Cow Companions And A Consciousness Competition: The Week’s Best Psychology Links

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Our weekly round-up of the best psychology coverage from elsewhere on the web

Researchers have painted a picture of how our happiness has fluctuated over the past two centuries, by analysing the frequency of positive and negative words contained in millions of published texts. The war years showed dips in happiness, according to this measure, while peak happiness occurred in the UK in the 1920s and in Germany in the 1800s, the researchers write in The Conversation.

This week in bovine psychology: cows have friends, whom they like to lick and prefer to graze next to. Cows can even recognise their companions in photographs — though they quickly forget them if they spend too much time apart, writes Rebecca Giggs at The Atlantic.

Time to stop complaining about the youth of today — it’s you that’s the problem, according to a new study. Adult participants believed that today’s children are less respectful of their elders and enjoy reading less than kids of the past — but that was especially true if they themselves were particularly respectful or well-read. In other words, we seem to judge children harshly in areas that we are skilled at, perhaps because we (wrongly) believe that these are abilities we’ve had since childhood rather than built up in the intervening years, reports Nathaniel Scharping at Discover’s D-brief blog.

Two theories of consciousness are to be pitted against each other in a $5 million neuroscience experiment, reports Sara Reardon at Science. As part of a project funded by the Templeton World Charity Foundation, brain activity will be recorded from 500 participants during tasks related to consciousness. Researchers hope the results will distinguish between the “global workspace theory” and the “integrated information theory”, which make different predictions about how consciousness is represented in the brain.

A high-profile 2014 study that claimed men are more willing to help women in high heels has been retracted, Cathleen O’Grady at Ars Technica reports. The paper had “serious methodological weaknesses and statistical errors,” according to the retraction notice, which comes after several years of criticism from members of the research community.

Finally, the most frequently-used emoji has been named — and to no-one’s surprise, it’s 😂. But what makes “face with tears of joy” so popular? Its exaggerated features make it particularly useful for conveying meaning in a medium where we don’t have the benefit of using body language or tone, writes Anne Quito at Quartz

That’s it! We will bring you more treats from around the web next week — but of course don’t forget to also check out our own coverage of the latest research right here at BPS Research Digest 😂

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