Immediately Re-Watching Lecture Videos Doesn ’t Benefit Learning
By Christian Jarrett Given a passage of text to study, many students repeatedly re-read it in the hope the information will eventually stick. Psychology research has shown the futility of this approach. Re-reading is a poor strategy, it’s too passive and it leads the mind to wander. Much better to test yourself on what you read, or explain it to yourself or someone else. Now a paper in Experimental Psychology suggests the same is true of lecture videos – immediately re-watching them doesn’t lead to any greater learning. Leonardo Martin and his team asked 72 participants to watch two lecture videos, ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 15, 2019 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational Source Type: blogs

Study Identifies The Most Effective Mental Strategies That People Use To Get Through Aversive Challenges
By Christian Jarrett What strategies do you use to push through a tough challenge, be it a run on a treadmill or a stressful phone call with your boss? Perhaps you remind yourself of what you have to gain from completing the task, or you use distraction, or you think about the bad things that will happen if you give in? For a paper in the European Journal of Personality, a team led by Marie Hennecke at the University of Zurich has conducted what they say is the first ever investigation of these strategies, and others, that people use spontaneously in their everyday lives to “regulate their persistence during aversive...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 14, 2019 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Personality Source Type: blogs

Researchers Tried To Explore Why “Stereotype Threat” Harms Performance, But Found It Didn’t Harm Performance At All
Is stereotype threat too context-dependent to matter all that much? By Jesse Singal Stereotype threat is a very evocative, disturbing idea: Imagine if simply being reminded that you are a member of a disadvantaged group, and that stereotypes hold that members of your group are bad at certain tasks, led to a self-fulfilling prophecy in which you performed worse on such tasks than you would otherwise. That’s been the claim of stereotype threat researchers since the concept was first introduced in the mid-1990s, and it’s spread far and wide. But as seems to be the case with so many strong psychological claims...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 11, 2019 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Methods Replications Social Source Type: blogs

Time For A Fresh Approach To Learning Difficulties? The Cognitive Profile Of Kids Struggling At School Bore No Relation To Their Official Diagnoses
The study used “machine learning” to organise children into clusters based on their cognitive profiles. (Figure 4 reproduced from Astle et al, 2018. See their open-access paper for description.) By Emma Young Around 30 per cent of British children fail to meet expected targets in reading or maths at age 11. These children face a future of continuing difficulties in education, as well as poorer mental health and employment success. Understanding why some kids struggle – and providing them with tailored support as early as possible – is clearly vital. Some will be diagnosed with a specific disorder, s...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 10, 2019 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Developmental Educational Source Type: blogs

Twitter Study Confirms The Power Of “Affect Labelling” – Emotions Are Calmed By Putting Them Into Words
By Christian Jarrett You might imagine – as prior research suggests many people do – that putting your feelings into words will only intensify them. In fact, many laboratory studies have found the opposite to be true. Stating out loud, or writing down, what you are feeling – a process that psychologists call “affect labelling” – seems to down-regulate emotions, diminishing their intensity. Now an intriguing study has explored this phenomenon outside of the lab, analysing over a billion tweets to find examples of when people used a tweet to put their emotional state into words. From analy...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 9, 2019 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Language Twitter Source Type: blogs

People With Advantageous Personality Traits Have More Nerve-Fibre Insulation (Myelination)  In Key Brain Areas
(a) A post-mortem map of average myelination intensity in the brain created over a century ago (red areas show greater myelin). (b) new estimates of average myelin distribution using brain scan technology (independent of personality, red shows greatest myelination, blue the least). From Toschi and Passamonti, 2018 By Christian Jarrett Researchers are getting closer to understanding the neurological basis of personality. For a new paper in the Journal of Personality, Nicola Toschi and Luca Passamonti took advantage of a recent technological breakthrough that makes it possible to use scans to estimate levels of myelinat...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 8, 2019 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Personality Source Type: blogs

The Mental Snag That Makes It Seem Like Food Is Everywhere, Especially If You ’re Overweight
By guest blogger Stacy Lu If you’re planning to take off weight in the new year and it suddenly seems like food is everywhere – and is especially enticing – that’s probably your mind playing a particularly unhelpful trick on you. Thinking about food, even in terms of trying to avoid it, can actually make it more likely that you’ll notice food in your environment, especially if you’re already overweight or obese. That’s according to a recent study in the International Journal of Obesity that compared how overweight and healthy weight people pay attention to food. Food cues &nda...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 7, 2019 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition guest blogger Health Source Type: blogs

Runners Get A Wellbeing Boost From Participating In Organised Races
By Christian Jarrett An increasing number of people are taking up recreational running. It often starts with a slow, painful canter around the block, followed by a wheezy vow to get into better shape. Maybe this was you, and you’ve since marshaled enough grit to complete runs of a sufficient length and frequency that you’re now comfortable telling people that you’re an actual, real-life runner. Do you leave it there, or is it time to train for and take part in a proper, organised race? A recent study suggests it’s worth a go – Marzena Cypryańska and John Nezlek report in The Journal of Positi...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 4, 2019 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Positive psychology Sport Source Type: blogs

Researchers Have Identified An Area of The Dog Brain Dedicated To Processing Human Faces
The human brain (a) and dog brain (b), from Thompkins et al, 2018 By Christian Jarrett If you want to know about the special relationship between human and canine you need only watch a dog owner slavishly feed, cuddle and clean up after her furry companion, day after day after day. But is this unique cross-species relationship also reflected at a deeper level, in the workings of the canine brain? A recent study in Learning and Behavior suggests so, finding that highly trained dogs have a dedicated neural area for processing human faces, separate from the area involved in processing the faces of other dogs. The re...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 3, 2019 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Comparative Faces Source Type: blogs

Now John Bargh ’s Famous Hot-Coffee Study Has Failed To Replicate
By Jesse Singal If you Google “holding a warm cup of coffee can” you’ll get a handful of results all telling the same story based on social priming research (essentially the study of how subtle cues affect human thoughts and behavior). “Whether a person is holding a warm cup of coffee can influence his or her views of other people, and a person who has experienced rejection may begin to feel cold,” notes a New York Times blog post, while a Psychology Today article explains that research shows that “holding a warm cup of coffee can make you feel socially closer to those around you.&r...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 2, 2019 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Replications Social Source Type: blogs

The everyday experiences that make us feel loved
By Christian Jarrett Psychologists, philosophers and poets have devoted many years reflecting on the meaning of love for another. A less-explored question – the focus of a study to appear in the January 2019 issue of Journal of Social and Personal Relationships – is what makes us feel loved by others? More specifically, the study investigated whether there is widespread agreement about the everyday experiences, romantic and non-romantic, that lead us (or US citizens, at least) to feel loved. Some of the results are obvious – many participants agreed that making love, being hugged, receiving comp...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 14, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Social Source Type: blogs

The physiological stress response is larger in the morning than evening
The real-world implications are far from clear and the result needs to be replicated with larger samples By Emma Young When’s the best time of day to give someone bad news? First thing in the morning or early evening? Yes, if it’s in the morning, they have longer to work out what to do about it, but you might be better off plumping for the evening because according to a new study, published open-access in Neuropsychopharmacology, they’re likely to suffer less of a physiological stress response at this time.  If a threat – whether physical or psychological – doesn’t quickly vanish, ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 13, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological Mental health Source Type: blogs

“An additional reason to abandon learning styles” – teachers and pupils do not agree on the pupils’ preferred learning style
By Christian Jarrett “Learning styles” – there can be few ideas that have created such a stark disconnect between the experts on the ground and the evidence published in scholarly journals. Endorsed by the overwhelming majority of teachers, yet dismissed by most psychologists and educational neuroscientists as a “neuromyth”, the basis of learning styles is that people learn better when taught via their preferred learning modality, usually (but not always) described as either visual, auditory or kinaesthetic. Many studies have already uncovered serious problems with the learning styles concept,...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 12, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational Source Type: blogs

In the “Trust Game”, men with more autistic traits were less influenced by their partner’s facial appearance 
Men with more autistic traits made decisions based more on their partner’s behaviour and less on appearance;  from Hooper et al, 2018 By Emma Young We make all kinds of snap decisions about a person based on their facial appearance. How trustworthy we think they are is one of the most important, as it can have many social and financial consequences, from influencing our decisions about whether to lend someone money to which Airbnb property to book. However, as the authors of a new study, published in the British Journal of Psychology, note, “Although facial impressions of trustworthiness are formed au...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 11, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Autism Faces Money Source Type: blogs

Psychology research is still fixated on a tiny fraction of humans – here’s how to fix that
Nearly 95 per cent of participant samples in a leading psychology journal were from Western countries By guest blogger Jesse Singal For a long time, some psychologists have understood that their field has an issue with WEIRDness. That is, psychology experiments disproportionately involve participants who are Western, Educated, and hail from Industrialised, Rich Democracies, which means many findings may not generalise to other populations, such as, say, rural Samoan villagers. In a new paper in PNAS, a team of researchers led by Mostafa Salari Rad decided to zoom in on a leading psychology journal to better understan...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 10, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: guest blogger Methods Source Type: blogs

Self-explanation is a powerful learning technique, according to meta-analysis of 64 studies involving 6000 participants
By Christian Jarrett It is better to ask a student to explain something to themselves, than for a teacher to explain it to them. That’s according to a new meta-analysis of the findings from 64 prior studies involving nearly 6000 participants that compared learning outcomes from prompted self-explanation compared to instructor explanation, or compared to time spent using other study techniques such as taking notes, summarising, thinking out loud (without the reflection and elaboration involved in self-explanation), or solving more problems. The authors of the meta-analysis, published recently in Educational Psychology...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 7, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational Source Type: blogs

Researchers say they ’ve identified two brain networks – one responsible for volition, the other for agency – that together underlie our sense of free will
By Emma Young While there’s still a debate about whether we have free will or not, most researchers at least agree that we feel as if we do. That perception is often considered to have two elements: a sense of having decided to act – called “volition”; and feeling that that decision was our own – having “agency”. Now in a paper in PNAS, Ryan Darby at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and colleagues have used a new technique – lesion network mapping – to identify for the first time the brain networks that underlie our feelings of volition and for agency. &ld...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 6, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Source Type: blogs

Psychology ’s favourite tool for measuring implicit bias is still mired in controversy
A new review aims to move on from past controversies surrounding the implicit association test, but experts can’t even agree on what they’re arguing about By guest blogger Jesse Singal It has been a long and bumpy road for the implicit association test (IAT), the reaction-time-based psychological instrument whose co-creators, Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald — among others in their orbit — claimed measures test-takers’ levels of unconscious social biases and their propensity to act in a biased and discriminatory manner, be that via racism, sexism, ageism, or some other category, depe...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 5, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: guest blogger Methods Social Source Type: blogs

A new review looks into the optimum exercise intensity, type and duration for boosting mood
By Christian Jarrett It’s well-known that physical exercise is beneficial not just to physical health but also our mental health. Yet whereas most countries have detailed, evidence-backed guidelines on the type and intensity of exercise required for various physical health benefits, such guidelines do not yet exist for exercise and mood. This is partly due to a lack of necessary evidence. However, a new systematic review in The Journal of Psychology Interdisciplinary and Applied brings us usefully up-to-date on the current findings in this area, collating evidence from 38 relevant studies that examined the ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 4, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Sport Source Type: blogs

Explaining the power of curiosity – to your brain, hunger for knowledge is much the same as hunger for food
By Christian Jarrett Curiosity is a welcome trait in many respects and is the fuel that powers science. Yet literature is filled with fables that warn of the seductive danger of curiosity (think of how Orpheus loses his wife Eurydice forever after he succumbs to the temptation to glimpse at the underworld). In real life too, we all know the regret that can follow if we give in to curiosity – glancing at a private message that we shouldn’t have, for instance, reading a TV review when we know it contains spoilers, or trying out what happens if you put metal in a microwave (tip: don’t). From whence does curi...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 3, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Decision making Source Type: blogs

It ’s getting increasingly difficult for psychology’s replication-crisis sceptics to explain away failed replications
The Many Labs 2 project managed to successfully replicate only half of 28 previously published significant effects By guest blogger Jesse Singal Replicating a study isn’t easy. Just knowing how the original was conducted isn’t enough. Just having access to a sample of experimental participants isn’t enough. As psychological researchers have known for a long time, all sorts of subtle cues can affect how individuals respond in experimental settings. A failure to replicate, then, doesn’t always mean that the effect being studied isn’t there – it can simply mean the new study was conduc...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 30, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Methods Replications Source Type: blogs

It ’s getting increasingly difficult for replication-crisis sceptics to explain away failed replications
The Many Labs 2 project managed to successfully replicate only half of 28 previously published significant effects By guest blogger Jesse Singal Replicating a study isn’t easy. Just knowing how the original was conducted isn’t enough. Just having access to a sample of experimental participants isn’t enough. As psychological researchers have known for a long time, all sorts of subtle cues can affect how individuals respond in experimental settings. A failure to replicate, then, doesn’t always mean that the effect being studied isn’t there – it can simply mean the new study was conduc...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 30, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Methods Replications Source Type: blogs

New findings suggest post-traumatic growth may often be illusory
By Christian Jarrett After a trauma many people have the sense it has changed them for the better, such as granting them a new appreciation for life or improving their relationships. This has given rise to the appealing notion that there is such a thing as “post-traumatic growth”. However, the majority of investigations into this phenomenon have relied on asking people whether they believe they have changed; very few have assessed people prior to a trauma and then re-assessed them afterwards to see if positive changes have actually occurred. A new study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships i...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 29, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Source Type: blogs

New research finds there is no “right thing” to say when you want to be supportive
By Christian Jarrett It feels selfish to fret – it’s the other person who is suffering – but agonising over what to say to a friend in need can be incredibly anxiety provoking. If you want to be supportive (and not make matters worse), what are the right words to say to someone who has experienced a relationship break-up, for instance, or lost their job? Should you express sympathy, downplay the situation, say you know how they feel, or something else entirely? A series of studies in Basic and Applied Social Psychology will offer relief to anyone who has ever agonised over this predicament – the fin...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 28, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Language Social Source Type: blogs

Do social psychologists have an ideological aversion to evolutionary psychology?
By Christian Jarrett A new survey of beliefs held by social psychologists (335 mostly US-based members of the Society of Experimental Social Psychology) has confirmed previous reports that the field is overwhelmingly populated by researchers of a left-wing, liberal bent. What’s more, David Buss and William von Hippel – the evolutionary psychologists who conducted and analysed the survey – say their findings, published open-access in Archives of Scientific Psychology, suggest that some social psychologists may be opposed, for ideological reasons, to insights rooted in evolutionary psychology. Buss and von ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 27, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological evolutionary psych Political Social Source Type: blogs

Many social psychologists are impeded by their ideological aversion to evolutionary psychology
By Christian Jarrett A new survey of beliefs held by social psychologists (335 members of the Society of Experimental Social Psychologists) has confirmed previous reports that the field is overwhelmingly populated by researchers of a left-wing, liberal bent. What’s more, David Buss and William von Hippel – the evolutionary psychologists who conducted and analysed the survey – say their findings, published open-access in Archives of Scientific Psychology, suggest that many of these social psychologists are opposed, for ideological reasons, to insights rooted in evolutionary psychology and that this is impe...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 27, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological evolutionary psych Political Social Source Type: blogs

For these people with depression, all treatment approaches had failed, but then they adopted a pet …
By Christian Jarrett For people diagnosed with what’s known as “treatment-resistant major depressive disorder” the prognosis is not good – the low mood and emotional pain for these individuals has not lifted even though they are on a combination of antidepressant medications and may also have participated in psychotherapy. However a glimmer of hope comes via a research group in Portugal who reported recently in the Journal of Psychiatric Research that adopting a pet “enhanced” the effects of anti-depressant medication for a significant minority of their participants with previously treat...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 26, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Source Type: blogs

Have you got a “self-actualised” personality? A new test brings Maslow’s ideas into the 21st century
By Christian Jarrett Writing in the last century, Abraham Maslow (pictured left), one of the founders of Humanistic Psychology, proposed that the path to self-transcendence, and ultimately a greater compassion for all of humanity, requires “self-actualisation” – that is, fulfilling your true potential and becoming your authentic self. Now Scott Barry-Kaufman, a psychologist at Barnard College, Columbia University, believes it is time to revive the concept and link it with contemporary psychological theory. “We live in times of increasing divides, selfish concerns, and individualistic pursuits of pow...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 23, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Personality Source Type: blogs

The act of drawing something has a “massive” benefit for memory compared with writing it down
By Emma Young A picture is worth a thousand words…. When it comes to conveying a concept, this sentiment can certainly be true. But it may also be the case for memory. At least that’s the message from Myra Fernandes and colleagues at the University of Waterloo, Canada – writing in Current Directions in Psychological Science, they argue that their research programme shows that drawing has a “surprisingly powerful influence” on memory, and as a mnemonic technique, it could be particularly useful for older adults – and even people with dementia. Fernandes and her colleagues firs...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 22, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational Memory Source Type: blogs

From sexual posing to critical thinking, our departing writer Alex Fradera ’s greatest hits
After nearly eight years educating and entertaining readers with his reports on the latest psychology research, our staff writer Dr Alex Fradera is leaving us to begin the next chapter of his career. And what a varied career it has already been: an alumnus of the Mind Hacks group of young bloggers that formed in 2004, Alex completed a PhD at UCL in 2005 in the area of autobiographical memory before entering the world of occupational psychology as a consultant and, in 2011, establishing the popular BPS Occupational Digest (later incorporated into the main Research Digest). Alongside all this, he is an admired teacher a...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 21, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Announcements Source Type: blogs

“National narcissism” is rife, finds survey of 35 countries
This study could also be seen as evidence for a cousin of the famous Lake Wobegon effect, or the tendency of people to overestimate their abilities, leading a majority of individuals to view themselves as “above average” in various domains. It shouldn’t be surprising, given what we know about in-group psychology, that people often err similarly when evaluating their own groups relative to others. It would be fascinating to see a study like this repeated on a larger, more cross-nationally representative group of respondents. One could make a case for more highly educated people both overestimating or under...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 21, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cross-cultural guest blogger Social Source Type: blogs

The mood-stabilising effect of taking the pill has “downstream benefits” for women’s relationships, claims new study
By Christian Jarrett In western nations, the vast majority of sexually active women take the birth control pill at some point in their lives, usually to avoid becoming pregnant. Of increasing interest to some psychologists, the hormone-stabilising effects of the pill may have other important effects, including on the psyche and personal relationships, and these are the focus of a new study in Neurology, Psychiatry and Brain Research. Some earlier studies found that women who take the pill report more emotional stability, in terms of experiencing fewer depressive symptoms, and fewer mental health problems more general...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 20, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological Health Mental health Source Type: blogs

Repeatedly watching a video of themselves touching a filthy bedpan reduced people ’s OCD symptoms
Another version of this new video-based smartphone intervention involved participants watching their own earlier hand washing By Emma Young Almost half of people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) have extreme fears about touching something they feel is “contaminated”. This can mean that after touching a doorknob, say, they then feel compelled to scrub their hands, in some cases even until they bleed. Conventional treatments, which often involve a combination of a prescription drug (typically an “SSRI”, such as Prozac) plus cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), help only about 60 per cent of pe...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 19, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Source Type: blogs

Another social psychology classic bites the dust – meta-analysis finds little evidence for the Macbeth effect
Figure from Siev et al, 2018. The effect of unethical primes on cleansing preference – positive effect sizes denote greater cleansing preference for the unethical condition than the ethical condition. By guest blogger Jesse Singal Perhaps no concept has been more important to social psychology in recent years — for good and ill — than “social priming”, or the idea, as the science writer Neuroskeptic once put it, that “subtle cues can exert large, unconscious influences on human behaviour.” This subgenre of research has produced a steady drumbeat of interesting findings, but un...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 16, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: guest blogger Morality Replications Social Source Type: blogs

How To Find Your Calling, According to Psychology
By Christian Jarrett “Look. You can’t plan out your life. What you have to do is first discover your passion—what you really care about.” Barack Obama, as quoted by David Gergen (cited in Jachimowicz et al, 2018). This Saturday Nov 17 in Newcastle is the first of two BPS careers events – “perfect for anyone looking to discover where psychology can take them in their chosen career.” A second follows in London on Dec 4. If, like many, you are searching for your calling in life – perhaps you are still unsure whether psychology is for you, or which area of the profession aligns w...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 15, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Occupational Feature Source Type: blogs

Even two-year-olds can tell the difference between a leader and a bully
By Alex Fradera Every child is born into a world far more complex than the womb it departed. Physically it’s made up of objects, distances, heights, which we know new-born infants are already oriented to read and make sense of. But their new world is also a social one, chock-full of agents with needs and intentions, and past findings show that infants are surprisingly quick to recognise much of this too.  New research in PNAS adds to this literature, investigating the ability to make an important social distinction – between those who hold power due to respect and those who impose it through force &nd...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 14, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Developmental Source Type: blogs

People are “consistently inconsistent” in how they reason about controversial scientific topics
By Christian Jarrett There are various issues on which there is a scientific consensus but great public controversy, such as anthropogenic climate change and the safety of vaccines. One previously popular explanation for this mismatch was that an information deficit among the public is to blame. Give people all the facts and then, according to this perspective, the public will catch up with the scientists. Yet time and again, that simply hasn’t happened. A new paper in Thinking and Reasoning explores the roots of this problem further. Emilio Lobato and Corinne Zimmerman asked 244 American university students and staf...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 13, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational Thought Source Type: blogs

Schadenfreude turns us into temporary psychopaths, according to a new model of the emotion
A person experiencing schadenfreude tends to dehumanise the target of their gleeful feelings By Emma Young Schadenfreude – which literally means “harm-joy” in German – is the sense of pleasure derived from others’ misfortune. It’s a “poorly understood” emotion, according to a group of psychologists at Emory University in the US, and in their review paper in New Ideas in Psychology they propose a new “tripartite” model of schadenfreude based on the idea that deep-seated survival concerns can motivate us to see others as less than human.  Shensheng Wang a...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 12, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion evolutionary psych Source Type: blogs

Psychologists claim outrage is getting a bad rap
By guest blogger Jesse Singal Outrage: It’s absolutely everywhere. Today’s world, particularly the version of it blasted into our brains by social media, offers endless fodder, from big, simmering outrages (climate change and many powerful institutions’ refusal to do anything about it) to smaller quotidian ones (every day, someone, somewhere does something offensive that comes to Twitter’s attention, leading to a gleeful pile-on). In part because of rising awareness of the adverse consequences of unfettered digital-age outrage, and of journalistic treatments like So You’ve Been Publicly S...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 9, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: guest blogger Media Morality Technology Source Type: blogs

Researchers are finding out why a partial loss of vision can lead to hallucinations
The findings could lead to new treatment approaches for Charles Bonnet syndrome By Emma Young The head of a brown lion. Multiple tiny, green, spinning Catherine wheels with red edges. Colourful fragments of artillery soldiers and figures in uniform and action. Unfamiliar faces of well-groomed men… These are just a few of the hallucinations reported by a group of people with macular degeneration (MD), a common cause of vision loss in people aged over 40.  About 40 per cent of people with MD – who lose vision in the centre of their visual field but whose peripheral vision is generally unaffected – dev...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 8, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Perception Source Type: blogs

Episode 14: Psychological Tricks To Make Your Cooking Taste Better
This is Episode 14 of PsychCrunch, the podcast from the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest, sponsored by Routledge Psychology. Download here. http://traffic.libsyn.com/psychcrunch/20181101_PsychCrunchEp14_Mx3.mp3 Can psychology help your cooking taste better? Our presenter Ginny Smith hears about the importance of food presentation, pairing and sequencing, and how our perception of food is a multi-sensory experience. She and her friends conduct a taste test using “sonic seasonings” that you can also try at home. Our guests, in order of appearance, are: Professor Debra Zellner ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 7, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Eating Perception Podcast Source Type: blogs

This is how psychotherapy for depression changes the brain
Participants with major depression showed increased activity in left rostral anterior cingulate cortex following psychological therapy – see main text for details. Image via Sankar et al, 2018 By Alex Fradera In recent years, researchers have sought to look under the hood to understand the neural correlates of the changes brought about by psychotherapy. Not only can such understanding help us hone in on the precise processes that are being acted upon in therapy, thus helping us focus on these gains, they could also show where pharmacological interventions might be complementary, and where they could di...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 6, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Mental health Therapy Source Type: blogs

Why the polls keep getting it so wrong; and a solution – ask people who their friends and family are voting for
This study was also able to track social influence over time, as the researchers started polling both personal intentions and social circle intentions in July and continued weekly until after the US voted in November. One week before the election, more participants said they would vote for Clinton than Trump. Yet, as early as September, these polls accurately predicted Trump’s win as people reported a swing towards him in their social circles. Not only that, but people who reported an intention to vote differently from their social circle were much more likely to change their own position at the last minute. Another ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 5, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: guest blogger Political Social Source Type: blogs

Your native language affects what you can and can ’t see
By Emma Young The idea that the language that you speak influences how you think about and experience the world (the so-called Sapir-Whorf hypothesis) has a long and storied history. A lot of research into the issue has focused on colour perception, and evidence has accumulated that people whose native languages have different colour categories don’t see the world in quite the same way. Now in a new paper, published in Psychological Science, Martin Maier and Rasha Abdel Rahman at the Humboldt University of Berlin report that by affecting visual processing at an early stage, such linguistic differences can even determ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 2, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Language Perception Source Type: blogs

Merely desiring to alter your personality is not enough, and may backfire unless you take concrete action to change
By Christian Jarrett Debate about how much a person’s character can and can’t change have occupied psychologists for decades, but a growing consensus is beginning to emerge. While our traits are relatively stable, they are not fixed. Change is often passive – that is, experience leaves its mark on personality. But excitingly, initial findings suggest that we can also change ourselves. What prior research has so far not addressed, however, is whether simply desiring to change is enough (perhaps by triggering automatic, subtle shifts in our identity and behaviour), or whether we must take deliberate, active...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 1, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Personality Source Type: blogs

Deliberately scaring ourselves can calm the brain, leading to a “recalibration” of our emotions
This study could suggest that inducing high arousal via exposure to negative stimuli may be a substrate for a generation of interventions that do not work to proximally decrease, but rather to increase, arousal in people whose goal is to increase positive affect and feel ‘wonderful’,” the researchers concluded. —Voluntary arousing negative experiences (VANE): Why we like to be scared Christian Jarrett (@Psych_Writer) is Editor of BPS Research Digest (Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST)
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 31, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Mental health Source Type: blogs

We ’re seeking a writer to join our team!
The British Psychological Society’s Research Digest, which keeps hundreds of thousands of people abreast of the latest exciting findings in psychology, is seeking an additional writer. Psychology Blogger Fixed Term Contract: 12 Months (initially) Part Time: 8 – 9 Hours per week Grade 6: £35,310 (pro-rata) Although based remotely, you’ll work closely with the Research Digest editor to produce 6 engaging reports on new psychology studies each month, in a style that entertains and educates. You will show readers how the findings are relevant to their lives, but without resorting to hype. Where ap...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 30, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Announcements Source Type: blogs

The public “deserve to know” that there is an overlooked subset of people who thrive after major depression
By Emma Young Depression is a chronic, recurrent, lifelong condition. Well, that’s the current orthodox view – but it is overstated, argues a team of psychologists led by Jonathan Rottenberg at the University of South Florida. “A significant subset of people recover and thrive after depression, yet research on such individuals has been rare,” they write in their recent paper in Perspectives on Psychological Science. They propose a definition for “high functioning after depression” (HFAD); argue that the advice given to people with depression need not be so gloomy; and lay out key areas f...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 30, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Source Type: blogs

This is the optimum way to compile a multiple-choice test, according to psychology research
By guest blogger Bradley Busch Let’s start with a quick multiple-choice test about multiple-choice tests: when designing them, should you a) avoid using complex questions, b) have lots of potential answers for each question, c) all of the above or d) none of the above? The correct answer is (a), though as we’ll see, this was not a very well-crafted multiple-choice question.  The issue of how best to design multiple-choice questions is important since they have been popular in both education and business settings for many years now. This is due to them being quick to administer and easy to mark and grade. F...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 29, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational guest blogger Source Type: blogs

New evidence that the “chaotic mind” of ADHD brings creative advantages
Participant drawings from White, 2018 By Christian Jarrett Focus and concentration, while normally considered beneficial attributes, can stymie creativity – especially the generation of novel ideas. This has led some to wonder whether people with “leaky attention“, and especially those with ADHD – who have what Holly White, writing recently in the Journal of Creative Behaviour, calls “chaotic minds” – might have a creative advantage when it comes to breaking free from prior examples. White, who is based at the University of Michigan, has tested this possibility, and thoug...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 19, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: ADHD Creativity Source Type: blogs