Talking Across Divides And Quashing Conspiracy Theories: The Week’s Best Psychology Links

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

Consumer-based brain computer interfaces (BCIs) have received a lot of hype in recent years — but many scientists are worried that the claims about what these devices can achieve don’t match the reality, reports Benjamin Powers at Undark. Often these devices also fall into a regulatory grey area, potentially leaving consumers, or their data, at risk.

On the medical side, however, BCIs are showing promise in helping paralysed people to move again. This week researchers report giving a patient an implant that not only restored movement to his hand, but also allowed him to detect objects by touch. Donna Lu has the story at New Scientist.

How can we become better at talking across divides — political or otherwise? Francesca Gino, Julia Minson and Mike Yeomans explain their research on “conversational receptiveness” at Scientific American.

We’ve probably all had the experience in recent weeks of cringing when a character on TV shakes hands with someone or touches their face. Thanks to the pandemic, we have a conditioned aversion to these kinds of behaviours, writes Marina Koren at The Atlantic — but once this is all over, how long will it take for us to “unlearn” these associations?

March saw a huge number of people watching and reading news, particularly news about coronavirus — but now those figures are dropping back down. Although research is still ongoing, there could be psychological reasons for this drop, writes Will Bedingfield at Wired: it could reflect reduced anxiety in the general population, or, more worryingly, a kind of “desensitisation” to coronavirus-related news.

Conspiracy theories about coronavirus abound — so what can we do to stop them spreading? At The Conversation, Stephan Lewandowsky and John Cook suggest some strategies for “inoculating” the public against misinformation, such as explaining the faulty logic behind conspiracy theories and highlighting the dubious sources from which they originate.

Finally, there’s lots more in the media this week on how the pandemic is affecting our sleep and dreams.  At Quartz, Amanat Khullar looks at how the trauma of the crisis may be causing sleep disturbances, and gets some advice on how to get a better night’s sleep.

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