A new study sheds light on “chemobrain”
By Christian Jarrett After chemotherapy treatment, many patients say their mind has been affected. For example they describe symptoms such as feeling confused, memory problems and difficulty concentrating – a phenomenon that has been dubbed “chemobrain” (Cancer Research UK has more information). The causes are little understood. Are these apparent neuropsychological effects due to a direct physical effect of chemotherapy on the brain? Or could it be the stress and worry involved in chemotherapy that is responsible. Perhaps it’s both. To find out more, Mi Sook Jung at Chungnam National University in ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 19, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Cancer Cognition Health Source Type: blogs

The idea that humans have a poor sense of smell is an outdated myth, argues new review
It’s estimated that humans may be able to distinguish up to a trillion different smells By Alex Fradera In the early 1950s, while investigating rabbits’ sense of smell by recording the activity of their brain cells, the scientist Lord Adrian noticed something curious. As his team mixed up odours of increasing strength, to see at what point the rabbits’ neurons fired in response, they found the critical threshold appeared around the same point that they were able to smell the odour themselves: in other words, this suggested that the smell had become noticeable to animal and man at the same time. On pu...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 16, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Comparative Perception Source Type: blogs

New findings suggest it might be better to read toddlers an e-book than a print book
By Emma Young Reading with a young child is important for their language development and early literacy skills. But does it matter if you read from an electronic book (e-book) or traditional print? As any parent knows, toddlers are generally keen on screens. So the finding, from a new study in Frontiers in Psychology, that very young children enjoy e-books more than print picture books, may not come as a huge surprise – but these additional findings might: both parents and toddlers behaved differently when reading electronic vs. print picture books. And the toddlers who read the e-books learned more. Studies of...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 15, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Developmental Educational Reading Technology Source Type: blogs

With leader charisma, it ’s possible to have too much of a good thing
By Alex Fradera If there’s one quality you absolutely want in a leader, it’s surely charisma. Celebrated leaders are invariably associated with this magic word, and evidence suggests charismatic people inspire more trust, commitment, and results from their followers. But across a number of other supposedly virtuous traits, such as political ability or assertiveness (pdf), researchers are starting to realise that it’s possible to have “too much of a good thing.” Could charisma fall in that category? That’s the suggestion of new research in the Journal of Personality and Social Psycho...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 14, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: leadership Occupational Personality Source Type: blogs

False economy? Half of “low intensity” CBT clients relapse within 12 months
Low-intensity CBT can include group-guided self-help, computerised CBT and telephone support By Christian Jarrett Heralded as a revolution in mental health care – a cost-effective way to deliver evidence-based psychological help to large numbers – low-intensity Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is recommended by NICE, the independent health advisory body in England and Wales, for mild to moderate depression and anxiety and is a key part of the “Improving Access to Psychological Therapies” programme in those countries. Prior studies into its effectiveness have been promising. However, little r...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 13, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Therapy Source Type: blogs

“Reverse ego-depletion”: People in India find mental effort energising
By Christian Jarrett Exercising self-control leaves you feeling drained. That’s what many of us in the West believe and it’s what we seem to experience – think of the fatigue after a morning spent dealing with difficult clients or focused on spreadsheets on a computer screen. But in Indian culture, there is a widespread belief that mental effort is energising – that the more concentration and self-control you expend in one situation, the more invigorated you will feel for the next challenge. Psychology has, so far, mostly backed up our Western intuitions. Over 100 studies – nearly all conducte...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 12, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Cross-cultural Source Type: blogs

The pique persuasion technique plays on our curiosity and it ’s surprisingly effective
By Alex Fradera “Sorry to bother you – I’m just after three pounds sixty-five for a bus ticket to Bromley.” Living in an urban area you frequently hear this kind of request, which showcases a persuasion approach called the “pique technique”, whereby people are more likely to comply with requests for an unusually specific quantity, because it piques their interest. But do people really give more readily, or in higher amounts, when exposed to the technique? A meta-analysis in the journal Social Influence puts pique through its paces. The technique was first investigated in the nineti...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 9, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Social Source Type: blogs

The reasons we stay friends with an ex
Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin have remained close since their “conscious uncoupling” in 2014 By Emma Young Why do we sometimes stay friends with ex-partners? There may be many reasons, but according to a new paper in Personality and Individual Differences they fall into seven main categories – and men and women don’t quite see eye-to-eye on them. The research also found that certain personality traits were related to motivations for staying friends after a break-up. Justin Mogilski and Lisa Welling at Oakland University, US, asked a group of 348 volunteers to think of as many reasons as pos...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 8, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Dating Gender Personality Social Source Type: blogs

Scientists ’ facial appearance affects our perception of their work
Participants were more interested in the work of attractive scientists, but assumed it was lower quality By Emma Young Scientists are increasingly encouraged to communicate directly with non-experts, through newspaper and TV interviews, science festivals, online videos, and other channels. But the quality of their research or ideas alone is not enough to guarantee interest or support, suggests a series of new studies in PNAS. The way the general public responds is also influenced by the scientist’s facial appearance, an important finding, say the researchers, because the public communication of scientific findin...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 7, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Faces Social Source Type: blogs

On psychological tests comparing 66 terrorists with controls, one key difference stood out
By Christian Jarrett After a terror attack, amidst the shock and sadness, there is simple incomprehension: how could anyone be so brutal, so inhuman? In Nature Human Behaviour, Sandra Baez and her colleagues offer rare insight based on their tests of 66 incarcerated paramilitary terrorists in Colombia, who had murdered an average of 33 victims each. The terrorists completed measures of their intelligence, aggression, emotion recognition, and crucially, their moral judgments. On most measures, such as intelligence and executive function, there were no differences between the terrorists and 66 non-terrorist control particip...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 6, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Morality Terrorism Source Type: blogs

Online purchase patterns show left-wingers and right-wingers read very different science books
The partisan consumption of science may contribute to opposing views on important issues By Alex Fradera With political tribalism a feature of our times, perhaps science could act as a unifying force. While faith in politicians and journalists is in the doldrums, surveys in countries like Britain, Canada and the US suggest scientists are among the most respected professions, and citizens are appreciative of the contribution science makes to their lives. As the authors of a recent article in Nature Human Behaviour note, it seems that “we may disagree on emotionally charged social issues, but at least we can agree...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 6, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Political Source Type: blogs

These nine cognitive psychology findings all passed a stringent test of their replicability
“These results represent good news for the field of psychology” By Christian Jarrett The failure to reproduce established psychology findings on renewed testing, including some famous effects, has been well-publicised and has led to talk of a crisis in the field. However, psychology is a vast topic and there’s a possibility that the findings from some sub-disciplines may be more robust than others, in the sense of replicating reliably, even in unfavourable circumstances, such as when the participants have been tested on the same effect before. A new paper currently available as a prepr...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 5, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Memory Methods Perception Replications Source Type: blogs

Your personality may affect your vulnerability to mental health problems
Swiss researchers used longitudinal data to test a “personality centred model of psychopathology” By Christian Jarrett Your personality describes your behavioural tendencies, your habits of thought and ways of relating to the world. For instance, some of us find it a lot harder to keep our negative emotions in check, which is measured by the Big Five personality trait of neuroticism (or “emotional instability”). It seems logical that people with this kind of disposition might be more prone to developing mental health problems like anxiety and depression, and indeed many studies suggest this to be th...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 2, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Personality Source Type: blogs

Can you will yourself to be more creative?
By Alex Fradera Surely creativity is about freedom. Dropping your inhibitions – maybe with the help of a few substances – and letting ideas writhe free from the unconscious unfiltered. What to make then of the research showing that creativity is associated with higher levels of executive functioning – the mind’s suite of control processes – which seem to help by inhibiting irrelevant information and combining the rest in novel ways? Does it mean you can use this mental control to make yourself perform more creatively? According to a new study in Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and t...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 1, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Creativity Music Source Type: blogs

Psychologists have shown that it ’s possible to train one-year-olds’ attention skills
This study (and others) have found benefits in the short term, in the lab. But what real-world effects training might – or might not – bring is not yet clear. —Changes in behavior and salivary cortisol after targeted cognitive training in typical 12-month-old infants Image: by Constance Bannister Corp/Getty Images Emma Young (@EmmaELYoung) is Staff Writer at BPS Research Digest (Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST)
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - May 31, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Developmental Educational Source Type: blogs

Having an open-minded personality manifests at a basic level of visual perception
By Christian Jarrett Openness to Experience is one of the so-called Big Five personality traits and, among other things, it’s associated with being more creative, curious and appreciative of the arts. Like all the traits, where you score has important implications – for instance, there’s recent evidence that being more Open is associated with having more “cognitive reserve”, which gives you protection from the harmful effects of dementia. Openness correlates with, but is distinct from, intelligence, and psychologists are trying to find out more about what the basis of Openness is at a cog...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - May 30, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Perception Personality Source Type: blogs

Is something rotten in the state of social psychology? Part Two: digging through the past
By Alex Fradera A new paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology has taken a hard look at psychology’s crisis of replication and research quality and we’re covering its findings in two parts. In Part One, published yesterday, we reported the views of active research psychologists on the state of their field, as surveyed by Matt Motyl and his colleagues at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Researchers reported a cautious optimism: research practices hadn’t been as bad as feared, and are in any case improving. But is their optimism warranted? After all, several high-profile replicat...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - May 26, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Methods Replications Social Source Type: blogs

Was the “crisis” in social psychology really that bad? Have things improved? Part One: the researchers’ perspective
By Alex Fradera The field of social psychology is reeling from a series of crises that call into question the everyday scientific practices of its researchers. The fuse was lit by statistician John Ioannidis in 2005, in a review that outlined why, thanks particularly to what are now termed “questionable research practices” (QRPs), over half of all published research in social and medical sciences might be invalid. Kaboom. This shook a large swathe of science, but the fires continue to burn especially fiercely in the fields of social and personality psychology, which marshalled its response through a 2012 s...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - May 25, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Methods Replications Social Source Type: blogs

Positive role models are vital for encouraging girls into engineering and computer science
Sarah Buhr, TechCrunch Writer and Marissa Mayer, Yahoo President & CEO attend the TechCrunch 10th Annual Crunchies Awards on February 6, 2017 in San Francisco By guest blogger Elizabeth Kirkham Have you heard the riddle about the doctor? A father and his son are involved in a car accident and taken to different hospitals, the boy to a children’s hospital and the father to the general hospital. When the boy arrives at hospital, the doctor on call is shocked, saying “I can’t treat this boy, he’s my son!” The question is: who’s the doctor? The answer, as with many riddles, is obvious on...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - May 24, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational Gender guest blogger Occupational Social Source Type: blogs

Survey of US science classrooms suggests role models are vital for encouraging girls into engineering and computer science
Sarah Buhr, TechCrunch Writer and Marissa Mayer, Yahoo President & CEO attend the TechCrunch 10th Annual Crunchies Awards on February 6, 2017 in San Francisco By guest blogger Elizabeth Kirkham Have you heard the riddle about the doctor? A father and his son are involved in a car accident and taken to different hospitals, the boy to a children’s hospital and the father to the general hospital. When the boy arrives at hospital, the doctor on call is shocked, saying “I can’t treat this boy, he’s my son!” The question is: who’s the doctor? The answer, as with many riddles, is obvious on...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - May 24, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational Gender guest blogger Occupational Social Source Type: blogs

Music teachers and students fall for music-related neuromyths – German study
By Christian Jarrett One day neuroscience might revolutionise education, but for now the scientific findings most relevant to teaching and learning come from psychology. In fact, many popular claims about the brain and learning are neuromyths – unsubstantiated or plain wrong ideas, such as that we only use ten per cent of our brains, that some of us are left-brained, others right-brained, or that we learn best when taught via our preferred “learning style”. Unfortunately and often with the best of intentions, surveys have shown that a lot of teachers believe these myths (for instance, one survey publ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - May 19, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Educational Music Source Type: blogs

Do women really show their emotions more than men?
By Emma Young It’s a stereotype that has improved a little over the years but still persists: women are more emotionally expressive than men. Like Bridget Jones, we constantly reveal exactly how we’re feeling, while men, Mark Darcy-like, look on impassively. Although prior evidence suggests that women really do smile more often, a new study, published in PLOS One, has considered a greater variety of facial expressions, and it finds that the gender pattern is more complex, with some emotions displayed more by men than women. Arguably, this work helps to reveal not only differences in the emotional sign...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - May 18, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Faces Gender Source Type: blogs

Brief mindfulness training does not foster empathy, and can even make narcissists worse
By Emma Young Sharing with others, helping people in need, consoling those who are distressed. All these behaviours can be encouraged by empathy – by understanding what other people are thinking and feeling, and sharing their emotions. Enhance empathy, especially in those who tend to have problems with it – like narcissists – and society as a whole might benefit. So how can it be done? In fact, the cultivation of empathy is a “presumed benefit” of mindfulness training, note the authors of a new study, published in Self and Identity, designed to investigate this experimentally. People who ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - May 17, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Emotion Morality Personality featured Source Type: blogs

Mindfulness training does not foster empathy, and can even make narcissists worse
  Researchers tested the effects of a five-minute mindfulness intervention By Emma Young   Sharing with others, helping people in need, consoling those who are distressed. All these behaviours can be encouraged by empathy – by understanding what other people are thinking and feeling, and sharing their emotions. Enhance empathy, especially in those who tend to have problems with it – like narcissists – and society as a whole might benefit. So how can it be done? In fact, the cultivation of empathy is a “presumed benefit” of mindfulness training, note the authors of a new study, ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - May 17, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Emotion Morality Personality Source Type: blogs

Neural changes after taking psychedelic drugs may reflect “heightened consciousness”
By Emma Young Is there anything psychedelic drugs can’t do? A recent wave of scientific scrutiny has revealed that they can elicit “spiritual” experiences, alleviate end-of-life angst, and perhaps treat depression – and they might achieve at least some of all this by “heightening consciousness”, according to a new paper published in the journal Scientific Reports. A team at the University of Sussex, led by Anil Seth, co-director of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, re-analysed existing magneto-encephalography (MEG) brain imaging data recorded from healthy people wh...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - May 16, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Cognition Perception Source Type: blogs

Boredom proneness is not so much a trait – it’s more about what you do
“… the most comprehensive study of everyday boredom to date” By Alex Fradera “The truth is that everyone is bored,” according to Albert Camus – but a new article in the journal Emotion gets beyond sweeping statements in the most comprehensive study of everyday boredom to date. The nationally-representative sample of 4000 American adults used an iPhone app to record their mood every waking half-hour, with boredom turning up in only three per cent of entries. When boredom was present, it was often mixed with other negative emotions, like loneliness and sadness, and rarely with p...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - May 15, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Source Type: blogs

New evidence shows the calming power of reminiscing about happy times
By Emma Young You’ve just had a fight with your partner or a confrontation with a colleague. Now your heart’s racing, and you’re struggling to think straight. What should you do? Psychologists are not short on ideas for how to calm yourself down after a stressful experience. Seek out a friend? Yes, there’s good evidence that can help. But what if there’s no friend to hand? You could try to alter your view of what just happened from “Disaster!” to “Not really so bad”. But it can be difficult to engage in this kind of “cognitive reappraisal” when you&rsqu...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - May 12, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological Memory Mental health Source Type: blogs

Pressuring employees to be do-gooders can backfire badly
“Being required to do good meant that they subsequently felt licensed to bend the rules” By Alex Fradera Most employers like their workers to think of themselves not as employees but as “citizens” of the organisation, proactively engaging in activities like helping others out or coming up with company improvements – activities that aren’t specified in a job description yet help the organisation thrive. But more and more, these supposedly discretional citizenship behaviours are being demanded by managers more overtly – outlined in ‘The Way We Work’ documents, or thr...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - May 11, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Morality Occupational Source Type: blogs

New review punctures the myth that now is three seconds long
By Emma Young “When you say it’s gonna happen now When exactly do you mean?” Ask a psychologist the answer to this question – posed in this case by Morrissey in The Smiths song, How soon is now? – and she might reply “within the next three seconds”. The idea that “now”, also known as the “subjective present”, is constrained within this time limit has proved popular. But a new evaluation in Psychological Bulletin of dozens of research papers on everything from embraces and reading poetry to tapping along to a beat concludes that there’s no goo...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - May 10, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Time Source Type: blogs

Can a good sense of humour protect you from stress?
By Christian Jarrett They say that if you can laugh at it, you can live with it. Is this true? Does the ability to see the funny side of things really act like a psychological shield against stress? A series of new studies in Personality and Social Psychological Bulletin provides some tentative support for the idea. But the research also illustrates why this is such a difficult topic to study – does humour really reduce stress or is it just easier to see the funny side when you are coping well? And it’s worth remembering the serious risk that if humour is shown to be protective by psychology rese...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - May 9, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Health Laughter Mental health Source Type: blogs

Only children more creative, less agreeable and it ’s reflected in their brain structure
Image from Yang et al, 2017 By Christian Jarrett There are some common-sense reasons for thinking that being raised without siblings will have meaningful psychological consequences – after all, “only children” are likely to get more attention from their parents than kids with sibs, but at the same time they miss out on the social experience that comes from sharing, playing and competing with brothers or sisters. The latest study to look into this, published recently in Brain Imaging and Behavior, comes from China where the government’s one-child family planning programme has led to a ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - May 8, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Creativity Personality Source Type: blogs

New Milgram replication in Poland finds 90 per cent of participants willing to deliver highest shock
By guest blogger Ginny Smith Fifty years ago, in Connecticut, a series of infamous experiments were taking place. The volunteers believed they were involved in an investigation into learning and memory, and that they would be administering shocks to a test subject whenever he answered questions incorrectly. But despite pretences, the scientist behind the research, Stanley Milgram, wasn’t actually interested in learning. The real topic of study? Obedience. Milgram recorded how far his participants were willing to go when told to deliver larger and larger shocks. In one version of the study, 26 out of 40 participants c...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - May 5, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cross-cultural guest blogger Morality Social Source Type: blogs

New Milgram replication finds 90 per cent of Polish participants willing to deliver highest shock
By guest blogger Ginny Smith Fifty years ago, in Connecticut, a series of infamous experiments were taking place. The volunteers believed they were involved in an investigation into learning and memory, and that they would be administering shocks to a test subject whenever he answered questions incorrectly. But despite pretences, the scientist behind the research, Stanley Milgram, wasn’t actually interested in learning. The real topic of study? Obedience. Milgram recorded how far his participants were willing to go when told to deliver larger and larger shocks. In one version of the study, 26 out of 40 participants c...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - May 5, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: guest blogger Morality Social Source Type: blogs

As news approaches, even optimists brace for the worst
By Christian Jarrett Psychologists studying how our expectations change over time have observed that our hopes tend to dip the nearer we get to receiving some feedback, be that an exam result, sports score or health test outcome. They call this “bracing” and there’s evidence we do it more in some situations than others, for example the more severe the potential outcome and the more personally relevant, the more we brace. But do some of us brace more than others, and specifically, do optimists brace as much as pessimists? According to a series of nine studies published recently in the Journal of Perso...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - May 4, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Personality Source Type: blogs

Looks like we ’re going to have to re-write the textbooks on split-brain patients
Figure from Pinto et al 2017, via ResearchGate By Christian Jarrett Back in the 1960s, Nobel-prize winning research shook our understanding of what it means to be a conscious entity. Epilepsy patients who’d had the thick bundle of nerves connecting their two brain hemispheres either severed or removed (as a drastic treatment for their epilepsy) responded in laboratory tasks as if they had two separate minds. It’s an unsettling idea that has appeared in psychology textbooks for decades. But dig into the original studies and you’ll find the evidence for split brains leading to split minds was most...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - May 3, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Perception Textbooks Source Type: blogs

Psych students score substantially lower on “dark” traits than business and law students
By Christian Jarrett  There are lots of stereotypes about the kind of people in different professions. Lawyers and business people are often caricatured as ruthless and self-interested, especially when compared to the kind of folk who enter professions usually seen as caring, such as nursing or psychology. To test the truth of these stereotypes, a new study in Personality and Individual Differences surveyed the “Dark Triad” and “Big Five” traits of hundreds of Danish students enrolled to begin studying either psychology, politics, business/economics or law. The rationale&nbs...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - May 2, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: In Brief Occupational Personality Source Type: blogs

Psychologists have studied what ’s happening when music gives us chills or makes us cry
Songs that provoked tears were considered sad and calm, whereas songs triggering chills were seen as a higher energy mix of happy and sad By guest blogger Helge Hasselmann Emotions can be fleeting and superficial, for example imagine the split-second of anger you experience after missing the bus. But other “peak emotional states” are more powerful and they are accompanied by intense physical reactions, such as crying or “the chills”. Often these physical manifestations accompany extreme fear or sadness, but they can also occur when we admire a magnificent sunset or enjoy a beautiful piece of music. ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - May 2, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion guest blogger Music Source Type: blogs

Experienced meditators have enhanced control over their eye movements
By Alex Fradera Mindfulness meditation seems to improve the control we have over our eyes, probably because of its known beneficial effects on attentional systems in the brain. That’s according to research published recently in Consciousness and Cognition. Veena Kumari and her colleagues tested 29 regular Buddhist mindfulness practitioners (they meditated at least six times per week, and had been doing this for two years or more) and 30 non-meditators on a pair of gaze control tasks. One involved an onscreen dot jumping from a central spot to another location, and participants had to respond by instantly shifting th...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - April 28, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Perception Source Type: blogs

Study finds 4-year-olds are considerably better than adults at remembering rhyming verse
By Christian Jarrett Many parents will attest to their young children’s remarkable knack for remembering rhymes, often claiming that their children’s abilities exceed their own. Can this really be true? In nearly all other contexts, adult memory is known to be superior to that of children, for obvious reasons, including the immaturity of children’s brain development and their lack of sophisticated mnemonic strategies. A small study in Developmental Science has put pre-literate four-year-olds’ memory abilities to the test, finding that they outperformed their parents, and a comparison ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - April 27, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Developmental Educational Memory Source Type: blogs

Heads in the sand: Most of us would prefer not to know whether bad things are going to happen
By Alex Fradera Humans are infovores, hungry to discover, and nothing holds more fascination than the future. Once we looked for answers through divination, now science can forecast significant events such as the onset of certain hereditary disease. But the fact that some people choose not to know – even when information is accessible, and has a bearing on their lives – has encouraged scientists, including Gerd Gigerenzer and Rocio Garcia-Retamero, to try to map out the limits of our appetite for knowledge. Their recent study in Psychological Review suggests that it is a fear of what we might discover –&n...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - April 26, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Decision making Emotion Source Type: blogs

New studies suggest liberals are as blinkered and biased as conservatives
By Christian Jarrett Officially at least, last week’s global March for Science was politically neutral. However, there’s a massive over-representation of people with liberal, left-leaning views in science, and much of the science community is unhappy, to put it mildly, with the way politics is going, such as the Trump administration’s proposed deep cuts to science funding, and here in the UK, the impact of Brexit on British science. Against the backdrop of these anxieties, many of the banners on display – such as “Alternative hypotheses, not alternative facts” and “Scienc...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - April 25, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Political Social Source Type: blogs

Introducing the Invisibility Cloak Illusion: We think we ’re more observant (and less observed) than everyone else
By guest blogger Juliet Hodges Most of us tend to think we’re better than average: more competent, honest, talented and compassionate. The latest example of this kind of optimistic self-perception is the “invisibility cloak illusion”. In research published recently in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Erica Boothby and her colleagues show how we have a tendency to believe that we are incredibly socially observant ourselves, while those around us are less so. These assumptions combine to create the illusion that we observe others more than they observe us. As a first step, the researchers ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - April 25, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Social Source Type: blogs

How much are readers misled by headlines that imply correlational findings are causal?
By Alex Fradera What do you take from this hypothetical headline: “Reading the Research Digest blog is associated with higher intelligence”? How about this one: “Reading this blog might increase your intelligence”? According to science writing guides like HealthNewsReview.org, taking the first correlational finding from a peer-reviewed article and reporting it for the public using the second wording, implying causation, is a sin of exaggeration, making a relationship appear more causal than the evidence suggests. Yet this happens a lot. A 2014 British Medical Journal (BMJ) article showed these exagg...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - April 21, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Media Source Type: blogs

New meta-analysis undermines the myth that negative emotions can cause cancer
Discussion of factors increasing the risk of cancer is today not only the domain of medical doctors and psycho-oncologists, but is also engaged in by some alternative medicine proponents, pseudopsychologists, and fringe psychotherapists, whose opinions are disseminated by journalists, some more thorough than others (see myth #26 in 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology for more background). Among these opinions is the common claim that negative thinking, pessimism, and stress create the conditions for the cells in our body to run amok, and for cancer to develop. Similar declarations accompany therapeutic propositions f...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - April 20, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cancer guest blogger Health Mental health Source Type: blogs

10 Ways That Running Changes Your Mind and Brain
By Christian Jarrett “One 60-minute run can add 7 hours to your life” claimed The Times last week. The story was based on a new review in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases that concluded that runners live, on average, three years longer than non-runners and that running will do more for your longevity than any other form of exercise. But there’s more to running than its health-enhancing effects. Research published in recent years has shown that donning your trainers and pounding the hills or pavements changes your brain and mind in some intriguing ways, from increasing connectivity b...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - April 19, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Feature Sport Source Type: blogs

It can backfire when doctors make a show of their own healthy living
By Alex Fradera Doctors who want to avoid accusations of hypocrisy should keep themselves in reasonable shape if they intend to advise their patients to do the same. Indeed, some medical organisations explicitly encourage their physicians not only to stay fit, but to make sure that their patients know it, thereby role-modelling the recommended behaviours. However, new research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology shows that doctors who promote their own fitness may actually scare away overweight patients who are most in need of help. Researchers Lauren Howe and Benoît Monin lifted real-life ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - April 18, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

Who cares more about the needy: Religious people or unbelievers?
Young Turks – conservative and liberal – mingle on a Friday afternoon near Eyup Mosque By Alex Fradera “The believer is not the one who eats when his neighbour beside him is hungry” said the founder of Islam, but many unbelievers see this as the norm: that religious people rarely do the good demanded by their faith. Some evidence seems to support this cynicism. Surveys on tackling inequality and support for welfare often find that the religious show less enthusiasm for helping the poorest in society. This would seem to reflect badly on the faithful, but new research in the Journal of Neuroscien...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - April 13, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Morality Religion Source Type: blogs

Why a cooperative work culture can be bad for star performers
By Alex Fradera Wouldn’t it be nice to work in an environment focused on cooperation and solidarity, one that put the needs of the many above those of the few? Sounds great … but collectivism has some surprising downsides, especially if you’re a star performer. New research in the Journal of Applied Psychology looks at workplace reactions to high performers and their polarising effect on those around them, and shows that in more cooperative climates, hotshots are actually more likely to get a raw deal. Elizabeth Campbell and her colleagues surveyed 350 hair stylists, mainly women, working within a ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - April 12, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Occupational Source Type: blogs

Is your work ethic rooted in the quality of the relationship you had with your parents?
“The influence of the father … tended to be more important than the influence of the mother” By Christian Jarrett Some of us work to live, others live to work – these toilers see hard graft as virtuous and they’re more than happy to go the extra mile to climb the career ladder and serve their employer. Organisations, understandably, are interested in hiring people with this kind of work ethic and so psychologists are trying to find out where it comes from. It’s already known that children with harder working parents also tend to have a stronger work ethic. But a new study in t...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - April 11, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Gender Occupational Source Type: blogs

“I forgot” may (sometimes) be a credible excuse for breaking the speed limit
By Alex Fradera When someone breaks the speed limit, we tend to explain it away as recklessness, machismo, or impatience. But new research led by Vanessa Bowden at the University of Western Australia, suggests that problems in memory, not temperament, may often be the culprit. According to a recent study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, traffic stops and other interruptions can disrupt our ability to keep track of recent changes to the speed limit. But the research doesn’t entirely let us off the hook: when waiting at a stop, we can reduce the...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - April 11, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Forensic Memory Source Type: blogs