Green Spaces And Phone Scams: The Week’s Best Psychology Links

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

Have you noticed an increase in scam texts recently? I certainly have — and so has David Robson, writing at BBC Future.  These scammers often make it seem like we are facing some immediate threat like legal trouble or loss of money, capitalising on the fact that in this kind of situation we are less likely to think and act rationally. And the pandemic has provided just the right conditions for these scams to flourish, Robson writes.


As we mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the idea that groups succumb to “groupthink” is hotly contested. This week at Wired, Annie Murphy Paul takes a look at the more positive side of group cognition, drawing on a fascinating case study in which sailors on board an out-of-control aircraft carrier worked together to narrowly avert disaster. 


An Australian study has found that primary-aged kids perform better when their schools are surrounded by more green spaces. It’s not simply the case that these schools are attended by children from wealthier families, write the researchers Alison Carver and Amanda J Wheeler at The Conversation, because the research compared schools with similar socioeconomic backgrounds. Instead, the pair suggests that the effect could be related to reduced pollution near schools with more greenery, or de-stressing effects of the green spaces themselves.


Paying too much attention to something can distort our perceptions of the world, argues Henry Taylor at Psyche.


Could brands one day insert advertisements into your dreams? That’s the fear of a group of dream researchers, who have released an open letter calling for “dream manipulation” to be regulated, reports Sofia Moutinho at Science.


Researchers have found that when exposed to the common antidepressant citalopram, crayfish become bolder, emerging out of their shelters more readily to look for food. The study was conducted in the lab, but used levels of antidepressants which have previously been found in streams, reports Douglas Main at National Geographic. This suggests that in the wild, antidepressant drugs which make their way into the environment via wastewater could affect the animals’ behaviour.

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