Our weekly round-up of the best psychology coverage from elsewhere on the web
Psychologists have long recognised that the field has a bias towards studying people from Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic (WEIRD) societies. But how much is actually being done to correct this bias? Not enough, according to the experts interviewed by Michael Schulson in a story for Undark.
This week the government announced plans to use lie-detector tests with convicted terrorists who have been released from prison. There’s just one problem, reports Hannah Devlin in The Guardian — they don’t work. While polygraphs can reveal when someone is physiologically aroused — when they’re stressed, for example — research has shown that they do not provide a reliable indication that someone is lying.
Procrastination isn’t a failure of time management — it’s an issue with managing our emotions, writes Christian Jarrett at BBC Worklife. Researchers have found that we procrastinate because there is something aversive about the task we should be working on (perhaps it’s just boring, for example), so by doing something else we get a fleeting boost to our mood — though it’s clearly not a useful long-term strategy.
The latest findings of the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study have been published. The survey of more than 3,000 11-, 13- and 15-year olds in England — part of a larger international collaboration run by the World Health Organization — found that most children reported having high life satisfaction. But there were also some worrying trends, the authors write in The Conversation: more than a third reported feeling low at least once a week, while 22% appeared to experience a high level of emotional problems.
Researchers have tested the effects of psychedelic drugs “in the wild” by going around music festivals and asking attendees about their experiences. The team found that those who had recently taken psychedelic substances showed an increase in mood, which seemed to be the result of feeling a greater sense of connectedness with others, and of “transformational experiences” brought on by the drugs, reports Ali Pattillo at Inverse.
A 1990 paper by Hans Eysenck on the role of “attitudes to achievement” in sporting success has been retracted, Retraction Watch reports. The paper was one of many determined to be “unsafe” in an investigation into Eysenck’s work by Kings College London. These included several long-criticised studies that claimed there is a strong link between personality and cancer risk.
The natural world contains a disturbingly large number of parasitic organisms that take over their hosts’ minds — and that number has just got a little bigger. At Discover, Leslie Nemo reports that researchers have found 15 new species of mind-controlling Polysphincta wasps, the larvae of which parasitize spiders. Before they eat their victims, these larvae force the spiders to spin a cocoon for them so that they can pupate.