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  • Predicted values and feedback from errors in those predictions are fundamental to adaptive decision-making. Heffner et al. directly compare the contributions of reward predictions and emotional predictions to social decisions and find, unexpectedly, that emotional predictions are often the more important determinant of choice.

    • Bernard W. Balleine
    News & Views
  • What is the mind? Scientists may not agree on an answer, but new research shows that people across diverse cultures do. This shared conception of the human mind appears to be a cognitive structure that organizes numerous mental capacities along a small number of dimensions: bodily sensation, cognition and, in some cultural settings, emotion.

    • Bertram F. Malle
    News & Views
  • Biobanks facilitate large-scale tests of hypotheses that may advance health, but whether biobanking participants adequately comprehend the potential uses of their data should concern researchers and the public. Consent matters because it provides a singular safeguard and a participatory mechanism to influence science’s production of new forms of power.

    • Elizabeth Bromley
    • Dmitry Khodyakov
    News & Views
  • The ethics of research into the genetics of sexuality is not straightforward. A new study by Zietsch et al. investigates a hypothesis for the evolutionary basis of same-sex sexual behaviour. This increases our understanding of the genetics of complex behaviour, raising questions about whether and how such knowledge should be used.

    • Julian Savulescu
    • Brian D. Earp
    • Udo Schuklenk
    News & Views
  • Figuring out the referent of a new word is a hard problem, yet children solve it early and often. A new model by Bohn et al. proposes that young children rationally combine different sources of information when learning language. This account precisely predicts and explains novel developmental findings, above and beyond competing proposals.

    • Tomer D. Ullman
    News & Views
  • Can a publication format shape qualities of published research? Higgs and Gelman discuss a new study comparing peer-reviewers’ perceptions of Registered Reports to those of standard research articles. The authors conclude the registered publications were at least as good on the qualities measured, and they discuss challenges of doing research on research.

    • Megan D. Higgs
    • Andrew Gelman
    News & Views
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a natural experiment capable of answering a vital question: have stay-at-home orders impacted global crime trends? A new study by Nivette and colleagues demonstrates that crime largely decreased around the globe during COVID-19 stay-at-home orders—a finding which likely carries international implications for crime policy.

    • John H. Boman IV
    • Thomas J. Mowen
    News & Views
  • How do humans choose which information to pursue when solving a task? New research shows that choosing the most informative signals is cognitively demanding. The efficiency of this process is enhanced by time pressure but, remarkably, not by monetary incentives.

    • Jacqueline Gottlieb
    News & Views
  • Ansel Adams said, “There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.” Is it possible to predict our fickle and subjective appraisal of ‘aesthetically pleasing’ visual art? Iigaya et al. used an artificial intelligence approach to show how human aesthetic preference can be partially explained as an integration of hierarchical constituent image features.

    • Mengmi Zhang
    • Gabriel Kreiman
    News & Views
  • The Dunning–Kruger effect describes a tendency for incompetent individuals to overestimate their ability. The effect has both seeped into popular imagination and been the subject of scientific critique. Jansen et al. combine computational modelling with a large-scale replication of the original findings to shed new light on the drivers of the Dunning–Kruger effect.

    • Matan Mazor
    • Stephen M. Fleming
    News & Views
  • Timely information for understanding the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 in low-income countries is very limited. A recent paper by Josephson, Kilic, and Michler reveals large and disproportionate socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic and provides useful insights to inform an appropriate policy response.

    • Patrick Opoku Asuming
    News & Views
  • Increasing the uptake of green energy use by households and businesses is a key step toward reducing environmental harm and combating climate change. In a new paper, Liebe et al.1 show that a non-monetary intervention can have massive effects on green energy consumption, leading to substantial reductions in carbon emissions.

    • Cass R. Sunstein
    News & Views
  • Obtaining accurate dates for rock art is important to both archaeologists and Aboriginal Traditional Owners, but a lack of organic material associated with rock art can make this challenging. Using radiocarbon dating of mud wasp nests, Finch et al. show that naturalistic depictions of animals in the Kimberley region of northern Australia date to between 13,000 and 17,000 years ago.

    • Paul S. C. Taçon
    News & Views
  • Psychologists have long known that people with depression often have unhelpful, negative patterns of thinking, known as cognitive distortions. Bathina et al. now show that these thought patterns can be detected in the everyday language of social media and that individuals who report a diagnosis of depression express more cognitive distortions.

    • David J. A. Dozois
    News & Views
  • To date, studies of gambling harms have been limited by reliance on small samples and self-reports of behaviour. Analysis of banking transactions provides unique insights into the scope and sequencing of gambling harms at the individual and population levels, with implications for gambling policy, regulation, and harm minimization.

    • Rachel A. Volberg
    News & Views
  • To contain the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries around the world rushed to develop digital contact tracing apps. However, the low rates of app installation have undermined the efficacy of such tools. A study by Munzert et al. shines light on potential barriers to adoption, as well as levers that could be used to increase uptake.

    • Séverine Toussaert
    News & Views
  • Politicians and law enforcement officials have advocated the militarization of local law enforcement on the grounds that it promotes public and officer safety, and some early research seemingly supported those claims. Two new studies reveal limitations in the data used in this prior work. When these issues are addressed, evidence for the benefits of militarization largely vanishes.

    • Jonathan Mummolo
    News & Views
  • A study in Nature Human Behaviour proposes a biologically plausible algorithm producing near-optimal behaviour in uncertain and volatile environments through computational imprecision. A complementary study in the same issue shows that, depending on context, uncertainty itself guides different decisions and is differentially represented in the brain.

    • Markus Ullsperger
    News & Views
  • From aardvark to zyzzyva, the world we live in is rich and complex. How is this diversity of objects represented in the human mind? Through an experimental and computational tour de force, Hebart et al. show that people share a mental representation of objects based on a small number of meaningful dimensions.

    • Maximilian Riesenhuber
    News & Views
  • Perceptions of numerosity, duration and distance play fundamental roles in our behaviour and in our thinking, but how we perceive these abstract quantities is a mystery. Cheyette and Piantadosi provide a model that explains both new and long-standing experimental results on the accuracy and speed with which human subjects report the numerosity of a visible set.

    • C. R. Gallistel
    News & Views