Scott McGreal

47 posts · 33,309 views

Psychology graduate with boundless curiosity. I've explored many mystical and spiritual philosophies but have become a committed rationalist. The phenomenology of consciousness still fascinates me. I have a particular interest in personality and intelligence. Scientific controversies are best approached with a level head and a regard for truth over politics or ideology in my view.

Eye on Psych
47 posts

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  • November 3, 2014
  • 02:53 AM
  • 129 views

Cannabis Use and Psychosis: The Still Difficult Question of Causality

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

Adolescent cannabis use has been linked to risk of psychosis in a number of studies. However, the question of whether cannabis use actually causes some people to become psychotic is a difficult one to answer and the evidence remains inconclusive. Furthermore, long-term studies on cannabis use have generally not considered that personality characteristics that have been linked to mental illness might also prompt a person’s decision to use drugs such as cannabis.... Read more »

McLaren JA, Silins E, Hutchinson D, Mattick RP, & Hall W. (2010) Assessing evidence for a causal link between cannabis and psychosis: a review of cohort studies. The International journal on drug policy, 21(1), 10-9. PMID: 19783132  

  • July 22, 2014
  • 11:20 PM
  • 219 views

Heroes and Villains: Banal or Special People? Part 2 of 2

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

According to Zimbardo and colleagues, both heroic acts and evil acts occur primarily in response to situational factors, rather than internal features of the person. However, on closer inspection, the situationist analysis provides inconsistent accounts of how each of these occurs. Evil actions are attributed to factors entirely outside the person, while heroism relies on the person’s inner qualities.... Read more »

  • July 1, 2014
  • 01:56 AM
  • 218 views

Heroes and Villains: Banal or Special People? Part 1 of 2

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

Situationists have claimed that heroism and evil are equally "banal", i.e. people choose between good and evil mainly due to situational pressures rather than their personal traits. However, the situationist analysis is inconsistent. Evil is attributed to external forces, whereas heroism results from character. ... Read more »

  • June 2, 2014
  • 11:48 PM
  • 218 views

Blasphemous art and attitudes towards censorship: Examining an apparent double standard

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

Blasphemous artworks highlight the tension between support for free speech and the desire not to offend. A recent study on attitudes towards censorship highlights a double standard among non-religious people when it comes to offending Muslims versus Christians, that may be indicative of a wider social problem in current Western society. ... Read more »

  • May 14, 2014
  • 12:14 AM
  • 293 views

Facebook as a conduit for misinformation and racism: The role of shallow information processing

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

There seems to be a trend today to regard having a Facebook account as a quick and dirty indicator of normal social adjustment. However, research suggests that Facebook is associated with a culture of shallow information processing that might facilitate uncritical acceptance of problematic social attitudes, such as racism. ... Read more »

Rauch, S. M., & Schanz, K. (2013) Advancing racism with Facebook: Frequency and purpose of Facebook use and the acceptance of prejudiced and egalitarian messages. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(3), 610-615. info:/

  • April 10, 2014
  • 12:29 AM
  • 350 views

Atheists and Their Capacity for Awe at Life

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

Many people think of awe as a particularly religious emotion and therefore seem to assume that people with no religious beliefs at all, e.g. atheists are closed to the experience of awe. This assumption is quite false and reflects a wider prejudice against atheists. Research has shown that people who reject supernatural beliefs actually are capable of experiencing a sense of awe. In fact, the experience of awe may be particularly beneficial for those who do not believe in an afterlife.... Read more »

  • February 11, 2014
  • 02:49 AM
  • 419 views

Is Parapsychology a "Taboo" Subject in Science?

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

An opinion piece recently published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, endorsed by 90 signatories calls for a more “open-minded” consideration of the subject. What particularly struck me about this piece was the claim that investigation into the subject is not just controversial, but actually “taboo”. Examination of the history of parapsychology indicates that the scientific mainstream has shown considerable open-mindedness towards the subject, and that claims that it ha........ Read more »

  • December 26, 2013
  • 11:41 PM
  • 608 views

Life History Strategy and the Allure of the Dark Side: Evidence against a General Factor of Personality

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

Claims about a "general factor of personality" imply that all socially desirable traits are positively correlated. On the contrary, a new study based on Life History Strategy suggests that slow and fast life history strategies respectively each combine a mixture of desirable and undesirable traits. This suggests that a generally desirable factor is illusory. ... Read more »

Sherman RA, Figueredo AJ, & Funder DC. (2013) The behavioral correlates of overall and distinctive life history strategy. Journal of personality and social psychology, 105(5), 873-88. PMID: 23915038  

  • December 5, 2013
  • 01:15 AM
  • 411 views

Atheism, Openness to Experience and Dogmatism: A Puzzling Relationship

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

Although openness to experience is usually associated with decreased dogmatism, a new study found that among atheists greater openness is associated with greater dogmatism. ... Read more »

  • November 30, 2013
  • 06:27 AM
  • 383 views

The Forgotten Role of Individual Differences in the Stanford Prison Experiment

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

The Stanford Prison Experiment has had a remarkable influence in psychology, and has been used to demonstrate the alleged power of situations to triumph over individual differences. However, closer examination of the study's methodology shows that this conclusion is completely unwarranted, and that the study did not provide an adequate test of the role of personality. ... Read more »

  • October 24, 2013
  • 11:32 PM
  • 350 views

The Complex Relationship Between Intelligence and Political Orientation

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

Intelligence is one of the most controversial and divisive issues in scientific psychology. Add the issue of political ideology and the result is likely to stir up heated debate. The subject is a complex one and not yet fully understood. A review of the research literature reveals some conflicting findings, but one theme that seems to emerge is that the cultural context appears to influence the way that intelligence and political orientation are related to each other.... Read more »

  • September 30, 2013
  • 11:31 PM
  • 573 views

Individual Differences in Religious Prejudices

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

Some researchers have argued that how dogmatically people hold their beliefs is more important to religious prejudice than the actual content of their beliefs. However, a recent study suggests that when it comes to prejudice against gays and atheists, the content of the belief – specifically belief in God – is as important, perhaps even more important, than how dogmatically a person holds those beliefs.... Read more »

  • July 23, 2013
  • 07:45 AM
  • 485 views

The Myth of Catharsis: Why Ranting and Venting are Terrible Ways to Handle Anger

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

A study on the effects of using "rant" sites illustrates that cathartic venting actually makes anger worse, contrary to popular opinion. More constructive ways of expressing anger are considered. ... Read more »

Martin, R. C., Coyier, K. R., VanSistine, L. M., & Schroeder, K. L. (2013) Anger on the Internet: The Perceived Value of Rant-Sites. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 16(2). DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2012.0130  

  • June 11, 2013
  • 08:24 AM
  • 605 views

The Far-Fetched Infidelity Detection Hypothesis of Oral Sex

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

A recent paper attempted to confirm the evolutionary hypothesis that interest in oral sex is related to sperm competition and functions to detect infidelity. The study results are inconclusive as there is a more obvious mundane explanation for the findings. ... Read more »

Pham, M., & Shackelford, T. (2013) Oral sex as infidelity-detection. Personality and Individual Differences, 54(6), 792-795. DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2012.11.034  

  • May 31, 2013
  • 01:25 AM
  • 362 views

Could sexbots one day give people longer life? Dream on!

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

Research linking orgasm frequency to longevity have led to some wild claims by some transhumanists about people one day using sexbots to prolong their life expectancy. Examination of the actual findings shows that these claims are exaggerated and go far beyond the available evidence.... Read more »

  • May 22, 2013
  • 08:23 AM
  • 507 views

Twitter versus the Grim Reaper: Extraverts but not introverts use Twitter to ward off existential anxiety

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

A great deal of Twitter content has been described as "pointless babble." However, an experimental study found that Twitter usage can ward off existential anxiety, at least in extraverts. Even banal tweets might serve a deeper psychological purpose.... Read more »

Qiu L, Leung AK, Ho JH, Yeung QM, Francis KJ, & Chua PF. (2010) Understanding the psychological motives behind microblogging. Studies in health technology and informatics, 140-4. PMID: 20543286  

  • May 16, 2013
  • 07:41 AM
  • 389 views

The effectiveness of placebo treatment for pain is related to personality traits

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

A recent study found that people high in agreeableness, ego-resiliency, and low in neuroticism have a stronger response to placebo pain relief. The placebo effect may be related to a person's capacity for self-control. ... Read more »

Peciña M, Azhar H, Love TM, Lu T, Fredrickson BL, Stohler CS, & Zubieta JK. (2013) Personality trait predictors of placebo analgesia and neurobiological correlates. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 38(4), 639-46. PMID: 23187726  

  • April 17, 2013
  • 07:44 AM
  • 565 views

The Mental Health Troubles of the "Spiritual but not Religious"

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

A large British survey found that spiritual but not religious people have poorer mental health compared to both religious and non-religious/non-spiritual people. Reasons for this are no yet clear, but personality traits associated with spiritual beliefs and interests might be a factor.... Read more »

King, M., Marston, L., McManus, S., Brugha, T., Meltzer, H., & Bebbington, P. (2012) Religion, spirituality and mental health: results from a national study of English households. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 202(1), 68-73. DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.112.112003  

  • March 30, 2013
  • 06:29 AM
  • 770 views

What are Porn Stars' Personalities Like?

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

Recent studies on porn stars found that performers had higher self-esteem than other people. Little else is known about their personality traits, but it is reasonable to speculate. Porn stars' interpersonal traits might be warmer or colder than average. ... Read more »

  • January 30, 2013
  • 01:09 AM
  • 1,047 views

An Evolutionary Psychology Perspective on Porn Stars

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

New research has opened a window into the lives of porn actors and actresses. Could evolutionary psychology shed light onto the motivations of these individuals? ... Read more »

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