Companies’ Succession Announcements Can Inadvertently Make Work Life Harder For Incoming Female CEOs

By Emma Young

When an organisation appoints a new male CEO, the announcement will typically highlight his past achievements and the competencies that make him ideal for the job. What if the new CEO is a woman? The widely expected, gender-neutral thing to do is, of course, to make precisely the same type of announcement. However, according to the team behind a new paper in the Journal of Applied Psychology, this can make work life more difficult for her, and shorten the time that she spends in that role. Priyanka Dwiwedi at Texas A&M University and her colleagues base this striking conclusion on an extensive analysis of data on women who have been appointed to top positions in the US, as well as in-depth interviews with female executives.

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People With Depression Show Hints Of Distorted Thinking In The Language They Use On Social Media

By Emily Reynolds

A key facet of cognitive behavioural therapy is challenging “cognitive distortions”, inaccurate thought patterns that often affect those with depression. Such distortions could include jumping to conclusions, catastrophising, black and white thinking, or self-blame — and can cause sincere distress to those experiencing them.

But how do we track cognitive distortion in those with depression outside of self-reporting? A new study, published in Nature Human Behaviour, explores cognitive distortions online, finding that those with depression have higher levels of distortion in the language they use on social media.

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Frequent Workplace Interruptions Are Annoying — But May Also Help You Feel That You Belong

By Emma Young

Workplace disturbances during the Covid-19 pandemic aren’t quite what they used to be. Now you’re more likely to be interrupted by a cat jumping on your keyboard or a partner trying to make a cup of tea while you’re in a meeting — but if you can cast your mind back to what it was like to work in an office, perhaps you can recall how annoying it was to be disturbed by colleagues dropping by with questions or comments. These “workplace intrusions” used to be common in offices, and no doubt will be again. There’s certainly plenty of evidence that they interfere with our ability to complete tasks, and that we can find them stressful. However, no one’s really considered potential benefits, note Harshad Puranik at the University of Illinois and colleagues. In their new paper in the Journal of Advanced Psychology, the team reports that though there is a dark side to these interruptions, there’s a bright side, too. 

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Cuteness And Self-Compassion: The Week’s Best Psychology Links

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

Like humans, octopuses have both an active and quiet stage of sleep, reports Rodrigo Pérez Ortega at Science. Researchers found that for 30-40 minutes of sleep the creatures are fairly still with pale skin, but for about 40 seconds their skin turns darker and they move their eyes and body. In humans, dreaming happens in the active, REM stage, but scientists still don’t know whether the octopuses also dream during their active sleep.

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Students Who Want To Cut Down On Their Drinking Often Feel Forced To Compromise For Social Connection

By Emily Reynolds

Drinking culture is a huge part of university, with Freshers’ Week events often revolving near-exclusively around getting drunk. A 2018 survey from the National Union of Students found that 76% of respondents feel an expectation for students to “drink to get drunk”; 79% agreed that “drinking and getting drunk” is a key part of university culture.

This isn’t for everyone, however: a quick search of student forums will show many young people, pre-university, anxious about a drinking culture they don’t want to participate in. Now a new study in the British Journal of Health Psychology, authored by Dominic Conroy from the University of East London and team, has taken a closer look at students’ decisions to reduce their alcohol consumption — and what prevents them from doing so.

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Here’s What We Listen For When Deciding Whether A Speaker Is Lying Or Uncertain

By Emma Young

How do you know whether to trust what someone is telling you? There’s ongoing debate about which cues are reliable, and how good we are at recognising deception. But now a new paper in Nature Communications reveals that we reliably take a particular pattern of speech pitch, loudness and duration as indicating either that the person lying or that they’re unsure of what they’re saying — and that we do it without even being aware of what we’re tuning into.

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Taking Lecture Notes On A Laptop Might Not Be That Bad After All

By Emma Young

“The pen is mightier than the keyboard”… in other words, it’s better to take lecture notes with a pen and paper rather than a laptop. That was the hugely influential conclusion of a paper published in 2014, by Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer. The work was picked up by media around the world, and has received extensive academic attention; it’s been cited more than 1,100 times and, the authors of a new paper, also in Psychological Science, point out, it often features in discussions among educators about whether or not to ban laptops from classrooms. However, when Heather Urry at Tufts University, US, and her colleagues ran a direct replication of that original study, their findings told a different story. And it’s one that the team’s additional mini meta-analysis of other directly comparable replications supported: when later quizzed on the contents of a talk, participants who’d taken notes with a pen and paper did no better than those who’d used a laptop.

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The Experience Of Being “Tolerated”, Rather Than Accepted, Leads To Lower Wellbeing Among Ethnic Minority Groups

By Emily Reynolds

Tolerance is often touted as a progressive value, a way of ensuring that society offers equal opportunities to all. But it can also imply “putting up with” something or someone you fundamentally disagree with or dislike — being tolerated isn’t the same as being genuinely valued or respected, for example. As one writer puts it, tolerance has echoes “of at best grudging acceptance, and at worst ill-disguised hostility”.

Now a new study in the British Journal of Psychology has found that the experience of being tolerated takes its toll on the wellbeing of ethnic minorities in the United States. Sara Cvetkovska from Utrecht University and colleagues find that the experience of being tolerated is closer to discrimination than it is to acceptance — impacting overall wellbeing and increasing negative mood.

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Astronauts And Ambivalence: The Week’s Best Psychology Links

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

Researchers have used virtual reality to explore how art and nature elicit feelings of the sublime. The team compared people’s emotional responses when they saw a 360° VR version of Van Gogh’s The Starry Night to when they saw a realistic portrayal of the actual area depicted in the painting. They found that both VR videos induced sublime feelings — but participants’ responses were more intense for the naturalistic video, reports Sarah Wells at Inverse.

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Autistic Children May Experience Less Variation In Their Bodily Emotional Responses

By guest blogger Dan Carney

Research into emotion processing in autistic people has mainly focused on how they understand others’ emotions. A more limited body of work into how autistic people process their own emotions has, however, suggested difficulties identifying and describing emotional experiences, and distinguishing between emotional states. The latter is potentially important, as it is associated with negative outcomes such as anxiety, depression, and self-injurious behavior, all of which have been suggested to occur more frequently in autism than in the general population.   

So far, studies of emotion differentiation in autism have tended to use language-based tasks. But now, a team led by Eleanor Palser from the University of California San Francisco has reported the first study looking at how autistic children map out where they feel emotions in their body. The team finds that compared to non-autistic children, the bodily emotion maps of autistic children are more similar across different emotions, suggesting less variability in the way they physically experience different emotional states. The research, published in the journal Autism, was partly based on a 2016 report from the charity Autistica, in which members of the autistic community identified sensory processing and affective difficulties as key research goals.

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