Spotting Liars And Fixing Things: The Week’s Best Psychology Links

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

You might have heard of the “Mozart effect”, the idea that playing babies classical music can boost their intelligence. But is there any truth to that claim? In a word, no — but check out this nice video from Claudia Hammond at BBC Reel to learn more about where the myth came from.


Studies have found that both male and female observers — including healthcare professionals — underestimate the amount of pain that women are experiencing. We may overestimate men’s pain as well, and there’s some evidence that these gender biases even extend to beliefs about children’s pain. But more work is needed to understand perceptions of pain beyond the standard pool of White, western participants, writes Amanda C de C Williams at The Conversation.


It’s a common belief that you can spot a liar by the way they act. But research suggests this isn’t really the case: we are no good at deciding whether someone is lying based on their nonverbal behaviour. And while psychologists have found that there are other, better ways of probing the truth of a suspect’s story — such as specific interview techniques — many police forces and border security officials still rely on the old, ineffective methods, writes Jessica Seigel at BBC Future.


The Psychological Science Accelerator could offer a new model for conducting psychology research, potentially helping the field to get past its replication crisis. The group has already launched several large, international, pre-registered studies, both replications and new work. But is the model sustainable? Brian Resnick takes a look at Vox.


We tend to think we should fix something by adding more stuff to it. That’s according to series of studies in which participants were presented with various scenarios like improving a travel itinerary or essay: most people tended to add destinations or words, rather than removing them. But the work also suggests that prompts and opportunities for practice can make people more likely to find “subtractive” solutions instead, writes John Timmer at Ars Technica.


A US panel has concluded that the use of brain organoids in research is ethical, reports Jocelyn Kaiser at Science. The committee, set up by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, found that it is “extremely unlikely” that in the near future brain organoids will be conscious, and that there is no need for any new form of oversight for work using these “mini-brains”.


How does growing up in poverty affect brain development? A number of studies have found that children from an impoverished background show certain differences in brain structure, as we wrote in 2019. But this data is largely correlational — so now, researchers are looking at how reducing poverty by providing regular cash payments actually affects cognition and brain development, reports Alla Katsnelson at the New York Times.

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