BPS Research Digest

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Cutting-edge reports on the latest psychology research

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  • October 14, 2014
  • 06:28 AM
  • 68 views

Is this the dark side of emotional intelligence? High EI linked with more delinquency among young women

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

If, as research suggests, the psychological trait of sensation seeking is the catalyst for youthful delinquency, might high emotional intelligence (EI; having empathy for other people's emotions and good control over one's own) act as a calming restraint? That was the question Alison Bacon her colleagues posed in their study of 96 undergrads (average age 20; 48 women).Their "surprising and unprecedented" discovery was that for women, not only did high EI not moderate the link between sensation s........ Read more »

  • October 13, 2014
  • 07:58 AM
  • 76 views

Evolutionary psychologists expose the "shoddy" treatment of their discipline by textbooks

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

The Gendered Society contained 12 errors about evolutionary psychology, morethan any other book in this evaluation. Evolutionary theory is universally accepted among the mainstream science community. And yet, when the evolutionary perspective is applied to human behaviour, the approach continues to meet with resistance, and in some cases outright disdain.A team led by Benjamin Winegard thinks part of the reason is because of the misrepresentation of evolutionary psychology in textbooks, esp........ Read more »

Winegard BM, Winegard BM, & Deaner RO. (2014) Misrepresentations of evolutionary psychology in sex and gender textbooks. Evolutionary psychology : an international journal of evolutionary approaches to psychology and behavior, 12(3), 474-508. PMID: 25299988  

  • October 10, 2014
  • 09:22 AM
  • 48 views

How sharing a toilet helps students make more friends

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

The built environment shapes our behaviour profoundly - piazzas and park benches promote unplanned encounters between strangers whereas car-friendly streets have the opposite effect, the efficiency of speedy travel promoting "streets as corridors" over "streets as sociable space".What’s true at the level of cities also applies within buildings, including student residences. This has been investigated in the past, one famous example being Leon Festinger’s 1950 study that suggested students fo........ Read more »

  • October 10, 2014
  • 04:50 AM
  • 40 views

Little Albert - one of the most famous research participants in psychology's history, but who was he?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

In 1920, in what would become one of the most infamous and controversial studies in psychology, a pair of researchers at Johns Hopkins University taught a little baby boy to fear a white rat. For decades, the true identity and subsequent fate of this poor infant nicknamed "Little Albert" has remained a mystery.But recently this has changed, thanks to the tireless detective work of two independent groups of scholars. Now there are competing proposals for who Little Albert was and what became of h........ Read more »

Richard Griggs. (2015) Psychology's Lost Boy: Will The Real Little Albert Please Stand Up?. Teaching of Psychology. info:/

  • October 8, 2014
  • 04:03 AM
  • 33 views

Students learn better when they think they're going to have to teach the material

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Researchers say they've uncovered a simple technique that improves students' memory for passages of text. All that's required is to tell the students that they're going to have to teach the material to someone else.Fifty-six undergrads were split into two groups. One group were told that they had 10 minutes to study a 1500-word passage about fictional depictions of The Charge of The Light Brigade, and that they would be tested on it afterwards. The other group were similarly given 10 minutes to ........ Read more »

  • October 7, 2014
  • 07:21 AM
  • 108 views

Are sweet-toothed people really sweet-natured?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Three years ago psychologists reported that we assume people who like sweet food are also sweet natured. More surprisingly perhaps, Brian Meier and his colleagues also found that the sweet-toothed really do have more agreeable personalities and are more inclined to behave altruistically.How far can we trust these eye-catching results? There is a growing recognition in psychology of the need to attempt replications of past findings. In that spirit, a new paper led by Michael Ashton has attempted ........ Read more »

  • October 6, 2014
  • 04:34 AM
  • 92 views

Other people can tell whether your partner is cheating on you

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Do humans have an infidelity radar?We can identify a surprising amount of information about each other from the briefest of glimpses - a process that psychologists call thin-slicing. In the latest study in this area, a group led by Nathaniel Lambert have explored whether we can watch a romantic couple interact and tell within minutes whether one of them is a cheat.Fifty-one student participants (35 women) in a relationship answered survey questions about their own infidelities toward their curre........ Read more »

  • October 3, 2014
  • 09:46 AM
  • 111 views

Did a five-day camp without digital devices really boost children's interpersonal skills?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

"There's a brilliant study that came out two weeks ago," Baroness Professor Susan Greenfield said at a recent event promoting her new book, "... they took away all [the pre-teens'] digital devices for five days and sent them to summer camp ... and tested their interpersonal skills, and guess what, even within five days they'd changed."Greenfield highlighted this study in the context of her dire warnings about the harmful psychological effects of modern screen- and internet-based technologies. Sh........ Read more »

  • October 2, 2014
  • 06:07 AM
  • 73 views

Most people think CEOs are paid too much

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc, attends the 2013 Allen & Co conference.It's often assumed that a desire to reduce income inequality is held only by people on lower pay, or by those who endorse left-wing views. However, a new study of over 55,000 people (average age 47; 55 per cent were female) across 40 countries on 6 continents finds a universal desire to reduce the gap between the highest and lowest paid workers. The authors, Sorapop Kiatpongsan and Michael Norton, say their results "offer gui........ Read more »

Sorapop Kiatpongsan and Michael I. Norton. (2014) How Much (More) Should CEOs Make? A Universal Desire for More Equal Pay. Perspectives on Psychological Science. info:/

  • October 2, 2014
  • 05:19 AM
  • 74 views

How does the psychology of ownership differ between Western and Eastern cultures?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Michael Jackson's glove sold for $350,000 at a New York auction in 2009. In India,celebrity possessions are not valued so highly. By guest blogger Bruce Hood.Many of us are nostalgic for original, authentic experiences and prepared to pay for them. For example, not so long ago vinyl records were ubiquitous but nowadays they are considered collectibles, with some attracting a high price. Even with the most mundane record, there is still a tangible tactile experience to possessing these ........ Read more »

  • October 1, 2014
  • 04:24 AM
  • 53 views

“Just try to ignore it”: How neurotic people respond to extreme rudeness at work

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

We’ve all experienced rudeness at work; at the time it’s offensive and can harm our creativity, but it bears even darker fruits in the long-term, as repeated exposure is associated with depression, anxiety and psychological distress.How do people deal with rudeness? When is it buried away, and when addressed? A new study suggests that we actually tend to ignore it most of the time. However more offensive acts may set us off – unless we are particularly emotionally sensitive, in which case,........ Read more »

  • September 29, 2014
  • 11:28 AM
  • 49 views

Can this simple strategy reduce children's anxiety about school tests?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

The sad thing about children's exam nerves is that their fears often become self-fulfilling. Too much anxiety and they can end up under-performing relative to their abilities.A team of psychologists led by Fred Paas and colleagues has taken a cognitive psychology approach to this situation. Children have a certain amount of "working memory" capacity, they say, and it's either used up by the task at hand, or by external pressures, such as intrusive, worrying thoughts.Paas and his team have explor........ Read more »

  • September 29, 2014
  • 10:02 AM
  • 130 views

Eye contact makes us more aware of our own bodies

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

If you've ever felt acutely self conscious upon making eye contact with another person, a new study may help you understand why. Matias Baltazar and his colleagues have found that making eye contact activates people's awareness of their own bodies. That feeling of self consciousness induced by mutual gaze might be based in part on the fact that your brain is suddenly more attuned to your body.The researchers presented 32 participants with a series of positive and negative images on a computer sc........ Read more »

Baltazar M, Hazem N, Vilarem E, Beaucousin V, Picq JL, & Conty L. (2014) Eye contact elicits bodily self-awareness in human adults. Cognition, 133(1), 120-7. PMID: 25014360  

  • September 25, 2014
  • 03:00 AM
  • 66 views

How do male scientists balance the demands of work and family?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Academia remains heavily gendered, thanks in part to historical stereotypes that assert men are suited to solving complex problems and ready to put "great works" over other concerns such as community or family. Psychology and sociology have shown how this disadvantages women working in these fields, particularly if they wish to have children.A new study led by Sarah Damaske of Pennsylvania State University takes a different approach, looking at what this world is like for men. From the 73 male s........ Read more »

  • September 24, 2014
  • 03:00 AM
  • 69 views

Rats outperformed humans on this learning task

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

We like to think of ourselves as the top of the class when it comes to intelligence in the animal kingdom. Our inventions and scientific progress are testament to that claim, and yet there are some ways in which our complex brains let us down. In this new study researchers led by Ben Vermaercke compared human and rat performance on two forms of category-based learning. On one of them, the rodents trounced the homo sapiens.The participants - 16 rats and 24 humans - were trained to recognise that ........ Read more »

  • September 23, 2014
  • 04:00 AM
  • 77 views

Neuroscience does not threaten people's sense of free will

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

A key finding from neuroscience research over the last few decades is that non-conscious preparatory brain activity appears to precede the subjective feeling of making a decision. Some neuroscientists, like Sam Harris, have argued that this shows our sense of free will is an illusion. Books have even started to appear with titles like My Brain Made Me Do It: The Rise of Neuroscience and the Threat to Moral Responsibility by Eliezer J. Sternberg.However, in a new paper, a team led by Ed........ Read more »

  • September 18, 2014
  • 11:22 AM
  • 126 views

There's a problem with assuming the most intelligent candidates make the best employees

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Workplace research through the 20th Century suggested that selecting for intelligence is the best way to identify good performers. General mental ability (GMA), a popular recruitment measure that maps closely to the colloquial meaning of "intelligence", is strongly correlated with on-the job performance, well ahead of any other single measure.This consistent finding came from studies that mostly defined job performance as carrying out the duties expected in that role. Although intuitive, this ne........ Read more »

  • September 18, 2014
  • 06:31 AM
  • 130 views

Why is poverty associated with mental health problems for some people, but not others?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

By guest blogger Peter Kinderman“I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Believe me, rich is better” (Mae West).  Critiques of the rather discredited "disease-model" of mental illness are commonplace, but we also need to articulate the alternative. New research by Sophie Wickham and colleagues helps do that, by providing support for the idea that we learn, as a consequence of our experiences in life, a framework of appraising, understanding and responding to new challenges. This psy........ Read more »

  • September 16, 2014
  • 03:00 AM
  • 85 views

Forgive yourself for relaxing in front of the TV and the couch time might actually do you some good

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

There's a snobbishness about relaxation time. Tell someone your hobby is watching TV and chances are they'll look at you with derision. Mention meditation, reading or yoga and you're far more likely to attract nods of approval.And yet there is substantial evidence that time watching TV or playing video games can have a powerful restorative effect - just what many of us need after a hard day. This benefit isn't found for everyone, and in new paper Leonard Reinecke and his collaborators propose th........ Read more »

  • September 15, 2014
  • 08:13 AM
  • 145 views

Pupils benefit from praise, but should teachers give it to them publicly or privately?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

There's a best practice guide for teachers, produced by the Association of School Psychologists in the US, that states praise is best given to pupils in private. This advice is not based on experimental research - there hasn't been any - but on surveys of student preferences, and on the rationale that pupils could be embarrassed by receiving praise in public.Now, in the first study of its kind, John Blaze and his colleagues have systematically compared the effect of public and private praise (al........ Read more »

Blaze JT, Olmi DJ, Mercer SH, Dufrene BA, & Tingstom DH. (2014) Loud versus quiet praise: A direct behavioral comparison in secondary classrooms. Journal of school psychology, 52(4), 349-60. PMID: 25107408  

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