How to help an anxious interviewee - be mean to them?
They've barely taken their seat, but it's obvious that your interviewee is nervous. You give her a reassuring smile and nod affirmatively at each of her answers, hoping to put her at ease. Unfortunately, it turns out that positive feedback does a socially anxious interviewee no favours. In fact, it would be better to turn that smile upside-down.We know this from a new study from North Illinois University where a "careers counsellor" (actually a research assistant) conducted practice interviews while moderating his or her tone of voice, posture and facial expression to provide either positive, negative, or no feed...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 19, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

The simple piece of information that could dramatically increase your muscular endurance
How most of us choose to behave is shaped powerfully by the behaviour of others (or, more specifically, our perception of their behaviour). Psychologists call this the influence of "social norms", and its potency has been investigated extensively in the context of environmentally friendly behaviours like recycling, and health behaviours, such as binge drinking and frequency of exercise.What if this same psychological lever could be exploited, not to encourage people to take up more physical activity, but to boost their athletic performance? A pair of researchers, Carly Priebe and Kevin Spink, have tested this ide...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 18, 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:One Death Too ManyClinical neuropsychologist Vaughan Bell criticises the sensationalist media coverage of Robin Williams' suicide. Addressing newspaper editors, Bell says: "you ... have a personal and professional responsibility to ensure that you are not putting people at risk by your need to sell copy."The Science Behind Suicide ContagionMargot Sanger-Katz for the NYT summarises the relevant science, but she also wonders if suicide reporting guidelines are out-of-date and unrealistic.Image of the Week: Wiring of the Human BrainFrom Wellco...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 16, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

We're happier when we chat to strangers, but our instinct is to ignore them
It's become a truism that humans are "social animals". And yet, you've probably noticed - people on public transport or in waiting rooms seem to do everything they can not to interact. On the London tube there's an unwritten rule not to even look at one another. This is the paradox explored by Nicholas Epley and Juliana Schroeder in a series of nine new studies involving members of the public on trains, planes, in taxis and a waiting room.The investigation began with rail and bus commuters travelling into Chicago. Dozens of them were recruited into one of three conditions - to engage in conversation with a s...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 15, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Star performers suffer more than most from a loss in status
Tiger Woods experienced a loss of status in 2009.(He didn't win another major until 2012.)Compared with lower-ranked people, those higher up the pecking order find it more difficult to stomach a drop in status, and their performance takes a bigger nosedive as a result. This is the verdict of a new article that presents experimental work, together with a more unusual source of evidence: major league baseball arbitration, in which players and clubs contest the players’ worth.In many ways, individuals with high status are sitting pretty: more likely to receive praise, support, and positive influence from others; more li...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 14, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

The stability of your personality peaks in mid-life (then grows increasingly wobbly again)
This report further highlights the need to test ... the effects of events that might cause the lower stability [of personality] in younger and older adulthood," the researchers said. "In addition our finding of systematically different peaks in stability between different personality dimensions suggest the need to further investigate age-specific changes in environmental and social pressures that are associated with such domain-specific effects."_________________________________ Milojev, P., & Sibley, C. (2014). The stability of adult personality varies across age: Evidence from a two-year longitudinal s...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 13, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Remembering and imagining both engage the same key brain region, but they depend on distinct neural processes
credit: Gray's Anatomy/WikipediaRemembering and imagining appear to be very different functions, one recovering true information from the past, the other considering the unreal or exploring the future. And yet many patients with damage to the hippocampus (a structure in the temporal lobes) - and resultant memory impairment - struggle in imagining the future. Moreover, neuroimaging data show the hippocampus is involved in both tasks. Taken together, this evidence suggests that memory for the past and imagination for the future may depend on shared neural processes.A new imaging study by Brock Kirwan and his colleagues confi...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 12, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Do infant dummies (pacifiers) impede the emotional connection between adult and baby?
Dummies (known as pacifiers in the US) can calm a crying baby in seconds, so their appeal is obvious. However, a new study warns there could be a price to pay. Magdalena Rychlowska and her colleagues claim that because dummies obscure babies' faces, they interfere with the way that adults respond to babies' emotions.The researchers used electrodes to record the facial muscles of 29 women (average age 21; two of them were mothers) while they looked at photographs of two young babies expressing happiness, sadness, anger or a neutral emotion. Sometimes the babies had dummies in their mouths; other times didn't. Also, some of ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 11, 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:Is It Bad To Bottle Up Your Anger?Claudia Hammond examines the myth that suppressing anger is always bad for your health.When It's Bad To Have Good ChoicesDifficult choices cause us anxiety whether they're trivial or heart-wrenching, explains Maria Konnikova.Heal Thyself: A History of Self-HelpRobin Ince presents the first in a three-part Radio 4 Series (you can listen again on iPlayer).Video Games "Beneficial" For ChildrenThe NHS Choices website critiques a recent study that triggered overly simplistic media headlines.Brains At PlayDelight...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 9, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

How do you prove that reading boosts IQ?
A recent study on whether reading boosts intelligence attracted global media attention: "Reading at a young age makes you smarter," announced the Daily Mail. "Early reading boosts health and intelligence," said The Australian.In the race for eye-catching headlines, this mainstream media coverage arguably missed the more fascinating story of the hunt for cause and effect. Here lead author Dr Stuart Ritchie explains the science:"Causality, it turns out, is really difficult to prove. Correlational studies, while interesting, don’t give us information about causation one way or another. The rando...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 8, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

In it together: Couples' life satisfaction takes a bigger hit when one partner loses their job, than when both do
If your partner were to lose their job, you might think keeping your own employment would cushion the psychological blow. In fact new research finds that life satisfaction is higher for couples who share their unemployed predicament, than for couples where only one partner loses their job.Maike Luhmann and her colleagues analysed over ten years of longitudinal data from 3000 co-habiting couples in Germany, where one or both partners had gone through an unemployment. If one partner lost their job, the second partner's life satisfaction typically dipped shortly before the job loss, took a large dive the year it actually occu...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 7, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Welcome to the weird world of weight illusions
Normally bigger objects weigh more; breaking this rule provokes illusory perceptionsVisual illusions are useful to psychologists because, by tricking the brain, they provide clues about how it works. The same is true for weight illusions, it's just that they're far less well known. Now Gavin Buckingham at Heriot-Watt University has published a handy review of weight illusions, and he explores some of the thinking about their likely causes.Among the most studied is known as the "size-weight illusion (SWI)". When a person is presented with two objects - one large, one small - that weigh the same, the smaller object...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 6, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Why was Darth Vader so evil? Blame his lack of parental care, say psychologists
Image: wikipediaWhy was Darth Vader such a bad dude? According to a team of psychologists led by Peter Jonason, it's down to his lack of parental care: the fact he was separated from his mother at age 9, and his father's absence. The researchers believe such circumstances can catalyse the emergence of the Dark Triad of personality traits: Machiavellianism, Narcissism and Psychopathy. These traits are usually seen as negative, but Jonason and his colleagues believe they may be an adaptive response to tough early circumstances that signal to a child "life is bad".To test their theory, Jonason and his colleagues sur...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 5, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

The iPhone Effect - when mobile devices intrude on our face-to-face encounters
You've probably experienced this. You're in the middle of telling your friend a story when his eyes flick across to his phone. Perhaps he even picks it up, checks the screen. "Sorry, go on," he says. But your flow is interrupted. And you know his mind is at least half elsewhere.Shalini Misra and her team approached 100 pairs of people (109 women; average age 33) in cafes across Washington DC and neighbouring districts. They asked them to chat for ten minutes at a table in the cafe about a trivial topic (plastic festive trees) or about the most meaningful events of the past year. For each pair, the researchers obs...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 4, 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:Why Psychologists’ Food Fight MattersMichelle Meyer and Christopher Chabris with an in-depth overview of the recent rows and controversies about replication in psychology.Psychology Comes To Halt As Weary Researchers Say The Mind Cannot Possibly Study ItselfThe Onion imagines a world in which scholars of the mind give up.Neuroscience vs. Philosophy: Explaining the Secrets of the MindVideo of a debate hosted by the Institute of Art and Ideas, featuring cognitive scientist Margaret Boden, neurobiologist Steven Rose, and philosopher Barry Smith.Ne...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 2, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Psychologists investigate a major, ignored reason for our lack of sleep - bedtime procrastination
Short term, lack of sleep scrambles our mental functioning. Long term, the health consequences can be dire. What's stopping us from getting enough?For many, adequate sleep is elusive because of sleep disorders, including varieties of insomnia. For others there are practical challenges - baby care or night shifts, for example. A new study focuses on another major, yet strangely overlooked, reason - bedtime procrastination. You want to go to bed early. You know you need to get to bed. And yet you stay up watching TV, playing video games or working late.Floor Kroese and her colleagues surveyed over two thousand people (age ra...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 1, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

The voices heard by people with schizophrenia are friendlier in India and Africa, than in the US
When a patient with schizophrenia hears voices in their head, is the experience shaped by the culture they live in? Tanya Luhrmann and her colleagues investigated by interviewing twenty people diagnosed with schizophrenia living in San Mateo, California; twenty in Accra, Ghana; and twenty others in Chennai India. There were similarities across cultures, including descriptions of good and bad voices, but also striking differences.In San Mateo the interviewees talked about their condition as a brain disease, they used psychiatric diagnostic terms to describe themselves, and their experiences were almost overwhelmingly negati...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 31, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

When the cuddle hormone turns nasty - oxytocin linked with violent intentions
For many years, the hormone oxytocin was caricatured as the source of all human goodness - trust, altruism, love, and morality. Among the findings that contributed to this picture were the discovery that sniffing oxytocin increases people's trust and generosity in financial games; that it aids face recognition; and that its release is associated with maternal bonding; and with orgasm.However, the picture has grown a lot more complicated of late, with findings showing that oxytocin has a "dark side" - for example, boosting envy and shadenfreude. Now a team of researchers led by Nathan DeWall has fur...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 30, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Remembering together - How long-term couples develop interconnected memory systems
Although it might seem a good idea to work with other people to remember important information, the evidence suggests that this typically isn't so. Individual recall is most efficient whereas social remembering comes with drawbacks, tripping up our flow and inhibiting memories. But this evidence mostly comes from asking people to collaborate with a stranger. What happens when you know each other really, really well?Celia Harris and colleagues at Macquarie University recently reviewed their previously published and new research on social remembering by long-term intimate couples. Their data showed that on standard tasks, su...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 29, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

The mistakes that lead therapists to infer psychotherapy was effective, when it wasn't
How well can psychotherapists and their clients judge from personal experience whether therapy has been effective? Not well at all, according to a paper by Scott Lilienfeld and his colleagues. The fear is that this can lead to the continued practice of ineffective, or even harmful, treatments.The authors point out that, like the rest of us, clinicians are subject to four main biases that skew their ability to infer the effectiveness of their psychotherapeutic treatments. This includes the mistaken belief that we see the world precisely as it is (naive realism), and our tendency to pursue evidence that backs our i...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 28, 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:Getting Over ProcrastinationMaria Konnikova with an overview of some fascinating genetic research.The End of ‘Genius’"[T]he lone genius is a myth that has outlived its usefulness" writes Joshua Shenk.Do You Need a Mental Health First Aider in The Office?Mental health "first aider" Charlotte Walker explains her role.Won’t They Help?Dwyer Gunn for Aeon magazine looks at new programmes that are using psychological insights to combat the Bystander Phenomenon.Dude, Where’s My Frontal Cortex?Robert Sapolsky descr...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 26, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

How our judgments about criminals are swayed by disgust, biological explanations and animalistic descriptions
We expect of our jurors and judges calm, reasoned evaluation of the evidence. Of course we know the reality is rather different - prejudice and emotional reactions will always play their part. Now two new studies add insight into the ways people's legal judgements depart from cool objectivity.Beatrice Capestany and Lasana Harris focused on two main factors - the disgust level of a crime, and whether or not the perpetrators' personality was described in biological terms. Seventeen participants were presented with pairs of crime vignettes, with each crime in a pair matched for severity in terms of US Federal sentencing guide...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 25, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Why job interviewers should focus on the candidates, not selling their organisation
It’s hard to find the best person for the job through an interview. New research uncovers part of the problem: judging a candidate’s calibre becomes trickier when we’re also trying to sell them the benefits of joining the organisation.In an initial study, participants were asked to interview a person (another participant) who was acting as an applicant for a fictional position. Half the interviewers were told their priority was to get a good sense of the applicant, while the rest had to prioritise attracting the candidate to the vacant position. Following the interview, the interviewer participants then h...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 24, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

What the textbooks don't tell you - one of psychology's most famous experiments was seriously flawed
Zimbardo speaking in '09Conducted in 1971, the Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE) has acquired a mythical status and provided the inspiration for at least two feature-length films. You'll recall that several university students allocated to the role of jailor turned brutal and the study had to be aborted prematurely. Philip Zimbardo, the experiment's lead investigator, says the lesson from the research is that in certain situations, good people readily turn bad. "If you put good apples into a bad situation, you’ll get bad apples," he has written.The SPE was criticised back in the 70s, but that criticism has n...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 23, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Study of dynamic facial expressions suggests there are four basic emotions, not six
New research suggests that humans recognise facial emotional expressions in a dynamic way. We search for urgent signals first, before seeking out more nuanced information. The University of Glasgow researchers also argue their data show there are four basic facial expressions of emotion rather than the widely accepted six.Rachael Jack and her colleagues developed computerised 3-D faces that began neutral and relaxed before transforming over one second into a random expression, created through a combination of different facial muscle movements. These standard facial actions were digitised from recordings of real people, the...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 22, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

The psychology of first impressions - digested
Piercings convey low intelligence and greater creativity, according to researchYou’ll have had this experience - you meet a new person and within moments you feel good or bad vibes about them. This is you performing “thin slicing” - deducing information about a person based on “tells”, some more obvious than others.Psychologists have studied this process in detail. For example, they’ve shown that we form a sense of whether a stranger is trustworthy in less than one tenth of a second. With some accuracy, we can also deduce rapidly more specific information such as their intelligence and s...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 22, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

It's time for Western psychology to recognise that many individuals, and even entire cultures, fear happiness
It's become a mantra of the modern Western world that the ultimate aim of life is to achieve happiness. Self-help blog posts on how to be happy are almost guaranteed popularity (the Digest has its own!). Pro-happiness organisations have appeared, such as Action for Happiness, which aims to "create a happier society for everyone." Topping it all, an increasing number of governments, including in the UK, have started measuring national well-being (seen as a proxy for "happiness") - the argument being that this a potentially more important policy outcome than economic prosperity.But hang on a minute, say M...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 21, 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:The Trouble With Brain ScienceThe problem, argues Gary Marcus, is that we've yet to achieve a breakthrough that bridges psychology and neuroscience.Head of White House “Nudge Unit” Maya Shankar Speaks about Newly Formed US Social and Behavioral Sciences TeamNews broke last summer that the US was planning to follow the UK by setting up its own "Nudge Unit". Here the PsychReport brings us fresh details of the recently formed unit, based on recent public engagements by Shankar.Psychological treatments: A call for mental-health scie...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 19, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Students say men are more attractive when they take risks, but only risks relevant to our hunter-gatherer ancestors
A willingness to take risks enhances men's sex appeal. This much we know from past research. What's not clear, is whether this is because of cultural beliefs about traditional gender roles, or if it's an evolutionary hang-over (or perhaps both). John Petraitis and his colleagues have put these two explanations to the test by drawing a distinction between risk-taking behaviours that reflect the challenges faced by our ancestors, and contemporary risks based around modern technology.Over two-hundred undergrads (average age 22; 143 women) studied 101 pairs of behaviours - one high risk, the other lower risk - and in each case...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 18, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

How your mood changes your personality
Participants scored higher on neuroticism & lower on extraversion when they were sadExcept in extreme cases of illness or trauma, we usually expect each other's personalities to remain stable through life. Indeed, central to the definition of personality is that it describes pervasive tendencies in a person's behaviour and ways of relating to the world. However, a new study highlights the reality - your personality is swayed by your current mood, especially when you're feeling down.Jan Querengässer and Sebastian Schindler twice measured the personality of 98 participants (average age 22; 67 per cent female), ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 17, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

What does it feel like to be depressed?
We're used to reading about depression as a checklist of symptoms. These lists have their uses, but arguably they miss the human story of what depression truly feels like. Now the psychologists Jonathan Smith and John Rhodes have published their analysis of the first-hand accounts of seven therapy clients, (three women and four men) about what it's like to be depressed for the first time. The participants had an average age of 44, and all had been referred for therapy in London.The first theme to emerge from the interviews was the feeling of being "depleted" - in one's relationships, bodily, and in respect to the...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 16, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

It's possible to "forget" unwanted habits
New research shows that we can weaken and even undo practised habits by deliberately deciding to forget them.Gesine Dreisbach and Karl-Heinz Bäuml from Regensburg University first instilled new habits in their participants by presenting them with German words and training them over many trials to make the same response to each word - a left-handed key-press for half of them, a right-hand response for the remainder.Later, participants had to categorise the same words by gender, with key-presses again used to make the categorisations. Crucially, half the words called for the same key-presses as had been trained for thos...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 15, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Young men and women have very different attitudes towards touch in cross-sex friendships
Friendships between heterosexual men and women can be tricky to navigate, especially when it comes to tactile contact. Is that touch on the arm a gesture of platonic care and affection? Or an unwanted signal of sexual interest? A new survey by US researchers shows the situation is complicated by the contrasting attitudes of young men and women towards touch in cross-sex friendships.Michael Miller and his team quizzed 276 undergrads at an Eastern US University, including 128 women*. The participants were asked to consider a current or recent cross-sex friendship, and then they answered questions about the intimacy of this f...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 14, 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:Why sports psychologists couldn't save Brazil's World Cup hopesAngela Patmore argues that the Brazilian team were given flawed advice - they were encouraged to relax, rather than trained to increase their mental resilience.Open message to the European Commission concerning the Human Brain ProjectNearly 600 neuroscientists have signed an open letter criticising the European Commission's ambitious €1 Billion Human Brain Project for being too narrow in its focus. The Project (which aims to create a computer simulation of the human brain) has publis...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 12, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Adults, like children, have a tendency to think vision is more informative than it is
Among the cute mistakes that children make, one is to overestimate how much information they can garner through vision. For instance, asked to judge whether they can tell apart two identical-looking, but differently weighted (or different sounding) objects, simply by looking at them, five-year-olds tend to say Yes. Now an intriguing new paper suggests this is an error that we adults fail to completely outgrow.In the second and more persuasive of their experiments, Jessica Wang and her colleagues presented 24 students with a carefully constructed box. The container was built such that a person could only identify the colour...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 11, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

By treating depression, do we also treat suicidality? The answer is far from straightforward
By guest blogger James Coyne.Edgar Allan Poe’s fictional detective C. Auguste Dupin warns against tackling questions that are too complicated to test, but too fascinating to give up. Whether psychotherapy or medication can reduce suicidality is probably such a question. Particularly if we are really interested in whether treatments can reduce attempted suicides, not whether they change patients’ answers in an interview or on a questionnaire.There is no doubt about the clinical and public health significance of the question. After all, psychotherapy and medication are treatments of choice for suicidal patie...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 10, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Self-motivation: How "You can do it!" beats "I can do it!"
We know self-talk can help people's self-control (e.g. "Don't do it!"), and boost their morale (e.g. "Hang in there!") in sporting situations. However, before now, no-one has investigated whether self-talk is more effective depending on whether you refer to yourself in the grammatical first person (i.e. "I can do it!") or the second person (i.e. "You can do it?").Sanda Dolcos and her team first asked 95 psychology undergrads to imagine they were a character in a short story. The character is faced with a choice [strangely, we're not given any detail about these vignettes], ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 9, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

People's happiness at work usually dips mid career - now researchers think they know why
If you're in or not far from your thirties, you're part of the age group that previous research shows is most likely to experience lower workplace wellbeing. A new study suggests the reasons for this midlife dip: a double whammy of more demands on time and less support from co-workers. Dr Hannes Zacher's team surveyed nearly 800 mostly male workers in various roles in the Australian construction industry. Participants reported wellbeing in terms of job satisfaction and emotional exhaustion. Consistent with previous research, wellbeing was correlated with age, with job satisfaction dropping in the late twenties and recoveri...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 8, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Neurosurgeons find small brain region that turns consciousness on and off, like the key in a car's ignition
The 54-year-old epilepsy patient - her name remains concealed to protect her privacy - was lying on the operating table while surgeons explored inside her brain with electrodes. They were looking for the source of her epileptic seizures. Suddenly, after they applied electricity to a small region, buried deep, near the front of the brain, the woman froze and her eyes went blank. She was awake, but entirely unresponsive.The precise area the surgeons had zapped included a sliver of tissue known as the claustrum, which is part of a network that supports awareness. Mohamad Koubeissi and his colleagues state that nobody has ever...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 7, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Male fantasies, triumphalism and peace
As Western policymakers, analysts and journalists continue to ponder Vladimir Putin's aims in invading and occupying the Crimean peninsula, we again take an opportunity to delve into the Research Digest and The Psychologist archives in search of psychological insight.Firstly, we bring you a first look at a guest 'Real world' column, due to be published tomorrow in the April issue of The Psychologist, in which Professor Steve Reicher (University of St Andrews) and Professor Alex Haslam (University of Queensland) look to empirical evidence and the psychological and historical literature in order to expose the ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 25, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

Can psychology help solve the MH370 mystery?
As relatives and friends endure the agonising wait for news of their loved ones, more than a fortnight after the disappearance of Flight MH370, could psychology have anything to offer? Today we turn to the Digest and The Psychologist archive to see whether research can help in understanding what might have happened or finding the missing plane.In last month's cover feature of The Psychologist on aircraft safety, Don Harris explained that as the reliability and structural integrity of aircraft has improved, human error is now the principal threat to flight safety: it is estimated that up to 75 per cent of all aircraft accid...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 24, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

A new morning
So it's the morning after the night before, when I raised a glass to my departing friend and colleague Dr Christian Jarrett. As Editor of the Research Digest and Journalist on The Psychologist, Christian has given more than a decade of exemplary service to the British Psychological Society. Today we pause to pay tribute to him and to look ahead to an exciting new era for the Research Digest.To me, a job well done is about a legacy left. I can pay no greater compliment to Christian than to echo two sentiments I have heard repeatedly since he announced his departure. Firstly, the Research Digest has been a genuine 'game chan...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 20, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Research Digest Source Type: blogs

How thinking in a foreign language makes you more rational in some ways but not others
Back in 2012, US researchers showed that when people used their second, non-native language, they were less prone to a mental bias known as loss aversion. This bias means we're averse to the same outcome when it's framed in a way that highlights what's to be lost, as compared with when it's framed in a way that emphasises what's to be gained. For example, a vaccine is more appealing if it's stated that it will save 200,000 out of 600,000 people, far less unappealing if it's explained the vaccine means 400,000 will die. In a sense then, the US research suggested that using a second language makes our thinking more rational....
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 18, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

The amazing durability of infant memory: Three-year-olds show recognition of a person they met once at age one
The fate of our earliest memories is something of an enigma. As adults, most of us are unable to recall memories from before we were age three or four. And yet, as toddlers we are perfectly capable of storing and recalling memories from before that age. To solve this mystery, we need to understand more about how infant memory works. Now a clever study has provided a test of just how durable infant memories can be. Osman Kingo and his colleagues in Denmark have demonstrated that three-year-olds display recognition of a person they met just once when they were aged one.To maximise the chance of uncovering long-term memory th...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 17, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

The ten most popular Research Digest posts of all time
This week I'm leaving my position as Research Digest editor. Taking one last look back at the archives, these were my ten most popular posts since Google started counting page views in 2007. What made these so popular do you think?1. Jailed criminals think they're kinder and more trustworthy than average (from 2014).2. Why do children hide by covering their eyes? (from 2012).3. Want people to trust you? Try apologising for the rain (from 2013).4. How walking through a doorway increases forgetting? (from 2011).5. Why do humans walk in circles? (from 2012).6. Childhood a...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 17, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

With hand on heart, people are seen as more honest, and they really do behave more honestly
Image: Greg Peverill-Conti / FlickrYou know when you want a friend or partner to tell you, honestly, how you look in a new outfit? A new study offers a way. Daft as it may sound, the findings suggest that if you truly want an honest verdict, it could work to ask your friend to put his hand on his heart before he answers (in British and Polish cultures, at least).In one of several experiments Michal Parzuchowski and Bogdan Wojciszke asked 48 Polish undergrads (eight men) to rate the physical attractiveness of ten women - ostensibly friends of the experimenter. In fact, half these target women had been selected from a G...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 14, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Why are extraverts happier?
Numerous personality studies have found the same pattern time and again – extraverts tend to be happier than introverts. But why? A popular theory holds that extraverts are happier because they find fun activities more enjoyable, as if they have a more responsive “pleasure system” in their brains than introverts.A new investigation puts this idea to the test, and is one of the first to compare introverts’ and extraverts’ momentary happiness in response to different activities in everyday life.Wido Oerlemans and Arnold Bakker recruited 1,364 Dutch participants (average age 45; 86 per cent were ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 13, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Where exactly in your body are YOU?
From Alsmith & Longo 2014Although you probably consider all of your body is yours, if you're like most people, you also have a feeling that your very essence, your self, is more localised. Past research has turned up mixed findings for where exactly this spot is. In some studies people say they are located in their head, near the eyes. Other research has found that people consider the self to be located in the chest. The varied results are probably partly due to the different methods used. Some studies have focused on people's judgments about their own essence; others have involved participants marking the location of ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 12, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Does clown therapy really help anxious kids?
This study has a number of flaws that undermine the conclusions.Because the control group received no intervention at all, we've no way of identifying the active ingredient of the clown intervention. Was it the jokes? The magic? Merely the distraction of meeting strangers? From a more technical perspective, an unfortunate detail was that children in the clown group started off a lot more anxious than children in the control group. Perhaps the clown group children showed a reduction in anxiety, not because of the clowns, but simply because acute anxiety can only be sustained for so long. No joke - we really need more robust...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 10, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs