News & Comment

  • Research Highlight |

    • Mary Elizabeth Sutherland
  • News & Views |

    Influenza is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality around the world. Nudges are small changes to the environment or choice architecture that can be designed to significantly increase influenza vaccination rates.

    • Mitesh S. Patel
  • Comment |

    Registered reports present a substantial departure from traditional publishing models with the goal of enhancing the transparency and credibility of the scientific literature. We map the evolving universe of registered reports to assess their growth, implementation and shortcomings at journals across scientific disciplines.

    • Tom E. Hardwicke
    •  & John P. A. Ioannidis
  • Comment |

    In 2017, Catalonia unilaterally declared independence from Spain. The independence push was not simply a bottom-up process wherein citizens increasingly demanded independence. Catalan political elites were more radical than voters and competitive outbidding to win hegemony in the pro-independence camp fuelled the independence push.

    • Astrid Barrio
    •  & Bonnie N. Field
  • News & Views |

    We rapidly make inferences about the moral character of others. Observing a single immoral behaviour is often sufficient to make us think of them as morally ‘unworthy’. But our beliefs about others’ ‘badness’ (as opposed to ‘goodness’) are more uncertain. That is, we allow ourselves more space to re-assess and, if needed, rectify these beliefs.

    • Alexander Todorov
  • News & Views |

    In line with the principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’, advantaged individuals recognize their privileged position and work to avoid collapsing a common pool resource, but they will not accept excessive free-riding by poorer individuals.

    • Rick K. Wilson
  • Editorial |

    Replication studies determine both the validity of scientific conclusions and provide insights into the type of methods and reporting that are necessary for robust results.

  • News & Views |

    How the brain processes parallel streams of information has been widely researched, yet remains unsolved. A new study shows that the brain processes informative cues in serial even when they are presented simultaneously, and that patterns of cortical activity shift under the constraints of rapid decisions to optimize processing.

    • John Pearson
  • News & Views |

    Years of research has shown that children do not learn words at random, but in distinct patterns. Why do we observe the patterns that we do? By using network science and investigating the words that children don’t learn, researchers have potentially uncovered a general property of word learning as a process of gap forming and filling.

    • Thomas T. Hills
    •  & Cynthia S. Q. Siew
  • News & Views |

    Network neuroscience has begun to generate fundamental insights into the structures and dynamics that lie beneath human cognition. Targeting the question what creates differences between humans, a study finds that individual differences in connectivity patterns in brain networks underlie individual differences in task performance.

    • Satu Palva
  • News & Views |

    It is important for research users to know how likely it is that reported research findings are true. The Social Science Replication Project finds that, in highly powered experiments, only 13 of 21 high-profile reports could be replicated. Investigating the factors that contribute to reliable results offers new opportunities for the social sciences.

    • Malcolm R. Macleod
  • World View |

    Although global spending in response to humanitarian crises is growing, humanitarian assistance is under threat from political, economic and security sources. To protect the principles of humanitarian assistance, we must ensure that it remains neutral, impartial and independent, argues Johan von Schreeb.

    • Johan von Schreeb
  • World View |

    People who have abortions have been silenced in a way that impoverishes our abortion debate, says Katie Watson.

    • Katie Watson
  • Editorial |

    The scientific community needs to engage actively in the debate regarding the status of video game loot boxes and the potential risks they present for vulnerable populations.

  • News & Views |

    A study finds association between the occurrence of intimate partner violence and marital fertility among Tsimané forager-horticulturalists, independent of proximate explanations, suggesting that intimate partner violence may persist as an evolutionary strategy to enhance male fitness.

    • Elizabeth G. Pillsworth
  • World View |

    New research shows that historical notions of scientific inferiority still underlie contemporary beliefs about scientific talent, or lack of it, in women and minority groups. If we do not address these biases, we are upholding an unhealthy system, argues Heather Metcalf.

    • Heather Metcalf
  • World View |

    Revelations of sexual harassment, sexism and unequal pay in film and broadcasting have called ‘time’s up’ on the myths of egalitarianism that circulate about the creative sector, argues Rosalind Gill.

    • Rosalind Gill
  • News & Views |

    By analysing whether characteristics of Austronesian populations could predict the rate of adoption of Christianity, researchers find that political leadership and small population sizes facilitated Christianity’s spread in the Pacific.

    • Nicole Creanza
  • Comment |

    Although important steps have been taken to prevent publication of a disproportionate number of non-reproducible chance findings, null findings are usually still considered disappointing. There is every reason to change this perception, because lack of associations can teach us just as much as significant ones.

    • Albertine J. Oldehinkel
  • Comment |

    Through cooperation we are able to thrive, build societies, culture and technology. But history also reveals our potential for selfishness, spite and prejudice. Studying the neural processes that drive choice behaviour is essential to understand this paradox and develop means to curb greed and extend the limits of cooperation.

    • Carolyn H. Declerck
    •  & Christophe Boone
  • Comment |

    Some acts of human cooperation are not easily explained by traditional models of kinship or reciprocity. Fitness interdependence may provide a unifying conceptual framework, in which cooperation arises from the mutual dependence for survival or reproduction, as occurs among mates, risk-pooling partnerships and brothers-in-arms.

    • Athena Aktipis
    • , Lee Cronk
    • , Joe Alcock
    • , Jessica D. Ayers
    • , Cristina Baciu
    • , Daniel Balliet
    • , Amy M. Boddy
    • , Oliver Scott Curry
    • , Jaimie Arona Krems
    • , Andrés Muñoz
    • , Daniel Sullivan
    • , Daniel Sznycer
    • , Gerald S. Wilkinson
    •  & Pamela Winfrey
  • Comment |

    Many species face the problems of how, when and with whom to cooperate. Comparing responses across species can reveal the evolutionary trajectory of these decisions, including in humans. Using nearly identical economic game methods to compare species could identify the evolutionary constraints and catalysts to cooperation.

    • Sarah F. Brosnan
  • News & Views |

    Agriculture is one of the key innovations of human societies, yet the nature of and reasons for its emergence are debated. A new model that hindcasts past global population suggests that an improving climate increased plant productivity and human population density, facilitating domestication.

    • Dolores R. Piperno
  • Comment |

    Knowledge that humans could trigger a regime shift in a vital natural system may help in identifying a goal for collective action, but it is unlikely to spur the degree of cooperation needed to avert a catastrophe. Substantial behaviour change can be achieved by manipulating the institutions that govern human action on the commons.

    • Astrid Dannenberg
    •  & Scott Barrett
  • Editorial |

    Human beings are a social species that relies on cooperation to survive and thrive. Understanding how and why cooperation succeeds or fails is integral to solving the many global challenges we face.

  • News & Views |

    A study shows that updating visual perceptual skills is an active process with many similarities to memory plasticity. Using classic behavioural techniques and new brain imaging tools, the authors show that this perceptual skill can undergo reconsolidation.

    • Matteo Bernabo
    •  & Karim Nader