ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B


    25 November 2023, Volume 55 Issue 11 Previous Issue    Next Issue

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    Automatic processing of facial width-to-height ratio
    WANG Hailing, CHEN Enguang, LIAN Yujing, LI Jingjing, WANG Liwei
    2023, 55 (11):  1745-1761.  doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2023.01745
    Abstract ( 227 )   HTML ( 22 )  
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    The facial width-to-height ratio (fWHR) is a stable perceptual structure of all faces. It is calculated by dividing the face width (the distance between the left and right zygion) by the face height (the distance between the eyebrow and the upper lip). Previous studies have demonstrated that men's facial width-to-height ratio is a reliable clue to noticing aggressive tendencies and behavior. Individuals with higher fWHR were considered by observers as more aggressive than those with lower fWHR. The researchers proposed that this may be related to facial expression. Observers more readily saw anger in faces with a relatively high fWHR and more readily saw fear in faces with a relatively low fWHR. However, it is unclear what the neural mechanism of fWHR is, particularly in the absence of attention. The present study investigated this issue by recording visual mismatch negativity (vMMN), which indicates automatic processing of visual information under unattended conditions. We hypothesized that faces with high fWHR would elicit a larger vMMN compared to faces with low fWHR. If the above result is related to the fact that high fWHR faces appear angrier and low fWHR faces appear more fearful, then high fWHR faces displaying an angry expression would evoke vMMN and low fWHR faces displaying a fearful expression would evoke vMMN.

    Participants performed a size-change-detection task on a central cross, while random sequences of faces were presented in the background using a deviant-standard-reverse oddball paradigm. High fWHR faces (deviant stimuli) were presented less frequently among low fWHR faces (standard stimuli), or vice versa. This paradigm allows us to investigate the vMMN induced by the same physical stimulus, as the same stimulus is utilized as both the deviant and the standard stimulus in different blocks, thus reducing the influence of lower-level physical stimulus attributes on ERP components. 41 (19 females, 21.05 ± 1.70 years) and 25 (13 females, 20.56 ± 1.635 years) Chinese participated in Experiment 1 and 2, respectively. In Experiment 1, faces with neutral expressions were used. We employed 2 (fWHR: high vs. low) × 2 (stimuli: deviant vs. standard) within-subject design. The occipital-temporal vMMN (the deviant stimuli elicited more negative responses than the standard stimuli) emerged in the latency range of 200~500 ms for faces with high fWHR (200~250 ms: 4.117 ± 0.591 vs. 4.685 ± 0.582 μV, p < 0.001, 95% CI = [-0.804, -0.331]; 250~300 ms: 3.273 ± 0.562 vs. 4.869 ± 0.553 μV, p < 0.001, 95% CI = [-2.043, -1.150]; 300~350 ms: 2.026 ± 0.532 vs. 3.725 ± 0.510 μV, p < 0.001, 95% CI = [-2.114, -1.284]; 350~400 ms: 2.104 ± 0.483 vs. 3.692 ± 0.443 μV, p < 0.001, 95% CI = [-2.064, -1.113]; 400~450 ms: 1.163 ± 0.463 vs. 2.936 ± 0.431 μV, p < 0.001, 95% CI = [-2.231, -1.316]; 450~500 ms: 0.331 ± 0.449 vs. 2.231 ± 0.434 μV, p < 0.001, 95% CI = [-1.889, -0.752]) and in the latency range of 200~250 ms (4.117 ± 0.591 vs. 4.685 ± 0.582 μV, p < 0.001, 95% CI = [-0.804, -0.331]) and 300~350 ms (2.563 ± 0.648 vs. 3.256 ± 0.588 μV, p = 0.009, 95% CI = [-1.207, -0.179]) for faces with low fWHR (Figure 1). More importantly, faces with high fWHR elicited a higher vMMN than those with low fWHR faces in the 300~350 ms latency range (-1.728 ± 0.242 vs. -0.693 ± 0.254 μV, p = 0.010, 95% CI = [-1.804, -0.266]).

    In Experiment 2, faces with expressions of fear and anger were used. We employed 2 (fWHR: high vs. low) × 2 (stimuli: deviant vs. standard) × 2 (face expression: angry vs. fearful) within-subject design. Results showed that high-fWHR faces displaying an angry expression elicited a vMMN in the 200~250 ms at P4/PO8 electrode sites (P4: 2.291 ± 0.547 vs. 2.694 ± 0.542 μV, p = 0.039, 95% CI = [-0.784, -0.022]; PO8: 1.298 ± 0.669 vs. 1.966 ± 0.664 μV, p = 0.011, 95% CI = [-1.166, -0.169]) and 300~400 ms latency ranges (300~350 ms: P3: 1.068 ± 0.361 vs. 1.492 ± 0.291 μV, p = 0.009, 95% CI = [-0.731, -0.116]; PO5: 0.689 ± 0.580 vs. 1.097 ± 0.525 μV, p = 0.044, 95% CI = [-0.804, -0.012]; PO8: 0.775 ± 0.636 vs. 1.348 ± 0.702 μV, p = 0.049, 95% CI = [-1.143, -0.002]. 350~400 ms: P3: 0.613 ± 0.307 vs. 0.979 ± 0.229 μV, p = 0.031, 95% CI = [-0.696, -0.036]; PO8: 0.730 ± 0.553 vs. 1.343 ± 0.587 μV, p = 0.035, 95% CI = [-1.180, -0.047]), while low-fWHR faces displaying a fearful expression elicited a vMMN in the 250~400 ms latency range (250~300 ms: 1.484 ± 0.600 vs. 1.911 ± 0.551 μV, p = 0.026, 95% CI = [-0.797, -0.056]; 300~350 ms: 0.239 ± 0.538 vs. 0.820 ± 0.510 μV, p = 0.022, 95% CI = [-1.069, -0.092]; 350~400 ms: 0.657 ± 0.435 vs. 1.109 ± 0.390 μV, p = 0.035, 95% CI = [-0.870, -0.035]), especially in the left hemisphere (Figure 2).

    To gain a better understanding of the effect of facial expression on the degree of automatic processing in high and low fWHR, we compared vMMN responses to faces with high fWHR presenting neutral and angry expressions, and faces with low fWHR showing neutral and fear expressions (Table 1 and 2). The results revealed that faces with high fWHR displaying an angry expression elicited smaller vMMN than those displaying a neutral expression (300~350 ms at PO5 site: t(64) = -3.654, p = 0.001, Cohen’s d = 0.272, 95% CI = [-2.180, -0.639]; 300~350 ms at PO8 site: t(64) = -3.455, p = 0.001, Cohen’s d = 0.289, 95% CI = [-2.581, -0.690]; 350~400 ms at PO8 site: t(64) = -3.279, p = 0.002, Cohen’s d = 0.305, 95% CI = [-2.538, -0.617]).

    In conclusion, the present findings suggest that the facial width-to-height ratio is associated with automatic processing and provide new electrophysiological evidence for the different mechanisms underlying high and low fWHR faces under unattended conditions. The automatic processing of high fWHR exhibits greater neural activity than that of low fWHR, which might be related to facial expressions representing facial aggression. Consistent with previous studies, the current finding demonstrates that automatic processing of high and low fWHR is promoted by expressions of anger and fear, respectively. At the same time, due to the automatic processing of facial expressions, the automatic processing of faces with high fWHR is weakened by angry faces relative to neutral faces.

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    Effect of bronze drum training on rhythm perception and executive function of Zhuang drummers
    ZHANG Hang, WANG Ting, FENG Xiaohui, WEI Yiping, ZHANG Jijia
    2023, 55 (11):  1762-1779.  doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2023.01762
    Abstract ( 99 )   HTML ( 8 )  
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    Rhythm, as the temporal variation in a sequence of sounds, plays a crucial role in understanding musical melodies and speech patterns. Previous research has shown that musicians exhibit superior abilities in processing music-related and unrelated information and show advantages in executive function. However, the specific component of musical training (pitch or rhythm) that yields these benefits remains unclear, largely due to the intertwined nature of pitch and rhythm training. This study seeks to understand the impact of exclusive rhythmic training on cognitive abilities, leveraging the unique opportunity provided by Zhuang drummers who have undergone bronze drum training without any formal melodic training.

    The bronze drum is the artistic treasure of Zhuang nation. As a unique form of local instrumental music performance, Donglan bronze drum music pursues the asynchronicity and variability of rhythm, and has more characteristics than the music art synchronized with the collective, which requires a higher level of rhythm perception. The most distinctive feature of Donglan bronze drum music is the rich rhythm changes, which fully reflects the superb skill level of the players. Therefore, long-term bronze drum training may promote the drummer's music perception and higher cognitive function development.

    We conducted six experiments involving 52 participants from Lan Yang, a small town in Guangxi Province's Donglan County. Among them, 26 individuals [Mean age = 49.88 ± 15.98 years] had long-term bronze drum training but no other musical training, while the other 26 [Mean age = 47.77 ± 12.62 years] had no music training at all. Participants underwent tasks in rhythmic and pitch change detection, combined rhythmic-pitch change detection, pitch-based auditory Stroop, auditory n-back tasks, and a cued alternating runs switching task.

    The results indicated that the Zhuang bronze drummers exhibited superior rhythm perception compared to the control group (ACC bronze drummers = 0.43 ± 0.15, ACC control group = 0.33 ± 0.20, p = 0.046, Cohen's d = 0.58), with no discernable difference in pitch perception (ACC bronze drummers = 0.56 ± 0.21, ACC control group = 0.49 ± 0.23, p = 0.24) (see Figure 1), suggesting the bronze drum training may enhance auditory temporal fine-tuning. Regarding executive functions (see Figure 2), the drummers outperformed the control group in inhibitory control (RT bronze drummers = 804 ± 111 ms, RT control group = 888 ± 137 ms, p = 0.02) and working memory updating (ACC bronze drummers = 0.67 ± 0.15, ACC control group = 0.58 ± 0.11, p = 0.019), but there was no difference in switching performance (SC bronze drummers = 79 ± 121 ms, SC control group = 64 ± 147 ms, p = 0.85), aligning with the “Unity and Diversity of Executive Functions” hypothesis that expertise in rhythm perception doesn't uniformly improve all cognitive abilities.

    This study demonstrates that the rhythmic perception ability of Zhuang bronze drummers is an interplay of cognitive factors and Zhuang musical culture exposure. The long-term bronze drum training significantly enhances rhythm perception and certain executive functions, revealing the non-aesthetic value of bronze drum performance. The unique “variation rhythm” style may have originated from the imitation of “frogs clamour”, a feature of the local bronze drum music culture.

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    How collaboration reduces memory errors: A meta-analysis review
    SUN Yaru, LIU Zejun, DUAN Yajie, CHEN Ning, LIU Wei
    2023, 55 (11):  1780-1792.  doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2023.01780
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    Strategy switching in a sequence of decisions: Evidence from the Iowa Gambling Task
    HU Xinyun, SHEN Yue, DAI Junyi
    2023, 55 (11):  1793-1805.  doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2023.01793
    Abstract ( 80 )   HTML ( 6 )  
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    Much previous research has investigated strategies for various decision tasks with a sequence of trials. By assuming each individual adopted a single decision strategy across all trials and comparing corresponding computational cognitive models in terms of their performances in fitting empirical data, such research has revealed multiple decision strategies for various decision tasks. A common drawback of such research, however, was a neglect of the possibility that individuals switched their strategies during the relevant tasks. In Study 1, we developed a computational cognitive model for the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) allowing for one switch between a reinforcement learning strategy and a heuristic strategy (i.e., strategy-switch-once or SSO model). The results of model comparison between the SSO model and single-strategy models provided clear evidence that individuals might change their strategies along the sequence of decisions in the IGT. Study 2 showed further that a higher proportion of individual data from a 200-trial IGT were fitted best by the SSO model than was the case among individual data from the standard, 100-trial IGT. These findings underscored the importance of considering potential strategy switching in a sequence of decision trials for a more proper understanding of decision strategies in various tasks, especially for a long sequence of decisions. For a deeper understanding of psychological mechanisms underlying sequences of decisions, future research might further investigate various forms of strategy switching such as gradual versus abrupt switches and task and individual factors that trigger such switches.

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    The effects of emotional salience on emotion-induced blindness
    QIU Huiyan, LYU Yong
    2023, 55 (11):  1806-1814.  doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2023.01806
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    Who makes the choice? The influence of choice on preschoolers’ sharing behaviors and feelings
    WU Wenqing, ZHANG Qinyuan, ZHAO Xin
    2023, 55 (11):  1815-1826.  doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2023.01815
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    Previous research has indicated that the freedom of choice influences children’s prosocial motivation. However, little research has investigated the impact on children’s prosocial motivation of, one, the quality of the relationship between the child and the adult who makes the choices, or two, the provision of reasonable explanations. We investigated these questions with children aged 4 to 5 in China. In Study 1, children were randomly assigned to one of three choice conditions: self-choice (the child could decide for themself whether to share with a puppet or not), mother-choice (the child’s mother instructed the child to share), and experimenter-choice (the experimenter instructed the child to share). Prosocial motivation was measured via children’s feelings during the sharing task and their sharing behaviors towards a novel partner. Meanwhile, mothers in the self-choice and the mother-choice conditions completed a questionnaire measuring child-mother relatedness. We found that although there was no overall significant difference in children’s sharing behaviors or feelings across the three conditions, mother-child relatedness significantly moderated the effect of choice condition on children’s sharing feelings. Children who had positive relationships with their mothers demonstrated positive feelings when their mothers made the choice for them, similar to when they made the choice themselves. However, those who had neutral or negative relationships with their mothers demonstrated worse feelings when their mothers made the choice for them compared to when they made the choice themselves. In Study 2, we further investigated whether the provision of a reasonable explanation might influence children’s sharing motivation. We found that, when the mother provided an explanation, children shared more stickers with a novel partner than when children made choices themselves or when the mother forced them to share. These findings suggest that children’s prosocial motivations do not necessarily decrease when others make choices for them; instead, interpersonal relatedness and provision of explanations can protect children’s prosocial motivations.

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    “Crisis” or “opportunity”: Latent patterns of family, school, community risks and assets on psychological crisis in adolescence
    SUN Fang, LI Huanhuan, GUO Yueyan, WEI Shijie
    2023, 55 (11):  1827-1844.  doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2023.01827
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    Extensive studies have demonstrated the buffering effect of risk factors or the promotion effect of protective assets within each setting of family, school, or community on psychological crisis in adolescence. Although many adolescents expose to risks and assets in multiple contexts, the independent and interactive effects of such cross-contextual factors on multiple psychological crisis have not been studied. This study addressed this gap by examining latent patterns of risk factors or/and protective assets in multiple contexts on non-lethal crisis state (CS), non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), suicide attempt (SA) in adolescence. Further, based on the perspectives of positive youth development and psychological pain, this study explored the specific patterns considered as immune barriers to psychological crisis, and specific patterns with cumulative and clustering effects on psychological crisis.

    A sample of 2249 junior middle school students were invited to participant. The adolescents completed psychological crisis (including CS, NSSI, SA), three-dimensional psychological pain (TDPPS), positive youth development (PYD), family conflict, parental control, campus stressors, community unsafety, family resilience, parental involvement, friendship quality, perceived teacher autonomy support, neighborhood friendship and community engagement scales. Based on Latent Profile Analysis (LPA), the patterns of risk factors and TDPPS, patterns of assets and PYD and patterns of risks and assets in multiple contexts were analyzed using Mplus7.4. Further, the predictive effects of distinct patterns on psychological crisis and the relative mediated effects of TDPPS and PYD were analyzed by SPSS 21.0.

    The results showed that: (1) Based on the risk perspective, adolescents at high family risk usually had higher risk in school and community context (n = 4.46%). The level of CS, NSSI, SA increased with the level of risk factors (Figure 1). Notably, compared to moderate risk-high painful feeling class, adolescents in high family risk-high pain avoidance class had higher level of SA (OR = 6.38, p < 0.001) and NSSI (OR = 2.32, p < 0.001). (2) Based on the protective perspective, the more assets adolescents had, the higher level of PYD, and the lower level of CS, NSSI, SA they were (Figure 2). Compared to high combined protection-high PYD class, adolescents in moderate family protection-high PYD class have similar level of CS (p = 0.087) and SA (OR = 6.26, p = 0.096). Compared to moderate family protection-high PYD class, adolescents in moderate community protection-moderate PYD class have similar level of NSSI (OR = 1.16, p = 0.077). (3) Based on the integration perspective, the risk factors and protective assets across multiple contexts were divided into four patterns: high family risk-low assets class (class1, 8.38%), high school risk-moderate assets class (class2, 14.72%), balanced class (class3, 53.41%) and low risk-high assets class (class4, 23.49%, Figure 3). ANCOVA showed that there was significant difference on the level of CS among all patterns [F(3, 2042) = 183.34, p < 0.001, η2 = 0.21] after controlling for gender and age. Compared to class3, adolescents in class1 and class2 had higher level of NSSI (class1: OR = 2.80, p < 0.001; class2: OR = 3.79, p < 0.001), adolescents in class4 had lower level of NSSI (OR = 0.33, p < 0.001) after controlling for gender and age (Figure 4). Compared to class3, adolescents in class1 and class2 had higher level of SA (class1: OR = 5.24, p < 0.001; class2: OR = 4.27, p < 0.001), adolescents in class4 had lower level of NSSI (OR = 0.17, p = 0.003) after controlling for gender and whether one child or not (Figure 4).Taken the balanced class as reference group, the relative mediated effects of TDPPS and PYD between the other three classes and CS, NSSI, and SA were significant (Figure 5 and Table 1).

    This study deepened the understanding of the effects of distinct patterns of family, school and community risks and TDPPS on psychological crisis in adolescences, emerging on cumulative and clusters effects. Psychological crisis could be buffered by distinct patterns of assets across family, school and community context and PYD. Adolescent crisis intervention should simultaneously focus on addressing risks, and establishing a supportive system across multiple contexts.

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    Videoconferencing counseling online will not weaken treatment outcomes: Evidence from comparison with face-to-face counseling in-person
    SUN Qiwu, WANG Zhihuan, REN Zhihong, YU Lixia, WU Caizhi
    2023, 55 (11):  1845-1858.  doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2023.01845
    Abstract ( 71 )   HTML ( 6 )  
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    The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a shift from in-person face-to-face counseling (F2F) to online videoconferencing counseling (VCP), which poses the question: how does VCP affect treatment outcomes compared to F2F? Existing research has demonstrated the equivalence of VCP and F2F in terms of effectiveness. However, the working alliance, a key common factor in F2F, has been found to be lower in quality in VCP than in F2F in a recent meta-analysis. Moreover, only one study has examined the reciprocal relationship between working alliance and treatment outcomes in VCP at the within-patient level. The present study aims to (a) compare the treatment outcomes between VCP and F2F using longitudinal data from a naturalistic setting; and (b) explore the mutual influence of working alliance and treatment outcomes in VCP and F2F at the within-patient level.

    This study was conducted in a counseling center of a university in central China, and participants were arranged to receive VCP or F2F. The final sample consisted of 525 college students, of whom 117 received VCP and 408 received F2F. The only difference between the two conditions was the mode of delivery (VCP vs. F2F). Participants completed the CORE-OM-10 before each session and the Session Alliance Inventory (SAI) after each session. They also completed the PHQ-9, GAD-7, and CORE-OM-34 at pre- and post-treatment. The data from sessions 1 to 6 were analyzed using the Random Intercept Cross-Lagged Panel Model (RI-CLPM). A multi-group RI-CLPM comparison was conducted to examine the alliance-outcome relationship in VCP and F2F at the within-patient level.

    The within-patient analysis (Figure 1) revealed that SAI was a significant predictor of CORE-OM in the subsequent session (β = -0.07, SE = 0.03, p = 0.02), and CORE-OM was a significant predictor of SAI in the same session (β = -0.07, SE = 0.03, p = 0.03). The multi-group comparison (Figure 2) indicated that the predictive effect of SAI on CORE-OM did not differ significantly between VCP and F2F (b = -0.05, se = 0.14, p = 0.724); the predictive effect of CORE-OM on SAI had no significant difference between tow groups either (b = -0.01, se = 0.03, p = 0.645). However, the working alliance quality in VCP was significantly lower than that in F2F after the first (Mdiff = 0.77, SE = 0.35, 95% CI [0.08,1.46], t(523) = 2.18, p = 0.03) and the fourth sessions (Mdiff = 0.74, SE = 0.37, 95% CI [0.02,1.46], t(442) = 2.03, p = 0.04), but not after the other sessions. The post-treatment analysis, using Propensity Score Matching with pretest CORE-OM34, PHQ-9 and GAD-7 as predictor variables, showed no significant difference between VCP (N = 89) and F2F (N = 330), in PHQ-9 (Mdiff = -0.19, SE = 0.56, t(419) = -0.34), GAD-7 (Mdiff = -0.68, SE = 0.45, t(419) = -1.51), and CORE-OM34 (Mdiff = -2.30, SE = 2.36, t(419) = -0.97).

    These findings indicate that VCP is as effective as F2F in reducing psychological distress, and that clients can establish a stable working alliance in VCP over time, even if they initially experience difficulties in adapting to the online mode. Moreover, the reciprocal influence of working alliance and treatment outcomes in VCP is similar to that in F2F. This study offers empirical support for the use of VCP, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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    Influence of social distance and promise levels on trust decisions: An ERPs study
    LI Mei, LI Jin, ZHANG Guanfei, ZHONG Yiping, LI Hong
    2023, 55 (11):  1859-1871.  doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2023.01859
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    Previous research has revealed that trust plays an important role in promoting functioning, economic growth, and individual well-being in human society. Trust refers to individuals’ willingness to take risks to hand over their resources to others in the context of social uncertainty. Based on rational signal theory, individuals tend to make social decisions (e.g., trust) according to perceived social information of others, such as social identity, gestures, language, and behaviors. Among these, trustees’ social identity and their promises are important social information that convey whether an individual is trustworthy and reliable. Previous research has only examined the effect of promise levels on trust decisions, or the effect social distance on trust decisions. However, little is known about how promise levels and social distance interact to affect trust behaviors and its neural mechanisms.

    We adapted a Trust Game (TG) and the event-related potentials (ERPs) to examine the neurocognitive mechanisms of the effect of promise levels and social distance on trust behaviors. In particular, participates were asked to choose whether to trust their friends and strangers when they made high and low-level promises while electroencephalograms (EEGs) were recorded. Within each round, participants were informed of the promisor and their promise. We adopted two promise levels from previous studies: high-level promises would return 28 yuan (70%), and low-level 12 yuan (30%). The social distance includes both friend and stranger levels. The experiment consisted of 600 trials, including 150 trials for each condition.

    These results suggest that motivations of trust behaviors toward friends and strangers are driven by different psychological mechanisms. Individuals trust friends more, and when the promisor is a friend, individuals can be motivated by the mutual interests of self and friends when making trust choices. However, when the promisor is a stranger, individuals are only driven by self-interest, and they do not care about strangers’ benefits when making trust choices. The present study provides insight into how the brain processes the interplay of social distance and promise levels on trust decisions, which broadens the previous insight into understanding trust behaviors.

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    Occam’s razor effect in packaging: The impact of simple versus complex aesthetics on product efficacy judgments
    CHEN Siyun, XIAO Tingwen, XIONG Jiwei, PENG Kaiping
    2023, 55 (11):  1872-1888.  doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2023.01872
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    People typically buy products for a certain function (e.g., laundry detergent for cleaning clothes, energy drinks for refreshing, ibuprofen tablets for pain relief, and hand cream for moisturizing). Marketers spare no effort to utilize marketing elements to enhance consumers’ perception of product efficacy. This research documents an intriguing empirical phenomenon whereby visual simplicity in packages increases the valuation of product efficacy.

    Seven studies were conducted to verify our predictions. Study 1 (N = 80) was an Implicit Association Test, providing initial evidence for the link between visual simplicity and effectiveness attributes. That is, visual simplicity is more associated with high effectiveness, whereas visual complexity is more associated with low effectiveness (see Table 1). Moving forward, Studies 2A (N = 261), 2B (N = 259), and 2C (N = 222) were conducted to confirm the core effect of visual simplicity on perceived product efficacy by using different principles that determine visual complexity. In particular, we tested the core effect of visual simplicity on product efficacy judgment across different product categories, including handwash (Study 2A) and medical products (Studies 2B and 2C). The results showed that products with simple aesthetics are perceived as more effective, in support of Hypothesis 1 (see Table 2).

    To reveal the underlying mechanism of the effect of package simplicity on product efficacy, perceived goal focus was introduced to this research. Study 3 (N = 264) provided empirical evidence for this process. A between-subjects design of a single factor (package simplicity: simple vs. complex) was utilized to test the proposed underlying mechanism. With a PROCESS Model 4 (resamples = 5000), it was found that perceived goal focus mediated the effect of package simplicity on product efficacy (Indirect effects = -0.09, SE = 0.05, 95% CI: [-0.2037, -0.0084]). The results showed that products with simple aesthetics are perceived as more focused on the goal of utilitarian benefits, thus resulting in a higher evaluation of product efficacy. In contrast, products with complex aesthetics are perceived as less focused on the goal of utilitarian benefits, thus leading to a lower evaluation of product efficacy. These results provided additional evidence for Hypothesis 2.

    Furthermore, Study 4 (N = 258) was conducted to identify the moderating role of zero-sum beliefs about products (i.e., Hypothesis 3). In this study, we manipulated package complexity and measured participants’ zero-sum beliefs about products. The results indicated that when participants’ zero-sum belief is strong, the effect of package simplicity on product efficacy will be replicated, which echoes the findings from Studies 2A, 2B, 2C, and 3. However, when participants’ zero-sum belief is weak, the effect of package simplicity on product effectiveness will be attenuated. Thus, the moderating role of zero-sum beliefs is significant, confirming Hypothesis 3 (see Figure 1).

    Finally, Study 5 (N = 456) manipulated, rather than measured zero-sum beliefs to test the moderation. Additionally, we confirmed that the core effect holds only when priming participants with utilitarian appeals. Study 5 employed 2 (package simplicity: simple vs. complex) by 2 (mindset: weak zero-sum vs. control) by 2 (appeal: utilitarian vs. hedonic) between-subjects design. The simple effect of zero-sum beliefs indicated that the effect of package complexity on product efficacy was significant in the control group of zero-sum beliefs (M simple = 5.41, SD = 0.79 vs. M complex = 5.01, SD = 0.74; F(1, 441) = 15.48, p < 0.001, ηp2 = 0.033), but the effect of package complexity disappeared in the weak zero-sum group (M simple = 5.14, SD = 0.87 vs. M complex = 5.15, SD = 0.76; p = 0.97). Furthermore, the simple effect of product appeals indicated that the effect of package complexity on product efficacy was significant in utilitarian group (M simple = 5.54, SD = 0.79 vs. M complex = 5.11, SD = 0.76; F(1, 441) = 16.80, p < 0.001, ηp2 = 0.036), but disappeared in hedonic group (M simple = 5.03, SD = 0.81 vs. M complex = 5.05, SD = 0.74; p = 0.81). As expected, when participants hold a weak zero-sum belief about products or are primed with a hedonic appeal, the core effect of package simplicity on product efficacy judgment is attenuated.

    Collectively, seven studies demonstrate that participants perceive products in a simple package as more effective than complex counterparts. Notably, this effect is mediated by consumers’ perceived goal focus of product function. Moreover, this effect is weakened among consumers with a weak zero-sum belief about products and who are framed with hedonic appeals. These findings have significant implications for theoretical research regarding product perceptions and visual aesthetics. From the managerial perspective, we suggest that marketers utilize packages with simple aesthetics when they aim to highlight product effectiveness.

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    Extended Mind: Is the brain the sole basis for realizing the mind?
    SU Jiajia, YE Haosheng
    2023, 55 (11):  1889-1902.  doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2023.01889
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    In the present era, humanity stands at the threshold of a new civilization spurred by scientific and technological advancements. Technologies such as the internet, computers, and smartphones have extended human cognitive abilities into machines, even altering human emotions and conscious experiences, gradually fostering the acceptance of the belief that “mental life is not confined to the brain”. This has led to the emergence of interest in the concept of “extended minds”. The concept of extended minds posits that psychological processes such as memory, thought, emotion, and sentiment are not restricted solely to the brain or the central nervous system of an organism. On the contrary, under certain conditions, the non-neuronal parts of an organism's body, the external environment, and the world at large play integral roles in realizing consciousness, exerting constitutive functions. Early research on extended minds primarily focused on investigating cognitive processes and underwent three waves of development. Later, it expanded to include extended emotions, exploring the extended attributes of emotions and sentiments. Recently, attention has been drawn to the question of whether conscious experiences can also be extended. If cognition, emotion, and conscious experiences can transcend the biological boundaries of the individual, incorporating external resources that facilitate mental processes, then psychological life may no longer be confined within the confines of the skull and skin, and the brain may not be the sole organ responsible for realizing mental life. In essence, extended minds remain grounded in the framework of embodied cognition, with a key emphasis on how to perceive the active role of the “body”. This has significant implications for redefining our understanding of the nature of psychological life.

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