Category: Announcements

From sexual posing to critical thinking, our departing writer Alex Fradera’s greatest hits

alex_5After nearly eight years educating and entertaining readers with his reports on the latest psychology research, our staff writer Dr Alex Fradera is leaving us to begin the next chapter of his career.

And what a varied career it has already been: an alumnus of the Mind Hacks group of young bloggers that formed in 2004, Alex completed a PhD at UCL in 2005 in the area of autobiographical memory before entering the world of occupational psychology as a consultant and, in 2011, establishing the popular BPS Occupational Digest (later incorporated into the main Research Digest). Alongside all this, he is an admired teacher and performer in improvised theatre. His creativity, and his diverse experiences and expertise have always shone through in his reports for the Research Digest (thank you Alex!). We wish him the very best in his new role working in the NHS in a therapeutic capacity as he begins the path towards becoming a clinical psychologist.

To celebrate his writings for the Research Digest, here are Alex’s greatest hits (in terms of audience page views), covering research on sexual posing to the importance of critical thinking:

Brainwave study suggests sexual posing, but not bare skin, leads to automatic objectification

Thinking in a foreign language, we’re less prone to superstition

Taking a photo of something impairs your memory of it, but the reasons remain largely mysterious

Psychologists have profiled the kind of person who is willing to confront anti-social behaviour

Class is still written into our psychology – working class folk are more empathic, selfless, vigilant and fatalistic

Massive study finds that a sizeable minority of us are in jobs that don’t fit our primary occupational interests

A daily cold shower seems to have some psychological benefits

No “far transfer” – chess, memory training and music just make you better at chess, memory training and music

Most children and teens with gender dysphoria also have multiple other psychological issues

Critical thinking skills are more important than IQ for making good decisions in life

Alex’s departure means that we have a vacancy on our team. If you think you could be the person to fill his shoes, here is more information on the role and how to apply (closing date Nov 30, 2018).

8 studies and 2 podcasts to help you keep your New Year’s resolutions

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Already struggling to keep New Year resolutions? Here’s the first detailed study of daily temptation and resistance

PsychCrunch Episode Two: Breaking Bad Habits

Find a gym buddy – not letting them down can be a powerful incentive

The mindbus technique for resisting chocolate – should we climb aboard?

Whether you snack or not is more about the presence of temptation than your willpower

Step away from the cookie jar! Over-confidence in self-control leads us to temptation

“Reverse ego-depletion”: People in India find mental effort energising

Less is more when it comes to beating bad habits

Good news! Planning naughty lapses can help you achieve your goals

PsychCrunch Episode 10: How To Stop Procrastinating

Booze aids foreign language skills, plus our 9 other most popular posts of 2017

In 2017, the BPS Research Digest welcomed 2,228,968 visitors, who together helped us reach over 3 million page views. Our free weekly email (which will resume on January 11) now has over 53,000 subscribers. To stay up-to-date with our latest reports, you can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook and via our smartphone/tablet app. And don’t forget there are 10 episodes of our PsychCrunch podcast to catch up on (over 90,000 downloads to date), with a new episode coming soon. Listed below are our 10 most popular research articles of 2017. Happy New Year psychologistas!

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Moderate alcohol consumption improves foreign language skills

Autistic boys and girls found to have “hypermasculinised” faces – supporting the Extreme Male Brain theory

Thinking in a foreign language, we’re less prone to superstition

There’s such a thing as “autism camouflaging” and it might explain why some people are diagnosed so late

Sexual offending by women is surprisingly common, claims US study

Longest ever personality study finds no correlation between measures taken at age 14 and age 77

No “far transfer” – chess, memory training and music just make you better at chess, memory training and music

running giphy2Oh dear, even people with neuroscience training believe an awful lot of brain myths

Critical thinking skills are more important than IQ for making good decisions in life

10 Ways That Running Changes Your Mind and Brain

We’re seeking a writer to join our team!

screen-shot-2017-02-17-at-14-45-40[UPDATE 20/3/17 This post is now closed to further applications. Thank you to the nearly 300 of you who applied. I’m sorry that due to the intense interest in this post it has not been possible to acknowledge each application. We have now reviewed all applications and on the afternoon of Monday 20 March we contacted four shortlisted applicants by email. If you have not heard from us, I’m sorry you have not been successful on this occasion]

Psychology blogger sought

The British Psychological Society’s Research Digest blog, which keeps hundreds of thousands of people abreast of the latest exciting findings in psychology, is seeking an additional writer. This is a paid staff position, initially on a six-month contract, for seven hours per week. Salary is £32,612 pro-rata, and benefits include paid holiday and access to the Society’s pension scheme.

Although based remotely, you’ll work closely with the Research Digest editor to produce six engaging reports on new psychology studies each month, in a style that entertains and educates. You will show readers how the findings are relevant to their lives, but without resorting to hype. Where appropriate, you should have the confidence and competence to criticise studies.  As one of our writers, you’ll have the satisfaction of seeing your work reach our large international audience and get picked up by the world’s biggest publications, from The Guardian to New York Magazine.

Ideally you will already have experience writing about psychology or related fields for the public. And we’ll also need to see documentation that demonstrates your right to work in the UK; further information can be found on the Job Vacancies page on the Society website.

To apply, please send a short email to christianjarrett@gmail.com with the subject line “Psychology Blogger”, explaining why you are the right person for this role. Include links or attachments representing three examples of your work.

The deadline is noon (GMT) 10 March.

Our 10 most popular posts of 2016

Adorable toddler girl with looking directly at the camera
Three-year-olds keep track of when you’re indebted to them

It’s been a funny old year, but through it all we’ve kept on doing our thing and loved every minute of it: bringing you daily reports on the latest psychology research. Contributing writer Alex Fradera and I have covered the entire field, everything from the way infant memory works to research on the psychophysiology of post-sex pillow talk. We told you about failed replication attempts, including smiling apparently not having an effect on mood, and provided feature-length research roundups on topics like eye contact and psychology myths. We released four episodes of our PsychCrunch podcast, including an Olympic special on how to use psychology to be a stronger competitor. Roughly twice per month we also published brilliant guest contributions from psychologists and science writers, including posts on why so many people dislike the word moist and how teens are more likely to reject junk food when it’s framed as rebellion.

I like to think that our stories might have helped you make sense of topical events, nurtured your love of psychology, offered you hope, maybe even made you smile. It’s been a privilege to write for you and I hope you’ll join us again in 2017. Until then, here’s a list of the 10 research stories that – based on number of clicks – seemed to intrigue you the most this year. Happy Holidays! —Christian Jarrett, editor

thinkstockphotos-159040387Men who can tell a good story are seen as more attractive and higher status

By age 3, kids know when you owe them one

Why do so many people believe in psychic powers?

The police believe a lot of psychology myths related to their work

Students of today are more afraid of growing up than in previous generations

Head x-ray, brain in MRIThis is what eight weeks of mindfulness training does to your brain

Experienced meditators have brains that are physically 7 years younger than non-meditators

You hear a voice in your head when you’re reading, right?

Why is it so hard to persuade people with facts?

A daily cold shower seems to have some psychological benefits

Following the latest psychology research just got really easy


Introducing the Research Digest App for iOS and Android

Today we’ve launched the free Research Digest app for Apple and Android smartphones and tablets, bringing you a new and convenient way to keep up-to-date with all our latest research reports.

The in-app help screens will show you how to customise the home page according to your preferred subject categories. You can also share our reports quickly and easily from within the app, as well as creating a scrapbook of your favourite items.

Search your app store for “Research Digest” or click to download now via Apple / Google Play / or Amazon.

Please let us know what you think via comments or by reviewing and rating the app in your store.

The new app joins our other outlets including the Research blog, our weekly email, and our frequently updated Twitter and Facebook accounts, all of which will continue as before.

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Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.

Our free weekly email will keep you up-to-date with all the psychology research we digest: Sign up!

Our most popular posts of 2015

This has been a record-breaking year for the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest blog – in terms of the amount of material we’ve published, and in the number of people reading our posts. In a tight contest, here are the 10 posts that received the most hits in 2015:

1. Weird things start to happen when you stare into someone’s eyes for 10 minutes
by Christian Jarrett
A psychologist based in Italy says he has found a simple way to induce in healthy people an altered state of consciousness – simply get two individuals to look into each other’s eyes for 10 minutes while they are sitting in a dimly lit room. Read more

2Guilt-prone people are highly skilled at recognising other people’s emotions
by Christian Jarrett
It’s not pleasant to feel perpetually that you’re responsible for mishaps and screw-ups, but some people do. Psychologists recognise this as a distinct trait, which they call “guilt-proneness” and now they’ve discovered that it tends to go hand in hand with an enhanced ability to recognise other people’s emotions. Read more

3Feeling like you’re an expert can make you closed-minded by Alex Fradera
What happens to us as we accrue knowledge and experience, as we become experts in a field? Competence follows. Effortlessness follows. But certain downsides can follow too. Read more

4The “Backfire Effect”: Correcting false beliefs about vaccines can be surprisingly counterproductive by Simon Oxenham
Forty-three per cent of the US population believes wrongly that the flu vaccine can give you flu. In fact any adverse reaction to the vaccine, besides a temperature and aching muscles for a short time, is rare. It stands to reason that correcting this misconception would be a good move for public health, but debunking this false belief actually has a seriously counterproductive effect. Read more

5. 10 Hellish psychology studies you’ll be glad not to have participated in 
by Christian Jarrett
Many psychology studies involve nothing more challenging for participants than sitting down with a short paper questionnaire and ticking off agreement or not with a series of anodyne statements. This post is not about that kind of research. Here, we take a tour of some rather more arduous and quirky experiments from the psychology archives. Read more

6The psychology of Facebook, digested
by Christian Jarrett
With over a billion users, Facebook is changing the social life of our species. Common topics for study are links between Facebook use and personality, and whether the network alleviates or fosters loneliness. The torrent of new data is overwhelming and much of it appears contradictory. To help, we’ve digested many of the most important studies. Read more

7What kinds of actions do people think of as most stupid? by Christian Jarrett
To avoid people thinking you’re stupid, above all you need to refrain from undertaking risky tasks for which you lack suitable knowledge or skills. That’s according to this study, the first to systematically investigate the kinds of behaviours that people consider to be stupid or foolish.

8The psychology of mindfulness, digested
by Christian Jarrett
Mindfulness is a hot topic in psychology and beyond. And yet, a dissenting voice in this chorus of enthusiasm, a new book out last month – The Buddha Pill: Can Meditation Change You? – warned that mindfulness is not harmless. Here we dive into the research literature to bring you up to speed in a jiffy. Read more

9Expert philosophers are just as irrational as the rest of us
by Dan Jones
If you want to improve your tennis swing, learn how to repair your car, or master the piano, you’re likely to seek the help of an expert. Similarly, many people who want to sharpen their critical thinking skills turn to one of the many books written by philosophers. But what if philosophers are just as susceptible to bad thinking as the rest of us? Read more

10What the textbooks don’t tell you about psychology’s most famous case study 
by Christian Jarrett
It’s a remarkable, mythical tale with lashings of gore – no wonder it’s a favourite of psychology students the world over. I’m talking about Phineas Gage, the 19th century railway worker who somehow survived the passing of a 3-foot long tamping iron through the front of his brain and out the top of his head. What happened to him next? Read more

I wonder what this list says about people’s interests and concerns in 2015? 
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Post compiled by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.

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The 100 most followed psychologists and neuroscientists on Twitter!

Updated for November 2015, here are the 100 most followed psychologists and neuroscientists on Twitter based on follower counts recorded over the last few weeks. If we’ve missed anyone (individuals, not organisations or publications) who should be in the top 100, please let us know via comments and we’ll add them in. This is an update to our November 2014 post. We’re aware there are issues with lists like this (for example, Twitter accounts vary in how many active followers they have), but we hope you will find it useful nonetheless. Three BPS Twitter accounts are included below, but are not counted in the tally towards 100.

1st place Andrew Mendonsa. Clinical psychologist. Followers: 371769
Sam Harris. Neuroscientist, author. Followers: 343930
Steven Pinker. Evolutionary psychologist, author. Followers: 204280
Kiki Sanford. Neurophysiologist turned sci communicator. Followers: 198899
Ian Wallace. “Dream psychologist”. Followers: 147903
Richard Wiseman. Psychologist, blogger and author. Followers: 138755
Laura Kauffman. Child psychologist. Followers: 107074
Dan Ariely. Behavioural Economist, author. Followers: 100889
George Huba. Psychologist. Followers: 98273
10Travis Langley. Social psychologist and author. Followers: 92603
Joe Guse. Comedian turned psychologist. Followers: 72325
Neuroskeptic. Blogger and neuroscientist. Followers: 68538
Daniel Goleman. Emotional intelligence expert. Followers: 62290
Leah Klungness. Author and psychologist. Followers: 60591
Dolors Reig. Social psychologist (tweets in Spanish). Followers: 60875

BPS Research Digest. That’s Us! Followers: 57811

Anthony Risser. Neuropsychologist, blogger. Followers: 49283

Steve Silberman. Author on autism. Followers: 45500 

The Psychologist magazine! Followers: 45449

Adam Grant. Organisational psychologist. Followers: 44464
Dylan William. Educational psychologist. Followers: 44060
20Yankı Yazgan. Child psychiatrist/ psychology faculty. Followers: 44073

 Melanie Greenberg. Clinical health psychologist. Followers: 42835
 Richard Thaler. Behavioural economist. Followers: 41971


BPS Official! Followers: 35062


Amy Cuddy. Social psychologist. Followers: 34125
Jeremy Dean. Psychology blogger. Followers: 25136
25 Shawn Achor. Positive psychologist. Followers: 33404
Vaughan Bell. Clinical neuropsychologist, blogger. Followers: 32683

Simon Rego. Cognitive behavioural psychologist. Followers: 32618
Miguel Escotet. Psychologist. Followers: 31420
Marsha Lucas. Neuropsychologist. Followers: 30353
30 Kelly McGonigal. Psychologist. Followers: 27458
David Eagleman. Neuroscientist, author. Followers: 25882
Mo Costandi. Neuroscience writer, blogger. Followers: 25869
Jo Hemmings. Celebrity psychologist. Followers: 25771
Bob Sutton. Organisational psychologist and author. Followers: 25592
Aleks Krotoski. Psychologist, tech journalist. Followers: 24900
Dean Burnett. Neuroscientist and comedian. Followers: 24896
Dan Gilbert. Psychologist. Followers: 24745
David Dobbs. Neuroscience writer. Followers: 24280
Paul Bloom. Psychologist. Followers: 24164

40 Evan Sinar. Organisational psychologist. Followers: 23,999
Noah Gray. Neuroscience editor. Followers: 22319

John Froiland. School psychologist. Followers: 21285
Susan Whitbourne. Psychologist. Followers: 21212
Sarah-Jayne Blakemore
. Cognitive neuroscientist. Followers: 20283
David Ballard. Work psychologist. Followers: 20004
Dorothy Bishop. Developmental neuropsychologist. Followers: 19941
Jonathan Haidt. Psychologist. Followers: 19853
Simon Baron-Cohen. Developmental psychologist. Followers: 19700
Marilyn Price-Mitchell. Developmental Psychologist. Followers: 18937

50 Ciaran O’Keeffe. Parapsychologist. Followers: 18379
Scott Kaufman. Cognitive psychologist, author. Followers: 18649
Daniel Levitin. Psychologist, author. Followers: 17892
Heidi GrantHalvorson. Social psychologist. Followers: 17717
Craig Malkin. Clinical psychologist. Followers: 17701

Robert Cialdini. Social psychologist. Followers: 17298
Uta Frith. Developmental neuropsychologist. Followers: 17163
Sun Wolf. Social neuroscientist. Followers: 17058
Pascal Wallisch. Neuroscientist. Followers: 16275

Micah Allen. Cognitive neuroscientist. Followers: 16050
60 Melissa McCreery. Clinical Psychologist. Followers: 15094


Christian Jarrett. Editor of the Research Digest! Followers: 14950


Tanya Byron. Clinical psychologist, TV presenter, columnist. Followers: 13878
Stephan Guyenet. Neurobiologist. Followers: 13114
Lee Keyes. Psychologist. Followers: 13034
Andrea Kuszewski. Robopsychologist. Followers: 12924
Andrea Letamendi. Clinical psychologist. Followers: 12892
Todd Kashdan. Psychologist. Followers: 12792
Professor Bob. Psychologist. Followers: 12761

Cary Cooper. Occupational psychologist. Followers: 12646
70 David Webb. Psychology tutor, blogger. Followers: 12545
Sophie Scott. Neuroscientist. Followers: 11889

Pam Spurr. Agony aunt. Followers: 11816

Clark Quinn. Organisational psychologist. Followers: 11674
Petra Boynton. Psychologist, sex educator. Followers: 11622
Susan Weinschenk. Psychologist and author. Followers: 11605

Philip Zimbardo. You know, the Stanford Prison Experiment guy. 11547
David Rock. Work psychologist. Followers: 11433
Honey Langcaster-James. Psychologist and coach. Followers: 11337
Maia Szalavitz. Neuroscience journalist. Followers: 10961
80 James Moore. Cognitive Neuroscientist. Followers: 10943

Timothy Lomauro. Clinical psychologist. Followers: 10709
Shelley Bonanno. Psychologist and psychotherapist. Followers: 10341 
Jason Goldman. Developmental psychologist, science writer. Followers: 10288
Neuro Bonkers. Blogger. Followers: 10208

Stew Friedman. Organisational psychologist, author. Followers: 10152
Bradley Voytek. Neuroscientist and self-professed geek. Followers: 10133

Michael Woodward “Dr. Woody”. Organisational psychologist. Followers: 10097
Claudia Hammond. Radio presenter. Followers: 9832
Cheryl Arutt. Clinical and forensic psychologist. Followers: 9719

90 Jay Watts. Clinical psychologist, Lacanian. Followers: 9569
Todd Finnerty. Psychologist. Followers: 9448
Margarita Holmes. Psychologist and sex therapist. Followers: 8906
Steven Novella. Neurologist and sceptic. Followers: 8450
Rory O’Connor. Health psychologist, suicide researcher. Followers: 8368

Bruce Hood. Cognitive scientist. Followers: 8336
Patrick McGee: Health psychologist. Followers: 8094 

Kevin Mitchell. Neurogeneticist. Followers: 7837
Andy Field. Psychologist and stats whiz. Followers: 7680
Hugo Spiers. Neuroscientist. Followers: 7642

100 Graham Jones. Internet (cyber) psychologist. Followers: 7609

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