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

Goodbye, and thanks for the ride!
We had a habit, my wife and I, of walking on Saturday afternoons along the pretty narrowboat canal between Slaithwaite and Marsden, in West Yorkshire. We'd buy The Guardian when we got there, find a cosy cafe, and I'd flick through the jobs section with tea and a scone. Nearing the end of my PhD, I was in a quandary over what I'd do next. I knew I couldn't spend the rest of my life studying eye movements, discovering more and more about less and less.But can you really earn a living out of a fascination with psychology and a love for writing, as I hoped to do? I'd managed to find a few freelance opportunities, but not...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 7, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Three-year-olds show greater suspicion of circular arguments than adults
Children aren't as gullible as you might think. Early in life they display a discernment that psychologists call "epistemic vigilance". They are more likely to trust information from experts compared with novices, from kind people rather than meanies, and from those they are familiar with, as opposed to strangers. Now a study shows that even by age three, children are sceptical about circular arguments; in some cases even more than adults.Hugo Mercier and his team presented 84 children aged 3 to 5 (and a control group of adults) with three illustrated vignettes in which a girl was looking for her dog. For each st...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 6, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

What happens when therapists dream about their clients?
We often dream about what we've been doing and who we've been with, so it should come as little surprise to discover many psychotherapists dream about their clients. In fact a new study reports that nearly 70 per cent of thirteen participating therapists said that they'd had such dreams.Psychologist Clara Hill and her colleagues asked the 13 student psychotherapists to keep dream journals for the duration of the time they worked at a community clinic - either one or two years. The number of dreams recorded in the journals ranged from 6 to 150 per year, and the proportion that were about clients ranged from 0 to 0.19 (avera...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 4, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Introducing the Youth Bias - how we think (almost) everything happens when we're young
The idea that young people might find the world a stranger, more exciting place than older people makes intuitive sense. They've had less time to grow familiar with life. What's irrational is to believe that more significant public events happen when people are young. Of course they're just as likely to happen at any time of life. Nonetheless, a new study suggests that thanks to a phenomenon known as the "Youth Bias" many of us do believe that more major public events happen during a person's youth, than at any other time.Jonathan Koppel and Dorthe Bernsten began by asking 200 US participants recruited online to ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 3, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

The 100 most followed psychologists and neuroscientists on Twitter
Updated for 2014, here are the 100 most followed psychologists and neuroscientists on Twitter based on follower counts recorded over the last few weeks. You can follow all 100 as a Twitter list here (thanks @psychoBoBlogy). If we've missed anyone who should be in the top 100, please let us know via comments and we'll add them in to future iterations of the list. This is an update to our July 2013 post. Check the comments to that earlier post for even more psychologists on Twitter than we were able to include here.Andrew Mendonsa. Clinical psychologist. Followers: 364822Sam Harris. Neuroscientist, author. Fol...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 28, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

If an artist is eccentric we find their work more enjoyable and assume it's more valuable
Pop star Lady Gaga appears at theMTV Awards 2010 in a dressmade from raw meat. Van Gogh sliced off his own ear. Truman Capote insisted he could only think in a prostrate position while sipping coffee and puffing on a cigarette. Michael Jackson hung out with a chimp, and posed for photographers while sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber. Lady Gaga attended an awards ceremony wearing a dress made from meat. There's a stereotype that creative people are eccentric and it's easy to find examples like these to support the point.A new study shows that because of this widely held stereotype, people infer that work made by an ecce...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 27, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

The Special Issue Spotter
We trawl the world's journals so you don't have to:Special Section on Behavioural Priming and its Replication (Perspectives on Psychological Science).Perceptual Narrowing (Developmental Psychobiology).Adaptive Memory: The Emergence and Nature of Proximate Mechanisms (Memory).Treatment Variations and Complexities in Youth OCD (Clinical Case Studies).Therapists' Reactions to Attraction, Sex, and Love in Psychotherapy (Journal of Clinical Psychology).Focus on Pain (Nature Neuroscience).Neurobiology of Pain (European Journal of Neuroscience).The Global Context and People at Work (Personnel Psychology).Fathers in Fami...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 26, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

No need to look at the score - athletes' body language gives away who's winning and losing
In a bruising encounter with an aggressor, signalling "I give up!" via your submissive body language can be a life saver. At least that's the case for our primate cousins, and likely too for our human ancestors. For a new study Philip Furley and Geoffrey Schweizer have explored the possibility that this behaviour persists in modern day sporting encounters. Intriguingly, while a loser's automatic submissive signals may be advantageous in real-life violent contexts, in modern sport they likely backfire.The researchers showed adult and child participants dozens of silent, three-second clips of winning and losing ath...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 25, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Psychologists use baby-cam to study infants' exposure to faces
This study is the first to document the quantity and quality of infants' natural daily face exposure from the infants perspective," the researchers said, "and offers strong support for the idea that experience drives the development of the face processing system."_________________________________ Sugden NA, Mohamed-Ali MI, and Moulson MC (2014). I spy with my little eye: Typical, daily exposure to faces documented from a first-person infant perspective. Developmental psychobiology, 56 (2), 249-61 PMID: 24285109 Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest. (Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST)
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 24, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

For many, the dark thoughts of depression are accompanied by perceptual sensations
The assessment and treatment of depression usually deals with negative verbal thoughts as if they are distinct from negative mental imagery and perceptual sensations. A new study led by Steffen Moritz at the University of Hamburg suggests this is a mistake - many people with depression report that their negative thoughts have a sensory quality. What's more, experiencing depressive thoughts with perceptual sensations tends to go hand in hand with more serious depressive illness.Recruited via hospitals, insurance companies and online forums, 356 people with mild to moderate depression were surveyed online (people meeting dia...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 20, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Extras
Eye-catching studies that didn't make the final cut:Cognitive therapy for people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders not taking antipsychotic drugs: a single-blind randomised controlled trial [expert reactions here].Towards a Taxonomy of Common Factors in Psychotherapy—Results of an Expert Survey.Why does asking questions change health behaviours?Height, social comparison, and paranoia: An immersive virtual reality experimental study"Christians Are Happier, More Socially Connected, and Less Analytical Than Atheists on Twitter"Overhead mobile phone calls are not always annoying.Scent-evoked nostalgia....
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 19, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Student narcissists prefer Twitter; more mature narcissists favour Facebook
Media headlines frequently link young people's widespread use of Facebook with the narcissism of their generation (e.g. "Facebook's 'dark side': study finds link to socially aggressive narcissism). A new investigation involving hundreds of US college students and hundreds of members of the US public has found that it's actually the older generation for whom this claim is more accurate. However, use of Twitter tells another story.First to challenge those Facebook headlines. Shaun Davenport and his colleagues found that students (average age 20) who scored higher on narcissism (measured by the Narcissistic Personality I...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 18, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

How children's understanding of gravity changes as they grow older
What happens if you drop a ball in a falling elevator and why? Your answer will of course depend on the sophistication of your understanding of the laws of physics. Psychologists in France and the Netherlands have used similar questions to test the understanding of 144 children and teenagers aged 5 to 18 years. The results show how children's naive understanding of gravity matures through different stages as a result of their first-hand experience and exposure to formal teaching and cultural explanations.Soren Frappart and her colleagues tested the children's understanding in six contexts using cartoons, pictures and model...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 17, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Very old and very cool - recognising a distinct mental strength of the elderly
A pair of researchers in Switzerland say there is an attitude common among the very old that is best described as "senior coolness". Based on detailed analysis of in-depth interviews in German with 15 people aged 77 to 101 (average age 86; 12 women), and also reflected in interviews with a further 60 older people, Harm-Peer Zimmermann and Heinrich Grebe describe a commonly held attitude of "comprehensive composure, indeed nonchalance and indifference, towards old age".They argue that this runs counter to the narrative of very old age frequently depicted in the media, which tends to focus either on deter...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 13, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Open a door for a man and you diminish his self-esteem and self-belief
How does a man feel if another man opens a door for him? The researchers Megan McCarty and Janice Kelly conducted a field study to find out.Male research assistants waited near two university building entrances and looked out for men and women approaching. On some trials the research assistant went through a door adjacent to the arriving person (so that the person had to open the door for themselves). On other trials, the research assistant leaped into action, held open the door for the approaching person, then stepped aside for them to enter first. Once inside, the targeted men and women were approached by a female assist...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 11, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Jailed criminals think they are kinder, more trustworthy and honest than the average member of the public
Many studies have shown that people tend to exaggerate their own positive characteristics and abilities. A popular example is the finding that most drivers think they are a better-than-average driver. This suggests there are many sub-standard drivers cruising our roads in the belief they are unusually gifted at the wheel. Similar findings apply for literally hundreds of traits, all of which supports the idea of a widespread, self-serving "better-than-average effect".However, sceptics have pointed out that perhaps most people really are better than average on many traits. In relation to driving, for example, perha...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 10, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

How being happy changes your personality
Outgoing, conscientious, friendly people who are open to new experiences tend to be happier than those who are more shy, unadventurous, neurotic and unfriendly. It's easy to imagine why this might be so. Barely studied before now, however, is the possibility that being happy could also alter your future personality.Christopher Soto has conducted the first thorough study of this question. He analysed personality and well-being results for 16,367 Australians surveyed repeatedly between 2005 and 2009. He was curious to see if personality measures at the study start were associated with particular patterns of well-being later ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 6, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Just because you're tone deaf doesn't mean you aren't musical
Psychologists estimate that around 4 per cent of the population have a specific impairment affecting their processing of pitch. Tone deafness, or "amusia" to use its technical name, runs in families and it often goes hand in hand with an inability to sing and to recognise and enjoy melodies. No wonder that people with amusia are usually thought of as not being musical.However, in a new paper Jessica Phillips-Silver and her colleagues argue that the musical deficits associated with amusia may have been exaggerated. They've specifically explored the possibility that amusics have intact beat perception and dancing a...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 4, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

You still can't tickle yourself, even if you swap bodies with another person
From Van Doorn et al, 2014.You wouldn't believe the amount of ink spilled by neuroscientists and psychologists attempting to explain the simple fact that we can't tickle ourselves. A popular, long-standing theory posits that the self-tickle failure occurs because of the way that the brain cancels out sensations caused by its own movements. To do this, so the theory states, the brain uses the motor command underlying a given action to make a prediction of the likely sensory consequences of that action. When incoming sensory information matches the prediction, it's recognised as self-generated and cancelled.If this explanati...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 3, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

"Placebo sleep" can boost your mental performance
Believing that you've had a good night's sleep can influence your mental performance, regardless of how much sleep you actually had. That's according to a new paper, by Christina Draganich and Kristi Erdal, who tricked students into thinking there's a medical technique that can establish objectively how well you slept the previous night.Fifty students first said how well they'd slept. Next, they were wired up to measures of their brain waves, pulse and heart-rate, and half of them were told the fiction that in fact they'd had just 16.2 per cent REM sleep the previous night (below average sleep quality); the other half were...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 30, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

The Special Issue Spotter
We trawl the world's psychology journals so you don't have to:Positive Psychology in Search for Meaning (The Journal of Positive Psychology).Maternal Sensitivity: Observational Studies Honoring Mary Ainsworth’s 100th Year (Attachment and Human Development).Personality Psychology and Psychotherapy (Journal of Personality).Celebrating 20 Years of Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (Neuroimage).Measuring Psychological Health in the Perinatal Period (Journal of Infant and Reproductive Psychology).Traumatic Brain Injury (Behavioural Sciences and the Law).The Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility: Clinical, Crimin...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 29, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Girls underperform when they play chess against boys - real-life evidence of stereotype threat?
Judit Polgár, chess grandmasterAn analysis of girls' performances in 12 US school chess tournaments has found they tend to underperform when playing against boys. The researchers Hank Rothgerber and Katie Wolsiefer believe this is the first real-life demonstration in children of a phenomenon known as "stereotype threat". This is when a person fears their performance will be used to bolster stereotypes about their social group. This fear then undermines their performance.Most examples of stereotype threat have been demonstrated in social psychology labs. This has led to concerns that the phenomenon may not ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 28, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Why do people think suicide is morally wrong?
Public surveys show many people view suicide as morally wrong. When you ask them why, they usually refer to the harm caused to the deceased's family and friends, and to the victim themselves. However, a fascinating new study uncovers evidence suggesting that a more important reason people feel suicide is morally wrong is because they see it as tainting the victim's soul. This is the case even for liberal non-religious people. The finding is another example of how our implicit moral judgments are often at odds with our conscious, explicitly stated moral reasoning.Joshua Rottman and his colleagues presented 174 US participan...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 27, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Be careful while you sleep - dreams of jealousy and infidelity spell relationship trouble the next day
Have you ever dreamt of arguing with your partner, or dreamt they were unfaithful, and then - irrational as it may be - found yourself in a bad mood with them the next day? This will be a familiar scenario to many, and yet such apparent effects of dream content on our real-life relationships have only now been studied for the first time.Dylan Selterman and his colleagues asked 61 undergrads (aged 17-42; 47 women) to keep detailed, morning dream diaries for two weeks. Each evening the participants also kept records of what they'd been up to in the day, including their relations with their partner. Having a partner of at lea...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 23, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Extras
10 eye-catching studies that didn't make the final cut:We perceive people we trust as more physically similar to ourselves"Cougars on the prowl? New perceptions of older women's sexuality"Using magic tricks to explore the psychology of insight."Skin tone memory bias" … Educated black men are remembered as whiter than they really areComedians score unusually high on four psychotic traits.Mind wandering becomes less frequent with aging, but more pervasive and detrimental to performanceNo difference in personality between Mac users and PC users.  The former just dress better (joke!)How much ins...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 22, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Locating the "sweet spot" when jokes about tragedy are seen as funny
Damage wreaked by Hurricane Sandy at Bay Head, New Jersey. Image: Skrum / Getty Images. As a tragedy unfolds, only the callous or gauche would joke about it. Yet with time, topics previously off limits come to be seen as fair game for humour. In fact, joke-making about loss and tragedy can be seen as a way to cope, or at least a reflection of coping. For a new study, Peter McGraw and his colleagues have charted people's responses over time to jokes about a real tragedy - Hurricane Sandy, which struck the USA in 2012. The researchers were able to plot the way that the jokes were seen as funny prior to landfall, th...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 21, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Elderly twins reflect on a lifetime of striving to be an individual
Twin sisters posing at the annual double take parade in 2007, in Twinsburg, Ohio - the largest annual gathering of twins in the world. (Photo by Rick Gershon/Getty Images).Twins fascinate. Early in life they're often dressed alike, given complementary names, and bought shared gifts. Identical twins in particular intrigue us, and tales abound of their linked fates and close bonds. But a new study of 20 older twins in Sweden offers a different perspective. Interviewed individually about their lives, these twins reflected on a life spent trying to carve out a unique identity. "We were expected to always be together,"...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 20, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Just fifteen minutes of mindfulness meditation can improve your decision making
Do you have an expensive but uncomfortable pair of shoes or jeans at the back of your cupboard that you never ever wear, but you simply cannot throw away because to do so would be to admit defeat and recognise that you wasted a lot of money? If so, you are suffering from the sunk-cost bias or fallacy.Help is at hand in the form of a new study by researchers at INSEAD in Singapore and The Wharton School at the The University of Pennsylvania. Andrew Hafenbrack and his colleagues claim that just fifteen minutes practice at mindfulness meditation reduces people's vulnerability to the sunk-cost bias - our usual tendency to pers...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 16, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Systematic evidence of fake crying by a baby
Image: Tucia / FlickrCrying is an important survival behaviour for babies - the world is informed that they are in distress and need prompt attention. Many parents also describe what looks like fake crying by their infants. It seems as though the child is pretending to be in distress merely as a way to get attention. Some people doubt that babies can really be capable of such deception, but now Hiroko Nakayama in Japan has published the results from six months' intensive study of crying by two babies, and she reports persuasive evidence of fake crying by one of them.Nakayama filmed the babies in their homes ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 15, 2014 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Your at-a-glance guide to psychology in 2013 - Part 2
Part 1 Jan to June is here. JULY UCL cognitive neuroscientist Sophie Scott was among the scholars unhappy about the call for the introduction of pre-registered reports in psychology (see June). Walter Boot and colleagues published an important paper highlighting how many control conditions in psychology are inadequate. Another paper claimed that the real-world impact of psychological and social interventions is being squandered by poor practices in the reporting of randomised trials. Doubts were raised about Milgram's classic studies into obedience. Matt Wall debunked neuromarketing. Bethany Brookshire worried th...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 23, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Your at-a-glance guide to psychology in 2013 - Part 1
JAN The year began with fall-out from the final report into the fraud of social psychologist Diederik Stapel. The scale was shocking - 55 journal papers published over 15 years are tainted. The Levelt investigating committee pointed the finger at the research culture in social psychology, but the British Psychological Society's own Social Psychology Section rejected this. So too did the European Association of Social Psychology, who argued that the discipline has actually suffered fewer frauds than other branches of science. In other news, a team of researchers in Canada attracted criticism when they spun their research to...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 18, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

What are teens hoping to feel when they self-harm?
This study has made an important contribution to an under-researched aspect of self-harm, although it leaves many questions unanswered. For instance, one explanation for the more frequent self-harming observed among those who say they self-harm because they want to experience pain, is that the act triggers pain-relief mechanisms in the brain - a form of euphoria. And yet, self-harming was less frequent among those who said they self-harmed for satisfaction. This potential contradiction could be due to vagueness in the meanings of the words used - is the pursuit of euphoria (via pain) different from the pursuit of satisfact...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 17, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Our 10 most popular posts of 2013
1. Want people to trust you? Try apologising for the rain."Superfluous apologies represent a powerful and easy-to-use tool for social influence," the researchers said. "Even in the absence of culpability, individuals can increase trust and liking by saying 'I'm sorry' - even if they are merely 'sorry' about the rain."2. The 100+ most followed psychologists and neuroscientists on Twitter.When we updated the list in July, the top five were: Andrew Mendonsa (clinical psychologist), Kiki Sanford (neurophysiologist turned science communicator), Sam Harris (neuroscientist and author), Richard Wisema...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 16, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

It's easier than you think to get people to commit bad deeds
When asking someone to do something unethical, we underestimate what a difficult position we've put them in. New research suggests that to avoid social discomfort, many people will agree to perform a bad deed rather than say no.Vanessa Bohns and her colleagues first asked 52 student participants (31 women) to estimate how many people they'd have to approach on campus in order to get three people to tell a white lie. The lie was to sign a form saying the participant had given them a verbal introduction to a new university course, when really he/she had done no such thing. After making the estimate, the participants went out...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 12, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Does picturing yourself eating fruit increase your fruit intake?
Health experts say we aren't eating enough fruit. Perhaps psychology can help. Try this. Picture yourself eating a portion of fruit tomorrow - an apple, say, or a couple of plums. Take your time. Focus on the colours, the consistency, the flavour. Visualise where you are at the time, and what you are doing.Do you think this simple imagery task will have increased the likelihood you will eat fruit tomorrow? A new study led by Catherine Adams attempted to find out. Over two hundred volunteers were split into three groups. One performed the fruit imagery task, another group did the same thing but for a biscuit bar of their ch...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 11, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

What's the difference between a happy life and a meaningful one?
Odette Krempin’s Charity Works – Photo Courtesy: Jose_ugsFor some it's lying on a sun-drenched beach sipping sangria, for others it's wallowing in a cosy cocoon munching on chocolate and playing video games. Many people will admit that these or other immediate indulgences are what makes them happy. And yet, even given the freedom and resources to live a life of hedonism, many of us find it's not enough - we want to have meaning in our lives too.Unfortunately, what we mean by "meaning" has largely been neglected by psychologists. But now Roy Baumeister and his colleagues have conducted an in-depth onli...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 10, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

The best psychology books of 2013
It's the season for Christmas book lists and we've trawled through them, looking for the psychology-themed tomes earning a recommendation. Here are ten suggestions, in no particular order: 1. The best non-fiction book of the year as voted by readers at GoodReads was The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum by Temple Grandin and Richard Panek. "Temple Grandin reports from the forefront of autism science, bringing her singular perspective to a thrilling journey into the heart of the autism revolution."2. On Slate's list of the 10 most crucial books of 2013 was Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 10, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Women take bigger financial risks after touching men's underwear
After looking at sexually arousing images, men, but not women, become more impatient for financial rewards and more willing to take financial risks. Now a study has shown that women too show these changes to their decision making if they touch "sexually laden stimuli" - in this case men's boxer shorts! Across three studies, Anouk Festjens and her colleagues led over a hundred female undergrads to believe they were taking part in customer research for a clothing manufacturer. The women handled a pair of men's boxer shorts or a t-shirt and rated it on various factors such as the quality of the fabrics. After touchi...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 6, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

After touching men's underwear, women take bigger financial risks and seek more rewards
After looking at sexually arousing images, men, but not women, become more impatient for financial rewards and more willing to take financial risks. Now a study has shown that women too show these changes to their decision making if they touch "sexually laden stimuli" - in this case men's boxer shorts! Across three studies, Anouk Festjens and her colleagues led over a hundred female undergrads to believe they were taking part in customer research for a clothing manufacturer. The women handled a pair of men's boxer shorts or a t-shirt and rated it on various factors such as the quality of the fabrics. After touchi...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 6, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

The science of how we talk to ourselves in our heads
Studying the ways people talk to themselves in their own minds is incredibly tricky because as soon as you ask them about it, you're likely interfering with the process you want to investigate. As William James said, some forms of introspective analysis are like "… trying to turn up the gas quickly enough to see how the darkness looks."For many years Russell Hurlbert and his colleagues have used a technique that they believe offers the best way to study what they call "pristine" inner speaking, unaltered by outside interference. They provide participants with a beeper that goes off randomly sever...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 5, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs