Latest Research

  • Perspective |

    Increasing gender diversity can bring about substantial benefits for research and society. Nielsen et al. propose a framework for increased diversity not only in the composition of teams, but also in research methods and in the questions targeted by research.

    • Mathias Wullum Nielsen
    • , Carter Walter Bloch
    •  & Londa Schiebinger
  • Article |

    A seven-week school-based field experiment shows that social-rewards schemes increase physical activity in preadolescents, with girls being more receptive to reciprocal and boys to team rewarding schemes.

    • Antonios Proestakis
    • , Eugenia Polizzi di Sorrentino
    • , Helen Elizabeth Brown
    • , Esther van Sluijs
    • , Ankur Mani
    • , Sandra Caldeira
    •  & Benedikt Herrmann
  • Letter |

    Analyses of data from 211 independent, randomized controlled trials (N = 16,198,595) show that second-order normative beliefs—community members’ belief that saving energy helps the environment—play a critical role in promoting energy conservation.

    • Jon M. Jachimowicz
    • , Oliver P. Hauser
    • , Julia D. O’Brien
    • , Erin Sherman
    •  & Adam D. Galinsky
  • Letter |

    Siegel et al. describe an asymmetric Bayesian updating mechanism for moral impression formation, which shows that beliefs about badly behaved agents are more uncertain and therefore more flexible than beliefs about well-behaved agents.

    • Jenifer Z. Siegel
    • , Christoph Mathys
    • , Robb B. Rutledge
    •  & Molly J. Crockett
  • Letter |

    Thomas and colleagues show that toddlers preferred a puppet that had won a conflict against another puppet—but only when it won without using force. This suggests that toddlers consider social status when making social evaluations.

    • Ashley J. Thomas
    • , Lotte Thomsen
    • , Angela F. Lukowski
    • , Meline Abramyan
    •  & Barbara W. Sarnecka
  • Article |

    As children grow, so does their knowledge of language. Sizemore et al. describe knowledge gaps, manifesting as topological cavities, in toddlers’ growing semantic network. These gaps progress similarly, independent of the order in which children learn words.

    • Ann E. Sizemore
    • , Elisabeth A. Karuza
    • , Chad Giusti
    •  & Danielle S. Bassett
  • Letter |

    In a compound climate change dilemma that allows some to earn a pre-game advantage, advantaged participants act prosocially later to maintain a public good, but the disadvantaged act antisocially, creating conflict that reduces cooperative success.

    • Reuben Kline
    • , Nicholas Seltzer
    • , Evgeniya Lukinova
    •  & Autumn Bynum
  • Review Article |

    Mental effort is traditionally a subject of psychological research. Kool and Botvinick discuss how recent attempts to study mental effort using concepts from behavioural economics have allowed researchers to better understand how costs and benefits drive when people invest mental effort.

    • Wouter Kool
    •  & Matthew Botvinick
  • Letter |

    Brain networks are characterized by nodes and hubs that determine information flow within and between areas. Bertolero et al. show that task-driven changes to hub and node connectivity increase modularity and improve cognitive performance.

    • Maxwell A. Bertolero
    • , B. T. Thomas Yeo
    • , Danielle S. Bassett
    •  & Mark D’Esposito
  • Letter |

    Camerer et al. carried out replications of 21 Science and Nature social science experiments, successfully replicating 13 out of 21 (62%). Effect sizes of replications were about half of the size of the originals.

    • Colin F. Camerer
    • , Anna Dreber
    • , Felix Holzmeister
    • , Teck-Hua Ho
    • , Jürgen Huber
    • , Magnus Johannesson
    • , Michael Kirchler
    • , Gideon Nave
    • , Brian A. Nosek
    • , Thomas Pfeiffer
    • , Adam Altmejd
    • , Nick Buttrick
    • , Taizan Chan
    • , Yiling Chen
    • , Eskil Forsell
    • , Anup Gampa
    • , Emma Heikensten
    • , Lily Hummer
    • , Taisuke Imai
    • , Siri Isaksson
    • , Dylan Manfredi
    • , Julia Rose
    • , Eric-Jan Wagenmakers
    •  & Hang Wu
  • Letter |

    Akbarzadeh and Estrada mathematically characterize the properties of traffic flow and find that, in four different cities, there is more traffic not through the shortest paths, but through the communicability shortest paths, which assume an ‘all-routes’ flow.

    • Meisam Akbarzadeh
    •  & Ernesto Estrada
  • Article |

    Rutherford et al. analyse temporal, network and hierarchical effects to uncover, understand and quantify competing mechanisms of constitutional change worldwide.

    • Alex Rutherford
    • , Yonatan Lupu
    • , Manuel Cebrian
    • , Iyad Rahwan
    • , Brad L. LeVeck
    •  & Manuel Garcia-Herranz
  • Perspective |

    Human infants need a social environment to survive as they rely on caregivers to maintain allostasis. This Perspective proposes that the need of others to regulate physiological changes determines brain development, not only in the social domain.

    • Shir Atzil
    • , Wei Gao
    • , Isaac Fradkin
    •  & Lisa Feldman Barrett
  • Letter |

    A study of intimate partner violence among the Tsimané forager-horticulturalists of Bolivia finds evidence that male aggression is leveraged to increase marital fertility and a man’s individual fitness when spouses differ in preferred family size.

    • Jonathan Stieglitz
    • , Benjamin C. Trumble
    • , Hillard Kaplan
    •  & Michael Gurven
  • Perspective |

    The success of humans as the last surviving species of the hominin clade may be explained by our ecological plasticity. Roberts and Stewart review evidence for human dispersal 300,000–12,000 years before present and propose that humans thrived via a unique ‘generalist specialist’ ecological niche.

    • Patrick Roberts
    •  & Brian A. Stewart
  • Review Article |

    Cullati and colleagues propose a framework to understand vulnerability in later life as a product of biological, psychological, cognitive, emotional, economical and relational ‘reserves’ built up over a lifetime, which can be called on to buffer against or recover from adversity.

    • Stéphane Cullati
    • , Matthias Kliegel
    •  & Eric Widmer
  • Letter |

    Theories about the spread of Christianity are tested using comparative cross-cultural methods and historical data on 70 Austronesian cultures. Conversion was fastest in small and politically organized societies, but not impacted by social inequality.

    • Joseph Watts
    • , Oliver Sheehan
    • , Joseph Bulbulia
    • , Russell D. Gray
    •  & Quentin D. Atkinson
  • Letter |

    Shortly after retrieval, memory undergoes a labile period during which it can be modified. This study shows that this reconsolidation phase shows the same behavioural and neural characteristics as the initial learning phase.

    • Ji Won Bang
    • , Kazuhisa Shibata
    • , Sebastian M. Frank
    • , Edward G. Walsh
    • , Mark W. Greenlee
    • , Takeo Watanabe
    •  & Yuka Sasaki
  • Review Article |

    Fehr and Schurtenberger show that the prevailing evidence supports the view that social norms are causal drivers of human cooperation and explain major cooperation-related regularities. Norms also guide peer punishment and people have strong preferences for institutions that support norm formation.

    • Ernst Fehr
    •  & Ivo Schurtenberger
  • Letter |

    Experiments using economic games and hypothetical infectious disease scenarios show that uncertainty about a decision’s outcome reduces prosocial actions, but when the impact on others is made uncertain, prosociality increases.

    • Andreas Kappes
    • , Anne-Marie Nussberger
    • , Nadira S. Faber
    • , Guy Kahane
    • , Julian Savulescu
    •  & Molly J. Crockett
  • Letter |

    Through mathematical analysis, simulations and examples from real-world social networks, Fotouhi et al. demonstrate how establishing sparse interconnections between previously segregated, uncooperative societies can support the evolution of cooperation globally.

    • Babak Fotouhi
    • , Naghmeh Momeni
    • , Benjamin Allen
    •  & Martin A. Nowak
  • Letter |

    Analyses of twin and genomic data show a significant influence of genetic factors on the co-development of conduct and emotional problems from childhood to adolescence. Those with co-developing symptoms may represent a clinical subgroup with higher genetic risk.

    • Laurie J. Hannigan
    • , Jean-Baptiste Pingault
    • , Eva Krapohl
    • , Tom A. McAdams
    • , Frühling V. Rijsdijk
    •  & Thalia C. Eley
  • Letter |

    Category learning has been traditionally viewed as a high-level cognitive process independent of sensory systems. Rosedahl and colleagues demonstrate that procedural category learning is in fact dependent on low-level visual representations.

    • Luke A. Rosedahl
    • , Miguel P. Eckstein
    •  & F. Gregory Ashby
  • Letter |

    Analysing high-resolution mobility traces from almost 40,000 individuals reveals that people typically revisit a set of 25 familiar locations day-to-day, but that this set evolves over time and is proportional to the size of their social sphere.

    • Laura Alessandretti
    • , Piotr Sapiezynski
    • , Vedran Sekara
    • , Sune Lehmann
    •  & Andrea Baronchelli
  • Letter |

    Kavanagh and colleagues model global human population densities between 21,000 and 4,000 years ago and find that improved environmental conditions and increased potential for population growth facilitated the emergence of agricultural domestication.

    • Patrick H. Kavanagh
    • , Bruno Vilela
    • , Hannah J. Haynie
    • , Ty Tuff
    • , Matheus Lima-Ribeiro
    • , Russell D. Gray
    • , Carlos A. Botero
    •  & Michael C. Gavin
  • Article |

    Lindström and Tobler find that ostracism of individuals can emerge incidentally, based on initial group structure, and is propagated by a simple reinforcement learning mechanism. The same mechanism can be used to reduce incidental ostracism.

    • Björn Lindström
    •  & Philippe N. Tobler
  • Article |

    Analytis et al. study social learning strategies for matters of taste and test their performance on a large-scale dataset. They show why a strategy’s success depends both on people’s level of experience and how their tastes relate to those of others.

    • Pantelis P. Analytis
    • , Daniel Barkoczi
    •  & Stefan M. Herzog
  • Letter |

    By analysing the language of tweets around protests in Baltimore in 2015 and through behavioural laboratory experiments, Dehghani and colleagues find that moralization of protest issues leads to greater support for violence and increased incidence of violent protest.

    • Marlon Mooijman
    • , Joe Hoover
    • , Ying Lin
    • , Heng Ji
    •  & Morteza Dehghani
  • Letter |

    Aral and Dhillon specify a class of empirically motivated influence maximization models that incorporate more realistic features of real-world social networks and predict substantially greater influence propagation compared with traditional models.

    • Sinan Aral
    •  & Paramveer S. Dhillon
  • Article |

    High arousal enables young people to better detect salient stimuli. In older people, arousal leads to increased processing of all stimuli. This difference can be explained by age-related changes in how the locus coeruleus–noradrenaline system interacts with cortical attention networks.

    • Tae-Ho Lee
    • , Steven G. Greening
    • , Taiji Ueno
    • , David Clewett
    • , Allison Ponzio
    • , Michiko Sakaki
    •  & Mara Mather
  • Letter |

    In the United States and India, people's folk conceptions of nationality are flexible, seeing it as more biological and fixed at birth or cultural and fluid, depending on the scenario. Belief in fluidity predicts positive attitudes to immigration.

    • Mostafa Salari Rad
    •  & Jeremy Ginges
  • Letter |

    Contest experiments among natural groups demonstrate that unequal sharing of contest spoils can override the effects of preexisting intergroup relations, prompting privileged individuals to choose considerably more offensive strategies, whereas disadvantaged group members resort to defensive strategies.

    • Gönül Doğan
    • , Luke Glowacki
    •  & Hannes Rusch
  • Letter |

    An analysis of genetic influences on educational attainment and occupation in pre- versus post-Soviet-era Estonia shows that genetics has a much greater influence on social outcomes in a meritocratic society.

    • Kaili Rimfeld
    • , Eva Krapohl
    • , Maciej Trzaskowski
    • , Jonathan R. I. Coleman
    • , Saskia Selzam
    • , Philip S. Dale
    • , Tonu Esko
    • , Andres Metspalu
    •  & Robert Plomin
  • Letter |

    A linguistic analysis of nearly 44,000 responses to the Washington University Sentence Completion Test elucidates the construct of ego development (personality development through adulthood) and identifies unique linguistic markers of each level of development.

    • Kevin Lanning
    • , Rachel E. Pauletti
    • , Laura A. King
    •  & Dan P. McAdams
  • Letter |

    Different parts of tools are often handled in different ways. This study presents a computational model explaining how humans build separate motor memories for different parts of the same objects.

    • James B. Heald
    • , James N. Ingram
    • , J. Randall Flanagan
    •  & Daniel M. Wolpert