Psychology, Department of

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Prosocial Perceptions of Taxation Predict Support for Taxes

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-11-26
Abstract: 

Many people report disliking taxes despite the fact that tax funds are used to provide essential services for the taxpayer and fellow citizens. In light of past research demonstrating that people are more likely to engage in prosocial action when they recognize how their assistance positively impacts the recipient, we examine whether recognition of how one’s tax contributions help other citizens–perceived prosocial taxation–predicts more supportive views of taxation and greater engagement. We conducted three correlational studies using North American samples (N = 902, including a nationally representative sample of over 500 US residents) in which we find that perceived prosocial taxation is associated with greater enjoyment paying taxes, willingness to continue paying taxes, and larger financial contributions in a tax-like payment. Findings hold when controlling for several demographic variables, participants’ general prosocial orientation, and the perception that tax dollars are being put to good use. In addition, we examined data from six waves of the World Values Survey (N > 474,000 across 107 countries). We find that people expressing trust in their government and civil service–thereby indicating some confidence that their taxes will be used in prosocial ways–are significantly more likely to state that it is never justifiable to cheat on taxes. Together, these studies offer a new and optimistic perspective on taxation; people may hold more positive views and be more willing to contribute if they believe their contribution benefits others.

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Sleep Timing and Duration in Indigenous Villages with and Without Electric Lighting on Tanna Island, Vanuatu

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-11-21
Abstract: 

It has been hypothesized that sleep in the industrialized world is in chronic deficit, due in part to evening light exposure, which delays sleep onset and truncates sleep depending on morning work or school schedules. If so, societies without electricity may sleep longer. However, recent studies of hunter-gatherers and pastoralists living traditional lifestyles without electricity report short sleep compared to industrialized population norms. To further explore the impact of lifestyles and electrification on sleep, we measured sleep by actigraphy in indigenous Melanesians on Tanna Island, Vanuatu, who live traditional subsistence horticultural lifestyles, in villages either with or without access to electricity. Sleep duration was long and efficiency low in both groups, compared to averages from actigraphy studies of industrialized populations. In villages with electricity, light exposure after sunset was increased, sleep onset was delayed, and nocturnal sleep duration was reduced. These effects were driven primarily by breastfeeding mothers living with electric lighting. Relatively long sleep on Tanna may reflect advantages of an environment in which food access is reliable, climate benign, and predators and significant social conflict absent. Despite exposure to outdoor light throughout the day, an effect of artificial evening light was nonetheless detectable on sleep timing and duration.

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Evidence for Proactive and Reactive Helping in Two- To Five-Year-Olds from A Small-Scale Society

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2017-11-15
Abstract: 

Humans are unique in their propensity for helping. Not only do we help others in need by reacting to their requests, we also help proactively by assisting in the absence of a request. Proactive helping requires the actor to detect the need for help, recognize the intention of the other, and remedy the situation. Very little is known about the development of this social phenomenon beyond an urban, industrialized setting. We examined helping in nineteen two- to five-year old children in small-scale rural villages of Vanuatu. In the experimental condition, the intentions of the experimenter were made salient, whereas in the control condition they were ambiguous. Children helped more often in the experimental compared to the control condition, suggesting that the propensity to monitor others’ goals and act accordingly can be detected in different cultural contexts.

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False-Belief Reasoning From 3 to 92 Years of Age

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-09-28
Abstract: 

False-belief reasoning, defined as the ability to reason about another person’s beliefs and appreciate that beliefs can differ from reality, is an important aspect of perspective taking. We tested 266 individuals, at various ages ranging from 3 to 92 years, on a continuous measure of false-belief reasoning (the Sandbox task). All age groups had difficulty suppressing their own knowledge when estimating what a naïve person knew. After controlling for task-specific memory, our results showed similar false-belief reasoning abilities across the preschool years and from older childhood to younger adulthood, followed by a small reduction in this ability from younger to older adulthood. These results highlight the relative similarity in false-belief reasoning abilities at different developmental periods across the lifespan.

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“Do It-Yourself”: Home Blood Pressure as a Predictor of Traditional and Everyday Cognition in Older Adults

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2017-05-17
Abstract: 

Background

Hypertension guidelines recommend home blood pressure (HBP) monitoring in adjunct to office blood pressure (OBP) for its greater reproducibility and prognostic utility in the prevention of cardiovascular outcomes, especially stroke. To date, the relationship between HBP and cognitive function remains unexplored.

Methods

We examined HBP as a cognitive predictor in a multi-ethnic group of community-dwelling adults aged 60 and over (N = 133) using neuropsychological measures and analyzed the data using multiple regression analyses. We also employed “everyday cognition” measures that have been found to have higher prognostic utility for real-world functioning than traditional cognitive tasks.

Results

Good to perfect HBP monitoring compliance over seven days was achieved by 88.7% of the participants with superior reliability (ICC≥.96) to office readings. Higher home systolic BP and pulse pressure predicted worse processing speed, executive function, and everyday cognitive function, whereas lower home diastolic BP predicted worse everyday cognition. Office readings were similarly associated with everyday cognitive function but with no other cognitive measures.

Conclusion

Our findings are the first to validate HBP as a predictor of neuropsychological function in older adults beyond cognitive screening. Differential relationships among blood pressure variables and specific cognitive domains were observed. With proper standardization and training, we demonstrated that HBP can be obtained in a multi-ethnic community-dwelling older adult cohort. Our findings emphasize the importance of employing blood pressure and cognitive measures that are adequately sensitive to detect vascular-related cognitive impairment in a relatively healthy population. Implications regarding proper HBP measurement for hypertension management, cognitive health, and everyday function are discussed.

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Spatiotemporal Dynamics of Reward and Punishment Effects Induced By Associative Learning

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-11-26
Abstract: 

While reward associative learning has been studied extensively across different species, punishment avoidance learning has received far less attention. Of particular interest is how the two types of learning change perceptual processing of the learned stimuli. We designed a task that required participants to learn the association of emotionally neutral images with reward, punishment, and no incentive value outcomes through trial-and-error. During learning, participants received monetary reward, neutral outcomes or avoided punishment by correctly identifying corresponding images. Results showed an early bias in favor of learning reward associations, in the form of higher accuracy and fewer trials needed to reach learning criterion. We subsequently assessed electrophysiological learning effects with a task in which participants viewed the stimuli with no feedback or reinforcement. Critically, we found modulation of two early event-related potential components for reward images: the frontocentral P2 (170–230 ms) and the anterior N2/Early Anterior Positivity (N2/EAP; 210–310 ms). We suggest that reward associations may change stimuli detection and incentive salience as indexed by P2 and N2/EAP. We also reported, on an exploratory basis, a late negativity with frontopolar distribution enhanced by punishment images.

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Impact of Once- Versus Twice-Daily Tacrolimus Dosing on Medication Adherence in Stable Renal Transplant Recipients: A Canadian Single-Center Randomized Controlled Trial

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-08-17
Abstract: 

Background: Prevalence of immunosuppressant nonadherence in renal transplant recipients is high despite negative clinical outcomes associated with nonadherence. Simplification of dosing has been demonstrated to improve adherence in renal transplant recipients as measured through electronic monitoring and self-report.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to replicate and extend previous findings by measuring adherence with multiple methods in a Canadian sample.

Design: The study design was a randomized controlled medication dosing trial in adult renal transplant patients. The trial length was 4 months.

Setting: This study was conducted within the Solid Organ Transplant (SOT) Clinic at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH; Vancouver, Canada).

Patients: A total of 46 adult renal recipients (at least 1 year post-transplant) were recruited through the SOT clinic. With 8 withdrawals, 38 individuals completed all phases of the study.

Measurements: Medication adherence was measured for a period of 4 months using multiple methods, including electronic monitoring (MEMS [Medication Event Monitoring System]), pharmacy refill data (medication possession ratio [MPR]), and by self-report using the Adherence subscale of the Transplant Effects Questionnaire (TEQ).

Methods: Participants were randomized to twice-daily (n = 19) or once-daily tacrolimus dosing (n = 19) and followed over a 4-month period via monthly clinic study visits. Comparisons between the treatment groups were performed using the Mann-Whitney U and chi-square tests, for continuous and categorical variables, respectively.

Results: As outlined in Table 3, the once-daily dosing group showed significantly better MEMS Dose Adherence (P = .001), whereas MEMS Timing Adherence showed a tendency toward better adherence for this group, but was not significant (P = .052). MEMS Days Adherent (P = .418), MPR% (P = .123), and self-reported adherence (P = .284) did not differ between the once- and twice-daily dosing groups when measured as continuous variables. The MPR% was significantly better for the once-daily dosing group when measured dichotomously but not continuously (P = .044). Notably, most of those exposed to once-daily dosing (63.2%) preferred this to the twice-daily regimen.

Limitations: Limitations included small sample size and short follow-up period, precluding the examination of clinical outcome differences.

Conclusions: Results for dose adherence replicate the finding that dose simplification increases adherence to immunosuppressants as measured through electronic monitoring. Such an advantage for the once-daily dosing group was not seen across the 2 other electronic monitoring measurement variables (days and timing adherence). This study extends previous research by examining adherence in once versus twice-daily dosing via prescription refill data in a Canadian sample. Given the gravity of potential health outcomes associated with nonadherence, although results indicate inconsistencies in significance testing across measurement methods, the medium to large effect sizes seen in the data favoring better adherence with once-daily dosing provide an indication of the potential clinical significance of these findings.

Trial registration: This study was registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT01334333) on April 11, 2011.

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Cognitive Impairment in Marginally Housed Youth: Prevalence and Risk Factors

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-10-08
Abstract: 

Objective: Homeless and marginally housed youth are particularly vulnerable members of society, and are known to experience numerous health problems, including psychiatric illness, substance use, and viral infection. Despite the presence of these risk factors for cognitive compromise, there is limited research on the cognitive functioning of homeless and marginally housed youth. The present study examines the degree and pattern of cognitive impairment and associations with key risk factors in a sample of marginally housed young adults.

Method: Participants (N = 101) aged 20–29 years old were recruited from single-room occupancy hotels, and underwent cognitive, psychiatric, neurological, and serological assessments.

Results: Forty percent of participants were identified as mildly cognitively impaired across multiple domains, and 16% were moderately-severely impaired. Deficits in memory and attention were most prevalent, while impairments in inhibitory control/processing speed and cognitive flexibility were also present but tended to be less severe. Developmental and historical factors (premorbid intellectual functioning, neurological soft signs, earlier exposure to and longer duration of homelessness or marginal housing), as well as current health risks (stimulant dependence and hepatitis C exposure), were associated with cognitive impairment.

Conclusions: The strikingly high rate of cognitive impairment in marginally housed young adults represents a major public health concern and is likely to pose a significant barrier to treatment and rehabilitation. These results suggest that the pathway to cognitive impairment involves both developmental vulnerability and modifiable risk factors. This study highlights the need for early interventions that address cognitive impairment and risk factors in marginalized young people.

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Classic Motor Chunking Theory Fails To Account for Behavioural Diversity and Speed in a Complex Naturalistic Task

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-06-13
Abstract: 

In tasks that demand rapid performance, actions must be executed as efficiently as possible. Theories of expert motor performance such as the motor chunking framework suggest that efficiency is supported by automatization, where many serial actions are automatized into smaller chunks, or groups of commonly co-occuring actions. We use the fast-paced, professional eSport StarCraft 2 as a test case of the explanatory power of the motor chunking framework and assess the importance of chunks in explaining expert performance. To do so, we test three predictions motivated by a simple motor chunking framework. (1) StarCraft 2 players should exhibit an increasing number of chunks with expertise. (2) The proportion of actions falling within a chunk should increase with skill. (3) Chunks should be faster than non-chunks containing the same atomic behaviours. Although our findings support the existence of chunks, they also highlight two problems for existing accounts of rapid motor execution and expert performance. First, while better players do use more chunks, the proportion of actions within a chunks is stable across expertise and expert sequences are generally more varied (the diversity problem). Secondly, chunks, which are supposed to enjoy the most extreme automatization, appear to save little or no time overall (the time savings problem). Instead, the most parsimonious description of our latency analysis is that players become faster overall regardless of chunking.

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(Re)Introducing Vygotsky’s Thought: From Historical Overview to Contemporary Psychology

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-08-07
Abstract: 

Theories formulated by Russian psychologist and educator Lev Vygotsky currently range from being applied and celebrated across multiple contexts to be considered outdated. In this paper, we maintain that such inconsistency in application stems from the overreliance on translated or reformulated Vygotskian theories, the attempts to understand these ideas in isolation from the scientific historical context of their development, and the impact of Vygotsky’s personal life circumstances on the development of his scholarship. It is known that Vygotsky’s untimely death prevented him from elaborating on his theoretical views and expanding his early empirical work. We suggest that Vygotsky’s scholarship could be better understood in light of the core principles that transcend all aspects of his work. In this paper, we elaborate on two such core principles: theories of language development and their relation to the integrated systemic approach to psychological development. We argue that although linguistic and historical boundaries have shaped the common perception of Vygotskian theories in anglophone research in a specific way, there is a potential for a renewed application of these theories to modern psychology that might be especially relevant in light of the increasingly interdisciplinary character of the modern science. To support our argument, we provide a brief overview and examples of potential connections between Vygotsky’s scholarship with contemporary landscape in psychological science. The paper presents a brief introduction to the topic of Vygotskian work and its application to modern psychology, rather than an addition to the field of Vygotskian scholarship. It is geared toward non-Vygotskian scholars and invites researchers working in interdisciplinary areas of psychology.

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