Publication Bias And Lockdown Memories: The Week’s Best Psychology Links

Keyboard for idea

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

One of our most popular posts here at Research Digest looked at whether we all hear an inner voice while reading (spoiler: most of us do but 10% or so seem not to). Now researchers have found that readers aren’t the only ones to hear voices: authors themselves do as well. Almost two-thirds of authors surveyed at the Edinburgh book festival reported hearing their characters speaking while they were writing, reports Alison Flood at The Guardian.

Researchers have traditionally thought of autistic people as having “social deficits” when it comes to expressing emotion but this ignores the fact that communication is a two-way street, write Connor Tom Keating and Jennifer Cook in The Conversation. Instead, their research suggests that autistic and neurotypical people use different facial expressions, and it is this mismatch between the two groups that can lead to difficulties in conveying or understanding emotion. “This is really crucial as it takes the element of blame away from the autistic person and instead proposes that these difficulties are a product of autistic and neurotypical differences,” the pair writes.

Autism research is also often conducted without any input from people who are actually autistic. That’s beginning to change, reports Emily Willingham at Science: teams are increasingly including autistic researchers and focusing on studies that can improve the lives of autistic people, rather than searching for a cause or “cure”.

At Discover Magazine, Neuroskeptic reports on a study providing further evidence that reviewers are more likely to accept psychology publications that report positive results. Researchers gave 127 reviewers for a media psychology conference an abstract that either reported a significant or non-significant finding. Overall, the reviewers gave higher ratings to the version with the significant result, although the effect was only small.

As the lockdown continues, many of us have been left with a strange sense of time, with days seeming to blend together. That could have a negative impact on our later memory of this period, writes Julia Shaw at The Guardian (we also covered Shaw’s work on false memories this week). Shaw suggests staging memorable “landmark” events at home: new experiences which require a bit of effort to create and may be particularly interesting or emotional.

Physical contact is an important part of the human experience so lockdown can be particularly hard for those who live alone. And it turns out there’s a name for that craving for hugs, writes Sirin Kale at Wired: “skin hunger”.

Some parents may be worried about children’s screen time increasing during the pandemic. But at The Guardian Amy Orben argues that instead of worrying about time spent on screens, parents should instead look at what activities kids are engaging in many of which may be providing them with an alternative way of socialising. And after reading her story, why not check out our recent PsychCrunch podcast with Orben.

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