Gloomy Evenings And Dark Traits: The Week’s Best Psychology Links

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

Psychology is arguably the poster child for the replication crisis, but other fields suffer from similar issues too. At Science, Cathleen O’Grady examines the efforts by ecologists to tackle their own field’s reproducibility problems, and how they are learning from the experience of psychologists.

Researchers have created a safer version of the psychoactive drug ibogaine, and it seems to improve behaviours associated with addiction and depression in rats. Past work had suggested that ibogaine may help treat drug addictions — but it can also have fatal side-effects, reports Jon Hamilton at NPR. So in the new work, scientists tweaked the structure of the molecule to create a substance that is safer but which still has beneficial properties. It remains to be seen whether it works for humans.

The shortest day of the year is nearly upon us but if you’ve found yourself taken aback by the dark evenings, you’re not alone. Even though we experience dark winter nights every year, there are psychological reasons why we might “forget” about them and find it unsettling when they come around again, explains Shayla Love at Vice.

The uncertainty of 2020 has been difficult for a lot of us. But some people find it particularly challenging to deal with feelings of uncertainty, writes Jayne Morriss at The Conversation. Greater “intolerance” of uncertainty can leave people feeling distressed and make even good outcomes appear less satisfactory but, Morriss explains, there are a number of strategies which may help to reduce this “uncertainty distress”.

Scientists have implanted an array of electrodes into the visual cortex of two macaques, which allow the monkeys to “see” shapes corresponding to the pattern of stimulation. The work holds promise for restoring some amount of sight to people who are blind and whose optic nerve is damaged. But it is harder to access the relevant brain regions in humans, explains Michael Le Page at New Scientist and fairly crude artificial vision is not necessarily desired by the blind community.

People with “dark” personality traits are manipulative and self-centred but does that actually help them get ahead? In some lab-based tasks, perhaps, write Craig Neumann and Scott Barry Kaufman at Psyche, but when it comes to real life they actually have limited success.

This weekend, the Cosmic Shambles Network is hosting a 24 hour online show, “Nine Lessons and Carols for Socially Distanced People“, with profits going to charity. The line-up looks fantastic, with comedians, authors, actors, musicians, and scientists all taking part — including a bunch of psychologists and neuroscientists (such as PsychCrunch podcast presenter Ginny Smith!).

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