BPS Research Digest

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Cutting-edge reports on the latest psychology research

BPS Research Digest
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  • November 17, 2014
  • 07:08 AM
  • 68 views

How guessing the wrong answer helps you learn the right answer

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Guessing, even wrongly, is thought toactivate webs of knowledge, which leadsto richer encoding of the correct answer. It's well known that taking tests helps us learn. The act of retrieving information from memory helps that information stick. This seems intuitive. More surprising is the recent discovery that guessing aids subsequent learning of the correct answer, even if your initial guess was wrong.Let's consider a simple example in the context of learning capital cities. Imagine you don........ Read more »

  • November 14, 2014
  • 06:41 AM
  • 44 views

Reformers say psychologists should change how they report their results, but does anyone understand the alternative?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

The rectangular bars indicate samplemeans and the red lines represent theconfidence intervals surrounding them.Image: Audriusa/WikipediaPsychological science is undergoing a process of soul-searching and self-improvement. The reasons vary but include failed replications of high-profile findings, evidence of bias in what gets published, and surveys suggestive of questionable research practices.Among the proposed solutions is that psychologists should change the way they report their fin........ Read more »

Hoekstra, R., Morey, R., Rouder, J., & Wagenmakers, E. (2014) Robust misinterpretation of confidence intervals. Psychonomic Bulletin , 21(5), 1157-1164. DOI: 10.3758/s13423-013-0572-3  

  • November 13, 2014
  • 08:49 AM
  • 79 views

Babies' anxiety levels are related to their fathers' nervousness, not their mothers'

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Picture a one-year-old infant crawling across a table top. Half way across, the surface becomes transparent so that it appears there is a deep drop. On the other side is the infant's mother or father, encouraging them to crawl across the "visual cliff". Will the baby's anxiety levels be influenced more by the mother's own anxiety or the father's?This was the question posed by Eline Möller and her colleagues in what is the first ever study to examine paternal behaviour in the classic visual........ Read more »

  • November 12, 2014
  • 06:40 AM
  • 92 views

Loneliness is a disease that changes the brain's structure and function

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Loneliness increases the risk of poor sleep, higher blood pressure, cognitive and immune decline, depression, and ultimately an earlier death. Why? The traditional explanation is that lonely people lack life’s advisors: people who encourage healthy behaviours and curb unhealthy ones. If so, we should invest in pamphlets, adverts and GP advice: ignorance is the true disease, loneliness just a symptom.But this can’t be the full story. Introverts with small networks aren’t at especial health ........ Read more »

Cacioppo, S., Capitanio, J., & Cacioppo, J. (2014) Toward a neurology of loneliness. Psychological Bulletin, 140(6), 1464-1504. DOI: 10.1037/a0037618  

  • November 11, 2014
  • 05:29 AM
  • 84 views

Who are the most eminent psychologists of the modern era?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

A new paper identifies Albert Bandura as themost eminent psychologist of the modern era.Twelve years ago the behaviourist B.F. Skinner topped a list of the 100 most eminent psychologists of the twentieth century, followed by Jean Piaget and Sigmund Freud. Now a team led by Ed Diener has used their own criteria to compile a list of the 200 most eminent psychologists of the modern era (i.e. people whose careers occurred primarily after 1956).Here is the top 10: Albert Bandura in first place, ........ Read more »

Diener, E., Oishi, S., & Park, J. (2014) An incomplete list of eminent psychologists of the modern era. Archives of Scientific Psychology, 2(1), 20-31. DOI: 10.1037/arc0000006  

  • November 10, 2014
  • 09:51 AM
  • 79 views

When we lie to children, are we teaching them to be dishonest?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Cookie Monster - one ofthe characters featuredin this research.Most parents lie to their children, often as a way to control their behaviour. A new study asks whether lying to the little ones increases the likelihood that they too will lie. The authors, Chelsea Hays and Leslie Carver, say theirs is the first attempt to investigate this possibility.Nearly two hundred children aged three to seven were each put through a similar scenario, one at a time. First, they were invited to go through to the........ Read more »

  • November 7, 2014
  • 08:04 AM
  • 40 views

When we get depressed, we lose our ability to go with our gut instincts

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

People who are depressed often complain that they find it difficult to make decisions. A new study provides an explanation. Carina Remmers and her colleagues tested 29 patients diagnosed with major depression and 27 healthy controls and they found that the people with depression had an impaired ability to go with their gut instincts, or what we might call intuition.Intuition is not an easy skill to measure. The researchers' approach was to present participants with triads of words (e.g. SALT DEE........ Read more »

Remmers C, Topolinski S, Dietrich DE, & Michalak J. (2014) Impaired intuition in patients with major depressive disorder. The British journal of clinical psychology / the British Psychological Society. PMID: 25307321  

  • November 6, 2014
  • 07:13 AM
  • 83 views

Countries with more gender equality score more Olympic medals - among women and men

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

There are huge benefits to be gained when women and men are given equal opportunities. For example, companies with at least one woman on their board are more successful. In countries with less stereotyped views about women's abilities, girls tend to perform better at science. Now a team led by Jennifer Berdahl has extended this line of research to the realm of sport. In countries with greater gender equality, they find, both women and men tend to perform better at the Olympics.The researchers lo........ Read more »

  • November 5, 2014
  • 07:02 AM
  • 91 views

You've heard of "Owls" and "Larks", now sleep scientists propose two more chronotypes

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

For many years psychologists have divided people into two types based on their sleeping habits. There are Larks who rise early, feel sprightly in the morning, and retire to bed early; and Owls, who do the opposite, preferring to get up late and who come alive in the evening.Have you ever thought that you don't fit either pattern; that you're neither a morning nor evening person? Even in good health, maybe you feel sluggish most of the time, or conversely, perhaps you feel high energy in the morn........ Read more »

  • November 4, 2014
  • 06:35 AM
  • 86 views

Does dreaming of exam failure affect your real-life chances of success?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Why do we dream? It's still a scientific mystery. The "Threat Simulation Theory" proposes that we dream as a way to simulate real-life threats and prepare ourselves for dealing with them. "This simulation in an almost-real experiential world would train the brain to perceive dangers and rapidly face them within the safe condition of sleeping," write the authors of a new paper that's put the theory to the test.Isabelle Arnulf and her colleagues reasoned that if dreams help simulate future threats........ Read more »

Arnulf, I., Grosliere, L., Le Corvec, T., Golmard, J., Lascols, O., & Duguet, A. (2014) Will students pass a competitive exam that they failed in their dreams?. Consciousness and Cognition, 36-47. DOI: 10.1016/j.concog.2014.06.010  

  • November 3, 2014
  • 05:04 AM
  • 61 views

What can bereavement cards tell us about cultural differences in the expression of sympathy?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Sympathy towards the suffering is culture-dependent. People from "simpatico" cultures such as Brazil or Costa Rica are more likely to help people in need, as are people from economically poorer nations compared to wealthier counterparts. Now new research explores differences in how sympathy is expressed within two Western countries. Americans encourage sufferers to look for the light at the end of the tunnel, the study finds, while Germans are more comfortable gazing at its dark walls.Birgit Koo........ Read more »

  • October 31, 2014
  • 06:08 AM
  • 47 views

The psychology of "mate poaching" - when you form a relationship by taking someone else's partner

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

According to one estimate, 63 per cent of men and 54 per cent of women are in their current long-term relationships because their current partner "poached" them from a previous partner. Now researchers in the US and Australia have conducted the first investigation into the fate of relationships formed this way, as compared with relationships formed by two unattached individuals.An initial study involved surveying 138 heterosexual participants (average age 20; 71 per cent were women) four times o........ Read more »

  • October 29, 2014
  • 06:52 PM
  • 41 views

Friendly, conscientious people are more prone to "destructive obedience"

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

In Milgram's shock experiments, a surprising number of people obeyed a scientist's instruction to deliver dangerous electric shocks to another person. This is usually interpreted in terms of the power of "strong situations". The scenario, complete with lab apparatus and scientist in grey coat, was so compelling that many people's usual behavioural tendencies were overcome.But a new study challenges this account. Recognising that many participants in fact showed disobedience to the scientist in M........ Read more »

Bègue, L., Beauvois, J., Courbet, D., Oberlé, D., Lepage, J., & Duke, A. (2014) Personality Predicts Obedience in a Milgram Paradigm. Journal of Personality. DOI: 10.1111/jopy.12104  

  • October 28, 2014
  • 06:22 AM
  • 115 views

What I don’t hear can’t hurt me: insecure managers avoid input from employees

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Organisations do better when there are clear communication channels that allow staff to point out ways the company can improve. Similarly, teams who freely share ideas and concerns are more tight-knit and motivated. And their managers get enhanced awareness, and to share in the praise for any improvements that pay off. So encouraging employee voice should be a no-brainer, especially for any manager feeling unsure of their ability to deliver solo. Yet according to new research, these insecure man........ Read more »

  • October 27, 2014
  • 05:40 AM
  • 108 views

Doing the "happy walk" made people's memories more positive

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Walking in a more happy style could help counter the negative mental processes associated with depression. That's according to psychologists in Germany and Canada who used biofeedback to influence the walking style of 47 university students on a treadmill.The students, who were kept in the dark about the true aims of the study, had their gait monitored with motion capture technology. For half of them, the more happily they walked (characterised by larger arm and body swings, and a more upright p........ Read more »

  • October 24, 2014
  • 11:23 AM
  • 140 views

Publication bias afflicts the whole of psychology

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

In the last few years the social sciences, including psychology, have been taking a good look at themselves. While incidences of fraud hit the headlines, pervasive issues are just as important to address, such as publication bias, the phenomenon where non-significant results never see the light of day thanks to editors rejecting them or savvy researchers recasting their experiments around unexpected results and not reporting the disappointments. Statistical research has shown the extent of this ........ Read more »

  • October 23, 2014
  • 07:02 AM
  • 144 views

How reminders of money affect people's expression and perception of emotion

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Bank robbers and gamblers will tell you what people are prepared to do for the sake of money. But money also has more subtle influences. Back in 2006, researchers showed that mere reminders of money made people more selfish (although note a later attempt failed to replicate this result).In the latest research in this field, a team led by Yuwei Jiang have shown that exposing people to pictures of money, or to money-related words, reduces their emotional expressivity and makes them more sensitive ........ Read more »

Jiang, Y., Chen, Z., & Wyer, R. (2014) Impact of money on emotional expression. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 228-233. DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2014.07.013  

  • October 22, 2014
  • 05:10 AM
  • 99 views

Five-year-olds can see through your bravado

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Imagine you wanted to lie to a five-year-old. "The toy shop is closed Billy," you say, "it always closes at 2pm on a Monday." You reason that if you make this announcement with confidence, then Billy is sure to believe you.It's not a bad strategy. In a new study involving nearly a hundred kids aged four to five, they were more likely to believe statements made by a woman who spoke and gestured with confidence, than those made by a woman who was hesitant and uncertain. In this case, the women's c........ Read more »

  • October 22, 2014
  • 04:38 AM
  • 88 views

Can a brain scan tell us anything about the art of creative writing?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

When an accomplished creative writer gets on with their craft, their brain operates in a somewhat different way to a novice's. A new imaging study suggests that the expert approach may be more streamlined, emotionally literate, and initially unfiltered.Katharina Erhard with her colleagues from the German universities of Greifswald and Hildesheim asked participants to read a fragment of a story, to brainstorm what could continue the narrative, and then, for two minutes, to write a continuation of........ Read more »

  • October 20, 2014
  • 04:46 AM
  • 89 views

Decades of lie detection research has been unrealistic

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

According to decades of psychology research, most people, including law enforcement professionals, are useless at detecting lies. But in a new paper, a team led by Tim Levine argues that nearly all previous research has been unrealistic. The field has been dominated by studies that place the "lie detector" in a passive role, tasked with spotting "tells" leaked by the liar. But this just isn't how deception detection works in real life, say Levine and his team. Rather, the interrogator interacts ........ Read more »

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