How young boys build imaginary worlds together
I remember, aged five or so, a friend and I were the cool police motorcyclists from the TV show CHiPs. Our props were limited to the usual paraphernalia of a suburban home and yet somehow both of us knew when the other person was on foot or on his Kawasaki motorbike, which routes through the house were motorways, where the baddies were located, and most important, we both understood the plot of our game.For a new study, a team of psychologists in Australia has taken an interest in the conversation that allows this kind of coordinated imaginary game-play between childhood friends. Frances Hoyte and her colleagues video...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 2, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

How five-year-old boys build imaginary worlds together
I remember, aged five or so, a friend and I were the cool police motorcyclists from the TV show CHiPs. Our props were limited to the usual paraphernalia of a suburban home and yet somehow both of us knew when the other person was on foot or on his Kawasaki motorbike, which routes through the house were motorways, where the baddies were located, and most important, we both understood the plot of our game.For a new study, a team of psychologists in Australia has taken an interest in the conversation that allows this kind of coordinated imaginary game-play between childhood friends. Frances Hoyte and her colleagues video...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 2, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Link feast
Our pick of the 10 best psychology and neuroscience links from the past week or so:Why the world’s most talented dreamers may hold the secret to a new state of consciousness. Dorian Rolston for Matter on the fascinating and controversial story of research into lucid dreaming.How can we better design cities to make us healthier and happier? Charles Montgomery, author of the brilliant new book Happy City, was on BBC Radio 3's Night waves programme (5 days left to listen)Adam Alter on the psychology of patience and scarcity - or why Black Friday is so popular.Power naps and elephant brains - it's the latest episode...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 29, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

People with exceptional autographical memory are still prone to false memories
It's only in the last few years that researchers have documented the existence of a select group of individuals who have memories like a diary. Give them a random date from the past and they can tell you what they were doing that day, they can name public events happening around the time, and they can say what day of the week it was. Indeed, their memory for a day a decade ago is typically better than yours or mine for a day last month. Does this mean that their memories are less prone to distortion than ours? Not according to a new study.Lawrence Patihis and his colleagues, including the doyenne of false memory research E...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 28, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Do children learn more from self-explanation than extra practice?
Explaining a rule or concept to yourself forces you to think deeply about it. Plenty of studies have shown this has benefits, both in terms of improving the understanding of relevant concepts and aiding the skill or process in question. Unfortunately, as Katherine McEldoon and her colleagues argue in their new paper, most of these studies are flawed because they failed to control for the extra time spent on self-explanation. So a typical study has compared, say, 30 minutes practice against 30 minutes practice plus time spent on self-explanation. This means any apparent benefit of self-explanation could just be due to extra...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 26, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Haste makes waste, but not if you're neurotic
The faster people do things, the more mistakes they make. Also known as the speed-accuracy trade-off, this rule is considered by many fundamental to human behaviour. Not so, according to sports psychologist James Bell and his colleagues. They've authored a new paper that suggests people who score higher on the personality trait of neuroticism make more accurate judgments the faster they respond.One hundred and ninety-six teenage male cricketers, all members of regional academies, took part in the study. They watched six clips of footage recorded from behind bowlers during the Twenty20 World Cup in England in 2009. Just as ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 25, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Link feast
Our pick of the ten best psychology and neuroscience links from the last week or so: Forget Peppa Pig and Doctor Who, there's a new neuroscience journal for kids! What impact has psychology research had over the last 25 years? Claudia Hammond looks back in the second of three anniversary editions of BBC Radio 4's All in the Mind. Should all schools have their own psychotherapist? One of the most entertaining, talented writers on psychology today, Jesse Bering recalls his trip to Charlottesville, Virginia to "meet" Professor Stevenson, a parapsychologist who died six years ago (see also). From the Guardi...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 22, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

There are 636,120 ways to have post traumatic stress disorder
The latest version of the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) controversial diagnostic code - "the DSM-5" - continues the check-list approach used in previous editions. To receive a specific diagnosis, a patient must exhibit a minimum number of symptoms in different categories. One problem - this implies someone either has a mental illness or they don't. To avoid missing people who ought to be diagnosed, over time the criteria for many conditions have expanded, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the case of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Indeed, in their new analysis of the latest expanded di...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 20, 2013 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. Here are the latest journal special issues in psychology:New angles on the brain (Nature).Terrorism Psychology: Theory & Application (Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology).Gene-environment interplay in child psychology and psychiatry: challenges and ways forward (Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry). Open access.Memory and The Law: Case Studies (Memory).The influence of the latest technology on psychotherapy (Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy).Exploring the canine mind: Studies of dog cognition (Learning and Motivation).Peace psychology (American Psych...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 20, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Where is language located in the brain? There are two sides to this story
Simple facts about the brain are rare, but one of them is that for most people language function is located mainly in their left brain hemisphere. The stats vary according to the measures used, but this is the situation for around 95 per cent of right-handers and approximately 75 per cent of left-handers. When it comes to the brain though, few things are straight-forward.If we dig deeper, as Byron Bernal and Alfredo Ardila have done for a new review paper, we find a more complex, two-sided story. The extent to which language is dominated by the left hemisphere is not fixed. It increases through childhood and adolescence, a...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 19, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Not so easy to spot: A failure to replicate the Macbeth Effect across three continents
This study, due for publication next year, comes at time when reformers in psychology are calling for more value to be placed on replication attempts and negative results. "By resisting the temptation … to bury our own non-significant findings with respect to the Macbeth Effect, we hope to have contributed a small part to the ongoing scientific process," Earp and his colleagues concluded._________________________________ Brian D. Earp, Jim A. C. Everett, Elizabeth N. Madva, and J. Kiley Hamlin (2014). Out, damned spot: Can the "Macbeth Effect" be replicated? Basic and Applied Social Psychology, I...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 18, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Low self-esteem and scared of death? Try hugging a teddy
Teddy bears and cuddly "haptic" jackets could be the solution to existential angst for people with low self-esteem. That's according to a team of psychologists based in Amsterdam who say that people with low self-belief are unable to use meaning in their lives to protect against fear of death, as other more confident individuals do. But on the plus side, the psychologists say that touch can provide the less confident with visceral comfort."Although the thought of the body's mortality fuels people's existential concerns," Sander Koole and his colleagues write, "the body itself may help people come t...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 14, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

They need to "Man up!" - what students who drink think of those who don't
There's a scene in the 2013 comedy film The World's End in which a group of middle-aged old school friends are on a nostalgic pub crawl, yet one of them, Andy Knightly, insists on abstaining from alcohol. "I haven't had a drink for sixteen years Gary," he tells the ring-leader and lush Gary King. "You must be thirsty then," Gary retorts. This social dynamic - the reluctant non-drinker coerced to join in with the drinking majority - will be familiar to many readers. And given the health risks of excess alcohol consumption, it's also a scenario that's caught the attention of health psychologists. How are...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 12, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

A recipe for (attempting to) replicate existing findings in psychology
Regular readers of this blog will know that social psychology has gone through a traumatic time of late. Some of its most high profile proponents have been found guilty of research fraud. And some of the field's landmark findings have turned out to be less robust than hoped. This has led to soul searching and one proposal for strengthening the discipline is to encourage more replication attempts of existing research findings. To this end, some journals have introduced dedicated replication article formats and pressure is building on others to follow suit. As the momentum for reform builds, an international team of psychol...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 11, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Link feast
Our 10 favourite psychology and neuroscience links from the last week or so: A neuroscientist shares his experience of being diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease: "I am still at the beginning of my fascinating, frightening and ultimately life-affirming journey as a brain scientist with a disabling disease of the brain." How stressed are you? Take the BBC's Stress Test compiled by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. The latest research on the teenage brain - watch Sarah-Jayne Blakemore's Rosalind Franklin lecture at the Royal Society last week. Neuroscientists are scrambling to work o...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 8, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Effects of a violent video game depend on whether you're Superman or the Joker
After Aaron Alexis shot dead 12 people at the Navy Yard in Washington DC in September, media outlets were quick to highlight his reported enjoyment of violent video games. To many, this was just the latest example of how violent games can foster real-life aggression. There is research supporting such a link, although experts are far from reaching a consensus view on the matter. Take, for example, the letter written in September by a group of 230 scholars, calling for the American Psychological Association to adopt a more nuanced position on the nature of the evidence. A refrain from many sceptical researchers in this fiel...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 7, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Physical effort fuels a feeling of ownership over our movements
When you move your body, how do you know that it was "you" who chose to move it? One answer comes from a computational perspective. Your brain builds expectations (known as a "forward model") about the outcomes of your planned movements, and when sensory information matches these predictions, this suggests your movement was internally generated. But that still leaves the mystery of how you acquire a feeling of subjective ownership. How do you know you willed the movement to happen? A theory with roots in early nineteenth-century philosophy states that the subjective feeling of effort is crucial to this...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 5, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Are you more likely to click headlines that are phrased as a question?
In the competition for readers' mouse clicks, a favoured trick is to phrase headlines as questions. This isn't an Internet innovation. As a way to grab attention, question headlines have been recommended by editors and marketeers for decades. But what is new, is the easy ability today to measure how often readers choose to click a headline. For a new paper, researchers in Norway have used Twitter to find out if question headlines really do entice more clicks. Linda Lai and Audun Farbrot used a real science communication Twitter feed that had 6,350 followers at the time of the study. Real stories were tweeted to these foll...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 4, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

The cheater's high - how being bad feels good
Why do rich celebrities steal groceries? Why do students risk their academic careers by cheating for just a few extra marks? A team of researchers may have the answer: because it feels good. Across several studies, Nicole Ruedy and her colleagues found that people expect that behaving unethically will make them feel bad, and yet when they take the chance to break the rules, it actually gives them a buzz - an effect the researchers dub "the cheater's high". In one study, 179 students at a US university had the chance to earn cash rewards for solving anagrams. Forty-one per cent of them cheated by adding in soluti...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 31, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

30 terrifying psychology links for Halloween!
What do young children know about managing fear? Irrational human decision making during a zombie apocalypse. Extreme fear experienced without the amygdala. How to make a zombie brain (See also this related video). The smell of fear is more powerful than previously realised. Zombie faces: Why are we afraid of them? (BBC article) The Lure of Horror - feature article on the psychology of horror fiction (see also). How to make a Halloween brain cake (ht @mocost). From BBC Radio 4 (now on iPlayer) - The Sound of Fear. Would it be morally ambiguous to kill a zombie? Things that go bump in the night: exp...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 31, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Extras
10 eye-catching studies that didn't make the final cut: Competitors in the Ultimate Fighting Championship who wear red trunks are no more likely to win than those wearing other-coloured trunks - contradicts past research suggesting a winning "red effect". (background story) It Pays to Be Herr Kaiser: Germans With Noble-Sounding Surnames More Often Work as Managers Than as Employees Fooled by the brain: Re-examining the influence of neuroimages (background story) Detecting awareness after brain injury - new review paper (pdf) People who defy stereotypes are liked more when described with adjectives (e.g. &quo...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 30, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

A study of suicide notes left by children and young teens
In 2010 more people died by suicide than were killed in war, by murder, or in natural disasters. In Norway, the location of a heart-rending new study of suicide notes left by children and young teens, suicide is the second leading cause of death for this age group. We need urgently to do more to understand why so many young people are taking their own lives. The researchers Anne Freuchen and Berit Grøholt predicted that, given their immaturity, the young authors of suicide notes would show signs of confusion. Also, because diagnoses of mental illness are lower in children and young teens, the researchers predi...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 29, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

When orgasm triggers a light show - The first ever study of synaesthetic sex
For people with synaesthesia, stimulation of one sense - or in some cases just thinking of a particular concept - triggers another kind of sensory experience. The most common form of the condition is for letters to trigger colour perceptions, but there are some truly strange variants, such as people for whom various swimming strokes trigger colours, and others who experience emotional sensations at the touch of different fabrics. Although there are first-hand accounts in sex research that sound a lot like synaesthesia (e.g. a woman interviewed for a 1970 paper said that orgasm was accompanied by "fuzzy blackness with...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 28, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Link Feast
Our 10 favourite psychology and neuroscience links from the last week or so: People's drawings of their own brains. Last week's issue of Narratively was a psychology special, including a comic look at a week on a psych ward and how an amateur exposed flaws in a major positive psychology theory. The Why Factor on BBC World Service looked at the history and psychology of swearing (more from The Psychologist magazine). Kerri Smith wrote an excellent and measured article for Nature on scientists' attempts to decode the content of people's thoughts using brain scans. Your body language doesn't only reflect your mood, it ca...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 25, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Worry and self-blame as the "final common pathway" towards poor mental health
Ill-judged commentary on poor mental health often makes it sound like biological causes are somehow more fundamental and important than social or psychological factors. This is the allure of reductionism. In fact all levels of explanation need to be considered, and it may be that psychological factors are the most amenable to intervention. A new study led by chartered clinical psychologist Peter Kinderman at the University of Liverpool supports this perspective. Working with the BBC, he and his colleagues conducted an online survey of over 32,000 people (aged 18 to 85), collecting data on their mental health (in terms of ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 24, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Thor doesn't nail it in 3D
The second Thor movie opens in the UK later this week. Is it worth paying the extra to see Thor's hammer in three dimensions? A soon-to-be published psychology study suggests probably not. Brendan Rooney and Eilis Hennessy surveyed 225 cinema-goers in 2011 after they'd just watched the first Thor film either in 2D or 3D. Remarkably this is the first time that psychologists have compared people's psychological reactions to the two film modes in the real world (previous research has all been lab based). Those people who saw Thor in 3D found it more perceptually realistic and said they felt more focused on the film, and yet...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 23, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Police and safety professionals fall for myths about people's behaviour in emergencies
Myths abound regarding the behaviour of crowds in emergencies. This includes the idea that crowds typically descend into a state of mass panic; that disaster brings out the worst in people as many seize the moment to engage in criminal behaviour; and that most survivors are stunned by catastrophe into a catatonic state of helplessness. Rather worryingly a new paper suggests that many British professionals involved in disaster planning and response endorse some of these myths, with implications for the kind of disaster procedures that they endorse. John Drury and his colleagues surveyed 115 police personnel from 7 services...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 22, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

What can employers learn from a job candidate's Facebook postings?
Organisations know that job candidates are presenting an idealised version of themselves in their CV and at interview. According to reports, many recruiters are therefore taking to social media to find an uncensored version of their applicants. Is this fair and what can they learn? A new study, led by William Stoughton and his colleagues at North Carolina State University, suggests that employers should beware jumping to conclusions based on what they find about applicants on Facebook. Stoughton's team invited hundreds of undergrads to apply for a real temporary research assistant position. Of those who were also on ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 21, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Young children with autism are more trusting than other children
Young children with autism have difficultly deliberately deceiving other people, now a new study has shown that they are also more trusting than their neurotypical peers. These two characteristics may be related to the same underlying cause - namely, difficulty representing the mental states of others (known as "Theory of Mind"), although more research is needed to demonstrate this. Li Yi and her colleagues tested 22 children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD; average age 7), 27 neurotypical age-matched controls, and 26 IQ-matched neurotypical controls (average age 6). The children chose which of three boxes ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 17, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

What makes an internet video go viral?
Can psychology explain viral videos? Some internet clips like President Obama's "Yes We Can" campaign video go "viral". Audiences reach into the millions thanks to so many people choosing to forward the link to friends. According to a new study, the likelihood of someone choosing to forward a video depends on the emotion provoked by that clip.  Based on their findings Rosanna Guadagno and her colleagues describe what they call an "arousal hierarchy" - videos eliciting positive emotion, including joy and humour, are most likely to be forwarded; videos eliciting feelings of alertness and ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 16, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Why it's apt - psycho-acoustically speaking - that Darth Vader wasn't called Barth Vaber
The relationship between the meaning of a word and the letter strings of which it is comprised is usually thought to be arbitrary. That is, the meaning of a word is dictated by convention and the emotional tone of the speaker. Strip these away and the sounds of the letter groupings themselves - known as phonemes - are generally considered meaningless. At least that's been a popular view for some time. But now a study has been published that challenges this account. Blake Myers-Schulz and his colleagues show that the shift in sound from some phonemes to others carries emotional meaning of its own, quite independent from wo...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 16, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Comparing children's sharing tendencies across diverse human societies
Up until about the age of seven, children across the world show similar levels of sharing behaviour as revealed by their choices in a simple economic game. The finding comes courtesy of Bailey House and his colleagues who tested 326 children aged three to fourteen from six different cultural groups: urban Americans from Los Angeles; horticultural Shuar from Ecuador; horticultural and marine foraging Fijians from Yasawa Island; hunter-gathering Akas from the Central African Republic; pastoral, horticultural Himbas from Namibia; and hunter-gatherer Martus from Australia. In one game, the children had to choose whether ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 15, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Super Week round-up
We hope you enjoyed our Super Week special feature that ran all last week to complement the Super-themed special issue of The Psychologist magazine. Each day we met a person with an extreme ability or a researcher investigating such an ability. Here's the complete list:  Marc Umile, calendar calculator. Moira Jones, super-recogniser. Sam McFarland, super-humane. Charles Spence, super-tasters. Custis Wright, SuperAger. Jason Watson, SuperTaskers.  Rebecca Sharrock, superior autobiographical memory. (Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST)
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 14, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Want people to trust you? Try apologising for the rain
If you want people to see you as trustworthy, try apologising for situations outside of your control such as the rain or a transport delay. That's the implication of a new study by researchers at Harvard Business School and Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. The most compelling evidence came from Alison Brooks and her colleagues' fourth and final study in which a male actor approached 65 strangers (30 women) at a train station on a rainy day to ask to borrow their mobile phone. Crucially, for half of them he preceded his request with the superfluous apology: "I'm sorry about the rain!" The other half of...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 14, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Day 7 of Digest Super Week: Meet the woman who remembers most of her life in extraordinary detail
For most of us, the remembrance of days and weeks gone by is rapidly obscured by the clouds of forgetting. Not so for people with what's known as hyperthymesia or Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory. These unusual individuals can recall most of their past with exquisite vividness and detail. For the final day of Digest Super Week, meet hyperthymesic Becky Sharrock: I have highly superior autobiographical memory My name is Rebecca Sharrock and I have Hyperthymesia (commonly known as HSAM, or Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory). Until the age of 21 nobody (including myself) had any idea about why distan...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 13, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Day 6 of Digest Super Week: Meet the Supertaskers
We study SuperTaskers Dr Jason Watson My collaborator Dr. David Strayer and I began looking for individual differences in multitasking ability in 2006-2007. We were looking for any attentional control variables that might predict who shows more or less dual-task cost associated with a real-world form of multitasking: use of a mobile phone while driving. In our first 30 subjects tested in this experiment, we were surprised to find one subject who did not show the expected pattern of dual-task costs (i.e. they drove just the same whether using a phone at the same time or not, and vice versa). After ruling out alternati...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 12, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Day 5 of Digest Super Week: Meet a SuperAger
Last year, a group of researchers at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center at Northwestern University reported that they'd identified a small group of elderly people whose brains appeared relatively immune to the physical effects of ageing. These 12 "SuperAgers" - average age 83 - matched the performance of middle-aged people on memory tests, task switching and attention. Unlike their peers' brains, the physical state of the SuperAgers' brains was also comparable to the brains of the middle aged, in terms of cortical thickness and overall volume. In fact one brain area - the left anterior ci...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 11, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Day 4 of Digest Super Week: The supertaster who researches supertasting
Professor Charles Spence Charles Spence: I study supertasters Everyone would like to be a supertaster, right? “Supertaster” is the name given to those individuals (roughly a quarter of the population) who are more sensitive than the rest to tastes, especially to the bitter taste in foods such as Brussels sprouts, endive salad, and coffee. It is worth noting that not everyone who you might imagine being a supertaster, is. Jeffrey Steingarten, for example, the famous North American food critic turned out to be a non-taster when I gave him a tasting strip (the simplest way to assess taster status in the lab). ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 10, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Day 3 of Digest Super Week: meet the super-humane professor
I am super humane Gandhi once said, "All humanity is one undivided and indivisible family." Studies of those who risked their lives to rescue Jews during the Holocaust found they shared Gandhi’s deep sense of the "oneness with all humanity." That oneness transcended their sense of oneness with members of one’s nationality, race, or religion.  For reasons my self-examination does not reveal, I have agreed with Gandhi’s sentiment, both intellectually and emotionally, since late childhood. Reared in luxury, I am certainly not a Gandhi, and can only guess whether I would have ha...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 9, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Day 2 of Digest Super Week: meet a super-recogniser
For many years psychologists have studied people whose brain damage has impaired their ability to recognise faces. More recently it became clear that there is another group of individuals who are born with this deficit, or develop it early in childhood. Media coverage of this "developmental prosopagnosia" (also known as face-blindness) prompted yet another group of unusual individuals to come forward - they told researchers they didn't have trouble recognising faces, rather they were unusually skilled at it. These are the super-recognisers. Let me introduce you to one of them, Moira Jones: I am a super-recogni...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 8, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Day 2 of Digest Super-week: meet a super-recogniser
For many years psychologists have studied people whose brain damage has impaired their ability to recognise faces. More recently it became clear that there is another group of individuals who are born with this deficit, or develop it early in childhood. Media coverage of this "developmental prosopagnosia" (also known as face-blindness) prompted yet another group of unusual individuals to come forward - they told researchers they didn't have trouble recognising faces, rather they were unusually skilled at it. These are the super-recognisers. Let me introduce you to one of them, Moira Jones: I am a super-recogni...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 8, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Welcome to Digest Super Week!
Think of super powers and most of us are influenced by the comic book super-heroes - the strength and flight of Superman or the web-slinging skills of Peter Parker. But super powers don't exist only in fiction. Back in reality, there are people with super abilities who walk among us, albeit that their skills tend to be more subtle than in the comics. What's more, increasingly these individuals are catching the interest of psychologists. Each day this week, we'll be posting a contribution from a person with a super ability or a researcher investigating an ability. The Digest's Super Week accompanies this month's "Super...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 7, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Reading literary (but not pop) fiction boosts our understanding of other people's minds
Literary fiction takes the reader on a journey into other worlds, other lives, other minds. A new study shows that this has an immediate effect on the reader's powers of empathy, as judged by simple lab tests. The same benefit was not found for popular fiction. "Readers of literary fiction must draw on more flexible interpretative resources to infer the feelings and thoughts of characters," said the researchers David Kidd and Emanuele Castano at the New School for Social Research. "That is, they must engage Theory of Mind processes [ToM refers to our ability to represent and understand other ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 3, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Reading literary (but not pop) fiction, boosts our understanding of other people's minds
Literary fiction takes the reader on a journey into other worlds, other lives, other minds. A new study shows that this has an immediate effect on the reader's powers of empathy, as judged by simple lab tests. The same benefit was not found for popular fiction. "Readers of literary fiction must draw on more flexible interpretative resources to infer the feelings and thoughts of characters," said the researchers David Kidd and Emanuele Castano at the New School for Social Research. "That is, they must engage Theory of Mind processes [ToM refers to our ability to represent and understand other ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 3, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Reading literary (but not pop) fiction, boosts understanding of other people's minds
Literary fiction takes the reader on a journey into other worlds, other lives, other minds. A new study shows that this has an immediate effect on the reader's powers of empathy, as judged by simple lab tests. The same benefit was not found for popular fiction. "Readers of literary fiction must draw on more flexible interpretative resources to infer the feelings and thoughts of characters," said the researchers David Kidd and Emanuele Castano at the New School for Social Research. "That is, they must engage Theory of Mind processes [ToM refers to our ability to represent and understand other ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 3, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

"Soft and fluffy" - what medical students think of their psychology lectures
From helping with patients' stress levels, to their adherence to treatment, psychology is now recognised as vital not only to mental health care but to physical health care too. In fact, it's impossible to draw a clear line between the two. As such, psychology has become a core component of curricula for medical students around the world. But though the importance of psychology is recognised officially by teaching bodies, it's not clear that jobbing medical lecturers have the same opinion. In turn, their scepticism may be influencing medical students. Based on interviews with 19 medical students in Ireland (10 women and 9...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 1, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Given a warning, we can shield ourselves from subliminal messages
Ad-man James Vicary generated excitement and discomfort in equal measure back in the 50s when he boasted about the success of his "subliminal adverts". Presenting the words "Drink Coke" or "Eat Popcorn" on-screen, mid-movie, too fast to be consciously detected, had the effect of increasing the purchase of refreshments by cinema-goers, or so he claimed. It turns out this was a hoax, but more recent research has confirmed that people can be influenced by subliminal messages. From the Latin "below the threshold", these messages make certain mental concepts more accessible and...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 30, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

A laboratory study of "everyday sadism"
No bugs or humans were hurt in the course of this research but the participants didn't know that at the time. Psychologist Erin Buckels and her colleagues tricked their volunteers for the purpose of investigating "everyday sadism" - the tendency for many "apparently normal, everyday people" to derive pleasure from inflicting pain on others. Seventy-one students thought they were taking part in a study of personality and tolerance of challenging jobs. As such, they had to choose between killing bugs, helping kill bugs, cleaning toilets or enduring pain by placing their hand in iced water. Buckels' team...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 26, 2013 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. Here are the latest journal special issues in psychology: Social media as a research environment (Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking) open access. Social Psychological Perspectives on the Legitimation of Social Inequality (European Journal of Social Psychology). Memory and the law: insights from case studies (Memory). Addiction (Journal of Experimental Social Psychology). Mapping the connectome (Neuroimage). Puberty and adolescence (Hormones and Behaviour). The Future of Evidence-Based Practice in Psychotherapy (Clinical Psychology Review). Psycholog...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 25, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

What are elite cricket batsmen saying when they talk to themselves?
Is there anyone lonelier than the dismissed batsman walking back to the pavilion? What does he or she say to themselves to ease the disappointment? In a new study of the self-talk used by elite batsmen this is just one of six critical phases of a batting innings that were examined. "What I said to myself helped me to stay positive, knowing that [my] game plan was a good one," said one player about a recent dismissal. He was one of five players who participated in the research, all based at a county cricket club in England. Two of the others described how they called themselves names and criticised their own shot...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 24, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs