Virtual reality research finds large sex difference in navigational efficiency
This study goes a little further, in that it investigates the kinds of strategies that men and women tend to choose themselves. (Interestingly, the strategies that the participants actually used didn’t match up well with the kinds of strategies they reported generally taking.) Still, the findings do tally with those suggesting that men tend to be superior navigators in situations in which: a). It’s possible to create a mental map, and b). that map can be useful (in an environment where shortcuts aren’t possible, it’s not likely to help). The researchers do stress, however, that some women in their s...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 11, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Gender Source Type: blogs

The first study to explore what cisgender kids think of their transgender peers
Cisgender kids who categorised their transgender peers by natal sex also showed less liking of them, mirroring similar findings with adults By Christian Jarrett With an increasing number of young children transitioning socially to the gender opposite to their birth sex, and with rates of bullying and discrimination against transgender youth known to be high, researchers say it is important that we begin to understand more about how cisgender children (those whose gender identity matches their biological sex at birth) view their transgender peers. A new paper in the Journal of Cognition and Development is the first to explo...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 7, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Developmental Gender Source Type: blogs

Can hallucinations lead to post-traumatic growth?
By Alex Fradera If you contemplate how a person’s life would be changed by starting to hear or see things others can’t, can you imagine it could offer anything good? A research team from Hull university and the surrounding NHS trusts suggest that among the tumult, hallucinations can also offer opportunities for growth. Writing in the Journal of Psychology and Psychotherapy, lead author Lily Dixon and her team detail the experiences of seven people who have lived with verbal or auditory hallucinations and how, amid the struggles, their journeys have taken them to some positive places. The five men and two ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 6, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Qualitative Source Type: blogs

Super altruists (who ’ve donated a kidney to a stranger) show heightened empathic brain activity when witnessing strangers in pain
By Christian Jarrett From an evolutionary perspective, altruistic behaviour is still a bit of mystery to psychologists, especially when it comes with a hefty cost to the self and is aimed at complete strangers. One explanation is that altruism is driven by empathy – experiencing other people’s distress the same way as, or similar to, how we experience our own. However, others have criticized this account – most notably psychologist Paul Bloom, author of Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion. Their reasons are many, but among them is the fact that our empathy tends to be greatest for people who...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 5, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Morality Social Source Type: blogs

The “experiential advantage” is not universal – the less well-off get equal or more happiness from buying things
By guest blogger Juliet Hodges Being rich(er) may not guarantee happiness, as shown by ample evidence from the social sciences, but there are ways of spending money that will make you happier than others. Recent research has uncovered the “experiential advantage”: greater happiness from spending money on experiences (holidays, meals, theatre tickets) instead of material things (gadgets, clothes, jewellery). This could be for a number of reasons, such as experiences being more closely aligned with our values and being less likely to produce rumination and regret. There are exceptions to this rule, of course. Stu...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 4, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion guest blogger Money Source Type: blogs

Study of 8000 workers finds that gender differences in “achievement motivation” may explain part of the gender pay gap
This study wasn’t trying to provide us with all the answers. What it does show is clear: that, in aggregate, confidence in success and less fear of failure have real effects on wages, and that this may be relevant to the gender pay gap. One might expect that in certain roles and situations, gender differences in confidence could matter even more.  Based on their findings, Risse and her team suggest it may help reduce the gender pay gap for some women to undertake motivational and confidence training (although, as they note, personality is not infinitely malleable). The researchers also question whether there is ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 2, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Gender Occupational Personality Source Type: blogs

While your deliberate “monogamy maintenance strategies” probably won’t keep you faithful, your automatic psychological biases just might
By Alex Fradera Half of us have been unfaithful in our lifetime, and one in five people within their current relationship. As sexual infidelity is the primary cause of divorce and one of the hardest issues to address in couples therapy, identifying any useful defences could make a huge difference to people’s happiness. In a recent paper in Personal Relationships Brenda Lee and Lucia O’Sullivan from the University of New Brunswick investigated what strategies people in relationships use to reduce the chances they will cheat – so-called “monogomy maintainance strategies” – and lo...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 31, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Dating Sex Source Type: blogs

Beyond the invisible gorilla – inattention can also render us numb and anosmic (without smell)
This study investigated touch awareness when the brain was already focusing on a touch task. But there’s evidence from earlier work that, for inattentional effects to occur, the two stimuli do not have to involve the same senses, and the new paper in Psychological Science on inattentional anosmia also finds this.  Charles Spence, head of the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at the University of Oxford, and Sophie Forster at the University of Sussex, looked at the effects of performing a high vs. low attentional-load visual task on scent awareness.  Across a series of experiments, groups of participants had to...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 30, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Perception Source Type: blogs

Episode 13: How To Study And Learn More Effectively
This is Episode 13 of PsychCrunch, the podcast from the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest, sponsored by Routledge Psychology. Download here. http://traffic.libsyn.com/psychcrunch/20160829_PsychCrunch_Ep13_Mx1.mp3 Can psychology help us to learn better? Our presenter Christian Jarrett discovers the best evidence-backed strategies for learning, including the principle of spacing, the benefits of testing yourself and teaching others. He also hears about the perils of overconfidence and the lack of evidence for popular educational ideas like “learning styles” and “brain gym&rdqu...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 29, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational Podcast Source Type: blogs

“Act more like an extravert” intervention has “wholly positive” benefits for many, but there are drawbacks for introverts
By Christian Jarrett For decades, personality psychologists have noticed a striking, consistent pattern: extraverts are happier more of the time than introverts. For anyone interested in promoting wellbeing, this has raised the question of whether it might be beneficial to encourage people to act more extraverted. Evidence to date has suggested it might. For example, regardless of their usual disposition, people tend to report feeling happier and more authentic whenever they are behaving more like an extravert (that is, more sociable, active and assertive). That’s a mere correlation that could be interpreted in diffe...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 24, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Mental health Personality Source Type: blogs

First randomised-controlled trial of an employee “Wellness Programme” suggests they are a waste of money
This study can’t speak to why certain individuals are deterred from signing up, but perhaps it has to do with their other commitments and dependents, and their perceptions of the programmes as somehow not for them. To increase up-take among these groups will therefore likely require addressing these perceptions and providing additional support to help overcome any obstacles to taking part.  For now, the impression of a positive impact given by wellness programmes looks largely a mirage. —What Do Workplace Wellness Programs Do? Evidence from the Illinois Workplace Wellness Study Alex Fradera (@alexfrad...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 23, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Occupational Source Type: blogs

For some, experiencing trauma may act as a form of cognitive training that increases their mental control
By Emma Young That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger… It’s an adage that’s backed up in part by studies of people who’ve been through a trauma, such as a car accident or a robbery. While it’s true that around 7-8 per cent of trauma survivors develop chronic PTSD and experience persistent intrusive, unwanted memories of the event, most people recover quickly, and some even report better mental health than they had before (generally when the trauma has been moderate, rather than severe). But what underpins so-called “post-traumatic growth?” A new paper in the Jour...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 22, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Source Type: blogs

New findings explain why, if you ’re sensitive to alcohol, you’re probably sensitive to sleep deprivation too
This study therefore provides evidence that alcohol and sleep deprivation affect the adenosine system in very similar ways, and that personal differences in this system likely contribute to the way our sensitivity or resilience to both manifests as an individual trait (although the full picture is more complicated – sensitivity to alcohol, for example, is known to depend on a number of factors and has been linked to several genetic variations). Though these results are important, they have several limitations. The volunteers underwent more experimental conditions than included in the key analysis of the effects ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 21, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Alcohol biological Brain Cognition guest blogger Sleep and dreaming Source Type: blogs

Contrary to popular psychological theory, believers in free will were no more generous or honest
By Christian Jarrett There’s a popular idea in psychology that among the important factors shaping our honesty and generosity is our belief in the concept of free will. Believe more strongly in free will, so the theory goes, and you will be more inclined to prosocial behavior. Supporting this, studies that have momentarily undermined people’s belief in free will – for instance, by giving them a text to read about genetic determinism, or about how neuroscience shows our decisions are out of conscious control – have found that this increases people’s propensity for cheating and selfishness. Such...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 20, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Morality Replications Source Type: blogs

Brainwave study suggests sexual posing, but not bare skin, leads to automatic objectification
This study relies on the discovery first made nearly 50 years ago that when human faces and bodies are presented upside-down, it is particularly hard for us to perceive them in the same holistic way we do when we look at them the right-way up (a phenomenon known as the “inversion effect”). Supporting the concept of objectification, evidence from this decade shows that inverted sexualised bodies (for example, wearing scant clothing in a provocative pose) do not trigger the inversion effect, suggesting that we process them more like we process objects – by scrutinising their individual parts, rather than ho...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 17, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Sex Social Source Type: blogs

Pilot study finds “smart drug” Aderall has limited benefits for healthy students, and may harm working memory
By Emma Young Stimulants available on prescription such as Adderall improve cognitive functioning as well as attention in people with ADHD, but many students without this condition also take them, believing that they will act as “smart drugs” and boost their cognition, and so their academic performance. The limited research to date into whether this is actually the case has produced mixed results. A new double-blind pilot study of healthy US college students, published in Pharmacy, found that though Adderall led to minor improvements in attention, it actually impaired working memory.  The researchers, fro...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 16, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Educational Source Type: blogs

Updated: A re-replication of a psychological classic provides a cautionary tale about overhyped science
via Strack et al, 1988 By guest blogger Jesse Singal “Update: On Twitter, some researchers argued, reasonably in my view, that I wasn’t quite sceptical enough in relating these findings. See the update at the end of this post for more details.” If you wanted a poster child for the replication crisis and the controversy it has unleashed within the field of psychology, it would be hard to do much better than Fritz Strack’s findings. In 1988, the German psychologist and his colleagues published research that appeared to show that if your mouth is forced into a smile, you become a bit happier, and ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 15, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Faces guest blogger Replications Source Type: blogs

A re-replication of a psychological classic provides a cautionary tale about overhyped science
via Strack et al, 1988 By guest blogger Jesse Singal If you wanted a poster child for the replication crisis and the controversy it has unleashed within the field of psychology, it would be hard to do much better than Fritz Strack’s findings. In 1988, the German psychologist and his colleagues published research that appeared to show that if your mouth is forced into a smile, you become a bit happier, and if it’s forced into a frown, you become a bit sadder. He pulled this off by asking volunteers to view a set of cartoons (paper ones, not animated) while holding a pen in their mouth, either with their tee...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 15, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Faces guest blogger Replications Source Type: blogs

Preliminary evidence suggests women may be better role jugglers than men
Women took only the positive from work into the home (and vice versa), while for men it was the stress that spilt over By Emma Young Juggling home and work commitments is never easy, and yet there’s been surprisingly little research into how either demands – or support – at home or work may spillover into the other context. Does a frustrating or combative workday negatively affect family life that evening, for instance? Or if your partner is emotionally supportive when you both get home, will you “pass it on”, and be more supportive of colleagues the next day? And, are men and women affected i...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 14, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Gender Mental health Occupational Source Type: blogs

Women take only the positive from work into the home (and vice versa), while for men it ’s the stress that spills over
Preliminary evidence suggests women may be better role jugglers By Emma Young Juggling home and work commitments is never easy, and yet there’s been surprisingly little research into how either demands – or support – at home or work may spillover into the other context. Does a frustrating or combative workday negatively affect family life that evening, for instance? Or if your partner is emotionally supportive when you both get home, will you “pass it on”, and be more supportive of colleagues the next day? And, are men and women affected in the same ways? A new paper, published in the Journal ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 14, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Gender Mental health Occupational Source Type: blogs

Interviews with 100 CBT-therapists reveal 43 per cent of clients experience unwanted side-effects from therapy
By Christian Jarrett The structured nature of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy/CBT and its clearly defined principles (based on the links between thoughts, feelings and behaviours) make it relatively easy to train practitioners, to ensure standardised delivery and to measure outcomes. Consequently, CBT has revolutionised mental health care, allowing psychologists to alchemize therapy from an art into a science. For many mental health conditions, there is now considerable evidence that CBT is as, or more, effective than drug treatments. Yet, just like any form of psychotherapy, CBT is not without the risk of unwanted adverse e...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 13, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Therapy Source Type: blogs

Women with partners higher in trait conscientiousness get more pleasure from sex
By Christian Jarrett Especially if you are in a long-term relationship your own sexual functioning is not a purely an individual matter but is bound up with your partner’s. Previous research has looked at this dynamic, finding for example that people are generally happier with their sex lives when they have the perception that they and their partner are sexually compatible. Surprisingly, however, before now the influence of your partner’s broader personality traits on your own sex life had not been studied. A German study of nearly a thousand long-term couples (98 per cent of them heterosexual) is the first to ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 10, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Gender Personality Sex Source Type: blogs

Do people with a high IQ age more slowly?
Greater intelligence may mean that you feel younger than your years – and this seems to be reflected in biological measures of ageing By guest blogger David Robson Take a moment to consider how old you feel. Not your actual, biological age – but your own subjective feelings. Abundant research during the past few decades have shown that this “subjective age” can be a powerful predictor of your health, including the risk of depression, diabetes and hypertension, dementia, and hospitalisation for illness and injury, and even mortality – better than your actual age. In each case, the younger ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 9, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: guest blogger Health Intelligence Source Type: blogs

Close friends become absorbed into our self-concept, affecting our ability to distinguish their faces from our own
By Christian Jarrett When we say that our close friends have become a part of us, we’re usually talking metaphorically. Yet prior research has shown there is a literal sense in which this is true. For instance, we’re slower at judging whether given personality traits apply to us or our friends, compared with when judging whether traits belong to us or someone we’re not close to – it’s as if our friends’ traits and our own have somehow become shared, which makes the judgment trickier. Similarly, in terms of brain activity, we respond to mistakes made by friends in a similar way to how we ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 8, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Faces Perception Social The self Source Type: blogs

How kids shape their parents ’ parenting style
By Christian Jarrett In our culture we like to speculate about the effects of different parenting styles on children. A lot of this debate is wasted breath. Twin studies – that compare similarities in outcomes between genetically identical and non-identical twins raised by their biological or adopted parents – have already shown us that parental influence is far more modest than we usually assume. Now a paper in Social Psychological and Personality Science goes further, using the twin approach to reveal how it is mistaken to see the parent-child dynamic as a one-way relationship. “Given the current e...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 7, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Developmental Genetics Personality Source Type: blogs

People with strong self-control experience less intense bodily states like hunger and fatigue
By Christian Jarrett You may think of people with high self-control as having enviable reserves of willpower, but recent findings suggest this isn’t the case. Instead it seems the strong-willed are canny folk, adept at avoiding temptation in the first place. A new study in the journal Self and Identity builds on this picture, showing that people high in self-control tend to experience less intense visceral states, like fatigue, hunger and stress (states that are known to encourage impulsive behaviour). The new findings make sense: after all, it is much easier to be in control of your decisions if you are organis...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 6, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Decision making Personality Source Type: blogs

The most effective teachers turn to their colleagues for advice (while weaker teachers don ’t bother)
By guest blogger Bradley Busch Teaching, it has often been said, is the one profession that creates all other professions. Therefore it is so important that we learn how to do it right. The ways that teachers learn from each other is likely to be an important part of this, especially how they discern each other’s expertise and whether they are inclined to seek advice and help from the most able. A team led by James Spillane at Northwestern University has published a study in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis that looks into these teacher behaviours. The researchers employed a mixed-method approach that ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 3, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational guest blogger Source Type: blogs

The “beautiful mess” effect: other people view our vulnerability more positively than we do
“Vulnerability is courage in you and inadequacy in me” Brené Brown By Christian Jarrett Admitting mistakes, seeking help, apologising first, confessing one’s romantic feelings – all these kind of situations involve intentional expressions of vulnerability, in which we may fear being rejected or being judged negatively, yet we grit our teeth and go ahead anyway. According to a team of psychologists writing in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology contrary to our worst fears, having the courage to show our vulnerability in these ways will often be rewarded. That’s because ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 2, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Social Source Type: blogs

New evidence for the “propinquity effect” – mere physical closeness increases our liking of desirable people and things
By Emma Young The idea that we prefer desirable objects – and people – that are physically closer to us has been around for decades. All other things being equal, a potentially dangerous animal that’s close is known to seem scarier than one that’s further away, and it’s been suggested that, in a mirror effect, a nearby desirable person or object is more enticing or attractive than the same one positioned at some distance.  But although this propinquity effect “continues to be a popular topic in introductory social psychology courses, there are surprisingly few works that offer comp...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - August 1, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Social Source Type: blogs

Political and business leaders who change their moral stance are perceived not as brave, but hypocritical and ineffective
By Alex Fradera Many commentators considered President Obama’s reversal on same-sex marriage an act of courage. But this isn’t how the public usually perceives moral mind-changers, according to a team led by Tamar Kreps at the University of Utah. Their findings in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggest that leaders who shift from a moral stance don’t appear brave – they just look like hypocrites. The researchers conducted 15 studies, of which I’ll focus on one example that illustrates the core approach. Nearly 800 participants recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk read ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 31, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: leadership Morality Source Type: blogs

Amsterdam coffee-shop study explores the effects of cannabis on eye-witness memory
This study breaks new ground, but it’s not without some issues – for instance, the realism of recruiting coffee-shop patrons came at the expense of experimental control. There was no random allocation to conditions, for example, and the researchers didn’t have an accurate measure of their participants’ levels of intoxication. Vredeveldt and her team recommend that future research strive for greater experimental control, and they said it would be useful to find out whether the adverse effects of cannabis on recall dissipate once a witness sobers up. —Effects of cannabis on eyewitness memor...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 30, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Forensic Perception Source Type: blogs

Clever study shows how two minds interact to create the spooky sense that an Ouija board is moving by itself
By Christian Jarrett Psychologists have proposed an explanation for why Ouija board users feel as though a spirit is moving the planchette (an ornate pointer) and spelling out messages. It is based on the idea that two (or more) living users unwittingly take turns at controlling the planchette, cooperating implicitly to create a message that starts out random but becomes more predictable as the number of meaningful options decreases. “It seems that meaningful responses from the Ouija board are an emergent property of interacting predictive minds that increasingly impose structure on initially random events in the ses...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 27, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Parapsychology Perception Source Type: blogs

Does receiving favours and freebies make you uncomfortable? Maybe you have “reciprocity anxiety”
By Christian Jarrett Years ago, my wife and I were window shopping in the Brighton lanes when we decided to enter a posh perfume store to take a closer sniff. A smiling sales woman approached and, to our delight, offered us each a complimentary glass of sparking wine and some nibbles. Soon though, our glee turned to discomfort: could we really just walk out having enjoyed the freebies? Conspiring like thieves, we decided that although we wouldn’t buy anything (not that we could have afforded to), we had better stay and look interested a while longer; we even dropped a false hint to the woman at our likely return. Acc...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 26, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Money Social Source Type: blogs

Weight gain in new fathers is a “real phenomenon” that’s been subjected to a “striking lack” of research
Potential factors contributing to paternal obesity risk, from Saxbe et al, 2018 By Christian Jarrett The phenomenon of mothers gaining weight during and beyond pregnancy is well-researched and understood – much of it has to do with the hormonal changes that assist fetal growth and preparation for lactation. Less researched and recognised, other than through jokes about “dad bods”, is that many expectant fathers also gain weight, and that the pounds tend to stay on (one study found that fathers weigh, on average, 14 pounds more than childless men). In Health Psychology Review, a team led by Darby Saxbe at ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 25, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological Gender Health Source Type: blogs

First survey of its kind for 50 years finds most Americans still think they have above average intelligence
“… the least intelligent tend to be the most overconfident” By Alex Fradera A systematic survey in the US of people’s beliefs about their own intelligence – the first for 50 years – has shown that was true then is also the case in the modern era: a majority of people think they are smarter than average.  The research, led by Patrick Heck from the Geisinger Health System and published in PLOS One, combined an online survey and phone survey, with each involving 750 people reflecting a cross-section of the US population, balanced in terms of sex, age, education levels a...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 24, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: In Brief Intelligence Source Type: blogs

Systematic review finds “qualified support” for hormonal treatments for gender dysphoria in youth
By Christian Jarrett Clinicians treating children with gender dysphoria, the children themselves, and their parents, are faced with a dilemma – early use of puberty suppressing drugs (followed later by further hormonal treatments) will likely make it easier for the young person to gender transition in due course, and the earlier that process begins, the more effective it is likely to be. However, intervening earlier comes with the possibility that the child’s feelings of gender dysphoria would have dissipated naturally, or that they may later de-transition (that is, change their mind about wantin...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 23, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological Gender Mental health Source Type: blogs

Systematic review: puberty suppressing drugs alone do not alleviate gender dysphoria
By Christian Jarrett Clinicians treating teenagers with gender dysphoria, the teens themselves, and their parents, are faced with a dilemma – puberty suppressing drugs and hormonal treatments will likely make it easier for the adolescent to gender transition in due course, and the earlier that process begins, the more effective it is likely to be. However, intervening earlier comes with a greater risk that the teen may later de-transition (that is, change their mind about wanting to transition to the other gender), leaving them with potentially irreversible bodily changes caused by the hormonal treatment. Accord...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 23, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological Gender Mental health Source Type: blogs

Systematic review: puberty suppressing drugs do not alleviate gender dysphoria
By Christian Jarrett Clinicians treating teenagers with gender dysphoria, the teens themselves, and their parents, are faced with a dilemma – puberty suppressing drugs and hormonal treatments will likely make it easier for the adolescent to gender transition in due course, and the earlier that process begins, the more effective it is likely to be. However, intervening earlier comes with a greater risk that the teen may later de-transition (that is, change their mind about wanting to transition to the other gender), leaving them with potentially irreversible bodily changes caused by the hormonal treatment. Accord...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 23, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological Gender Mental health Source Type: blogs

Three-week diary study: sex today increases sense of meaning in life tomorrow
By Christian Jarrett What makes for a good life? Current psychological theory highlights the importance of relationships, belonging and having a sense of purpose. Gratitude, forgiveness, generosity and self-compassion often get a mention too. According to a team of psychologists at George Mason University, there is however a glaring omission. Sex. “In theoretical models of well-being, sex is rarely discussed and in many seminal articles, ignored,” they write in their new paper published in Emotion. Todd Kashdan and his colleagues have attempted to correct this oversight with a three-week diary study, in which t...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 20, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Sex Source Type: blogs

Searching for the fundamental mental processes that cut across diagnostic categories, driving confusion and distress
A new paper in Journal of Clinical Psychology is the just the latest to take a trans-diagnostic approach to mental health By Alex Fradera The number of psychiatric diagnoses keep on growing, with perhaps ten times as many categories now as there were 50 years ago. This may in part reflect our growing knowledge, which is welcome. But the sheer density of diagnoses makes it difficult for researchers or clinicians to see the wood for the trees, and it encourages them to settle into silos. It would be advantageous for clinical research and practice if we could introduce some elegance to our understanding. A recent movemen...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 19, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Source Type: blogs

Underestimating the power of gratitude – recipients of thank-you letters are more touched than we expect
By Christian Jarrett We’ve all been there: feeling so grateful to a friend or colleague that we hatch the idea of sending them a thank-you message. But then we worry about how to phrase it. And then we figure it probably won’t mean much to them anyway; if anything it could all be a bit awkward. So we don’t bother. Does this sound familiar? According to a pair of US psychologists, a common failure of perspective means that a lot of us underestimate the positive impact on others (and ourselves) of expressing gratitude, meaning that we miss out on a simple way to improve our social relations and wellbeing. B...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 18, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Social Source Type: blogs

Massive study finds that a sizeable minority of us are in jobs that don ’t fit our primary occupational interests
By Alex Fradera In theory, our personal traits and interests should affect the jobs we pursue and where we thrive the most. This assumption is baked into the Work Psychology theory of “person-environment fit” and it’s an idea that is foundational to services we depend on like vocational guidance and career planning. But one of its key implications has until now been untested: that people who share the same job role will also have similar job interests. Now a surprising new study in the Journal of Vocational Behavior suggests that for many jobs, this simply isn’t true.  The Michigan State ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 17, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Occupational Source Type: blogs

Audiobooks pack a more powerful emotional punch than film
This study is a preprint meaning that it has not yet been subjected to formal peer review] Emma Young (@EmmaELYoung) is a novelist and Staff Writer at BPS Research Digest (Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST)
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 16, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Technology Source Type: blogs

Research into the mental health of prisoners, digested
By Christian Jarrett Around the world, more people than ever are locked up in prisons – estimated to be in excess of 11 million people, up by almost 20 per cent since the turn of the millennium (pdf). According to a recent House of Commons Briefing Paper the rate of increase is even higher than this in the UK where prison populations are at a record high. Many of these incarcerated individuals have intensifying mental health needs – for instance, the same briefing paper reports that UK rates of self-harm in prisoners were 25 per cent higher in 2015 than in 2014. Ahead of next week’s meeting of the Al...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 13, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Feature Forensic Mental health Source Type: blogs

Philosophise this – psychology research by philosophers is robust and replicates better than other areas of psychology
Experimental philosophy or X-Phi takes the tools of contemporary psychology and applies them to unravelling how people think about major topics from Western philosophy By guest blogger Dan Jones Amid all the talk of a “replication crisis” in psychology, here’s a rare good news story – a new project has found that a sub-field of the discipline, known as “experimental philosophy” or X-phi, is producing results that are impressively robust. The current crisis in psychology was largely precipitated by a mass replication attempt published by the Open Science Collaboration (OSC) project i...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 12, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: guest blogger Methods Replications Source Type: blogs

Performing meaningless rituals boosts our self-control through making us feel more self-disciplined
The ritual instructions given to some of the participants in the first experiment, via Tian et al 2018 By guest blogger Tomasz Witkowski We could say without exaggeration that the discovery of a means of achieving full control over oneself is something of a “holy grail” for psychology. There is nothing to indicate that we are getting any closer to finding one, but recent decades have brought us a growing number of discoveries that at least partially allow us to enhance self-control mechanisms. One of them is the light which has been shed on the importance of rituals in boosting self-control. Now in a new p...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 11, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: guest blogger Health Source Type: blogs

After analysing the field ’s leading journal, a psychologist asks: Is social psychology still the science of behaviour?
By Alex Fradera Part of my role at the Digest involves sifting through journals looking for research worth covering, and I’ve sensed that modern social psychology generates plenty of studies based on questionnaire data, but far fewer that investigate the kind of tangible behavioural outcomes illuminated by the field’s classics, from Asch’s conformity experiments to Milgram’s research on obedience to authority. A new paper in Social Psychological Bulletin examines this apparent change systematically. Based on his findings, Dariusz Doliński at the SWPS University of Social Sciences and Huma...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 10, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Methods Social Source Type: blogs

We can tell from a person ’s roar whether they are bigger and stronger than us
By Emma Young Many animals, including sea lions and dogs, can accurately predict the size and strength of a potential adversary in part by listening to their vocalisations – such as the ferocity and depth of their barks or growls. People weren’t thought to be much good at doing something similar. But in previous studies, volunteers were asked to judge the absolute height and strength of another person, based on the sound of an aggressively-spoken sentence or a ‘roar’. Now in a new study, published in iScience, when participants were instead instructed to listen to recordings and judge how much stron...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 9, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: evolutionary psych Source Type: blogs

Researchers have identified a group of patients who are especially prone to out-of-body experiences
By Emma Young People who’ve had an out-of-body experience (OBE) report that their conscious awareness shifted outside their physical body – often upwards, so they felt like they were floating above their own head. It’s thought that OBEs occur when the brain fails to properly integrate data from the different senses, including vision, touch, proprioception (the sense of where the limbs and other body parts are located in space) and from the vestibular system (organs in the inner ear that monitor head orientation, balance and motion).  Previous research has mostly focused on the role of vision and touc...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 6, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Perception Source Type: blogs

Open-plan offices drive down face-to-face interactions and increase use of email
By Christian Jarrett As well as their cost-saving appeal, the rationale for large open-plan offices is that they are expected to act as a crucible for human chemistry, increasing face-to-face encounters between colleagues to the benefit of creativity and collaboration. Unfortunately it’s well-established that most workers don’t like them, such is the fundamental human need for privacy and control over one’s environment. Now a pair of quasi-experimental field studies published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B suggest that the supposed collaborative advantage of open-plan offic...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - July 5, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Occupational Social Source Type: blogs