BPS Research Digest

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Cutting-edge reports on the latest psychology research

BPS Research Digest
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  • June 15, 2015
  • 07:24 AM

When these people look in the mirror they see a monster staring back

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

One of the participants in an upsetting series of new interviews says she once stared into the mirror for eleven hours straight. She was looking, searching, trying to find a perspective where she felt good enough about herself to be able to go outside.The woman in question, Louise, has Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), which is defined by psychiatrists as a disabling and distressing preoccupation with what she sees as her perceived physical flaw or flaws.For their study, Joanna Silver and Jacqui F........ Read more »

  • June 10, 2015
  • 05:42 AM

Toddlers learn better when you make them giggle

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

There is probably nothing more fun than making a baby or toddler laugh. And now there's news that it could even help with learning – the toddler's not the adult's.In the first study to look at the effects of humour on learning at such a young age, Rana Esseily and her colleagues began by showing 53 18-month-olds how to reach a toy duck with a cardboard rake (other toddlers who'd spontaneously used the rake as a reaching tool were excluded). Crucially, half the participating toddlers were given........ Read more »

  • June 8, 2015
  • 04:48 AM

Baboons like to hang out with other baboons who are similar

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

By guest blogger Mary BatesThe saying "birds of a feather flock together" might apply to non-human primates, as well. A new study shows chacma baboons within a troop spend more of their time with baboons that they resemble, choosing to associate with those of a similar age, status, and even personality. This is known as homophily, or "love of the same."The researchers, led by the University of Cambridge and the Zoological Society of London, discuss these findings in light of the evolution of cul........ Read more »

  • June 5, 2015
  • 12:10 PM

Researchers say: Don't worry what other people think, going out on your own can be fun

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

In our part of the world, more people are living on their own than ever before. People also say they have fewer close friends. Yet it's still rare, especially at the weekend, to see someone eating alone in a busy restaurant, or rolling up solo to the cinema to watch the latest blockbuster.According to a pair of US researchers, Rebecca Ratner and Rebecca Hamilton, this reluctance to partake in leisure activities on our own means many of us are missing out unnecessarily – not just on the fun exp........ Read more »

RK Ratner, & Rebecca Hamilton. (2015) Inhibited from bowling alone. Journal of Consumer Research . info:/

  • June 4, 2015
  • 11:31 AM

The scaremongers were wrong: Metalheads from the 80s are thriving

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

If you sell your soul to heavy metal do you pay for it later in life? During the 1980s, waves of adolescents found solace in this most notorious of extreme music subcultures, alarming their parents as well as authority figures including the US surgeon general and the campaigner and Second Lady Tipper Gore. But a new survey suggests that in 2015, the teenage metalheads from the 80s are doing alright.This matters because early research seemed to back the prevailing panic: metalheads were fatalisti........ Read more »

  • June 3, 2015
  • 05:03 AM

Is CBT for depression losing its efficacy?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has many advantages for treating depression. Among them, the fact that it's easy to standardise, it's intuitive and it can deliver results relatively quickly (think weeks, not years as some other therapies demand). For many people with depression, it's also far more acceptable than the prospect of taking mind-altering drugs. But now the bad news: CBT's efficacy seems to be declining.That's the suggestion of a new meta-analysis (pdf) that's looked at outcome da........ Read more »

  • June 2, 2015
  • 04:55 AM

Why do children stick their tongues out when they're concentrating?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Have you ever watched a young child perform a delicate task with their hands and noticed how they stick out their tongue at the same time? A new study is the first to systematically investigate this behaviour in four-year-olds. This isn't just a cute quirk of childhood, the findings suggest, rather the behaviour fits the theory that spoken language originally evolved from gestures.Gillian Forrester and Alina Rodriguez videoed fourteen 4-year-olds (8 boys), all right-handed, as they completed a n........ Read more »

  • June 1, 2015
  • 07:38 AM

Some perfectly healthy people can't remember their own lives

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Psychologists in Canada think they've identified an entirely new memory syndrome in healthy people characterised by a specific inability to re-live their past. This may sound like a form of amnesia, but the three individuals currently described have no history of brain damage or illness and have experienced no known recent psychological trauma or disturbance.In light of the recent discovery that some people have an uncanny ability to recall their lives in extreme detail, known as hyperthymesia o........ Read more »

  • May 29, 2015
  • 07:12 AM

Why it's a mistake to seek control of your life through solitude

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Many seek freedom in solitude, but newresearch suggests feelings of controlcome from social belonging. The true story of Christopher McCandless, dramatised in the 2007 film Into the Wild, is a search for radical independence that culminates in McCandless’ solitary existence in the wilds of Alaska. It speaks to a powerful belief: to feel you control your life, stand alone. But new research suggests otherwise: to feel control, stand together.If committing to a group feels like surrendering ........ Read more »

  • May 28, 2015
  • 05:10 AM

Our jumpiness at nighttime is not just because it's dark

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

When something goes bump in the night, most of us are little jumpier than we would be in the day. But is that just because it's dark, or is it more to do with our bodies and brains switching to a vigilant nocturnal mode?Yadan Li and her colleagues have attempted to disentangle the influences of darkness and nighttime. They recruited 120 young women to complete a computer task in a windowless cubicle, which involved them looking at neutral pictures (e.g. nature scenes), scary pictures (e.g. spide........ Read more »

Li, Y., Ma, W., Kang, Q., Qiao, L., Tang, D., Qiu, J., Zhang, Q., & Li, H. (2015) Night or darkness, which intensifies the feeling of fear?. International Journal of Psychophysiology. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2015.04.021  

  • May 27, 2015
  • 04:36 AM

Help me out – but hands off! How idea territoriality harms creative team work

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

If you want quality feedback on your creative ideas, don't be too possessive about themPatents, citations, and copyright all indicate how much it matters to people that they can claim an idea as their own. But new research suggests that staking a claim during the early stages of idea development can be counterproductive, as it cools the enthusiasm others have for making it better.Graham Brown and Markus Baer asked their participants – 230 students at a Singaporean university – to provide fee........ Read more »

  • May 26, 2015
  • 04:26 AM

Happy people have more children

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Lots of research, much of it contradictory, has looked into whether having children brings happiness. There are studies showing marital satisfaction plummets after the kids arrive, but there's other evidence that the bundles of joy really do bring ... joy. A new study turns all this on its head and asks whether being happier makes it more likely that people will have children.Jinhyung Kim and Joshua Hicks first analysed data collected from 559 US lawyers. In 1984, the law men and women rated the........ Read more »

  • May 22, 2015
  • 04:51 AM

You can now test whether someone is a "Maven"

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Malcolm Gladwell’s influential book The Tipping Point popularised the notion that ideas, products and movements owe popular success to opinion leaders: people who are highly connected via weak ties to others, persuasive in character, and an expert or "Maven" in the field in question. The Maven is the friend you go to when you want to buy a new laptop, but don’t know where to start, or consult when you’ve been feeling sluggish and wondering if your diet has something to do with it.Identifyi........ Read more »

Boster, F., Carpenter, C., & Kotowksi, M. (2014) Validation studies of the maven scale. Social Influence, 10(2), 85-96. DOI: 10.1080/15534510.2014.939224  

  • May 21, 2015
  • 04:46 AM

Women are better than men at remembering to remember

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Prospective memory is the term psychologists use for when we have to remember to do something in the future – like stopping for milk on the way home from work. It requires not just remembering what to do, but remembering to remember at the right time.There's actually some past research that suggested women, on average, are more prone to forgetting future tasks than men. But crucially, this research was subjective. Women admitted more memory failures of this kind than men did, but of ........ Read more »

Palermo, L., Cinelli, M., Piccardi, L., Ciurli, P., Incoccia, C., Zompanti, L., & Guariglia, C. (2015) Women outperform men in remembering to remember. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1-10. DOI: 10.1080/17470218.2015.1023734  

  • May 20, 2015
  • 04:50 AM

Poverty shapes how children think about themselves

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

"The Culture of Poverty”, published in 1966 (pdf), was hugely influential, persuading many policy makers that children from low-income families are destined for lives of “criminality, joblessness, and poverty” because they exist in enclaves characterised by dysfunctional beliefs and practices. Thankfully, this fatalistic view has since been largely refuted and attention has turned to ways to help poor children, including giving them access to books, good teachers and stable environments.No........ Read more »

  • May 19, 2015
  • 05:53 AM

A preliminary taxonomy of the voices inside your head

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Psychologists are taking an increasing interest in the way we all speak to ourselves in our heads. Unpleasant, uncontrollable inner voices can be a feature of mental illness, but private self-talk is a mundane part of most healthy people's consciousness.When we talk to ourselves in our heads in this way, it's common for there to be a kind of dialogue. Consider how "You" might say to yourself that you want to stop working, but then a voice in your head takes a different stance and urges you to co........ Read more »

  • May 18, 2015
  • 11:57 AM

Free will inside the Nazi death camps

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

The entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. The sign "Arbeit macht Frei" means "Work liberates".Free will is a controversial topic in psychology, thanks in part to studies suggesting that the brain activity associated with making decisions comes before the conscious feeling of making a choice. Other research claims that when people are exposed to arguments against free will, this makes them more prone to cheat. While intriguing, such insights are arguably somewhat removed from ev........ Read more »

  • May 15, 2015
  • 10:46 AM

Companies are more successful when their employees feel young for their age

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

If you want a dynamic workforce, seek not the young, but the young at heart. That’s the message of a new study that surveyed over 15,000 employees from 107 companies to determine how subjective age influences workplace performance.Past research has made the case that employee age is important to workplace performance, with younger workers more likely to make breakthrough contributions – but the evidence is patchy, suggesting there is more to the story. The proposed cause for the youth advant........ Read more »

  • May 14, 2015
  • 04:46 AM

Do we really love our favourite brands the same way we love people?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

People can get awfully attached to their preferred brands. Some tattoo logos on their skin, others camp out overnight to buy the latest products. Late in life, people often still favour and trust brands from their youth. But is brand obsession and attachment really the same as the love we feel for people?The question is pertinent for researchers in the field of consumer psychology where there's a tendency to apply theories and measures from the study of interpersonal love to the study of brand a........ Read more »

  • May 13, 2015
  • 11:43 AM

The secret to overturning negative first impressions

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

It can be tough to shift someone’s opinion if you’ve made a bad first impression. They might accept your apology or take on board your good points, but beneath the surface, ill feeling persists. New research from Cornell University suggests that the way to reach those deeper feelings, and earn a second chance, is to get the other person to see your initial actions in an entirely new light.Researchers Thomas Mann and Melissa Ferguson presented 200 participants with a scenario that raised thei........ Read more »

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