New paper in Journal of Environmental Psychology

My latest paper with Ullrich Echer, Lucy Butler, John Cook, Tim Kurz, and Stephan Lewandowsky “Using the COVID-19 Economic Crisis to Frame Climate Change as a Secondary Issue Reduces Mitigation Support” has just been accepted for publication in the Journal of Environmental Psychology. The abstract for the paper is below:

The COVID-19 pandemic has understandably dominated public discourse, crowding out other important issues such as climate change. Currently, if climate change enters the arena of public debate, it primarily does so in direct relation to the pandemic. In two experiments, we investigated (1) whether portraying the response to the COVID-19 threat as a “trial run” for future climate action would increase climate-change concern and mitigation support, and (2) whether portraying climate change as a concern that needs to take a “back seat” while focus lies on economic recovery would decrease climate-change concern and mitigation support. We found no support for the effectiveness of a trial-run frame in either experiment. In Experiment 1, we found that a back-seat frame reduced participants’ support for mitigative action. In Experiment 2, the back-seat framing reduced both climate change concern and mitigation support; a combined inoculation and refutation was able to offset the drop in climate concern but not the reduction in mitigation support.

New book chapter in Oxford Handbook of Human Memory

My latest paper, a book chapter entitled “Serial Recall”, has just been accepted for publication in the forthcoming Oxford Hanbook on Human Memory edited by Mike Kahana and Anthony Wagner. The abstract for the book chapter is below:

Serial memory refers to the ability to recall a novel sequence of items or events in the correct order. In the laboratory, the dominant tool used to assess this mental faculty is the immediate serial recall (hereafter, ‘serial recall’) task in which participants are given a sequence of typically verbal, visual, or spatial items that they must subsequently recall in their original presentation order. Serial recall is a deceptively simple task—the apparent ease with which people accomplish it masks the wealth and complexity of findings this task has generated, and the computational theories that have been developed to account for them. In this chapter, I review benchmark findings of serial recall that have been observed across the verbal, visual, and spatial short-term memory domains, and I interpret them with reference to the core mechanisms embodied in contemporary computational theories of serial recall. This analysis identifies four mechanisms that are common to the three content domains—namely, position marking, a primacy gradient, competitive queuing, and response suppression. Additionally, evidence suggests that in verbal serial recall both the encoding and retrieval of items is sensitive to item similarity—similarity-sensitive encoding and retrieval—and that item retrieval is accompanied by output interference. By contrast, in visual and spatial serial recall there is evidence for similarity-sensitive retrieval, but the relevant empirical observations that evince similarity-sensitive encoding and output interference are yet to be studied in the visual and spatial domains. I conclude by outlining some challenges for future research.

New paper in Psychology & Health

My latest paper with Douglas MacFarlane and Ullrich Ecker “Countering Demand for Ineffective Health Remedies: Do Consumers Respond to Risks, Lack of Benefits, or Both?” has just been accepted for publication in the journal Psychology & Health. The abstract for the paper is below:

Objective: We tested whether targeting the illusion of causality and/or misperceptions about health risks had the potential to reduce consumer demand for an ineffective health remedy (multivitamin supplements). Design: We adopted a 2 (contingency information: no/yes) × 2 (fear appeal: no/yes) factorial design, with willingness-to-pay as the dependent variable. The contingency information specified, in table format, the number of people reporting a benefit vs. no benefit from both multivitamins and placebo, plus a causal explanation for lack of efficacy over placebo. The fear appeal involved a summary of clinical-trial results that indicated multivitamins can cause health harms. The control condition received only irrelevant information. Main outcome measure: Experimental auctions measured people’s willingness- to-pay for multivitamins. Experiment 1 (N = 260) elicited hypothetical willingness-to-pay online. Experiment 2 (N = 207) elicited incentivised willingness-to-pay in the laboratory. Results: Compared to a control group, we found independent effects of contingency information (-22%) and the fear appeal (-32%) on willingness-to- pay. The combination of both interventions had the greatest impact (-50%) on willingness-to-pay. Conclusion: We found evidence that consumer choices are influenced by both perceptions of efficacy and risk. The combination of both elements can provide additive effects that appear superior to either approach alone.

New paper in Journal of Neuropsychology

My latest paper with Ondrej Bezdicek and colleagues “Serial order recall in working memory across the cognitive spectrum of Parkinson’s disease and neuroimaging correlates” has just been accepted for publication in the journal Journal of Neuropsychology. The abstract for the paper is below:

We sought to determine if Parkinson’s disease (PD) with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is associated with a greater SERIAL‐ORDER (mental manipulation) than ANY‐ORDER (auditory span, storage) deficit in working memory (WM). We investigated WM combining neuropsychological measures with the study of brain functional connectivity. A cohort of 160 patients with idiopathic PD, classified as PD‐MCI (n = 87) or PD with normal cognition (PD‐NC; n = 73), and 70 matched healthy controls were studied. Verbal WM was assessed with the Backward Digit Span Task (BDT; Lamar et al., 2007, Neuropsychologia, 45, 245), measuring SERIAL‐ORDER and ANY‐ORDER recall. Resting‐state MRI data were collected for 15 PD‐MCI, 15 PD‐NC and 30 controls. Hypothesis‐driven seed‐based functional connectivity of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) was compared between the three groups and correlated with BDT performance. We found the main effect of the test (impairment in SERIAL ORDER > ANY ORDER) and group ((NC = PD‐NC) > PD‐MCI) in BDT performance that was even more pronounced in SERIAL ORDER when controlling for ANY ORDER variability but not vice versa. Furthermore, PD‐MCI compared to other groups were characterized by the functional disconnection between the bilateral DLPFC and the cerebellum. In functional correlations, DLPFC connectivity was positively related to both SERIAL‐ and ANY‐ORDER performance. In conclusion, PD‐MCI patients evidenced greater SERIAL‐ORDER (manipulation and cognitive control) than ANY‐ORDER (storage) working memory impairment than PD‐NC and controls with a disrupted DLPFC resting‐state connectivity that was also related to the verbal WM performance.

New paper in Social Science & Medicine

My latest paper with Douglas MacFarlane and Ullrich Ecker “Protecting Consumers from Fraudulent Health Claims: A Taxonomy of Psychological Drivers, Interventions, Barriers, and Treatments” has just been accepted for publication in the journal Social Science & Medicine. The abstract for the paper is below:

Objective: Fraudulent health claims—false or misleading claims used to promote health remedies that are untested, ineffective, and often harmful—cause extensive and persistent harm to consumers. To address this problem, novel interventions are needed that address the underlying cognitive mechanisms that render consumers susceptible to fraudulent health claims. However, there is currently no single framework of relevant psychological insights to design interventions for this purpose. The current review aims to address this gap. Method: An integrative theoretical review was conducted across several major areas of relevant research including criminology, experimental psychology, and behavioural economics. Results: The current review presents a novel taxonomy that aims to serve as an agenda for future research to systematically design and compare interventions based on empirical evidence. Specifically, this taxonomy identifies (i) the psychological drivers that make consumers susceptible to fraudulent health claims, (ii) the psychological barriers that may prevent successful application of interventions, and (iii) proposes evidence-informed treatments to overcome those barriers. Conclusion: The resulting framework integrates behavioural insights from several hitherto distinct disciplines and structures promising interventions according to five underlying psychological drivers: Visceral influence, Affect, Nescience, Misinformation, and Norms (VANMaN). The taxonomy presents an integrative and accessible theoretical framework for designing evidence-informed interventions to protect consumers from fraudulent health claims. This review has broad implications for numerous topical issues including the design and evaluation of anti-fraud campaigns, efforts to address the growing problem of health-related misinformation, and for countering the polarization of politically sensitive health issues.