Christian Jarrett

926 posts · 704,045 views

Reports on the latest psychology research plus psych gossip and comment. Brought to you by the British Psychological Society.

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  • July 11, 2014
  • 10:16 AM

Adults, like children, have a tendency to think vision is more informative than it is

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

Among the cute mistakes that children make, one is to overestimate how much information they can garner through vision. For instance, asked to judge whether they can tell apart two identical-looking, but differently weighted (or different sounding) objects, simply by looking at them, five-year-olds tend to say Yes. Now an intriguing new paper suggests this is an error that we adults fail to completely outgrow.In the second and more persuasive of their experiments, Jessica Wang and her colleagues........ Read more »

Wang JJ, Diana Miletich D, Ramsey R, & Samson D. (2014) Adults see vision to be more informative than it is. Quarterly journal of experimental psychology (2006), 1-14. PMID: 24853581  

  • July 10, 2014
  • 05:00 AM

By treating depression, do we also treat suicidality? The answer is far from straightforward

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

By guest blogger James Coyne.Edgar Allan Poe’s fictional detective C. Auguste Dupin warns against tackling questions that are too complicated to test, but too fascinating to give up. Whether psychotherapy or medication can reduce suicidality is probably such a question. Particularly if we are really interested in whether treatments can reduce attempted suicides, not whether they change patients’ answers in an interview or on a questionnaire.There is no doubt about the clinical and publi........ Read more »

  • July 9, 2014
  • 12:05 PM

You can do it! Self-talk is more effective when you refer to yourself as You, rather than I

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

We know self-talk can help people's self-control (e.g. "Don't do it!"), and boost their morale (e.g. "Hang in there!") in sporting situations. However, before now, no-one has investigated whether self-talk is more effective depending on whether you refer to yourself in the grammatical first person (i.e. "I can do it!") or the second person (i.e. "You can do it?").Sanda Dolcos and her team first asked 95 psychology undergrads to imagine they were a character in a short story. The charac........ Read more »

  • July 8, 2014
  • 06:13 PM

People's happiness at work usually dips mid career - now researchers think they know why

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

If you're in or not far from your thirties, you're part of the age group that previous research shows is most likely to experience lower workplace wellbeing. A new study suggests the reasons for this midlife dip: a double whammy of more demands on time and less support from co-workers. Dr Hannes Zacher's team surveyed nearly 800 mostly male workers in various roles in the Australian construction industry. Participants reported wellbeing in terms of job satisfaction and emotional exhaustion. Cons........ Read more »

  • July 4, 2014
  • 12:52 PM

Is it the darkness within? Some people would rather shock themselves with electricity than spend time with their own thoughts

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

Go people-watching in any Western country and it's rare to come across a person sat alone in quiet contemplation. Most lone individuals are seen playing with their mobile phone, reading, watching a movie on their tablet, or people-watching. Why this need for distraction? Is there something so aversive about spending time immersed in our own thoughts?A team of psychologists led by Timothy Wilson has investigated. Across six initial studies they invited hundreds of undergrads, one at a time, to sp........ Read more »

Timothy D. Wilson, David Reinhard, Erin Westgate, Daniel T. Gilbert, Nicole Ellerbeck, Cheryl Hahn, Casey Brown, & Adi Shaked. (2014) Just Think: The Challenges of the Disengaged Mind. Science. info:/

  • July 2, 2014
  • 08:09 AM

What happens to the cool kids when they grow up?

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

"Cool kids", according to a new study, are those early teens (aged 13 to 15) who want to be popular, and try to impress their peers by acting older than their years. They have precocious romantic relationships, commit relatively minor acts of bad behaviour (such as sneaking into the cinema without paying), and surround themselves with good-looking friends. These teenagers attract respect from their peers at first, but what's the story by the time they reach early adulthood?Joseph Allen and his c........ Read more »

  • July 1, 2014
  • 12:18 PM

When work conditions are tough, Machiavellians thrive

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

When budgets are cut or time is short, watch out for those who excel at work. Their contribution could be admirable, but a new study suggests you may alternatively be witnessing a “Machiavellian” in action – someone exploiting the situation for their own interests.Daniel Kuyumcu and Jason Dahling assessed the Machiavellianism of 110 psychology students, all of whom worked at least 15 hours part-time. Questionnaire items included: "I am willing to sabotage the efforts of other people if the........ Read more »

  • June 30, 2014
  • 04:03 PM

Exploding the 10,000 hours myth - it's no guarantee for greatness

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

Swedish psychologist K. Anders Ericsson has studied elite performers in music, chess and sport for decades, and he says the main distinguishing characteristic of experts is the amount of deliberate practice they've invested - typically over 10,000 hours.This is painstaking practice performed for the sole purpose of improving one's skill level. Best-selling authors like Gladwell, Daniel Pink, Matthew Syed and others, have taken Ericsson's results and distilled them into the uplifting message that........ Read more »

Hambrick, D., Oswald, F., Altmann, E., Meinz, E., Gobet, F., & Campitelli, G. (2014) Deliberate practice: Is that all it takes to become an expert?. Intelligence, 34-45. DOI: 10.1016/j.intell.2013.04.001  

  • June 27, 2014
  • 07:27 AM

What is “Cultural IQ” training and does it really work?

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

IQ was once the only game in town. Now it rubs shoulders with a gaggle of human ability measures such as Emotional Intelligence, Empathy Quotient, and Rationality Quotient. The increasingly interconnected and diverse world of work has magnified interest in another newcomer: CQ, or cultural intelligence. With it come courses promising to prepare their students to work with colleagues, partners and customers who have different values and norms. A new paper investigates how effective this training ........ Read more »

  • June 25, 2014
  • 01:00 PM

How can we increase altruism towards future generations?

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

By guest blogger Dan JonesLike many parents, I often wonder what kind of world my two-year-old son will grow up to inhabit. Will the planet be ravaged by extreme climatic events, depleted of vital forests and biodiversity? Although some of our fears about the future may be overblown, if we don’t want to leave the planet in ruins for future generations, we need to think about how we act today — and maybe change our ways.Some changes are likely to involve minor sacrifices or small inconvenienc........ Read more »

Oliver P. Hauser, David G. Rand, Alexander Peysakhovich, & Martin A. Nowak. (2014) Cooperating with the future. Nature. info:/

  • June 25, 2014
  • 04:39 AM

Men who are ashamed of their bodies are more prone to sexual aggression against women - US study

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

When men are aggressive towards women, their behaviour is often driven by the feeling that their masculinity has been threatened. Consider these previous findings: men told they'd performed poorly on a strength test gave more painful electric shocks to a woman who criticised them; and men whose masculine identity was threatened subsequently harassed a feminist woman by sending her pornographic photos.Now Kris Mescher and Laurie Rudman have shown that this link is particularly strong for men who ........ Read more »

  • June 24, 2014
  • 12:30 PM

Is it possible to predict who will benefit from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)?

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

The rise of CBT has been welcomed by many as safe, effective alternative to drug treatments for mental illness. However, there are also fears that CBT has grown too dominant, crowding out other less structured, more time consuming forms of psychotherapy.The fact is, CBT doesn't work for everyone. Precious resources could be better managed, and alternative approaches sensibly considered, if there were a way to predict in advance those patients who are likely to benefit from CBT, and those who are........ Read more »

  • June 23, 2014
  • 11:48 AM

A man's fighting ability is written in his face

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

A composite of the most (A) and least (B) experienced UFC fighters (from Zilioli et al.)Men with faces that are wide relative to their length are more formidable fighters, on average. That's according to a new paper that also finds that observers use the width of a man's face to ascertain with accuracy his likely fighting ability. Samuele Zilioli and his collaborators believe their findings support the idea that humans have evolved specific "neurocognitive adaptations" for assessing the fig........ Read more »

Zilioli S, Sell AN, Stirrat M, Jagore J, Vickerman W, & Watson NV. (2014) Face of a fighter: Bizygomatic width as a cue of formidability. Aggressive behavior. PMID: 24910133  

  • June 23, 2014
  • 04:43 AM

Is group brainstorming more effective if you do it standing up?

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

Experts say that spending more time standing at work is good for your physical well-being. Now there's another reason to ditch your office chair. According to psychologists in the US, standing improves group brainstorming sessions.Andrew Knight and Markus Baer recruited 214 undergrads to take part in a 30-minute brainstorming session in groups of three to five people. The challenge for the groups was to come up with ideas for a university recruitment video, which they then recorded at the end of........ Read more »

  • June 19, 2014
  • 04:06 AM

Are voluntary and involuntary memories encoded by different brain systems?

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

Some memories we aim to remember, others just show up. One proposal is that uninvited memories, such as those that intrude in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), are encoded and stored in a distinct memory system. But a new neuroimaging study led by Shana Hall suggests that similar brain areas are involved whether our memories come spontaneously or by intent.During a functional imaging brain scan, 26 participants made perceptual judgments about a sequence of 100 sounds piped into headphones. ........ Read more »

Hall, S., Rubin, D., Miles, A., Davis, S., Wing, E., Cabeza, R., & Berntsen, D. (2014) The Neural Basis of Involuntary Episodic Memories. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 1-15. DOI: 10.1162/jocn_a_00633  

  • June 18, 2014
  • 03:54 PM

Would you walk past a money tree?

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

We're oblivious to a lot of what passes in front of our eyes. The classic example is people's failure to notice a woman walk through a scene in a gorilla suit. In that study, observers were busy counting basketball passes between players so the gorilla was irrelevant to what they were doing.In a new paper, Ira Hyman and his colleagues say they've extended this phenomenon of "inattentional blindness" by showing that people are frequently blind even to objects that are relevant to what they're doi........ Read more »

  • June 17, 2014
  • 08:22 AM

As soon as they can read, children trust text instructions over spoken information

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

As adults, we've learned that simple text-based instructions are usually trustworthy. Imagine - if a stranger tells us to turn next left for London, but we come upon a street sign that states the opposite, most of us would probably assume the stranger had made a mistake, and we'd follow the sign.In a new paper, researchers led by Kathleen Corriveau have investigated young children's trust in instructions delivered orally, versus those originating in written text. Their finding is that as soon as........ Read more »

  • June 16, 2014
  • 12:30 PM

How to maintain a well-flowing team, even with the odd icy relationship

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

What prevents icy relations between two team members chilling the climate for everyone? New research suggests that it’s not enough simply to have plenty of chances to communicate. Instead, teams that cope with a touch of frost carry out work where everyone sinks or swims together, and have “high quality social exchange”: simply put, they care about each other’s needs and achievements.Jeroen Jong of the Open University of the Netherlands and his Tilburg University collaborators surveyed m........ Read more »

  • June 12, 2014
  • 10:25 AM

A small proportion of the population are responsible for the vast majority of lies

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

Obviously some people lie more often than others. What's surprising is new research showing that the spread of lying propensity through the population is uneven. There is a large majority of "everyday liars", and a small minority of "prolific liars".A few years ago Kim Serota and his colleagues put a figure on this. They surveyed a thousand US citizens and found that five per cent of the sample were responsible for 50 per cent of all lies told. Now Serota's group have analysed data from nearly 3........ Read more »

  • June 11, 2014
  • 10:22 AM

Why did we evolve the ability to think about our own thoughts?

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

Thinking about "the stuff of thought" sounds self-absorbed and irrelevant for our survival, but an opinion piece in the journal Trends in Cognitive Science says otherwise. Far from navel-gazing, this kind of thinking is what helps groups of people coordinate actions and pull off feats that would be impossible alone.The article points out that the sharing of information between cognitive processes is not uniquely human. Consider the way information is drawn from a field of visual neurons and calc........ Read more »

Nicholas Shea, Annika Boldt, Dan Bang, Nick Yeung, Cecilia Heyes, & Chris D. Frith. (2014) Supra-personal cognitive control and metacognition. Trends in Cognitive Science. DOI: Supra-personal cognitive control and metacognition  

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