False memories have an upside
A false memory feels to its owner like a recollection of a real experience, but is in fact a construction of the mind. False memories are prolific because the process of memory is an inherently active, reconstructive process. Human memory then is highly fallible and prone to distortion. This sounds bad. However, in a new paper, Mark Howe and his colleagues show how our propensity for false memories can be advantageous. Howe's team specifically tested the notion that false memories can be advantageous because they reflect the activation of concepts and ideas related to an earlier experience, which can aid future problem so...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 23, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Targeted brain stimulation provokes feelings of bliss
It's hard to fathom how our subjective lives can be rooted in the spongy flesh of brain matter. Yet the reality of the brain-mind link was made stark half way through the last century by the Canadian neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield. Before conducting neurosurgery on epilepsy patients he stimulated parts of their brains directly with an electrode, triggering in them subjective sensations that varied according to the source of stimulation. In a new case study, a team of Swiss and French neurologists followed a similar strategy during brain surgery with a 23-year-old female patient. She has temporal lobe epilepsy and experience...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 19, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Climate change sceptic films more influential than advocacy films, claims study
Eminent scientists have condemned films that are sceptical about climate change. After airing of the Great Global Warming Swindle in 2007, for example, Sir Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society at the time, said "those who promote fringe scientific views but ignore the weight of evidence are playing a dangerous game." Of course there are also films that affirm the idea that human activity has contributed to the rise in global temperatures - Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth is probably the most well known. Unfortunately for environmentalists and people who believe global warming is a threat, a new study clai...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 18, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Seven-year-olds' beliefs about ability are associated with the way they were praised as toddlers
This study raises the possibility that this could be due in part to the way they are praised at an early age. _________________________________ Gunderson EA, Gripshover SJ, Romero C, Dweck CS, Goldin-Meadow S, and Levine SC (2013). Parent Praise to 1- to 3-Year-Olds Predicts Children's Motivational Frameworks 5 Years Later. Child development, 84 (5), 1526-41 PMID: 23397904 Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest. (Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST)
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 18, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Forget good cop, bad cop - here's the real psychology of two-person interrogation
We're all familiar with the good cop, bad cop interrogation technique so often portrayed in TV and film. In reality, at least in the UK, when two officers perform a joint suspect interview, one of them asks the questions and the other simply takes notes. That doesn't mean the double-interviewer set-up can't be exploited to make it easier to spot whether a suspect is lying. In a new study Samantha Mann and her colleagues tested the effect of the demeanour of the note-taking interviewer. Over 100 hundred students and university staff were allocated to either tell the truth in answering detailed questions about a real job th...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 17, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Is it ethical to instil false hope in people with mental illness?
There's an ethical consensus in medicine that it's wrong to give patients with physical illness false hope. But what about patients with mental health problems? Might the provision of unrealistic optimism be a vital part of their treatment? Or might this serve only to prolong their suffering? Psychiatrist Justine Dembo at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre has explored these delicate issues in a thought-provoking essay. Dembo highlights research showing the numerous positive illusions to which most psychologically healthy people are prone. This includes feelings that we're better than average, that we have more control...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 16, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

The Digest guide to ... willpower
10 years of the Research Digest This is the sixth and last in a series of self-help posts drawing on the BPS Research Digest archive to mark its tenth anniversary. The previous posts covered studying, human attraction, happiness, influencing people and creativity. Learn healthier habits. One way to grow your willpower is to turn wished-for behaviours into habits. This means building routines until certain cues of time or place prompt you to go for a run, say, or eat the right kind of food, without even thinking about it. How long does it take to form a new habit? Phillippa Lally at UCL’s Health ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 14, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

The Digest guide to ... creativity
10 years of the Research Digest Work when you're groggy. A lot of research into creative thinking is about finding the conditions that foster a so-called "divergent" thinking style. When your mind is in this mode, you're less focused, but this means you're more likely to stumble on new insights and fresh perspectives. According to a study published last year, one condition that fosters divergent thinking is being groggy. The researchers found that students were better at solving brain-teaser questions (puzzles that require flashes of insight) when tested at what they usually considered their least optimal time o...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 13, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

The Digest guide to ... influencing people
10 years of the Research Digest Time your boasts. No one likes a show-off. But to get ahead in this world, you're going to need to let at least some people know your successes. A 2010 study found that the key to bragging without looking like a big-head is to make sure you make your self-aggrandising claims in context. If the other person raises the topic (exam results, let's say), it's safe to go ahead and make your brag, even if you weren't asked directly about your performance. In contrast, if you're the one to raise the topic, it's vital before boasting that you provoke a specific question about how you performed....
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 12, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

The Digest guide to ... happiness
10 years of the Research Digest You can will yourself happier. Nathaniel Hawthorne likened happiness to a butterfly, "which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you." Poetic but probably wrong according to recent psychology research. A study earlier this year found that people who made a conscious effort to improve their mood while listening to upbeat music felt happier afterwards than those who just listened passively. Happiness breeds success. It's obvious that success in love and work makes most people feel happier, but there's also evidence...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 11, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

The Digest guide to ... human attraction
10 years of the Research Digest Dress like the person you want to date. If there's someone in your class or workplace who you'd like to get to know better, try making yourself resemble them in some way. Obviously you don't want to take this too far - that would be creepy - but research suggests that we're more likely to sit next to someone who resembles us, so if you can find a way to strike a resemblance to the one you're after (e.g. wear the same fashion brand; don glasses if they wear them), the likelihood is increased that they'll sit down next to you in class or the meeting room at work. Use the power of touch. When...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 10, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

The Digest guide to ... studying
This month is the tenth anniversary of the launch of the British Psychological Society's Research Digest. We've come a long way since the first fortnightly email newsletter was distributed on 1 September 2003 to a handful of readers. Today the email reaches over 30,000 subscribers and the award-winning Research Digest blog (launched in '05) attracts hundreds of thousands of page-views a month. Together with its presence on Twitter and Facebook, the Research Digest is now one of the most popular and trusted sources of psychology research news in the world. To mark the anniversary, this week I'm going to delve into the...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 9, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Link feast
In case you missed them - 10 of the best psychology and neuro links from the past week (or so): Our social lives have a huge impact on the behaviour of our genes, with social isolation leaving us prone to infection. But crucially, it's how we feel about our situation that matters. According to researcher Steve Cole, quoted in a superb new Pacific Standard feature article by David Dobbs: "If you feel like you’re well supported even though there’s nobody else in sight; if you carry relationships in your head; if you come at the world with a sense that people care about you, that you’re valuable, that ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 6, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Most mental health patients prefer psychotherapy over drugs
A line was crossed in 2005 as anti-depressant medication became the most widely prescribed class of drug in the USA. Here in England, the use of anti-depressants has risen to its highest ever level with 50 million prescriptions written last year. And yet a new meta-analysis finds that, given the choice, the vast majority of patients would prefer to receive psychotherapy over drugs. "It is unclear why the shift toward pharmacologic and away from psychological treatment is occurring," the researchers said, "although limited access to evidence-based psychological treatments certainly plays some role." Ka...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 5, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Driving video game reverses age-related mental decline
Car racing video games usually appeal to youngsters more than their grandparents. That could change if the results of a new study prove to be persuasive. A team led by Adam Gazzaley report that older adults aged 60 to 85 who played a customised driving video game called "NeuroRacer" didn't just get better at the game with sustained practice, they also improved on other mental tasks tapping memory and attention that decline with age. What's more, the researchers found these cognitive benefits correlated with changes to the electrical activity of the brain, as recorded by EEG. On the surface, these results appear ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 4, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Online, an initial positive rating is surprisingly influential
Today our opinions are shaped immediately by the reactions of others. Case in point - when the former Disney child star Miley Cyrus gyrated lasciviously on stage at a recent music awards, the outpouring of disapproval was filled with references to the way viewers had reacted negatively on social media. As the story spread, it was hard to tell if people's reactions were a direct response to Cyrus or if they were also influenced by the negative opinions of others. A new study has examined this phenomenon in relation to the comments posted to a news-sharing website similar to Reddit.com and Digg.com. Users of the site share ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 3, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

The man who says his smelly hallucinations predict the weather
A 64-year-old man with Parkinson's Disease has been putting on weight these last five years. It's hard not to because he's found that eating brings him relief from unpleasant phantom odours. Things are normal when he wakes up each day, but as time progresses he comes to experience an increasingly intense smell of skunk excrement mixed with onion. Stranger still, he's found that on a 0-10 scale the stench intensifies from 0 to 7-10 in the few hours preceding a storm. Writing in the International Journal of Biometeorology, S.R. Aiello at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and Alan Hirsch at the Smell and Taste Treatment a...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 2, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

The man whose smelly hallucinations predict the weather
A 64-year-old man with Parkinson's Disease has been putting on weight these last five years. It's hard not to because he's found that eating brings him relief from unpleasant phantom odours. Things are normal when he wakes up each day, but as time progresses he comes to experience an increasingly intense smell of skunk excrement mixed with onion. Stranger still, he's found that on a 0-10 scale the stench intensifies from 0 to 7-10 in the few hours preceding a storm. Writing in the International Journal of Biometeorology, S.R. Aiello at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and Alan Hirsch at the Smell and Taste Treatment a...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 2, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Guilt is catching
Shaking hands with a cheat or thief, or merely sitting in a chair they used, is likely to make you experience feelings of guilt. That's according to a new study, the first to demonstrate "moral transfer" between people. Kendall Eskine and his colleagues invited 54 university students one at a time into a room for testing and told half of them that the chair they were sitting in had recently been used by a student who'd been caught stealing from the department. All participants then completed a personality test about how they were feeling "right now". This included items relating to anger, sadness and...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 29, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Revenge fantasies can be satisfying but are they dangerous?
Revenge fantasies aren't just satisfying, research shows they can have meaningful therapeutic benefits for victims of violence and abuse, including a restored sense of control. What about the draw-backs? There are several, including the potential for guilt and shame. A new study focuses on another possible risk - that indulging in revenge fantasies could inspire real acts of aggression. Laura Seebauer and her colleagues simulated the effects of trauma by having several dozen psychologically healthy students watch three disturbing and violent 5-minute clips from these films: Funny Games, Sleepers and The Girl With The Dr...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 27, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

"I'm really good with my hands and I hit him" - Children's descriptions of harming siblings and friends
The capacity for animosity between child siblings is legendary. Psychologist Judy Dunn has described the "devastating lack of inhibition". Stephen Bank and Michael Kahn wrote about a relationship "emotionally charged with murderous intention." For a new study, Holly Recchia asked 34 seven-year-olds, 33 eleven-year-olds and 34 sixteen-year-olds (all with a younger sibling) to describe a specific time that they caused harm or upset to their sibling and a specific occasion that they caused harm or upset to a friend. There were clear differences in the kind of scenarios involving siblings or friends. ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 22, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Conspiracy theorists are more focused on discrediting official accounts than proposing their own
We tend to think of conspiracy theorists as being fixated on far-fetched explanations. In fact they are not so much concerned with providing alternative accounts of historical events, rather they are driven by a mistrust of authority to discredit official narratives. That's according to a new analysis of conspiracist and conventionalist online comments about the 9/11 terror attacks published on US and UK news websites around the time of the tenth anniversary of the atrocity. Excluding contributions that were pure insults or just links to other sites, Michael Wood and Karen Douglas identified 2,174 relevant comments posted...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 20, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

The supposed benefits of open-plan offices do not outweigh the costs
The worlds of business, office design and psychology really need to get their heads together. Large open-plan offices have become the norm across modern cities despite a sizeable literature documenting the disadvantages, including increased distraction and diminished worker satisfaction. Open-plan offices are favoured by companies largely because of economic factors - more employees can be housed in a smaller space. But there are also supposed communication benefits. The idea is that open spaces foster more communication between staff and boost community spirit. A new study based on a survey of over 42,000 US office worke...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 19, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Things you might want to know about people who believe in pure evil
Psychologists have devised two new scales for assessing people's belief in pure evil and pure good - characteristics they say have important links with broader attitudes towards altruism and the use of violence. Russell Webster and Donald Saucier first demonstrated the validity and reliability of their scales with over two hundred undergrad students. The belief in pure evil questionnaire contains 22 items including "Some people are just pure evil" and "people who commit evil acts always mean to harm innocent people", each rated on a sliding 7-point scale of agreement. The belief in pure good questionna...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 15, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Neuroscience lessons in body awareness from the man with two hearts
Researchers have been taking a keen interest lately in how the brain represents the internal state of the body - a process called interoceptive awareness (IA). There's evidence that poor IA is associated with eating disorders and other mental illnesses, and also that IA is important for social cognition, including empathising with other people. The most popular measure of IA is a person's sensitivity to their own heart beat - a topic we've covered on the Digest before. Neuroscientists think we detect our own heart-beats via two routes - one is "somatosensory"; that is, we feel the movement of the heart's beat in...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 13, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Intelligence agents more prone to irrational decision making than students
Bauer, Bond, Salt and their real-life counterparts have ample experience making tough choices between risky options. You'd think this would be a good thing but psychology research shows expertise can backfire when it encourages a short-hand, gist-based approach to problems, rather than a more detail-focused, calculating thinking style. According to researchers at Cornell University, this is what lies behind their demonstration that intelligence officers are more prone to irrationality than students in choosing between risky options. Valerie Reyna and her colleagues presented 63 undergrads, 54 college-educated adults and 3...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 12, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Link feast
In case you missed them, 10 of the best psychology and neuroscience links from the past week: Steve Pinker wrote a magisterial essay this week on why science, including psychology and neuroscience, is not the enemy of the humanities. "This is an extraordinary time for the understanding of the human condition," he writes. "Intellectual problems from antiquity are being illuminated by insights from the sciences of mind, brain, genes, and evolution." "Screw you! The psychology of anger and aggression" - neuroscientist Dean Burnett provides a wry overview. [from the Digest archive: "Beat an...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 9, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Young children trust kindness over expertise
Young children are surprisingly discerning. By age three they are already more trusting of claims made by nice people. Slightly older and they also understand expertise: four- and five-year-olds realise that a person described as an eagle expert will have knowledge in related topics, such as birds in general and biology. This raises an interesting question - if it came to a choice between benevolence or expertise, what kind of person would a child trust? Asheley Landrum and her colleagues first checked whether young children are able to prioritise relevant expertise. Forty-eight children aged between three and five years ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 8, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Extras
Eye-catching studies that didn't make the final cut: "In two experiments we showed that exposure to an incidental black and white visual contrast leads people to think in a 'black and white' manner" Evolutionary explanations of cognitive biases [open access] Body shaping influences brain shape. Experiencing social exclusion inspires people to take greater financial risks. Passengers show a bias for choosing seats on the left side of aeroplanes (compared with a right-sided bias in half-empty cinemas). Interviews with a pair of identical male twins - one of whom is transgender, the other isn't. Children with...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 7, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

How room and desk size affect people's comfort discussing personal issues
A new study suggests that people feel more comfortable talking about private matters in a larger room at a larger desk. It's a result with obvious practical implications for professionals who require openness from their clients. Vanessa Okken and her colleagues allocated their 86 participants (average age 22; 38 men) to speak to a female Masters student in one of four situations - at a small desk (80cm interpersonal distance) in a small (16 square meters) or larger room (19.8 square meters); or at a large desk (160cm interpersonal distance) in the same small or larger room. The participants were videoed answering questio...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 6, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Less is more when it comes to beating bad habits
An evidence-backed way to break habits involves forming what's known as "if-then" implementation intentions that target the situational cues to temptation. "If I am feeling bored then I will eat an apple" would be a plan designed to break the automatic link between boredom and unhealthy snacking. Most research in this area has focused on the benefits of just one plan. Of course, in reality, our bad habits often have multiple cues. It's not just boredom that prompts a mindless grope for the cookie jar, but also the taste of tea or coffee, watching TV, or the after-buzz of a gym visit. A new paper examine...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 5, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Link feast
In case you missed them - 10 of the best psychology and neuroscience links from the past week: You know the Prisoners' Dilemma game that's used in behavioural economics? They just tested it on actual prisoners and found them to be more cooperative than students!  How would you feel if you lost everything you owned, even if you were financially compensated? Like part of you had died? Or liberated? I examined the psychology of our lifelong relationship with objects for the August issue of The Psychologist. (full contents for the issue). Did we reach "peak neuro" in 2008?  Daniel Engber at Slate magazin...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 2, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Neuroscience gets serious about hypnosis
Hypnosis is synonymous with stage entertainment where the performer puts volunteers from the audience into a trance and commands them to do embarrassing things. This makes it sound like a joke, but in fact hypnosis is a real phenomenon and it is proving increasingly useful to psychologists and neuroscientists, granting new insights into mental processes and medically unexplained neurological disorders. That's according to David Oakley and Peter Halligan who have written an authoritative new review, debunking hypnosis myths, and covering ways that neuroscience is shedding light on hypnosis and ways hypnosis is aiding neuro...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 1, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

The smell of fear more powerful than previously realised
The novelists had it right - fear really can fill the air. Research shows smelling the odour of a scared person triggers activity in a swathe of emotion-related regions in the brain of the sniffer, and leads them to sniff harder and express a fearful facial expression. Still you have to wonder about the real-life impact of this effect. Fear is usually accompanied by the sight and sound of anxiety and we tend to think of these signals as dominant. Would the smell of fear really make much of an impact if it was experienced in the context of sights and sounds signalling no threat? No-one has looked into this before. Jasper d...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 30, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Findings from the first study to compare the minds of gods
One explanation for the ubiquity of religion is that it fostered advantageous cooperation among our ancestors. The human mind readily develops belief in supervisory god-like entities and these beliefs help promote in us cooperative, moral behaviour. One problem with this account: how come some religions don't believe in a god or gods with moral concerns? Benjamin Purzycki may have the answer. He argues there's a difference between explicit, formal theological religious beliefs and people's religious intuitions. Even among religions that state their gods are unconcerned by human moral behaviour, he predicts there is an...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 29, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Link feast
In case you missed them  - 10 of the best psychology and neuroscience links from the past week: 1. The pre-registration debate has kicked off. Sophie Scott wrote an article this week for Times Higher on why she is opposed to the idea of planned psychology and neuroscience experiments being submitted to journals for approval and registration prior to the collection of data. The case for pre-registration was made by Chris Chambers and Marcus Munafo plus 80 supporters in the Guardian last month. They believe pre-registration will improve psychology and related sciences and deter questionable research practices. It sou...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 26, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Students assume psychology is less scientific/important than the natural sciences, says study with scientific limitations
Students see test tubes as more scientific than questionnaires Despite over 130 years passing since the opening of its first laboratory, psychology still struggles to be taken seriously as a science. A new paper by psychologists in the USA suggests this is due in part to superficial assumptions made about the subject matter and methods of behavioural science. Douglas Krull and David Silvera asked 73 college students (49 women) to rate various topics and pieces of equipment on a 9-point scale in terms of how scientific they thought they were. On average, the students consistently rated topics from the natural sciences (e....
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 25, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Does police contact increase or decrease the likelihood that youths will offend in the future?
One of the main arguments for having more police is that they act as a deterrent. With more officers on the street, more would-be criminals can be stopped and questioned; more wrong-doers can be arrested. But what if police contact actually has the effect of making it more likely that young people will offend in the future? Criminologists call this theory "labelling" based on the idea that police encounters catalyse in young people a criminal identity, encouraging association with their deviant peers and estranging them from mainstream society. To test whether police contact acts as a deterrent or a catalyst for...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 23, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Is it worth hiring David Beckham to promote your brand? A psychological test
He's probably the most famous man on the planet, but the problem is there's no chance of exclusivity. Beckham already endorses a string of products from the Emporio Armani fashion label to Burger King. So is it worth hiring him to endorse your product? One way to answer this question is to look at the psychology behind the way people associate brands and celebrities in memory. If you pay Beckham to endorse your product in an ad, then you'd probably like to think that people who view the ad will, in the future, see Beckham in the paper or on TV and then think of your product. But how do you know that seeing him won't lead ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 22, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Link feast
In case you missed them - 10 of the best psychology links from the past week: 1. Shyness is not a disorder (Personal reflections from Joe Moran in Aeon magazine). 2. Next gen hi-res microscope for reconstructing human brain will produce more data than in today's entire digital world. (Alison Abbott in Nature looks at some of the practical obstacles for the big brain projects on both sides of the Atlantic). 3. Diaries of a Broken Mind - young people with mental health issues share their video diaries. Broadcast on BBC Three, now on iPlayer for a few days only. 4. This week's Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4 was Suza...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 19, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Creatures of the night - people who favour the evening score higher on Dark Triad personality traits
There are countless examples in nature of biological adaptations going hand in hand with either a nocturnal or diurnal (day-time) lifestyle. For instance, cats have reflective lenses allowing better vision in low light; chimps have colour vision which is useful for spotting fruit in daylight. In a new paper Peter Jonason and his colleagues provide evidence that in humans certain personality types act as a form of adaptation that correlates with a preference for daily or nightly living (a person's "chronotype"). Specifically the researchers have shown that people with a preference for the evening and night-time t...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 18, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Extras
Eye-catching studies that didn't make the final cut: Danish study: 95-year-olds tested in 2010 had better cognitive functioning than 93-yr-olds tested a decade earlier. Control groups in psychology don't take full account of the placebo effect. This paper uses research into brain training to show how important it is to match participants' expectations across treatment and control conditions that an intervention will work. (open access) Men who score higher on psychopathy are better at lie detection; opposite pattern for women. An fMRI study of inspirational coaching and mentoring. Physical wounds heal f...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 17, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Looking at their own face tunes Westerners to their heartbeat; not so for East Asians
This study is the first to look at cultural differences in how external (visual) bodily information interacts with internal bodily signals. Caution is need as the sample size was small, as acknowledged by the researchers. Nonetheless they said their results suggest "exteroceptive and interoceptive self-awareness may be integrated in a different way in individuals from East Asian cultures as compared to those from Western cultures." _________________________________ Lara Maister and Manos Tsakiris (2013). My face, my heart: Cultural differences in integrated bodily self-awareness. Cognitive Neuroscience D...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 16, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Why do people like listening to sad music when they're feeling down?
We spend most of our lives trying to be happy. And yet when we're feeling sad we put on a tear-jerker tune and wallow in our misery. Why? It's an aspect of the psychology of music that's been surprisingly overlooked. Now Annemieke Van den Tol and Jane Edwards at the University of Limerick have surveyed 65 adults online about a time they'd had a negative experience and then chose to listen to a sad piece of music. Most of the participants were Irish but there were also respondents in the Netherlands, USA, Germany and Spain. The age range was 18 to 66 (average 26) with 30 women. Because this issue has hardly been investiga...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 15, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Link feast
In case you missed them - 10 of the best psychology links from the past week: 1. Social psychologist Daniel Wegner has left the building. Famed for his research into thought suppression, Wegner also made great strides in other areas. Dan Gilbert describes him in this obituary as modern psychology's "most original thinker". Get the t-shirt. Here's a Boston Globe obit and here's a Digest report on Dan Wegner's 2011 paper that suggested the internet is becoming an external hard-drive for the mind. 2. How to help every child fulfil their potential. Psychologist Carol Dweck spoke at the RSA on Monday and her ta...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 12, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

How weak arguments can make a more effective call to arms than strong arguments
We often think of persuasion in terms of converting people to our side of an argument. Just as important in many contexts is the need to inspire supporters to do more to help a cause they already believe in. In a new paper, Omair Akhtar and his colleagues provide evidence here for a counter-intuitive principle - they say that presenting people with weak arguments for a cause they already believe makes for a more powerful call to arms than presenting them with strong arguments. In an initial study, 165 US citizens were presented with either weak or strong arguments made by other voters in favour of Barack Obama's re-electi...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 11, 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: Memory and the law - insights from case studies (Memory). Cultures of the internet (Transcultural psychiatry). How mindful should psychotherapists and counsellors be about mindfulness? (European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling). Social psychological perspectives on the legitimation of social inequality (European Journal of Social Psychology). Treatment programmes for high-risk offenders (Psychology, Crime and Law). Age in the workplace: challenges and opportunities (European Journal of Work and Organisational Psychology). Eating disorders (special section ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 10, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

When do bystanders intervene in barroom brawls?
The hero in martial arts movies usually steps in when a passive victim is picked on by a gang of thugs. However a new study finds that in real life, third parties are most likely to intervene in conflict situations when the incident involves mutual aggression between drunk men. Michael Parks and his colleagues trained dozens of observers who analysed 860 aggressive incidents across 503 nights in 87 large clubs and bars in Toronto, Canada. Aggression was defined as anything from a verbal insult or unwanted physical contact to a punch or kick. Incidents were twice as likely to involve one-sided aggression as oppo...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 9, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Irrational human decision making during a zombie apocalypse
You're in a room full of lumbering zombies and you want to get out quick. Here's a tip: the stress of the situation will make you favour the exit that you're most familiar with even if that's the busiest way out. Give yourself a better chance by checking that there isn't a quieter way to escape the flesh-munchers. This is the lesson from a study conducted by researchers at the ZombieLab event held at London's Science Museum earlier this year. Nikolai Bode and Edward Codling presented 185 participants (90 women; average age 25) with a computer simulation showing a top-down view of a corridor and a zombie-filled room with t...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 8, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs

Link feast
In case you missed them - 10 of the best psychology links from the past week: 1. The expression and perception of human emotion is the same the world over, right? Lisa Barrett doesn't think so as this Boston magazine feature article about her research and theories explains. Not everyone liked the way the article presented Barrett as a lone warrior fighting established theory - check this scathing blog post from Michael Kraus. (also here's more on universality of emotional expression from the Digest archive). 2. What does dopamine really do? Great overview by Bethany Brookshire in Slate is sure to get your ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 5, 2013 Category: Psychiatrists and Psychologists Authors: Christian Jarrett Source Type: blogs