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  • November 25, 2015
  • 04:41 AM

The Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ) and the media: a few thoughts

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Are you on the autistic spectrum? Take the test" read a recent media headline.Commenting on the findings reported by Emily Ruzich and colleagues [1], the headline is followed by some pretty bizarre text about how the study "has confirmed that men are more likely to be autistic than women."I have to take some exception to this sentence, as I quote from the Ruzich findings: "In a sample of nearly half a million individuals, we found a moderate effect of sex on AQ [Autism-Spectrum Quotie........ Read more »

  • November 24, 2015
  • 06:04 AM

Pinocchio and Captain Hook: Suffering from Tinnitus?

by Chiara Civardi in United Academics

You might be wondering what Pinocchio and Captain Hook have in common. Well, they are both from children’s stories, they both have prosthetics, they have issues with being honest, and they both experience interesting maritime adventures. But there is something else too: they are both annoyed by a continuous ticking sound that follows them everywhere. For Pinocchio it is Jiminy Cricket who bothers him while for Hook the crocodile is ticking merrily away. I can hear you saying: “So? Wh........ Read more »

  • November 24, 2015
  • 04:33 AM

Secondary conditions impacting on obesity stats in autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Decision makers, clinicians, and researchers developing interventions for children with ASDs [autism spectrum disorders] should consider how secondary conditions may impact obesity and related activities."That was the conclusion reached in the study by Kathryn Corvey and colleagues [1] looking to: "examine obesity, overweight, physical activity, and sedentary behavior among children and youth with and without ASD using nationally representative data and controlling for secondary ........ Read more »

  • November 23, 2015
  • 07:00 PM

Dopamine measurements reveal insights into how we learn

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute scientists have reported measurements of dopamine release with unprecedented temporal precision in the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease. The measurements, collected during brain surgery as the conscious patients played an investment game, demonstrate how rapid dopamine release encodes information crucial for human choice.... Read more »

Kenneth T. Kishida, Ignacio Saez, Terry Lohrenz, Mark R. Witcher, Adrian W. Laxton, Stephen B. Tatter, Jason P. White, Thomas L. Ellis, Paul E. M. Phillips, & P. Read Montague. (2015) Subsecond dopamine fluctuations in human striatum encode superposed error signals about actual and counterfactual reward. Proceedings of the natural sciences academy of the United States of America. info:/10.1073/pnas.1513619112

  • November 23, 2015
  • 07:02 AM

Guilt-proneness and the ability to recognize the emotions of  others

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

Three years ago we wrote about the goodness of fit for the guilt-prone with the presiding juror position. Counter-intuitive as it may seem, there were a number of reasons supporting them in that role. And today, new research gives us another reason the guilt-prone may be more skilled at leadership—they are more able to identify […]

Related posts:
The GASP scale: A new measure of guilt and shame proneness
Should you want guilt-prone leaders for that jury?
Do we want convicted felons to........ Read more »

  • November 23, 2015
  • 04:33 AM

Does eczema increase the risk of childhood speech disorder?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Nativity Kylo?The question posed in the title of this post reflects some interesting data published by Mark Strom & Jonathan Silverberg [1] who reported that: "Pediatric eczema may be associated with increased risk of speech disorder" on the basis of their analysis of data for some 350,000 children "from 19 US [United States] population-based cohorts."Taking into account various variables such as "sociodemographics and comorbid allergic disease" authors determined that among the 19........ Read more »

  • November 23, 2015
  • 12:58 AM

Happiness Is a Large Precuneus

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

What is happiness, and how do we find it? There are 93,290 books on happiness at Happiness is Life's Most Important Skill, an Advantage and a Project and a Hypothesis that we can Stumble On and Hard-Wire in 21 Days.The Pursuit of Happiness is an Unalienable Right granted to all human beings, but it also generates billions of dollars for the self-help industry.And now the search for happiness is over! Scientists have determined that happiness is located in a small region of your righ........ Read more »

Sato, W., Kochiyama, T., Uono, S., Kubota, Y., Sawada, R., Yoshimura, S., & Toichi, M. (2015) The structural neural substrate of subjective happiness. Scientific Reports, 16891. DOI: 10.1038/srep16891  

  • November 22, 2015
  • 11:45 PM

Radicalization, expertise, and skepticism among doctors & engineers: the value of philosophy in education

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

This past Friday was a busy day for a lot of the folks in Integrated Mathematical Oncology here at the Moffitt Cancer Center. Everybody was rushing around to put the final touches on a multi-million dollar research center grant application to submit to the National Cancer Institute. Although the time was not busy for me, […]... Read more »

Gambetta, D., & Hertog, S. (2009) Why are there so many Engineers among Islamic Radicals?. European Journal of Sociology, 50(02), 201. DOI: 10.1017/S0003975609990129  

  • November 22, 2015
  • 03:01 PM

Neuroscience and the search for happiness

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Exercising, meditating, scouring self-help books… we go out of our way to be happy, but do we really know what happiness is? Wataru Sato and his team at Kyoto University have found an answer from a neurological perspective.... Read more »

Sato, W., Kochiyama, T., Uono, S., Kubota, Y., Sawada, R., Yoshimura, S., & Toichi, M. (2015) The structural neural substrate of subjective happiness. Scientific Reports, 16891. DOI: 10.1038/srep16891  

  • November 22, 2015
  • 09:14 AM

Are pre-registrations the solution to the replication crisis in Psychology? Not really.

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

Most psychology findings are not replicable. What can be done? In his Psychological Science editorial, Stephen Lindsay advertises pre-registration as the solution, writing that “Personally, I aim never again to submit for publication a report of a study that was not preregistered”. I took a look at whether pre-registrations are effective and feasible [TL;DR: no […]... Read more »

  • November 21, 2015
  • 03:26 AM

Subthreshold autism signs in childhood OCD

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

OCD in the title of this post, refers to obsessive compulsive disorder and the intriguing observation put forward by Arildskov and colleagues [1] suggesting that: "Pediatric OCD patients were found to exhibit elevated rates of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] symptoms compared to a norm group of school-age children."Taking advantage of data collected as part of the Nordic Long-term OCD Treatment Study and specifically where "parents of 257 children and adolescent........ Read more »

Arildskov, T., Højgaard, D., Skarphedinsson, G., Thomsen, P., Ivarsson, T., Weidle, B., Melin, K., & Hybel, K. (2015) Subclinical autism spectrum symptoms in pediatric obsessive–compulsive disorder. European Child . DOI: 10.1007/s00787-015-0782-5  

  • November 20, 2015
  • 03:06 PM

Multiple Personalities, Blindness and the Brain

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A new paper reports the fascinating and perplexing case of a woman who reported that she was host to multiple personalities - some of whom were completely blind. The paper is called Sight and blindness in the same person: gating in the visual system, authored by German psychologists Hans Strasburger and Bruno Waldvogel.

The patient in this case, "B. T.", aged 33, has a diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder (DID), a condition formerly known as multiple personality disorder (MPD). B. ... Read more »

  • November 20, 2015
  • 02:43 PM

Inflammation linked to weakened reward circuits in depression

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

About one third of people with depression have high levels of inflammation markers in their blood. New research indicates that persistent inflammation affects the brain in ways that are connected with stubborn symptoms of depression, such as anhedonia, the inability to experience pleasure.... Read more »

  • November 20, 2015
  • 07:02 AM

Why do people prefer food in sexist packaging? 

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

According to a new study in the journal Social Psychology, it’s because we are willing to pay more for less healthy food in macho packaging or healthier food in pretty feminine packaging. You may protest at being stereotyped in this way but, apparently it works (or food package designers wouldn’t do it) because it’s just […]

Related posts:
News Flash: Gay people are different than straight people
Republicans prefer ‘Republican-looking’ political candidates
Men prefer boxes and........ Read more »

Zhu, L., Brescoll, V., Newman, G., & Uhlmann, E. (2015) Macho Nachos. Social Psychology, 46(4), 182-196. DOI: 10.1027/1864-9335/a000226  

  • November 20, 2015
  • 03:02 AM

Vitamin D levels and autism meta-analysed

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A quote to begin: "Levels of serum 25(OH) D in participants with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] were significantly lower than controls, suggesting that lower vitamin D level might be a risk factor for ASD."That was the bottom line finding reported by Tiantian Wang and colleagues [1] following their systematic review and meta-analysis of the existing peer-reviewed science literature looking at whether serum concentrations of 25-hydroxy vitamin D - the typically measured compou........ Read more »

  • November 19, 2015
  • 04:48 AM

Heavy metals, heavy conflicts and autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Two papers are presented for your reading delight today, both based on the often contentious issue of heavy metals and autism.The first paper is from Farida El Baz Mohamed and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) and further substantiates the claim that for whatever reason(s) the levels of various heavy metals seem to be increased or raised in some children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The second paper by Janet Kern and colleagues [2] (open-access available here)........ Read more »

  • November 18, 2015
  • 07:37 PM

Master switch for brain development

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Scientists at the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) in Mainz have unraveled a complex regulatory mechanism that explains how a single gene can drive the formation of brain cells. The research is an important step towards a better understanding of how the brain develops. It also harbors potential for regenerative medicine.... Read more »

  • November 18, 2015
  • 05:49 PM

Sticks and stones (2): How names work

by Michael Ramscar in The Importance of Being Wrong

A stranger in the village On immigrating to Sweden, migrants are given the option of exchanging their current last name for one that sounds a little more Swedish. The process is administered by the Patent- och registreringsverket – the Patent and Registration Office (PRV) – and of the many rules it enforces, an important one requires that anyone wanting to adopt a Swedish surname prove their […]... Read more »

Brown, P. F., Pietra, V. J. D., Mercer, R. L., Pietra, S. A. D., & Lai, J. C. (1992) An estimate of an upper bound for the entropy of English. Computational Linguistics, 18(1), 31-40. info:/

Shannon, C. (1948) A Mathematical Theory of Communication. Bell System Technical Journal, 27(3), 379-423. DOI: 10.1002/j.1538-7305.1948.tb01338.x  

  • November 18, 2015
  • 08:30 AM

Education about Cats may Reduce Feline Behaviour Problems

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Behavioural advice for people with a new kitten is linked to a better-behaved pet at 1 year old.A new pet can be hard work, and if people don’t fully understand the needs of their animals, behaviour problems can result. A new study investigates whether education for owners at their first vet appointment is the answer. People with a new kitten (3 months old) were given 25 minutes of standardized advice on caring for cats. The study, by Angelo Gazzano et al (University of Pisa) compared the........ Read more »

  • November 18, 2015
  • 07:02 AM

The Motivation to Express Prejudice Scale 

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

We hear a lot more these days about covert or “modern prejudice” than we do about plain old overt prejudice. So it’s a little surprising to see this measure but it makes sense. There are some people who do want to express prejudice and here is a scale you can use to measure their wishes […]

Related posts:
Detecting Deception Using the Law of Sufficient Motivation
The Bias Awareness Scale 
The Generic Conspiracist Beliefs Scale 

... Read more »

Forscher PS, Cox WT, Graetz N, & Devine PG. (2015) The motivation to express prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 109(5), 791-812. PMID: 26479365  

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