Bad Behaviour And Rethinking Pain: The Week’s Best Psychology Links

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

Swearing, drinking, or making social transgressions are not behaviours we generally think of as good. But in some cases, these kinds of “bad” behaviours can have benefits, both for ourselves and others. Richard Stephens explains why at The Conversation.

In The Guardian, Margee Kerr and Linda Rodriguez McRobbie write that we need to rethink our approach to pain. We currently have a “socially dysfunctional relationship” with pain, they argue: we rely too much on painkillers, and don’t appreciate that changing the way we think about painful experiences can also have an analgesic effect.

How do you make new friends in the middle of a pandemic? Katherine Cusumano has some tips at The New York Times.

Some people have argued that public health messages should use shocking images of illness and death to drive home the importance of staying home and socially distancing. But there’s reason to doubt the effectiveness of disturbing photos in convincing people of the dangers of the pandemic, write Nathan Ballantyne, Jared Celniker and Peter Ditto at Scientific American. Their study showed that such images did little to change people’s opinion about the virus, even though participants believed they would.

In a recent study, older adults who took afternoon naps showed superior performance on certain tests of language and memory, reports Frankie Macpherson at BBC Science Focus. But there are plenty of caveats, not least that the correlational data means that no firm conclusions can be made about the direction of the relationship between taking naps and cognitive performance.

Another study has highlighted the toll of the coronavirus pandemic on mental health. The vast majority of students surveyed at seven American universities last spring reported moderate or high levels of emotional distress, reports Sujata Gupta at Science News. The psychological impact was particularly prominent among certain groups, including women, Asian participants, and those on lower incomes.

It’s common for women to experience worries and anxieties during pregnancy, and some pregnant women may end up meeting the criteria for a full-blown anxiety disorder. At Psyche, Pamela Wiegartz has written a guide with strategies for managing feelings of anxiety during pregnancy.

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