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

Using the truth to mislead (paltering) feels less bad than lying, but will cost you in the long run
By Alex Fradera Work is getting stale, and you’ve recently been courted by an exciting new company for a great role, the one drawback being a slight pay cut. Before you’ve made up your mind, your manager asks you whether you have plans to go elsewhere. If you wanted to avoid showing your hand, you could lie blatantly. You could change the topic. Or, you could palter: use a truthful statement to create a misleading impression. “Financially, you’re treating me really well and I don’t think there’s anything out there that could match that.” Paltering is the topic of a new paper in the...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 11, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Lying Morality Social Source Type: blogs

Teenagers ’ brains process risk differently when Mum is around
By Christian Jarrett The traffic lights turn amber: should you brake or accelerate on through? If there’s a teenager at the wheel, the chances are he or she will put their foot down and keep going. Teenagers love taking risks, more so than any other age group. This is partly down to the immaturity of the teen brain: they do not yet show the same connectivity between frontal decision making areas and deeper reward-related brain areas, as compared with adults. But there’s also a social element. When an adult is around, teens tend to take fewer risks, and their brains show less reward-related a...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 10, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Cognition Developmental Source Type: blogs

If you ’re fairly young and healthy, moderate exercise will probably be more enjoyable than you think
By Christian Jarrett It’s that time of year when many of us are trying our best to begin a new exercise habit. One psychological factor affecting our chances is how we think we’ll feel during the exercise, and how that compares to the way we actually feel when we get going, and how we feel afterwards. A new study in Health Psychology has explored whether it’s possible to increase people’s adherence to a new exercise regime by making their expectations more positive. While the main intervention was a disappointment, there is an encouraging message in the results: moderate-to-vigor...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 9, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Health Sport Source Type: blogs

Done tastefully, joke-telling at work could make you appear more confident and competent
By Alex Fradera A little humor in the workplace appears broadly beneficial: it can increase productivity and creativity and helps to build trust. But before you get too carried away attempting to stun your colleagues with your wit, you might want to heed the findings from new research in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, which focused on the effect of humour attempts on our personal status. The work shows that while a well-judged gag can cover us in glory, misses can have negative consequences. What’s more, this risky nature partly explains why we hold funny people in esteem. An initial study had a d...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 6, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Occupational Source Type: blogs

Revenge really is sweet: study shows the mood-enhancing effect of retaliation
By Alex Fradera When we feel ostracised, we’re more likely to behave aggressively. Previous research suggests that vengeance on those who we think have wronged us can be driven by a sense of justice, and may activate neural reward centres. But being ostracised can also lead to generalised aggression, even lashing out at unrelated people, so there seems to be more going on. In new research in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, David Chester and C. Nathan DeWall tested the idea that social rejection, by making us feel wounded and unwanted, triggers a need to repair our mood by whatever means available, inclu...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 5, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Anger Emotion Morality Social Source Type: blogs

Joining a crowd transforms us psychologically, with serious health implications
Image: AlGraChe/Flickr By guest blogger Laura Spinney Glastonbury 1997, the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, the pilgrimage to Lourdes in 2008: what do they have in common? All three were the backdrop to outbreaks of communicable disease, and so of interest to doctors working in mass gathering medicine. The goal of this relatively young field is to address the specific health problems associated with mass events, but two British psychologists now claim that this can only be done effectively by understanding the psychological transformation that people undergo when they join a crowd. Joining a crowd changes a person...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 4, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: guest blogger Health Social Source Type: blogs

Find a sense of purpose and you ’re more likely to get rich
By Christian Jarrett As the dawn breaks on a new year, now might be a good time to think about what you want to get out of life over the longer-term. We already know from past research that having a greater “sense of purpose” is good for us psychologically: it’s linked with experiencing more positive emotions and generally feeling better about life. Now a study in the Journal of Research in Personality suggests there are material benefits too. Researchers followed the same sample of people over a period of about nine years, and they found that during that time, those individuals who reported a g...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 31, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Money Personality Source Type: blogs

Our 10 most popular posts of 2016
Three-year-olds keep track of when you’re indebted to them It’s been a funny old year, but through it all we’ve kept on doing our thing and loved every minute of it: bringing you daily reports on the latest psychology research. Contributing writer Alex Fradera and I have covered the entire field, everything from the way infant memory works to research on the psychophysiology of post-sex pillow talk. We told you about failed replication attempts, including smiling apparently not having an effect on mood, and provided feature-length research roundups on topics like eye con...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 23, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Announcements Source Type: blogs

Men: this study suggests it ’s a really bad idea to cry in front of your colleagues
By Alex Fradera We’re supposed to be hungry for workplace feedback: after all, it can help us to eliminate blind spots in our self-knowledge, give us focus and surpass relationship issues. Often, though, it can be a bit hard to take. On the wrong day, when the feedback’s particularly upsetting, it may even bring us to tears. If this happens to you and you’re a man, according to new research in the Journal of Applied Psychology, it could spell bad news for your career prospects. Daphna Motro and Aleksander Ellis from the University of Arizona recruited 169 adults based in the US, with an average age ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 23, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Gender Occupational Source Type: blogs

Introductory psychology textbooks accused of spreading myths and liberal-leaning bias
By Christian Jarrett Is the job of introductory psychology textbooks to present students with a favourable and neat impression of psychology or to give them a warts and all account of the field? This is a key question raised by a new analysis of the treatment of controversial theories and recognised myths by 24 best-selling US introductory psychology texts. Writing in Current Psychology, Christopher Ferguson at Stetson University and his colleagues at Texas A&M International University conclude that intro textbooks often have difficulty covering controversial topics with care, and that whether ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 22, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Textbooks Source Type: blogs

Job recruiters may be swayed by signs of our sexuality revealed in our faces
By Alex Fradera Vacant job roles should be filled on the candidate’s skills, experience and knowledge, not their identity. But that means dodging our deeply held stereotypes, such as men being a natural fit for decision-making roles like management and women for care-giving professions. Evidence suggests this also applies to sexual orientation, meaning, for instance, that CVs that indicate the candidate is homosexual (for instance, by mentioning college experience in a group promoting gay rights) are likely to be seen by recruiters as a better match for care-giving roles. New research from the Journal of Applied Psyc...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 22, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Faces Job interviews Occupational Source Type: blogs

Men think women will be impressed by a tattoo, but they ’re not – Polish study
By Alex Fradera Men with tattoos are likely to provide serious competition for a woman’s attention, at least in the eyes of other guys, but women themselves actually aren’t that impressed. That’s according to research published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, where 2584 heterosexual men and women from Poland viewed photos of shirtless men, sometimes digitally modified so that their arm was emblazoned with a smallish black tattoo depicting a generic symbol. The 215 men among the participants rated the inked bods as more attractive than tattoo-free comparison models, which presumably ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 21, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: In Brief Sex Source Type: blogs

Four-year-olds ’ knowledge of gender stereotypes foretells their gender bias a year later
By Christian Jarrett  Group loyalty is woven into our DNA. After being allocated to a category on the flimsiest of grounds, such as their matching shirt colour, children will show impressive favouritism toward their new group members, and antipathy toward outsiders. No wonder that once children learn about genders, and become aware of their own – which begins to happen in earnest from around age three – they soon after usually begin to show profound signs of loyalty toward and preference for their own gender. As the authors of a new study in Child Development put it, “Around the w...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 21, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Developmental Gender Source Type: blogs

Think you ’re good with faces? In fact, you probably don’t know much about your own face-recognition skills
By Christian Jarrett Life would be awfully confusing if we weren’t able to recognise familiar faces. It’s a skill most of us take for granted, and we rarely stop to consider the impressive cognitive wizardry involved. But some of us are better at it than others: in the last decade or so it’s become apparent that around two per cent of the population are born with a severe face-recognition impairment (known as congenital prosopagnosia), that there is a similar proportion of “super-recognisers” with unusually exceptional face-recognition skills, and that the rest of us a...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 20, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Faces Source Type: blogs

You probably don ’t know much about your own face-recognition skills
By Christian Jarrett Life would be awfully confusing if we weren’t able to recognise familiar faces. It’s a skill most of us take for granted, and we rarely stop to consider the impressive cognitive wizardry involved. But some of us are better at it than others: in the last decade or so it’s become apparent that around two per cent of the population are born with a severe face-recognition impairment (known as congenital prosopagnosia), that there is a similar proportion of “super-recognisers” with unusually exceptional face-recognition skills, and that the rest of us a...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 20, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Faces Source Type: blogs

The evidence for the psychological benefits of animals is surprisingly weak
By Christian Jarrett To see a man’s face light up as he strokes a dog, to hear a child’s laughter as her hamster tickles her skin, it just seems obvious that animals are good for our state of mind. Let’s hope so because not only do millions of us own pets, but also animals are being used therapeutically in an increasing number of contexts, from residential care homes to airports, prisons, hospitals, schools and universities. Unfortunately, as detailed by psychologist Molly Crossman in her new review in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, the research literature has simply not...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 19, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Methods Therapy Source Type: blogs

The surprising self-interest in being kind to strangers
Our editor’s pick of the 10 best psychology and neuroscience links from the last week or so: The Surprising Self-interest In Being Kind to Strangers Amy Alkon’s recent TED talk dealt with “Trickle-Down Humanity,” about why we need to do small kindnesses for strangers and why that’s the most powerful kind of kindness. Why Magazines Matter As The Psychologist relaunches, Ella Rhodes considers style and impact in the printed form. Beyond Grit: The Science of Creativity, Purpose, and Motivation A conversation between the psychologists and best-selling authors Adam Grant and Angela D...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 17, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Feast Source Type: blogs

A daily cold shower seems to have some psychological benefits
By Alex Fradera Exposing your body to cold water has been promoted as a health tonic since at least the Roman period, so it’s about time we gave this a thorough investigation. In a new paper in PLOS One Geert Buijze and his colleagues report on the health and wellbeing effects of the “cool challenge” – a 30-day event in the Netherlands that involved more than 3000 people taking daily showers that ran cold for at least the last 30 seconds each time. The clearest finding was a 29 per cent reduction in sickness absence for those who took cold showers compared with their colleagues who weren’...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 16, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: In Brief Source Type: blogs

There is a second “window of opportunity” for learning in late adolescence and early adulthood
By guest blogger David Robson If you want to maximise a person’s intellectual potential, the general consensus for a long time has been that you need to start young. According to this traditional view, early childhood offers a precious “window of opportunity” or “sensitive period” for learning that closes slowly as we reach adolescence. It’s the reason that toddlers find it easier to master the accent of a foreign language, for instance. This view has even shaped educational policy. If you want to help people from disadvantaged backgrounds, for instance, some psychologists had argued tha...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 15, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Developmental Educational guest blogger Source Type: blogs

This one specific brain area was smaller in participants who were in love
By Christian Jarrett Poets have long described the mind-altering effects of a passionate relationship – “my love’s a noble madness” wrote John Dryden. “Of all the emotions,” said Cicero, “there is none more violent than love. Love is a madness.” Psychology research is beginning to back this up. A recent study found that students in the early days of a passionate relationship exhibited reduced cognitive control in basic psychological tests. Now brain researchers in Japan have started to look for the neural correlates of these effects. Writing in Frontiers i...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 14, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Emotion Sex Social Source Type: blogs

Why some clinical psychologists are ignoring official best practice guidelines
By Christian Jarrett In England there’s an independent health advisory body that provides guidelines to clinicians working in the NHS, to make sure that wherever patients are in the country, they receive the best possible evidence-backed care. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) was set up in 1999 and many of its guidelines pertain to mental health, and they often promote psychological approaches – for example, the guidelines for depression state that talking therapies should be the first-line of treatment for all but the most severely affected patients. While clinical and cou...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 13, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Qualitative Therapy Source Type: blogs

Wardrobe malfunction – three failed attempts to replicate the finding that red increases attractiveness
By Christian Jarrett  It’s one of the simplest, most evidence-backed pieces of advice you can give to someone who’s looking to attract a partner – wear red. Many studies, most of them involving men rating women’s appearance, have shown that wearing red clothing increases attractiveness and sex appeal. The reasons are thought to be traceable to our evolutionary past – red displays in the animal kingdom also often indicate sexual interest and availability – complemented by the cultural connotations of red with passion and sex. But nothing, it seems, is straightforward in psy...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 12, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: evolutionary psych Replications Sex Source Type: blogs

Why do left-handers earn less than right-handers?
By Alex Fradera It’s popularly believed that left-handers are uncommonly blessed with talents like high intelligence or an artistic temperament, but this is a myth. In fact, some studies even show cognitive deficits in lefties (though other research has failed to confirm this) and in terms of their take-home salaries, surveys suggest that left-handers lag behind the right-handed by as much as ten per cent, possibly indicating a difficulty in competing under commercial conditions. In a recent study in PLOS One, Marcello Sartarelli from the Universidad de Alicante attempted to replicate this deficit under controll...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 12, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Cognition Occupational Social Source Type: blogs

Self-Control Is Just Empathy With Your Future Self
Our editor’s pick of the 10 best psychology and neuroscience links from the last week or so: Self-Control Is Just Empathy With Your Future Self The same part of the brain that allows us to step into the shoes of others also helps us restrain ourselves, writes Ed Yong at The Atlantic. Is Psychosis An ‘Immune Disorder’? Vaughan Bell at Mind Hacks on a new study that’s been generating lots of media attention. Your Beautiful Brain … … Dispatches from the frontiers of neuroscience – a long read about the impressive brain research taking place at Columbia University in New Yo...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 10, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Feast Source Type: blogs

There ’s such a thing as collective narcissism (and it might explain a lot that’s going on at the moment)
By Christian Jarrett It feels like this year there has been a big increase in people’s tendency to make a show of their political allegiance, to believe passionately in the superiority of their chosen group’s position, and to be ultra-vigilant to any potential incoming slight or insult toward the group. This kind of behaviour shows signs of “collective narcissism”, which like individual narcissism, is characterised by outward confidence compensating for deep-rooted insecurity. Collective narcissists say they believe that their group is special and superior, yet when asked what others think...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 9, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Political Social Source Type: blogs

Neuroscientists use neurofeedback to erase fear in the brain
By Christian Jarrett Imagine a person is terrified of dogs because they once suffered a terrible bite. Following long-established techniques, their psychologist might gradually expose them to dogs in a safe setting, until their fear gradually faded away. This “exposure therapy” can be effective but it has some serious drawbacks, including the fact that the person might at first find it traumatic to be close to dogs again. What if there were a way to remove this person’s fear of dogs at a subconscious level, without the need for any traumatic exposure? Such an approach has now come much...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 8, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Emotion Mental health Source Type: blogs

Many of the same genes that  influence our personality also affect our mental health
By Christian Jarrett We know from twin and family studies that our personality is to a large degree – probably around 40 per cent – inherited. Geneticists are busy trying to find the specific gene variants involved, but because each one on its own only exerts a modest influence, this is challenging research requiring huge samples. A new study in Nature Genetics has made a significant contribution, using the technique of Genome Wide Analysis to look for genetic variants that correlate with personality. The researchers led by Min-Tzu Lo at the University of California, San Diego have identified var...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 7, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological Mental health Personality Source Type: blogs

Researchers chucked litter on the streets of New York and Bern to see if anyone would intervene
By Alex Fradera To maintain pleasant public spaces requires that we all implicitly agree to certain civil behaviours, like pocketing our chocolate wrappers rather than leaving them strewn on the pavement, or turning the stereo down after eleven. But when these implicit agreements are too frequently ignored they can lose their force entirely, jeopardising the social order. To keep things together, one or more of us need to hold any miscreants to account… but who wants that hassle? A new paper in the journal Rationality and Society explores real-life littering norm enforcers, taking us from the streets of Switzerland ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 6, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: environmental Forensic Social Source Type: blogs

Experiencing passionate love linked with more belief in free will AND determinism
By Christian Jarrett Psychologists have become very interested in the causes and consequences of our beliefs about free will in recent years.  For instance, many consider that progress in neuroscience is likely to undermine our belief in free will (though this has been challenged). And in terms of consequences, less belief in free will has been shown to affect our own behaviour and judgments, for example increasing our tendency to cheat, and making us more lenient towards other people’s criminal culpability. One unexplored issue is how experiencing deep, romantic love is likely to affect our ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 5, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Sex Thought Source Type: blogs

Brain training may be harmful to some aspects of memory performance
By Christian Jarrett Much attention has been focused recently on whether brain training programmes have the far-reaching benefits claimed by their commercial purveyors. Brain training usually involves completing exercises on computer to strengthen your working memory – essentially your ability to hold in mind and process multiple items of information at once (“cognitive training” would be a more apt name). The argument put forward by brain training companies like Lumosity and Posit Science, is that working memory is such a fundamental mental process that if you boost your working memory capacity...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 29, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Educational Memory Source Type: blogs

The Psychology of Eye Contact, Digested
By Christian Jarrett Many of our relationships begin with that moment when our eyes meet and we realise the other person is looking right at us. Pause for a second and consider the intensity of the situation, the near-magical state of two brains simultaneously processing one another, each aware of being, at that very instant, the centre of the other’s mental world. Psychologists have made some surprising discoveries about the way that mutual gaze, or the lack of it, affects us mentally and physically and how we relate to each other. Here we digest the fascinating psychology of eye contact, from ti...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 28, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Feature Source Type: blogs

The Power of Negative Thinking
Our editor’s pick of the 10 best psychology and neuroscience links spotted in the last week: The Power of Negative Thinking New BBC Radio 4 series presented by writer Oliver Burkeman. A Maturing Picture of Emotion At The Psychologist, Louisa Lawrie and Louise Phillips on how we process emotions in ourselves and others as we age. It Is Pretty Easy to Get Art Experts to Fall for Fakes Simon Oxenham aka Neurobonkers makes his debut on Science of Us. Why Narcissists Deserve Our Pity Rather Than Contempt I chatted to ABC Radio’s Future Tense show, and I avoided mentioning Mr T. Confessions of a Depressed Comic ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 26, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Feast Source Type: blogs

Why are some of us better at handling contradictory information than others?
By Alex Fradera Imagine it: you’re happily surfing through your social media feeds – or what we nowadays call your filter bubble – when some unexpected perspectives somehow manage to penetrate. After you “like” the latest critique of police power, for instance, you come across an article arguing that cracking down on crime can benefit minority neighborhoods. Or, elbowing its way into a crowd of articles celebrating trickle-down economics, you encounter a study showing higher taxes boost growth. What happens next? In new research in Contemporary Educational Psychology, Gregory Trevors and his c...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 25, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Decision making Educational Source Type: blogs

Why do we enjoy reality TV? Researchers say it ’s more about empathy than humiliation
By guest blogger Tomasz Witkowski Television programs portraying ordinary people in unexpected situations are almost as old as the medium of television itself. First aired in 1984, Candid Camera is often seen as a prototype of the reality show. Its premise was simple – unsuspecting people were confronted with unusual, funny situations and filmed with hidden cameras. However, the genre exploded as a phenomenon in the late 1990s and 2000s with the global success of such series as Survivor, Idol, and Big Brother, and to this day many people continue to abandon their own activities for the voyeuristic other. Reality...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 24, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion guest blogger Morality Social Source Type: blogs

A bigger signature correlates with social bravado and narcissism
By Christian Jarrett When you sign your name, do you like to fill the available space with bold strokes or is your personal scribble a more modest mark?  A group of psychologists from Uruguay, the Netherlands and Curaçao say that the answer could be a sign of your personality – from analysing the traits and signatures of 192 women and 148 men (psych students in Uruguay), they found that men and women with bigger signatures tended to score higher on “social dominance” – measured by agreement with statements like “I certainly have self confidence” and “I am...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 23, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Personality Source Type: blogs

Bad news for passport control: face-matching is harder than we realised
By Alex Fradera Experiments suggest that telling if two unfamiliar faces are the same or different is no easy task. Such research has sometimes presented participants with full body shots, has more commonly used cropped shots of people’s heads, but almost never placed the faces in a formal context, such as on a photographic ID card. But these are the situations in which face-to-photo matching is most relevant, when a shop assistant squints at a driver’s license before selling alcohol to a twitchy youth, or an emigration official scrutinises passports before their holders pass ports. Moreover, it’s plausib...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 22, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Faces Forensic Perception Source Type: blogs

Women who suppress their emotions are as good at mental rotation as men
By Christian Jarrett In the ongoing, complex debates about the extent and meaning of psychological differences between the sexes, mental rotation ability is usually quoted as one of the most robust examples of where a difference can be found. This is the ability to rotate objects in your mind’s eye, and while there is a lot of overlap between men’s and women’s performance, there is plenty of evidence that men, on average, are better at this than women. Can we take this to reflect a genuine, specific difference in average cognitive ability between the sexes? Not necessarily. A new, small study in Psyc...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 21, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Emotion Gender Source Type: blogs