How To Find Your Calling, According to Psychology
By Christian Jarrett “Look. You can’t plan out your life. What you have to do is first discover your passion—what you really care about.” Barack Obama, as quoted by David Gergen (cited in Jachimowicz et al, 2018). This Saturday Nov 17 in Newcastle is the first of two BPS careers events – “perfect for anyone looking to discover where psychology can take them in their chosen career.” A second follows in London on Dec 4. If, like many, you are searching for your calling in life – perhaps you are still unsure whether psychology is for you, or which area of the profession aligns w...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 15, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Occupational Feature Source Type: blogs

Even two-year-olds can tell the difference between a leader and a bully
By Alex Fradera Every child is born into a world far more complex than the womb it departed. Physically it’s made up of objects, distances, heights, which we know new-born infants are already oriented to read and make sense of. But their new world is also a social one, chock-full of agents with needs and intentions, and past findings show that infants are surprisingly quick to recognise much of this too.  New research in PNAS adds to this literature, investigating the ability to make an important social distinction – between those who hold power due to respect and those who impose it through force &nd...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 14, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Developmental Source Type: blogs

People are “consistently inconsistent” in how they reason about controversial scientific topics
By Christian Jarrett There are various issues on which there is a scientific consensus but great public controversy, such as anthropogenic climate change and the safety of vaccines. One previously popular explanation for this mismatch was that an information deficit among the public is to blame. Give people all the facts and then, according to this perspective, the public will catch up with the scientists. Yet time and again, that simply hasn’t happened. A new paper in Thinking and Reasoning explores the roots of this problem further. Emilio Lobato and Corinne Zimmerman asked 244 American university students and staf...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 13, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational Thought Source Type: blogs

Schadenfreude turns us into temporary psychopaths, according to a new model of the emotion
A person experiencing schadenfreude tends to dehumanise the target of their gleeful feelings By Emma Young Schadenfreude – which literally means “harm-joy” in German – is the sense of pleasure derived from others’ misfortune. It’s a “poorly understood” emotion, according to a group of psychologists at Emory University in the US, and in their review paper in New Ideas in Psychology they propose a new “tripartite” model of schadenfreude based on the idea that deep-seated survival concerns can motivate us to see others as less than human.  Shensheng Wang a...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 12, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion evolutionary psych Source Type: blogs

Psychologists claim outrage is getting a bad rap
By guest blogger Jesse Singal Outrage: It’s absolutely everywhere. Today’s world, particularly the version of it blasted into our brains by social media, offers endless fodder, from big, simmering outrages (climate change and many powerful institutions’ refusal to do anything about it) to smaller quotidian ones (every day, someone, somewhere does something offensive that comes to Twitter’s attention, leading to a gleeful pile-on). In part because of rising awareness of the adverse consequences of unfettered digital-age outrage, and of journalistic treatments like So You’ve Been Publicly S...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 9, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: guest blogger Media Morality Technology Source Type: blogs

Researchers are finding out why a partial loss of vision can lead to hallucinations
The findings could lead to new treatment approaches for Charles Bonnet syndrome By Emma Young The head of a brown lion. Multiple tiny, green, spinning Catherine wheels with red edges. Colourful fragments of artillery soldiers and figures in uniform and action. Unfamiliar faces of well-groomed men… These are just a few of the hallucinations reported by a group of people with macular degeneration (MD), a common cause of vision loss in people aged over 40.  About 40 per cent of people with MD – who lose vision in the centre of their visual field but whose peripheral vision is generally unaffected – dev...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 8, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Perception Source Type: blogs

Episode 14: Psychological Tricks To Make Your Cooking Taste Better
This is Episode 14 of PsychCrunch, the podcast from the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest, sponsored by Routledge Psychology. Download here. http://traffic.libsyn.com/psychcrunch/20181101_PsychCrunchEp14_Mx3.mp3 Can psychology help your cooking taste better? Our presenter Ginny Smith hears about the importance of food presentation, pairing and sequencing, and how our perception of food is a multi-sensory experience. She and her friends conduct a taste test using “sonic seasonings” that you can also try at home. Our guests, in order of appearance, are: Professor Debra Zellner ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 7, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Eating Perception Podcast Source Type: blogs

This is how psychotherapy for depression changes the brain
Participants with major depression showed increased activity in left rostral anterior cingulate cortex following psychological therapy – see main text for details. Image via Sankar et al, 2018 By Alex Fradera In recent years, researchers have sought to look under the hood to understand the neural correlates of the changes brought about by psychotherapy. Not only can such understanding help us hone in on the precise processes that are being acted upon in therapy, thus helping us focus on these gains, they could also show where pharmacological interventions might be complementary, and where they could di...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 6, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Mental health Therapy Source Type: blogs

Why the polls keep getting it so wrong; and a solution – ask people who their friends and family are voting for
This study was also able to track social influence over time, as the researchers started polling both personal intentions and social circle intentions in July and continued weekly until after the US voted in November. One week before the election, more participants said they would vote for Clinton than Trump. Yet, as early as September, these polls accurately predicted Trump’s win as people reported a swing towards him in their social circles. Not only that, but people who reported an intention to vote differently from their social circle were much more likely to change their own position at the last minute. Another ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 5, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: guest blogger Political Social Source Type: blogs

Your native language affects what you can and can ’t see
By Emma Young The idea that the language that you speak influences how you think about and experience the world (the so-called Sapir-Whorf hypothesis) has a long and storied history. A lot of research into the issue has focused on colour perception, and evidence has accumulated that people whose native languages have different colour categories don’t see the world in quite the same way. Now in a new paper, published in Psychological Science, Martin Maier and Rasha Abdel Rahman at the Humboldt University of Berlin report that by affecting visual processing at an early stage, such linguistic differences can even determ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 2, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Language Perception Source Type: blogs

Merely desiring to alter your personality is not enough, and may backfire unless you take concrete action to change
By Christian Jarrett Debate about how much a person’s character can and can’t change have occupied psychologists for decades, but a growing consensus is beginning to emerge. While our traits are relatively stable, they are not fixed. Change is often passive – that is, experience leaves its mark on personality. But excitingly, initial findings suggest that we can also change ourselves. What prior research has so far not addressed, however, is whether simply desiring to change is enough (perhaps by triggering automatic, subtle shifts in our identity and behaviour), or whether we must take deliberate, active...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 1, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Personality Source Type: blogs

Deliberately scaring ourselves can calm the brain, leading to a “recalibration” of our emotions
This study could suggest that inducing high arousal via exposure to negative stimuli may be a substrate for a generation of interventions that do not work to proximally decrease, but rather to increase, arousal in people whose goal is to increase positive affect and feel ‘wonderful’,” the researchers concluded. —Voluntary arousing negative experiences (VANE): Why we like to be scared Christian Jarrett (@Psych_Writer) is Editor of BPS Research Digest (Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST)
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 31, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Mental health Source Type: blogs

We ’re seeking a writer to join our team!
The British Psychological Society’s Research Digest, which keeps hundreds of thousands of people abreast of the latest exciting findings in psychology, is seeking an additional writer. Psychology Blogger Fixed Term Contract: 12 Months (initially) Part Time: 8 – 9 Hours per week Grade 6: £35,310 (pro-rata) Although based remotely, you’ll work closely with the Research Digest editor to produce 6 engaging reports on new psychology studies each month, in a style that entertains and educates. You will show readers how the findings are relevant to their lives, but without resorting to hype. Where ap...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 30, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Announcements Source Type: blogs

The public “deserve to know” that there is an overlooked subset of people who thrive after major depression
By Emma Young Depression is a chronic, recurrent, lifelong condition. Well, that’s the current orthodox view – but it is overstated, argues a team of psychologists led by Jonathan Rottenberg at the University of South Florida. “A significant subset of people recover and thrive after depression, yet research on such individuals has been rare,” they write in their recent paper in Perspectives on Psychological Science. They propose a definition for “high functioning after depression” (HFAD); argue that the advice given to people with depression need not be so gloomy; and lay out key areas f...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 30, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Source Type: blogs

This is the optimum way to compile a multiple-choice test, according to psychology research
By guest blogger Bradley Busch Let’s start with a quick multiple-choice test about multiple-choice tests: when designing them, should you a) avoid using complex questions, b) have lots of potential answers for each question, c) all of the above or d) none of the above? The correct answer is (a), though as we’ll see, this was not a very well-crafted multiple-choice question.  The issue of how best to design multiple-choice questions is important since they have been popular in both education and business settings for many years now. This is due to them being quick to administer and easy to mark and grade. F...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 29, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational guest blogger Source Type: blogs

New evidence that the “chaotic mind” of ADHD brings creative advantages
Participant drawings from White, 2018 By Christian Jarrett Focus and concentration, while normally considered beneficial attributes, can stymie creativity – especially the generation of novel ideas. This has led some to wonder whether people with “leaky attention“, and especially those with ADHD – who have what Holly White, writing recently in the Journal of Creative Behaviour, calls “chaotic minds” – might have a creative advantage when it comes to breaking free from prior examples. White, who is based at the University of Michigan, has tested this possibility, and thoug...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 19, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: ADHD Creativity Source Type: blogs

Story-listening shows promise as an intervention for people living with dementia
By Emma Young Listening to a story is known to be cognitively demanding, in part because the listener has to pay close attention to, and remember, plot and character detail in order to understand what’s going on. Attention and memory are both diminished in people living with dementia. Might regularly reading aloud to such patients help, then, to train their attention and memory, and function as a treatment? A new study of people with various kinds of dementia, published in Psychology and Neuroscience, suggests that it could.  A total of 43 patients with Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia or general cognitive ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 18, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Memory Source Type: blogs

Encouraging self-compassion may help people with chronic pain lead more active, happier lives
This study suggests mindfulness (which was not linked with greater activity) may also be useful in decreasing depression, but by other means, possibly through creating distance from unhelpful thoughts that may arise around pain or the experience of disability.  As cross-sectional research, we can’t draw clear causal conclusions from the new findings, but they do help us refine our understanding of which mechanisms are more likely to increase pain acceptance. The findings may also help pain management professionals focus their methods, providing people with the ground from which they can build and sustain a life ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 17, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

Encouraging self-compassion may help people with chronic pain live more active, happier lives
This study suggests mindfulness (which was not linked with greater activity) may also be useful in decreasing depression, but by other means, possibly through creating distance from unhelpful thoughts that may arise around pain or the experience of disability.  As cross-sectional research, we can’t draw clear causal conclusions from the new findings, but they do help us refine our understanding of which mechanisms are more likely to increase pain acceptance. The findings may also help pain management professionals focus their methods, providing people with the ground from which they can build and sustain a life ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 17, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

Many undergrad psych textbooks do a poor job of describing science and exploring psychology ’s place in it
By guest blogger Tomasz Witkowski Psychology as a scientific field enjoys a tremendous level of popularity throughout society, a fascination that could even be described as religious. This is likely the reason why it is one of the most popular undergraduate majors in American and European universities. At the same time, it is not uncommon to encounter the firm opinion that psychology in no way qualifies for consideration as a science. Such extremely critical opinions about psychology are often borrowed from authorities – after all, it was none other than the renowned physicist and Nobel laureate Richard Feynman ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 16, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational guest blogger Methods Textbooks Source Type: blogs

Growth mindset doesn ’t only apply to learning – it’s better to encourage your child to help, than to be “a helper”
Children primed to think of themselves as “helpers” were more discouraged when things didn’t go to plan By Emma Young According to the Mindset Theory, if you tell a child repeatedly that they’re smart, it makes them less willing to push themselves when they get stuck on an intellectual challenge, presumably because failure would threaten their self-image of being a “smart kid”. For this reason, effort-based praise – rewarding kids for “working hard” rather than “being smart” – is widely recommended (though it’s not the same for adults). But does ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 15, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Developmental Source Type: blogs

What Are We Like? 10 Psychology Findings That Reveal The Worst Of Human Nature
By Christian Jarrett It’s a question that’s reverberated through the ages – are we humans, though imperfect, essentially kind, sensible, good-natured creatures? Or deep down are we wired to be bad, blinkered, idle, vain, vengeful and selfish? There are no easy answers and there’s clearly a lot of variation between individuals, but this feature post aims to shine some evidence-based light on the matter. Here in the first part of a two-part feature – and deliberately side-stepping the obviously relevant but controversial and already much-discussed Milgram, Zimbardo and Asch studies – we di...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 12, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Feature Source Type: blogs

There ’s a fascinating psychological story behind why your favourite film baddies all have a truly evil laugh
By guest blogger David Robson Towards the end of the Disney film Aladdin, our hero’s love rival, the evil Jafar, discovers Aladdin’s secret identity and steals his magic lamp. Jafar’s wish to become the world’s most powerful sorcerer is soon granted and he then uses his powers to banish Aladdin to the ends of the Earth.  What follows next is a lingering, close-up of Jafar’s body. He leans forward, fists clenched, with an almost constipated look on his face. He then explodes in uncontrollable cackles that echo across the landscape. For many millennials growing up in the 1990s, it is a...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 11, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: evolutionary psych guest blogger Laughter Media Source Type: blogs

There ’s a fascinating psychological story behind why your favourite fictional baddies all have a truly evil laugh
By guest blogger David Robson Towards the end of the Disney film Aladdin, our hero’s love rival, the evil Jafar, discovers Aladdin’s secret identity and steals his magic lamp. Jafar’s wish to become the world’s most powerful sorcerer is soon granted and he then uses his powers to banish Aladdin to the ends of the Earth.  What follows next is a lingering, close-up of Jafar’s body. He leans forward, fists clenched, with an almost constipated look on his face. He then explodes in uncontrollable cackles that echo across the landscape. For many millennials growing up in the 1990s, it is a...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 11, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: evolutionary psych guest blogger Laughter Media Source Type: blogs

Shame may feel awful but new cross-cultural evidence shows it is fundamental to our survival
The 15 sites the researchers visited to study shame, from Sznycer et al 2018 By Emma Young Shame feels so awful it’s hard to see how it could have an upside, especially when you consider specific triggers of the emotion – such as body-shaming, which involves criticising someone for how their body looks. But is shame always an ugly emotion that we should try to do away with? Or can it be helpful?  The answer, according to a new study published in PNAS of 899 people from all over the world is that, as an emotion, shame can not only be useful but is fundamental to our ability to survive and thrive in a g...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 10, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cross-cultural Emotion evolutionary psych Source Type: blogs

“My-side bias” makes it difficult for us to see the logic in arguments we disagree with
By Christian Jarrett In what feels like an increasingly polarised world, trying to convince the “other side” to see things differently often feels futile. Psychology has done a great job outlining some of the reasons why, including showing that, regardless of political leanings, most people are highly motivated to protect their existing views. However a problem with some of this research is that it is very difficult to concoct opposing real-life arguments of equal validity, so as to make a fair comparison of people’s treatment of arguments they agree and disagree with. To get around this problem...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 9, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Thought Source Type: blogs

A cartography of consciousness – researchers map where subjective feelings are located in the body
Bodily feeling maps, from Nummenmaa et al, 2018 By guest blogger Mo Costandi “How do you feel?” is a simple and commonly asked question that belies the complex nature of our conscious experiences. The feelings and emotions we experience daily consist of bodily sensations, often accompanied by some kind of thought process, yet we still know very little about exactly how these different aspects relate to one another, or about how such experiences are organised in the brain.   Now, reporting their results in PNAS, a team of researchers in Finland, led by neuroscientist Lauri Nummenmaa of the University o...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 8, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological Emotion guest blogger Source Type: blogs

Students ’ mistaken beliefs about how much their peers study could be harming their exam performance
By Christian Jarrett A lot of us use what we consider normal behaviour – based on how we think most other people like us behave – to guide our own judgments and decisions. When these perceptions are wide of the mark (known as “pluralistic ignorance”), this can affect our behaviour in detrimental ways. The most famous example concerns students’ widespread overestimation of how much their peers drink alcohol, which influences them to drink more themselves. Now a team led by Steven Buzinksi at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has investigated whether students’ pluralisti...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 5, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational Source Type: blogs

Students ’ mistaken beliefs about how much their peers typically study could be harming their exam performance in some surprising ways
By Christian Jarrett A lot of us use what we consider normal behaviour – based on how we think most other people like us behave – to guide our own judgments and decisions. When these perceptions are wide of the mark (known as “pluralistic ignorance”), this can affect our behaviour in detrimental ways. The most famous example concerns students’ widespread overestimation of how much their peers drink alcohol, which influences them to drink more themselves. Now a team led by Steven Buzinksi at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has investigated whether students’ pluralisti...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 5, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational Source Type: blogs

A brief jog sharpens the mind, boosting attentional control and perceptual speed. Now researchers are figuring out why
By Christian Jarrett If you wanted to ensure your mind was in top gear, which do you think would provide the better preparation – 15 minutes of calm relaxation, or a 15 minute jog? A study involving 101 undergrad students suggests you’d be better off plumping for the latter. Evidence had already accumulated showing that relatively brief, moderate aerobic exercise – like going for a brisk walk or a jog – has immediate benefits for mental functioning, especially speed and attentional control. A parallel literature has also documented how brief, aerobic exercise has beneficial effects on your mood, inc...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 4, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition In Brief Sport Source Type: blogs

Most of us have some insight into our personality traits, but how self-aware are we in the moment?
Correlations between momentary self-views and observed behaviour, from Sun and Vazire, 2018. By guest blogger Jesse Singal Your ability to accurately understand your own thoughts and behaviour in a given moment can have rather profound consequences. If you don’t realise you’re growing loud and domineering during a heated company meeting, that could affect your standing at work. If you react in an oversensitive manner to a fair and measured criticism levelled at you by your romantic partner, it could spark a fight. It’s no wonder, then, that psychology researchers are interested in the question of how...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 3, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: guest blogger Personality The self Source Type: blogs

Researchers find the most plausible cause of wellbeing decline in youth is increased screen time
A new paper analyses wellbeing and lifestyle data from over a million US youth By Alex Fradera Have young people never had it so good, or do they face more challenges than any generation? Our current era in the West is one of high wealth and relatively free of deprivation, meaning minors enjoy material benefits and legal protections that would be the envy of those living in the past. But there is an increasing suspicion that all is not well for our youth, and one of the most popular explanations, among some experts and the popular media, is that excessive “screen time” is to blame (all the attention young ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 2, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Technology Source Type: blogs

Resolving “He said/She said” – Researchers outline a method for verifying the accuracy of eye-witness memories
This study also found that asking a participant how confident they were in the accuracy of a particular memory provided no additionally useful information, on top of the hedge, delay and filler data.) These studies do have some limitations. The number of participants was small. And they were interviewed immediately after viewing the events they were asked to describe, which would rarely happen in real life eye-witness situations. Might delays in interviewing make it harder to use effort cues to predict statement accuracy? Only further research will tell.  Also, while use of a greater use of filler words and hedges was...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 1, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Forensic Memory Source Type: blogs

This is what happened to fathers ’ hormone levels when they watched their kids play football
By Christian Jarrett The effect of playing sport on men’s testosterone levels is well documented. Generally speaking, the winner enjoys a testosterone boost, while the loser experiences the opposite (though far less studied, competition unsurprisingly also affects women’s hormonal levels, though not in the same ways as men’s). The evolutionary-based explanation for the hormonal effects seen in men is that the winner’s testosterone rise acts to increase their aggression and the likelihood that they will seek out more contests, while the loser skulks off to lick their wounds. When it comes to vicariou...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 28, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological evolutionary psych Sport Source Type: blogs

How to give up your cake – and eat it, too
By Emma Young You’re in a packed food court, searching for somewhere to sit. Just as you spot a communal table with two free spaces, one much bigger and more comfortable-looking than the other, you realise there’s a person standing beside you with a tray and they are looking for somewhere to sit, too. What do you do? Rush to take the better seat – but appear selfish? Or let them have it, so seem generous – but eat your lunch in cramped discomfort?  A new paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests that you should do neither. Instead, you should say something like, “...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 27, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Language Social featured Source Type: blogs

Dutch study finds minorities are more prone to belief in conspiracies
By Alex Fradera Psychologists have already established that minority groups are particularly likely to endorse conspiracy theories that involve them. For instance, the idea that AIDS was concocted in a lab to plague black people or that birth control is black genocide have been shown to have particular traction within African-American communities. It’s thought this is because members of disadvantaged groups find comfort in explanatory frameworks that appear to account for the various factors that beleaguer them. But new research from VU Amsterdam and published in Applied Cognitive Psychology suggests that b...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 26, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Race Religion Social Source Type: blogs

The in-vogue psychological construct “Grit” is an example of redundant labelling in personality psychology, claims new paper
By Christian Jarrett Part of the strength of the widely endorsed Big Five model of personality is its efficient explanatory power – in the traits of Extraversion, Neuroticism, Openness, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness, it removes the redundancy of more fine-grained approaches and manages to capture the most meaningful variance in our habits of thought and behaviour. So what to make then of the popular proposal that what marks out high achievers from the rest is that they rank highly on another trait labelled as “Grit”? Is the recognition of Grit, and the development of a scale to measure it, a breakth...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 25, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Methods Personality Source Type: blogs

The “liking gap” – we tend to underestimate the positive first impression we make on strangers
This study also revealed an “enjoyment gap”: regardless of the length of the conversation, the participants under-estimated how much their partner enjoyed it.  The fourth and fifth studies moved the investigation out of the lab, into real-world settings: workshops for entrepreneurs and members of the British public on “how to talk to strangers”, and into first-year dormitory suites at Yale University.   The workshop data (involving 100 people) showed that participants tended to predict that their conversation partner would find them less interesting than they would find their partner to be...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 24, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Social Source Type: blogs

Are emos, goths and rockers at increased risk of self-harm and suicide?
By Alex Fradera Every year three quarters of a million people take their own lives, and suicide is the leading cause of death in adolescents. Non-lethal self-harm is also prolific, leading annually to around 300,000 UK hospital visits, with even more going unreported. Knowing who is at most risk can inform support and prevention efforts. The higher rates of self-harm in LGBT and minority groups are well-established, and now a new review article in the British Journal of Clinical Psychology identifies other groups, including goths, emos and metalheads, who may also be at increased risk. The British team, led by Mairea...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 21, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Suicide/ self-harm Source Type: blogs

International survey finds over 40 per cent of men have experienced “post-coital dysphoria”
By Emma Young Immediately after consensual and satisfactory sex, most people report feeling positive, content and psychologically close to their partner. But for some, it has the opposite effect, leaving them tearful and irritable for anything from a few minutes to a few hours. Commonly known as the “post-sex blues”, psychologists call it “post-coital dysphoria” (PCD) and until recently they had only studied it in women. For example, in 2015, Robert D Schweitzer at the Queensland University of Technology led a study of 230 Australian female students, in which 46 per cent reported experiencing PCD at...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 20, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Sex Source Type: blogs

Can attachment theory help explain the relationship some people have with their “anorexia voice”?
By Alex Fradera A new paper in Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice argues that the relationship a person has with their eating disorder is shaped by that person’s understanding of what meaningful relationships should look like – and, in turn, this can have important consequences for the severity of their disorder. In particular, Emma Forsén Mantilla and her team from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden wanted to better understand eating disorders through “attachment theory”. This is the idea that relationships with primary caregivers become scripts that we lea...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 19, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Eating Mental health Source Type: blogs

UK study finds children with maths difficulties (SLDM/dyscalculia) far less likely to receive an official diagnosis than their peers with dyslexia
By Christian Jarrett Given how important maths skills are in everyday life, it is vital that we develop ways to reliably identify those children with particular learning difficulties related to maths (known as “specific learning disorder in mathematics”/SLDM or dyscalculia) so that they can be provided with appropriate support. Unfortunately, maths-related learning problems are far less understood and recognised compared with similar problems related to reading and language. A recent study in the British Journal of Psychology highlights this issue, being the first to estimate the prevalence of SLDM/dyscalc...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 18, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational Source Type: blogs

UK study finds the likelihood of children with maths difficulties (SLDM/dyscalculia) receiving an official diagnosis is substantially lower than for their peers with dyslexia
By Christian Jarrett Given how important maths skills are in everyday life, it is vital that we develop ways to reliably identify those children with particular learning difficulties related to maths (known as “specific learning disorder in mathematics”/SLDM or dyscalculia) so that they can be provided with appropriate support. Unfortunately, maths-related learning problems are far less understood and recognised compared with similar problems related to reading and language. A recent study in the British Journal of Psychology highlights this issue, being the first to estimate the prevalence of SLDM/dyscalc...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 18, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational Source Type: blogs

UK study finds children with maths difficulties (SLDM/dyscalculia) are 100 times less likely to receive an official diagnosis than peers with dyslexia
By Christian Jarrett Given how important maths skills are in everyday life, it is vital that we develop ways to reliably identify those children with particular learning difficulties related to maths (known as “specific learning disorder in mathematics”/SLDM or dyscalculia) so that they can be provided with appropriate support. Unfortunately, maths-related learning problems are far less understood and recognised compared with similar problems related to reading and language. A recent study in the British Journal of Psychology highlights this issue, being the first to estimate the prevalence of SLDM/dyscalc...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 18, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational Source Type: blogs

Who likes to be alone? Not introverts, according to a new paper on personality and the experience of solitude
By Christian Jarrett Why do some people go to great lengths to have the chance to spend time by themselves, while others find solitude painful and forever crave company? The most obvious answer would seem to be that it relates to differences in social aspects of personality, and specifically that extraverts will find solitude painful while introverts will enjoy their own company more than anyone else’s. However, a new paper, published as a pre-print at PsyArXiv (not yet peer-reviewed), and involving three diary studies with hundreds of undergrad volunteers, suggests the truth is more complicated. In fact, there was n...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 17, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Personality Source Type: blogs

New study of trash talking in sport highlights that it is more than a physical contest
BERLIN – JULY 06: Zinedine Zidane (L) of France exchanges words with Andrea Pirlo of Italy, after headbutting Marco Materazzi of Italy in the chest during the FIFA World Cup Final in Germany. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images) By Christian Jarrett Alongside the physical jostle, thrust and tug of sport there is a parallel contest involving words. This trash talking between players before, during and after games is well known, yet surprisingly unstudied by psychologists. Yet these exchanges play a major role,  arguably swinging the outcome of games. Consider an infamous example: the 2006 football world cup fin...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 14, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: evolutionary psych Language Sport Source Type: blogs

Women who practice submissive BDSM displayed reduced empathy and an atypical neural response to other people ’s pain
This study is limited to one subgroup of people who practice BDSM, and doesn’t implicate the wider field. The fact that the effects were initially discovered for women, not men, may reflect the fact that men tend to be less empathic to begin with. And the online study’s identification of submissive practitioners, rather than dominant ones, as having lower than normal empathy and an atypical response to pain, could reflect that this is the subset of people who willingly expose themselves to pain experience, which could be densensitising, or because this group is made up of individuals started out less sensitised...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 13, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Sex Source Type: blogs

Women who practice submissive BDSM have reduced empathy and an atypical neural response to other people ’s pain
This study is limited to one subgroup of people who practice BDSM, and doesn’t implicate the wider field. The fact that the effects were initially discovered for women, not men, may reflect the fact that men tend to be less empathic to begin with. And the online study’s identification of submissive practitioners, rather than dominant ones, as having lower than normal empathy and an atypical response to pain, could reflect that this is the subset of people who willingly expose themselves to pain experience, which could be densensitising, or because this group is made up of individuals started out less sensitised...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 13, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Sex Source Type: blogs

Are educational neuromyths actually harmful? Award-winning teachers believe in nearly as many of them as trainees
The researchers said the idea that neuromyths harm teaching may itself be a neuromyth By Christian Jarrett Educational neuromyths include the idea that we learn more effectively when taught via our preferred “learning style”, such as auditory or visual or kinesthetic (hear more about this in our recent podcast); the claim that we use only 10 per cent of our brains; and the idea we can be categorised into left-brain and right-brain learners. Belief in such myths is rife among teachers around the world, according to several surveys published over the last ten years. But does this matter? Are the myths actually ha...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 12, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Educational Source Type: blogs

Virtual reality research finds large sex difference in navigational efficiency
This study goes a little further, in that it investigates the kinds of strategies that men and women tend to choose themselves. (Interestingly, the strategies that the participants actually used didn’t match up well with the kinds of strategies they reported generally taking.) Still, the findings do tally with those suggesting that men tend to be superior navigators in situations in which: a). It’s possible to create a mental map, and b). that map can be useful (in an environment where shortcuts aren’t possible, it’s not likely to help). The researchers do stress, however, that some women in their s...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 11, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Gender Source Type: blogs