The four ways to promote creativity in children come more naturally to some mothers than others
This article is a heads-up for them of where their blind spots might be and where they might benefit from putting in some intentional effort. Not every child will turn out to be a creative genius, but if a bit of thought prevents you stifling the instincts they have, I reckon they’ll thank you for it. —Mothers’ personality traits and the climate for creativity they build with their children Alex Fradera (@alexfradera) is Staff Writer at BPS Research Digest (Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST)
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 4, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Creativity Developmental Personality Source Type: blogs

“Significant loss of neurons is a normal part of ageing” and other brain cell myths
By Christian Jarrett Basic facts about the brain are a key part of many introductory psychology courses, including information about brain cells. For instance, for years, students (and the public) have been taught that, thanks to the ageing process, the older we get, the more brain cells we lose. But as outlined in a new review in the Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy by Christopher von Bartheld at the University of Nevada, many established facts about brain cells (like the idea we lose lots of them as we get older) have been shown by modern techniques to be misconceptions. Taken mostly from the review, here are four m...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - December 1, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological Brain Feature Textbooks Source Type: blogs

Why you ’re more likely to remember something if you read it to yourself out loud
This study is a step forward in our understanding of how people can remember more information. Next time you come to read another brilliant BPS Research article, try doing so out loud (although your office or roommates may not thank you for this!). —This time it’s personal: the memory benefit of hearing oneself Post written by Bradley Busch (@Inner_Drive) for the BPS Research Digest. Bradley is a registered psychologist and director of InnerDrive. He has work with Premiership and International footballers and is the author of Release Your InnerDrive (Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST)
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 30, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational guest blogger Memory Source Type: blogs

Belief in our moral superiority is the most irrational self-enhancing bias of all
By Emma Young Most of us believe we are smarter, harder-working and better at driving than average. Clearly we can’t all be right. When it comes to moral qualities, like honesty and trustworthiness, our sense of personal superiority is so inflated that even jailed criminals consider themselves to be more moral than law-abiding citizens. Why should the “better-than-average” effect be so pronounced for moral traits? In new work, published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, Ben Tappin and Ryan McKay at Royal Holloway, University of London have found that it’s because we’re especiall...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 29, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Morality Social Source Type: blogs

Sorry romantics, new findings suggest love at first sight is really lust at first sight
By Christian Jarrett Reporter: “When did you know she [Meghan Markle] was the one?” Prince Harry: “The very first time we met” It’s a trope of Hollywood: when two people realise in an instant that they have met the one they want to spend the rest of their lives with. In reality too, happy long-term couples will tell you, perhaps a little too smugly, and doing that gazing into each other’s eyes thing, how it was simply “love at first sight”. Mutual, of course. We’re sorry to spoil the mood music, but a new paper in Personal Relationships – one of the first attempts...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 28, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Dating Sex Source Type: blogs

Accessible science reporting can foster overconfidence in readers
After reading an accessible science news story, participants were more likely to feel they had no need to consult an expert to find out more By Alex Fradera A scientifically informed public is a wonderful thing, and at the Digest we’re happy to be part of cultivating it. But we’d be the first to admit that many scientific issues are too complex for a single article to resolve decisively. When it comes to making consequential life decisions, it’s still important to defer to experts who can draw nuanced conclusions from looking at the big picture. But experts are increasingly denigrated, and a new stud...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 27, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational Media Source Type: blogs

No “far transfer” – chess, memory training and music just make you better at chess, memory training and music
By Alex Fradera Learning to ride a BMX obviously helps you handle a racing bike. How about a motorbike? A unicycle? A helicopter? The question of how far learning generalises beyond the original context has continued to vex psychologists. The answer has real-life implications for education and health. For instance, it bears on whether, by undertaking activities like brain training or learning chess, we can expect to boost our overall memory or intelligence – what’s known as “far transfer”. In a new review in Current Directions in Psychological Science, Giovanni Sala and Fernand Gobet of th...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 24, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Educational Source Type: blogs

These are the therapist behaviours that are helpful or harmful, according to clients
By Christian Jarrett Although psychotherapy is effective for many people, it doesn’t help everyone. In fact, in some cases it can do more harm than good. And while clinical researchers publish many studies into the outcomes of different therapeutic approaches, such as CBT or psychoanalytic psychotherapy, we actually know relatively little about the specific therapist behaviours that clients find beneficial or unwelcome. A new study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, although it involves only a small sample, has broken new ground by asking clients to provide detailed feedback on a second-by-second basis of their e...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 23, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Qualitative Therapy Source Type: blogs

The bacteria in your gut might affect your vulnerability to PTSD
By Emma Young After a traumatic experience, why do some people develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), while others don’t? Work to date has found evidence that various factors play a role, including a lack of social support and low levels of the neurotransmitter neuropeptide Y (due to its role in the body’s stress response). Into this mix come new findings, reported in Psychosomatic Medicine, that an individual’s complement of gut bacteria (their gut microbiome) may contribute to their vulnerability to trauma. The researchers are now investigating whether tweaking the gut microbiome could help to p...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 22, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: biological Mental health Source Type: blogs

Thinking in a foreign language, we ’re less prone to superstition
By Alex Fradera Operating in our second language can have some intriguing psychological effects. We swear more freely and linger longer on embarrassing topics than normal. We’re also less susceptible to cognitive biases. According to psychologist Constantinos Hadjichristidis at the University of Trento, this is because a second language discourages us from relying on intuitive thinking. In a new paper in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, Hadjichristidis and his colleagues have shown another way that this manifests – when thinking in a foreign language, we’re less prone to superst...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 21, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Language Thought Source Type: blogs

What ’s different about the brains of the minority of us who feel other people’s physical pain?
By Emma Young If a friend sees you suffering and tells you “I feel your pain”, it may be more than an expression of empathy. For about a quarter of people, it could be literally true. A recent study, led by Thomas Grice-Jackson at the University of Sussex, found that 27 per cent of participants experienced so-called “mirror pain” – watching someone falling off a bicycle or receiving an injection, for instance, caused them to experience physical pain of their own. Now in a paper in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, the same team of researchers has explored the neurological underpinnings of ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 20, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Source Type: blogs

We are witnessing a renaissance in psychology
The future looks bright By Christian Jarrett There’s been a lot of talk of the crisis in psychology. For decades, and often with the best of intentions, researchers have engaged in practices that have made it likely their results are “false positives” or not real. But that was in the past. The crisis is ending. “We do not call the rain that follows a long drought a ‘water crisis’,” write Leif Nelson at UC Berkeley and Joseph Simmons and Uri Simonsohn at the University of Pennsylvania. “We do not call sustained growth following a recession an ‘economic crisis'”. In...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 17, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Methods Replications Source Type: blogs

People who think they exercise less than their peers die earlier, regardless of their actual activity levels
Adjusting for actual physical activity, individuals who perceived themselves as less active than others were up to 71 per cent more likely to die in the follow-up period By guest blogger Tomasz Witkowski According to the World Health Organization (WHO), physical inactivity is the fourth-leading risk factor for global mortality, causing an estimated 3.2 million deaths around the world annually. Readers of this blog need no convincing that it’s important to be active every day. But is spending more time on it enough to reduce the risk of early death? Not necessarily. How we perceive this activity turns out to be j...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 16, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: guest blogger Health Sport Source Type: blogs

Men and women interpret the sexual intent behind dating behaviours very differently
Men tend to overestimate the sexual intent behind women’s behaviours on a date By Alex Fradera Imagine you’re out one evening with someone you met recently – you take your date’s hand in yours, or compliment your date’s appearance, or you kiss him or her passionately. For each behaviour, how likely is it that you wanted to have sex with that person for the first time? Researchers have put this question to heterosexual women, then they’ve asked men how they would interpret a woman’s intentions if she had behaved in these ways. The contrast in their answers is striking: men judg...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 15, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Dating Gender Sex Source Type: blogs

Study shows how easy and effective it is for Facebook ads to target your personality
Examples of ads used in the study: (A) targeted at high and low extraversion users, (B) at high and low openness users. via Matz et al, 2017 / Getty Images By Christian Jarrett Last week, Facebook’s founding president Sean Parker admitted his concerns that by focusing on social validation, Facebook was designed to exploit “a vulnerability in human psychology”. Added to this, and amidst the current furore around fake news, imagine if adverts on Facebook could be adapted to target your personality, significantly increasing the odds that people like you will click on the ads and then buy the associated ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 13, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Facebook Personality Technology Source Type: blogs

Very intelligent people make less effective leaders, according to their peers and subordinates
Leaders who stand intellectually apart and are prone to complex language may be less inspiring By Alex Fradera Highly intelligent people tend to make good progress in the workplace and are seen as fit for leadership roles: overall, smarter is usually associated with success. But if you examine the situation more closely, as does new research in the Journal of Applied Psychology, you find evidence that too much intelligence can harm leadership effectiveness. Too clever for your own good? Let’s look at the research. John Antonakis at the University of Lausanne and colleagues recruited 379 mid-level leaders (27 pe...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 13, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Intelligence leadership Source Type: blogs

Moderate alcohol consumption improves foreign language skills
By Emma Young Alcohol is not exactly known for its brain-boosting properties. In fact, it impairs all kinds of cognitive functioning, including working memory and the ability to ignore distractions. So it really should make it harder for someone to speak in a foreign language. However, as Fritz Renner of Maastricht University in the Netherlands, and colleagues, point out in a new paper in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, “contrary to what would be expected based on theory, it is a widely held belief among bilingual speakers that alcohol consumption improves foreign language fluency, as is evident in anecdotal evide...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 10, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Alcohol Language Source Type: blogs

Can evolutionary psychology and personality theory explain Trump ’s popular appeal?
By Christian Jarrett One year ago today, Donald J Trump, a man with no political or military experience, defied expectations, winning the election to become the 45th president of the United States. Nearly 63 million voted for him, including, and in spite of his reputation for sexism, over half of all white women. In an open-access paper in Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture, Dan McAdams, one of the world’s leading experts in personality psychology, proposes an explanation for Trump’s popular appeal that is grounded in evolutionary psychology, personality theory and the social psychology of leaders...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 9, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: evolutionary psych leadership Personality Political Source Type: blogs

A 30-minute lesson in the malleability of personality has long-term benefits for anxious, depressed teenagers
By Christian Jarrett There are many effective psychological therapies to help teenagers with depression, anxiety or other mental health problems. Unfortunately, for various reasons, most teenagers never get access to a professional therapist. To overcome this problem, some researchers are exploring the potential of brief, “single-session” interventions that can be delivered cheaply and easily to many at-risk teenagers outside of a clinical context. In The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Jessica Schleider and John Weisz at Harvard University present extremely promising results from their trial of a 3...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 8, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Developmental Mental health Personality Source Type: blogs

Contrary to stereotypes, study of hedge fund managers finds psychopaths make poor investors
By Emma Young If you’re a psychopath who’s good with numbers, you could make the perfect hedge fund manager. Your lack of empathy will allow you to capitalise blithely on the financial losses of others, while your ability to stomach high-risk, but potentially high-return, options will send your fund value soaring…. Well, that’s the story that’s been painted by popular media, folk wisdom and Wall Street insiders alike. The problem, according to a new paper in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, is that hedge fund managers with psychopathic tendencies actually make less money for their ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 7, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Money Occupational Personality Source Type: blogs

The deactivation effect: What 15 minutes device-free solitude does to your emotions
By Christian Jarrett Psychology research has tended to portray solitude as an unpleasant experience. Studies conducted in the 1970s and 1990s suggested a clear pattern: people usually felt less happy when alone as compared with having company. More recently, researchers showed that their volunteers preferred to give themselves mild electric shocks than sit in silence with their own thoughts. However, in a new paper in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, a research team led by They-vy Nguyen at the University of Rochester explains the shortcomings in this earlier research and presents a more nuanced picture, sh...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 6, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Source Type: blogs

New study suggests people with OCD are especially sensitive to the seasons
By Christian Jarrett The clocks have gone back and there’s a chill in the air. It’s well known that during these darker months, a significant minority of us experience unwelcome negative changes to our mood (at least if you believe in the notion of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, which not all experts do). Now an intriguing study in Psychiatry Research has explored the link this condition may have with another psychiatric diagnosis, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The results suggest that people with OCD are more likely than average to experience seasonal effects on their mood, and that for these ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 3, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Source Type: blogs

Rude awakening: Witnessing morning incivility darkens your experience of the whole day
People low in confidence and emotional stability may be especially vulnerable to the apparent negative effects of witnessing rudeness By Alex Fradera “She upset me.” Such a natural way to describe things, using the same causal language we use to talk about a racket striking a tennis ball. But is this the right way to frame our reactions to social situations? Unlike a ball, we have a say in how we swerve when struck, and what we bring to a social situation influences how it affects us. Case in point, from a US-based team headed by Andrew Woolum of the University of North Carolina Wilmington: in research pub...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 2, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Occupational Source Type: blogs

Episode 10: How To Stop Procrastinating
It’s been a while coming, but this is Episode 10 of PsychCrunch the podcast from the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest, sponsored by Routledge Psychology. Download here. http://traffic.libsyn.com/psychcrunch/20171031_PsychCrunch_Ep10_Mx2.mp3 Can psychology help us avoid procrastinating and get on with the important things we know we should be doing? Our presenter Christian Jarrett hears about what causes procrastination, how to stop it, and whether it has any upsides. Also, we put the psychologists on the spot and ask whether they’ve managed to cure their own procrastination. Our guest...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - November 1, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Podcast Source Type: blogs

We ’re surprisingly unaware of when our own beliefs change
By Christian Jarrett If you read an article about a controversial issue, do you think you’d realise if it had changed your beliefs? No one knows your own mind like you do – it seems obvious that you would know if your beliefs had shifted. And yet a new paper in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests that we actually have very poor “metacognitive awareness” of our own belief change, meaning that we will tend to underestimate how much we’ve been swayed by a convincing article. The researchers Michael Wolfe and Todd Williams at Grand Valley State University said their findings ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 31, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Memory Source Type: blogs

There may be a sense in which expert athletes see things in slow motion
By Christian Jarrett Experienced sports players aren’t just highly skilled at executing their own actions, they also have what often seems like a supernatural ability to read the game, to watch other players and anticipate what’s going to happen next. A clever new study in Psychological Research offers insight into the brain basis of this aspect of sporting ability – the findings suggest that expert basketball players simulate in their minds the actions of other players in something akin to slow-motion, presumably giving them more time to interpret and read the actions. Carmelo Vicario and his colleagues...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 30, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cognition Perception Sport Source Type: blogs

The placebo effect is amplified when doctors appear likeable and competent
Participants’ allergic reaction was smallest after receiving a placebo cream administered by a competent, likeable doctor. From Howe et al, 2017 By Christian Jarrett A lot of clinical research tries its best to find the true effects of a treatment above and beyond the placebo effect – that is, the benefits that can arise purely from a person’s expectations that an intervention will be helpful. A new study in Health Psychology takes a different approach: instead of always seeing the placebo effect as “a nuisance variable with mysterious impact”, argue Lauren Howe and her colleagues at Stanford ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 27, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

“Insomnia identity” – misbelieving you’ve got sleep problems can be more harmful than actual lack of sleep
By Alex Fradera “In the dark, in the quiet, in the lonely stillness, the aggrieved struggle to rescue sleep from vigilance.” This arresting sentence introduces a new review of insomnia in Behaviour Research and Therapy that addresses a troubling fact observed in sleep labs across the world: poor sleep is not sufficient to make people consider themselves to have the condition… and poor sleep may not even be necessary. The paper, by Kenneth Lichstein at the University of Alabama, explores the implications of “Insomnia Identity”: how it contributes to health problems, and may be an obstacle...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 26, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Sleep and dreaming Source Type: blogs

Ten-year study finds loneliness and self-centeredness appear to be mutually reinforcing
The findings suggest targeting self-centeredness may help reduce loneliness By Emma Young We usually think of loneliness as a condition with no redeeming features. Certainly, chronic loneliness is linked to poorer physical and psychological health, as well as unfavourable effects on personality. But an evolutionary model of loneliness, pioneered by John Cacioppo at the University of Chicago, US, proposes that it has an adaptive function, in that it: makes people want to do something about absent or unsatisfactory social relationships, and encourages people to focus on their own interests and welfare The second proposed m...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 25, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Social Source Type: blogs

The psychology behind why we value physical objects over digital
By Christian Jarrett When technological advances paved the way for digital books, films and music, many commentators predicted the demise of their physical equivalents. It hasn’t happened, so far at least. For instance, while there is a huge market in e-books, print books remain dominant. A large part of the reason comes down to psychology – we value things that we own, or anticipate owning, in large part because we see them as an extension of ourselves. And, stated simply, it’s easier to develop meaningful feelings of ownership over a physical entity than a digital one. A new paper in the Journal of Cons...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 24, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Technology Source Type: blogs

We know intuitively how many lay opinions outweigh an expert
“People in this country have had enough of experts” claimed Michael Gove last year. New findings suggest we weigh popular and expert opinion intuitively By Alex Fradera Imagine contemplating which treatment to undertake for a health problem. Your specialist explains there are two possibilities, and strongly endorses one as right for you. But when you discuss it with a friend, she suggests that based on what she’s heard, the other would be better. Another friend, the same. And another. Does there come a point where the friends outweigh the expert? Given enough information – the accuracy of the e...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 23, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Decision making Political Source Type: blogs

The effect of emotions on your behaviour depends partly on your expectations
By Emma Young Will you get a better result from a business negotiation if you get angry or remain calm? What about a creative task – will you come up with more solutions to a problem if you’re excited, or relaxed? The answer, according a new study in Emotion, is that it depends at least in part on what you expect the impacts of emotions to be. Some theories linking emotion and behaviour hold that emotions activate fixed behavioural “programmes” (anger activates aggressive actions, for example). Others hold that while emotions do influence behaviour, how they do so depends upon the individual&rs...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 20, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Emotion Source Type: blogs

Reverse “stereotype threat” – women chess players perform better against men than against other women
By Alex Fradera Stereotype threat is one of those social psychology concepts that has managed to break out of the academic world and into everyday conversation: the idea that a fear of conforming to stereotypes – for example, that girls struggle at maths – can make those stereotypes self-fulfilling, thanks to the adverse effect of anxiety and excessive self-consciousness on performance. A recent review suggested that stereotype threat has a robust but small-to-medium sized effect on performance, but a meta-analysis suggests that publication bias may be a problem in this literature, inflating the apparent s...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 19, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Gender Social Source Type: blogs

Reverse “stereotype threat” – women chess players perform better against men
By Alex Fradera Stereotype threat is one of those social psychology concepts that has managed to break out of the academic world and into everyday conversation: the idea that a fear of conforming to stereotypes – for example, that girls struggle at maths – can make those stereotypes self-fulfilling, thanks to the adverse effect of anxiety and excessive self-consciousness on performance. A recent review suggested that stereotype threat has a robust but small-to-medium sized effect on performance, but a meta-analysis suggests that publication bias may be a problem in this literature, inflating the apparent s...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 19, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Gender Social Source Type: blogs

The concept of “compensation” makes sense of several autism puzzles
On British television last night, naturalist and TV presenter Chris Packham described how he hid his autistic traits for most of his life By Alex Fradera A process involved in neurodevelopmental disorders that we are only just beginning to understand is “compensation” – the way that a deficit can be partially or wholly masked by automatic mental processes and/or deliberate behavioural strategies. For instance, a person with dyslexia may achieve typical levels of reading ability after an earlier diagnosis, not because the disorder has gone away (subtle tests might show continuing problems in phonologi...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 18, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Autism Brain Cognition Source Type: blogs

Believers in conspiracy theories and the paranormal are more likely to see “illusory patterns”
By Emma Young Democratic bankers caused the global financial crisis to get Barack Obama elected.  Horoscopes are right too often for it to be a coincidence.  Irrational beliefs – unfounded, unscientific and illogical assumptions about the world – are widespread among “the population of normal, mentally sane adults” note the authors of a new study in European Journal of Social Psychology. It’s been proposed that they arise from a mistaken perception of patterns in the world. But though this idea is popular among psychologists, there’s been surprisingly little direct evidence in ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 17, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Illusions Perception Source Type: blogs

Find a gym buddy – not letting them down can be a powerful incentive
By guest blogger Juliet Hodges Spreading information about the benefits of exercise – including how it reduces the risk of chronic diseases and improves mental health and wellbeing, from sleep quality to self-esteem – hasn’t been enough to change people’s behaviour. Only 30 to 40 per cent of adults in the UK say they get the recommended amount of physical activity per week, and this figure drops to just 5 per cent when using accelerometers to measure movement. It’s a similar story even for people who have made the effort to join a gym – in a recent poll, a third of members reported ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 16, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: guest blogger Health Teams Source Type: blogs

Find a gym buddy – not letting them down may be the most powerful incentive to get exercising
By guest blogger Juliet Hodges Spreading information about the benefits of exercise – including how it reduces the risk of chronic diseases and improves mental health and wellbeing, from sleep quality to self-esteem – hasn’t been enough to change people’s behaviour. Only 30 to 40 per cent of adults in the UK say they get the recommended amount of physical activity per week, and this figure drops to just 5 per cent when using accelerometers to measure movement. It’s a similar story even for people who have made the effort to join a gym – in a recent poll, a third of members reported ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 16, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: guest blogger Health Teams Source Type: blogs

Introverts may miss leadership chances because they overestimate how stressful it will be
By Christian Jarrett There are certain situations where it’s advantageous for an introvert to take charge. For instance, perhaps they are better qualified than their extroverted peers. The trouble is, most introverts tend to shy away from seizing informal leadership opportunities when they arise (psychologists call this “emergent leadership” – when someone takes charge in a team without a formal hierarchy). A new study in Personality and Individual Differences suggests this might be because introverts expect to find group tasks and situations unpleasant, which inhibits them from displaying the kind ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 6, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: leadership Occupational Personality Source Type: blogs

Pretending to be Batman helps kids stay on task
By Christian Jarrett Do their homework or reach over there for the iPad and dive into a world of games? It’s the ever-present dilemma facing young children today. Here’s a simple technique that could tip the balance a little in favour of the homework. Psychologists have reported in Child Development that when four- to six-year-olds pretended to be Batman while they were doing a boring but important task, it helped them to resist distraction and stay more focused. The challenge now is to nail down exactly why the technique works, and to see if over time it could improve children’s self-regulation skil...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 5, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Developmental Educational Source Type: blogs

In or out – how brain activity can predict your vote on Brexit 
People’s brain responses to statements about the EU were a more accurate predictor of how they voted than their stated intentions By guest blogger Helge Hasselmann Surveys and opinion polls are notoriously bad at predicting election results, as a chain of rather unexpected events last year demonstrated. These instruments usually ask people about their explicit attitudes and opinions. Often, however, these “external” proxies are not entirely representative of what a person is really thinking. For example, several studies have shown that implicit attitudes – that is, subtle preferences or biases outsi...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 4, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Decision making guest blogger Political Source Type: blogs

The Psychology of Sex Differences – 5 Revealing Insights From Our Primate Cousins
By Christian Jarrett There are behavioural differences, on average, between the sexes – few would dispute that. Where the debate rages is over how much these differences are the result of social pressures versus being rooted in our biology (the answer often is that there is a complex interaction between the two). For example, when differences are observed between girls and boys, such as in different preferences for play, one possibility is that this is partly or wholly because of the contrasting ways that girls and boys are influenced by their peers, parents and other adults (because of the ideas they have about how ...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 3, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Comparative evolutionary psych Feature Gender Sex Source Type: blogs

Could language analysis tools detect lone wolf terrorists before they act?
Nidal Hasan, the US army psychiatrist turned lone wolf terrorist By Alex Fradera By the time a terrorist attack has begun, the security services have already failed. But the challenge they face in detecting potential attacks is substantial, especially since the tactic of terrorism has increasingly been taken up by individual attackers inspired by, but not directly beholden to, formal movements. Spotting a lone wolf among the flock is no easy task, especially when it relies on a bottleneck of human analysis. A new paper in the journal Aggression and Violent Behavior uses a test case of a real lone wolf attack to explor...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - October 2, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Language Technology Terrorism Source Type: blogs

Mock jury study – will behavioral genetic evidence get defendants off the hook?
By Christian Jarrett Around the world, neuroscience evidence is being introduced into courtrooms at an increasing rate, including findings from behavioural genetics. Specifically, some legal teams for the defence have been allowed to argue that the defendant has a low activity version of the MAOA gene, which codes for an enzyme that regulates the levels of several neurotransmitters. In combination with experiencing child abuse or maltreatment, having this low activity gene has been linked with increased impulsivity, including aggression. Defense lawyers presumably hope that jurors will interpret this as meaning the defenda...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 29, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Forensic Genetics Source Type: blogs

Psychologists went to war-torn Northern Iraq to find out why some fighters will sacrifice everything for their cause
This study finds that commitment to a value “can trump group loyalty in willingness to fight”. As such, the researchers hope their findings will help policymakers wrangling with how best to deal with the threat posed by groups like IS. They add that an important subject for further study is why some groups are better able to inspire loyalty to an abstract cause than others. Emma Young (@EmmaELYoung) is Staff Writer at BPS Research Digest —The devoted actor’s will to fight and the spiritual dimension of human conflict (Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST)
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 28, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Political Race Religion Terrorism Source Type: blogs

How US kids ’ problems with fractions reveal the fascinating link between language and maths
By guest blogger David Robson Cast your mind back to your teenage maths lessons. Without a calculator, would you have been able to estimate the answer to the following sum?  12/13 + 7/8 Don’t worry about giving the precise number; just say whether it lies closest to 1, 2, 19, or 21*. By the end of middle school, most American pupils have been studying fractions for a few years; these questions should be embarrassingly easy. But when Robert Siegler, a psychologist at Carnegie Mellon University posed the problem to a group of 8th graders (13 to 14 year olds), he found that they performed little better than if...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 27, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational guest blogger Language Source Type: blogs

Perhaps teens are too cynical to benefit from mindfulness, say authors of latest negative school trial
By Christian Jarrett In the UK, more and more of our children are learning mindfulness at school. The Mindfulness in Schools project claims that over 4000 of our teachers are now trained in the practice. However, some experts are concerned that the roll-out of mindfulness has raced ahead of the evidence base, which paints a mixed picture. Following their recent failure to find any benefits of a school mindfulness programme for teenagers (contrary to some earlier more positive findings), a research team led by Catherine Johnson at Flinders University has now reported in Behaviour Research and Therapy the results o...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 26, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Educational Source Type: blogs

“Animal hoarding” may provide comfort to people who struggle to form relationships
Consistent with the cultural archetype of a “cat lady”, two thirds of the animal hoarders were women By Alex Fradera The latest version of psychiatry’s principal diagnostic manual (the DSM-V) defines Hoarding Disorder as a psychopathology where the collection of items significantly impacts the person’s functioning, as they find it difficult and indeed painful to discard the items, creating congestion within the home and encouraging poor hygiene and accidents. However not only objects, but also living things can be collected pathologically, popularly enshrined in the notion of a “cat lady&...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 25, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Mental health Source Type: blogs

For people in Japan, happiness isn ’t associated with better health
In the USA but not Japan, more positive emotions correlated with a healthier cholesterol profile (low ratio of total cholesterol to “good”/HDC cholesterol); from Yoo et al 2017 By Emma Young Feeling positive emotions is good for your physical health, right? There’s certainly evidence in support of the idea. But it’s mostly come from studies of people living in Western countries. Now a study published in Psychological Science, concludes that for people in Japan, it may not be the case. While positive emotions, like happiness, are seen as a good thing in the US, UK, and elsewhere in Europe, the p...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 22, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Cross-cultural Emotion Health Source Type: blogs

Conspirators in their own memory loss – findings from 53 patients with “psychogenic amnesia”
By Christian Jarrett A person diagnosed with psychogenic amnesia complains of serious memory problems, sometimes even forgetting who they are, without there being any apparent physical reason for their symptoms – in other words, their condition seems to be purely psychological. It’s a fascinating, controversial diagnosis with roots dating back to Freud’s, Breuer’s and Charcot’s ideas about hysteria and how emotional problems sometimes manifest in dramatic physical ways. Today, some experts doubt that psychogenic amnesia is a real phenomenon, reasoning that there is either an undetected physica...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - September 21, 2017 Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: BPS Research Digest Tags: Brain Memory Mental health Source Type: blogs