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Posts

April 24, 2014

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8:00 AM | Alcohol could have cognitive benefits – depending on your genes
The cognitive cost or benefit of booze depends on your genes, suggests a new study which uses a unique longitudinal data set.Inside the laboratory psychologists use a control group to isolate the effects of specific variables. But many important real world problems can't be captured in the lab. Ageing is a good example: if we want to know what predicts a healthy old age, running experiments is difficult, even if only for the reason that they take a lifetime to get the results. Questions about […]

April 22, 2014

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8:00 AM | A self-fulfilling fallacy?
Lady Luck is fickle, but many of us believe we can read her mood. A new study of one year's worth of bets made via an online betting site shows that gamblers' attempts to predict when their luck will turn has some unexpected consequences.A common error in judging probabilities is known as the Gambler's Fallacy. This is the belief that independent chance events have an obligation to 'even themselves out' over the short term, so that a run of wins makes a loss more likely, and vice versa. An […]

April 17, 2014

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8:00 AM | A photograph can be worth a thousand words
There has long been a tradition of using photographs to capture, reveal, and expose. A photograph has the ability to arouse emotion – oftentimes, some would argue, more effectively than a verbal or written description.In a recent article in Social Dynamics, Rory du Plessis of the University of Pretoria (South Africa) has brought to life a case example of the power photographs can hold. In an analysis of two sets of photographs produced by the Grahamstown Lunatic Asylum between 1890 and […]

April 16, 2014

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8:00 AM | Have you exercised your memory lately?
We’ve often heard someone’s memory described as 'weak' or 'strong'. But with the majority of psychological memory models drawing on information processing analogies with terms like 'storage', 'retrieval', and 'input', where did the idea of memory’s strength come from?In a recent article published in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, Alan Collins of Lancaster University reviewed British and American texts dating between 1860 and 1910 that focused on […]

April 14, 2014

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8:16 AM | Does Psychology have its own vocabulary?
If you were to pick up the flagship journal from a discipline that is foreign to you and flip to an article at random, how much do you think you would understand? Put a different way: how much of the vocabulary employed in that article might you misinterpret?The vocabularies used by any given discipline overlap with those of many other disciplines, although the specific meaning associated with a given term may be dissimilar from discipline to discipline. Anglophone psychology, for instance, has […]

April 11, 2014

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8:00 AM | Facial expressions as social camouflage
Can making faces mask your personality?According to a group of University of Glasgow psychologists, Daniel Gill and colleagues, it can. Writing in the journal Psychological Science, these researchers say that human facial expressions can signal how dominant, trustworthy, or attractive we are – and that these ‘dynamic’ signals can mask or override the impression given off by the ‘static’ structure of the face.In other words, someone might have a face that […]

April 09, 2014

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8:00 AM | You don't have to be well-educated to be an ‘aversive racist’, but it helps
Are you a racist?Most likely, your answer is no – and perhaps you find the very notion offensive. But according to two Cardiff University psychologists, Kuppens and Spears, many educated people harbor prejudiced attitudes even though they deny it. Their research was published recently in Social Science Research.Kuppens and Spears analysed data from a large survey of the general US population, the American National Election Studies (ANES) 2008-2009. They focused on over 2,600 individuals […]

April 07, 2014

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8:00 AM | Around the world, things look better in hindsight
Human memory has a pervasive emotional bias – and it’s probably a good thing. That’s according to psychologists Timothy Ritchie and colleagues.In a new study published in the journal Memory, the researchers say that people from diverse cultures experience the ‘fading affect bias’ (FAB), the tendency for negative emotions to fade away more quickly than positive ones in our memories.The FAB has been studied previously, but the most previous research looked at the […]

April 04, 2014

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7:30 AM | Do television and video games impact on the wellbeing of younger children?
We’re often bombarded with panicky stories in the news about the dangers of letting children watch too much television or play too many video games. The scientific reality is that we still know very little about how the use of electronic media affects childhood behaviour and development. A new study from a team of international researchers led by Trina Hinkley at Deakin University might help to provide us with new insights.The study used data from 3,600 children from across Europe, taken […]

April 03, 2014

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8:00 AM | How does stress affect your public speaking skills?
Having to give a talk or a speech in front of a large group of people is one of the scarier things we might find ourselves having to do at some point in our lives. In those situations, ideally we want to give a flawless, well-rehearsed delivery, and getting too stressed is often linked to becoming – literally – lost for words. But is there any actual evidence for this link?Tony Buchanan and colleagues have recently investigated what sort of aspects of speech and language are […]

April 02, 2014

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8:00 AM | Inflated praise for your children: an 'incredibly' bad idea?
When you’ve done something good, or performed a task well, it feels great to get some praise for it. And parents and teachers, especially in Western cultures, are encouraged to dole out praise to children in an increasingly generous manner. A drawing might not just be 'good', it might be 'incredible'. That song wasn’t just 'beautiful', it was 'epic'. Such praise is often given with the best intentions, particularly in the belief that positive feedback, especially for children who […]

April 01, 2014

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7:00 AM | It's official: Psychologists DO know what you are thinking
It’s an accusation often fired at psychologists at parties: ‘I bet you can tell what I’m thinking’. Now psychologists, much to their own surprise, have found scientific evidence that this might actually be the case.In a series of studies reported today in the Journal of Metacognition, researchers found that qualified psychologists significantly outperformed matched controls on experimental tasks measuring the ability to guess a target selected by others from a random […]

March 27, 2014

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3:27 PM | We were promised jetpacks! …
… and sofas you could hose down! It’s always entertaining to consider our future thinking of yesteryear with 20:20 hindsight. So as we await our ‘guest hosts’ who are going to usher in our own new era, we thought we would peer back into the archives of the Digest and The Psychologist to see how our consideration of technological advances has stood the test of time.Bypassing articles with quaint titles such as 'The internet: A possible research tool?', our focus is […]

March 26, 2014

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12:31 PM | Charting 'the mind and body economic'
Was it a budget to 'win grey votes and capture the spirit of Thatcherism'? Or a ‘Lamborghini ride that says power to the people’? As the debate over George Osborne’s fifth UK budget continues, we take the opportunity to delve into the archives of the Research Digest and The Psychologist in order to consider the importance of the economy, ‘austerity’ measures, and the conservative / liberal divide.A special feature in the April issue of The Psychologist, published […]

March 25, 2014

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3:39 PM | Male fantasies, triumphalism and peace
As Western policymakers, analysts and journalists continue to ponder Vladimir Putin's aims in invading and occupying the Crimean peninsula, we again take an opportunity to delve into the Research Digest and The Psychologist archives in search of psychological insight.Firstly, we bring you a first look at a guest 'Real world' column, due to be published tomorrow in the April issue of The Psychologist, in which Professor Steve Reicher (University of St Andrews) and Professor Alex […]
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