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  • The Effects of Romantic Love on Mentalizing Abilities.

    12 March 2018

    The effects of the human pair-bonded state of "romantic love" on cognitive function remain relatively unexplored. Theories on cognitive priming suggest that a state of love may activate love-relevant schemas, such as mentalizing about the beliefs of another individual, and may thus improve mentalizing abilities. On the other hand, recent functional MRI (fMRI) research on individuals who are in love suggests that several brain regions associated with mentalizing may be "deactivated" during the presentation of a love prime, potentially affecting mentalizing cognitions and behaviors. The current study aimed to investigate experimentally the effect of a love prime on a constituent aspect of mentalizing-the attribution of emotional states to others. Ninety-one participants who stated they were "deeply in love" with their romantic partner completed a cognitive task involving the assessment of emotional content of facial stimuli (the Reading the Mind in the Eyes task) immediately after the presentation of either a love prime or a neutral prime. Individuals were significantly better at interpreting the emotional states of others after a love prime than after a neutral prime, particularly males assessing negative emotional stimuli. These results suggest that presentation of a love stimulus can prime love-relevant networks and enhance subsequent performance on conceptually related mentalizing tasks.

  • Why only humans have language

    15 December 2017

    © Oxford University Press, 2013. This chapter has three main objectives. First, it briefly summarizes the reasons why language might have evolved, and what we are to make of these. It then considers what this has to tell us about why only the hominin lineage evolved the capacity for language. Finally, it revisits the author's previous analyses (Aiello and Dunbar 1993) on the timing of language evolution in the hominin fossil record using new estimates for all the equations involved, in order to explore the sequence by which language might have evolved, and the transitional states involved.

  • Does implied community size predict likeability of a similar stranger?

    14 March 2018

    Homophily, the tendency for people to cluster with similar others, has primarily been studied in terms of proximal, psychological causes, such as a tendency to have positive associations with people who share traits with us. Here we investigate whether homophily could be correlated with perceived group membership, given that sharing traits with other people might signify membership of a specific community. In order to investigate this, we tested whether the amount of homophily that occurs between strangers is dependent on the number of people they believe share the common trait (i.e. the size of group that the trait identifies). In two experiments, we show that more exclusive (smaller) groups evoke more positive ratings of the likeability of a stranger. When groups appear to be too inclusive (i.e. large) homophily no longer occurs, suggesting that it is not only positive associations with a trait that cause homophily, but a sense of the exclusiveness of a group is also important. These results suggest that group membership based on a variety of traits can encourage cohesion between people from diverse backgrounds, and may be a useful tool in overcoming differences between groups.

  • Am i dyslexic? Parental self-report of literacy difficulties

    26 February 2018

    © 2014 The Authors Dyslexia Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. In the absence of criteria for the diagnosis of dyslexia, considerable weight is given to self-report, in particular in studies of children at family risk of dyslexia. The present paper uses secondary data from a previous study to compare parents who self-report as dyslexic and those who do not, in relation to objectively determined levels of ability. In general, adults are more likely to self-report as 'dyslexic' if they have poorer reading and spelling skills and also if there is a discrepancy between IQ and measured literacy. However, parents of higher social status who have mild literacy difficulties are more likely to self-report as dyslexic than parents who have weaker literacy skills but are less socially advantaged. Together the findings suggest that the judgement as to whether or not a parent considers themselves 'dyslexic' is made relative to others in the same social sphere. Those who are socially disadvantaged may, in turn, be less likely to seek support for their children. Â