Humans

The psychological toll of miscarriage lingers, plus bilingual timelines and twisted morality in this week’s news

Time twists morality
Moral judgments may be time sensitive. In experiments conducted by psychologists Renata Suter and Ralph Hertwig, both of the University of Basel in Switzerland, volunteers less often said that they would kill one person in order to save the lives of many others if the decision had to be made quickly, as opposed to after deliberation. Time affected moral judgments in this way when hypothetical scenarios portrayed harming someone as a means to an end, Suter and Hertwig will report in Cognition. Emotional impulses to serve the greater good can be overridden if a person has time to ponder individuals’ rights, the researchers suggest. —Bruce Bower

Miscarriages of mood
Women who have lost babies to miscarriage and stillbirth experience unusually high levels of depression and anxiety during new pregnancies and for nearly three years after delivering healthy infants, finds a study published online March 3 in the British Journal of Psychiatry. Many women become depressed and anxious after losing a baby during pregnancy, and these reactions often persist after carrying another child to term, propose psychologist Emma Robertson Blackmore of the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York and her colleagues. They interviewed 13,133 women twice during pregnancy and up to 33 months after delivering healthy babies. —Bruce Bower

Two timelines for bilinguals
Bilingualism can expand the ways that people think about time, researchers report in an upcoming Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. Chinese Mandarin–English speakers arranged images of a Chinese man at various ages from top to bottom and images of an American man at various ages from left to right, says a team led by psychologist Lynden Miles of the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. That’s consistent with a Chinese tendency to assume that time runs in a vertical, downward direction and a Western assumption that time proceeds horizontally, starting on the left. English speakers arranged both men’s images from left to right. —Bruce Bower

Aging the primate way
Contrary to what many researchers assume, people don’t live an especially long time relative to chimpanzees and other primates, evolutionary biologist Anne Bronikowski of Iowa State University in Ames and her colleagues report. Data from long-term studies of seven wild primate species indicate that human life spans fall within a primate continuum of aging, the researchers write in the March 11 Science. Evolutionary forces have not limited members of certain primate species to relatively long or short lives, the researchers hypothesize. —Bruce Bower

From the Nature Index

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