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Reports on the latest psychology research plus psych gossip and comment. Brought to you by the British Psychological Society.
For the penultimate round of the TV show The Apprentice, the competing entrepreneurs must face a series of interviews with a crack team of hardened executives. The implicit, believable message is that these veterans have seen all the interview tricks in the book and will spot any blaggers a mile off. However, a new study provides the reality TV show with a reality check. A team led by Marc-André Reinhard report that experienced job interviewers are in fact no better than novice interviewers a........ Read more »
Reinhard, M., Scharmach, M., & Müller, P. (2013) It's not what you are, it's what you know: experience, beliefs, and the detection of deception in employment interviews. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 43(3), 467-479. DOI: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.2013.01011.x
Can fluent presenters makelearning feel too easy?
Eloquent and engaging scientific communicators in the mould of physicist Brian Cox make learning seem fun and easy. So much so that a new study says they risk breeding overconfidence. When a presenter is seen to handle complicated information effortlessly, students sense wrongly that they too have acquired a firm grasp of the material.
Shana Carpenter and her colleagues showed 42 students a one-minute video of a science lecture about calico ........ Read more »
Carpenter, S., Wilford, M., Kornell, N., & Mullaney, K. (2013) Appearances can be deceiving: instructor fluency increases perceptions of learning without increasing actual learning. Psychonomic Bulletin . DOI: 10.3758/s13423-013-0442-z
Suicide rates have fallen among farmers
Among the various risk factors for suicide, psychologists have recognised for some time that a person's occupation plays an important part. Suicide rates have tended to be unusually high in professions that provide ready access to guns, drugs, or open water, such as in farming, medicine, dentistry and maritime careers.
A new analysis has examined whether this still holds true. Stephen Roberts and his colleagues accessed the UK suicide rates for dozens ........ Read more »
The Greek Stoic Epictetus wrote that "Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them." A new study involving 185 children and teenagers, 88 fathers and 97 mothers shows how this same principle applies to children's fear of the dentist. This is an important topic because many children avoid the dentist out of fear, and around half of dentally anxious adults trace their fears to childhood.
Antonio Crego and his colleagues assessed the children's fear of the dentist, an........ Read more »
Crego, A., Carrillo-Diaz, M., Armfield, J., & Romero, M. (2013) Applying the Cognitive Vulnerability Model to the analysis of cognitive and family influences on children's dental fear. European Journal of Oral Sciences. DOI: 10.1111/eos.12041
In a safety-obsessed culture, why do some people throw caution to the wind and pursue sports where a wrong move often means instant death? Clues come from a series of interviews conducted with a group of 15 extreme sport participants (aged 30 to 70; 10 men) about their relationship with fear, including BASE jumpers (who launch themselves off high buildings), big wave surfers and waterfall kayakers.
Eric Brymer and Robert Schweitzer transcribed the interviews and looked for emerging themes. Co........ Read more »
Brymer, E., & Schweitzer, R. (2012) Extreme sports are good for your health: A phenomenological understanding of fear and anxiety in extreme sport. Journal of Health Psychology, 18(4), 477-487. DOI: 10.1177/1359105312446770
We each vary in how much we use first-person singular pronouns (I, Me, Myself) in our speech and writing, and how much we use first-person plural pronouns (We, Us, Ourselves). Researchers say it's a kind of habit and not something we usually have much control over. Now a study conducted in Germany claims that people who are more prolific users of "I" and "Me" tend to have more interpersonal problems and to experience more depression. "Using first-person singular pronouns highlights the self as........ Read more »
Zimmermann, J., Wolf, M., Bock, A., Peham, D., & Benecke, C. (2013) The way we refer to ourselves reflects how we relate to others: Associations between first-person pronoun use and interpersonal problems. Journal of Research in Personality, 47(3), 218-225. DOI: 10.1016/j.jrp.2013.01.008
When we adults are confronted by a bridge, we're concerned not just by its width and sturdiness, but also by the height of the drop beneath. If there's a deep canyon, we'd usually rather the bridge was mighty strong and wide. If there's but a short drop, we'll happily jaunt along the narrowest, flimsiest of crossings - after all, it won't matter much if we fall.
Infants - those aged 11 to 14 months - are different. They don't want to fall, so they're wary of narrow bridges. But the height of ........ Read more »
Kretch, K., & Adolph, K. (2013) No bridge too high: Infants decide whether to cross based on the probability of falling not the severity of the potential fall. Developmental Science, 16(3), 336-351. DOI: 10.1111/desc.12045
In 2004, in Silicon Valley, Google posted a huge billboard ad featuring a mathematical problem. The answer led to a web address with yet another puzzle to crack. People who successfully followed this intellectual treasure hunt ended up being invited in for a job interview.
This is an extreme example of a recruitment principle spelled out in a new article by psychologists in Belgium. They say that distinctive recruitment procedures are the secret to attracting more and better job applica........ Read more »
Cromheecke, S., Van Hoye, G., & Lievens, F. (2013) Changing things up in recruitment: Effects of a ‘strange’ recruitment medium on applicant pool quantity and quality. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology. DOI: 10.1111/joop.12018
Why are most people in the world religious? Some say it is because we're naturally predisposed to believe in a god or gods and that religion brought evolutionary advantages to our ancestors. But if that's the case, how come there are over half a billion atheists in the world? One theory is that atheists consciously suppress their instincts for religion, with only varying degrees of success. A new study provides tentative support for this idea. Marjaana Lindeman and her colleagues report t........ Read more »
Lindeman, M., Heywood, B., Riekki, T., & Makkonen, T. (2013) Atheists become emotionally aroused when daring God to do terrible things. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1080/10508619.2013.771991
Most research into CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) for teenagers has focused on whether it works or not, with largely positive results. Surprisingly little attention has been paid to finding out what it is actually like for a teenager to undertake CBT.
Deanna Donnellan and her colleagues have made an initial effort to plug this gap, conducting in-depth interviews with three teenage girls who'd completed a course of individual CBT, asking them about their perception of the therapy and what........ Read more »
Donnellan, D., Murray, C., & Harrison, J. (2012) An investigation into adolescents' experience of cognitive behavioural therapy within a child and adolescent mental health service. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 18(2), 199-213. DOI: 10.1177/1359104512447032
Bankers, investors, stock market traders and their ilk have been vilified in recent years, in large part because the global financial crisis has been blamed on their allegedly unchecked selfishness and greed.
In fact, there's a widespread implicit belief that a love of money goes hand in hand with selfishness. A study published in 2008 backed this up - people with a greater love of money tended to report being more selfish at work.
A new study with business students at Loyola University ch........ Read more »
Young children's instinct for group membership can be exploited to boost their learning performance. That's according to a new study that recalls classic social psychology research conducted in the 1970s. Back then Henri Tajfel showed a darker side to this group mentality. In his "minimal group" studies, schoolboys were divided into two groups based merely on their preference for one of two artists. The arbitrary groups thus formed, the boys showed immediate bias against peers not in thei........ Read more »
Master, A., & Walton, G. (2013) Minimal Groups Increase Young Children's Motivation and Learning on Group-Relevant Tasks. Child Development, 84(2), 737-751. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2012.01867.x
Psychologically empowering to women?
The late Margaret Thatcher - Britain's first and, so far, only female Prime Minister - is criticised for failing to do more to help other women get ahead in politics. Supporters argue, however, that the example she set will, on its own, have been of profound benefit to women with leadership ambitions. A new study puts this principle to the test, examining the effect on women of reminders about the contemporary female political high-flyers Angela ........ Read more »
Latu, I., Mast, M., Lammers, J., & Bombari, D. (2013) Successful female leaders empower women's behavior in leadership tasks. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49(3), 444-448. DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2013.01.003
People who worry habitually about separation and abandonment - the "anxiously attached" - tend to be highly skilled at lie detection, an attribute that means they excel at poker. That's according to Tsachi Ein-Dor and Adi Perry whose new findings build on their theory that anxiously attached people are natural sentinels - highly sensitive to threats in the environment, including, this new research suggests, social threats.
Across a pair of initial studies, dozens of men and women an........ Read more »
Ein-Dor T, & Perry A. (2013) Full House of Fears: Evidence that People High in Attachment Anxiety are More Accurate in Detecting Deceit. Journal of personality. PMID: 23437786
When faces were hidden or schematic, 9-month-olds preferred looking at the "unattractive" male bodies
Out-of-shape new dads around the world take heart - your little munchkin thinks your fuller figure is nicer to look at than the ripped, six-pack-boasting torsos so often seen in magazines and after-shave adverts.
Michelle Delaney at the University of Sheffield and her colleagues presented dozens of babies with pictures of pairs of Caucasian male bodies wearing only underwear: one w........ Read more »
Heron-Delaney, M., Quinn, P., Lee, K., Slater, A., & Pascalis, O. (2013) Nine-month-old infants prefer unattractive bodies over attractive bodies. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 115(1), 30-41. DOI: 10.1016/j.jecp.2012.12.008
Around 1 in 7,500 otherwise healthy people are born with no sense of smell, a condition known as isolated congenital anosmia (ICA). So dominant are sight and hearing to our lives, you might think this lack of smell would be fairly inconsequential. In fact, a study of individuals with ICA published last year showed just how important smell is to humans. Compared with controls, the people with ICA were more insecure in their relationships, more prone to depression and to household accidents........ Read more »
Croy, I., Bojanowski, V., & Hummel, T. (2013) Men without a sense of smell exhibit a strongly reduced number of sexual relationships, women exhibit reduced partnership security – A reanalysis of previously published data. Biological Psychology, 92(2), 292-294. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2012.11.008
Researchers in California have uncovered preliminary evidence for the way children acquire scientific "habits of thought" from their parents. Megan Luce and her colleagues recruited 35 parent-child pairs of various ethnic backgrounds (22 girls, 13 boy; 16 fathers, 19 mothers) at a children's museum, and videoed them as they read through a book designed to encourage discussion about scientific, social and moral issues - including global warming, gender differences, the planetary status of ........ Read more »
Luce, M., Callanan, M., & Smilovic, S. (2013) Links between parents' epistemological stance and children's evidence talk. Developmental Psychology, 49(3), 454-461. DOI: 10.1037/a0031249
How often do therapists cry in therapy and does it matter? For a profession that trades in emotions, you'd think these questions would have been tackled before. But as Amy Blume-Marcovici and her colleagues point out in their new paper, the issue has been strangely neglected. There's been plenty of research on crying medics, yet all we know about crying therapists comes from an ethics paper published in the 80s (56.5% of therapists said they'd cried in front of a client), and an unpublished qu........ Read more »
Blume-Marcovici, A., Stolberg, R., & Khademi, M. (2013) Do Therapists Cry in Therapy? The Role of Experience and Other Factors in Therapists' Tears. Psychotherapy. DOI: 10.1037/a0031384
Why is it so annoying to hear a person chatting away in public on their mobile phone? One possibility examined in a new study is that the sound is particularly distracting, more so than a nearby conversation between two people who are both physically present.
Veronica Galván and her colleagues had 164 undergrads take part in what they thought was an investigation into the links between anagram solving performance and reading comprehension. While the students attempted to solve 15 easy a........ Read more »
Galván, V., Vessal, R., & Golley, M. (2013) The Effects of Cell Phone Conversations on the Attention and Memory of Bystanders. PLoS ONE, 8(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058579
A huge study involving over 12,000 participants across 51 cultures from Argentina to Uganda has concluded that men tend to have more varied personalities than women. Peter Borkenau, his co-authors and a small army of international research assistants recruited 12,156 college students to fill out a personality questionnaire about "someone they knew well" - either a person younger or older than forty years.
Averaged across all 51 cultures, men's personalities showed more variation for four of t........ Read more »
Borkenau, P., McCrae, R., & Terracciano, A. (2013) Do men vary more than women in personality? A study in 51 cultures. Journal of Research in Personality, 47(2), 135-144. DOI: 10.1016/j.jrp.2012.12.001
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