Gambling is big business in the UK. According to NHS Digital, 57% of men and 54% of women reported gambling in 2018, while the Gambling Commission suggests that online gambling grew by 8.1% from 2019 to 2020.
During the pandemic, gambling changed quite significantly: while consumers could still buy scratchcards and lottery tickets in supermarkets and off licenses, betting shops were closed and sports matches cancelled, leading many activities to move entirely online. And according to a new study from researchers at the University of Bristol, although the British public gambled less overall during lockdown, among regular gamblers, rates of online gambling increased substantially.
Having a new baby is never easy: it’s difficult to manage the stress of birth, sleepless nights, and juggling of childcare and domestic responsibilities, especially for first-time parents. Some also experience postnatal depression, which is estimated to affect 23% of women in Europe after the birth of a child (men also experience postnatal depression, though the numbers are not so clear).
Add to new parenting the impact of lockdown, and that figure could rise sharply, a new study published in Frontiers in Psychology suggests. Working with women with babies aged six months or younger in the UK during the first COVID-19 lockdown, UCL’s Sarah Myers and Emily H. Emmott found that almost half met the threshold for postnatal depression — double the average European rates.
The ever-changing public health measures rolled out during the coronavirus pandemic haven’t always been crystal clear. But several instructions have remained the same throughout: wear a mask, wash your hands, and stay two metres apart.
Despite the strength and frequency of this messaging, however, the public hasn’t always complied. Though the exact reason for this non-compliance is clearly complex, researchers from the University of Washington have proposed one factor that could influence people’s behaviour: the extent to which they identify with other human beings. Writing in PLOS One, they suggest that a connection with and moral commitment to other humans may be linked to greater willingness to follow COVID-related guidelines.
It’s not hard to find ways to stay busy during lockdown. Yes, many of us are spending lots of time at home and have evenings and weekends free from almost any kind of social activity — but we’re also juggling work, chores, childcare, life admin and the various emotional demands of living through a global pandemic.
For some, in fact, staying busy has been an appealing prospect; indeed, hundreds of articles have been written with ideas on how to stay busy and distracted during the boredom of lockdown. But a new study from a team at Australia’s RMIT University, published in PLOS ONE, suggests that meaningful activity, rather than simply busyness, may be the way to stay emotionally stable during this period.
Climate change is a cause of serious concern for many — but that doesn’t mean anxiety about the planet is always at the top of people’s agendas. As we reported last year, the effectiveness of climate change appeals can vary considerably. And other research suggests that worries about the environment can be displaced by other issues (fewer Americans reported concern about climate change after the 2008 financial crisis, for example). This latter phenomenon is known as the “finite pool of worry” hypothesis: that as some concerns creep up our radar, others become neglected.
So with COVID-19 taking up space both in the media and in our minds, are people thinking less about climate change? According to a new study in PNAS, the answer is no: climate change is now such a major concern that even serious threats of another nature don’t diminish fears at all.
When the US National Basketball Association (NBA) was forced to pause the season due to Covid-19 on March 11 last year, the fans were naturally devastated. When the season resumed five months later, with the top 22 teams bubbled together and playing every game in Orlando, Florida, this was great news for the sport, and the fans — and a pair of US researchers. Andrew McHill at Oregon Health and Science University and Evan Chinoy at Leidos Inc, in San Diego, realised that the restart provided a perfect natural experiment to explore the effects of travel on play. Their study, published in Scientific Reports, reveals some insights into causes of the well-documented sporting home-side advantage.
Covid-19 has changed our working lives, perhaps for good. Home-working is now common, and many of us have been doing it for months. With changing rules and guidelines, some of us have even gone from home-working to socially distanced office-working, to working back at home again. So what do we know about how these changes are affecting our mental health — and what can we do to make our new working lives better?
The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed all our lives. For those of us fortunate enough to avoid unemployment, our work lives have still changed drastically. So how long should it take employees to recover psychologically, and settle into a “new normal”? According to a new paper, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, this process actually began very early on. This is among the first work to show that psychological recovery can start during a stressful experience.
This is Episode 21 of PsychCrunch, the podcast from the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest, sponsored by Routledge Psychology. Download here.
What can we do to stay connected in the middle of a pandemic? We’ve all played our part in fighting COVID-19, and for many of us that has meant staying away from our friends and families. In this episode, our presenter Ginny Smith explores how this unprecedented period of separation has reinforced the importance of connection. Ginny looks at how video chats compare to in-person interaction, and how psychology could help improve virtual communication in the future. She also examines the importance of touch for reducing stress — and asks whether interactions with our furry friends could make up for a lack of human contact.
When the coronavirus hit, many of us had to quickly adapt to remote working — and even post-pandemic, many of us are likely to continue at least some of these tasks online.
Demands for more flexible working practices continue to grow, and for good reason — it can make life easier for employees with parenting or caring responsibilities, health problems or disabilities, and some argue it can also increase productivity. Online webinars and conferences also allow continued professional development without workers ever having to leave their home office.
Things are no different in the world of education: many undergraduate courses now provide lecture recordings for students to watch in their own time, and online masters programmes are offered by some of the UK’s top universities. Freshers’ Week this year is also likely to be very different, with many students experiencing a wholly virtual first year of university.
But learning online is not always easy. How do you concentrate when staring at a screen for hours at a time? How do you manage your workload? And what is the best strategy for note-taking? Here’s our digest of the findings that could help to make online learning stick.