People with synesthesia have unusual sensory experiences whereby one stimulus elicits another: Words may evoke tastes, numbers evoke colors, and so on. The eliciting stimulus is called the inducer, whereas the synesthetic experience, which is normally percept-like in quality, is referred to as the concurrent. Synesthetic experiences use some of the same neural substrates as “real” perception. The associations are influenced by cross-modal correspondences between the senses (e.g., high pitch being bright or light) and regularities in one’s own environment. Synesthesia comes in many varieties, but these likely stem from a common cause (because different varieties tend to co-occur together). This is normally explained in terms of an atypical neurodevelopmental cascade from genetic differences that affect brain development and give rise to an atypical profile of behaviors (of which synesthesia is one). People with synesthesia not only have unusual sensory experiences—this being the trait that defines them—but also present with a distinctive cognitive profile (affecting memory, imagery, perception) that has impacts on their life choices (e.g., occupation) and may predispose selectively toward certain clinical vulnerabilities.
Rosalind H. Searle
Counterproductive work behaviors (CWBs) can be a significant activity within workplaces. Psychological study outlines different perspectives as to why these arise. Traditional views position CWB as an individual factor that enables their detection and nonselection. While deviance may emanate from one person, if left unchallenged it can rapidly spread throughout a workplace, altering the prevailing values, norms, and behaviors, and in the process becoming more enduring and toxic. Alternatively, the source of CWB can emerge outside the individual with a context that depletes the individual’s own regulatory resources. Those engaging in CWB can be unaware of their behaviors, with moral disengagement mechanisms used to reframe cognitions about their activities, which leads to more pervasive collective moral decline. Inhibiting CWB requires active processes of both individual self-reflection and self-regulation, which can be easily derailed in stress-inducing contexts, but are constrained through self-reflection and also social and legal sanctions. However, through the means of selecting and shaping their environments, fear of social sanction can be diminished, actively assisted by colluding networks of silence, that protect and even embolden instigators, further muting their targets, and driving those willing to report out of the organization. In these ways prevailing norms become distorted. Increasingly, a traditional binary notion of “good” and “bad” people is being challenged as oversimplistic, with research showing CWB as a complex process. Its antecedents can be individual, but they may also be situational, or the result of prior “good” deeds. The exploration of four distinct approaches offers very different insights into the antecedents, processes, and outcomes, and potential means to more effectively intervene, and inhibit their occurrence.
Simon J. Haines, Jill Talley Shelton, Julie D. Henry, Gill Terrett, Thomas Vorwerk, and Peter G. Rendell
Tasks that involve remembering to carry out future intentions (such as remembering to attend an appointment), and the cognitive processes that enable the completion of such tasks (such as planning), are referred to as prospective memory (PM). PM is important for promoting quality of life across many domains. For instance, failures in remembering to meet social commitments are linked to social isolation, whereas failures in remembering to fulfill occupational goals are linked to poorer vocational outcomes. Declines in PM functioning are of particular concern for older adults because of the strong links between PM and functional capacity. The relationship between age and PM appears to be complex, dependent on many factors. While some aspects of PM appear to hold up relatively well in late adulthood, others appear to show consistent age-related decline. Variability in age differences appears to partially reflect the fact that there are diverse types of PM tasks, which impose demands on a range of cognitive processes that are differentially affected by aging. Specifically, the level and type of environmental support associated with different PM task types appears to be a meaningful determinant of age-related effects. Given the worldwide changing age demographics, the interest in age-related effects on PM will likely intensify, and a primary focus will be how to optimize and maintain PM capacity for this population. This is already reflected in the increasing research on interventions focused on enhancing PM capacity in late adulthood, and points to important future directions in this area of study.
Sarah Berger, Melissa Horger, Aaron DeMasi, and Lana Karasik
The study of motor development has traditionally focused on the timing and sequence of the acquisition of motor skills, such as sitting, crawling, or walking, over the first years of life. Because motor skills are directly observable, motor development serves as a useful exemplar for general principles of development. Current frameworks emphasize motor development in and as a context, such as how change in motor skill interacts with simultaneous change in other developmental domains, how the acquisition of new motor skills creates new opportunities for learning, and how the context in which motor development occurs shapes the course of development. For example, the onset of new motor skills changes the allocation of attentional resources, the quality of infants’ sleep, and available perceptual information. Reciprocally, contexts such as culturally specific parenting practices and individual differences in everyday experiences impact the timing and trajectory of new motor skills.
Creativity is perhaps what most differentiates humans from other species. Understanding creativity is particularly important in times of accelerated cultural and environmental change, such as the present, in which novel approaches and perspectives are needed. The study of creativity is an exciting area that brings together many different branches of research: cognitive psychology, social psychology, personality psychology, developmental psychology, organizational psychology, clinical psychology, neuroscience, mathematical models, and computer simulations. The creative process is thought to involve the capacity to shift between divergent and convergent modes of thought in response to task demands. Divergent thought is conventionally characterized as the kind of thinking needed for open-ended tasks, and it is measured by the ability to generate multiple solutions, while convergent thought is commonly characterized as the kind of thinking needed for tasks in which there is only one correct solution. More recently, divergent thought has been conceived of as reflecting on the task from unconventional contexts or perspectives, while convergent thought has been conceived of as reflecting on it from conventional contexts or perspectives. Personality traits correlated with creativity include openness to experience, tolerance of ambiguity, impulsivity, and self-confidence. Evidence that creativity is linked with affective disorders is mixed. Neuroscientific research on creativity using electroencephalography (EEG) or functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) suggests that creativity is associated with a loosening of cognitive control and decreased arousal. It has been shown that the distributed, content-addressable structure of associative memory is conducive to bringing task-relevant items to mind without the need for explicit search. Tangible evidence of human creativity dates back to the earliest stone tools devised over three million years ago, with the Middle-Upper Paleolithic marking the onset of art, science, and religion, and another surge of creativity in the present. Past and current areas of controversy concern the relative contributions of expertise, chance, and intuition, whether the emphasis should be on process versus product, whether creativity is a domain-specific or a domain-general function, the extent to which creativity is correlated with affective disorders, and whether divergent thinking entails the generation of multiple ideas or the honing of a single initially ambiguous mental representation that may manifest as different external outputs. Promising areas for further psychological study of creativity include computational modeling, research on the biological basis of creativity, and studies that track specific creative ideation processes over time.
Laura Healy, Alison Tincknell-Smith, and Nikos Ntoumanis
Within sporting contexts, goal setting is a commonly used technique that can lead to enhanced performance. Recommendations for goal setting have been widely embraced in sport and performance settings by researchers, practitioners, athletes, and coaches. However, it could be argued that these recommendations are overly simplistic, and that a lack of critical commentary in the sporting literature fails to acknowledge the complexity of goal setting in practice. For example, there has been limited acknowledgement within the applied recommendations of important factors such as personal differences with those individuals setting goals, contextual and environmental factors, and the characteristics of goals being pursed. Equally, the focus of goal setting research and practice has predominantly been on goal progress or goal attainment, thus overlooking the wider benefits of effective goal pursuit on additional aspects such as well-being. Similarly, the interactions between these factors has gained little attention with the academic literature or applied recommendations. This may result in diminished effectiveness of goal setting for athletes, and ultimately lead to sub-optimal performance and well-being. Critical and comprehensive reviews of the literature are timely and necessary, in order to develop a deeper understanding of goal setting in sport and performance. Combining research from both within sport and from theorists examining goals within other contexts can enhance our understanding of how to promote and support adaptive goal pursuit within sport and performance. Overall, this may lead to more appropriate and useful recommendations for researchers, athletes, coaches, and applied practitioners, ensuring that goal setting can be an effective technique for a range of individuals within sport and performance contexts.
Shuge Zhang, Tim Woodman, and Ross Roberts
Anxiety and fear are unpleasant emotions commonly experienced in sport and performance settings. While fear usually has an apparent cause, the source of anxiety is comparatively vague and complex. Anxiety has cognitive and somatic components and can be either a trait or a state. To assess the different aspects of anxiety, a variety of psychometric scales have been developed in sport and performance domains. Besides efforts to quantify anxiety, a major focus in the anxiety-performance literature has been to explore the impact of anxiety on performance and why such effects occur. Anxiety-performance theories and models have increased the understanding of how anxiety affects performance and have helped to explain why anxiety is widely considered a negative emotion that individuals typically seek to avoid in performance settings. Nonetheless, individuals approach anxiety-inducing or fear-provoking situations in different ways. For example, high-risk sport research shows that individuals can actively approach fear-inducing environments in order to glean intra- and interpersonal regulatory benefits. Such individual differences are particularly relevant to sport and performance researchers and practitioners, as those who actively approach competition to enjoy the fear-inducing environment (i.e., the “risk”) are likely to have a performance advantage over those who compete while having to cope with their troublesome anxiety and fear. Future research would do well to: (1) examine the effects of anxiety on the processes that underpin performance rather than a sole focus on the performance outcomes, (2) test directly the different cognitive functions that are thought to be impaired when performing under anxiety, (3) unite the existing theories to understand a “whole picture” of how anxiety influences performance, and (4) explore the largely overlooked field of individual differences in the context of performance psychology.