Smarter people are happier, says new analysis involving 80,000 participants, but only a bit
By Christian Jarrett “happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know” Ernest Hemingway A lot of us would like to be smarter and happier, but does one lead to the other? Folk wisdom suggests not: old sayings tell us that “ignorance is bliss” and that “only a fool can be happy”. What does the psychology literature say? A new meta-analysis in the Journal of Vocational Behaviour has combined the results from dozens of previous studies involving many tens of thousands of participants and, contrary to the received wisdom, it concludes that higher intelligence actually&nbs...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 6, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Intelligence Occupational Source Type: blogs

Circle time rituals help children beat the Marshmallow Test of self control
By Christian Jarrett Sweet, old-fashioned circle time rituals involve young children sitting in a circle with a teacher and copying his or her specific actions as closely as possible. These rituals can seem a bit out of place in today’s culture with its emphasis on the importance of independent thinking, and the ubiquity of interactive educational games employing the latest beeps and whistles of technology. But a new study in Child Development says there is something about the conformity and attention to detail in ritualistic games that makes them a highly effective way to improve children’s exec...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 3, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Developmental Educational Source Type: blogs

High population density seems to shift us into a future-oriented mindset
By Christian Jarrett In the UK we’re familiar with the practical implications of increasing population density: traffic jams, longer waits to see a doctor, a lack of available housing. What many of us probably hadn’t realised is how living in crowded environment could be affecting us at a deep psychological level, fostering in us a more future-oriented mindset or what evolutionary psychologists call a “slow life history” strategy. In their paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Oliver Sng at the University of Michigan and his colleagues present a range of evidence that ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 2, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Decision making Social Thought Source Type: blogs

Psychologists uncover a new self-serving bias – if it’s my theory, it must be true
By Christian Jarrett If you look at the research literature on self-serving biases, it’s little surprise that critical thinking – much needed in today’s world – is such a challenge. Consider three human biases that you may already have heard of: most of us think we’re better than average at most things (also known as illusory superiority or the Lake Wobegon Effect); we’re also prone to “confirmation bias”, which is favouring evidence that supports our existing views; and we’re also susceptible to the “endowment effect” which describes the...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 1, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Decision making Source Type: blogs

There ’s a psychological case for paying female managers more than male managers, or giving them more holiday
By Alex Fradera Women are still underrepresented in managerial positions, particularly at the top of organisations. It’s not just that women are unable to attain these positions due to discrimination or access to resources. There’s also evidence that suggests these positions may be less attractive to women, as having a senior job tends to increase life satisfaction for men but not for women; this could lead to women exiting such career paths or shying away from them even if well qualified. New research in the Journal of Happiness Studies asks a simple, but important question: why are women managers less ha...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 28, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Gender leadership Occupational Source Type: blogs

It ’s all the cuddling – psychologists explore why people who have more sex are happier
By Christian Jarrett An impressive amount of research has linked frequency of sex with greater happiness. One study even put a monetary estimate on it. They said that the happiness spurt from having sex once a week compared with monthly is similar to the boost you’d get from earning an extra $50,000 a year (though for anything more frequent than weekly sex, the benefits seemed to tail off). Asking if and why more sex makes us happier may sound like asking the blindingly obvious, but of course a lot of pleasurable activities don’t have long-term emotional benefits; it’s also tricky...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 27, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Sex Source Type: blogs

The Case for Shyness +9 more of the week ’s best psychology links
Our editor’s pick of the 10 best psychology and neuroscience links from the last week or so: The Case For Shyness “Joe Moran’s book Shrinking Violets is a sweeping history that doubles as a (quiet) defense of timidity,” says Megan Garber at The Atlantic. Andrew Marr: My Brain and Me (BBC TV Documentary) After suffering a life-threatening stroke four years ago, the broadcaster and political journalist Andrew Marr quickly regained his ability to speak and was able to resume work. But he is still frustrated by lack of movement in his left arm, hand and leg. In this very intimate story, Andrew is on a m...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 25, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Feast Source Type: blogs

There ’s such a thing as “autism camouflaging” and it might explain why some people are diagnosed so late
This study is the first to offer systematic, methodologically sound evidence in support of higher camouflaging in women than men with autism. As such, these results support reports from parents or clinicians that hint at better social skills in girls with autism as compared with boys. However, as the study found evidence of men who engaged in camouflaging and women who did not, camouflaging is unlikely to constitute a uniquely female presentation of autism. There are several points that limit the scope of this study. First, the sample size was modest and only included individuals with an established diagnosis of autism who...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 24, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Autism guest blogger Mental health Source Type: blogs

Could the way we talk to children help them remember their science lessons?
By Christian Jarrett When a parent asks their child plenty of “who?”, “what?”, “when?”, “where?”, “why?” questions, encourages them to go into detail and includes open-ended questions, psychologists call this an elaborative style. Past research has shown that children with parents like this tend to remember more experiences from their lives (the opposite parental style is to ask fewer questions in general, and to ask questions that only need a short, basic response). More specific studies have found that parents’ elaborative cha...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 23, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational Language Memory Source Type: blogs

Taking a selfie could dent your self-esteem, unless you share it
By Alex Fradera Taking selfies makes us feel self-conscious and sends tremors through our self-esteem, according to new research published in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences. One group of undergraduates at Yonsei University in Seoul used their phone’s camera to take a selfie, while a control group photographed a cup on a desk. Afterwards selfie takers showed signs of increased social sensitivity, at least according to a test that involved detecting the direction of arrows on a computer screen. The arrows appeared in locations previously occupied by the features of a face and the idea w...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 23, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: In Brief Social Technology Source Type: blogs

Resist or avoid? Sad study suggests bullying victims are on their own either way
By Alex Fradera Workplace bullying can corrode organisations and wreck individual lives. Research has revealed more and more about effects on victims and the motives of the perpetrators. But bullying is often a performance that demands an audience: you can’t ostracise someone from an empty room, or gossip about them to the wind. So it’s worth looking at the third ingredient in the bullying mix: the bystander. New research in the Journal of Social Psychology takes on this task, looking at the factors that dispose a bystander against bullying victims, and what might encourage them to step in and help. Researcher...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 22, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: bullying Occupational Social Source Type: blogs

Episode 9: How To Get The Best From Your Team
Image via Julianne/Flickr This is Episode 9 of PsychCrunch, the podcast from the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest, sponsored by Routledge Psychology. Download here. http://traffic.libsyn.com/psychcrunch/20170220_PsychCrunch_Ep9_Mx2.mp3 Can psychology help us work together better in teams? Our presenter Christian Jarrett hears about the benefits of appointing a “meta-knowledge champion” for the team, making sure everyone has contact with the team’s “extra miler”, and why you should think carefully about the physical space that you do your teamwork in. Our gu...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 21, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Podcast Teams Source Type: blogs

Textbook fail: Rosenhan ’s classic “On Being Sane In Insane Places” covered without criticism
By Christian Jarrett Back in the 1970s, eight mentally well people, including psychologist David Rosenhan, presented themselves at psychiatric hospitals, where they showed signs of mild anxiety and complained of auditory hallucinations, specifically words like “empty” and “hollow”. All were admitted and either diagnosed with schizophrenia or, in one case, manic depression, and, despite acting “normal” after arrival, they were kept in hospital for an average of 19 days. On discharge all were described as having schizophrenia (or depression) “in remission”. This was Rosenh...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 20, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: In Brief Mental health Source Type: blogs

Concerning study says psychotherapy research has a problem with undeclared researcher bias
By Alex Fradera When a good doctor encounters research comparing the effectiveness of drugs A and B, she knows to beware the fact that B was created by the people paying the researchers’ salaries. Pharmaceutical industry funding can be complex, but the general principle of declaring financial conflicts of interest is now embedded in medical research culture. Unfortunately, research into psychological therapies doesn’t yet seem to have got its house in order in an equivalent way. That’s according to a new open access article in the journal BMJ Open which suggests that, while there is less risk in this...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 20, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Methods Therapy Source Type: blogs

We ’re seeking a writer to join our team!
Psychology blogger sought The British Psychological Society’s Research Digest blog, which keeps hundreds of thousands of people abreast of the latest exciting findings in psychology, is seeking an additional writer. This is a paid staff position, initially on a six-month contract, for seven hours per week. Salary is £32,612 pro-rata. Although based remotely, you’ll work closely with the Research Digest editor to produce six 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 res...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 17, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Announcements Source Type: blogs

American women seem to be becoming less stereotypically feminine and more dominant
By Christian Jarrett True gender equality may be a work in progress, but since the Women’s Liberation Movement beginning in the 1950s and 60s, there has been a lot of positive change, at least in most industrialised nations: a shift towards women having more control over whether and when to have children, for example, and increased opportunities in education and careers, and less tolerance of sexism (though of course it hasn’t gone away). How might these cultural and social changes have influenced women, in terms of how much they act and behave in stereotypically “feminine&rd...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 17, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Developmental Gender Personality Source Type: blogs

Psychologists say the way we choose to share our good news is rather revealing
By Alex Fradera When you get a great piece of news, who do you tell? Do you get on the phone to your best friend? Launch the news onto Facebook to sail the sea of Likes? Do you congratulate yourself in front of someone you know doesn’t enjoy the same fortune or ability? Or do you keep it to yourself? Let me share some good news with you: according to research published recently in the Journal of Individual Differences, your answers to these questions may say something about you. Cara Palmer and her colleagues had 251 US undergrads take a personality questionnaire, then asked them to imagine they’d experie...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 16, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Personality Social Source Type: blogs

Feeling awe can sometimes be awful
By Alex Fradera Most research into the emotion of awe – a response to something vast or overwhelming – has focused on its positive upsides, classing it alongside delight or pleasure. But the University of California’s Greater Good research programme recently published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology the first full investigation of what they call “threatening awe” defined as a strong feeling of wonder and fear. Amie Gordon and her team looked at times where people felt awe in response to overwhelming stimuli like huge storms or the vastness of the universe, or were exposed f...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 15, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion In Brief Source Type: blogs

Where do women look when sizing each other up?
By Christian Jarrett Studies show that when heterosexual women look at other women’s bodies, they, just like men, tend to spend a disproportionate amount of time looking at their waists, hips and breasts, as if estimating how much they will appeal to men. This is consistent with “mate selection theory” which argues, among other things, that women have evolved strategies to monitor potential love rivals. However, psychologists are interested in this topic, not only from an evolutionary perspective, but also because women who feel dissatisfied with their bodies, and who are vulnerab...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 14, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: evolutionary psych Gender Health Mental health Sex Source Type: blogs

A psychological trick to turn people green: show how environmentalism will help their own goals
By Alex Fradera  How do you get people to act in a climate friendly manner? The received wisdom is to push the basic message that climate change is real, humans have a hand in it, and we must mitigate it through action. But this approach hits a wall when people are disposed against that goal ideologically or because they simply don’t care enough. New research in the Journal of Applied Psychology suggests another strategy: encourage environmental behaviours by linking them to goals that are already personally important. Kerrie Unsworth from the University of Leeds and Ilona McNeill from ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 13, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: environmental Social Source Type: blogs

What ’s it like to lose your short-term memory?
Our editor’s pick of this week’s 10 best psychology and neuroscience links: What’s It Like To Lose Your Short-term Memory? Longreads hosts an exclusive excerpt from Tell Me Everything You Don’t Remember: The Stroke That Changed My Life, the forthcoming memoir by Christine Hyung-Oak Lee. Sex Differences in Brain Size Next time someone asks you “Are men and women’s brains different?”, you can answer, without hesitation, “Yes”, says Tom Stafford at Mind Hacks. The King of Dreams BBC Radio 4 documentary about lucid dreaming. In fin de siècle Paris...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 11, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Feast Source Type: blogs

Two-year-olds seem to find helping others as rewarding as helping themselves
By Christian Jarrett If you’re in need of some renewed faith in human nature, the research literature on altruism by toddlers is a great place to look. Charming studies have shown that little children will readily go out of their way to help you, such as picking up things you’ve dropped, or passing you stuff you can’t reach. They can even do “paternalistic helping” which is when they ignore your specific request to help you in a way that you’ll find even more beneficial. There are some evolutionarily tinged theoretical explanations for why children have thes...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 10, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Developmental Emotion Morality Source Type: blogs

We know what will make us happy, why do we watch TV instead?
By Christian Jarrett The luxury microwave meal was delicious, the house is warm, work’s going OK, but you’re just not feeling very happy. Some positive psychologists believe this is because many of us in rich, Western countries spend too much of our free time on passive activities, like bingeing on Netflix and browsing Twitter, rather than on active, psychologically demanding activities, like cooking, sports or playing music, that allow the opportunity to experience “flow” – that magic juncture where your abilities only just meet the demands of the challenge. A new paper in the Journ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 9, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Health Mental health Positive psychology Source Type: blogs

Can brain activity predict chocolate sales? In search of the buy button
Have researchers really found the holy grail of neuromarketing? By guest blogger Julia Gottwald Coming up with the perfect recipe for crisps or the ideal marketing strategy for a soft drink used to depend on explicit measures. In focus groups and surveys, consumers were asked which product tasted best or which commercial was most appealing. But these measures are imperfect: consumers may choose to hide their true opinions or they might not be fully aware of their own preferences. Food and drinks companies need more objective measures. Currently their best hope is functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The idea is th...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 8, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain guest blogger Morality Technology Source Type: blogs

Longest ever personality study finds no correlation between measures taken at age 14 and age 77
By Christian Jarrett Imagine you’ve reached the fine age of 77 and you hear news of a school reunion. You’re going to have the chance to meet up with several of your former classmates who you haven’t seen since you were fourteen-years-old. They’ll look a lot different, of course, but what about their personality? Will they be broadly be the same as they were back then? Past research that’s looked at trait changes from adolescence to mid-life has shown there tends to be a moderate amount of stability, so too research that’s looked at changes from mid-life into old age. Put these...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 7, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Developmental Personality Source Type: blogs

The reasons why, once we start worrying, some of us just can ’t stop
By Christian Jarrett A certain amount of worrying is a normal part of life, especially these days with barely a moment passing without some disconcerting headline landing in your news feed. But for some people, their worrying reaches pathological levels. They just can’t stop wondering “What if …?”. It becomes distressing and feels out of control. In the formal jargon, they would likely be diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder, but excessive worrying is also a part of other conditions like panic disorder. There are many factors that contribute to anxiety problems in general, but...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 6, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Mental health Source Type: blogs

The two kinds of stories we tell about ourselves
Our editor’s pick of this week’s 10 best psychology and neuroscience links: The Two Kinds of Stories We Tell About Ourselves “One of the great contributions of psychology and psychotherapy research is the idea that we can edit, revise and interpret the stories we tell about our lives even as we are constrained by the facts,” writes Emily Esfahani Smith at Ideas.TED.com Split Brain, Undivided Consciousness? Neuroskeptic says a new paper challenges a decades-old theory in neuroscience. The Secret To Living a Meaningful Life Your ambitions to improve your life do not need to be confined by your pe...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 4, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Feast Source Type: blogs

A fear of feeling guilty might be key to some forms of OCD
By Christian Jarrett There’s increasing recognition that our vulnerability to mental health problems isn’t just about how much we are prone to certain emotions such as anxiety and low mood, but also how we relate to those emotions. If we find them aversive and intolerable, we’re more likely to develop problems. A new study in Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy applies this principle to people’s experience of guilt and their vulnerability to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), helping make sense of why past research has been inconsistent on whether guilt-proneness is a risk factor for O...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 3, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Mental health Source Type: blogs

Timely study looks at the social influences possibly shaping teenagers ’ prejudice towards immigrants
By Christian Jarrett Some would say that the political events currently convulsing the globe have been driven, at least in part, by widespread prejudice towards immigrants. To begin healing divisions, it would help if we understood more about how such prejudices can be passed from one generation to the next, so that we might intervene to stop this happening. To that end, a new study in the British Journal of Psychology has tracked the immigrant attitudes of over 500 Swedish teenagers over a six year period, to see how their attitudes changed over time, and if and how they m...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 2, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Developmental Political Social Source Type: blogs

Participants who ’d visited more countries cheated more
International travel may put your moral compass in a spin By Alex Fradera Since she got back from her year abroad, there’s been something different about Sam. Once an avid rule-follower, now she’s breaking them – and when you raise it she explains that these things, after all, are just a matter of perspective. Can exposure to other countries breed a flexible relationship to the rules, even moral relativism? According to new research in the Journal of Personality and Social Cognition, it can. Columbia University’s Jackson Lu led an international team to explore this question through a range of s...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 1, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Morality Source Type: blogs

US politicians differed from the public on each of the five main personality traits
By Christian Jarrett Many of us get the sense that our elected politicians are out of touch, that they are somehow different from the everyman or woman on the street. A new study in Personality and Individual Differences offers at least part of an explanation. Richard Hanania at the University of California, Los Angeles, emailed a personality questionnaire to thousands of US state politicians. Two hundred and seventy-eight of them sent their answers back and Hanania compared their average scores with the averages recorded by 2586 members of the US public, matched with the politicians for age, and who’d comp...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 31, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: In Brief Personality Political Source Type: blogs

Was that new Science paper hyped and over-interpreted because of its liberal message?
By guest blogger Stuart Ritchie It would be very concerning if “girls as young as six years old believe that brilliance is a male trait”, as The Guardian reported last week, especially if “this view has consequences”, as was argued in The Atlantic. Both stories implied girls’ beliefs about gender could be part of the explanation for why relatively few women are found working in fields such as maths, physics, and philosophy. These news stories, widely shared on social media, were based on a new psychology paper by Lin Bian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and colleagues, publis...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 31, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational Gender guest blogger Methods Occupational Source Type: blogs

Researchers surprised to find abused children less suggestible
By Christian Jarrett A hugely controversial topic in psychology concerns how likely it is that some or many claims of abuse made by children are actually based on false memories, possibly implanted through the suggestions of therapists or leading questions from investigators. A related issue is whether going through the terrible experience of being mistreated makes it more or less likely that a child will be prone to forming false memories based on the suggestions or leading questions of others. In a small but important new study in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology, a team led by Henry Otgaar at Maastri...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 30, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Developmental Memory Source Type: blogs

What is it like to be autistic?
Our editor’s pick of this week’s 10 best psychology and neuroscience links: Autistic People of Reddit, What is Autism Really Like? Find many thousands of answers on this new AskReddit topic. Koons, Temkin and Kandel: An Artist’s Creative Process in Action From 42.22 mins in, this is a video of an event held last week at the New York Historical Society: “an exclusive conversation between American Artist and Zuckerman Institute’s first artist-in-residence, Jeff Koons and Ann Temkin, The Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the MoMA as they discuss J...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 28, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Feast Source Type: blogs

A promising study suggests teachers can train 8-year-olds in Theory of Mind
By Christian Jarrett Theory of Mind is psychologist-speak for our ability to put ourselves in other people’s shoes, to recognise that their thoughts and beliefs can be different from our own. Children begin to develop this ability around age three to four: it starts off fairly basic, in terms of understanding people can hold false beliefs, becoming more sophisticated as they get older, eventually taking in concepts like double bluffing and faux pas. Of course, as with most things, kids vary in how adept they are at Theory of Mind, and there’s evidence that those with more skills in this...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 27, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Developmental Emotion Social Source Type: blogs

An interview with a deep brain stimulation patient: “I’m worried about getting water in the holes in my head”
By Christian Jarrett Deep brain stimulation is a medical procedure that involves implanting electrodes permanently into the brain and using them to alter the functioning of specific neural networks. A battery inserted subcutaneously in the chest provides the device with power. One application of the technology is as a treatment for Parkinson’s Disease, a neurodegenerative condition that causes tremors and difficulties moving. While the treatment can bring about an impressive alleviation of symptoms, research suggests that Parkinson’s patients often struggle to adjust psychologically. Now a case s...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 26, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Health Qualitative Source Type: blogs

The power of rituals: they calm nerves and boost performance
By Alex Fradera A tough interview or critical match can generate such anxiety that it ends up sabotaging our hopes and fulfilling our fears. People adopt different ploys to drive it away, from meditating to enjoying a cigarette. But it’s another tactic at the centre of new research published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes: the power of ritual. Many top-level performers use ritual to prepare for their game or show, whether this be chewing on exactly two cookies or chanting Latin – and the new research suggests many of the rest of us do too, with around half of a surveyed sample of partic...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 25, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Sport Source Type: blogs

Are these uncertain times drawing us into a cycle of dogma and prejudice?
By Christian Jarrett When all around us feels like chaos, it’s human instinct to cling to the rocks of dogma, and woe betide anyone who tries to loosen our grip. Previous studies, usually involving strong religious believers, have shown how dogmatic beliefs allay the anxiety brought on by feelings of uncertainty. In turn, any groups with opposing views are treated with suspicion and prejudice. A new study in the British Journal of Psychology broadens this out, showing these processes aren’t unique to religious believers. Dogmatic atheists too seem to be motivated by the need to cope wit...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 24, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: In Brief Political Race Religion Social Source Type: blogs

An influential theory about emotion and decision-making just failed a new test
By Christian Jarrett It’s a common belief that to make optimal decisions we need to be more logical and less emotional, rather like Mr Spock in Star Trek. In fact, much evidence argues against this. Consider the behaviour of patients whose brain damage has made them unusually cold and logical. Rather than this helping them make decisions, they often seem paralysed by indecision. These patients, who usually have damage to parts of their frontal cortex, also tend to perform poorly on a game that’s used by psychologists to measure risk-taking behaviour: the Iowa Gambling Task. Th...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 24, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Decision making Emotion Source Type: blogs

After half a century of research, psychology can ’t predict suicidal behaviours better than by coin flip
By guest blogger Tomasz Witkowski “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide” the French author and philosopher Albert Camus stated. But it is not only philosophers who are moved by this issue. Psychologists are seeking ways of preventing this tragic death, and health care organisations are sounding the alarm. Around a million people die at their own hand every year, which makes suicide the tenth most common cause of death. Additionally, for every completed suicide, there are 10 to 40 survived attempts, which means that in the USA alone 650,000 people each year are taken...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 23, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: guest blogger Mental health Suicide/ self-harm Source Type: blogs

How East and West think in profoundly different ways
Our editor’s pick of this week’s 10 best psychology and neuroscience links: How East And West Think In Profoundly Different Ways Psychologists are uncovering the surprising influence of geography on our reasoning, behaviour, and sense of self, writes David Robson at BBC Future. Mind Maps: The Beauty of Brain Cells in Pictures The 19th-century Spanish scientist Santiago Ramón y Cajal, the father of modern neuroscience, was one of the first people to unravel the mysteries of the structure of the brain – and he made stunning drawings to describe and explain his discoveries, as shown in this feature fr...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 21, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Feast Source Type: blogs

Detectives on the toll of investigating child deaths: it only gets harder
By Alex Fradera There has been little research into what it’s like for police detectives to investigate the death of a child. As bluntly stated in official police guidance documents “children are not meant to die”, and coping with these circumstances, especially as a detective and parent, could involve emotional and psychological demands beyond those experienced when investigating adult murders. For a new explorative study in the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, Jason Roach and his colleagues surveyed 99 police detectives from 23 forces across England and Wales: most of them were white and ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 20, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Forensic Occupational Source Type: blogs

A little discussed effect of therapy: it changes your personality
By Christian Jarrett Imagine the arrival of some high-tech brain device for treating mental health problems. It’s effective for many, but there’s an important side-effect. It changes your personality. Alarm ensues as campaigners warn that users risk being altered fundamentally for years to come. Now replay this scenario but replace the neuro-gizmo with good old-fashioned psychotherapy, and realise this: we’re talking fact, not fiction. A new meta-analysis in Psychological Bulletin has looked at 207 psychotherapy and related studies published between 1959 and 2013, involving over 20,000 participa...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 19, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Personality Therapy Source Type: blogs

If you like sick jokes, maybe it ’s because you’re just so smart
By Christian Jarrett Understanding jokes requires a certain amount of mental agility, psychologists tell us, because you need to recognise a sudden shift in meaning, or appreciate the blending of odd contexts that don’t normally go together. A new study in the journal Cognitive Processing has tested whether intelligence plays the same role in the appreciation of sick or black humour: the kind of jokes that make light of death, illness and the vulnerable. Consistent with past research linking intelligence with joke appreciation, the participants who most liked cartoons based on black humour al...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 18, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition In Brief Intelligence Laughter Source Type: blogs

Work stress could be making your commute dangerous
By Alex Fradera British workers spend on average one hour commuting each day, and 57 per cent of commuters make their daily journeys by car. But this is a part of our lives we don’t talk much about, beyond the odd epithet about the traffic; maybe because it’s a strange time, betwixt home and work but not fully either. Potentially, the drive to work is a haven: I recall my mother’s glove compartment crammed with audio books, so she could enjoy those stretches of solo time. But it’s more liable to be caught in a crossfire of worries, fretting about Daniel’s pensive moods at the breakfast table, ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 18, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Occupational Source Type: blogs

How did Darwin decide which book to read next?
A new study published in Cognition blends information theory, cognitive science and personal history By Christian Jarrett Between 1837 and 1860 Charles Darwin kept a diary of every book he read, including An Essay on the Principle of Population, Principles of Geology and Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation. There were many others: 687 English non-fiction titles alone, meaning that he averaged one book every ten days. After Darwin finished each one, how did he decide what to read next? In this decision, a scientist like Darwin was confronted with a problem similar to that afflicting the squirrel in search ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 17, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Methods Source Type: blogs

Is creativity something you inherit from your parents?
By Alex Fradera Jeb Bush’s failure to secure a Presidential triple-play is memorable perhaps because it’s an exception to a familiar routine: the family dynasty. It’s a routine especially common in the arts, where a writer’s family tree is apt to contain a couple of actors, a director, and maybe a flower arranger to boot. This might simply reflect upbringing – or maybe the powers of nepotism – but creative success also owes to temperament and talents, some of which may have their origins in our genetic makeup. The journal Behavioural Genetics has recently published a heritability st...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 16, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological Creativity Occupational Source Type: blogs

Psychology ’s Favorite Tool for Measuring Racism Isn’t Up to the Job
Our editor’s pick of this week’s 10 best psychology and neuroscience links: Psychology’s Favorite Tool for Measuring Racism Isn’t Up to the Job Almost two decades after its introduction, the implicit association test has failed to deliver on its lofty promises. By Jesse Singal for New York’s Science of Us. BPS Response to Theresa May’s Speech on Mental Health Professor Peter Kinderman, the President of the British Psychological Society, has welcomed Theresa May’s pledge to introduce new measures to improve mental health care. Do 1 In 4 People Really Have A Mental Illness Right Now?...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 14, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Feast Source Type: blogs

Replication success correlates with researcher expertise (but not for the reasons you might think)
By Christian Jarrett During the ongoing “replication crisis” in psychology, in which new attempts to reproduce previously published results have frequently failed, a common claim by the authors of the original work has been that those attempting a replication have lacked sufficient experimental expertise. Part of their argument, as explained recently by Shane Bench and his colleagues in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, is that “just as master chess players and seasoned firefighters develop intuitive expertise that aids their decision making, seasoned experimenters may develop intuitive exper...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 13, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Methods Replications Source Type: blogs

Why conservatives like to use nouns more than liberals do
By Christian Jarrett Our political leanings to the right or left reveal a fundamental aspect of our psyche: how much we’re drawn to stability and security versus change and uncertainty. This manifests in our attitudes and personality traits. For instance, on average, conservatives tend to prefer established hierarchy and are more conscientious. Liberals favour equality and are more open to new experiences. Now in the journal Political Psychology a group led by Aleksandra Cichocka at the University of Kent has extended this line of work by showing the link between political orientation and des...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 12, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: In Brief Language Political Source Type: blogs