BPS Research Digest

1376 posts · 1,240,612 views

Reports on the latest psychology research plus psych gossip and comment. Brought to you by the British Psychological Society.

BPS Research Digest
1,376 posts

Sort by Latest Post, Most Popular

View by Condensed, Full

  • July 22, 2016
  • 11:50 AM

Altruistic people have more sex

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

People who perform regular altruistic acts like giving blood also tend to have more sex.Viewed through the lens of evolutionary psychology, altruism takes some explaining. In a dog eat dog world, it seems like a risky, indulgent habit. Yet we are only alive today because our distant ancestors were successful at reproducing – and the fact many of us have inherited their altruistic tendencies suggests that being altruistic gave them some kind of survival or reproductive advantage.One idea i........ Read more »

Arnocky, S., Piché, T., Albert, G., Ouellette, D., & Barclay, P. (2016) Altruism predicts mating success in humans. British Journal of Psychology. DOI: 10.1111/bjop.12208  

  • July 21, 2016
  • 08:49 AM

We're more prone to unintentionally plagiarise from others the same sex as us

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Look at some of the most high-profile plagiarism scandals, such as Joe Biden's supposed borrowing from Neil Kinnock, novelist Kaavya Viswanathan's "unintentional" plagiarism of Megan McCafferty and Meg Cabot, science writer Jonah Lehrer's lifting words from this blog, and this week, Melania Trump's echoing of phrases used previously by Michelle Obama (though a speech-writer has taken the blame for this).Notice a pattern?In each case, the alleged plagiarists copied others of the same se........ Read more »

  • July 20, 2016
  • 06:39 AM

There's a simple trick to reduce your mind wandering while studying

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

It happens to all of us – we're meant to be focused on the page in the book, but our mind is turned inwards thinking about other stuff (Must remember to charge my phone, What time did I say I'd meet Sarah?) Thankfully a new study in Memory and Cognition identifies a straightforward way to reduce how much your mind wanders off topic when you're studying. You just need to ensure the materials you're learning are in your sweet spot – not too easy and not too difficult.For one experiment, Judy X........ Read more »

  • July 19, 2016
  • 05:15 AM

Emphasising that science involves collaboration and helping others increases its appeal as a career

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Scientific work is unfairly perceived by many people as a solitary, even lonely enterprise, concerned with abstracted goals rather than helping others. While some scientific work calls for a quiet room (at the least, noise-cancelling headphones), the reality is that the enterprise as a whole involves plenty of communal aspects, from collaboration and discussions to teaching and mentoring. In new research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers from the University of Miami hav........ Read more »

  • July 19, 2016
  • 05:04 AM

Listening to songs like "Angel of Death" protects heavy metal fans from existential angst

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Heavy metal band Black Label Society on stage Brazil, via Flickr/FockaListening to songs about death and dressing yourself in t-shirts featuring skulls and demons might seem like a strange way to combat existential angst. Nonetheless, a new study in Psychology of Popular Media Culture shows that listening to heavy metal helps fans of the genre deal with their own mortality. This is likely because to fans, heavy metal represents so much more than a genre, it embodies a way of life and a sense of ........ Read more »

  • July 15, 2016
  • 04:50 AM

Does target shooting make teenagers aggressive?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

When the dust settles on the tragedy of the latest mass shooting, gun clubs usually see a spike in their memberships as people look to arm and defend themselves. At the same time, many others argue for greater gun controls, and from their perspective, recreational target shooting is very much part of the problem, not the answer.Anecdotally, this is borne out by the many killers who often turn out to have been target shooters. Indeed, in Germany after the teenage perpetrators of two spree atrocit........ Read more »

Erle, T., Barth, N., Kälke, F., Duttler, G., Lange, H., Petko, A., & Topolinski, S. (2016) Are target-shooters more aggressive than the general population?. Aggressive Behavior. DOI: 10.1002/ab.21657  

  • July 14, 2016
  • 11:56 AM

Facial expressions of intense joy and pain are indistinguishable

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Eyes shut tight, face contorted into a grimace. Are they ecstatic or anguished? Ignorant of the context, it can be hard to tell. Recent research that involved participants looking at images of the facial expressions of professional tennis players supported this intuition – participants naive to the context were unable to tell the difference between the winners and losers.From a scientific perspective, the problem with the tennis study is that the findings might have been affected by the player........ Read more »

  • July 13, 2016
  • 06:11 AM

Psychologists still don't know why you are oblivious to your blinks

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

If you were sat in a dark room and the lights flickered off every few seconds, you'd definitely notice. Yet when your blinks make the world go momentarily dark – and bear in mind most of us perform around 12 to 15 of these every minute – you are mostly oblivious. It certainly doesn't feel like someone is flicking the lights on and off. How can this be?A new study in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance has tested two possibilities – one is that after each bl........ Read more »

Irwin, D., & Robinson, M. (2016) Perceiving a Continuous Visual World Across Voluntary Eye Blinks. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. DOI: 10.1037/xhp0000267  

  • July 12, 2016
  • 03:39 PM

When staff absenteeism seems catching, it could be the team culture that's sick

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

When the morning alarm carves us out of our slumber, restoring the previous night’s raspy throat and foggy head, we have a decision to make: get up and go, or call in sick. What happens next is influenced by workplace norms about whether absence is commonplace or exceptional, a current pulling us towards the office or letting us settle back into bed. But new research in Organisational Behaviour and Human Decision Processing from a Dutch-Canadian team, led by Lieke ten Brummelhuis, suggest........ Read more »

ten Brummelhuis, L., Johns, G., Lyons, B., & ter Hoeven, C. (2016) Why and when do employees imitate the absenteeism of co-workers?. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 16-30. DOI: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2016.04.001  

  • July 11, 2016
  • 05:14 AM

Huh? Study finds taboo billboards improve driving performance

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

By guest blogger Richard StephensThe 1994 Wonderbra© billboard campaign with its distinctive “Hello Boys!” catchphrase regularly gets a mention as one of most iconic advert series of all time. Its portrayal of super model Eva Herzigova clad only in black lacey pants and gravity-defying bra is said to have sent drivers veering off the roads. However a new study published in the esteemed journal Acta Psycologica suggests that attention grabbing billboard ads may actually have the opposite eff........ Read more »

  • July 8, 2016
  • 05:53 AM

The "imagined contact" intervention for reducing prejudice can backfire

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

If insights from psychology can reduce conflict between groups, it feels like we need that help now more than ever. A new study in the Journal of Applied Psychology finds that a simple anti-prejudice intervention, grounded in research and advocated by many social psychologists, can backfire for some people. This sounds like a bad news story, but it isn't. The result adds to our understanding of when the intervention is likely to help and when to take extra care.The background to t........ Read more »

  • July 7, 2016
  • 10:46 AM

Psychologists have identified the length of eye contact that people find most comfortable

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

It's a dilemma extremely familiar to anyone with social anxiety – for how long to make eye contact before looking away? The fear is that if you only ever fix the other person's gaze for very brief spells then you'll look shifty. If you lock on for too long, on the other hand, then there's the risk of seeming creepy. Thankfully a team of British researchers has now conducted the most comprehensive study of what people generally regard as a comfortable length of eye contact.For the research publ........ Read more »

Binetti, N., Harrison, C., Coutrot, A., Johnston, A., & Mareschal, I. (2016) Pupil dilation as an index of preferred mutual gaze duration. Royal Society Open Science, 3(7), 160086. DOI: 10.1098/rsos.160086  

  • July 7, 2016
  • 05:08 AM

Is OCD fuelled by a fear of the self?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Most of us have unwanted thoughts and images that pop into our heads and it's not a big deal. But for people with a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) these mental intrusions are frequently distressing and difficult to ignore. A new article in Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy explores the possibility that the reason these thoughts become so troubling to some people is that they play on their fears about the kind of person they might be. The reasoning goes something like this: ........ Read more »

  • June 22, 2016
  • 05:02 AM

A preliminary psychology of how we're moved by watching dance

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

If you're after chills down the spine, you might find that watching professional ballet dancers does the trick just as much as listening to music. Yet whereas the emotional effects of music are well researched – indeed, there are conferences and journals aplenty devoted to the psychology of music – scientists still know very little about the ways we are moved by watching dance.Now one of the first ever investigations into the emotional effects of dance has been published online at Acta ........ Read more »

Christensen, J., Pollick, F., Lambrechts, A., & Gomila, A. (2016) Affective responses to dance. Acta Psychologica, 91-105. DOI: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2016.03.008  

  • June 21, 2016
  • 04:45 AM

Puncturing the myth of the tireless leader – if you're sleep deprived you're unlikely to inspire anyone

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Sleep deprivation makes it harder for us to inspire others, or to be inspiredThere’s an archetype of the tireless leader who scorns slumber in favour of getting things done – Margaret Thatcher, Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, to name a few. But if you think you’re going to inspire anybody by routinely working through the night, you might want to think again. Research published recently in the Journal of Applied Psychology shows that sleep deprivation has the specific effect of making........ Read more »

  • June 20, 2016
  • 08:31 AM

Using a cocktail of magic and fMRI, psychologists implanted thoughts in people's minds

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

By guest blogger Vaughan BellCan you think a thought which isn’t yours? A remarkable new study, led by psychologist Jay Olson from McGill University in Canada, suggests you can. The research, published in Consciousness and Cognition, used a form of stage magic known as “mentalism” to induce the experience of thoughts being inserted into the minds of volunteers. It is an ingenious study, not only for how it created the experience, but also for how it used the psychology lab as both a stage ........ Read more »

  • June 17, 2016
  • 04:59 AM

Do some homophobic men harbour a latent attraction to other men?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

An example of imagery used in the study by Coeval et alThe idea that homophobia in men is a counter-reaction to their own unwanted attraction to other men has its roots in psychoanalysis – where's it's considered a psychodynamic defence – and is possibly supported by anecdotal evidence, most recently in reports that the perpetrator of the horrific homophobic massacre at an Orlando gay club was himself gay. But it's worth heeding the cautions noted on Science of Us yesterday where journalist ........ Read more »

  • June 16, 2016
  • 04:35 AM

The psychology of why we tip some occupations but not others

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

It's more about altruism than trying to win approvalWhy do I tip my taxi driver, but not my accountant? I mean, there’s a good reason I don’t - he would narrow his eyes at me and ask if I was feeling ok. But why, in general, do we tip in some service contexts and not others; is it simply due to a quirk of history or the result of broader psychological patterns? Cornell University’s Michael Lynn suspected the latter, and in his new study published in the Journal of Economic Psychology, he o........ Read more »

  • June 15, 2016
  • 08:21 AM

When we draw a face, why do most of us put the eyes in the wrong place?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Go ahead, sketch a face on your note paper. Use a photo of someone as a guide if you want. Unless you're a trained artist, the chances are that you've made an elementary error, placing the eyes too far up the head, when it fact they should be halfway. Research suggests about 95 per cent of us non-artists tend to make this mistake and in a new study in the Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, psychologists in America have attempted to find out why. The answer it turns out is rather ........ Read more »

  • June 14, 2016
  • 04:50 AM

Fingerprint matching is biased by the assessor's prejudices

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

When we think of crime scene forensics, it’s easy to view it as the objective end of criminal investigation. Witnesses waffle, suspects slide around from the truth, and jurors can be misled by emotive evidence. but the physical evidence simply is what it is. Yet forensic work requires human judgment, and opens the door for human error: for example, a tendency to evaluate evidence differently depending on background information. Now a new study in Law and Human Behaviour suggests that investiga........ Read more »

join us!

Do you write about peer-reviewed research in your blog? Use ResearchBlogging.org to make it easy for your readers — and others from around the world — to find your serious posts about academic research.

If you don't have a blog, you can still use our site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.

Register Now

Research Blogging is powered by SMG Technology.

To learn more, visit seedmediagroup.com.