Brainwave study suggests sexual posing, but not bare skin, leads to automatic objectification
This study relies on the discovery first made nearly 50 years ago that when human faces and bodies are presented upside-down, it is particularly hard for us to perceive them in the same holistic way we do when we look at them the right-way up (a phenomenon known as the “inversion effect”). Supporting the concept of objectification, evidence from this decade shows that inverted sexualised bodies (for example, wearing scant clothing in a provocative pose) do not trigger the inversion effect, suggesting that we process them more like we process objects – by scrutinising their individual parts, rather than ho...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 17, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Sex Social Source Type: blogs

Pilot study finds “smart drug” Aderall has limited benefits for healthy students, and may harm working memory
By Emma Young Stimulants available on prescription such as Adderall improve cognitive functioning as well as attention in people with ADHD, but many students without this condition also take them, believing that they will act as “smart drugs” and boost their cognition, and so their academic performance. The limited research to date into whether this is actually the case has produced mixed results. A new double-blind pilot study of healthy US college students, published in Pharmacy, found that though Adderall led to minor improvements in attention, it actually impaired working memory.  The researchers, fro...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 16, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Educational Source Type: blogs

A re-replication of a psychological classic provides a cautionary tale about overhyped science
via Strack et al, 1988 By guest blogger Jesse Singal If you wanted a poster child for the replication crisis and the controversy it has unleashed within the field of psychology, it would be hard to do much better than Fritz Strack’s findings. In 1988, the German psychologist and his colleagues published research that appeared to show that if your mouth is forced into a smile, you become a bit happier, and if it’s forced into a frown, you become a bit sadder. He pulled this off by asking volunteers to view a set of cartoons (paper ones, not animated) while holding a pen in their mouth, either with their tee...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 15, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Faces guest blogger Replications Source Type: blogs

Preliminary evidence suggests women may be better role jugglers than men
Women took only the positive from work into the home (and vice versa), while for men it was the stress that spilt over By Emma Young Juggling home and work commitments is never easy, and yet there’s been surprisingly little research into how either demands – or support – at home or work may spillover into the other context. Does a frustrating or combative workday negatively affect family life that evening, for instance? Or if your partner is emotionally supportive when you both get home, will you “pass it on”, and be more supportive of colleagues the next day? And, are men and women affected i...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 14, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Gender Mental health Occupational Source Type: blogs

Women take only the positive from work into the home (and vice versa), while for men it ’s the stress that spills over
Preliminary evidence suggests women may be better role jugglers By Emma Young Juggling home and work commitments is never easy, and yet there’s been surprisingly little research into how either demands – or support – at home or work may spillover into the other context. Does a frustrating or combative workday negatively affect family life that evening, for instance? Or if your partner is emotionally supportive when you both get home, will you “pass it on”, and be more supportive of colleagues the next day? And, are men and women affected in the same ways? A new paper, published in the Journal ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 14, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Gender Mental health Occupational Source Type: blogs

Interviews with 100 CBT-therapists reveal 43 per cent of clients experience unwanted side-effects from therapy
By Christian Jarrett The structured nature of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy/CBT and its clearly defined principles (based on the links between thoughts, feelings and behaviours) make it relatively easy to train practitioners, to ensure standardised delivery and to measure outcomes. Consequently, CBT has revolutionised mental health care, allowing psychologists to alchemize therapy from an art into a science. For many mental health conditions, there is now considerable evidence that CBT is as, or more, effective than drug treatments. Yet, just like any form of psychotherapy, CBT is not without the risk of unwanted adverse e...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 13, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Therapy Source Type: blogs

Women with partners higher in trait conscientiousness get more pleasure from sex
By Christian Jarrett Especially if you are in a long-term relationship your own sexual functioning is not a purely an individual matter but is bound up with your partner’s. Previous research has looked at this dynamic, finding for example that people are generally happier with their sex lives when they have the perception that they and their partner are sexually compatible. Surprisingly, however, before now the influence of your partner’s broader personality traits on your own sex life had not been studied. A German study of nearly a thousand long-term couples (98 per cent of them heterosexual) is the first to ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 10, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Gender Personality Sex Source Type: blogs

Do people with a high IQ age more slowly?
Greater intelligence may mean that you feel younger than your years – and this seems to be reflected in biological measures of ageing By guest blogger David Robson Take a moment to consider how old you feel. Not your actual, biological age – but your own subjective feelings. Abundant research during the past few decades have shown that this “subjective age” can be a powerful predictor of your health, including the risk of depression, diabetes and hypertension, dementia, and hospitalisation for illness and injury, and even mortality – better than your actual age. In each case, the younger ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 9, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: guest blogger Health Intelligence Source Type: blogs

Close friends become absorbed into our self-concept, affecting our ability to distinguish their faces from our own
By Christian Jarrett When we say that our close friends have become a part of us, we’re usually talking metaphorically. Yet prior research has shown there is a literal sense in which this is true. For instance, we’re slower at judging whether given personality traits apply to us or our friends, compared with when judging whether traits belong to us or someone we’re not close to – it’s as if our friends’ traits and our own have somehow become shared, which makes the judgment trickier. Similarly, in terms of brain activity, we respond to mistakes made by friends in a similar way to how we ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 8, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Faces Perception Social The self Source Type: blogs

How kids shape their parents ’ parenting style
By Christian Jarrett In our culture we like to speculate about the effects of different parenting styles on children. A lot of this debate is wasted breath. Twin studies – that compare similarities in outcomes between genetically identical and non-identical twins raised by their biological or adopted parents – have already shown us that parental influence is far more modest than we usually assume. Now a paper in Social Psychological and Personality Science goes further, using the twin approach to reveal how it is mistaken to see the parent-child dynamic as a one-way relationship. “Given the current e...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 7, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Developmental Genetics Personality Source Type: blogs

People with strong self-control experience less intense bodily states like hunger and fatigue
By Christian Jarrett You may think of people with high self-control as having enviable reserves of willpower, but recent findings suggest this isn’t the case. Instead it seems the strong-willed are canny folk, adept at avoiding temptation in the first place. A new study in the journal Self and Identity builds on this picture, showing that people high in self-control tend to experience less intense visceral states, like fatigue, hunger and stress (states that are known to encourage impulsive behaviour). The new findings make sense: after all, it is much easier to be in control of your decisions if you are organis...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 6, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Decision making Personality Source Type: blogs

The most effective teachers turn to their colleagues for advice (while weaker teachers don ’t bother)
By guest blogger Bradley Busch Teaching, it has often been said, is the one profession that creates all other professions. Therefore it is so important that we learn how to do it right. The ways that teachers learn from each other is likely to be an important part of this, especially how they discern each other’s expertise and whether they are inclined to seek advice and help from the most able. A team led by James Spillane at Northwestern University has published a study in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis that looks into these teacher behaviours. The researchers employed a mixed-method approach that ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 3, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational guest blogger Source Type: blogs

The “beautiful mess” effect: other people view our vulnerability more positively than we do
“Vulnerability is courage in you and inadequacy in me” Brené Brown By Christian Jarrett Admitting mistakes, seeking help, apologising first, confessing one’s romantic feelings – all these kind of situations involve intentional expressions of vulnerability, in which we may fear being rejected or being judged negatively, yet we grit our teeth and go ahead anyway. According to a team of psychologists writing in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology contrary to our worst fears, having the courage to show our vulnerability in these ways will often be rewarded. That’s because ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 2, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Social Source Type: blogs

New evidence for the “propinquity effect” – mere physical closeness increases our liking of desirable people and things
By Emma Young The idea that we prefer desirable objects – and people – that are physically closer to us has been around for decades. All other things being equal, a potentially dangerous animal that’s close is known to seem scarier than one that’s further away, and it’s been suggested that, in a mirror effect, a nearby desirable person or object is more enticing or attractive than the same one positioned at some distance.  But although this propinquity effect “continues to be a popular topic in introductory social psychology courses, there are surprisingly few works that offer comp...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 1, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Social Source Type: blogs

Political and business leaders who change their moral stance are perceived not as brave, but hypocritical and ineffective
By Alex Fradera Many commentators considered President Obama’s reversal on same-sex marriage an act of courage. But this isn’t how the public usually perceives moral mind-changers, according to a team led by Tamar Kreps at the University of Utah. Their findings in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggest that leaders who shift from a moral stance don’t appear brave – they just look like hypocrites. The researchers conducted 15 studies, of which I’ll focus on one example that illustrates the core approach. Nearly 800 participants recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk read ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 31, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: leadership Morality Source Type: blogs

Amsterdam coffee-shop study explores the effects of cannabis on eye-witness memory
This study breaks new ground, but it’s not without some issues – for instance, the realism of recruiting coffee-shop patrons came at the expense of experimental control. There was no random allocation to conditions, for example, and the researchers didn’t have an accurate measure of their participants’ levels of intoxication. Vredeveldt and her team recommend that future research strive for greater experimental control, and they said it would be useful to find out whether the adverse effects of cannabis on recall dissipate once a witness sobers up. —Effects of cannabis on eyewitness memor...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 30, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Forensic Perception Source Type: blogs

Clever study shows how two minds interact to create the spooky sense that an Ouija board is moving by itself
By Christian Jarrett Psychologists have proposed an explanation for why Ouija board users feel as though a spirit is moving the planchette (an ornate pointer) and spelling out messages. It is based on the idea that two (or more) living users unwittingly take turns at controlling the planchette, cooperating implicitly to create a message that starts out random but becomes more predictable as the number of meaningful options decreases. “It seems that meaningful responses from the Ouija board are an emergent property of interacting predictive minds that increasingly impose structure on initially random events in the ses...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 27, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Parapsychology Perception Source Type: blogs

Does receiving favours and freebies make you uncomfortable? Maybe you have “reciprocity anxiety”
By Christian Jarrett Years ago, my wife and I were window shopping in the Brighton lanes when we decided to enter a posh perfume store to take a closer sniff. A smiling sales woman approached and, to our delight, offered us each a complimentary glass of sparking wine and some nibbles. Soon though, our glee turned to discomfort: could we really just walk out having enjoyed the freebies? Conspiring like thieves, we decided that although we wouldn’t buy anything (not that we could have afforded to), we had better stay and look interested a while longer; we even dropped a false hint to the woman at our likely return. Acc...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 26, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Money Social Source Type: blogs

Weight gain in new fathers is a “real phenomenon” that’s been subjected to a “striking lack” of research
Potential factors contributing to paternal obesity risk, from Saxbe et al, 2018 By Christian Jarrett The phenomenon of mothers gaining weight during and beyond pregnancy is well-researched and understood – much of it has to do with the hormonal changes that assist fetal growth and preparation for lactation. Less researched and recognised, other than through jokes about “dad bods”, is that many expectant fathers also gain weight, and that the pounds tend to stay on (one study found that fathers weigh, on average, 14 pounds more than childless men). In Health Psychology Review, a team led by Darby Saxbe at ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 25, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological Gender Health Source Type: blogs

First survey of its kind for 50 years finds most Americans still think they have above average intelligence
“… the least intelligent tend to be the most overconfident” By Alex Fradera A systematic survey in the US of people’s beliefs about their own intelligence – the first for 50 years – has shown that was true then is also the case in the modern era: a majority of people think they are smarter than average.  The research, led by Patrick Heck from the Geisinger Health System and published in PLOS One, combined an online survey and phone survey, with each involving 750 people reflecting a cross-section of the US population, balanced in terms of sex, age, education levels a...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 24, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: In Brief Intelligence Source Type: blogs

Systematic review finds “qualified support” for hormonal treatments for gender dysphoria in youth
By Christian Jarrett Clinicians treating children with gender dysphoria, the children themselves, and their parents, are faced with a dilemma – early use of puberty suppressing drugs (followed later by further hormonal treatments) will likely make it easier for the young person to gender transition in due course, and the earlier that process begins, the more effective it is likely to be. However, intervening earlier comes with the possibility that the child’s feelings of gender dysphoria would have dissipated naturally, or that they may later de-transition (that is, change their mind about wantin...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 23, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological Gender Mental health Source Type: blogs

Systematic review: puberty suppressing drugs alone do not alleviate gender dysphoria
By Christian Jarrett Clinicians treating teenagers with gender dysphoria, the teens themselves, and their parents, are faced with a dilemma – puberty suppressing drugs and hormonal treatments will likely make it easier for the adolescent to gender transition in due course, and the earlier that process begins, the more effective it is likely to be. However, intervening earlier comes with a greater risk that the teen may later de-transition (that is, change their mind about wanting to transition to the other gender), leaving them with potentially irreversible bodily changes caused by the hormonal treatment. Accord...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 23, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological Gender Mental health Source Type: blogs

Systematic review: puberty suppressing drugs do not alleviate gender dysphoria
By Christian Jarrett Clinicians treating teenagers with gender dysphoria, the teens themselves, and their parents, are faced with a dilemma – puberty suppressing drugs and hormonal treatments will likely make it easier for the adolescent to gender transition in due course, and the earlier that process begins, the more effective it is likely to be. However, intervening earlier comes with a greater risk that the teen may later de-transition (that is, change their mind about wanting to transition to the other gender), leaving them with potentially irreversible bodily changes caused by the hormonal treatment. Accord...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 23, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological Gender Mental health Source Type: blogs

Three-week diary study: sex today increases sense of meaning in life tomorrow
By Christian Jarrett What makes for a good life? Current psychological theory highlights the importance of relationships, belonging and having a sense of purpose. Gratitude, forgiveness, generosity and self-compassion often get a mention too. According to a team of psychologists at George Mason University, there is however a glaring omission. Sex. “In theoretical models of well-being, sex is rarely discussed and in many seminal articles, ignored,” they write in their new paper published in Emotion. Todd Kashdan and his colleagues have attempted to correct this oversight with a three-week diary study, in which t...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 20, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Sex Source Type: blogs

Searching for the fundamental mental processes that cut across diagnostic categories, driving confusion and distress
A new paper in Journal of Clinical Psychology is the just the latest to take a trans-diagnostic approach to mental health By Alex Fradera The number of psychiatric diagnoses keep on growing, with perhaps ten times as many categories now as there were 50 years ago. This may in part reflect our growing knowledge, which is welcome. But the sheer density of diagnoses makes it difficult for researchers or clinicians to see the wood for the trees, and it encourages them to settle into silos. It would be advantageous for clinical research and practice if we could introduce some elegance to our understanding. A recent movemen...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 19, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Source Type: blogs

Underestimating the power of gratitude – recipients of thank-you letters are more touched than we expect
By Christian Jarrett We’ve all been there: feeling so grateful to a friend or colleague that we hatch the idea of sending them a thank-you message. But then we worry about how to phrase it. And then we figure it probably won’t mean much to them anyway; if anything it could all be a bit awkward. So we don’t bother. Does this sound familiar? According to a pair of US psychologists, a common failure of perspective means that a lot of us underestimate the positive impact on others (and ourselves) of expressing gratitude, meaning that we miss out on a simple way to improve our social relations and wellbeing. B...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 18, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Social Source Type: blogs

Massive study finds that a sizeable minority of us are in jobs that don ’t fit our primary occupational interests
By Alex Fradera In theory, our personal traits and interests should affect the jobs we pursue and where we thrive the most. This assumption is baked into the Work Psychology theory of “person-environment fit” and it’s an idea that is foundational to services we depend on like vocational guidance and career planning. But one of its key implications has until now been untested: that people who share the same job role will also have similar job interests. Now a surprising new study in the Journal of Vocational Behavior suggests that for many jobs, this simply isn’t true.  The Michigan State ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 17, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Occupational Source Type: blogs

Audiobooks pack a more powerful emotional punch than film
This study is a preprint meaning that it has not yet been subjected to formal peer review] Emma Young (@EmmaELYoung) is a novelist and Staff Writer at BPS Research Digest (Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST)
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 16, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Technology Source Type: blogs

Research into the mental health of prisoners, digested
By Christian Jarrett Around the world, more people than ever are locked up in prisons – estimated to be in excess of 11 million people, up by almost 20 per cent since the turn of the millennium (pdf). According to a recent House of Commons Briefing Paper the rate of increase is even higher than this in the UK where prison populations are at a record high. Many of these incarcerated individuals have intensifying mental health needs – for instance, the same briefing paper reports that UK rates of self-harm in prisoners were 25 per cent higher in 2015 than in 2014. Ahead of next week’s meeting of the Al...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 13, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Feature Forensic Mental health Source Type: blogs

Philosophise this – psychology research by philosophers is robust and replicates better than other areas of psychology
Experimental philosophy or X-Phi takes the tools of contemporary psychology and applies them to unravelling how people think about major topics from Western philosophy By guest blogger Dan Jones Amid all the talk of a “replication crisis” in psychology, here’s a rare good news story – a new project has found that a sub-field of the discipline, known as “experimental philosophy” or X-phi, is producing results that are impressively robust. The current crisis in psychology was largely precipitated by a mass replication attempt published by the Open Science Collaboration (OSC) project i...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 12, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: guest blogger Methods Replications Source Type: blogs

Performing meaningless rituals boosts our self-control through making us feel more self-disciplined
The ritual instructions given to some of the participants in the first experiment, via Tian et al 2018 By guest blogger Tomasz Witkowski We could say without exaggeration that the discovery of a means of achieving full control over oneself is something of a “holy grail” for psychology. There is nothing to indicate that we are getting any closer to finding one, but recent decades have brought us a growing number of discoveries that at least partially allow us to enhance self-control mechanisms. One of them is the light which has been shed on the importance of rituals in boosting self-control. Now in a new p...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 11, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: guest blogger Health Source Type: blogs

After analysing the field ’s leading journal, a psychologist asks: Is social psychology still the science of behaviour?
By Alex Fradera Part of my role at the Digest involves sifting through journals looking for research worth covering, and I’ve sensed that modern social psychology generates plenty of studies based on questionnaire data, but far fewer that investigate the kind of tangible behavioural outcomes illuminated by the field’s classics, from Asch’s conformity experiments to Milgram’s research on obedience to authority. A new paper in Social Psychological Bulletin examines this apparent change systematically. Based on his findings, Dariusz Doliński at the SWPS University of Social Sciences and Huma...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 10, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Methods Social Source Type: blogs

We can tell from a person ’s roar whether they are bigger and stronger than us
By Emma Young Many animals, including sea lions and dogs, can accurately predict the size and strength of a potential adversary in part by listening to their vocalisations – such as the ferocity and depth of their barks or growls. People weren’t thought to be much good at doing something similar. But in previous studies, volunteers were asked to judge the absolute height and strength of another person, based on the sound of an aggressively-spoken sentence or a ‘roar’. Now in a new study, published in iScience, when participants were instead instructed to listen to recordings and judge how much stron...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 9, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: evolutionary psych Source Type: blogs

Researchers have identified a group of patients who are especially prone to out-of-body experiences
By Emma Young People who’ve had an out-of-body experience (OBE) report that their conscious awareness shifted outside their physical body – often upwards, so they felt like they were floating above their own head. It’s thought that OBEs occur when the brain fails to properly integrate data from the different senses, including vision, touch, proprioception (the sense of where the limbs and other body parts are located in space) and from the vestibular system (organs in the inner ear that monitor head orientation, balance and motion).  Previous research has mostly focused on the role of vision and touc...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 6, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Perception Source Type: blogs

Open-plan offices drive down face-to-face interactions and increase use of email
By Christian Jarrett As well as their cost-saving appeal, the rationale for large open-plan offices is that they are expected to act as a crucible for human chemistry, increasing face-to-face encounters between colleagues to the benefit of creativity and collaboration. Unfortunately it’s well-established that most workers don’t like them, such is the fundamental human need for privacy and control over one’s environment. Now a pair of quasi-experimental field studies published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B suggest that the supposed collaborative advantage of open-plan offic...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 5, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Occupational Social Source Type: blogs

Psychologists have looked into why “phubbing” is so harmful to our social lives
By Alex Fradera If you are with someone who is ignoring you while they interact with their smartphone, you have been phone snubbed, or “phubbed”. Phubbing is common, at least in Western cultures – in a recent US survey, nine out of ten respondents said they had used their smartphone during their most recent social activity. There’s also evidence that it is socially harmful, leaving people less satisfied with their face-to-face interactions and generating feelings of resentment and jealousy. Now the Journal of Applied Social Psychology has published a new study exploring the reasons for these ef...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 4, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Social Technology Source Type: blogs

Newly analysed recording challenges Zimbardo ’s account of his infamous prison experiment
Dr. Philip Zimbardo attends the ‘The Stanford Prison Experiment’ premiere during the 2015 Sundance Film Festival (Photo by Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images). New evidence suggests the original experiment was also a form of theatre. By Christian Jarrett What leads some people to tyrannise others, as when guards abuse their prisoners? The US psychologist Philip Zimbardo would say it’s the corrupting power of the situation. Infamously, in the summer of 1971, his prison simulation study had to be abandoned when some of the volunteers playing the role of guards began mistreating the volunteers acting as prisoners. ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 3, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Social Source Type: blogs

Parapsychology has been unfairly sidelined, claims a new review of the field
By Alex Fradera A number of notable figures from psychology’s past held an interest in parapsychology or psi (the study of mental phenomena that defy current scientific understanding), including William James, Alexander Luria, Binet, Freud, and Fechner. But today the field is cordoned off; and when it encroaches into mainstream publications, as with the “Feeling the Future” experiments conducted by Daryl Bem in 2012, furore typically follows. To sceptics, the fact that these experiments produced positive results is ipso facto proof that psychology’s methods must be broken. However, it’s o...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 2, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Parapsychology Source Type: blogs

A mental technique called “cognitive reappraisal” makes long-distance running feel easier
By Christian Jarrett When you’re in the middle of a gruelling long-distance run and the pain and fatigue is becoming overwhelming, an obvious strategy is to try to force the subjective experience out of your mind, for example by thinking nice thoughts or focusing on the environment around you. The trouble is, as the physical struggle intensifies, the distraction strategy becomes harder and harder to pull off. According to a new paper in Motivation and Emotion, an alternative approach that holds promise is to practice “cognitive reappraisal” – don’t ignore the sensations as such, but try to vie...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 29, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Emotion Sport Source Type: blogs

Researchers say it is mistaken to see sexting as “simply harmful”
By Emma Young Is sexting a good thing, because it’s sexually liberating, or a bad thing, because it’s objectifying? Separate research groups have put forward both arguments. But according to a new study of college students in Hong Kong, it’s both.  It’s estimated that roughly half of US college students (on which most research in this area has been done) send nude or sexually provocative images by phone or the internet. In the new study, reported in the Journal of Sex Research, the proportion was lower (13.6 per cent), perhaps because Chinese culture has a lower level of sexual permissiveness, ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 28, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Sex Technology Source Type: blogs

Episode 12: How To Be Funnier
This is Episode 12 of PsychCrunch, the podcast from the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest, sponsored by Routledge Psychology. Download here. http://traffic.libsyn.com/psychcrunch/20180619_PsychCrunch_Ep12_Mx1.mp3 Can psychology help us to be funnier? Our presenter Ginny Smith hears how a key ingredient of humour is “incongruity” and the surprise of unexpected meanings. Individual words too can be amusing, but actually most of the time we laugh not because we’ve seen or heard a joke, but as a natural part of friendly interaction. Our guests, in order of appearance, are: ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 27, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Laughter Podcast Source Type: blogs

Reducing trait anxiety by implanting false positive memories
  The implantation of positive memories under hypnosis led to lasting reductions in anxiety; from Nourkova & Vasilenko, 2018 By Christian Jarrett Most of us are healthily deluded by memory biases that inflate our self-esteem. We remember more positive personal events than negative, for instance, and we selectively recall or even edit memories in a way that bolsters our favoured view of ourselves. A pair of psychologists at Lomonosov Moscow University propose that for people with persistent anxiety, this process goes awry. The worrier’s negative self-concept is instead reinforced by the selective recall ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 26, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Memory Mental health Source Type: blogs

People with “Maladaptive Daydreaming” spend an average of four hours a day lost in their imagination
This study is, they say, the first to explore the mental health factors that accompany Maladaptive Daydreaming (MD) over time – and it provides insights into not only what might cause these intense, vivid, extended bouts of daydreaming but also hints at how to prevent them, or how to stop them in their tracks. Because while many people who experience MD report enjoying their daydreams at the time, MD can also negatively affect their relationships with others, their day-to-day lives, and their overall emotional wellbeing. Earlier work led researchers to suggest that MD might be either a dissociative disorder, a distur...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 25, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Sleep and dreaming Source Type: blogs

Burnout is common among psychotherapists – now a review has identified the personal characteristics that increase the risk further
By Alex Fradera Working an emotionally-demanding job can leave you frazzled by alienation, exhaustion, and confusion about whether you are doing any good. Clinical psychologists and psychotherapists live their day-to-day at the interface of their clients’ most difficult emotions and recollections, so it is no surprise that burnout is a leading cause of problems for those in the profession. To better understand the risk factors that contribute to therapist burnout, a new review article in the Journal of Clinical Psychology has examined findings from 30 years of research. Gabrielle Simionato and Susan Simpson of ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 22, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Occupational Source Type: blogs

Psychology ’s favourite moral thought experiment doesn’t predict real-world behaviour
By Christian Jarrett Would you wilfully hurt or kill one person so as to save multiple others? That’s the dilemma at the heart of moral psychology’s favourite thought experiment and its derivatives. In the classic case, you must decide whether or not to pull a lever to divert a runaway mining trolley so that it avoids killing five people and instead kills a single individual on another line. A popular theory in the field states that, to many of us, so abhorrent is the notion of deliberately harming someone that our “deontological” instincts deter us from pulling the lever; on the other hand, the mor...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 21, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Methods Morality Source Type: blogs

New trial finds that frequent aerobic exercise reduces the hard-to-treat “negative symptoms” of schizophrenia
By Emma Young Aerobic exercise – any activity that gets your heart pumping harder – improves mood, anxiety and memory. It can help people with major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder. Now there’s evidence, from a randomised controlled trial published in Frontiers in Psychiatry, that a programme of regular aerobic exercise also reduces psychopathology in people diagnosed with schizophrenia. And it seems to have a particular impact on so-called “negative” symptoms, such as apathy and loss of emotional feeling, which are not improved by standard drug treatments. “[W...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 20, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Psychosis Source Type: blogs

Neurotic folk spend more time doing chores
By Christian Jarrett If personality traits are a genuine concept and not merely an artefact of psychologists’ imagination, then how people choose to spend their time ought to correlate with their scores on personality questionnaires, notwithstanding the constraints of life that prevent us from doing what we want. In fact, there are relatively few studies that have looked at correlations between traits and everyday behaviour, and of those that have, many relied on student volunteers (see here for an overview). A study published earlier this year in Collabra helps plug this research gap – Julia Rohrer and Ri...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 19, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Personality Source Type: blogs

New literature review warns that current sexual assault interventions might actually increase offending among high-risk men
By Alex Fradera Psychology can help people one person at a time, but it also holds the promise of changing society at a mass scale, through campaigns to change attitudes and behaviour. One such endeavour is the development of programmes to reduce the rates of sexual assault of women on university campuses. But in a literature review in Aggression and Violent Behavior, researchers from the University of California make the case that such programmes may not just be ineffective, but counterproductive. In 2013 the US passed its Violence Against Women Act; in response most US university campuses launched programmes that a...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 19, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Forensic Source Type: blogs

Researchers have compared different cognitive strategies for falling out of love
By Emma Young From You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling to Nothing Compares 2 U, there’s no shortage of songs about heartbreak. None, I suspect, contains the line, “Now it’s time to give negative reappraisal a go.” But whether you’ve just been dumped or you’ve done the dumping, if you’re still in love with your ex, this could be your best strategy for falling out of love and moving on, according to a new paper published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.  “Romantic break-ups can have serious consequences including insomnia, reduced immune function, broken ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 18, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Dating Emotion Source Type: blogs

We ’re taking a short break
We’re taking a break. Normal service will resume June 18, 2018. (Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST)
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 1, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Announcements Source Type: blogs