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Our 10 most popular posts of 2013

1. Want people to trust you? Try apologising for the rain.

“Superfluous apologies represent a powerful and easy-to-use tool for social influence,” the researchers said. “Even in the absence of culpability, individuals can increase trust and liking by saying ‘I’m sorry’ – even if they are merely ‘sorry’ about the rain.”

2. The 100+ most followed psychologists and neuroscientists on Twitter.

When we updated the list in July, the top five were: Andrew Mendonsa (clinical psychologist), Kiki Sanford (neurophysiologist turned science communicator), Sam Harris (neuroscientist and author), Richard Wiseman (psychologist, blogger and author) and Laura Kauffman (child psychologist). Look out for another update next year.

3. Smiling fighters are more likely to lose.

… [UFC] fighters who smiled more intensely prior to a fight were more likely to lose, to be knocked down in the clash, to be hit more times, and to be wrestled to the ground by their opponent (statistically speaking, the effect sizes here were small to medium). On the other hand, fighters with neutral facial expressions pre-match were more likely to excel and dominate in the fight the next day, including being more likely to win by knock-out or submission.

4. A study of suicide notes left by children and young teens.

Contrary to their predictions, the researchers said that “the notes are coherent and do not reveal confusion or overwhelming emotions. The children and young adolescents emphasise their consciousness of what they are about to do and they take full responsibility.”

5. Women’s true maths skills unlocked by pretending to be someone else.

By separating their performance from their own identity, it seems the women performing under an alias no longer felt pressure to avoid being seen as an example of the harmful gender stereotype [that women are weaker at maths than men].

6. Older, more experienced therapists cry more often in therapy.

Looking at the correlates of being a therapist who cries in therapy, it was older, more experienced therapists and those with a psychodynamic approach, who were more likely to be criers. Surprisingly perhaps, female therapists were no more likely to cry in therapy than male therapists, despite the fact that they reported crying more often in daily life than the men.

7. Kids experience schadenfreude by age four, maybe earlier.

The kids of all ages (four to age years) showed evidence of schadenfreude, suggesting their emotional response to another person’s distress was influenced by their moral judgements about that person. That is, they were more likely to say they were pleased and that it was funny if the story character experienced a misfortune while engaging in a bad deed.

Image credit: Jon Sutton

8. LEGO figures are getting angrier. 

Nevermind increasingly violent video games or the ever-present danger of an uncensored internet, a far more insidious and unexpected change is afoot that could be affecting our children’s emotional development. Researchers have discovered that the faces on LEGO Minifigures are becoming increasingly angry and less happy.

9. The supposed benefits of open-plan offices do not outweigh the costs.

“Our results categorically contradict the industry-accepted wisdom that open-plan layout enhances communication between colleagues and improves occupants’ overall work environmental satisfaction,” the researchers concluded. They added: “… considering previous researchers’ finding that satisfaction with workspace environment is closely related to perceived productivity, job satisfaction and organisational outcomes, the open-plan proponents’ argument that open-plan improves morale and productivity appears to have no basis in the research literature.”

10. Working memory training does not live up to the hype.

The results were absolutely clear. Working memory training leads to short-term gains on working memory performance on tests that are the same as, or similar to, those used in the training. “However,” the researchers write, “there is no evidence that working memory training produces generalisable gains to the other skills that have been investigated (verbal ability, word decoding, arithmetic), even when assessments take place immediately after training.”

Compare this year’s top 10 to last year’s
See also: the top 10 psychology books of 2013.


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

31 terrifying psychology links for Halloween!

Spook me, please: What psychology tells us about the appeal of Halloween

What do young children know about managing fear?

Irrational human decision making during a zombie apocalypse.

Extreme fear experienced without the amygdala.

How to make a zombie brain (See also this related video).

The smell of fear is more powerful than previously realised.

Zombie faces: Why are we afraid of them? (BBC article)

The Lure of Horror – feature article on the psychology of horror fiction (see also).

How to make a Halloween brain cake (ht @mocost).

From BBC Radio 4 (now on iPlayer) – The Sound of Fear.

Would it be morally ambiguous to kill a zombie?

Things that go bump in the night: exploring the scary side of life – Psychology Today special.

Why you should watch a horror film before going to the art gallery.

Some people urinate when they’re frightened. Other people can’t urinate when they’re nervous. What’s going on?

At what age do babies enter the uncanny valley?

How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse Using Science (from Wired).

Where dread is located in the brain.

Embodying another person’s face makes it easier to recognise their fear.

Terror in the night: article on sleep paralysis.

Snakes in a brain scanner!

Horror Director Eli Roth Explores What Makes Good People Do Evil Things in a TV Special.

Six reasons we’re so fascinated by zombies (Psych files podcast).

Fear really does have a smell.

The Neurocritic discusses the pathological fear of being buried alive.

What spooks the masters of horror? Top horror movie makers say which films scared them the most.

Yikes! Thoughts of death increase the appeal of Intelligent Design (and make people randy!)

To the bunkers … reminders of disease prime the body and mind to repel other people.

Why do we get goose-bumps?

Bonus link: The Scientific Way To Survive The Zombie Apocalypse (according to neuroscientist Bradley Voytek).

What is cognitive behavioural therapy like for a teenager?

Most research into CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) for teenagers has focused on whether it works or not, with largely positive results. Surprisingly little attention has been paid to finding out what it is actually like for a teenager to undertake CBT.

Deanna Donnellan and her colleagues have made an initial effort to plug this gap, conducting in-depth interviews with three teenage girls who’d completed a course of individual CBT, asking them about their perception of the therapy and what it meant to them.

The pseudonymous interviewees were Mary, who had problems with sickness and anxiety; Katherine, who had anxieties around her appearance and restricted her eating; and Samantha, who experienced low mood and practised self-harm. The teenagers were aged 15 years on average.

One the main themes to emerge related to progress and change. Mary saw the therapy in terms of helping to remove her problems; Samantha saw it as more than that, as a chance to move forward in her life; and Katherine felt she had developed new perspectives on life and the future. All three experienced increases to their self-efficacy (their confidence in their own abilities). Donnellan and her colleagues pointed out a related practical insight here – they found the teenagers clearly had “ultimate goals” for therapy (such as a growth in character or a return to “normality”), which could be hidden beneath the immediate aims of the CBT.

Another key theme to emerge related to engagement with therapy. The teens were mostly disengaged and passive at the start, but they gradually began to participate more. Mary achieved this engagement by taking some control – she agreed to take on some of her homework tasks around eating, but refused others. Samantha didn’t say much at the start, but came to realise that she could benefit from exploring her emotional issues. Katherine felt desperate and unable to make decisions at the start, but the graded nature of the therapy helped her feel more stable.

The researchers said issues of control were very important in teen therapy given that most teenagers’ therapy will have been instigated by their parents. “Power and its ability to impact negatively upon therapeutic potential might … be mitigated by a process of collaboration and encouraging the client to negotiate their position in the therapeutic relationship,” they said.

What about rapport with the therapist? Although she benefited from therapy, Mary was not on the same page as her therapist:

“for an example she might use someone being scared of dogs and how the thoughts of the dog biting them would make them cross the road (…) it was like relates nowhere near to like feeling sick and how feeling sick affects ya it was nothing near that”.

Mary blamed part of this on her therapist seeming “really old”. “I think for most teenagers,” Mary said, “… you’d feel easier to talk to someone who, not obviously dead young, but d’ya know not someone in their 50s or something or like old.” In contrast, Samantha was pleasantly surprised at her therapist’s ability to relate to her situation:

“It was a bit disconcerting cos she like, not knew about it, but knew how to like deal with all this stuff, which I wasn’t entirely expecting but it was helpful.”

The final theme related to the structure of the way therapy was delivered. Mary felt like some of the progress was too slow and there was frequent repetition. For Samantha, the structure and predictability of CBT was an advantage, and the boundaries laid down by her therapist helped her feel safe. Katherine also liked the graded pace of therapy, with the gentle start helping her to feel more comfortable.

Donnellan’s team said their interviews were a “tentative” first step towards finding out what CBT is like for young people. The findings demonstrate “the importance of the process of therapy, just as much as the content,” they said. Based on this, some practical recommendations include: recognising the importance of the first stages of therapy for engaging with a teenage client; addressing the teen client’s preconceptions about therapy; and finding out the pace and style they’d like the therapy to progress at.

“The service delivering CBT needs to promote the young person as being in control from the outset,” the researchers said, “regardless of who is making the decision to access therapy. This may set the scene for them to develop control over their problems and establish stability in their life.”


Donnellan, D., Murray, C., and Harrison, J. (2012). An investigation into adolescents’ experience of cognitive behavioural therapy within a child and adolescent mental health service. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 18 (2), 199-213 DOI: 10.1177/1359104512447032

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

Anxiously attached people are ace at poker and lie detection

People who worry habitually about separation and abandonment – the “anxiously attached” – tend to be highly skilled at lie detection, an attribute that means they excel at poker. That’s according to Tsachi Ein-Dor and Adi Perry whose new findings build on their theory that anxiously attached people are natural sentinels – highly sensitive to threats in the environment, including, this new research suggests, social threats.

Across a pair of initial studies, dozens of men and women answered questions about their attachment style before watching video clips of two women chatting or one person telling a story. In some of the conversational clips, one of the women told a lie, a fact that could be detected through a subtle objective clue in the clip. In the story clips, the events described either happened to the story-teller or were fabricated (there no were objective clues in these clips).

People who scored high in attachment anxiety (for example, they agreed with statements like “I worry about being abandoned” and “My desire to be very close sometimes scares people away”) tended to be better at spotting lies and made-up stories. This wasn’t just because they were simply more liberal at labelling utterances as lies. Also, the lie detection link with attachment anxiety was specific. General state and trait anxiety did not correlate with lie detection skills. “It appears that anxiety from separation and abandonment, which relates to hyper-activation of an innate psychobiological system (i.e. the attachment system) that promotes survival, is what is driving people’s ability to detect deceit,” the researchers said, “and not an overall sense of tension.”

To see if the lie-detection skills associated with anxious attachment have any benefit in real life, Ein-Dor and Perry recruited 35 semi-professional poker players, assessed their attachment style and then observed their performance in a local poker tournament. Each participant was allocated at random to join in with a group of seven other players at the event. As they predicted, the researchers found that the participants who scored higher in anxious attachment tended to win more money in the tournament (on average, a one-point higher score in anxious attachment was associated with winning an extra 448 chips). Social anxiety did not have this association with tournament success.

Of course, there’s no direct evidence here that the anxious players’ better performance was due to their superior deception detection skills, but the researchers think it’s highly likely, especially given how important the spotting of bluffs and reading of “tells” is to poker (also past research suggests anxiously attached people are poorer at concealing their own emotions so their advantage is more likely to be related to reading other players’ minds than camouflaging their own).

These new findings add to past research showing that anxiously attached people are quicker than average at detecting physical threats, such as smoke in a room, and are quicker to alert other people to the danger.

“Studies like the ones reported here offer a new perspective on the strengths of individuals who have long been viewed as deficient and poorly adapted,” the researchers concluded.


Ein-Dor T, & Perry A (2013). Full House of Fears: Evidence that People High in Attachment Anxiety are More Accurate in Detecting Deceit. Journal of personality PMID: 23437786

–Further reading–
The advantage of having an anxiously attached person on your team
That’s not a poker face, this is a poker face

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

Our ten most popular posts of 2012

1. Why do children hide by covering their eyes? 

“Together with the fact that it was the concealment of the eyes that seemed to be the crucial factor for feeling hidden, the researchers wondered if the children’s invisibility beliefs were based around the idea that there must be eye contact between two people – a meeting of gazes – for them to see each other (or at least, to see their “selves”).”

2. Why do humans walk in circles?

“Bestaven’s team said this suggests that our propensity to walk in circles is related in some way to slight irregularities in the vestibular system. Located in inner ear, the vestibular system guides our balance and minor disturbances here could skew our sense of the direction of “straight ahead” just enough to make us go around in circles.”

3. Pop music is getting sadder and more emotionally ambiguous

“Schellenberg and von Scheve found that the proportion of songs recorded in minor-mode has increased, doubling over the last fifty years. The proportion of slow tempo hits has also increased linearly, reaching a peak in the 90s.”

4. You’re most creative when you’re at your groggiest

“Here’s the headline result: the students were much more successful at solving the insight problems when the time of testing coincided with their least optimal time of functioning.”

5. Introducing “enclothed cognition” – how what we wear affects how we think

“Participants who donned a lab coat performed significantly better than others who merely saw a lab coat on the desk (thus suggesting the enclothed effect is more powerful than mere priming) or others who wore the same kind of coat but were told it belonged to a painter.”

6. Made it! An uncanny number of psychology findings manage to scrape into statistical significance

“The pattern of results could be indicative of dubious research practices, in which researchers nudge their results towards significance, for example by excluding troublesome outliers or adding new participants. Or it could reflect a selective publication bias in the discipline – an obsession with reporting results that have the magic stamp of statistical significance. Most likely it reflects a combination of both these influences.”

7. Why you should watch a horror film before going to the art gallery

Feeling afraid enhances the sublime power of art. “The capacity for a work of art to grab our interest and attention, to remove us from daily life, may stem from its ability to trigger our evolved mechanisms for coping with danger,” the researchers said.

8. What your Facebook picture says about your cultural background

“Regardless of their current location, there was a significant association between cultural background and style of Facebook picture. Facebook users originally hailing from Taiwan were more likely to have a zoomed-out picture in which they were seen against a background context. Users from the USA, by contrast, were more likely to have a close-up picture in which their face filled up more of the frame.”

9. Total recall: The man who can remember every day of his life in detail

“For most of us, it’s tricky enough to remember what we were doing this time last week, let alone on some random day years ago. But for a blind 20-year-old man referred to by researchers as HK, every day of his life since the age of about eleven is recorded in his memory in detail.”

10. Facebook or Twitter: What does your choice of social networking site say about you?

“The researchers interpreted these patterns as suggesting that Facebook users seek and share information as a way of avoiding more cognitively demanding sources such as journal articles and newspaper reports. Twitter users, by contrast, use the site for its cognitive stimulation – as a way of uncovering useful information and material without socialising (this was particularly true for older participants).”

Also, check out our at-a-glance guide to psychology in 2012 and The best psychology books of 2012.

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

The best psychology books of 2012

It’s the season for Christmas book lists and we’ve trawled through them, looking for the psychology-themed tomes earning a recommendation.

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by psychologist Jonathan Haidt – listed by the Sunday Times as one of their favourite thought-provoking books of the year (also chosen by the Guardian as a top psychology book).

In the same Sunday Times category was listed Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, which also won GoodReads vote for best non-fiction of the year.

In its list of the over-looked non-fiction books of the year Slate highlights The Wisdom of Psychopaths by psychologist Kevin Dutton: a “terrifically entertaining and chilling book”.

Inconvenient People: Lunacy, Liberty and the Mad Doctors of Victorian England by Sarah Wise (Bodley Head, £20) – Sebastian Faulks for the Daily Telegraph recommended it, saying “it is an illuminating look at an area of social history that inspired Wilkie Collins among others”.

Internal Time: Chronotypes, Social Jet Lag, and Why You’re So Tired by Till Roenneberg was chosen by Brain Pickings as one of the best science books of the year.

This year’s British Psychological Society book award went to Dorling Kindersley’s The Psychology Book: “An innovative and accessible guide designed for readers new to psychology.”

In Amazon’s list of the best non-fiction books of the year was The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg.

Barnes and Noble listed Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon as one of the best non-fiction books of the year: “This crucial and revelatory book expands our definition of what it is to be human.” (also chosen by the NYT as one of the 10 best books of the year).

The Guardian published a list of the best psychology books of the year, highlighting Beyond Human Nature by Jesse J Prinz: “shows how on most of the points on which evolutionary psychologists like to reflect, humans are shaped far more by their culture than by nature.”

The Sunday Times chose Pieces of Light: The New Science of Memory by psychologist Charles Fernyhough as one of their favourite science books of the year: “a book about memory that is also a memoir”.

The Hour Between Dog and Wolf: Risk-taking, Gut Feelings and the Biology of Boom and Bust, by John Coates was listed by the Daily Telegraph as one of the year’s best science books: “No one is better qualified to analyse the biology of banking than Coates, a trader turned neuroscientist.”

Last but not least, James Gleick’s The Information won this year’s Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books: “tells the story of information technologies that changed the very nature of human consciousness.”
Post compiled by Digest editor Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer), whose Rough Guide to Psychology is still available from all good book shops. 

Links for World Alzheimer’s Day

Today, September 21, is World Alzheimer’s Day and to mark the date Alzheimer’s Disease International has published a new report on combating the stigma of Alzheimer’s Disease.

And to join in the day’s events I’ve collected together a number of Alzheimer’s related reports, journal abstracts and stories from the Research Digest archive:

A flicker of light in a sea of darkness – the woman with Alzheimer’s who retained the ability to pun.

Recommended book from 2008: Can’t Remember What I Forgot: The Good News from the Front Lines of Memory Research.

Alzheimer’s patients retain their taste in art.

A test for distinguishing between major depression in the elderly and the depression associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Apolipoprotein E4 is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s, but does it exert a benefit on cognitive function in healthy young adults?

Hearing music that isn’t there.

The woman who was misdiagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

TED talk – Alanna Shaikh on how she’s preparing to get Alzheimer’s.

A journal special issue on neuroimaging and early Alzheimer’s Disease.

The woman who mistook her daughters for her sisters.

“The aging brain: Why getting older just might be awesome” – an uplifting article from CNN.

Music as a memory enhancer for patients with Alzheimer’s.

Scientists discover way to reverse loss of memory (The Independent). Good news story from 2008. Here’s the journal abstract.

Loneliness increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Recommended book from 2008: I’m Still Here! Alzheimer’s disease is devastating and yet new research is highlighting the islands of function and ability that can and do survive the tide of illness

Post compiled by Christian Jarrett for the BPS Research Digest.

The psychology behind the appeal of original artwork

Why do we place such value on original works of art? Consider The Disciples at Emmaus – believed to be an original Vermeer, it was held in high esteem and sold in 1937 for £1.8 million. Later exposed as a piece by master forger Van Meegeren, however, and its value plummeted overnight.

You could say that we covet originals because of the value that wider society places on them. But that just pushes the question back – why does anyone value originals in the first place? And why with art so much more than other manufactured items?

In a new study, George Newman and Paul Bloom have tested at least two possible explanations – one is that we value original art work because of the originality of the creative performance that led to it; the other is that we feel an original piece is somehow infused with the unique essence of the artist, much like we cherish mundane items that once belonged to a rock star or other celebrity.

In one of Newman and Bloom’s five experiments, 180 participants were asked to estimate the value of two paintings they hadn’t seen before, both depicting the same scene (one was Son of a Covered Bridge, the other was A Covered Bridge, both by Jim Rilko). Half the participants were told that two different artists had painted the same scene by coincidence. The other participants were told that one artist had produced one of the paintings, and that another artist had seen it and decided to make a copy. All participants were told that there was only one of each painting in existence.

Participants who thought that two paintings had been produced of the same scene by coincidence tended to rate them as having a similar value. By contrast, participants who thought one painting was a copy of the other, tended to value that second painting especially low, and to value the first version of the scene especially high. This shows how we appreciate the originality of the creative performance behind a painting.

In the final experiment, 256 participants read about either a sculptor or a craftsman and their work creating either a bronze sculpture or a piece of furniture, respectively. For the participants who read about the sculptor, those who heard that the process was very hands-on tended to rate the value of the sculpture much more highly than those who read that the creative process was hands-off (involving machinery). By contrast, this distinction made far less difference to the valuations made by the participants who read about the craftsman’s work.

In other words, participants placed more value on the bronze sculpture when they thought the artist had touched it more with his own hands, almost as though infusing it with his essence. This effect was enhanced further for participants who read a version of the vignette in which the sculptor made just one copy of his sculpture.

So when we cherish an original piece of art, it seems we do so partly because we value, not just the end product, but the originality of the performance that created it. Moreover, we believe that the work has a special quality about it because it came from the very hand of a particular artist. Copies and forgeries, no matter how close to the original, fall down on both these counts.

“We hope that the research here will engender interest on the broad topic of art within psychology,” the researchers said, “as well as more specific questions regarding the role of authenticity in judgments of value.”


Newman GE, & Bloom P (2012). Art and authenticity: The importance of originals in judgments of value. Journal of experimental psychology. General, 141 (3), 558-69 PMID: 22082113

-Further reading- A brain-imaging paper published last year reported that the same works of art triggered different brain activity depending on whether they were labelled as authentic or as copies.

Post written by Christian Jarrett for the BPS Research Digest.

When wives believe they do an unfair share of the housework, everyone loses

More women than ever go out to work and yet surveys in Western countries show that wives continue to take on the lion’s share of domestic chores.

A new study has quizzed 389 couples in Austria, Germany and Switzerland to build up the most comprehensive picture yet of how this uneven distribution of domestic chores is associated with men’s and women’s marital satisfaction.

These were all dual-earning couples with young children, with both spouses working at least 15 hours per week. Eighty-nine per cent of the couples were married. The average professional work load for women was 30.2 hours per week; for men it was 48.6 hours. Consistent with past surveys, the women in this sample took on nearly two thirds of the domestic chores.

The researchers Gerold Mikula, Bernhard Riederer and Otto Bodi asked their participants several things: what share of the chores they took on; whether they thought that was fair; whether they felt the way the share had been decided was fair (so-called “procedural justice”); how much conflict they experienced in their relationship; and how happy they were with their relationship. They threw all these factors into a statistical pot and looked to see how they related to each other.

First, Mikula and co focused only on the direct associations between housework distribution and women’s and men’s answers. For women, it wasn’t the precise share of housework they did that was correlated with their experience of conflict and satisfaction, but rather how fair they thought that share was. Women who thought the division of household chores was unfair tended to experience more relationship conflict and less marital satisfaction. Women’s sense of whether the decision process for housework had been fair also had its own independent link with levels of conflict. So feeling that they did an unfair amount of housework was bad enough, but conflict was even more likely when women felt the unfair arrangement had been arrived at unfairly.

Men, by contrast, seemed largely detached from the way housework was shared. There was no direct correlation between the division of housework and their reports of fairness. And even men who said the arrangement was unfair didn’t tend to report more relationship conflict or less satisfaction – no doubt because the unfair arrangement was usually in their favour. In fact, the only direct association of housework distribution with men’s answers, was that the greater share their female partners took on, the more satisfied they tended to be.

But here’s where the picture gets more complicated. The researchers also looked at associations between participants’ answers and their partners’ reported sense of justice and experience of conflict and satisfaction. This suggested that men suffered when their female partners believed the housework arrangements were unfair. In fact, the negative correlates for men (more conflict, less satisfaction) of having a female partner who sensed injustice in the division of housework, outweighed the satisfaction associated with having a female partner who did lots of housework.

“The results support the proposition that it is not the balance of the division of labour itself but rather the subjective sense of justice associated with the division that matters primarily to the relationship satisfaction of the persons concerned,” the researchers concluded. “Spouses should exchange their personal views and preferences in open discussions to arrive at an agreement that considers the wishes of both parties … “


MIKULA, G., RIEDERER, B., and BODI, O. (2011). Perceived justice in the division of domestic labor: Actor and partner effects. Personal Relationships DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-6811.2011.01385.x

Post written by Christian Jarrett for the BPS Research Digest.

Do Northerners really feel the cold less?

In Britain, we all know the stereotype of hardy Northerners: out on the town on a Winter’s night, arms and legs bare, seemingly oblivious to the cold. But do people up North really feel the cold less? According to a report in yesterday’s Times newspaper by Paul Simons, an ongoing survey is aiming to find out. Initial results from this research by the Met Office and Open Air Laboratories suggests that people feel the cold just as much regardless of which region they live in. Moreover, contrary to the myth, there’s some evidence that Northerners are more likely to change their clothing than Southerners, be that for warmth or to be cooler. Another emerging finding is a rural/urban divide, with rural folk being more likely to don coats in colder weather. “Whether this is due to an urban climate is difficult to say,” Simons writes, “but towns and cities can generate their own microclimates which affect temperature.”

Link to the research on people’s response to the cold (there’s still time to take part)
Link to Times article “Weather Eye: northerners vs southerners” (subscription required)