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Adopting a more active lifestyle today could have benefits for your personality decades from now
ByChristian Jarrett According to statistics published by the British Heart Foundation, we spend 76 days per year, on average, sitting. Indeed, the World Health Organisation describes physical inactivity as a “global public health problem” that contributes to millions of deaths each year. You might not be surprised to hear about the harmful health consequences of a sedentary lifestyle, but perhaps less obvious is that physical activity is also associated with unwelcome changes in personality over time. Previous research has documented these effects over periods of four and ten years. A new paper in the Journal o...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 23, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Health Personality Uncategorized Source Type: blogs

Wisdom is a journey
By Alex Fradera From the beginning of recorded time, humanity has been fascinated by the figure of the wise person, wending their path through the tribulations of life, and informing those willing to learn. What sets them apart? Maybe that’s the wrong question. In a new review in European Psychologist, Igor Grossman of the University of Waterloo argues that understanding wisdom involves taking the wise off their pedestal, and seeing wisdom as a set of processes that we can all tap into, with the right attitude, and in the right context. Wisdom might seem to be a difficult concept for psychologists to study, but...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 22, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Decision making Intelligence Source Type: blogs

Episode 11: How to Get a Good Night ’s Sleep
This is Episode 11 of PsychCrunch the podcast from the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest, sponsored by Routledge Psychology. Download here. http://traffic.libsyn.com/psychcrunch/20180208_PsychCrunch_Ep11_Mx1.mp3   Can psychology help us get a better night’s sleep? Our presenter Ginny Smith hears how worry about sleep is sometimes more of a problem than lack of sleep itself. She gives us some evidence-backed sleep tips and finds out about “sleep engineering” – deliberately manipulating the sleep process to aid memory and enhance its health benefits. Our guests...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 21, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Podcast Sleep and dreaming Source Type: blogs

Study conducted during war finds one symptom that is especially indicative of PTSD vulnerability
By Emma Young After a traumatic event, some people develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – generally within about a month – while others don’t. Identifying those most at risk could allow for targeted interventions, aimed at stopping the disorder developing. So how do you spot these people? One way of exploring this question involves viewing PTSD as a dynamic process in which symptoms interact over time to cause the disorder, and some symptoms likely play a bigger causal role than others. So if you can identify the most problematic symptoms, and the people displaying them, at an early stage, then y...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 20, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Source Type: blogs

Nature vs Nurture: Mothers with multiple children have an intuitive grasp of behavioural genetics
  Lower scores equals more accurate estimates of genetic inheritance. From Willoughby et al 2018 By Christian Jarrett Several leading psychologists have recently raised concerns about the stranglehold that the “radical left” has on free speech and thought in our universities. The psychologists argue this includes biological denialism: claims that differences between individuals and groups are entirely the result of the biased system or mere social constructions. More generally, many commentators are horrified by the apparent resurgence of far-right ideologies and their twisted interpretation of geneti...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 19, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological Educational Genetics Political Source Type: blogs

What are the psychological dynamics when a couple tries to change a habit together?
By Alex Fradera Changing an unhealthy habit depends a lot on your belief that you can do it, something psychologists call self-efficacy. Take smoking, for example. Your belief that you are capable of quitting will influence the likelihood you will decide to quit in the first place, the amount your smoking reduces, and your chances of staying smoke-free in the long-term. This self-belief doesn’t come out of nowhere. Besides seeing ourselves make progress (called “mastery”), health psychologists will tell you that one of the most important inspirations is seeing others successfully make the changes tha...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 16, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Health Social Source Type: blogs

Psychologists clash over how easy it is to implant false memories of committing a crime
By guest blogger Simon Oxenham Historically, the kind of false memories induced in volunteers by psychologists have been relatively mundane. For example, a seminal study used leading questions and the encouragement to confabulate, to apparently implant in participants the memory of getting lost in a shopping mall as a child. This reliance on mundane false memories has been problematic for experts who believe that false memories have critical real world consequence, from criminal trials involving false murder confessions, to memories of child abuse “recovered” during therapy using controversial techniques. The d...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 15, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Forensic guest blogger Memory Source Type: blogs

Flowers, apologies, food or sex? Men ’s and women’s views on the most effective ways to make up
By Christian Jarrett You and your partner have had a tiff. Of all the things they could do to try to make up with you, what would be the most effective? A group of evolutionary psychologists recently put this question to 164 young adults. They presented them with 21 categories of reconciliatory behaviour, including giving a gift, cooking a meal and communicating better (derived from an earlier survey of 74 other young adults about ways to make up). Men and women agreed that the most effective reconciliatory behaviour of all is communicating (for instance, by talking or texting). To varying degrees, both sexes also rated ap...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 14, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Dating evolutionary psych Gender In Brief Sex Source Type: blogs

A psychologist noticed this cool chair illusion in his office
By Alex Fradera A short paper in the journal i-Perception presents a disconcerting visual illusion spotted “in the wild”: how stackable chairs, viewed from a certain angle, mess with your head. This is an unedited image, but your mind resists accepting it could be real. The illusion was first noticed in the office of lead author Nick Scott-Samuel at the University of Bristol, who notes in the paper that “it obtains in real life as well as in images, even when sober”. The cause of the trick appears to be the two “edges” seen coming up from the near-base of the stack – marked AD...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 14, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Illusions In Brief Perception Source Type: blogs

Your childhood best friend ’s intelligence probably rubbed off on you
This article is a pre-print and has not yet been subjected to peer-review] Christian Jarrett (@Psych_Writer) is Editor of BPS Research Digest (Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST)
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 13, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Developmental Educational Intelligence Source Type: blogs

Preliminary evidence for the benefits of “Jymmin” – creating or influencing music while exercising
The researchers suspect that being able to influence music causes a bigger release of endogenous opioids By Emma Young Listening to music while exercising can make a work-out feel more pleasant. But might having some control over the sound of that music have an even stronger effect? A new study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, suggests that it does. In theory, this approach (known as known as “Jymmin” – gym plus jammin’…) might help injured athletes and other rehab patients to complete beneficial, but painful, exercise programmes. As the researchers, led by Thomas Fritz at the Max Planc...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 12, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Health Sport Source Type: blogs

Thinking in a second language drains the imagination of vividness
It is fascinating to wonder how these effects might play out in the real world, particularly in international politics (Image via Getty/Thierry Monasse) By Christian Jarrett Mental imagery helps us anticipate the future, and vivid mental pictures inject emotion into our thought processes. If operating in a foreign language diminishes our imagination – as reported by a pair of psychologists at the University of Chicago in the journal Cognition – this could affect the emotionality of our thoughts, and our ability to visualise future scenarios, thus helping to explain previous findings showing that bilin...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 9, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Decision making Language Source Type: blogs

Cognitive approach to lie detection rendered useless by made-up alibi
By Alex Fradera The desire to catch people in a lie has led to the development of techniques that are meant to detect the physical markers of dishonesty – from the polygraph to brain scans. However, these methods are often found wanting. The insights of cognitive psychologists have arguably fared better, based on the idea that lying is more mentally demanding than telling the truth – real knowledge is automatically called to mind when we are questioned, and this needs to be inhibited  before we answer, leading to slower responses. Unfortunately new research in the Journal of Experimental Psycholo...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 8, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Forensic Source Type: blogs

Important differences uncovered between US and Dutch psychopaths
The researchers performed a “network analysis” on offenders’ scores on a psychopathy questionnaire. From Verschuere et al 2018 By Emma Young What lies at the dark heart of psychopathy? Is it a lack or emotion and empathy, a willingness to manipulate others – or, perhaps, a failure to take responsibility for misdeeds? All of these traits, and many more, are viewed as aspects of a psychopathic personality. But there’s still a debate among experts about which of these are core, and which less important. Now a new study of 7,450 criminal offenders in the US and the Netherlands, published in t...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 7, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cross-cultural Forensic Personality Source Type: blogs

Reduced neural empathy for women wearing revealing clothes
The participants watched women being rejected in a ball-passing game (the black blocks over their eyes did not appear in the actual study); from Cogoni et al 2018 By Christian Jarrett Psychologists define objectification as when we look upon a person and think about them more in terms of their bodies than their minds, and see them as less capable than normal of having their own self-control and will. Any context that encourages us to focus on a person’s body, more than their mind, is said to lead to objectification, such as when, in a previous era, a Formula One fan looked upon an attractive “grid girl&rdq...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 6, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Forensic Gender Sex Source Type: blogs

Men with higher testosterone levels are less into classical music and opera
Salivary testosterone was inversely correlated with preference for “sophisticated” music in men but not women (via Doi et al, 2018) By Christian Jarrett What counts as music to one person, sounds to another like a headache. Some of the difference is explained by our personalities (for instance, more open-minded people prefer classical) and our thinking style (systematisers prefer heavy metal more than empathisers). What’s not been examined before now, according to a paper in Personality and Individual Differences, is the biological basis of our musical tastes. Hirokazu Doi at Nagasaki University and his ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 5, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological In Brief Music Source Type: blogs

Is death still frightening if you believe the self is an illusion? An astonishing study of Tibetan Buddhists
By Christian Jarrett Imagining ourselves as no longer existing is, for most of us, terrifying. Buddhism may offer some reassurance. A central tenet of the religion is that all is impermanent and the self is actually an illusion. If there is no self, then why fear the end of the self? To find out if the logic of the Buddhist perspective eliminates existential fear, Shaun Nichols at the University of Arizona and his colleagues surveyed hundreds of monastic Tibetan Buddhists (monks-in-training) in exile in India, as well as lay Tibetans, Tibetan Buddhists from Bhutan, Indian Hindus and American Christians and atheists. To the...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 2, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cross-cultural Religion Source Type: blogs

New insights into teen risk-taking – their “hot” inhibitory control is poorer than children’s
By Emma Young Kids who are better at resisting unhelpful impulses and distractions go on later in life to perform better academically, professionally and socially. But how this kind of self-control develops with age has not been so clear. Teenagers’ show more self-control than children in many ways, but in other respects – think of their propensity for risk-taking – they actually seem to show less self-control than they did when they were younger. In a new paper, published in Developmental Science, Ania Aïte at Paris Descartes University, France, led research investigating whether this might be becau...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 1, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Decision making Developmental Emotion Source Type: blogs

Sex differences in human brain structure are already apparent at one month of age
Figure via Dean III et al, 2018 By Alex Fradera On average, men and women differ psychologically in small but reliable ways, such as in personality, interests, and cognitive performance, but the basis of these differences is up for debate. Are they innate or due to how we’re socialised? Neuroscientists look for traction on this question by studying sex differences in the brain, premised on the idea that these might contribute to the observed psychological differences. However, studying the brains of adults, or even teenagers, still leads to spinning wheels, because culturally produced differences will show up in...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 31, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological Brain Developmental Gender Sex Source Type: blogs

Different psychiatric symptom dimensions have opposite associations with confidence and metacognition
This study should be considered preliminary. The sample was from the general public and the researchers relied on the participants’ reports of their own symptoms. The findings might be different with clinical samples. It also remains to be seen if the symptom-related patterns of confidence and insight uncovered here would apply to other contexts beyond the specific perceptual task that was used. The researchers predict they will: “Recent evidence points towards metacognition relying in part on domain-general resources, suggesting that the findings from the current study are likely to generalise to other scenari...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 30, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Mental health Perception Source Type: blogs

Another blow for ego-depletion theory – practice counteracts the effects of diminished willpower
By Alex Fradera Ego depletion is the notion that willpower is a fuel that gets burned away by effort, and once it burns low we lose our focus and bow to our immediate desires. However, this once dominant theory has recently come into question, thanks in part to a large-scale replication that failed to find an ego-depletion effect and a meta-analysis that argued that the size of the effect is minimal. Complicating the picture, other recent findings have provided a strong demonstration of the effect. But now researchers from Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz have released a pre-print at PsyArxiv in which they sugge...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 29, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Source Type: blogs

Are religious people really less smart, on average, than atheists?
By Emma Young Of course, there are examples of extremely intelligent individuals with strong religious convictions. But various studies have found that, on average, belief in God is associated with lower scores on IQ tests. “It is well established that religiosity correlates inversely with intelligence,” note Richard Daws and Adam Hampshire at Imperial College London, in a new paper published in Frontiers in Psychology, which seeks to explore why. It’s a question with some urgency – the proportion of people with a religious belief is growing: by 2050, if current trends continue, people who say ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 26, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Intelligence Religion Source Type: blogs

It ’s not all in their heads: people with low self-esteem really do have less responsive partners
This study asks us to place a lot of trust in the memories and interpretations of these participants, but if we take their answers at face value, they suggest that partners with low self-esteem want as much support and understanding, but that they go about sharing their bad news and their distress in a rather counter-productive way – for instance, they’ll be inconsistent, sometimes downplaying their feelings, sometimes exaggerating them. Or they’ll be indirect, acting as if something is wrong, but not saying why, as if expecting their partner to be a mind reader. In short, the findings from all three stud...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 25, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Dating Personality Social Source Type: blogs

There ’s an evolutionary explanation for why we’re surprisingly bad at recognising each other’s laughter
By Alex Fradera We have a mostly impressive ability to identify people we know based on the sound of their voice, but prior research has uncovered an intriguing exception – we’re not very good at discerning identity from laughter. Now Nadine Lavan and her colleagues have published research in Evolution and Human Behavior that looks into why this might be and what it says about our evolutionary past. There are two main reasons why laughter may be hard to read. It might be because when you laugh for real, your vocal apparatus and lungs act in an involuntary way, unlike in many other vocalisations, and ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 24, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: evolutionary psych Laughter Perception Source Type: blogs

Something we could use a little more of – studies link intellectual humility with openness to other viewpoints
By Christian Jarrett Early in 2018, the default reaction to encountering someone who disagrees with you is to place your fingers in your ears. The US government is in shut down following an impasse in Congress. Meanwhile, the UK remains bitterly divided over Brexit. We could all benefit from a dose of intellectual humility, according to the authors of a new paper in Self and Identity. People with this trait are open to other viewpoints and see disagreement as an opportunity to learn. Promisingly, early findings suggest that it may be possible to foster intellectual humility relatively easily, as least over the short term. ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 23, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Intelligence Personality Source Type: blogs

Self-control and cognitive control are not the same thing
By Christian Jarrett It’s common for psychologists to use the terms “self-control” and “cognitive control” interchangeably. Consider the introduction to a review paper published recently in Trends in Cognitive Sciences on whether our self-control is limited or not (I’ve added the emphases): “Whereas cognitive control relies on at least three separate (yet related) executive functions – task switching, working-memory, and inhibition – at its heart, self-control is most clearly related to inhibitory cognitive control …” When scholars do make a disti...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 22, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Methods Source Type: blogs

Psilocybin (from magic mushrooms) plus meditation and spiritual training leads to lasting changes in positive traits
By Emma Young “Conferences on psychedelics are popping up everywhere, like mushrooms!” said Jakobien van der Weijden, of the Psychedelic Society of the Netherlands, when I met her in Amsterdam last week. Indeed, research into the use of psychedelic (mind-altering) drugs as tools in the treatment of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and end-of-life angst, is on the increase. Psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, may help to alleviate symptoms of depression by altering brain activity in key areas involved in emotional processing, for example. Now a study in the Journal of Psychopharmacolo...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 19, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological Brain Mental health Personality Source Type: blogs

“Not as bad as you think”: women who’ve gone through the menopause have a more positive take than those who haven’t
Discussion of the menopause tends be negative. Take the video introduction to “menopause week” held this week on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio Sheffield. The well-meaning presenters talk of “distress”, the impact, the “troubling” changes, and “how to get through it”. Of course the aim is to support and educate, and it’s important to acknowledge the seriousness of some women’s problems. However, there’s arguably a risk that an overly negative tone perpetuates beliefs and stereotypes that may foster unjustified dread about the menopause. In fact, according to a re...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 18, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

Most children and teens with gender dysphoria also have multiple other psychological issues
By Alex Fradera New research on gender identity disorder (also known as gender dysphoria, in which a person does not identify with their biological sex) questions how best to handle the condition when it arises in children and adolescents. Should biological treatments be used as early as possible to help a young client transition, or is caution required, in case of complicating psychological issues? Melanie Bechard of the University of Toronto and her colleagues examined the prevalence of “psychosocial and psychological vulnerabilities” in 50 child and teen cases of gender dysphoria, and writing in a recen...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 17, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Gender Mental health Source Type: blogs

When tears turn into pearls: Post-traumatic growth following childhood and adolescent cancer
By guest blogger Tomasz Witkowski It’s hard to imagine a crueller fate than when a child receives a diagnosis of an illness as difficult as cancer. A young human being, still not fully formed, is suddenly and irrevocably thrown into a situation that many adults are unable to cope with. Each year, around 160,000 children and youngsters worldwide are diagnosed with cancer, and this trend is growing in industrialised societies. Faced with such facts, it is particularly important to understand how children cope. What traces of the experience remain in their psyche if they manage to survive? Partial answers to these ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 16, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cancer guest blogger Source Type: blogs

Researchers say this 5-minute technique could help you fall asleep more quickly
By Christian Jarrett You’ve had all day to worry, but your brain decides that the moment you rest your weary head upon your pillow is the precise instant it wants to start fretting. The result of course is that you feel wide awake and cannot sleep. Two possible solutions: (1) spend five minutes before lights out writing about everything you have done. This might give you a soothing sense of achievement. Or (2) spend five minutes writing a comprehensive to-do list. This could serve to off-load your worries, or perhaps it will only make them more salient? To find out which is the better strategy, a team led by Michael ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 15, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Sleep and dreaming Source Type: blogs

New findings pose more problems for the embattled concept of the microaggression
By Alex Fradera “Microaggressions” are seemingly innocuous words or behaviour that supposedly communicate a bias toward minority groups, such as asking Asian Americans where they are from, implying that they are not really part of the USA. According to advocates of the usefulness of the concept, microaggressions cause real harm, even if unintended by the perpetrator. However, the theoretical and evidential support for the concept of microaggressions is far from clear, as detailed in Scott Lilienfeld’s recent thorough critique, which recommended the term be revised or at ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 12, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Political Social Source Type: blogs

New “Highly Sensitive Child” test identifies three groups: orchids, dandelions and tulips
By Christian Jarrett It’s widely accepted children’s development reflects an interaction between their genes and the environment they are raised in. More tentative is the intriguing idea that the role of the environment is more consequential for some children than others. According to this view, a minority of children are environmentally sensitive “orchids” who suffer disproportionately in adversity, but who especially thrive in positive conditions. To date, research into this idea has been stifled by the lack of a short, reliable test of children’s Environmental Sensitivity. As reported in De...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 11, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Developmental Source Type: blogs

Researchers have tested ways to reduce the collective blaming of Muslims for extremism
By Emma Young Terror attacks by Muslim extremists tend to provoke hate crimes in response. After the London Bridge and Borough market attacks in 2017, and the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, for example, there was a spike in the number of reports of verbal and physical attacks on innocent Muslims. Two weeks after the London Bridge attacks, a British non-Muslim man even drove his van into worshippers leaving the Finsbury Park Mosque in London, killing one and injuring 11. “People have a tendency to hold groups collectively responsible for the actions of individual group members, which justifies ‘vicarious retri...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 10, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Religion Social Terrorism Source Type: blogs

New insights into lifetime personality change from “meta-study” featuring 50,000 participants
By Christian Jarrett It’s a question that goes to the heart of human nature – do our personalities change through life or stay essentially the same? You might think psychology would have a definitive answer, but this remains an active research question. This is partly because of the practical challenge of testing the same group of individuals over many years. Now a major new contribution to the topic has been made available online at the PsyArXiv repository. The researchers, led by Eileen Graham at Northwestern University, have compared and combined data from 14 previously published longitudinal studies, t...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 9, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Developmental Personality Source Type: blogs

Facts aren ’t everything – understanding parents’ moral reasons for avoiding vaccination
By Emma Young Last year, so few people contracted measles in England and Wales that the disease was declared technically “eliminated”. The national MMR (measles mumps rubella) vaccination programme is to thank. But set against this welcome news were some imperfect stats: in England in 2016/17, only 87.6 per cent of children had received both the required doses of the vaccine by their fifth birthday – a drop compared with the previous two years. At least part of the reason was a reluctance among some parents to have their children vaccinated. This is a problem that affects other countries, and other vaccin...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 8, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Health Morality Source Type: blogs

What ’s your stress mindset?
This study shows that having a positive stress mindset may help us cope with – perhaps even benefit from – a particularly challenging, high intensity work day, but this shouldn’t be taken as a justification for bosses to overburden their staff long-term. —Mindset matters: the role of employees’ stress mindset for day-specific reactions to workload anticipation Image is Figure 2 from Casper et al, 2017. Christian Jarrett (@Psych_Writer) is Editor of BPS Research Digest (Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST)
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 5, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Occupational Source Type: blogs

8 studies and 2 podcasts to help you keep your New Year ’s resolutions
Already struggling to keep New Year resolutions? Here’s the first detailed study of daily temptation and resistance PsychCrunch Episode Two: Breaking Bad Habits Find a gym buddy – not letting them down can be a powerful incentive The mindbus technique for resisting chocolate – should we climb aboard? Whether you snack or not is more about the presence of temptation than your willpower Step away from the cookie jar! Over-confidence in self-control leads us to temptation “Reverse ego-depletion”: People in India find mental effort energising Less is more wh...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 4, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Announcements Source Type: blogs

Brain differences in avid players of violent video games suggest they are “callous, cool and in control”
By guest blogger Helge Hasselmann Video games do not enjoy the best of reputations. Violent games in particular have been linked with aggression, antisocial behaviour and alienation among teens. For example, one study found that playing a mere 10 minutes of a violent video game was enough to reduce helping behaviour in participants. However, some experts are sceptical about whether games really cause aggression and, even if the games are to blame, it remains unclear what drives their harmful effects. Earlier studies identified empathy as a key trait that may be affected by violent gameplay. Now a study by Laura Stockdale a...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 4, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Cognition Emotion guest blogger Technology Source Type: blogs

Here ’s what the evidence shows about the links between creativity and depression
By Alex Fradera There’s a stereotype that mental distress is an almost inevitable part of being highly creative. But is there any substance to this idea, or have we been misled – by biographers drawn to artists with colourful and chaotic lives, and the conceits of cultural movements like the romantics? Scientific attempts to resolve this question, which have mainly focused on disorders of mood, have so far struggled to reach a definitive answer. However, in a new review in Perspectives on Psychological Science, Christa Taylor of Albany State University has applied surgical precision to open up the existing...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 3, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Creativity Mental health Source Type: blogs

Booze aids foreign language skills, plus our 9 other most popular posts of 2017
In 2017, the BPS Research Digest welcomed 2,228,968 visitors, who together helped us reach over 3 million page views. Our free weekly email (which will resume on January 11) now has over 53,000 subscribers. To stay up-to-date with our latest reports, you can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook and via our smartphone/tablet app. And don’t forget there are 10 episodes of our PsychCrunch podcast to catch up on (over 90,000 downloads to date), with a new episode coming soon. Listed below are our 10 most popular research articles of 2017. Happy New Year psychologistas! Moderate alcohol consumption improves foreign langua...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 2, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Announcements Source Type: blogs

10 Of The Most Famous Animals In Psychology
By Christian Jarrett Psychologists have long studied chimps and other animals with two principal, related aims: to find out the capabilities of the animal mind, and to discover what makes us truly unique, if anything. This is a challenging field. As any pet owner knows, it’s tempting to project a human interpretation onto animal behaviour. Researchers, especially when they’ve spent many years studying the same animal, can fall victim to this very bias (you’ll see a theme of this field is the powerful, close bonds frequently formed between psychologist and animal). At the same time, though, there is also a...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 21, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Comparative Feature Source Type: blogs

Having a vivid imagination seems to make things worse for people with OCD
By Emma Young At the heart of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are the intrusive, often distressing, thoughts. My skin is dirty… I must have left the gas on and my house will burn down… But why do some obsessive thoughts compel the person to act on them, while others don’t? And how are some people with OCD able to control the compulsion to act – to repeatedly wash their hands, or to go home to check appliances, for example – while others can’t? As the authors of a new study on OCD, published in Clinical Psychological Psychotherapy, point out: “A single negative intrusive thoug...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 20, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Thought Source Type: blogs

Researchers uncover a brain process that may help explain the curse of uncontrollable thoughts
The study represents a breakthrough in bridging neurophysiology and psychology By Alex Fradera Distressing conditions including PTSD, depression and anxiety have something in common: a difficulty in suppressing unwanted thoughts. Negative self-judgments and re-experienced traumas directly impact mental health and make recovery harder by intruding into the new experiences that should provide distance and a mental fresh start. Understanding what’s involved in thought suppression may therefore be one key to helping people with these conditions. Now research in Nature Communications has uncovered an important new br...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 19, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological Brain Cognition Mental health Thought Source Type: blogs

Our growing tendency to “chunk” our experiences could explain why life speeds up
Using mindfulness to appreciate the uniqueness of moments could make it less likely that they’ll be swallowed up into a “chunk” By Emma Young “Like a ball rolling down a hill, time often seems to pick up momentum, going faster and faster as we get older…,” write the authors of a new paper in Self and Identity that aims to explain the reasons for this phenomenon. Understand it properly, and it might be possible to stop it – because as Mark Landau at the University of Kansas, US, and his colleagues also note: “Perceiving life as rapidly slipping away is psychologically harmful...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 18, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Developmental Memory Time Source Type: blogs

Positive parenting gets “under the skin”, showing up years later in the cortisol response
By Alex Fradera Adolescence is when values and relationships are formed and things happen that leave their sticky fingerprints on the life that follows. Even, it seems, in the everyday functioning of brain systems. New research published in Developmental Science shows that when teenagers have a positive relationship with their parents, then as adults their brains and bodies respond to stress in a way that helps them better engage with the world. However, the study suggests this benefit may be denied to those raised in a rough environment, which seems to override the influence of positive parenting. The researchers, l...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 15, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological Developmental Source Type: blogs

“Strongest evidence yet” for ego depletion – the idea that self control is a limited resource
By Christian Jarrett For years, “ego depletion” has been a dominant theory in the study of self control. This is the intuitive idea that self control or willpower is a limited resource, such that the more you use up in one situation, the less you have left over to deploy in another. It makes sense of the everyday experience of when you come home after a hard day at the office, abandon all constructive plans, and instead binge on snacks in front of the TV. The trouble is, the theory has taken some hard knocks lately, including a failed joint replication attempt by 23 separate labs. Critics have pointed out that ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 14, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Emotion Source Type: blogs

Imagining bodily states, like feeling full, can affect our future preferences and behaviour
By Emma Young Our current bodily states influence our preferences and our behaviour much more than we usually anticipate – as anyone who has gone shopping hungry and come back with bags full of fattening food can attest. “Even when people have previous experience with a powerful visceral state, like pain, they show surprisingly little ability to vividly recall the state or to predict how it affects someone (including themselves) when they are not experiencing it,” write Janina Steinmertz at Utrecht University and her colleagues in their paper in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. The good news is...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 13, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological Decision making Source Type: blogs

New analysis suggests most Milgram participants realised the “obedience experiments” were not really dangerous
The findings provide little support for the contemporary theory of “engaged followership” By Christian Jarrett Stanley Milgram’s experiments in the 1960s – in which ordinary volunteers followed a scientist’s instruction to give what they apparently thought was a deadly electric shock to another participant – have been taken by many to show our alarming propensity for blind obedience. Milgram’s own interpretation, his “agentic state theory”, was that we readily give up our own sense of responsibility when following instructions from an authority figure. However, his &ldq...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 12, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Social Source Type: blogs

Interviews with Milgram participants provide little support for the contemporary theory of “engaged followership”
Decades on, psychologists continue to debate and explore exactly what Milgram’s infamous “obedience” experiments say about human nature By Christian Jarrett Stanley Milgram’s experiments in the 1960s – in which ordinary volunteers followed a scientist’s instruction to give what they thought was a deadly electric shock to another participant – have been taken by many to show our propensity for blind obedience. Milgram’s own interpretation, his “agentic state theory”, was that we readily give up our own sense of responsibility when following instructions from an aut...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 12, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Social Source Type: blogs