BPS Research Digest

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

BPS Research Digest
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  • February 10, 2016
  • 06:49 AM
  • 73 views

Researchers have analysed the somniloquies of the world's most prolific sleep talker

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Album artwork for Dion McGregor Dreams AgainThe "most extensive sleep talker ever recorded", according to a new article in Imagination, Cognition and Personality, is the late American songwriter Dion McGregor. McGregor's unusual sleeping behaviour – one commentator said he "sounds as if he were channeling Truman Capote on acid: flirtatious, slushy, disconnected from reality ..." – first became public in the 1960s when McGregor shared a New York apartment with a posse of o........ Read more »

Barrett, D., Grayson, M., Oh, A., & Sogolow, Z. (2015) A Content Analysis of Dion McGregor's Sleep-Talking Episodes. Imagination, Cognition and Personality, 35(1), 72-83. DOI: 10.1177/0276236615574495  

  • February 9, 2016
  • 08:11 AM
  • 47 views

New research challenges the idea that women have more elaborate autobiographical memories than men 

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

The longest autobiographical narratives were produced by men talking to women Prior research has found that women elaborate more than men when talking about their autobiographical memories, going into more detail, mentioning more emotions and providing more interpretation. One problem with this research, though, is that it hasn't paid much attention to who is listening or whether the memories are spoken or written.This is unfortunate because findings like these can fuel overly sim........ Read more »

  • February 8, 2016
  • 07:26 AM
  • 154 views

How the home crowd affects football referees' decisions

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

One of the most thorough investigations into referee bias has found that they tend to award harsher foul punishments to the away team. The new results, published in the International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, suggest that experienced referees are just as prone to this bias as their less experienced colleagues.Andrés Picazo-Tadeo and his team analysed data from 2,651 matches played in the First Division of La Liga, the Spanish Football League between the 2002/3 and 2009/10 season........ Read more »

Picazo-Tadeo, A., González-Gómez, F., & Guardiola, J. (2016) Does the crowd matter in refereeing decisions? Evidence from Spanish soccer. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 1-13. DOI: 10.1080/1612197X.2015.1126852  

  • February 5, 2016
  • 07:10 AM
  • 135 views

Cross-cultural studies of toddler self-awareness have been using an unfair test

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

There's a simple and fun way to test a toddler's self-awareness. You make a red mark (or place a red sticker) on their forehead discreetly, and then you see what happens when they look in a mirror. If they have a sense of self – that is, if they recognise themselves as a distinct entity in the world – then they will see that there is a strange red mark on their face and attempt to touch it or remove it.This is called the "mirror self-recognition test" (it's used to test self-awareness in ani........ Read more »

  • February 5, 2016
  • 05:28 AM
  • 172 views

People who prioritise time over money are happier

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

A lot of has been written about how focusing too much on materialistic ambitions, at the expense of relationships and experiences, can leave us miserable and unfulfilled. In a new paper published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, a team of psychologists at the University of British Columbia in Canada argue that there's another important distinction to be made – between how much we prioritise time versus money. Those who favour time tend to be happier, possibly because this frees........ Read more »

Whillans, A., Weidman, A., & Dunn, E. (2016) Valuing Time Over Money Is Associated With Greater Happiness. Social Psychological and Personality Science. DOI: 10.1177/1948550615623842  

  • February 3, 2016
  • 10:18 AM
  • 127 views

Parenthood seems to have an opposite effect on how men and women perceive babies' emotions

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

In our part of the world, a growing proportion of fathers are rolling up their sleeves and getting involved in early child care. This has prompted increased interest from psychologists in any similarities or differences in the way that mothers and fathers interact with their children. One finding is that fathers tend to engage in more physical play, whereas mothers spend more time playing with toys and interacting socially. A new study in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology takes a ........ Read more »

Parsons, C., Young, K., Jegindoe Elmholdt, E., Stein, A., & Kringelbach, M. (2016) Interpreting infant emotional expressions: parenthood has differential effects on men and women. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1-19. DOI: 10.1080/17470218.2016.1141967  

  • February 2, 2016
  • 04:37 AM
  • 86 views

Scientific evidence that counting to 10 helps control anger (sometimes)

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

It's something we're taught from a young age – when you're about to go into a rage, force yourself to count to ten and hopefully the storm will pass. This may sound like common sense, but without testing the method scientifically, how do we know if and when it really works? For example, while the counting delay could give you a chance to get a grip of your aggressive urges, it's equally plausible that it could give you time to grow even angrier about whatever triggered your displeasure in the ........ Read more »

  • February 1, 2016
  • 10:55 AM
  • 117 views

Working memory training could help beat anxiety

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

One thing anxiety does is to upset your brain's balance between focus and vigilance. Your control over what you pay attention to is sacrificed at the expense of worrisome thoughts and a rapid response to any potential danger.If this account is true, basic attention training should help, putting you back in charge of your own mind. A key component of attentional control is working memory – our ability to juggle task-relevant information in mind over short-periods of time. In a new paper in Biol........ Read more »

  • January 29, 2016
  • 03:54 AM
  • 65 views

How do people with Dark Triad personality traits fare at speed dating?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

People who score highly in the Dark Triad personality traits – narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism – are vain, selfish, callous and manipulative. They're not the kind of people you want to spend much time with. This raises the obvious question – to put it bluntly, why over evolutionary timescales haven't these people died out? One possibility is that their traits actually confer short-term advantages in the mating game. Dark Triad people are obnoxious once you get to know them, su........ Read more »

Jauk, E., Neubauer, A., Mairunteregger, T., Pemp, S., Sieber, K., & Rauthmann, J. (2016) How Alluring Are Dark Personalities? The Dark Triad and Attractiveness in Speed Dating. European Journal of Personality. DOI: 10.1002/per.2040  

  • January 28, 2016
  • 06:58 AM
  • 170 views

There are at least 216 foreign words for positive emotional states and concepts that we don't have in English

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

One criticism levelled at positive psychology is that it takes an overly Western-centric view of the lighter side of human experience. Addressing that problem, Tim Lomas at the University of East London has begun a deep investigation into all the non-English words for positive emotions and concepts that don't have a direct translation in English.Publishing his initial findings in the The Journal of Positive Psychology, Lomas' hope is not only that we might learn more about the positive psyc........ Read more »

  • January 27, 2016
  • 04:44 AM
  • 105 views

Men who stick up for women's rights are subjected to more sexual harassment at work

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Upon mention of sexual harassment at work, it's natural to think immediately of women as the targets, but actually men experience harassment too. And it's on the increase, at least in the US. In 2013, men filed 17.6 per cent of the thousands of sexual harassment charges recorded in the country that year (up from 16.1 per cent in 2011).A new study in Psychology of Men and Masculinity surveyed 326 men in the US (most were white, 25 were gay or bisexual) about their experiences of sexual harassment........ Read more »

  • January 26, 2016
  • 11:11 AM
  • 150 views

New review prompts a re-think on what low sugar levels do to our thinking

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Glucose. Fuel for our cells, vital for life. But how fundamental is it to how we think?According to dual-systems theory (best known from Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman’s work), low blood glucose favours the use of fast and dirty System One thinking over the deliberative, effortful System Two. Similarly, the ego depletion theory of Roy Baumeister sees glucose as a resource that gets used up whenever we resist a temptation.But the authors of a new meta-analysis published in Psychological Bulleti........ Read more »

  • January 25, 2016
  • 07:08 AM
  • 128 views

These 50 overweight women kept a week-long "fat stigma" diary

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Health psychologists are perplexed by a conundrum. With rates of obesity on the rise, experts have warned that social discrimination towards overweight people will increase. Anecdotal evidence suggests this is happening. And yet research studies have repeatedly found that overweight people typically report experiencing only a handful of stigmatising experiences in their life-times.One reason for this mismatch might be that existing studies have asked overweight people to recall from memory any t........ Read more »

Seacat, J., Dougal, S., & Roy, D. (2014) A daily diary assessment of female weight stigmatization. Journal of Health Psychology, 21(2), 228-240. DOI: 10.1177/1359105314525067  

  • January 22, 2016
  • 04:36 AM
  • 87 views

Our collective memory, like individual memory, is shockingly fallible

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

By guest blogger Laura SpinneyWhat were the greatest human catastrophes of the 20th century? When asked this question, most people answer the Second World War, followed by the First World War. The former killed around 50 million people, the latter 17 million. But there was another catastrophe that dwarfed both of these, that is rarely mentioned. The influenza pandemic of 1918-1920, better known as the Spanish flu, killed at least 50 million people worldwide, and perhaps as many as 100 million.Wh........ Read more »

  • January 21, 2016
  • 07:27 AM
  • 172 views

Teams are more creative when their leader is confident in her or his own creativity

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

If you’re wondering who to appoint to run a team with creative goals, you might favour a non-creative, reasoning that it’s down to the team members to generate creativity, with the person at the top acting more as driver and dogged coordinator. However, new research in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes suggests that teams produce more creative outcomes when their managers have greater confidence in their own creativity.Lei Huang of Auburn University and his collaborators s........ Read more »

  • January 20, 2016
  • 08:10 AM
  • 94 views

The police believe a lot of psychology myths related to their work

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Despite recent improvements to their training, a new study in the journal of Police and Criminal Psychology suggests the police are as susceptible as the general public to holding false beliefs about psychology that apply to their work. The research, conducted in the UK, also showed that police officers have more confidence than the public in their false beliefs.Chloe Chaplin, a programme facilitator at the London Probation Trust, and Julia Shaw, senior lecturer at South Bank university, recruit........ Read more »

  • January 20, 2016
  • 05:01 AM
  • 104 views

People who have experienced more adversity show more compassion

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

In parallel with the difficulties caused by trauma, such as depression and ill health, some people experience positive psychological changes, such as a renewed appreciation for life and increased resilience – a phenomenon psychologists term "post traumatic growth". According to a new study in the journal Emotion, we can add another positive outcome related to adversity – compassion. The more adversity in life a person has experienced, the more compassion they tend to feel and show toward oth........ Read more »

  • January 18, 2016
  • 05:21 AM
  • 220 views

Here's a really simple trick that could help you enjoy more lucid dreams

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Lucid dreams are when you know you're dreaming and you can consciously control events as they unfold: it's like being the director and star of your own Hollywood movie. It's estimated that about 20 per cent of people get to enjoy them fairly regularly (at least once a month). For the rest of us, a new study in the journal Dreaming suggests a really simple way to increase your odds of having lucid dreams – just start making more frequent use of the snooze function on your alarm clock.Bethan Smi........ Read more »

  • January 15, 2016
  • 04:49 AM
  • 90 views

We are most vulnerable to temptation when it feels like we're in the middle of something

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

When do we give into temptation? Researchers Maferima Touré-Tillery and Ayelet Fishbach have previously shown that we’re more willing to break social standards, such as by cheating or breaking religious observance, when the opportunity is in the middle rather than the start or end of a sequence. For example, participants were more likely to report forgetting to light a Menorah candle on the fourth or fifth day of Hanukah, rather than the first or last. Now their new paper in the Journal of Pe........ Read more »

Touré-Tillery M, & Fishbach A. (2015) It was(n't) me: Exercising restraint when choices appear self-diagnostic. Journal of personality and social psychology, 109(6), 1117-31. PMID: 26414839  

  • January 14, 2016
  • 08:21 AM
  • 225 views

What does being scared do to our vision?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

By guest blogger Melissa HogenboomConsider the following scenario. A policeman is on patrol, maybe he's quite new to working in the field. He sees a suspicious young man and decides to follow him.He turns the corner and sees that the man has drawn a gun from his pocket. In a snap second – almost too fast to think twice – he takes out his own gun and shoots the man dead.Only the man didn't have a gun at all, it was a mobile phone.Sadly, it's a familiar story. An incident exactly like it ........ Read more »

Lojowska, M., Gladwin, T., Hermans, E., & Roelofs, K. (2015) Freezing promotes perception of coarse visual features. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 144(6), 1080-1088. DOI: 10.1037/xge0000117  

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