Pregnancy Cravings And Cakes In Disguise: The Week’s Best Psychology Links

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More journals have issued expressions of concern for papers authored by the psychologist Hans Eysenck. These are just the latest of many similar statements and retractions related to Eysenck’s work, particularly that which purported to find strong links between personality and cancer risk. But as Cathleen O’Grady reports at Science, it’s taken a long time to reach this stage: some researchers began raising concerns more than 25 years ago. 

The public has increasingly come to accept the fact that mental health disorders have biological causes. But rather than decreasing stigma towards those with mental health issues, this has actually worsened public attitudes, argues Joseph E Davis at Psyche. Davis suggests that mental health professionals should avoid explanations based on oversimplified biological terms like “chemical imbalances”, and instead “re-engage with the language of persons”.

Why do pregnant women get cravings? The reasons may be less biological and more psychological and cultural, explains Veronique Greenwood at BBC Future.

Studies from the United States have suggested that Americans’ loneliness has not dramatically increased during the coronavirus pandemic, writes Joanne Silberner at NPR. Researchers suggest that this may reflect the sense of community and solidarity that has emerged even while people have remained physically distant. However, they also point out that even before the crisis started, there were high levels of loneliness in the country, and their survey methods may have missed certain groups who are particularly vulnerable.

Of course, loneliness isn’t the only potential negative outcome of lockdown, and many psychologists are studying how social isolation is affecting other aspects of our mental health. And there is also a large body of work from pre-Covid-19 times which has examined the effects of isolation on health and cognition. At The Scientist, Catherine Offord explores what we can learn from these studies.

Finally, if you’ve been anywhere near social media this week, you’ve probably started to expect that everything you see is actually cake. But if you experience a strange discomfort when you see someone cutting a slice out of what you thought were a pair of shoes, you’re not alone. According to Joseph Lamour at Mic, this experience might be akin to the “uncanny valley” phenomenon, where robots or animated characters that are too humanoid end up looking horrific.

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