We contrasted the predictive power of three measures of semantic richness-number of features (NFs), contextual dispersion (CD), and a novel measure of number of semantic neighbors (NSN)-for a large set of concrete and abstract concepts on lexical decision and naming tasks. NSN (but not NF) facilitated processing for abstract concepts, while NF (but not NSN) facilitated processing for the most concrete concepts, consistent with claims that linguistic information is more relevant for abstract concepts in early processing. Additionally, converging evidence from two datasets suggests that when NSN and CD are controlled for, the features that most facilitate processing are those associated with a concept’s physical characteristics and real-world contexts. These results suggest that rich linguistic contexts (many semantic neighbors) facilitate early activation of abstract concepts, whereas concrete concepts benefit more from rich physical contexts (many associated objects and locations).
Emotions are evolved systems of intra- and interpersonal processes that are regulatory in nature, dealing mostly with issues of personal or social concern. They regulate social interaction and in extension, the social sphere. In turn, processes in the social sphere regulate emotions of individuals and groups. In other words, intrapersonal processes project in the interpersonal space, and inversely, interpersonal experiences deeply influence intrapersonal processes. Thus, I argue that the concepts of emotion generation and regulation should not be artificially separated. Similarly, interpersonal emotions should not be reduced to interacting systems of intraindividual processes. Instead, we can consider emotions at different social levels, ranging from dyads to large scale e-communities. The interaction between these levels is complex and does not only involve influences from one level to the next. In this sense the levels of emotion/regulation are messy and a challenge for empirical study. In this article, I discuss the concepts of emotions and regulation at different intra- and interpersonal levels. I extend the concept of auto-regulation of emotions (Kappas, 2008, 2011a,b) to social processes. Furthermore, I argue for the necessity of including mediated communication, particularly in cyberspace in contemporary models of emotion/regulation. Lastly, I suggest the use of concepts from systems dynamics and complex systems to tackle the challenge of the “messy layers.”
Women appear to copy other women’s preferences for men’s faces. This ‘mate-choice copying’ is often taken as evidence of psychological adaptations for processing social information related to mate choice, for which facial information is assumed to be particularly salient. No experiment, however, has directly investigated whether women preferentially copy each other’s face preferences more than other preferences. Further, because prior experimental studies used artificial social information, the effect of real social information on attractiveness preferences is unknown. We collected attractiveness ratings of pictures of men’s faces, men’s hands, and abstract art given by heterosexual women, before and after they saw genuine social information gathered in real time from their peers. Ratings of faces were influenced by social information, but no more or less than were images of hands and abstract art. Our results suggest that evidence for domain-specific social learning mechanisms in humans is weaker than previously suggested.
The ability to identify and retain logical relations between stimuli and apply them to novel stimuli is known as relational concept learning. This has been demonstrated in a few animal species after extensive reinforcement training, and it reveals the brain’s ability to deal with abstract properties. Here we describe relational concept learning in newborn ducklings without reinforced training. Newly hatched domesticated mallards that were briefly exposed to a pair of objects that were either the same or different in shape or color later preferred to follow pairs of new objects exhibiting the imprinted relation. Thus, even in a seemingly rigid and very rapid form of learning such as filial imprinting, the brain operates with abstract conceptual reasoning, a faculty often assumed to be reserved to highly intelligent organisms.
- Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
- Published about 5 years ago
The relationship between sex/gender differences and autism has attracted a variety of research ranging from clinical and neurobiological to etiological, stimulated by the male bias in autism prevalence. Findings are complex and do not always relate to each other in a straightforward manner. Distinct but interlinked questions on the relationship between sex/gender differences and autism remain underaddressed. To better understand the implications from existing research and to help design future studies, we propose a 4-level conceptual framework to clarify the embedded themes.
Budgerigars and zebra finches differ in how they generalize in an artificial grammar learning experiment
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Published over 3 years ago
The ability to abstract a regularity that underlies strings of sounds is a core mechanism of the language faculty but might not be specific to language learning or even to humans. It is unclear whether and to what extent nonhuman animals possess the ability to abstract regularities defining the relation among arbitrary auditory items in a string and to generalize this abstraction to strings of acoustically novel items. In this study we tested these abilities in a songbird (zebra finch) and a parrot species (budgerigar). Subjects were trained in a go/no-go design to discriminate between two sets of sound strings arranged in an XYX or an XXY structure. After this discrimination was acquired, each subject was tested with test strings that were structurally identical to the training strings but consisted of either new combinations of known elements or of novel elements belonging to other element categories. Both species learned to discriminate between the two stimulus sets. However, their responses to the test strings were strikingly different. Zebra finches categorized test stimuli with previously heard elements by the ordinal position that these elements occupied in the training strings, independent of string structure. In contrast, the budgerigars categorized both novel combinations of familiar elements as well as strings consisting of novel element types by their underlying structure. They thus abstracted the relation among items in the XYX and XXY structures, an ability similar to that shown by human infants and indicating a level of abstraction comparable to analogical reasoning.
Abstract Electronic games have rapidly become a popular form of human recreation, and the immersive experiences they provide millions have led many to voice concerns that some games, and violent ones in particular, may negatively impact society. Increasingly heated debates make it clear that gaming-related aggression is a topic that elicits strong opinions. Despite a complex and growing literature concerned with violent games, little is known empirically about why some ardently believe, whereas others dismiss, notions that this form of leisure is a source of aggression. The present research recruited three nationally representative samples to investigate this understudied topic. Results showed that belief was normally distributed across the population, prominent among demographic cohorts who did not grow up with games and those who lack concrete gaming experience. Results are discussed in the context of this developing research area, wider social science perspectives, and the place of electronic games in society.
Social relationships and interactions contribute to daily emotional well-being. The emotional benefits that come from engaging with others are known to arise from real events, but do they also come from the imagination during daydreaming activity? Using experience sampling methodology with 101 participants, we obtained 371 reports of naturally occurring daydreams with social and non-social content and self-reported feelings before and after daydreaming. Social, but not non-social, daydreams were associated with increased happiness, love and connection and this effect was not solely attributable to the emotional content of the daydreams. These effects were only present when participants were lacking in these feelings before daydreaming and when the daydream involved imagining others with whom the daydreamer had a high quality relationship. Findings are consistent with the idea that social daydreams may function to regulate emotion: imagining close others may serve the current emotional needs of daydreamers by increasing positive feelings towards themselves and others.
Abstract Although the attitudes towards homosexuality have become more liberal, particularly in industrialized Western countries, there is still a great deal of variance in terms of the worldwide levels of homonegativity. Using data from the two most recent waves of the World Values Survey (1999-2004, 2005-2009) this article seeks to explain this variance by means of a multi-level analysis of 79 countries. We include characteristics on the individual level, as age or gender, as well as aggregate variables linked to specificities of the nation-states. In particular, we focus on the religious denomination of a person and her religiosity in order to explain her attitude towards homosexuality. We find clear differences in levels of homonegativity among the followers of the individual religions.
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Published over 6 years ago
Does information play a significant role in the foundations of physics? Information is the abstraction that allows us to refer to the states of systems when we choose to ignore the systems themselves. This is only possible in very particular frameworks, like in classical or quantum theory, or more generally, whenever there exists an information unit such that the state of any system can be reversibly encoded in a sufficient number of such units. In this work, we show how the abstract formalism of quantum theory can be deduced solely from the existence of an information unit with suitable properties, together with two further natural assumptions: the continuity and reversibility of dynamics, and the possibility of characterizing the state of a composite system by local measurements. This constitutes a set of postulates for quantum theory with a simple and direct physical meaning, like the ones of special relativity or thermodynamics, and it articulates a strong connection between physics and information.