BPS Research Digest

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Cutting-edge reports on the latest psychology research

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  • September 18, 2014
  • 11:22 AM
  • 54 views

There's a problem with assuming the most intelligent candidates make the best employees

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Workplace research through the 20th Century suggested that selecting for intelligence is the best way to identify good performers. General mental ability (GMA), a popular recruitment measure that maps closely to the colloquial meaning of "intelligence", is strongly correlated with on-the job performance, well ahead of any other single measure.This consistent finding came from studies that mostly defined job performance as carrying out the duties expected in that role. Although intuitive, this ne........ Read more »

  • September 18, 2014
  • 06:31 AM
  • 76 views

Why is poverty associated with mental health problems for some people, but not others?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

By guest blogger Peter Kinderman“I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Believe me, rich is better” (Mae West).  Critiques of the rather discredited "disease-model" of mental illness are commonplace, but we also need to articulate the alternative. New research by Sophie Wickham and colleagues helps do that, by providing support for the idea that we learn, as a consequence of our experiences in life, a framework of appraising, understanding and responding to new challenges. This psy........ Read more »

  • September 16, 2014
  • 03:00 AM
  • 23 views

Forgive yourself for relaxing in front of the TV and the couch time might actually do you some good

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

There's a snobbishness about relaxation time. Tell someone your hobby is watching TV and chances are they'll look at you with derision. Mention meditation, reading or yoga and you're far more likely to attract nods of approval.And yet there is substantial evidence that time watching TV or playing video games can have a powerful restorative effect - just what many of us need after a hard day. This benefit isn't found for everyone, and in new paper Leonard Reinecke and his collaborators propose th........ Read more »

  • September 15, 2014
  • 08:13 AM
  • 84 views

Pupils benefit from praise, but should teachers give it to them publicly or privately?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

There's a best practice guide for teachers, produced by the Association of School Psychologists in the US, that states praise is best given to pupils in private. This advice is not based on experimental research - there hasn't been any - but on surveys of student preferences, and on the rationale that pupils could be embarrassed by receiving praise in public.Now, in the first study of its kind, John Blaze and his colleagues have systematically compared the effect of public and private praise (al........ Read more »

Blaze JT, Olmi DJ, Mercer SH, Dufrene BA, & Tingstom DH. (2014) Loud versus quiet praise: A direct behavioral comparison in secondary classrooms. Journal of school psychology, 52(4), 349-60. PMID: 25107408  

  • September 12, 2014
  • 11:18 AM
  • 97 views

Psychologists have compared the mental abilities of Scrabble and crossword champions

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Completed Scrabble (left) and crossword grids (image from Toma et al 2014).Every year, hundreds of word lovers arrive from across the US to compete in the American Crossword Puzzle tournament. They solve clues (e.g. "caught some Z's") and place the answers (e.g. "sleep") in a grid. Meanwhile, a separate group of wordsmiths gather regularly to compete at Scrabble, the game that involves forming words out of letter tiles and finding a suitable place for them on the board.Both sets of players have ........ Read more »

  • September 11, 2014
  • 10:42 AM
  • 72 views

The illusion that gives you sensations in a rubber tongue

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Our sense of where our bodies begin and end usually feels consistent and reliable. However psychologists have been having fun for decades, exposing just how malleable the body concept can be.You may have heard of the "rubber hand illusion" (video). By visibly stroking a rubber hand in time with stroking a participant's hidden real hand, you can induce for them the feeling of sensation in the rubber hand.The rubber hand illusion is thought to occur because the brain tends to bind together informa........ Read more »

Michel, C., Velasco, C., Salgado-Montejo, A., & Spence, C. (2014) The Butcher’s Tongue Illusion. Perception, 43(8), 818-824. DOI: 10.1068/p7733  

  • September 10, 2014
  • 05:09 AM
  • 44 views

During jokes, the teller and responder engage in an involuntary "dance"

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Knock Knock!Who's There?ImaIma who?Ima psychologist. I'm here cos you won't open up.When dance partners perform, their bodily movements become synchronised. This is deliberate on their part, of course, and we can see the timed interplay of their actions. What psychologists have begun to realise is that this kind of bodily synchrony also occurs between people in many everyday situations, except in these cases the physical "dance" is unintentional and it's more subtle, such as when two people sitt........ Read more »

Schmidt RC, Nie L, Franco A, & Richardson MJ. (2014) Bodily synchronization underlying joke telling. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 633. PMID: 25177287  

  • September 9, 2014
  • 12:26 PM
  • 87 views

When you set sad lyrics against happy music, the music wins

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

The Beatles' Hello, Goodbye featuressad lyrics and a happy tuneIt's a quirk of human nature that many of us enjoy sad music. Research last year uncovered some reasons why, including feeling a sense of connection, and the aesthetic appeal. For a new study, Kazuma Mori and Makoto Iwanaga drilled down into the specific situation where sad lyrics are combined with happy music, as in the Beatles' Hello, Goodbye. They wanted to see how people would respond to the music or lyrics in isolation, and how ........ Read more »

  • September 8, 2014
  • 05:11 AM
  • 68 views

Why your team should appoint a "meta-knowledge" champion - one person who's aware of everyone else's area of expertise

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Being on top of "who knows what" is crucial for any team. If I were scheduled to meet a new client from an unfamiliar industry, it would be handy to know that my office-mate had worked in that area for years and could offer me some tips. But how is this team meta-knowledge (knowledge of who knows what) best handled? New research suggests teams, especially those composed of specialists, gain an advantage when they concentrate this information in the hands of one person instead of spreading it thi........ Read more »

  • September 5, 2014
  • 08:03 AM
  • 47 views

People's belief in free will is lower when they need to urinate or desire sex

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Embodied or grounded cognition is the name for the idea that physical states affect our thoughts and emotions. It's a controversial field, but typical findings include people's judgments of social closeness being shaped by room temperature, and their attentional style by the clothes they wear. A new paper takes things further, asking whether bodily states affect people's philosophical beliefs, specifically their belief in the notion of free will, defined and measured here in the lay sense o........ Read more »

  • September 4, 2014
  • 09:42 AM
  • 51 views

Drop the strut: Both men and women find humility more attractive

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

By guest blogger Temma Ehrenfeld.There’s been much debate about the “cheerleader effect,” the idea that men are wired to attract desirable mates by showing off in silly ways. The effect may not even exist, but if it does, they might try humility instead. New research suggests that both men and women prefer humble to less humble partners.The studies are part of a push to define humility, a concept associated less with science than Christianity, as in Matthew 11:29 where Jesus says “I am........ Read more »

  • September 4, 2014
  • 04:48 AM
  • 96 views

Want people to care about the environment? Don't overplay the power of science

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

When people are presented with a picture of rapid scientific progress, they are less likely to engage in environmentally friendly behaviours. This is the conclusion reached across a series of experiments in which students were presented with a short newspaper article on science's achievements and future prospects.The news article came in two flavours. Participants in the "progress" condition read a uniformly positive perspective, lauding medical advances and new technologies to combat climate ch........ Read more »

  • September 2, 2014
  • 04:23 AM
  • 72 views

On being labelled "schizophrenic", in the words of the diagnosed

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

The label "schizophrenic" is loaded with connotations. For many, its utterance provokes thoughts of madness, of violence and oddity. No wonder that clinical psychologist Lorna Howe and her colleagues found the people they interviewed - all diagnosed with the illness - had strived to avoid the label.In all, the researchers conducted in-depth interviews lasting up to 90 minutes with seven participants diagnosed with schizophrenia. There were three men, four women (average age 44), and they'd ........ Read more »

  • September 1, 2014
  • 11:57 AM
  • 100 views

Students with more autistic traits make fewer altruistic choices

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Most people with autism have difficulties socialising and connecting with others. It's generally agreed that part of this has to do with an impairment in taking other people's perspective. More specifically, an emerging consensus suggests that autism is associated with having normal feelings for other people, but an impaired understanding of them. Little explored before now is how this affects the behaviour of people with autism towards others who need help.Leila Jameel and her colleagues survey........ Read more »

Jameel L, Vyas K, Bellesi G, Roberts V, & Channon S. (2014) Going 'Above and Beyond': Are Those High in Autistic Traits Less Pro-social?. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 44(8), 1846-58. PMID: 24522968  

  • August 29, 2014
  • 12:27 PM
  • 65 views

The psychology of wearable computing - does Google Glass affect where people look?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Computing eyewear such as Google Glass can record information far more discreetly than a handheld camera. As a result, privacy concerns have been raised, whether in a bar or changing for the gym. Are users of this tech likely to use their new toys responsibly? Early research was promising, suggesting that the very act of recording our gaze may lead us to be extra considerate in where we look. Unfortunately a new study finds that while wearing gaze-monitoring devices may initially encourage ........ Read more »

Nasiopoulos, E., Risko, E., Foulsham, T., & Kingstone, A. (2014) Wearable computing: Will it make people prosocial?. British Journal of Psychology. DOI: 10.1111/bjop.12080  

  • August 28, 2014
  • 06:51 AM
  • 64 views

Managers, conservatives, Europeans and the non-religious show higher levels of psychopathic traits

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Christian Bale played the archetypalpsychopath in American Psycho (2000).Mention psychopathic personality traits and the mind turns to criminals. The archetype is a callous killer who entraps his victims with a smile and easy charm. However, recent years have seen an increasing recognition that psychopathic traits are on a continuous spectrum in all of us (akin to other personality factors like extraversion), that they don't always manifest in criminality, and that in certain contexts, they may ........ Read more »

  • August 26, 2014
  • 05:17 AM
  • 82 views

Drinking small amounts of alcohol boosts people's sense of smell

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

As our modern world relies overwhelmingly on sight and sound to transmit information, it might not strike you quite how acute our sense of smell is. In fact we humans can outperform the most sensitive measuring instruments in detecting certain odours, and distinguish smells from strangers from those of our blood relations. Now new research suggests our natural olfactory talents may be even greater when we use modest amounts of alcohol to reduce our inhibitions.A team led by Yaara Endevelt-S........ Read more »

  • August 25, 2014
  • 04:41 AM
  • 74 views

Your angry face makes you look stronger

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

No matter where you travel on earth, you'll likely have no problem recognising when someone is angry with you. From the plains of Russia to the beaches of Brazil, anger shows itself in a tell-tale facial display involving lowered brow, snarled nose, raised chin and thinned lips.A popular view has it that, besides reliably conveying anger, this particular constellation of facial movements is arbitrary and serves no other function. A team of evolutionary psychologists led by Aaron Sell disagrees. ........ Read more »

Sell, A., Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (2014) The human anger face evolved to enhance cues of strength. Evolution and Human Behavior, 35(5), 425-429. DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2014.05.008  

  • August 22, 2014
  • 11:35 AM
  • 58 views

Reader reactions to news of terrorism depend on the images that are used

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

After viewing images of terrorists, people reported feelings of anger and fearHow readers' emotions are affected by media reports of terrorist attacks depends on the the photos used to accompany the story. That's according to an analysis by Aarti Iyer and colleagues, who say these different emotional reactions in turn lead to support for different government policies.Over two-hundred British adults (aged 18 to 68; 92 women), many based in London, read a news summary of the London terrorist bombi........ Read more »

  • August 21, 2014
  • 11:27 AM
  • 135 views

Back to the future - Psychologists investigate why some people see the future as being behind them

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Speakers of English and many other languages refer to the future as being in front, and the past behind (e.g. "I look forward to seeing you"). This manner of thinking and speaking is so entrenched, we rarely pause to consider why we do it. One influential and intuitive explanation is that humans have an obvious front (the way our heads face), which combined with our tendency to think about time in terms of space, leads us to see ourselves moving forwards into the future, or the future coming tow........ Read more »

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