BPS Research Digest

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Cutting-edge reports on the latest psychology research

BPS Research Digest
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  • December 15, 2014
  • 07:49 AM
  • 85 views

Want to learn something better? Draw it

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

When you're trying to learn, do something with your new knowledge, such as summarising it or explaining it to someone else. This deepens your memories and helps integrate what you've learned with what you already knew. A new study has tested the benefits of another beneficial learning activity - drawing.Annett Schmeck and her team asked 48 German school-kids (average age 14) to read a 850-word passage about the biology of influenza, broken down into seven paragraphs. This was an unfamiliar topic........ Read more »

  • December 15, 2014
  • 07:15 AM
  • 80 views

Why do friendly people usually lead happier lives?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

High scorers on the personality trait of agreeableness are eager to please, concerned for others, and compliant to other perspectives. On average, they live happier lives too. A new study suggests a possible reason: when they have the chance, friendly people tend to avoid engaging with negative things.The researchers, Konrad Bresin and Michael Robinson, began by asking participants to view a series of positive and negative images, spending as much time as they wanted on each one. Most people lin........ Read more »

  • December 11, 2014
  • 10:29 AM
  • 21 views

Rapport-building interrogation is more effective than torture

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Past research (pdf) suggests that using torture as a way to extract information or confessions from terror suspects isn't just unethical, it's also ineffective. The advantage of rapport-building interrogation strategies (including respect, friendliness and empathy towards suspects) over more coercive techniques is highlighted once again in a new study that involved interviews with law enforcement interrogators and detainees.The research involved 34 interrogators (1 woman) from several internatio........ Read more »

Goodman-Delahunty, J., Martschuk, N., & Dhami, M. (2014) Interviewing High Value Detainees: Securing Cooperation and Disclosures. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 28(6), 883-897. DOI: 10.1002/acp.3087  

  • December 11, 2014
  • 07:45 AM
  • 66 views

People's support for torture in "ticking time bomb scenarios" is influenced by their desire for retribution

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

In the wake of a report published yesterday into the CIA's use of torture, many people are shocked and appalled. Yet one defence of the practice remains popular - "the ticking time bomb scenario".This is the idea that torture is justified if a suspect knows the location of bomb in a public place, and many lives would be saved if he or she were coerced into telling authorities the location in time for it to be deactivated. The new Senate Intelligence Committee report describes how the ticking tim........ Read more »

  • December 5, 2014
  • 04:41 PM
  • 24 views

Can psychologist and psychiatrist expert witnesses be trusted to know how memory works?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Psychologists and psychiatrists are frequently called on to provide expert testimony in court. When the memories recalled by an alleged victim, suspect and/or eye-witness become an explicit issue, is it safe to assume that the psychologist or psychiatrist in the expert role will have up-to-date scientific knowledge about the reliability of memory? Worryingly, a new Norwegian study suggests not.Annika Melinder and Svein Magnussen surveyed 858 psychologists and 78 psychiatrists about their underst........ Read more »

  • December 4, 2014
  • 04:40 AM
  • 33 views

Suffer from extreme social anxiety? Your friends probably like you more than you realise

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

A psychologist helping a person with social anxiety disorder will often try to convince them that they come over far more positively in social situations than they realise. A new study provides some evidence to back this up. Thomas Rodebaugh and his colleagues asked people with social anxiety disorder to rate a friendship in terms of intimacy, liking, support and satisfaction, then they asked that friend to also rate the relationship on the same terms. The reassuring finding is that friends' rat........ Read more »

Rodebaugh TL, Lim MH, Fernandez KC, Langer JK, Weisman JS, Tonge N, Levinson CA, & Shumaker EA. (2014) Self and friend's differing views of social anxiety disorder's effects on friendships. Journal of abnormal psychology, 123(4), 715-24. PMID: 25314261  

  • December 3, 2014
  • 04:33 AM
  • 22 views

After this training regime, people saw letters of the alphabet as being alive with colour

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

A training regime at the University of Sussex has successfully conditioned fourteen people with no prior experience of synesthesia - crossing of the senses - to experience coloured phenomena when seeing letters.The regime took place over nine weeks, a half hour session every workday together with extra homework. Again and again, the trainees were encouraged to treat the letter "r" as red, or "e" as green, with a similar a process repeated on 13 letters in all. This was tested every session using........ Read more »

Bor, D., Rothen, N., Schwartzman, D., Clayton, S., & Seth, A. (2014) Adults Can Be Trained to Acquire Synesthetic Experiences. Scientific Reports, 7089. DOI: 10.1038/srep07089  

  • December 2, 2014
  • 06:42 AM
  • 109 views

Are prisoners calmer when their cells are painted pink?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

On the back of research first published in 70s and 80s, an increasing number of jails in the Western world are painting their cells pink, in the belief that doing so has a calming effect on prisoners.Unfortunately, this early research was poorly designed. For example, one study found that prisoners' strength, pushing against an experimenter, was reduced when they were presented with a pink vs. blue coloured card. But the experimenter could also see the card and may simply have exerted more effor........ Read more »

  • November 28, 2014
  • 04:42 AM
  • 61 views

A shocking result - people are more willing to hurt themselves than others for profit

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

You wait in a cubicle, electrodes strapped to your body. In a room nearby, a stranger is confronted with a series of decisions. They can choose a smaller cash reward and avoid an electric shock, or a larger sum that comes together with an unpleasant zap. The twist is that in half of the trials, the stranger knows the associated shock punishment is for them, but in the others they know it’s you who will suffer. You glance nervously at the electrodes.It's a tough spot. Surely you will receive ma........ Read more »

Crockett, M., Kurth-Nelson, Z., Siegel, J., Dayan, P., & Dolan, R. (2014) Harm to others outweighs harm to self in moral decision making. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201408988. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1408988111  

  • November 27, 2014
  • 05:35 AM
  • 129 views

Why sadness lasts longer than other emotions

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Staying positive can feel like an uphill battle. No wonder: when Philippe Verduyn and Saskia Lavrijsen asked over 200 high-school students (average age 17) to reminisce about the duration of their recent emotional experiences, they found that sadness had an unfortunate habit of lingering, more so than any of the other 26 emotions studied, including joy, pride and relief.Indeed, the average duration of the episodes of sadness recalled by the students was 120 hours. At the other extreme, the most ........ Read more »

  • November 27, 2014
  • 05:34 AM
  • 48 views

Exposure to different forms of violence affects kids’ sleep differently

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

By guest blogger Jordan Gaines LewisIf you need an accurate assessment of your emotional health, look no further than the quality of your sleep. Have an important test coming up? Giving a big talk to your company tomorrow morning? Chances are you’re not sleeping as well as you typically would.While most kids have fewer of these worries than adults, some unfortunately have to deal with a different type of stressor—violence. Previous work has shown that kids exposed to violence report signific........ Read more »

  • November 25, 2014
  • 12:12 PM
  • 81 views

Why you're particularly likely to run your first marathon when your age ends in a "9"

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

When we look at our lives, we tend to break them up into chapters, rather like the seasons of a TV box set. Potential dividers come in many forms, including the dawn of a new year, or the start of a new job. But if those events act as a marker between episodes, it is the decades of our lives that represent the more profound end of one series or season and the start of the next.According to the psychologists Adam Alter and Hal Hershfield, when we're on the cusp of one of these boundaries - in oth........ Read more »

Alter, A.L., & Hershfield, H.E. (2014) People search for meaning when they approach a new decade in chronological age. PNAS. info:/

  • November 25, 2014
  • 04:14 AM
  • 73 views

When Korea imposed a limit on working hours, did it make people happier?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Across different professions, many people are familiar with the sense of having to deliver more with less, meaning clocking-off time falls later and later. One way to protect workers’ rights, and look after their wellbeing, is to introduce working hours restrictions. But a new paper by Korea University's Robert Rudolf investigates the impact of such a reform, and its conclusions are disappointing.Beginning its roll-out in 2004, the (South) Korean Five Day Working Reform was intended to manage ........ Read more »

  • November 24, 2014
  • 04:22 AM
  • 64 views

Happy people think they're good at empathising with the pain of others. They're wrong

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Which of your friends - the happier, or the more melancholy - is better at spotting your excitement that Chris is attending your birthday, or that a B+ has left you disappointed?Evidence suggests that more upbeat people consider themselves especially empathic, and it would be reasonable to believe them, given that they know more people on average, and tend to form deeper, more trusting relationships. The reality, however, is more complicated. New research led by Yale's Hillary Devlin suggests th........ Read more »

  • November 20, 2014
  • 03:20 AM
  • 44 views

Bankers become dishonest when reminded of their professional identity

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

The "Natwest 3" jailedfor wire fraud in 2008.Picture a banker tossing a coin ten times. She knows the more tails she gets, the more money she wins (up to $200), so long as she gets more tails than a rival playing the same game. She performs her coin tossing in private and reports her number of tails. Do you think she'll be honest?When a team of researchers surveyed the general population about the likely dishonesty of bankers and other groups in this scenario, they found the bankers had the wors........ Read more »

Alain Cohn, Ernst Fehr, & Michel Marechal. (2014) Business culture and dishonesty in the banking industry. Nature . info:/

  • November 19, 2014
  • 06:29 AM
  • 56 views

Do you remember the time? How collective nostalgia inspires group loyalty

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Nostalgia seems like a distraction in a world that’s moving forward. But new research proposes a powerful function of the emotion: as a glue to bind members of social groups.Students from the University of Southampton recalled and wrote about an experience either involving other students, or where they were alone. They were either asked to choose an ordinary event or one that triggered nostalgic feeling, defined in the instructions as "sentimental longing for the past".Next they were asked how........ Read more »

Wildschut, T., Bruder, M., Robertson, S., van Tilburg, W., & Sedikides, C. (2014) Collective nostalgia: A group-level emotion that confers unique benefits on the group. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 107(5), 844-863. DOI: 10.1037/a0037760  

  • November 17, 2014
  • 07:08 AM
  • 125 views

How guessing the wrong answer helps you learn the right answer

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Guessing, even wrongly, is thought toactivate webs of knowledge, which leadsto richer encoding of the correct answer. It's well known that taking tests helps us learn. The act of retrieving information from memory helps that information stick. This seems intuitive. More surprising is the recent discovery that guessing aids subsequent learning of the correct answer, even if your initial guess was wrong.Let's consider a simple example in the context of learning capital cities. Imagine you don........ Read more »

  • November 14, 2014
  • 06:41 AM
  • 89 views

Reformers say psychologists should change how they report their results, but does anyone understand the alternative?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

The rectangular bars indicate samplemeans and the red lines represent theconfidence intervals surrounding them.Image: Audriusa/WikipediaPsychological science is undergoing a process of soul-searching and self-improvement. The reasons vary but include failed replications of high-profile findings, evidence of bias in what gets published, and surveys suggestive of questionable research practices.Among the proposed solutions is that psychologists should change the way they report their fin........ Read more »

Hoekstra, R., Morey, R., Rouder, J., & Wagenmakers, E. (2014) Robust misinterpretation of confidence intervals. Psychonomic Bulletin , 21(5), 1157-1164. DOI: 10.3758/s13423-013-0572-3  

  • November 13, 2014
  • 08:49 AM
  • 133 views

Babies' anxiety levels are related to their fathers' nervousness, not their mothers'

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Picture a one-year-old infant crawling across a table top. Half way across, the surface becomes transparent so that it appears there is a deep drop. On the other side is the infant's mother or father, encouraging them to crawl across the "visual cliff". Will the baby's anxiety levels be influenced more by the mother's own anxiety or the father's?This was the question posed by Eline Möller and her colleagues in what is the first ever study to examine paternal behaviour in the classic visual........ Read more »

  • November 12, 2014
  • 06:40 AM
  • 132 views

Loneliness is a disease that changes the brain's structure and function

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Loneliness increases the risk of poor sleep, higher blood pressure, cognitive and immune decline, depression, and ultimately an earlier death. Why? The traditional explanation is that lonely people lack life’s advisors: people who encourage healthy behaviours and curb unhealthy ones. If so, we should invest in pamphlets, adverts and GP advice: ignorance is the true disease, loneliness just a symptom.But this can’t be the full story. Introverts with small networks aren’t at especial health ........ Read more »

Cacioppo, S., Capitanio, J., & Cacioppo, J. (2014) Toward a neurology of loneliness. Psychological Bulletin, 140(6), 1464-1504. DOI: 10.1037/a0037618  

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