March 02, 2015

10:35 AM | "I did it for the team" – How outsiders cheat in pursuit of popularity
If you would do anything to stay popular with your team-mates, what might follow? Bending the rules? Cheating? Sabotage of rivals? An international team led by Stefan Thau of INSEAD investigated “pro-group” unethical behaviours, and they suggest the people most likely to connive to boost the team are those at its margins, fearful of exclusion.The experiment gave participants an easy opportunity to cheat at an anagram task, as the setup meant they themselves reported how […]

February 28, 2015

9:00 AM | Link feast
Our pick of the best psychology and neuroscience links from the past week or so:The Science of Why No One Agrees on the Colour of This DressThe internet is abuzz with talk of the dress that some people see as white and gold, others as blue and black. Adam Rogers at WIRED provides an explanation.Hard Feelings: Science’s Struggle to Define Emotions"While it's possible for researchers to study facial expressions, brain patterns, behavior, and more," writes Julie Beck at The Atlantic, […]

February 27, 2015

10:13 AM | What do clients think of psychotherapy that doesn't work?
Psychotherapy works for most people, but there's a sizeable group for whom it's ineffective, or worse still, harmful. A new study claims to be the first to systematically investigate what the experience of therapy is like for clients who show no improvement after therapy, or who actually deteriorate.Andrzej Werbart and his colleagues conducted in-depth interviews with 20 non-improved clients (out of a larger client group of 134) who were enrolled in individual or group psychoanalytic […]

February 26, 2015

10:35 AM | Some student-professor pairings lead to "unusually effective teaching" (and it's possible to predict which ones)
Video trailers can be used to predict whichlecturers are the best teachers, and whichstudents they are especially suited to.In the near future, students could be presented with a series of video trailers of different professors at their university. Based on their ratings of these videos, the students will be paired with the professors who provide the best fit. The outcome will be superior learning, and greater student satisfaction.That's the promise of a new study that asked 145 psychology […]

Gross, J., Lakey, B., Lucas, J., LaCross, R., R. Plotkowski, A. & Winegard, B. (2015). Forecasting the student-professor matches that result in unusually effective teaching, British Journal of Educational Psychology, 85 (1) 19-32. DOI: 10.1111/bjep.12049


February 25, 2015

10:56 AM | The six forms of resistance shown by participants in Milgram's notorious "obedience studies"
When discussing Milgram's notorious experiments, in which participants were instructed to give increasingly dangerous electric shocks to another person, most commentators take a black or white approach.Participants are categorised as obedient or defiant, and the headline result is taken as the surprising number of people – the majority – who obeyed by going all the way and administering the highest, lethal voltage.A new study takes a different stance by looking at the different acts […]

February 24, 2015

9:04 AM | Recruiters think they can tell your personality from your resume. They’re wrong
Recruiters are poor at inferring an applicant’s personality from their resume, but that doesn’t stop them from jumping to conclusions on the back of their flawed assumptions. That’s according to a new study that involved over a hundred professional recruiters evaluating pairs of resumes.The US-based recruiters estimated applicant personality from the limited information in short two-page resumes. Their estimates were poorly correlated with the self-ratings made by the MBA […]

February 23, 2015

9:18 AM | The “Backfire Effect”: Correcting false beliefs about vaccines can be surprisingly counterproductive
Nearly half of the US population wrongly believes the flu vaccine can give you flu,but correcting this error has the opposite of the desired effectBy guest blogger Simon OxenhamAccording to a new study, 43 per cent of the US population wrongly believes that the flu vaccine can give you flu. In actual fact this is not the case – any adverse reaction, besides a temperature and aching muscles for a short time, is rare. It stands to reason that correcting this misconception would be a good […]

Nyhan, B. & Reifler, J. (2015). Does correcting myths about the flu vaccine work? An experimental evaluation of the effects of corrective information, Vaccine, 33 (3) 459-464. DOI: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2014.11.017

Brendan Nyhan, Jason Reifler, Sean Richey & Gary L. Freed (2014). Effective Messages in Vaccine Promotion: A Randomized Trial, PEDIATRICS, 133 (4) DOI: 10.1542/peds.2013-2365d

Lewandowsky, S., Ecker, U., Seifert, C., Schwarz, N. & Cook, J. (2012). Misinformation and Its Correction: Continued Influence and Successful Debiasing, Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 13 (3) 106-131. DOI: 10.1177/1529100612451018


February 21, 2015

9:01 AM | Link feast
Our pick of the best psychology and neuroscience links from the past week or so:My Own LifeOliver Sacks in the NYT on learning he has terminal cancer.The Placebo ProblemBBC Radio 4 documentary on the nocebo effect - the malign counterpart to the placebo.Don’t Fear Our Changing LanguageSome people decry change and fear it will bring about the demise of English as we know it. But change is totally harmless, argues Raffaella Zanuttini in Pacific Standard, and offers us a window on the […]

February 20, 2015

9:28 AM | Is self-disgust the emotional trigger that leads to self-harm?
To help people who perform non-lethal self-harm, such as cutting and burning themselves, we need a better understanding of the thoughts and feelings that contribute to them resorting to this behaviour. Risk factors are already known, including depression and a history of sexual abuse. However, Noelle Smith and her colleagues wondered if these factors increase the risk of self-harm because they lead people to experience self-disgust. Viewed this way, the researchers believe "self-disgust may […]

February 19, 2015

12:06 PM | Threat of punishment makes us better judges of our own knowledge
People show better understanding oftheir own knowledge when threatenedwith large penalties for wrong answers. There are some walks of life where trying to be right as often as possible is not enough. Just as important is having insight into the likely accuracy of your own knowledge.Think of doctors and surgeons making diagnostic decisions. They can't be right all the time, and neither can they be completely certain over their judgments. What becomes important then, is that they have an […]

Arnold, M., Chisholm, L. & Prike, T. (2014). No pain no gain: The positive impact of punishment on the strategic regulation of accuracy, Memory, 1-8. DOI: 10.1080/09658211.2014.990982


February 18, 2015

12:02 PM | 10 Fascinating Psychology Studies By Wife and Husband Research Teams
The detective work of science can be ridiculously addictive. Connecting with a non-scientist who doesn't understand this thrill can be tricky, let alone the practical problem of finding time for a loving commitment when you're married to your work. No wonder that some of psychology's most successful research teams are made of husband and wife pairings. Here we celebrate these partnerships, providing a digest of 10 great studies by psychology's power couples:Helping Married CouplesWe begin […]

February 17, 2015

10:12 AM | Jokey team meetings are more productive, as long as people laugh along
Science suggests a funnier workplace should be a more effective one, encouraging positive mood and a playful, open approach. But much of the evidence to date rests on theoretical argument or lab experiments. Now a new study of genuine team meetings shows that laughter begets laughter and that bouts of humour really can clear the ground for new approaches and better performance.Using videos taken as part of an improvement process run across two German companies, the study was able to determine […]

February 16, 2015

10:20 AM | Saving information to computer frees your mind to learn new material
Forgetting information that we save tocomputer could have its advantagesA few years ago, researchers demonstrated that people had poorer memory for information that they were told had been saved to a computer. Technophobes jumped on the finding. "Imagine that in the future people become so used to external access for any form of reference that they have not internalized any facts at all," wrote Susan Greenfield.Of course there are many flaws to this logic, not least that the old fashioned act […]

February 14, 2015

9:00 AM | Link Feast
Our pick of the best psychology and neuroscience links from the past week or so:Listen To Your HeartOur new Valentine's-themed podcast, plus loads more Valentine links and resources from The Psychologist magazine and our own archive.The Surprising Downsides of Being Drop Dead GorgeousFinally, someone understands my pain - David Robson at BBC Future on "the unrecognised pitfalls of the beautiful".Masculinity, Trauma and "Shell-shock"Tracey Loughran at The Psychologist magazine delivers a fitting […]

February 13, 2015

9:14 AM | Episode 1: Dating & Attraction
This is Episode One of PsychCrunch, the new podcast from the British Psychological Society's Research Digest. In this episode we speak to researchers in the field of personal attraction to see if their findings can provide real-life tips for people on a romantic date.Our guests, in order of appearance, are Adam Pazda (University of Rochester), Coren Apicella (University of Pennsylvania) and Sally Farley (University of Baltimore).The topics discussed by our guests have been […]

February 12, 2015

11:22 AM | How to improve collaboration in virtual teams? Members' avatar style could be key
When a team rarely gets to be in a room together, it misses out on many of the in-person subtle cues that help members make sense of their relationships. The signals that are available become more important: subtext in email messages, tone of voice on a conference call, or seemingly minor visual features. That’s why researchers have become interested in the humble avatar – the image that’s used to represent each person in a virtual interaction.Sarah van der Land and her […]

February 11, 2015

1:31 PM | PsychCrunch Trailer
PsychCrunch, the new podcast coming soon from the British Psychological Society's Research Digest. Trailer credits: Presented by Christian Jarrett. Producer Lorna Stewart. Music and mixing Catherine Loveday and Jeff Knowler. Artwork Tim Grimshaw.Listen to the trailer!
10:44 AM | How women become "super-mothers" after giving birth through IVF
Millions of women around the world have given birth to children with the help of IVF and related medical procedures. Many of them will have lived through difficult times, first as they struggled to conceive without help, and then as they rode the journey of hope and uncertainty brought by medical intervention.Psychologists have begun to explore how these experiences influence women's feelings about becoming a mother, and the way they relate to their children. In the latest contribution to the […]

February 10, 2015

9:52 AM | Accepting help can be difficult. You'll find it easier if you help others
Receiving help can sting. Admitting that others can do what you can’t and feeling indebted to them can lead to a sense of dependence and incompetence, and even resentment towards the very person who helped you. Luckily, Katherina Alvarez and Esther van Leeuwen have published some helpful research on one way to take the sting away.Their study asked student participants to complete a series of tricky maths puzzles. If a puzzle was stumping them, assistance was available in the form of help […]

Alvarez, K. & van Leeuwen, E. (2015). Paying it forward: how helping others can reduce the psychological threat of receiving help, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 45 (1) 1-9. DOI: 10.1111/jasp.12270


February 09, 2015

10:00 AM | Want to learn a new skill more effectively? Stop thinking about yourself!
The human mind can be its own worst enemy. When we want to do well in sports, we often intensify attentional focus on bodily movements that are best off left on automatic pilot. The result, even for elite athletes, can be a dire instance of choking. The muscles stiffen or shake. Fluid, expert movement is lost, and the learning of new skills is impaired.A common assumption is that an internal focus is harmful to performance because it directs unhelpful conscious attention to bodily control. But […]

February 07, 2015

9:00 AM | Link Feast
Our pick of the best psychology and neuroscience links from the past week or so:Meet Your Brain (video)Watch these young children introduce you to the basics of neuroscience.Exporting Trauma: Can the Talking Cure Do More Harm Than Good?It's dangerous to assume that other cultures will benefit from our own Western approaches to psychotherapy, says Anna Leach in the Guardian.How Your Eyes Trick Your MindAn interactive guide to the history of visual illusions and what they've taught us about […]

February 06, 2015

9:58 AM | Our brains respond to corporations as if they are people
Do corporations, like people, have moral rights and responsibilities?The US Supreme Court has recently made a number of rulings that suggest it sees corporations as having similar rights and responsibilities to individual human beings, such as that they have the right to free speech, and can be exempt from laws that contradict their owner’s religious beliefs. Can a new neuroimaging study help us determine whether the Court’s approach is justified?Forty participants viewed written […]

February 05, 2015

9:42 AM | Art affects you more powerfully when you view it in a museum
These days there's no need to take the trouble of visiting art museums. You can usually view all the exhibits on your computer, in the comfort of your own home. And yet, attendance at art museums has been rising over recent years. A new study helps explain why: people enjoy art more at the museum, they find it more stimulating and understandable, and they remember it better.David Brieber and his colleagues invited 137 psychology students to view 25 artworks from Vienna's Museum Startgalerie […]

Brieber, D., Nadal, M. & Leder, H. (2015). In the white cube: Museum context enhances the valuation and memory of art, Acta Psychologica, 154 36-42. DOI: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2014.11.004


February 04, 2015

9:14 AM | The trouble with tDCS? Electrical brain stimulation may not work after all
By guest blogger NeuroskepticA widely-used brain stimulation technique may be less effective than previously believed.Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) is an increasingly popular neuroscience tool. tDCS involves attaching electrodes to the scalp, through which a weak electrical current flows. The idea is that this current modulates the activity of the brain tissue underneath the electrode - safely and painlessly.Outside of the neuroscience lab, tDCS is also used by hobbyists […]

Horvath, J., Forte, J. & Carter, O. (2015). Quantitative Review Finds No Evidence of Cognitive Effects in Healthy Populations from Single-Session Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS), Brain Stimulation, DOI: 10.1016/j.brs.2015.01.400


February 03, 2015

10:11 AM | Do gender differences disappear when men and women share the same profession?
There are gender differences in certain preferences and abilities, on average. Take competition: when running around is described as a race, girls typically run more slowly than usual, while boys start running faster. And whereas women are better at detecting emotions, men tend to score higher at spatial reasoning. Are these average gender differences – in competitiveness, empathy, and systemising - visible even within specific jobs, or do attraction and selection processes smooth out the […]
25 Results