Inspired by XKCD comics’ Thing Explainer, we are now posting descriptions of our new publications as they come out using the 1000 most commonly used English words (

We find it not only clears out the jargon to help non-experts understand our research, it helps us understand our research better too.

Truong, G., Roberts K.H., and Todd, R.M. (2016). I saw mine first: A prior-entry effect for newly acquired ownership. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. doi: 10.1037/xhp0000295

We learned new stuff!

Does your stuff really matter?? People pay attention to many things around them. It is known that that the sort of things you pay attention to can be changed by how much it matters; a thing that everyone knows is really good or really bad often get noticed the most. But can the fact that you or someone else owns the thing also change the sort of things you pay attention to? In this study (in press), study-takers learned whether normal things belonged to them (me-owned) or the study-runner (other-owned) and then did time-order choice questions in which pairs of things appeared on a computer screen with not-quite-the-same-but-not-very-different timing. Looking at the new after-study information revealed a change in first-showing up things, in which study-takers said more often that they saw a me-owned thing first even when the two things appeared at the same time.

In another study we did, nobody owned any of the things and no such change was noticed. Changes in first-showing up things were sometimes different between people but these changes were not caused by how you think about yourself, liking your own things more, or not wanting to lose things. These new after-study informations suggest that changes in the things you notice are caused by more than just how important a thing is for all people. Rather, if something is me-important, even when just learned, it can cause you to pay more attention to it and change the seeing of stuff around you. This new information is really cool and exciting since it helps to tell us that our attention is shaped by both what is important to everyone and also what is important each different person. Your stuff does matter more!

(written by James Kryklywy)