BPS Research Digest

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Cutting-edge reports on the latest psychology research

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  • October 28, 2014
  • 06:22 AM
  • 57 views

What I don’t hear can’t hurt me: insecure managers avoid input from employees

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Organisations do better when there are clear communication channels that allow staff to point out ways the company can improve. Similarly, teams who freely share ideas and concerns are more tight-knit and motivated. And their managers get enhanced awareness, and to share in the praise for any improvements that pay off. So encouraging employee voice should be a no-brainer, especially for any manager feeling unsure of their ability to deliver solo. Yet according to new research, these insecure man........ Read more »

  • October 27, 2014
  • 05:40 AM
  • 58 views

Doing the "happy walk" made people's memories more positive

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Walking in a more happy style could help counter the negative mental processes associated with depression. That's according to psychologists in Germany and Canada who used biofeedback to influence the walking style of 47 university students on a treadmill.The students, who were kept in the dark about the true aims of the study, had their gait monitored with motion capture technology. For half of them, the more happily they walked (characterised by larger arm and body swings, and a more upright p........ Read more »

  • October 24, 2014
  • 11:23 AM
  • 102 views

Publication bias afflicts the whole of psychology

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

In the last few years the social sciences, including psychology, have been taking a good look at themselves. While incidences of fraud hit the headlines, pervasive issues are just as important to address, such as publication bias, the phenomenon where non-significant results never see the light of day thanks to editors rejecting them or savvy researchers recasting their experiments around unexpected results and not reporting the disappointments. Statistical research has shown the extent of this ........ Read more »

  • October 23, 2014
  • 07:02 AM
  • 101 views

How reminders of money affect people's expression and perception of emotion

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Bank robbers and gamblers will tell you what people are prepared to do for the sake of money. But money also has more subtle influences. Back in 2006, researchers showed that mere reminders of money made people more selfish (although note a later attempt failed to replicate this result).In the latest research in this field, a team led by Yuwei Jiang have shown that exposing people to pictures of money, or to money-related words, reduces their emotional expressivity and makes them more sensitive ........ Read more »

Jiang, Y., Chen, Z., & Wyer, R. (2014) Impact of money on emotional expression. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 228-233. DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2014.07.013  

  • October 22, 2014
  • 05:10 AM
  • 66 views

Five-year-olds can see through your bravado

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Imagine you wanted to lie to a five-year-old. "The toy shop is closed Billy," you say, "it always closes at 2pm on a Monday." You reason that if you make this announcement with confidence, then Billy is sure to believe you.It's not a bad strategy. In a new study involving nearly a hundred kids aged four to five, they were more likely to believe statements made by a woman who spoke and gestured with confidence, than those made by a woman who was hesitant and uncertain. In this case, the women's c........ Read more »

  • October 22, 2014
  • 04:38 AM
  • 60 views

Can a brain scan tell us anything about the art of creative writing?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

When an accomplished creative writer gets on with their craft, their brain operates in a somewhat different way to a novice's. A new imaging study suggests that the expert approach may be more streamlined, emotionally literate, and initially unfiltered.Katharina Erhard with her colleagues from the German universities of Greifswald and Hildesheim asked participants to read a fragment of a story, to brainstorm what could continue the narrative, and then, for two minutes, to write a continuation of........ Read more »

  • October 20, 2014
  • 04:46 AM
  • 49 views

Decades of lie detection research has been unrealistic

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

According to decades of psychology research, most people, including law enforcement professionals, are useless at detecting lies. But in a new paper, a team led by Tim Levine argues that nearly all previous research has been unrealistic. The field has been dominated by studies that place the "lie detector" in a passive role, tasked with spotting "tells" leaked by the liar. But this just isn't how deception detection works in real life, say Levine and his team. Rather, the interrogator interacts ........ Read more »

  • October 17, 2014
  • 03:00 AM
  • 39 views

"Place cells" discovered in the rat brain

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

John O'KeefeImage: Nobelprize.orgThis month John O'Keefe, May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work identifying the brain's "GPS system" - the internal maps that allow us to understand our position in space. The Moser's discovery of grid cells this century built upon O'Keefe's earlier accomplishment at UCL in London, the discovery of place cells in the brain. Here, we look back to his 1971 "Short Communication" in the journal Brain Res........ Read more »

  • October 14, 2014
  • 06:28 AM
  • 101 views

Is this the dark side of emotional intelligence? High EI linked with more delinquency among young women

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

If, as research suggests, the psychological trait of sensation seeking is the catalyst for youthful delinquency, might high emotional intelligence (EI; having empathy for other people's emotions and good control over one's own) act as a calming restraint? That was the question Alison Bacon her colleagues posed in their study of 96 undergrads (average age 20; 48 women).Their "surprising and unprecedented" discovery was that for women, not only did high EI not moderate the link between sensation s........ Read more »

  • October 13, 2014
  • 07:58 AM
  • 99 views

Evolutionary psychologists expose the "shoddy" treatment of their discipline by textbooks

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

The Gendered Society contained 12 errors about evolutionary psychology, morethan any other book in this evaluation. Evolutionary theory is universally accepted among the mainstream science community. And yet, when the evolutionary perspective is applied to human behaviour, the approach continues to meet with resistance, and in some cases outright disdain.A team led by Benjamin Winegard thinks part of the reason is because of the misrepresentation of evolutionary psychology in textbooks, esp........ Read more »

Winegard BM, Winegard BM, & Deaner RO. (2014) Misrepresentations of evolutionary psychology in sex and gender textbooks. Evolutionary psychology : an international journal of evolutionary approaches to psychology and behavior, 12(3), 474-508. PMID: 25299988  

  • October 10, 2014
  • 09:22 AM
  • 87 views

How sharing a toilet helps students make more friends

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

The built environment shapes our behaviour profoundly - piazzas and park benches promote unplanned encounters between strangers whereas car-friendly streets have the opposite effect, the efficiency of speedy travel promoting "streets as corridors" over "streets as sociable space".What’s true at the level of cities also applies within buildings, including student residences. This has been investigated in the past, one famous example being Leon Festinger’s 1950 study that suggested students fo........ Read more »

  • October 10, 2014
  • 04:50 AM
  • 67 views

Little Albert - one of the most famous research participants in psychology's history, but who was he?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

In 1920, in what would become one of the most infamous and controversial studies in psychology, a pair of researchers at Johns Hopkins University taught a little baby boy to fear a white rat. For decades, the true identity and subsequent fate of this poor infant nicknamed "Little Albert" has remained a mystery.But recently this has changed, thanks to the tireless detective work of two independent groups of scholars. Now there are competing proposals for who Little Albert was and what became of h........ Read more »

Richard Griggs. (2015) Psychology's Lost Boy: Will The Real Little Albert Please Stand Up?. Teaching of Psychology. info:/

  • October 8, 2014
  • 04:03 AM
  • 66 views

Students learn better when they think they're going to have to teach the material

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Researchers say they've uncovered a simple technique that improves students' memory for passages of text. All that's required is to tell the students that they're going to have to teach the material to someone else.Fifty-six undergrads were split into two groups. One group were told that they had 10 minutes to study a 1500-word passage about fictional depictions of The Charge of The Light Brigade, and that they would be tested on it afterwards. The other group were similarly given 10 minutes to ........ Read more »

  • October 7, 2014
  • 07:21 AM
  • 126 views

Are sweet-toothed people really sweet-natured?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Three years ago psychologists reported that we assume people who like sweet food are also sweet natured. More surprisingly perhaps, Brian Meier and his colleagues also found that the sweet-toothed really do have more agreeable personalities and are more inclined to behave altruistically.How far can we trust these eye-catching results? There is a growing recognition in psychology of the need to attempt replications of past findings. In that spirit, a new paper led by Michael Ashton has attempted ........ Read more »

  • October 6, 2014
  • 04:34 AM
  • 115 views

Other people can tell whether your partner is cheating on you

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Do humans have an infidelity radar?We can identify a surprising amount of information about each other from the briefest of glimpses - a process that psychologists call thin-slicing. In the latest study in this area, a group led by Nathaniel Lambert have explored whether we can watch a romantic couple interact and tell within minutes whether one of them is a cheat.Fifty-one student participants (35 women) in a relationship answered survey questions about their own infidelities toward their curre........ Read more »

  • October 3, 2014
  • 09:46 AM
  • 127 views

Did a five-day camp without digital devices really boost children's interpersonal skills?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

"There's a brilliant study that came out two weeks ago," Baroness Professor Susan Greenfield said at a recent event promoting her new book, "... they took away all [the pre-teens'] digital devices for five days and sent them to summer camp ... and tested their interpersonal skills, and guess what, even within five days they'd changed."Greenfield highlighted this study in the context of her dire warnings about the harmful psychological effects of modern screen- and internet-based technologies. Sh........ Read more »

  • October 2, 2014
  • 06:07 AM
  • 91 views

Most people think CEOs are paid too much

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc, attends the 2013 Allen & Co conference.It's often assumed that a desire to reduce income inequality is held only by people on lower pay, or by those who endorse left-wing views. However, a new study of over 55,000 people (average age 47; 55 per cent were female) across 40 countries on 6 continents finds a universal desire to reduce the gap between the highest and lowest paid workers. The authors, Sorapop Kiatpongsan and Michael Norton, say their results "offer gui........ Read more »

Sorapop Kiatpongsan and Michael I. Norton. (2014) How Much (More) Should CEOs Make? A Universal Desire for More Equal Pay. Perspectives on Psychological Science. info:/

  • October 2, 2014
  • 05:19 AM
  • 86 views

How does the psychology of ownership differ between Western and Eastern cultures?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Michael Jackson's glove sold for $350,000 at a New York auction in 2009. In India,celebrity possessions are not valued so highly. By guest blogger Bruce Hood.Many of us are nostalgic for original, authentic experiences and prepared to pay for them. For example, not so long ago vinyl records were ubiquitous but nowadays they are considered collectibles, with some attracting a high price. Even with the most mundane record, there is still a tangible tactile experience to possessing these ........ Read more »

  • October 1, 2014
  • 04:24 AM
  • 71 views

“Just try to ignore it”: How neurotic people respond to extreme rudeness at work

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

We’ve all experienced rudeness at work; at the time it’s offensive and can harm our creativity, but it bears even darker fruits in the long-term, as repeated exposure is associated with depression, anxiety and psychological distress.How do people deal with rudeness? When is it buried away, and when addressed? A new study suggests that we actually tend to ignore it most of the time. However more offensive acts may set us off – unless we are particularly emotionally sensitive, in which case,........ Read more »

  • September 29, 2014
  • 11:28 AM
  • 71 views

Can this simple strategy reduce children's anxiety about school tests?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

The sad thing about children's exam nerves is that their fears often become self-fulfilling. Too much anxiety and they can end up under-performing relative to their abilities.A team of psychologists led by Fred Paas and colleagues has taken a cognitive psychology approach to this situation. Children have a certain amount of "working memory" capacity, they say, and it's either used up by the task at hand, or by external pressures, such as intrusive, worrying thoughts.Paas and his team have explor........ Read more »

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