Talking Nonsense And Being Humble: The Week’s Best Psychology Links

Keyboard for ideaOur weekly round-up of the best psychology coverage from elsewhere on the web

A recent review has found that there are many good reasons to be humble, writes Benedict Carey in The New York Times. People who score higher on humility are more curious and open-minded, for instance, and less aggressive towards people with different beliefs.


How can the same joke have one person in hysterics but leave another just rolling their eyes? Sophie Scott explores why humour is so subjective over at The Conversation.


We’re surprisingly adept at concentrating on a single person’s speech when there are other conversations going on around us — a phenomenon known as the “cocktail party effect”.  Now a new study has revealed what’s going on in the brain as we filter out these distracting sounds to focus on a single speaker, Katherine Ellen Foley reports at Quartz work that could one day help develop better hearing aids.


We all have that friend who plays fast and loose with the facts in their conversations. But why do they do it? In The Guardian’s “Science Weekly” podcast, Ian Sample talks to psychologists who are trying to understand the mind of the bullshitter (and check out this Digest piece on a paper from one of the podcast guests, John Petrocelli).


Claims that social media is “destroying a generation” are misplaced, writes Lydia Denworth at Scientific American. The story takes a look at some of the the flaws of early research into the effects of digital technology and explores how researchers are now attempting to conduct more rigorous studies that get into the nuances of media use.


Finally, babies appear to have some kind of sense of counting long before they can actually count out loud, according to this story on BBC Science Focus. The researchers found that even 14-month-olds seem to understand that particular number words are associated with specific quantities. Scroll down to the end of the piece for an adorable video of the research.

Compiled by Matthew Warren (@MattbWarren), Editor of BPS Research Digest

2 thoughts on “Talking Nonsense And Being Humble: The Week’s Best Psychology Links”

  1. “The researchers found that even 14-month-olds seem to understand that particular number words are associated with specific quantities.”

    That would be supporting evidence for linguistic relativity. Not all languages have numbers (e.g., Piraha), but languages with numbers create cognitive capacities that are otherwise lacking. Without numbers, amounts are perceived as relative sizes and groupings found in nature. The above research shows that numerical terms and the concepts they represent are already shaping the infant brain long before speech is learned.

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