New Norms And Difficult Dogs: The Week’s Best Psychology Links

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

Sharing the content of your dreams with others can improve your relationships and increase your empathy levels, write Mark Blagrove and Julia Lockheart at The Conversation. Listening to someone discuss their dreams can help you enter their world and better understand their perspective, the pair write, while the act of story-telling can strengthen social bonds.

Scientists have used electrical stimulation in the brain to allow blind people to “see” traces of letters and other shapes, reports Laura Sanders at Science News. Using electrodes implanted in a grid on the visual cortex, the researchers produced patterns of electrical stimulation that represented letters. This resulted in participants seeing patterns of light called phosphenes in the shape of each letter.

In most Western countries, mask-wearing has (until recently) been uncommon — but it seems to be becoming a new norm, argues Lydia Denworth at Scientific American.  Perhaps masks will be a common sight during the flu season even several years down the road.

Researchers are worried that anti-vaccine misinformation on social media could hinder efforts to fight coronavirus. A new report has mapped out the connections between various Facebook pages, finding that anti-vaccination groups, while still small, are numerous and often linked to by other pages, writes Philip Ball at Nature. However, pro-vaccination pages are not as well-connected, meaning they may not be reaching people who are undecided about vaccine safety.

There’s an ongoing debate among psychologists as to how much the field can contribute during the crisis. At Undark, Teresa Carr explores what psychologists’ role should be right now and where they might need to take a step back.

Like many others, I’m spending a lot of time reading the news at the moment. But how does consuming so much negative and distressing information affect our mental health? Zaria Gorvett looks at the research over at BBC Future.

Finally, some canine psychology: new work suggests that, just like humans, dogs have awkward “teenage” years. Researchers studied the development of dogs being raised as guide dogs, finding that when they reached their adolescence at about 8 months old they often refused to obey their caregivers. Their attachment style also influenced how they obeyed orders and even how old they were when they entered puberty, reports Virginia Morell at Science.

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