Sorry, but imagining you ’re a professor won’t make you smarter (an unsuccessful mass replication of the Professor Prime effect)
It’s another blow for “social priming” but a success for non-adversarial science By Alex Fradera A pre-registered mass replication attempt published in Perspectives on Psychological Science has raised doubts about another celebrated psychology finding. The collaboration between 40 laboratories found scant evidence for the so-called “Professor Prime”, undermining the famous finding that when people imagined themselves as a professor rather than a football hooligan it led them to perform better on a trivia quiz. In the original study, published in 1998, the Dutch researchers Ap Dijksterhui...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 26, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Intelligence Replications Social Source Type: blogs

This cheap, brief “growth mindset” intervention shifted struggling students onto a more successful trajectory
By guest blogger Bradley Busch Can a brief video telling students that it’s possible to improve their intelligence and abilities make much difference to their educational outcomes? And if fostering a “growth mindset” in this way does make a difference, does it benefit all students and schools equally? Research on growth mindset over the past twenty years has progressed from experiments in a laboratory into real world settings, such as classrooms. This has shown that having a growth mindset leads to a small but positive improvement in grades and better mental health. But to date, little work has examined w...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 23, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational guest blogger Source Type: blogs

Can excessive small talk really make us miserable?
By Emma Young If you want to feel happier, avoid small talk and aim instead for profound conversations. That was the message the mainstream media took from a well-publicised paper published in Psychological Science in 2010 (e.g. Talk Deeply, Be Happy? asked the New York Times). But now an extension of that study, in press at the same journal (available as a pre-print), and involving two of the psychologists behind the original work, has found no evidence that how much – or little – time  you spend chatting about the weather or what you’re having for dinner will affect your life satisfaction...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 22, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Replications Social Source Type: blogs

New findings contradict headline-grabbing paper that suggested excessive small talk makes us miserable
By Emma Young If you want to feel happier, avoid small talk and aim instead for profound conversations. That was the message the mainstream media took from a well-publicised paper published in Psychological Science in 2010 (e.g. Talk Deeply, Be Happy? asked the New York Times). But now an extension of that study, in press at the same journal (available as a pre-print), and involving two of the psychologists behind the original work, has found no evidence that how much – or little – time  you spend chatting about the weather or what you’re having for dinner will affect your life satisfaction...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 22, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Replications Social Source Type: blogs

Why do we think of the future as being in front? New clues from study of people born blind
By Alex Fradera Where is the future? The tendency in our culture – and most, but not all, others – is to compare the body’s movement through space with its passage through time: ahead are the things we are on our way to encounter. We intuit that the past is linked to the space behind and the future to that in front. But research in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General has found that some Western people buck this tendency: those born blind. A team led by Luca Rinaldi of the University of Pavia recruited 17 normally sighted local participants and 17 participants of similar age who had early...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 21, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Perception Time Source Type: blogs

Why do we think of the future as being in front of us? New clues from study of people born blind
By Alex Fradera Where is the future? The tendency in our culture – and most, but not all, others – is to compare the body’s movement through space with its passage through time: ahead are the things we are on our way to encounter. We intuit that the past is linked to the space behind and the future to that in front. But research in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General has found that some Western people buck this tendency: those born blind. A team led by Luca Rinaldi of the University of Pavia recruited 17 normally sighted local participants and 17 participants of similar age who had early...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 21, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Perception Time Source Type: blogs

Is the future ahead? Not for those born blind
By Alex Fradera Where is the future? The tendency in our culture – and most, but not all, others – is to compare the body’s movement through space with its passage through time: ahead are the things we are on our way to encounter. We intuit that the past is linked to the space behind and the future to that in front. But research in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General has found that some Western people buck this tendency: those born blind. A team led by Luca Rinaldi of the University of Pavia recruited 17 normally sighted local participants and 17 participants of similar age who had early...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 21, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Perception Time Source Type: blogs

Struggle with emotional intensity? Try the “situation selection” strategy
By Christian Jarrett If you are emotionally sensitive, there are mental defences you can use to help, like reappraising threats as challenges or distracting yourself from the pain. But if you find these mental gymnastics difficult, an alternative approach is to be more strategic about the situations that you find yourself in and the company you keep. Rather than grimacing as you endure yet another storm of emotional angst, make a greater effort to plan ahead and seek out the sunlit places that promise more joy. As the authors of a new paper in Cognition and Emotion put it: “Situation selection provides an altern...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 20, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Mental health Source Type: blogs

Psychologists have profiled the kind of person who is willing to confront anti-social behaviour
By Alex Fradera “Lower your music, you’re upsetting other passengers.” Without social sanction, society frays at the edges. But what drives someone to intervene against bad behaviour? One cynical view is that it appeals to those who want to feel better about themselves through scolding others. But research putting this to the test in British Journal of Social Psychology has found that interveners are rather different in character. The French-Austrian collaboration team led by Alexandrina Moisuc conducted a series of studies asking participants to read hypothetical scenarios involving anti-socia...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 19, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Morality Personality Social Source Type: blogs

Psychotherapy trainees ’ experiences of their own mandatory personal therapy raise “serious ethical considerations”
By Christian Jarrett Many training programmes for psychotherapists and counsellors include a mandatory personal therapy component – as well as learning about psychotherapeutic theories and techniques, and practising being a therapist, the trainee must also spend time in therapy themselves, in the role of a client. Indeed, the British Psychological Society’s own Division of Counselling Psychology stipulates that Counselling Psychology trainees must undertake 40 hours of personal therapy as part of obtaining their qualification. What is it like for trainees to complete their own mandatory therapy? A new meta...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 16, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Qualitative Therapy Source Type: blogs

What do the public make of the “implicit association test” and being told they are subconsciously racist?
By Christian Jarrett Many millions of people around the world have taken the “implicit association test (IAT)” hosted by Harvard University. By measuring the speed of your keyboard responses to different word categories (using keys previously paired with a particular social group), it purports to show how much subconscious or “implicit” prejudice you have towards various groups, such as different ethnicities. You might think that you are a morally good, fair-minded person free from racism, but the chances are your IAT results will reveal that you apparently have racial prejudices that are outsi...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 15, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Methods Qualitative Social Source Type: blogs

Investigating the “STEM gender-equality paradox” – in fairer societies, fewer women enter science
The percentage of women with STEM degrees is lower in more gender-equal countries, as measured by the WEF Gender Gap Index. Image from Stoet & Geary, 2018. By Alex Fradera The representation of women in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and maths) is increasing, albeit more slowly than many observers would like. But a focus on this issue has begun throwing up head-scratching anomalies, such as Finland, which has one of the larger gender gaps in STEM occupations, despite being one of the more gender equal societies, and boasting a higher science literacy rate in its girls than boys. Now a study in ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 14, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational Gender Occupational Source Type: blogs

The dramatic increase in the diagnosis of ADHD has not been accompanied by a rise in clinically significant symptoms
By guest blogger Helge Hasselmann Across the globe, ADHD prevalence is estimated around 5 per cent. It’s a figure that’s been rising for decades. For example, Sweden saw ADHD diagnoses among 10-year olds increase more than sevenfold from 1990 to 2007. Similar spikes have been reported from other countries, too, including Taiwan and the US, suggesting this may be a universal phenomenon. In fact, looking at dispensed ADHD medication as a proxy measure of ADHD prevalence, studies from the UK show an even steeper increase. Does this mean that more people today really have ADHD than in the past? Not necessarily. For...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 13, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: ADHD guest blogger Mental health Source Type: blogs

Children with higher working memory are more inclined to finger count (and less able kids should be encouraged to do the same)
By Christian Jarrett Finger counting by young kids has traditionally been frowned upon because it’s seen as babyish and a deterrent to using mental calculations. However, a new Swiss study in the Journal of Cognitive Psychology has found that six-year-olds who finger counted performed better at simple addition, especially if they used an efficient finger counting strategy. What’s more, it was the children with higher working memory ability – who you would expect to have less need for using their fingers – were more inclined to finger count, and to do so in an efficient way. “Our study adv...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 12, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Developmental Educational Source Type: blogs

Psychologists have explored why we sometimes like listening to the same song on repeat
Bittersweet songs were listened to more often than happy or relaxing songs, and provoked a deeper connection By Alex Fradera It’s that song. Again. The one they play over, and over, and over. It might be your roommate, child, or colleague. The year I shared a flat with my brother, it was Worst Comes To Worst thrice daily. What are the properties of the songs that drive some people to repeatedly listen to them over and over? A new article in Psychology of Music explores the tunes that just won’t quit. In the Autumn of 2013, the research team led by Frederick Conrad of the University of Michigan asked 204 m...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 9, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Music Source Type: blogs

Best-selling introductory psychology books give a misleading view of intelligence
12 different logical fallacies (used to dismiss intelligence research) appeared in at least one of the introductory psychology textbooks. Table from Warne et al 2018 [fallacies originally documented by Gottfredson 2009]By Christian Jarrett A researcher in human intelligence at Utah Valley University has analysed the 29 best-selling introductory psychology textbooks in the US – some written by among the most eminent psychologists alive – and concluded that they present a highly misleading view of the science of intelligence (see full list of books below). Russell T Warne and his co-authors found that three-quart...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 8, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Intelligence Textbooks Source Type: blogs

First systematic study of people who can give themselves goose-bumps at will
By Christian Jarrett For most of us, goose-bumps are something that happens outside of our conscious control, either when we’re cold or afraid, or because we’ve been moved by music or poignant art. However, it seems there are a few individuals with a kind of psychophysiological super-power – they can give themselves goose-bumps at will. For a new study, which they’ve released as a pre-print at PeerJ, a team led by James Heathers at Northeastern University, Boston, created a Facebook group with descriptions of “voluntary piloerection”, to use the technical term,  and invited any...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 7, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological Emotion Unusual case studies Source Type: blogs

Against expectations, people with more egalitarian political views were more open to the idea that intelligence is fixed
People lower on “social dominance orientation” were more influenced by the argument that intelligence is a fixed trait (from Hoyt et al 2018) By Alex Fradera A growth mindset – believing your capabilities can grow over time – can help us set self-improvement goals, consider mistakes as a step towards mastery, and remain upbeat when facing tribulation. Psychologists are excited by the ways we can help develop such mindsets, particularly towards creativity and intelligence, but some studies have found the impact less impressive than earlier research had suggested. Now researchers are hungry to un...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 6, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Intelligence Political Source Type: blogs

Belief in brain myths and child development myths continues even among those who ’ve studied psychology
By Christian Jarrett Despite countless myth-busting articles online, dedicated bloggers like Neuroskeptic, and the publication of a recent book described by Ben Goldacre as “a masterful catalogue of neurobollocks” (disclaimer: I wrote it), and another in the same series addressing child development myths, public surveys continue to show stubborn, widespread belief in many brain myths and psychology myths, even among people with neuroscience training. Now the latest survey of the public via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, published open-access in Psychology, suggests that little has changed. Belief in ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 5, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Developmental Educational Source Type: blogs

Randomised controlled studies find tea enhances divergent creativity
By Alex Fradera A study in the journal Food Quality and Preference suggests that tea-drinking benefits divergent thinking, a key element of creativity that’s associated with generating ideas or identifying patterns. The researchers from Peking University greeted their initial 50 student participants with a cup of either hot water or black Lipton tea, before asking them to use children’s building blocks to make the most attractive design they could. Independent raters, blind to the study purpose and condition, rated the tea-drinkers designs as more creative, in terms of factors like aesthetic appeal, innova...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 5, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Creativity In Brief Source Type: blogs

Male and female bosses share the same “classically masculine” personality traits
This study found that male and female C-level executives represent similar populations with a common profile of characteristic agentic, strategic personality traits,” the researchers concluded. “Ongoing research and practice should acknowledge that gender similarity, not difference, characterises leader personality and potential.” —Personality characteristics of male and female executives: Distinct pathways to success? Christian Jarrett (@Psych_Writer) is Editor of BPS Research Digest (Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST)
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 2, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Gender leadership Occupational Personality Source Type: blogs

Musical universals: people can identify lullabies and dance songs from other cultures
By Emma Young No matter where they live, people interpret certain kinds of vocalisations, even from animals, as conveying a particular emotion – as “angry”, for instance, or “soothing”. It’s tempting to think that there might be similar cross-cultural universals in the ways that we use music – that a song used to calm an infant in Melanesia, say, should bear striking similarities to a song created for the same purpose by a culture in the Arctic Circle. Well, it’s tempting if you’re a cognitive scientist – though not if you’re an ethnomusicologist (who s...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - March 1, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cross-cultural Music Source Type: blogs

Can a reasoning test predict who will make a good detective?
By Alex Fradera Although criminal investigation has been transformed through technological developments in DNA, phone tracking, and online data, the way a detective works through a crime has remained much the same. The first suspect is often the true perpetrator, but not always, and snowballing biases continue to lead to miscarriages of justice. Proficient detectives need the ability to generate and evaluate different explanations and keep an open mind. New research in the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology investigates whether it’s possible to use established tests of reasoning ability to identify who ha...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 28, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Forensic Occupational Source Type: blogs

Smart or determined? Examining the influence of motivation on IQ test performance
By Christian Jarrett Intelligence tests are meant to tell you something about a person’s inherent abilities. But what if the results are distorted by the motivation to perform well? That would undermine the tests’ validity and have important implications for their use in education and recruitment. A simple way to find out whether motivation affects intelligence test performance is to offer people a financial incentive for doing well and see if this helps them get a higher score. A paper in the British Journal of Psychology has done this, finding that while a financial incentive boosted people’s self-...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 27, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Intelligence Source Type: blogs

Smart or determined? Examining the role of motivation in IQ tests
By Christian Jarrett Intelligence tests are meant to tell you something about a person’s inherent abilities. But what if the results are distorted by the motivation to perform well? That would undermine the tests’ validity and have important implications for their use in education and recruitment. A simple way to find out whether motivation affects intelligence test performance is to offer people a financial incentive for doing well and see if this helps them get a higher score. A paper in the British Journal of Psychology has done this, finding that while a financial incentive boosted people’s self-...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 27, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Intelligence Source Type: blogs

Brainwave evidence hints at benefits from a school mindfulness programme
By Emma Young Recent studies of mindfulness schools programmes for teenagers have produced mixed results, with some failing to find benefits, even when extra features were added to try to make them more effective. But given the demonstrated benefits of mindfulness training on stress and wellbeing in adults – and the urgent need to find ways to reduce stress and prevent depression in teenagers – it’s not surprising that researchers are pursuing work in the area. Advocates of mindfulness for kids may, then, take some comfort from a new study in Developmental Science that found an 8-week training progra...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 26, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational Mental health Source Type: blogs

Adopting a more active lifestyle today could have benefits for your personality decades from now
ByChristian Jarrett According to statistics published by the British Heart Foundation, we spend 76 days per year, on average, sitting. Indeed, the World Health Organisation describes physical inactivity as a “global public health problem” that contributes to millions of deaths each year. You might not be surprised to hear about the harmful health consequences of a sedentary lifestyle, but perhaps less obvious is that physical activity is also associated with unwelcome changes in personality over time. Previous research has documented these effects over periods of four and ten years. A new paper in the Journal o...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 23, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Health Personality Uncategorized Source Type: blogs

Wisdom is a journey
By Alex Fradera From the beginning of recorded time, humanity has been fascinated by the figure of the wise person, wending their path through the tribulations of life, and informing those willing to learn. What sets them apart? Maybe that’s the wrong question. In a new review in European Psychologist, Igor Grossman of the University of Waterloo argues that understanding wisdom involves taking the wise off their pedestal, and seeing wisdom as a set of processes that we can all tap into, with the right attitude, and in the right context. Wisdom might seem to be a difficult concept for psychologists to study, but...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 22, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Decision making Intelligence Source Type: blogs

Episode 11: How to Get a Good Night ’s Sleep
This is Episode 11 of PsychCrunch the podcast from the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest, sponsored by Routledge Psychology. Download here. http://traffic.libsyn.com/psychcrunch/20180208_PsychCrunch_Ep11_Mx1.mp3   Can psychology help us get a better night’s sleep? Our presenter Ginny Smith hears how worry about sleep is sometimes more of a problem than lack of sleep itself. She gives us some evidence-backed sleep tips and finds out about “sleep engineering” – deliberately manipulating the sleep process to aid memory and enhance its health benefits. Our guests...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 21, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Podcast Sleep and dreaming Source Type: blogs

Study conducted during war finds one symptom that is especially indicative of PTSD vulnerability
By Emma Young After a traumatic event, some people develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – generally within about a month – while others don’t. Identifying those most at risk could allow for targeted interventions, aimed at stopping the disorder developing. So how do you spot these people? One way of exploring this question involves viewing PTSD as a dynamic process in which symptoms interact over time to cause the disorder, and some symptoms likely play a bigger causal role than others. So if you can identify the most problematic symptoms, and the people displaying them, at an early stage, then y...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 20, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Source Type: blogs

Nature vs Nurture: Mothers with multiple children have an intuitive grasp of behavioural genetics
  Lower scores equals more accurate estimates of genetic inheritance. From Willoughby et al 2018 By Christian Jarrett Several leading psychologists have recently raised concerns about the stranglehold that the “radical left” has on free speech and thought in our universities. The psychologists argue this includes biological denialism: claims that differences between individuals and groups are entirely the result of the biased system or mere social constructions. More generally, many commentators are horrified by the apparent resurgence of far-right ideologies and their twisted interpretation of geneti...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 19, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological Educational Genetics Political Source Type: blogs

What are the psychological dynamics when a couple tries to change a habit together?
By Alex Fradera Changing an unhealthy habit depends a lot on your belief that you can do it, something psychologists call self-efficacy. Take smoking, for example. Your belief that you are capable of quitting will influence the likelihood you will decide to quit in the first place, the amount your smoking reduces, and your chances of staying smoke-free in the long-term. This self-belief doesn’t come out of nowhere. Besides seeing ourselves make progress (called “mastery”), health psychologists will tell you that one of the most important inspirations is seeing others successfully make the changes tha...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 16, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Health Social Source Type: blogs

Psychologists clash over how easy it is to implant false memories of committing a crime
By guest blogger Simon Oxenham Historically, the kind of false memories induced in volunteers by psychologists have been relatively mundane. For example, a seminal study used leading questions and the encouragement to confabulate, to apparently implant in participants the memory of getting lost in a shopping mall as a child. This reliance on mundane false memories has been problematic for experts who believe that false memories have critical real world consequence, from criminal trials involving false murder confessions, to memories of child abuse “recovered” during therapy using controversial techniques. The d...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 15, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Forensic guest blogger Memory Source Type: blogs

Flowers, apologies, food or sex? Men ’s and women’s views on the most effective ways to make up
By Christian Jarrett You and your partner have had a tiff. Of all the things they could do to try to make up with you, what would be the most effective? A group of evolutionary psychologists recently put this question to 164 young adults. They presented them with 21 categories of reconciliatory behaviour, including giving a gift, cooking a meal and communicating better (derived from an earlier survey of 74 other young adults about ways to make up). Men and women agreed that the most effective reconciliatory behaviour of all is communicating (for instance, by talking or texting). To varying degrees, both sexes also rated ap...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 14, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Dating evolutionary psych Gender In Brief Sex Source Type: blogs

A psychologist noticed this cool chair illusion in his office
By Alex Fradera A short paper in the journal i-Perception presents a disconcerting visual illusion spotted “in the wild”: how stackable chairs, viewed from a certain angle, mess with your head. This is an unedited image, but your mind resists accepting it could be real. The illusion was first noticed in the office of lead author Nick Scott-Samuel at the University of Bristol, who notes in the paper that “it obtains in real life as well as in images, even when sober”. The cause of the trick appears to be the two “edges” seen coming up from the near-base of the stack – marked AD...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 14, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Illusions In Brief Perception Source Type: blogs

Your childhood best friend ’s intelligence probably rubbed off on you
This article is a pre-print and has not yet been subjected to peer-review] Christian Jarrett (@Psych_Writer) is Editor of BPS Research Digest (Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST)
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 13, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Developmental Educational Intelligence Source Type: blogs

Preliminary evidence for the benefits of “Jymmin” – creating or influencing music while exercising
The researchers suspect that being able to influence music causes a bigger release of endogenous opioids By Emma Young Listening to music while exercising can make a work-out feel more pleasant. But might having some control over the sound of that music have an even stronger effect? A new study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, suggests that it does. In theory, this approach (known as known as “Jymmin” – gym plus jammin’…) might help injured athletes and other rehab patients to complete beneficial, but painful, exercise programmes. As the researchers, led by Thomas Fritz at the Max Planc...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 12, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Health Sport Source Type: blogs

Thinking in a second language drains the imagination of vividness
It is fascinating to wonder how these effects might play out in the real world, particularly in international politics (Image via Getty/Thierry Monasse) By Christian Jarrett Mental imagery helps us anticipate the future, and vivid mental pictures inject emotion into our thought processes. If operating in a foreign language diminishes our imagination – as reported by a pair of psychologists at the University of Chicago in the journal Cognition – this could affect the emotionality of our thoughts, and our ability to visualise future scenarios, thus helping to explain previous findings showing that bilin...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 9, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Decision making Language Source Type: blogs

Cognitive approach to lie detection rendered useless by made-up alibi
By Alex Fradera The desire to catch people in a lie has led to the development of techniques that are meant to detect the physical markers of dishonesty – from the polygraph to brain scans. However, these methods are often found wanting. The insights of cognitive psychologists have arguably fared better, based on the idea that lying is more mentally demanding than telling the truth – real knowledge is automatically called to mind when we are questioned, and this needs to be inhibited  before we answer, leading to slower responses. Unfortunately new research in the Journal of Experimental Psycholo...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 8, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Forensic Source Type: blogs

Important differences uncovered between US and Dutch psychopaths
The researchers performed a “network analysis” on offenders’ scores on a psychopathy questionnaire. From Verschuere et al 2018 By Emma Young What lies at the dark heart of psychopathy? Is it a lack or emotion and empathy, a willingness to manipulate others – or, perhaps, a failure to take responsibility for misdeeds? All of these traits, and many more, are viewed as aspects of a psychopathic personality. But there’s still a debate among experts about which of these are core, and which less important. Now a new study of 7,450 criminal offenders in the US and the Netherlands, published in t...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 7, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cross-cultural Forensic Personality Source Type: blogs

Reduced neural empathy for women wearing revealing clothes
The participants watched women being rejected in a ball-passing game (the black blocks over their eyes did not appear in the actual study); from Cogoni et al 2018 By Christian Jarrett Psychologists define objectification as when we look upon a person and think about them more in terms of their bodies than their minds, and see them as less capable than normal of having their own self-control and will. Any context that encourages us to focus on a person’s body, more than their mind, is said to lead to objectification, such as when, in a previous era, a Formula One fan looked upon an attractive “grid girl&rdq...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 6, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Forensic Gender Sex Source Type: blogs

Men with higher testosterone levels are less into classical music and opera
Salivary testosterone was inversely correlated with preference for “sophisticated” music in men but not women (via Doi et al, 2018) By Christian Jarrett What counts as music to one person, sounds to another like a headache. Some of the difference is explained by our personalities (for instance, more open-minded people prefer classical) and our thinking style (systematisers prefer heavy metal more than empathisers). What’s not been examined before now, according to a paper in Personality and Individual Differences, is the biological basis of our musical tastes. Hirokazu Doi at Nagasaki University and his ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 5, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological In Brief Music Source Type: blogs

Is death still frightening if you believe the self is an illusion? An astonishing study of Tibetan Buddhists
By Christian Jarrett Imagining ourselves as no longer existing is, for most of us, terrifying. Buddhism may offer some reassurance. A central tenet of the religion is that all is impermanent and the self is actually an illusion. If there is no self, then why fear the end of the self? To find out if the logic of the Buddhist perspective eliminates existential fear, Shaun Nichols at the University of Arizona and his colleagues surveyed hundreds of monastic Tibetan Buddhists (monks-in-training) in exile in India, as well as lay Tibetans, Tibetan Buddhists from Bhutan, Indian Hindus and American Christians and atheists. To the...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 2, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cross-cultural Religion Source Type: blogs

New insights into teen risk-taking – their “hot” inhibitory control is poorer than children’s
By Emma Young Kids who are better at resisting unhelpful impulses and distractions go on later in life to perform better academically, professionally and socially. But how this kind of self-control develops with age has not been so clear. Teenagers’ show more self-control than children in many ways, but in other respects – think of their propensity for risk-taking – they actually seem to show less self-control than they did when they were younger. In a new paper, published in Developmental Science, Ania Aïte at Paris Descartes University, France, led research investigating whether this might be becau...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - February 1, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Decision making Developmental Emotion Source Type: blogs

Sex differences in human brain structure are already apparent at one month of age
Figure via Dean III et al, 2018 By Alex Fradera On average, men and women differ psychologically in small but reliable ways, such as in personality, interests, and cognitive performance, but the basis of these differences is up for debate. Are they innate or due to how we’re socialised? Neuroscientists look for traction on this question by studying sex differences in the brain, premised on the idea that these might contribute to the observed psychological differences. However, studying the brains of adults, or even teenagers, still leads to spinning wheels, because culturally produced differences will show up in...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 31, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological Brain Developmental Gender Sex Source Type: blogs

Different psychiatric symptom dimensions have opposite associations with confidence and metacognition
This study should be considered preliminary. The sample was from the general public and the researchers relied on the participants’ reports of their own symptoms. The findings might be different with clinical samples. It also remains to be seen if the symptom-related patterns of confidence and insight uncovered here would apply to other contexts beyond the specific perceptual task that was used. The researchers predict they will: “Recent evidence points towards metacognition relying in part on domain-general resources, suggesting that the findings from the current study are likely to generalise to other scenari...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 30, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Mental health Perception Source Type: blogs

Another blow for ego-depletion theory – practice counteracts the effects of diminished willpower
By Alex Fradera Ego depletion is the notion that willpower is a fuel that gets burned away by effort, and once it burns low we lose our focus and bow to our immediate desires. However, this once dominant theory has recently come into question, thanks in part to a large-scale replication that failed to find an ego-depletion effect and a meta-analysis that argued that the size of the effect is minimal. Complicating the picture, other recent findings have provided a strong demonstration of the effect. But now researchers from Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz have released a pre-print at PsyArxiv in which they sugge...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 29, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Source Type: blogs

Are religious people really less smart, on average, than atheists?
By Emma Young Of course, there are examples of extremely intelligent individuals with strong religious convictions. But various studies have found that, on average, belief in God is associated with lower scores on IQ tests. “It is well established that religiosity correlates inversely with intelligence,” note Richard Daws and Adam Hampshire at Imperial College London, in a new paper published in Frontiers in Psychology, which seeks to explore why. It’s a question with some urgency – the proportion of people with a religious belief is growing: by 2050, if current trends continue, people who say ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 26, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Intelligence Religion Source Type: blogs

It ’s not all in their heads: people with low self-esteem really do have less responsive partners
This study asks us to place a lot of trust in the memories and interpretations of these participants, but if we take their answers at face value, they suggest that partners with low self-esteem want as much support and understanding, but that they go about sharing their bad news and their distress in a rather counter-productive way – for instance, they’ll be inconsistent, sometimes downplaying their feelings, sometimes exaggerating them. Or they’ll be indirect, acting as if something is wrong, but not saying why, as if expecting their partner to be a mind reader. In short, the findings from all three stud...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 25, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Dating Personality Social Source Type: blogs

There ’s an evolutionary explanation for why we’re surprisingly bad at recognising each other’s laughter
By Alex Fradera We have a mostly impressive ability to identify people we know based on the sound of their voice, but prior research has uncovered an intriguing exception – we’re not very good at discerning identity from laughter. Now Nadine Lavan and her colleagues have published research in Evolution and Human Behavior that looks into why this might be and what it says about our evolutionary past. There are two main reasons why laughter may be hard to read. It might be because when you laugh for real, your vocal apparatus and lungs act in an involuntary way, unlike in many other vocalisations, and ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - January 24, 2018 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: evolutionary psych Laughter Perception Source Type: blogs