Sex Differences And Happy Relationships: The Week’s Best Psychology Links

Keyboard for ideaOur weekly round-up of the best psychology coverage from elsewhere on the web

Researchers have reported on the unusual case study of a man, known as RFS, who could read letters but not numbers. When RFS saw numbers, they appeared as a jumbled up mess, writes Sam Kean at Science. Yet he could see the shape of an “8” once it was turned on its side, suggesting that the problem wasn’t a visual deficit, but something specific to number processing.

A study has found sex differences in the volume of grey matter in certain areas of the brain — differences which may be related to the expression of genes on sex chromosomes. But the work brings up age-old questions about sex difference research, explains Grace Huckins at Wired. Do these kinds of differences have any actual real-world consequences?  And how do you prevent results from being misinterpreted or used to justify sexism?

A new theory suggests that we dream so that our visual cortex continues to receive input and doesn’t suffer from a lack of stimulation. However, Neuroskeptic isn’t convinced over at Discover Magazine.

A massive study on more than 11,000 couples has found that the key to a happy relationship may be the characteristics of the relationship itself, rather than of each individual partner. “Relationship-based variables” — things like conflict, feelings of appreciation and sexual satisfaction — accounted for a larger chunk of participants’ relationship satisfaction than their own personalities or traits, writes Emma Betuel at Inverse.

Communication strategies during the coronavirus crisis haven’t always considered people’s cognitive biases. There are lessons to be learned from these failures that could help to improve messaging on climate change, argue Geoff Beattie and Laura McGuire at The Conversation.

The crisis has been hard for all of us, but health workers have been placed in a particularly stressful situation. And preliminary evidence suggests that these workers may be at risk of developing mental health problems like PTSD and anxiety, writes Sabrina Weiss at Wired.

Could lockdown also produce a lasting change to our personalities? It’s not implausible, writes Christian Jarrett at BBC Future: we know that personality traits are not set in stone, but can change throughout our lives. However, it’s too early to say exactly how our personalities might have changed — and any effects will likely be different for everyone.

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