Scott McGreal

53 posts · 65,770 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
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  • January 15, 2017
  • 08:04 AM

What Differential-K Theory gets Wrong about Race Differences in Sexuality

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

This post critiques a study that attempted to test predictions of differential-K theory about racial differences in sexuality using data from a Durex condom survey. Better, more scientific data addresses this topic, and fails to confirm the predictions of this theory.... Read more »

Dutton, E., van der Linden, D., & Lynn, R. (2016) Population differences in androgen levels: A test of the Differential K theory. Personality and Individual Differences, 289-295. info:/

  • January 15, 2017
  • 07:05 AM

Population Differences in Androgens Fail to Validate Richard Lynn's Claims about Racial Differences in Penis Size

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

The author of a study on population differences in androgens claimed that his findings support Lynn's claims about racial differences in penis length. Close analysis of the statistics used shows these conclusions are invalid.... Read more »

Dutton, E., van der Linden, D., & Lynn, R. (2016) Population differences in androgen levels: A test of the Differential K theory. Personality and Individual Differences, 289-295. info:/

  • December 31, 2016
  • 08:13 AM

Population Differences in Androgens Fail to Support Differential-K Theory

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

A recent paper attempts to test predictions of Differential-K Theory about race differences using data on population differences in androgens.Close examination of this data shows that the predictions fail.... Read more »

Dutton, E., van der Linden, D., & Lynn, R. (2016) Population differences in androgen levels: A test of the Differential K theory. Personality and Individual Differences, 289-295. info:/

  • June 28, 2015
  • 04:33 AM

What personality features do heroes and psychopaths have in common?

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

The search for a positive face of psychopathy prompted a study examining whether psychopaths and heroes share certain personality traits. Both psychopathy and heroism were correlated with a history of antisocial behavior, but the reasons for this remain unclear. Heroes might have more mature personalities than psychopaths, in spite of what features they may have in common. ... Read more »

  • January 19, 2015
  • 01:25 AM

Magic Mushroom Users who get High without Drugs

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

A study comparing peak experiences - what a person considers their most wonderful life experience - in psilocybin users with non-users, found that some users said their most intense peak experience had occurred when they were not under the influence of drugs, even though it involved a profound alteration of consciousness similar to that produced by psilocybin. One possible implication of this study is that psilocybin could have lasting effects on a person’s ability to enter altered states of c........ Read more »

Cummins C, & Lyke J. (2013) Peak experiences of psilocybin users and non-users. Journal of psychoactive drugs, 45(2), 189-94. PMID: 23909006  

  • November 3, 2014
  • 03:53 AM

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 23, 2014
  • 12:20 AM

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
  • 02:56 AM

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 3, 2014
  • 12:48 AM

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
  • 01:14 AM

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
  • 01:29 AM

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
  • 03:49 AM

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 27, 2013
  • 12:41 AM

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
  • 02:15 AM

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
  • 07:27 AM

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 25, 2013
  • 12:32 AM

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 »

  • October 1, 2013
  • 12:31 AM

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
  • 08:45 AM

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
  • 09:24 AM

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
  • 02:25 AM

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 »

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