Abstract Art And Pigeon Personalities: The Week’s Best Psychology Links

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

The world is designed for —  and by — extraverts, forcing introverts to try and adapt to society, writes Noa Herz at Psyche. But it’s unfair to place the onus on introverts, Herz argues, writing that simple changes could make work and educational settings more welcoming places for a group that makes up around a third of the population.


Loneliness can manifest differently according to your age group, reports Amy Barrett at BBC Science Focus. Researchers looking at data from thousands of adults in the Netherlands found that factors like living alone and psychological distress were associated with loneliness across all ages. But there were other factors that seemed more related to loneliness at particular times in people’s lives: for instance, younger people showed the greatest association between contact with friends and loneliness, while older adults showed an association between health and loneliness. The work suggests interventions need to be tailored to age groups.


What do children think of adults? A new paper explores the beliefs kids have about their caregivers’ own thoughts, behaviours, and failings. The project was unique, in that it was led and designed by the kids themselves. At The Conversation, (adult) co-authors Emma Maynard and Sarah Barton explain the work.


Viewing abstract art actually makes us think with a more abstract mindset, reports Emma Betuel at Inverse. Researchers had participants view abstract or realistic paintings, then asked them to act as art critics deciding when and where to display the art. Abstract paintings tended to be displayed further away in both time and physical distance, demonstrating the way abstract art evokes “psychological distance”, making us think more conceptually and less in terms of concrete details.


Children who have experienced violence or trauma show signs of faster aging, reports Nicola Davis at The Guardian. An analysis of dozens of studies found that these experiences tended to be related to earlier puberty in girls, as well as greater cellular aging and thinning of certain brain areas. However, the effects were small and more work is needed to understand the nature of the relationship, researchers say.


Finally, some pigeon psychology: scientists have found that attaching weights to the smaller birds results in them becoming more aggressive and rising up the social pecking order. The researchers are not entirely sure why, report Ari Shapiro and Stacey Vanek Smith at NPR: the weights may have helped the pigeons feel in “better shape”, or the birds may have ended up hunting food more aggressively, as they needed to consume more calories. Either way, it matters because scientists routinely attach tracking devices to birds which give them extra weight.

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