Brainy Bumblebees And The Uncanny Valley: The Week ’s Best Psychology Links
Our weekly round-up of the best psychology coverage from elsewhere on the web When creating cute creatures for movies, designers and animators must walk a fine line to avoid falling into the uncanny valley. Baby-like features — big eyes, large heads, round faces — can be appealing, writes Allyssia Alleyne at Wired. But make your character too human and it can look horrific, because we start to see it as one of our own kind, flaws and all. Psychologists have criticised the use of AI systems to analyse people’s facial expressions, reports Hannah Devlin for The Guardian. Organisations claim that such syste...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 21, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Weekly links Source Type: blogs

Speaking “Parentese” With Young Children Can Boost Their Language Development
By Emily Reynolds Language learning can be a matter of much concern for new parents, who often worry about what their baby is saying, how they’re saying it, and when. With previous research suggesting that frequent verbal engagement with babies can boost vocabulary and reading comprehension, this preoccupation is not without merit. But even those parents who aren’t too fixated on baby’s first word may in fact be improving their offspring’s language, even if they’re not aware of it. A form of speech dubbed “parentese” may be a key factor in improving language learning in infant...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 21, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Babies Developmental Language Source Type: blogs

Siblings Who Believe Their Family Has A Lower Social Standing Are More Likely To Experience Mental Health Difficulties
This study might be the strongest evidence so far that this is the case. There is another possibility: the relationship between perceived status and well-being might actually run in reverse. Compared to the sibling with better mental well-being, an 18-year-old experiencing internal struggles might simply be constructing a different narrative about their family’s social status. As teenagers grow to become more attuned to social comparisons and hierarchies, they might be more likely to interpret their level of well-being — or lack thereof — through the lens of having a particular social standing. In the fut...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 20, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Developmental Mental health Social Source Type: blogs

Why Some People Find It Harder To Drag Themselves To Bed At Night
By Emily Reynolds You’re exhausted. You’ve had a long day at work before coming home to make dinner, do some chores and relax, and now it’s time for bed. But for some reason — despite the fact you’ve been struggling to stay awake all day — you can’t quite bring yourself to stop what you’re doing and go to sleep. If this sounds familiar, you’ll be pleased to hear that you’re not the only one who lacks willpower when it’s time to go to bed. It’s so widespread, in fact, that Katharina Bernecker from the Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien and Veronika...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 19, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Decision making Sleep and dreaming Source Type: blogs

Sexist Ideologies May Help Cultivate The “Dark Triad” Of Personality Traits
By Emma Young The “dark triad” of personality traits — narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism — do not make for the nicest individuals. People who score highly on the dark triad are vain, callous and manipulative. They adopt a so-called “fast-life” strategy, characterised by impulsivity, opportunism and selfishness. Such individuals can succeed in the workplace, while failing to get on with others. They’re also more likely to cheat on their partners, and are deemed more alluring in speed-dating sessions. Though these traits can bring advantages to the individual, they ar...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 18, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Gender Misogyny Personality Source Type: blogs

Here ’s How We Perceive The Political Leanings Of Different Fonts
Photo: The serif font Jubilat was used on signs for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential bid — though a new study suggests that sans serifs are generally seen as more liberal. Credit: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images. By Emily Reynolds Fonts can be very distinctive indeed. Even if robbed of their original context, it can be easy to identify the fonts used on the front of a Harry Potter book, adorning a Star Wars poster, or on the side of a Coca-Cola can, to name a few examples. But particular fonts can also leave us with other impressions: the font used to brand a beloved book, for example, has different emotional conno...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 17, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Aesthetics Language Perception Political Source Type: blogs

Early Birds And Bearded Dragons: The Week ’s Best Psychology Links
Our weekly round-up of the best psychology coverage from elsewhere on the web A study on bearded dragons has honed in on the brain structure responsible for generating slow wave sleep patterns, writes Elizabeth Pennisi at Science. An area of the brain called the claustrum — not previously known to even exist in reptiles — was key: when the structure was damaged, the lizards could still sleep but showed no slow wave patterns. It’s been an interesting few months for bearded dragon research: as we wrote in December, the lizards apparently also succumb to optical illusions. A mismatch between a student&rsqu...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 14, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Weekly links Source Type: blogs

People With Depression May Find Sad Memes Funnier And More Uplifting
By Matthew Warren Memes have become an integral part of online communication — and a ripe area for research. Underlying the simplicity of a grainy picture and a few words of text are countless more complex psychological questions. What determines why some memes go viral? How do they shape people’s political or social views? And in what ways do our perceptions of memes change depending on our personalities — or even on our mental health? To this latter question, at least, a new study in Scientific Reports has some answers. Researchers have found that depressed people seem to enjoy memes with depressio...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 14, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Media Mental health Source Type: blogs

Character – “Caught” Or “Taught”?
By Emma Young How do you measure the success of a child’s education? Test results are one thing, and according to a recent global survey, British children have risen in the league tables for both maths and reading. However, these same teens reported among the lowest levels of life satisfaction. They may be performing well academically, but they’re not thriving. This isn’t a problem only in the UK, of course. At a recent conference that I attended, organised by the Templeton World Charity Foundation, research psychologists, education specialists, economists and philosophers from around the world ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 13, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational Feature Morality Source Type: blogs

Conservatives Might Not Have A More Potent Fear Response Than Liberals After All
By guest blogger Jesse Singal If you follow mainstream science coverage, you have likely heard by now that many scientists believe that the differences between liberals and conservatives aren’t just ideological, but biological or neurological. That is, these differences are driven by deeply-seated features of our bodies and minds which exist prior to any sort of conscious evaluation of a given issue. Lately, though, follow-up research has been poking some holes in this general theory. In November, for example, Emma Young wrote about findings which undermined past suggestions that conservatives are more read...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 12, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion guest blogger Methodological Political Replications Source Type: blogs

Kids Like Learning From Confident Adults — But Only If Their Confidence Is Justified
By Emma Young If you confidently tell a young child a fact, they’re likely to believe you. But you’d better be right — because if they find out that you were wrong, and should have known better, they’ll doubt not only your credibility but your intelligence too. These are the implications of new work in PLOS One, led by Susan Birch at the University of British Columbia. It shows that children prefer to learn from people who are consistently confident, rather than hesitant, about what they say. However, even kids as young as four also keep a track record of a person’s accuracy, and make ju...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 11, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Developmental Educational Source Type: blogs

Leaders Show Distinct Body Language Depending On Whether They Gain Authority Through Prestige Or Dominance
By Emma Young All kinds of animals use their bodies to signal a high social rank — humans included. But a growing body of research suggests that, for us at least, there are two distinct routes to becoming a leader. One entails earning respect and followers by demonstrating your knowledge and expertise, which confers prestige. An alternative strategy is to use aggression and intimidation to scare people into deference — that is, to use dominance instead. These two ways to the top are very different. And, to get on with their leader, an inferior-status individual would have to respond to these two types of l...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 10, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: leadership Social Source Type: blogs

Sad Songs And Smartphones: The Week ’s Best Psychology Links
Our weekly round-up of the best psychology coverage from elsewhere on the web Recent years have seen a proliferation of mental health apps that claim to help relieve symptoms of depression. But there’s not much evidence that they really do anything, writes Tom Chivers at Unherd. Even in the few cases where there has been research into the effectiveness of the apps, the studies are often small and uncontrolled, raising questions about how solid the results are. Ever felt like pop songs are getting sadder? Well, you’re not wrong, according to researchers Alberto Acerbi and Charlotte Brand, writing at Aeon. The ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 7, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Weekly links Source Type: blogs

What People Think They Know About Autism Bears Little Relation To Their Actual Knowledge
By guest blogger Dan Carney One of the most well-known psychological biases is the Dunning-Kruger effect: the tendency for individuals less skilled or knowledgeable in a particular area to overestimate their own performance. Now, a team of researchers from Miami University, Ohio, have offered the most robust evidence yet that this may apply to knowledge about autism — that what people think they know about the condition may not be that closely related to what they actually know. Writing in the March issue of Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, the authors — led by Camilla McMahon — measured perce...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 6, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Autism guest blogger Source Type: blogs

The Precise Meaning Of Emotion Words Is Different Around The World
By Emily Reynolds When you can’t quite put your finger on how you’re feeling, don’t worry — there may be a non-English word that can help you out. There are hundreds of words across the world for emotional states and concepts, from the Spanish word for the desire to eat simply for the taste (gula) to the Sanskrit for revelling in someone else’s joy (mudita). But what about those words that exist across many languages — “anger”, for example, or “happiness”? Do they mean the same thing in every language, or do we experience emotions differently based on the cul...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 5, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cross-cultural Emotion Language Source Type: blogs

Can ’t Quit Smoking? It Might Be To Do With How Sad You Are
By Emily Reynolds Emotions have a powerful part to play in both our behavioural choices and our health. Experiencing a range of positive emotions has been associated with lower levels of inflammation, for example, and emotional control has even been linked to higher performance in sportspeople. Negative emotions, too, can have a serious impact on behaviour: research has investigated the emotional triggers of self-harm, for instance. Now new research from Charles Dorison and colleagues at Harvard University, published in PNAS, has looked at the role of negative emotions in addiction. Though some theories say negative m...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 4, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Drugs Emotion Smoking Source Type: blogs

Even Preschoolers Associate Positions Of Power With Being A Man
By Emily Reynolds An imbalance in power — personal and political — is at the heart of many of the conversations we have around gender. #MeToo sparked a global conversation on the topic, and issues around the gender pay gap and women in leadership roles also deal with matters of unequal power. But our assumptions about how gender and power interact may start far before we even reach the workplace, new research suggests. In a paper published in Sex Roles, Rawan Charafeddine from the CNRS in Paris and colleagues conclude that associations between power and masculinity start when we’re barely out of napp...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 3, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Developmental Gender Social Source Type: blogs

Minibrains And Twitter Bots: The Week ’s Best Psychology Links
Our weekly round-up of the best psychology coverage from elsewhere on the web Psychologists are increasingly turning to Twitter and other social networking sites to learn about human behaviour — but what happens when the accounts they’re studying don’t really belong to people at all? At Nature, Heidi Ledford explores how researchers are dealing with the problem of ever-more sophisticated bots. “Minibrains” — lab-grown brain organoids — differ from human brains in fundamental ways, researchers have found. The cells in the lab-grown brain tissue seem to be undernourished and do not...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 31, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Weekly links Source Type: blogs

Public Wouldn ’t Trust Companies To Scan Social Media Posts For Signs Of Depression, Survey Finds
By guest blogger Jack Barton Since the exposure of Cambridge Analytica in 2018 it is no longer surprising that tech giants are using our information in ways we may not be explicitly aware of. Companies such as Facebook are already using computer algorithms to identify individuals expressing thoughts of suicide and provide targeted support, such as displaying information about mental health services or even contacting first responders. However, the visibility of these features is poor at best — and it remains unclear if the public even wants them in the first place. Now a study in JMIR Mental Health has asked whe...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 30, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Facebook Mental health Technology Source Type: blogs

Researchers Asked Older Adults About The Strategies They Use For Combatting Loneliness. Here ’s What They Said
By Emily Reynolds In an ever-more connected world, it would be easy to assume that loneliness was on its way out — after all, we now have unlimited opportunity to communicate with almost anyone we want at any time we please. But, in fact, it’s still rife: according to the Campaign To End Loneliness, over nine million people in the UK describe themselves as “always or often lonely”. Age has an impact here, too: an Age UK report suggested that the number of over-50s experiencing loneliness will reach two million by 2025 — a 49% increase from 2016. And with researchers suggesting that loneli...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 29, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Mental health Social Source Type: blogs

Episode 19: Should We Worry About Screen Time?
Discussion” Abstaining From Social Media Doesn’t Improve Well-Being, Experimental Study Finds These Violent Delights Don’t Have Violent Ends: Study Finds No link Between Violent Video Games And Teen Aggression Hard-core players of violent video games do not have emotionally blunted brains Past PsychCrunch episodes: Episode one: Dating and Attraction Episode two: Breaking Bad Habits Episode three: How to Win an Argument Episode four: The Psychology of Gift Giving Episode five: How To Learn a New Language Episode six: How To Be Sarcastic  Episode seven: Use Psychology To Compete Like an Olympian. Episo...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 28, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Developmental Mental health Podcast Technology Source Type: blogs

Cold Days Can Make Us Long For Social Contact — But Warming Up Our Bodies Eliminates This Desire
By Emma Young From our earliest moments, our awareness of being physically close to someone else is tied up with perceptions of actual warmth. It’s been suggested that this relationship becomes deeply ingrained, with temperature in turn affecting our social perceptions on into adulthood. However, some of the most-publicised results in this field have failed to replicate, leading critics to query whether the relationship really exists. Now a new paper, published in Social Psychology, provides an apparently compelling explanation for at least some inconsistencies in the results, and supports the idea that our temp...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 27, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Perception Social Source Type: blogs

WEIRD Studies And Psychedelic Experiences: The Week ’s Best Psychology Links
Our weekly round-up of the best psychology coverage from elsewhere on the web Psychologists have long recognised that the field has a bias towards studying people from Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic (WEIRD) societies. But how much is actually being done to correct this bias? Not enough, according to the experts interviewed by Michael Schulson in a story for Undark. This week the government announced plans to use lie-detector tests with convicted terrorists who have been released from prison. There’s just one problem, reports Hannah Devlin in The Guardian — they don’t work. While...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 24, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Weekly links Source Type: blogs

Most Of Us Think We ’re More Environmentally Friendly Than Our Peers
By Emily Reynolds How environmentally friendly am I really? It’s a question we ask ourselves more and more frequently as the climate emergency remains firmly at the top of the political agenda. So we dutifully eschew single-use purchases, lug our tote bags to the supermarket instead of using plastic bags, and take part in Veganuary, safe in the knowledge we’re doing our bit. But, as it turns out, we may be overestimating how well we’re actually doing at being green. According to new research published in Basic and Applied Social Psychology, most of us tend to magnify our own environmental efforts, be...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 23, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: environmental Social The self Source Type: blogs

Getting Some Sleep Doesn ’t Make Eyewitnesses Any Better At Identifying Suspects
By Emily Reynolds We tend to think of sleep as a positive thing. Not enough of it, and we suffer: our moods drop, and we find it harder to both concentrate on what’s in front of us and remember what’s happened. Being well-rested, on the other hand, is associated with greater ability to communicate, to achievement at home and at work, and to superior recollection of previously learned facts or events. Based on what we already know about the benefits of sleep on memory it may seem obvious that going to bed would also help eyewitnesses identify those they had seen perpetrate crimes. But in a new study, publis...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 22, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Memory Sleep and dreaming Source Type: blogs

Here ’s How Good Liars Get Away With It
By Emily Reynolds Being able to get away with a few white lies can be a useful skill. Giving your boss a plausible explanation as to why you’re late to work, for example, can be fairly handy — why do they have to know you just pressed snooze a few too many times? Some of us get better results than others, of course, when we tell fibs. But those who think they’re better at lying than average seem to have a few things in common, according to new research published in PLOS One. To understand what makes a good liar, Brianna Verigin from Maastricht University and colleagues surveyed 194 participants on t...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 21, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Lying Social Source Type: blogs

How To Be An Effective Climate Activist, According To Psychology
Young activists take part in a climate strike in Edinburgh. Credit: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images By Emma Young Watching climate activist Greta Thunberg’s passionate speech to world leaders at the UN in New York last September, it was impossible not to be struck by her depth of feeling. For me, it was deeply moving. For a guest speaking on Fox News, this was “climate hysteria” from a “mentally ill Swedish child”. It’s hardly news to point out that Thunberg is polarising. For everyone who feels shocked and shamed into doing whatever they can — no matter how small — to miti...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 20, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: environmental Feature Social Source Type: blogs

Brain Parasites And Super-Recognisers: The Week ’s Best Psychology Links
Our weekly round-up of the best psychology coverage from elsewhere on the web Researchers from tech company DeepMind have drawn inspiration from their own AI research to develop a new theory of how reinforcement learning works in the brain. Dopamine neurons respond to the difference between a predicted reward and the reward that an animal actually receives: so if the reward is greater than predicted, for instance, more dopamine will be released. But the team found that dopamine neurons in mice don’t all produce the same level of response, reports Donna Lu at New Scientist — instead, they show a distribution of ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 17, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Weekly links Source Type: blogs

Most People Who Share “Fake News” Do Care About The Accuracy Of News Items — They’re Just Distracted
By Emma Young Is it really believable that Hillary Clinton operated a child sex ring out of a pizza shop — or that Donald Trump was prepared to deport his wife, Melania, after a fight at the White House? Though both these headlines seem obviously false, they were shared millions of times on social media. The sharing of misinformation — including such blatantly false “fake news” — is of course a serious problem. According to a popular interpretation of why it happens, when deciding what to share, social media users don’t care if a “news” item is true or not, so long as it...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 16, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Decision making Facebook Social Twitter Source Type: blogs

When A Word Is On The Tip Of Our Tongue, We Are More Likely To Take Risks
By Matthew Warren “What’s the name of that actor again? The one who was on that show? Oh, it’s right on the tip of my tongue..!” That “tip-of-the-tongue” state — where we feel that we’re just on the verge of recalling a word or name — is probably familiar to us all. And it’s been the subject of much research by psycholinguists, who think it happens when we’re able to retrieve a concept or meaning, but not translate that into the letters and sounds of a word. Now a new study in Memory & Cognition has found that when people experience tip-of-the-tongu...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 15, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Decision making Language Source Type: blogs

We Consistently Overestimate How Much Other People Will Enjoy Or Pay For Stuff
By Emma Young Imagine taking a two-week holiday to the Bahamas. Sand, sea, and reef — who wouldn’t love it? I mean, personally, though I would love aspects of it, I’m quickly bored on a beach, I’m too nervous of deep water to dive and excessive sun brings me out in a rash. But that’s just me. Anyone else would just adore it….right? This, it turns out, is a classic example of a bias, dubbed the overestimation bias, revealed in a new paper, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. In a series of studies involving thousands of participants, Minah Jung at New York Universi...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 14, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Decision making Social Source Type: blogs

How To Achieve Your New Year ’s Resolutions, According To Psychology
By Emily Reynolds The excesses of Christmas have been and gone, and we’ve been met once again by January’s familiar call for resolution and goal-setting. For most of us, New Year’s resolutions are a mixed bag: whether we’re looking to get fit, become more environmentally-friendly, or just keep up a new hobby, there sometimes seems to be no rhyme or reason as to why some habits stick and others fall by the wayside almost immediately. But there are a few things you can do to make your new routines work, based on research into motivation, temptation and achievement. Here’s our digest of the ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 13, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Feature The self Source Type: blogs

The Emotions Of Music And The Meaning Of Life: The Week ’s Best Psychology Links
Our weekly round-up of the best psychology coverage from elsewhere on the web It’s hard for researchers to study the brain activity involved in social interactions when they can only conduct MRI scans on a single person at a time. But what if you could squeeze two people into the scanner at once? At Science, Kelly Servick reports on the development of new, rather intimate imaging arrangements, in which two participants lie face-to-face while having their brains scanned simultaneously.   Music can make us feel a range of emotions — but are those experiences common to everyone, or specific to our own ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 10, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Weekly links Source Type: blogs

First-Generation University Students Are At Greater Risk Of Experiencing Imposter Syndrome
By Emily Reynolds Increasing efforts have been made in recent years to encourage students to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects. There’s been a particularly positive emphasis on getting a more diverse group of people onto such courses: women, black and ethnic minority groups and working class people have all been the focus of drives and campaigns designed to help them enter STEM careers. But, a new study suggests, the competitive nature of STEM courses may be having a knock-on effect on the confidence of certain students, in this case first-generation college attendees (those ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 9, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational Social Source Type: blogs

Public Belief In “Memory Myths” Not Actually That Widespread, Study Argues
By Emma Young The general public has a pretty poor understanding of how memory works — and lawyers and clinical psychologists can be just as bad. At least, this is what many researchers have asserted, notes a team at University College London in a new paper, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. However, their research reveals that the idea that most people ignorantly subscribe to “memory myths” is itself a myth. The wording of earlier studies, and also discrepancies in how memory experts and the general public tend to interpret the meaning of statements about memory, have painted a bl...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 8, 2020 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Memory Methodological Source Type: blogs

Our Ten Most Popular Posts Of 2019
By Matthew Warren It’s been an eventful year at Research Digest: we’ve said goodbye to old staff members and hello to new ones; we’ve commissioned and published numerous guest posts and features, and sent out dozens of newsletters to our subscribers; and we were even finalists for a national science writing award. And through it all, we’ve been delighted that so many readers continue to turn to us to learn about the latest psychological research. So as we take stock before the Christmas break, here’s a look back at our most popular posts of the year: 10) There Are Sex Differences In The...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 19, 2019 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Announcements Source Type: blogs

Thinking About Past Generations Could Help Us Tackle Climate Change
By Emily Reynolds Rhetoric around climate change often calls on us to think of future generations: if we don’t suffer the effects, then our children and our children’s children will. For some, this sense of obligation could be motivating. But for others, the distant time frame may be a barrier to truly grappling with the issue. Now, a new study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests one method to get people thinking about their duty to future generations is to think about the past. In their new paper, Hanne Watkins from the University of Massachusetts and Geoffrey Goodwin from the Universi...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 18, 2019 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Decision making environmental Time Source Type: blogs

When Thinking About Your Personality, Your Friends ’ Brain Activity Is Surprisingly Similar To Your Own
By Emma Young How well do you know your best friend? New research led by Robert Chavez at the University of Oregon suggests that scans of both your brains might provide the answer. The study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Attitudes and Social Cognition, reveals that the brain activity patterns of people asked to think about what a mutual friend is like can be remarkably similar to those observed in that friend when they think about themselves. For the round-robin study, the researchers recruited 11 students aged 24-29 who were all friends and spent a lot of time together. Each of the ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 17, 2019 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Personality Social The self Source Type: blogs

Timing Is Crucial For Creating Accurate Police Sketches From Eyewitness Descriptions
By Emma Young A witness to a crime has to describe the offender’s face in as much detail as they can before they work with a police expert to create a visual likeness — a “facial composite”, sometimes called a photo-fit, or e-fit. But the way this is typically handled in police stations could be reducing the accuracy of these images, according to a new paper published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied. There have been concerns that the process of describing facial features might create a so-called “verbal overshadowing” that interferes with the visual memories of th...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 16, 2019 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Faces Memory Source Type: blogs

Blue Spaces And Whale Wisdom: The Week ’s Best Psychology Links
Our weekly round-up of the best psychology coverage from elsewhere on the web Thinking of your sadness as a person — à la the Pixar movie Inside Out — can make you feel less sad. That’s according to a recent study which highlights the benefits of putting some distance between yourself and your emotions, reports Elle Hunt at The Guardian — though the strategy can backfire when it comes to positive emotions like happiness. We’ve previously written about the psychological benefits of spending time in green spaces — but what about “blue” spaces? At Undark, Jenny Roe look...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 13, 2019 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Weekly links Source Type: blogs

The More We See Fake News, The More Likely We Are To Share It
By Emily Reynolds Over the last few years, so-called “fake news” — purposefully untrue misinformation spread online — has become more and more of a concern. From extensive media coverage of the issue to government committees being set up for its investigation, fake news is at the top of the agenda — and more often than we’d like, on top of our newsfeeds. But how does exposure to misinformation impact the way we respond to it? A new study, published in Psychological Science, suggests that the more we see it, the more we’re likely to spread it. And considering the fact that fake...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 12, 2019 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Decision making Morality Twitter Source Type: blogs

Why Fear Of Rejection Prevents Us From Making Wise Decisions
By guest blogger David Robson When you have a disagreement with your boss, how do you respond? Do you consider that you might be at fault and try to consider the other’s viewpoint? Or do you dig in your heels and demand that other people come around to your way of thinking? In other words, do you make wise, practical decisions, or are you prone to being stubborn and petty in the face of criticism? As I describe in my recent book, The Intelligence Trap, a whole new field of “evidence-based wisdom” aims to measure these kinds of differences in people’s thinking and behaviour, and to underst...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 11, 2019 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Decision making guest blogger Intelligence Source Type: blogs

Good At Heart? 10 Psychology Findings That Reveal The Better Side Of Humanity
By Matthew Warren Last year we published a list of ten psychology findings that reveal the worst of human nature. Research has shown us to be dogmatic and over-confident, we wrote, with a tendency to look down on minorities and assume that the downtrodden deserve their fate. Even young children take pleasure in the suffering of others, we pointed out. But that’s only half of the story. Every day, people around the world fight against injustices, dedicate time and resources to helping those less fortunate than them, or just perform simple acts of kindness that brighten the lives of those around them. And psy...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 10, 2019 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Feature Morality Positive psychology Source Type: blogs

Here ’s The First Evidence That Even Lizards Succumb To Optical Illusions
By Emma Young It’s been known for centuries that we experience all kinds of optical illusions, and in the past few decades, researchers have shown that some animals, including monkeys, pigeons, and dogs, do too. Now the first ever study of this kind in reptiles has found that even the bearded dragon falls for an optical illusion that we humans succumb to. Perceptual illusions — subjective interpretations of physical information — are interesting to psychologists because they reveal important insights into how we construct our representations of the world. This new work, published in the Journal of Co...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 9, 2019 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Comparative Illusions Perception Source Type: blogs

Cat Whisperers And Dog Listeners: The Week ’s Best Psychology Links
We reported this week on a study showing that culture influences our ability to recognise dog emotions. Now researchers have examined human recognition of cat moods — and found that most of us do pretty miserably. While cats do express emotion in their faces, we’re just not that good at reading them, reports Karin Brulliard for the Washington Post — unless you’re in the small minority the researchers call “cat whisperers”. Meanwhile, another study has found that dogs seem to understand that a word is the same even when it’s spoken by different speakers with different accents. Prev...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 6, 2019 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Weekly links Source Type: blogs

Eureka Moments Have A “Dark Side”: They Can Make False Facts Seem True
By Matthew Warren We love a puzzle here at Research Digest — so here’s a couple from a recent paper in Cognition. See whether you can unscramble the anagrams in the following sentences (read on for the answers!): The Cocos Islands are part of idnionsea eeebygoshn kill more people worldwide each year than all poisonous snakes combined If you successfully solved the anagrams, you may have experienced an “Aha!” or “Eureka” moment: a flash of insight where the solution suddenly becomes clear, perhaps after you have spent a while completely stumped. Usually when we experience these mom...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 5, 2019 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Creativity Decision making Source Type: blogs

Lying To Your Kids Could Make Them More Dishonest And Less Well-Adjusted As Adults
By Emily Reynolds Telling white lies to children can be somewhat par for the course when you’re a parent: “I’ve got Santa on the phone and he says he’s not coming unless you go to bed now,” is particularly useful during the festive season, for example. It can seem like nothing: just another tool to improve your child’s behaviour. But don’t get too attached to the technique — telling too many white lies to your children may have more far-reaching consequences than you might have hoped, according to a new study, published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. T...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 4, 2019 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Developmental Lying Source Type: blogs

The Psychological Impacts Of Poverty, Digested
This study, of 4,758 11-year-olds living in urban areas of England, found that children who lived in greener neighbourhoods performed better on tests of spatial working memory (an effect that held for both deprived and non-deprived neighbourhoods). “Our findings suggest a positive role of greenspace in cognitive functioning,” commented researcher Eirini Flouri at University College London. What might this role be? Perhaps because it’s restful for the brain, and restores the ability to concentrate. Interventions that focus on the families of kids growing up in poverty should also help. The team that observ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 3, 2019 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Feature Mental health Money Source Type: blogs

Our Ability To Recognise Dogs ’ Emotions Is Shaped By Our Cultural Upbringing
By Emily Reynolds As anyone who’s ever had to scold their dog for stealing food off a plate or jumping onto that oh-so-tempting forbidden sofa can attest, dogs are pretty good at understanding what we’re saying to them — at least when it suits them. Research has also shown that dogs are able to understand some aspects of human communication, perhaps because throughout history we’ve used dogs for their ability to respond to our commands. Words, hand signs and gestures, tone of voice and facial expression — it seems that dogs have the ability to understand them all. But what about human und...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 2, 2019 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cross-cultural Emotion Source Type: blogs

Retail Ruses And Accent Attitudes: The Week ’s Best Psychology Links
Our weekly round-up of the best psychology coverage from elsewhere on the web Deep brain stimulation (DBS) can help patients with Parkinson’s control their movement — but a new study has found that it also prevents some people from being able to swim. Nine patients — including two former competitive swimmers — were no longer able to keep afloat after receiving implants for DBS, reports Jennifer Walter for Discover. Past research has found that DBS can also disrupt other learned motor skills, such as golfing. A ketamine-based intervention could help heavy drinkers cut down on their alcohol consumpt...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 29, 2019 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Weekly links Source Type: blogs