

    • Megan T. deBettencourt
    • , Paul A. Keene
    • , Edward Awh
    •  & Edward K. Vogel
  • Letter |

    Using data from Michigan, Harding et al. find no evidence that prison sentences have an effect on arrests or convictions for violent crimes after release. Imprisonment modestly reduced violence if the analysis included imprisonment’s incapacitation effects.

    • David J. Harding
    • , Jeffrey D. Morenoff
    • , Anh P. Nguyen
    • , Shawn D. Bushway
    •  & Ingrid A. Binswanger
  • Letter |

    Kobayashi et al. show that when options are defined by multiple attributes, people are curious about individual attributes regardless of the uncertainty of the total outcome, revealing a distinct type of anticipatory utility that shapes curiosity.

    • Kenji Kobayashi
    • , Silvio Ravaioli
    • , Adrien Baranès
    • , Michael Woodford
    •  & Jacqueline Gottlieb
  • Letter |

    Research into emotion dynamics and well-being has, over the years, used an increasing number of dynamic measures to capture emotional change. Dejonckheere et al. show that these measures add little to the information conveyed by mean affect and its variance.

    • Egon Dejonckheere
    • , Merijn Mestdagh
    • , Marlies Houben
    • , Isa Rutten
    • , Laura Sels
    • , Peter Kuppens
    •  & Francis Tuerlinckx
  • Letter |

    Data from a cohort of US and UK adolescents reveal that genetic and neighbourhood risks for early pregnancy and educational attainment are correlated, but find a weak or no correlation between risks for obesity or schizophrenia.

    • Daniel W. Belsky
    • , Avshalom Caspi
    • , Louise Arseneault
    • , David L. Corcoran
    • , Benjamin W. Domingue
    • , Kathleen Mullan Harris
    • , Renate M. Houts
    • , Jonathan S. Mill
    • , Terrie E. Moffitt
    • , Joseph Prinz
    • , Karen Sugden
    • , Jasmin Wertz
    • , Benjamin Williams
    •  & Candice L. Odgers
  • Letter |

    Neidorf et al. analyse the style of all surviving Old English poetry. They find quantitative evidence that a single author composed Beowulf and that the poem Andreas was written by Cynewulf—two longstanding questions of English literary history.

    • Leonard Neidorf
    • , Madison S. Krieger
    • , Michelle Yakubek
    • , Pramit Chaudhuri
    •  & Joseph P. Dexter
  • Letter |

    Matoba et al. examine genetic components of smoking behaviours in the Japanese population, identifying seven novel loci and 11 diseases that share genetic bases with smoking behaviours.

    • Nana Matoba
    • , Masato Akiyama
    • , Kazuyoshi Ishigaki
    • , Masahiro Kanai
    • , Atsushi Takahashi
    • , Yukihide Momozawa
    • , Shiro Ikegawa
    • , Masashi Ikeda
    • , Nakao Iwata
    • , Makoto Hirata
    • , Koichi Matsuda
    • , Michiaki Kubo
    • , Yukinori Okada
    •  & Yoichiro Kamatani
  • Letter |

    This article explores the effect of ideological polarization on team performance. By analysing millions of edits to Wikipedia, the authors reveal that politically diverse editor teams produce higher-quality articles than homogeneous or moderate teams, and they identify the mechanisms responsible for producing these superior articles.

    • Feng Shi
    • , Misha Teplitskiy
    • , Eamon Duede
    •  & James A. Evans
  • Letter |

    van Ede et al. show that focusing on a visual representation held in memory biases gaze towards its memorized location. This suggests that gaze control and attentional focusing within memorized space rely on the same system.

    • Freek van Ede
    • , Sammi R. Chekroud
    •  & Anna C. Nobre
  • Letter |

    Evacuees who intermarry and remain in the host society gain socioeconomic benefits but suffer reduced fertility. This suggests that integration involves trade-offs between within-group ‘bonding’ social networks and between-group ‘bridging’ networks

    • Robert Lynch
    • , Virpi Lummaa
    • , Karthik Panchanathan
    • , Kevin Middleton
    • , Anna Rotkirch
    • , Mirkka Danielsbacka
    • , David O’Brien
    •  & John Loehr
  • Letter |

    What conditions produce a willingness to sacrifice our own self-interest for others? McGrath and Gerber find that collaboration increases willingness to sacrifice, distinct from considerations of accountability, in-group favouritism or disparity.

    • Mary C. McGrath
    •  & Alan S. Gerber
  • Letter |

    How good are people at choosing between exploration and exploitation? In a task that captures the essence of such decisions, Song et al. found systematic deviations from optimality that were associated with the sequence of decisions participants can make.

    • Mingyu Song
    • , Zahy Bnaya
    •  & Wei Ji Ma
  • Letter |

    Bocanegra and colleagues present a new variation of the Raven intelligence test, an established measure of cognitive function; better performance on this new version, which allows problem-solving to be externalized, is associated with students’ success in exams.

    • Bruno R. Bocanegra
    • , Fenna H. Poletiek
    • , Bouchra Ftitache
    •  & Andy Clark
  • Letter |

    Data from three diverse post-conflict societies show that individuals with greater war exposure, several years later, were more likely to participate in religious groups and rituals. This reveals a link from violent conflict to religiosity.

    • Joseph Henrich
    • , Michal Bauer
    • , Alessandra Cassar
    • , Julie Chytilová
    •  & Benjamin Grant Purzycki
  • Letter |

    A daily, city-level happiness metric constructed from the sentiment expressed in 210 million tweets on Sina Weibo from 144 cities shows that high levels of air pollution significantly reduce Chinese urbanites’ expressed happiness on social media.

    • Siqi Zheng
    • , Jianghao Wang
    • , Cong Sun
    • , Xiaonan Zhang
    •  & Matthew E. Kahn
  • Letter |

    Using data from 765 million online music plays chosen by 1 million individuals in 51 countries, Park et al. reveal diurnal and seasonal affective rhythms in musical intensity that are consistent across diverse cultures and demographic groups. They also report differences in baseline preferences for musical intensity across cultures and ages.

    • Minsu Park
    • , Jennifer Thom
    • , Sarah Mennicken
    • , Henriette Cramer
    •  & Michael Macy
  • Letter |

    An individual’s social ties contain up to 95% of the potential predictive accuracy achievable about that individual. In principle, a social platform may therefore profile an individual from their ties only, without access to their data.

    • James P. Bagrow
    • , Xipei Liu
    •  & Lewis Mitchell
  • Letter |

    In the United States, France and Germany, as peoples’ opposition to genetically modified (GM) foods becomes more extreme, their self-rated understanding of genetic modification increases, but objectively, their knowledge of the science behind genetic modification tends to be poorer.

    • Philip M. Fernbach
    • , Nicholas Light
    • , Sydney E. Scott
    • , Yoel Inbar
    •  & Paul Rozin
  • Letter |

    Askelund et al. show that remembering more specific positive life experiences is associated with fewer negative self-related thoughts and lower levels of stress hormones in a study of 427 adolescents at risk for depression.

    • Adrian Dahl Askelund
    • , Susanne Schweizer
    • , Ian M. Goodyer
    •  & Anne-Laura van Harmelen
  • Letter |

    Why do we continue processing external events during sleep, yet remain unresponsive? Legendre et al. use electroencephalography to show that sleepers enter a ‘standby mode’, continuing to track relevant signals but doing so transiently.

    • Guillaume Legendre
    • , Thomas Andrillon
    • , Matthieu Koroma
    •  & Sid Kouider
  • Letter |

    Nearby small objects appear larger than distal large objects, reflecting a dissociation between perceived and actual object size. Collegio et al. show that inferences of true object size scale spatial attention to objects.

    • Andrew J. Collegio
    • , Joseph C. Nah
    • , Paul S. Scotti
    •  & Sarah Shomstein
  • Letter |

    Pryor et al. show that people conform to social norms, even when they understand that the norms have been determined arbitrarily and do not reflect people’s actual preferences. Prominent, rationality-based explanations of norm effects cannot explain these results.

    • Campbell Pryor
    • , Amy Perfors
    •  & Piers D. L. Howe
  • Letter |

    A new study by Keynan and colleagues provides evidence that training in amygdala self-regulation via EEG neurofeedback (‘electrical fingerprint’) results in neurobehavioural markers of stress resilience in a cohort of individuals undergoing military training.

    • Jackob N. Keynan
    • , Avihay Cohen
    • , Gilan Jackont
    • , Nili Green
    • , Noam Goldway
    • , Alexander Davidov
    • , Yehudit Meir-Hasson
    • , Gal Raz
    • , Nathan Intrator
    • , Eyal Fruchter
    • , Keren Ginat
    • , Eugene Laska
    • , Marc Cavazza
    •  & Talma Hendler
  • Letter |

    Randomly informing people that they had a high or low genetic risk of obesity changed their gene-related physiology and subjective experience in a manner consistent with the perceived risk, regardless of their actual genetic risk of obesity.

    • Bradley P. Turnwald
    • , J. Parker Goyer
    • , Danielle Z. Boles
    • , Amy Silder
    • , Scott L. Delp
    •  & Alia J. Crum
  • Letter |

    Analysing the results from four major sports leagues and a multiplayer online game reveals that prior shared success as a team significantly improves the odds of winning beyond what is explained by the skill of individual players.

    • Satyam Mukherjee
    • , Yun Huang
    • , Julia Neidhardt
    • , Brian Uzzi
    •  & Noshir Contractor
  • Letter |

    A century after being predicted by theory, the authors detect and quantify the genomic signature of assortative mating in ~400,000 contemporary human genomes, and report new genetic evidence for assortative mating on height and educational attainment.

    • Loic Yengo
    • , Matthew R. Robinson
    • , Matthew C. Keller
    • , Kathryn E. Kemper
    • , Yuanhao Yang
    • , Maciej Trzaskowski
    • , Jacob Gratten
    • , Patrick Turley
    • , David Cesarini
    • , Daniel J. Benjamin
    • , Naomi R. Wray
    • , Michael E. Goddard
    • , Jian Yang
    •  & Peter M. Visscher
  • Letter |

    When searching for rewards in complex, unfamiliar environments, it is often impossible to explore all options. Wu et al. show how a combination of generalization and optimistic sampling guides efficient human exploration in complex environments.

    • Charley M. Wu
    • , Eric Schulz
    • , Maarten Speekenbrink
    • , Jonathan D. Nelson
    •  & Björn Meder
  • Letter |

    Bentz et al. estimate the phylogenetic signals of environmental factors and population size on more than 6,000 phylogenetic trees of 46 language families and find that environment influences the evolution of language families beyond neutral drift.

    • Christian Bentz
    • , Dan Dediu
    • , Annemarie Verkerk
    •  & Gerhard Jäger
  • Letter |

    Analyses of transactions in a new monetary system (Sardex community currency) reveal that transaction cycles increase in prevalence over time and that economic activity within these cycles is higher compared to linear transactions through the network.

    • George Iosifidis
    • , Yanick Charette
    • , Edoardo M. Airoldi
    • , Giuseppe Littera
    • , Leandros Tassiulas
    •  & Nicholas A. Christakis
  • Letter |

    Reputational concerns reinforce the instinct to cooperate in social situations. McAuliffe et al. find that cooperative habits can be overturned in one-shot anonymous interactions, when people learn that defection will not damage their self-interest.

    • William H. B. McAuliffe
    • , Daniel E. Forster
    • , Eric J. Pedersen
    •  & Michael E. McCullough
  • Letter |

    Despite being a major cultural group, Arabs are relatively neglected in cultural psychology. Going beyond the prevailing East versus West paradigm, this paper suggests that a unique form of interdependence that is self-assertive typifies Arab culture.

    • Alvaro San Martin
    • , Marwan Sinaceur
    • , Amer Madi
    • , Steve Tompson
    • , William W. Maddux
    •  & Shinobu Kitayama