The Bystander Effect is about more than the diffusion of responsibility
Inspired by the shocking murder of a woman in New York in 1964, reportedly in front of numerous witnesses who did nothing to help (although this was exaggerated), the Bystander Effect is a well-researched phenomenon that describes the diminishing likelihood that any one person will help as the number of other people available to help increases.The most popular and widely researched explanation is that people experience a diffusion of responsibility when in the company of other bystanders. We don't help the person who is being assaulted in a busy street because we assume that someone else will.But a new study in the Journal...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 28, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Money worries can enhance performance on some kinds of mental test
Poverty erects material barriers, but psychological ones too, from the conditions that exacerbate mental health problems, to inculcating children with the sense that they are second-rate. A stream of recent research has suggested that financial concerns can also tax your mind and prevent you from thinking clearly. But that may be too sweeping a conclusion, according to Junhua Dang of Lund University and his colleagues in Sweden and China. Their study, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, suggests having money problems on the mind doesn’t always impair cognitive ability. In fact, it can even enhance it...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 27, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Are the benefits of brain training no more than a placebo effect?
If you spend time playing mentally taxing games on your smartphone or computer, will it make you more intelligent? A billion dollar "brain training" industry is premised on the idea that it will. Academic psychologists are divided – the majority view is that by playing brain training games you will only improve at those games, you won't become smarter. But there are scholars who believe in the wider benefits of computer-based brain training and some reviews support their position, such as the 2015 meta-analysis that combined findings from 20 prior studies to conclude "short-term cognitive training on t...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 26, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Beneath their sneering veneer, people prone to contempt are psychologically fragile
Contemptuousness is a distinct personality trait that you can measure with a simple questionnaire. That's according to Roberta Schriber and her colleagues who've devised such a test and described the character of typical contemptuous person – someone quick to judge when another individual (or a social group) has failed to live up to certain expectations – either morally or in terms of competence – and who responds by looking down on this person or group, with the aim of distancing themselves from them, and/or derogating them.The dispositional contempt scaleFrom Schriber et al 2016.In the Journal of P...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 23, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

There are three kinds of pedestrian – which are you?
You know that situation where you're walking across a train station concourse or a park and there's another person walking on a different trajectory that means if you both hold your course and speed, you're going to collide? Are you the kind of person who assumes the other guy will give way, or are you the polite one who slows down and lets the other person cross your path?A new study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance recreated this scenario by pairing up 20 participants – a mix of young men and women – and having one person in each pair walk diagonally from one corner ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 23, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

What makes our work meaningful? Do bosses really make it meaningless?
The media has used the findings to demonise bosses, but such coverage forgets an important point, writes Alex FraderaThere have been times in my life where work seemed pretty pointless, on occasion because the position was a prime example of what anthropologist David Graeber calls bullshit jobs – those that give no real value back to oneself or society. But I’ve more frequently experienced the sense that a job was at some times meaningless, and at others very worthwhile. That’s a theme picked up in Catherine Bailey and Adrian Madden’s new study published in MIT Sloan Management Review, where intervi...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 22, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

A preliminary psychology of how we're moved by watching dance
This study makes a laudable though highly tentative first attempt to study what many may consider the hidden and unknowable connection between a dancer and her audience. "A dancer may dance without the aim to transmit anything to anyone, but follow an internal expressive intention, like an inner dialog" the researchers concluded. "S/he may dance just what's on her/his mind. Yet that intention will be visible in the dance, and grasped by a spectator. Thus what we like when we see a dance is not necessarily the beautiful – but especially the honest and authentic."_________________________________&nb...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 21, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Puncturing the myth of the tireless leader – if you're sleep deprived you're unlikely to inspire anyone
Sleep deprivation makes it harder for us to inspire others, or to be inspiredThere’s an archetype of the tireless leader who scorns slumber in favour of getting things done – Margaret Thatcher, Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, to name a few. But if you think you’re going to inspire anybody by routinely working through the night, you might want to think again. Research published recently in the Journal of Applied Psychology shows that sleep deprivation has the specific effect of making it harder for us to charismatically inspire others. And in a double whammy, the research suggests that followers who ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 20, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Using a cocktail of magic and fMRI, psychologists implanted thoughts in people's minds
By guest blogger Vaughan BellCan you think a thought which isn’t yours? A remarkable new study, led by psychologist Jay Olson from McGill University in Canada, suggests you can. The research, published in Consciousness and Cognition, used a form of stage magic known as “mentalism” to induce the experience of thoughts being inserted into the minds of volunteers. It is an ingenious study, not only for how it created the experience, but also for how it used the psychology lab as both a stage prop and a scientific tool.Years before he was famous, stage illusionist Derren Brown wrote a book called Pure Effect,...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 19, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Your anxiety during public speaking is probably made worse by the audience members you look at
We already know from past research that people with social anxiety seem to have a bias towards negative social signals. For instance, they're more likely to notice a frown of disapproval than a smile, which of course only fuels their anxiety.But a lot of this research has been unrealistic, involving static photos of faces and the task of looking out for dots on a computer screen. A new Chinese study has ramped up the realism by asking dozens of participants – some low in social anxiety, some high – to give a three-minute impromptu speech over Skype to an apparently live audience shown onscreen. In fact the audi...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 19, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Link feast
Our editor's pick of the 10 best psychology and neuroscience links from the last week or so:"We Are Complicit In Making These Groups All But Invisible"Martin Milton argues at The Psychologist that LGBT debate needs urgent progression in wake of the Orlando attack.Jerome S. Bruner, Who Shaped Understanding of the Young Mind, Dies at 100NYT obit.Koko: The Gorilla Who Talks To People (on iPlayer)Documentary telling the extraordinary story of Koko, the only 'talking' gorilla in the world, and her lifelong relationship with Penny Patterson, who taught her to communicate.Psychologists Grow Increasingly Dependent On Onl...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 17, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Do some homophobic men harbour a latent attraction to other men?
An example of imagery used in the study by Coeval et alThe idea that homophobia in men is a counter-reaction to their own unwanted attraction to other men has its roots in psychoanalysis – where's it's considered a psychodynamic defence – and is possibly supported by anecdotal evidence, most recently in reports that the perpetrator of the horrific homophobic massacre at an Orlando gay club was himself gay. But it's worth heeding the cautions on Science of Us yesterday where journalist Cari Romm noted that "internalized homophobia almost never manifests itself as violence" in her article headed The Myt...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 16, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

A small alcoholic drink could benefit business negotiations, study finds
It is a tradition in many cultures, especially in East Asia, for business negotiations to be accompanied by drinking alcohol. Motivated in part to wonder why this might be, Pak Hung Au and Jipeng Zhang, at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in China, have tested the effects of a small cup of beer (350ml) on participants' bargaining behaviour.The study in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organisation involved 114 people playing a bargaining game in pairs, some of them after a cup of beer, others after non-alcoholic beer (a test of a placebo effe...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 16, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

The psychology of why we tip some occupations but not others
It's more about altruism than trying to win approvalWhy do I tip my taxi driver, but not my accountant? I mean, there’s a good reason I don’t - he would narrow his eyes at me and ask if I was feeling ok. But why, in general, do we tip in some service contexts and not others; is it simply due to a quirk of history or the result of broader psychological patterns? Cornell University’s Michael Lynn suspected the latter, and in his new study published in the Journal of Economic Psychology, he outlines the evidence for various pro-tipping motives.Lynn presented a list of 122 American service occupations –...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - June 15, 2016 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Link feast
Our pick of the best psychology and neuroscience links from the past week or so:Finding The Golden Thread of Consciousness"... the play is a lost opportunity to push ethical questions about human conduct up against the genuinely profound questions about the self raised by modern brain research," writes Vaughan Bell at The Psychologist, reviewing Tom Stoppard's new play The Hard Problem, showing at the National Theatre in London. Batgirl's PsychologistThe amazing story of Andrea Letamendi - the clinical psychologist whose once-secret love for comic books led to her being written into one story as Batgirl's th...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 31, 2015 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

There are two types of envy; only one is associated with schadenfreude
You watch with envy as your long-time colleague gets yet another performance bonus - something you've strived for but never obtained. Not long after, you see him trip over in the office in front of everyone. Do you find this situation pleasingly amusing? In other words, do you experience schadenfreude?According to an international team of research psychologists, your answer will likely depend on the specific kind of envy you feel toward your colleague. Niels van de Ven and his co-workers say there are in fact two types - malicious envy and benign envy. Both involve comparing yourself to someone who is better off in a way t...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 30, 2015 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Why you might want to beware the introvert on your team
Introverts have received a lot of positive press in recent years thanks to the run-away success of Susan Cain's book Quiet: The Power of Introverts. Cain tells us these are people who like their own space, but also happen to be empathic and sensitive and deep-thinkers. A new paper on peer appraisals by team-members bucks this hug-an-introvert trend.Amir Erez and his co-authors report that introverts tend to give especially low performance ratings to their team-mates who are extravert and over-bearing, even though these people's actual performance for the team might be the same as other team-mates with different personality...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 29, 2015 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

A face that could get away with anything
First impressions lead to a multitude of assumptions, and trustworthiness is one of them: faces with v-shaped eyebrows and frowning mouths are consistently judged as less trustworthy than others with ^-shaped brows and mouths with upturned corners (this may be related to the former betraying a hidden anger and the latter having positive undertones). Now a study by Brian Holtz suggests that a person's looks can colour perceptions, not only of how trustworthy their character might be, but of whether their actual deeds are fair and well-intentioned.In an ideal world, we’d trust people based upon what...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 28, 2015 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

No one noticed when this man's speech was fed to him by a 12-year-old. Welcome to the Cyranoid Illusion
In this study, the participants rated the personality and intelligence of the man and boy equally positively when they spoke as themselves. Yet when the man spoke the words of the boy, he was given more negative ratings. This is in spite of the fact the participants failed to adjust the difficulty of their questions in this condition, presumably so as not to patronise the man publicly.You can begin to see how the Cyranoid paradigm can illuminate issues to do with social stereotypes triggered by appearances and words, and the differences in people's responses in terms of their private thoughts and public actions. Another an...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 27, 2015 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

We're more likely to cheat when we're anxious
When we’re stressed out and feeling threatened, our priority becomes self-preservation. According to new research, this defensive mode even affects our morality, making us more likely to cheat and excuse our own unethical behaviour.Maryam Kouchaki and Sreedhari Desai demonstrated this through six experiments. In the clearest example, 63 student participants spent three minutes listening to either calm music, or in the anxiety condition, to Bernard Herrmann's Psycho score. Those freaked out by Hermann's definitive ode to unease declared they were more anxious at the end of the study, and they had threat on their mind ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 26, 2015 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Link Feast
Our pick of the best psychology and neuroscience links from the past week or so:Why are men more likely than women to take their own lives?In the Guardian, Daniel Freeman and Jason Freeman argue that suicide prevention programmes need to take sex differences into account.Introducing The Psychologist Magazine's First Ever Poetry Competition"There is no guidance other than to consider our publication and audience; come on what you know, pure discovery," says Editor Jon Sutton.Brain-branded Energy Drinks Might Make You Less SmartOver at Brain Watch, I took at look at the claims made by a supposedly cognition-en...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 24, 2015 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Why the risk of losing is more fun than an easy win
I've started playing in a higher division in my local table-tennis league. I'm winning games less, but enjoying the experience more. I'm far from alone in preferring the danger of possible defeat to the comfort of easy wins. Psychologically this is curious because, at whatever level, virtually everyone who plays competitive games finds winning more pleasurable than losing, and most people like to feel good at what they do. In a new study, Sami Abuhamdeh and his colleagues have shone a light on this understudied paradox of motivational psychology. The researchers invited 72 undergrads to play a sword-based video game on the...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 23, 2015 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Testing the American Dream - can the right mix of personality and IQ compensate for poverty?
We know that possessing certain personal traits can help people do better in life – by knuckling down, making the right connections or having the best ideas. A new study goes further and asks whether a person’s traits and their background interact, with personal qualities being more important for people of lower socio-economic status. If true, this would provide intellectual support for the “American Dream” – being smart or diligent might make some difference for the rich, but for the poor, it would make all the difference.Rodica Ioana Damian and her colleagues analysed a gargantuan US survey ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 22, 2015 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

What do confident people say to themselves before giving a speech?
This study assumes people are able to remember and recognise their own past self-talk, which some readers may question. Of course, it's also just as likely that anxiety triggers particular categories of self-talk, as it is that the wrong kind of self-talk fuels anxiety. Nonetheless, the researchers said their insights could help inform interventions aimed at helping people overcome fear of public speaking."As we know that high public-speaking-anxiety individuals engage in higher levels of self-critical and social-assessing self-talk than low anxiety individuals," Shi's team concluded, "instructors can interv...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 21, 2015 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

When our beliefs are threatened by facts, we turn to unfalsifiable justifications
On being told physics could underminereligious claims, believers said faithwas more about living a moral lifeIt's great to have facts on your side. The fundamentalist is delighted by the archaeological find that tallies with scripture, just as the atheist seizes on the evidence that contradicts it. But when the evidence goes against us, we're less likely to change a belief than to criticise the validity or provenance of the evidence. Now, research suggests that the mere prospect of a factual threat leads us to downplay how much our belief depends on such evidence at all. We become attracted to other, less falsifiable ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 20, 2015 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

The psychology of Facebook, digested
This study from 2010 (not specifically focused on FB) found that using the internet to connect with existing friends was associated with less loneliness, but using it to connect with strangers (i.e. people only known online) was associated with more loneliness. This survey of adults with autism found that greater use of online social networking (including FB) was associated with having more close friendships, but only offline relationships were linked with feeling less lonely.Facebook could also be fuelling envy. In 2012 researchers found that people who'd spent more time on FB felt that other people were happier, and that...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 19, 2015 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Link feast
Our pick of the best psychology and neuroscience links from the past week or so:To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do ThisMandy Catron fell in love after following the format of a psychology study from 20 years ago. "I’ve skied steep slopes and hung from a rock face by a short length of rope, but staring into someone’s eyes for four silent minutes was one of the more thrilling and terrifying experiences of my life."Trying to Cure Depression, but Inspiring TortureThe sorry tale of how Martin Seligman's work on depression and "learned helpless" was misapplied by the cowboy psychologists who advised ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 17, 2015 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Reverse psychology: How bad managers inspire team camaraderie
An unfair, uncaring manager makes for an uncertain working life, one characterised by stress, absenteeism and poor performance. But new research suggests a silver lining: when the boss is unjust, team members come together.A multi-institution collaboration led by Adam Stoverink presented teams of students with an awkward event. The students thought they’d been recruited to solve tasks for a cash prize, but they were left twiddling their thumbs while waiting for an assigned supervisor to show up. When he eventually did, he gave a sincere apology to half of the groups, but the rest were fobbed off with a shrug, as he e...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 16, 2015 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

How to get kids to tell the truth? It's not all about carrot or stick
By guest blogger Dan JonesAll parents have to come to terms with the fact that their little angels will, from time to time, act like little devils. They’ll throw tantrums over trivial issues, or they’ll push, hit, bite or scratch other kids. And at some point they’ll start lying about what they’ve done.Lying is perfectly normal among children, not a sign of a sociopath in the making. Many kids start telling the odd fib around their second birthday, and by the time they’re 4 or 5 they’re even better at the art of manipulating the truth, and keeping it from us. So how can parents help thei...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 15, 2015 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Imagining walking through a doorway triggers increased forgetting
We've all had that experience of going purposefully from one room to another, only to get there and forget why we made the journey. Four years ago, researcher Gabriel Radvansky and his colleagues stripped this effect down, showing that the simple act of passing through a doorway induces forgetting. Now psychologists at Knox College, USA, have taken things further, demonstrating that merely imagining walking through a doorway is enough to trigger increased forgetfulness. Zachary Lawrence and Daniel Peterson divided 51 students into two groups. One group spent a minute familiarising themselves with a large, furnished room. T...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 14, 2015 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

People may be happier when their neighbourhood fits their personality
Levels of trait "openness to experience"are higher in central London than otherareas of the city. Image from PNAS. It is surely easier to be happy in some neighbourhoods than others. But a new study suggests one size does not fit all. Based on data from 56,000 Londoners collected by a BBC initiative, Markus Jokela and his colleagues report that the correlations between different personality dimensions and life satisfaction vary across the capital. The researchers say this shows "finding the best place to live depends on the match between individual dispositions and neighbourhood characteristics."Pa...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 13, 2015 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Psychologists and psychiatrists feel less empathy for patients when their problems are explained biologically
The idea that mental illness is related to brain abnormalities or other biological factors is popular among some patients; they say it demystifies their experiences and lends legitimacy to their symptoms. However, studies show that biological explanations can increase mental health stigma, encouraging the public perception that people with mental illness are essentially different, and that their problems are permanent. Now Matthew Lebowitz and Woo-young Ahn have published new evidence that suggests biological explanations of mental illness reduce the empathy that mental health professionals feel towards patients.Over two h...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 12, 2015 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Link Feast
Our pick of the best psychology and neuroscience links from the past week or so:Dos and don’ts of a January detoxAs we start a new year, David Robson at BBC Future takes a scientific look at how to get healthier'Detoxing' has been debunked. Maybe it's time to debunk thatOliver Burkeman argues that scepticism about the benefits of detoxing has gone too farAre Understandings of Mental Illness Mired in the Past?In the latest issue of The Psychologist magazine, Vaughan Bell and John Cromby disagree about the place of biology in our understanding of psychiatric illness. Flicker: Your Brain on Movies by Jeffrey Zacks &ndas...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 10, 2015 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

One in ten student research participants don't make an effort
It's near the end of your university semester, you're tired and now you've got to sit through 90 minutes of monotonous psychology tests to fulfil the requirements for your course. This is a familiar situation for psychology undergrads, many of whom form the sample pools for thousands of psychology studies.Concerns have been raised before that psychology findings are being skewed by the (lack of) effort students put into their performance as research participants. Last year, for example, researchers found that students who volunteer near the end of term perform worse on psychology tests than those who volunteer earlier.Now ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 9, 2015 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Cheating bosses stain the reputation of their organisations and their junior staff
Former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling (left) and his attorney leave the courthouse in 2006When high-ranking members of an organisation break the rules, it's not just their own reputation on the line. New research from Stanford University shows that the stain of transgression sends its fingers out to every organisational member.In a series of online studies, Takuya Sawaoka and Benoît Monin presented participants with information about a hypothetical company employee involved in unethical activity such as deceptive marketing. When the culprit's position in the company was senior rather than low-ranking, participants were more...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 8, 2015 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Some people think they know themselves well, but do they really?
Some people will tell you that they have a clear sense of who they are, and that their sense of self is stable over time. Psychologists refer to this as having high "self-concept clarity". In a new study, Jean Guerrettaz and Robert Arkin shine a spotlight on these self-proclaimed self-knowers. The researchers find that their confidence is often fragile, and that somewhat paradoxically, it is people confident in their sense of self whose self-esteem is most undermined by challenging questions about who they are.Guerrettaz and Arkin asked 91 undergrads to fill out a questionnaire about their confidence in their sel...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 7, 2015 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Could violent video games make players more moral in the real world?
Video games allow players to indulge in simulated behaviours that in the real world would be highly antisocial or unethical, and many people are concerned how this might spill over from the screen to the street. A new study, however, suggests that such activities can elicit a moral response in players, reinforcing the potential of the medium as a means of civic development.In the study developed by Matthew Grizzard and colleagues, players of a first-person shooter game reported higher levels of guilt when their ten-minute session involved playing as a civilian-slaying terrorist rather than a UN soldier.Historically, guilt ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 6, 2015 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

First-time fathers describe their experiences of separation and helplessness
Ante-natal classes only serve to increase fathers' feelings of separation from their pregnant partners, according to a series of in-depth interviews with ten White British fathers.Anja Wittkowski and her colleagues interviewed the men to help increase our understanding of what it's like for men to become a father for the first time - a neglected area of research. All the participants, aged 27 to 47, were married to their partners, they were middle-class, employed, and the pregnancies were all planned. The men were interviewed when their babies were aged between 7 and 12 months, and all said they were motivated to be hands-...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 5, 2015 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Psychologists explore a new reason why quitting smoking is so difficult
When a cigarette smoker attempts to quit, not only do they crave their usual nicotine hit, they also experience an unpleasant inability to enjoy other pleasures in life - a state known as "anhedonia".Jessica Cook and her colleagues studied over a thousand smokers enrolled on a quitting programme in the US. The participants (mostly White, 58.3 per cent were female) were placed on a range of nicotine replacement therapies or they were given placebo. The participants also kept an evening diary from five days before, to ten days after, their quit day. Here they recorded how much pleasure they'd experienced that day a...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 2, 2015 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Students with more autistic traits make fewer altruistic choices
Most people with autism have difficulties socialising and connecting with others. It's generally agreed that part of this has to do with an impairment in taking other people's perspective. More specifically, an emerging consensus suggests that autism is associated with having normal feelings for other people, but an impaired understanding of them. Little explored before now is how this affects the behaviour of people with autism towards others who need help.Leila Jameel and her colleagues surveyed 573 students using the 50-item Autism-Spectrum Quotient, which is a questionnaire designed to tap key traits associated with Au...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 1, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Link feast
Our pick of the best psychology and neuroscience links from the past week:Uta and Chris Frith: A Partnership of the MindMo Costandi profiles the cognitive neuroscience pioneers.Using Pseudoscience to Shine Light on Good ScienceA video of Scott Lilienfeld's APS-David Myers lecture at this year's meeting of the Association for Psychological Science.Against EmpathyPaul Bloom starts a debate at the Boston Review. "I’ve come to realize that taking a position against empathy is like announcing that you hate kittens," he says.The WaitingPhilosopher-medic Ray Tallis reflects on the psychology of waiting in this pro...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 30, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

The psychology of wearable computing - does Google Glass affect where people look?
Computing eyewear such as Google Glass can record information far more discreetly than a handheld camera. As a result, privacy concerns have been raised, whether in a bar or changing for the gym. Are users of this tech likely to use their new toys responsibly? Early research was promising, suggesting that the very act of recording our gaze may lead us to be extra considerate in where we look. Unfortunately a new study finds that while wearing gaze-monitoring devices may initially encourage more socially-acceptable looking behaviours, the effect doesn't last.In this experiment, 82 participants (aged 18 to 51; 59 women)...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 29, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Managers, conservatives, Europeans and the non-religious show higher levels of psychopathic traits
Christian Bale played the archetypalpsychopath in American Psycho (2000).Mention psychopathic personality traits and the mind turns to criminals. The archetype is a callous killer who entraps his victims with a smile and easy charm. However, recent years have seen an increasing recognition that psychopathic traits are on a continuous spectrum in all of us (akin to other personality factors like extraversion), that they don't always manifest in criminality, and that in certain contexts, they may even confer advantages.This perspective is captured in the title of psychologist Kevin Dutton's recent book The Wisdom of Psychopa...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 28, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

10 Surprising Things Babies Can Do
Human infants are helpless. At first they can't even support the weight of their own heads. Crawling and walking take months to master. Compare this with the sprightly newborns of other mammals, such as kittens and foals, up and about within an hour of their birth. There are several theories as to why human development is so protracted - among them that this extra time is required for the human brain to develop. This post side-steps such debates and focuses on 10 studies hinting at the surprising abilities of babies aged up to one year. The research digested below suggests the infant mind is far more sophisticated than you...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 27, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Drinking small amounts of alcohol boosts people's sense of smell
As our modern world relies overwhelmingly on sight and sound to transmit information, it might not strike you quite how acute our sense of smell is. In fact we humans can outperform the most sensitive measuring instruments in detecting certain odours, and distinguish smells from strangers from those of our blood relations. Now new research suggests our natural olfactory talents may be even greater when we use modest amounts of alcohol to reduce our inhibitions.A team led by Yaara Endevelt-Shapira tested participants on two days: on one, tests took place before and after drinking a cup of grape juice, and on the other ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 26, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Your angry face makes you look stronger
No matter where you travel on earth, you'll likely have no problem recognising when someone is angry with you. From the plains of Russia to the beaches of Brazil, anger shows itself in a tell-tale facial display involving lowered brow, snarled nose, raised chin and thinned lips.A popular view has it that, besides reliably conveying anger, this particular constellation of facial movements is arbitrary and serves no other function. A team of evolutionary psychologists led by Aaron Sell disagrees. They think the anger face also makes the angry person look stronger. This fits their "recalibration theory of anger" tha...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 25, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Link feast
Our pick of the best psychology and neuroscience links from the past week:Finding a Good TherapistJules Evans' (author of Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations) recent encounter with a "somatic therapist" didn't go too well.Why Nurture Is Just As Important As Nature For Understanding GeneticsThe influence of genetics on our health and behaviour is not fixed, explains Claire Howarth, but depends on complex interactions with the environment. Why Do We Fear the Wrong Things?Over at the Talk Psych blog David Myers reflects on the misleading power of the "availability heuristic".Why Do Ampu...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 23, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Reader reactions to news of terrorism depend on the images that are used
After viewing images of terrorists, people reported feelings of anger and fearHow readers' emotions are affected by media reports of terrorist attacks depends on the the photos used to accompany the story. That's according to an analysis by Aarti Iyer and colleagues, who say these different emotional reactions in turn lead to support for different government policies.Over two-hundred British adults (aged 18 to 68; 92 women), many based in London, read a news summary of the London terrorist bombings that occurred on July 7, 2005. Afterwards, the participants were split into two groups - one group was shown photographs that ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 22, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Back to the future - Psychologists investigate why some people see the future as being behind them
Speakers of English and many other languages refer to the future as being in front, and the past behind (e.g. "I look forward to seeing you"). This manner of thinking and speaking is so entrenched, we rarely pause to consider why we do it. One influential and intuitive explanation is that humans have an obvious front (the way our heads face), which combined with our tendency to think about time in terms of space, leads us to see ourselves moving forwards into the future, or the future coming towards us. A problem with this account is that there exist cultures and languages - such as the Andean language Aymara - t...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 21, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Can relationships with fictional characters aid our self development?
This study examines the extent to which parasocial relationships facilitate “self-expansion,” or the sense of greater possibilities for the self. Real-world relationships lead to self-expansion when people view their relationship partner as “a valuable source of new knowledge and experiences.” Can fictional characters have the same effect of helping us envision a bigger, better version of ourselves?They can. University students were asked to read an unfamiliar short story about a young person competing in a race, and then to rate the story’s protagonist, along with two real-life contacts (a cl...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 20, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs