People Prefer Strangers Who Share Their Political Views To Friends Who Don’t

By Emily Reynolds

Friendship tends to be based on some kind of shared experience: growing up with someone, working with them, or having the same interests. Politics is an important factor too, with research suggesting that we can be pretty intolerant of those with different political positions — not an ideal starting point for friendship.

This can have a significant and tangible impact. One Reuters/Ipsos poll, for example, found 16.4% of people had stopped talking to a family member or friend after Trump was elected, while 17.4% had blocked someone they care about on social media.

So what happens when you find out a trusted friend has different politics to you? They don’t fare well, according to a new study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships authored by Elena Buliga and Cara MacInnis from the University of Calgary, Canada.

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People May Only Notice They’ve Become More Active After More Frequent Vigorous — But Not Moderate — Physical Activity

By Emily Reynolds

Starting a new habit isn’t always easy — we probably only have to look at our own history of failed New Year’s Resolutions to know that. One common frustration is that things don’t happen fast enough — we start doing something that’s supposedly good for us but don’t see a significant behaviour change as quickly as we’d hoped.

That certainly seems to be the case with exercise, at least according to a new study in Frontiers in Psychology. It found that people only feel they’ve become more active when they increase the amount of vigorous activity they do —  if it’s moderate, they don’t feel like they’ve changed at all.

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Abstract Art And Pigeon Personalities: The Week’s Best Psychology Links

Keyboard for ideaOur weekly round-up of the best psychology coverage from elsewhere on the web

The world is designed for —  and by — extraverts, forcing introverts to try and adapt to society, writes Noa Herz at Psyche. But it’s unfair to place the onus on introverts, Herz argues, writing that simple changes could make work and educational settings more welcoming places for a group that makes up around a third of the population.


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How STEM Fields Can Foster A Sense Of Belonging For Minority And First-Gen Students

By Emily Reynolds

Fostering a positive identification with science is an important part of many programmes trying to make STEM more diverse. This is vital, as underrepresented groups may be faced with cultural stereotypes about science: that scientists are mainly White men, for example. These kinds of experiences can reinforce inequalities: governmental research from 2019, for example, found that girls were far less likely to see themselves as good at science-related subjects, and enjoyed them less — despite outperforming their male peers at exams. .

Identifying as a ‘”science person” might also help other groups currently underrepresented in STEM. A new study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests that a strong scientific identity can foster belonging and help first-generation and Black and minority ethnic university students feel more at home in the classroom.

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Finally, One Area Where We Don’t Think We’re Better Than Others: Remembering Names

By Matthew Warren

We tend to see ourselves as better than our peers across a whole range of traits and skills. We think we’re more environmentally friendlymorally superior, and more observant than those around us. The bias can even spill over to our perceptions of our loved ones: we overestimate the intelligence of our romantic partners, for instance.

But according to a new study in Psychology and Aging there’s one domain where we don’t see ourselves as “better than average”: remembering other people’s names.

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Teacher Trainees Are More Likely To Misread Black Children As Angry Than White Children

By guest blogger Ellie Broughton

Research has shown that Black people are particularly like to be victims of “anger bias”, in which others incorrectly interpret their facial expressions as angry. Past studies have focused on adult faces — but now evidence shows that even young kids face such prejudice. A new study published in Emotion has found that teacher trainees more often misperceive primary-school-age Black children as being angry. Continue reading “Teacher Trainees Are More Likely To Misread Black Children As Angry Than White Children”

Overconfidence Can Be Transmitted From Person To Person

By Emma Young

There will always be some people within a group who are more confident than others. But some groups as a whole tend towards modesty — as with the !Kung hunters of the Kalahari Desert, for example, who deliberately downplay their own achievements and efforts. However, the opposite can also occur — and widespread overconfidence can of course become a problem, as with the US energy company Enron, whose “culture of arrogance” ultimately led to its downfall.

These two examples are highlighted in a new paper published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, which reveals a route by which a bias towards overconfidence can develop. In their paper, Joey T Cheng at York University and colleagues first propose and then provide evidence for the idea that if we’re exposed to people who are overconfident, this rubs off on us. In other words, we calibrate our self-assessments based on the confidence level of those around us. Overconfidence can, then, be transmitted socially — and this could help to explain how groups, teams and organisations form their own, sometimes drastically different, confidence norms.

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Sex Differences And Happy Relationships: The Week’s Best Psychology Links

Keyboard for ideaOur weekly round-up of the best psychology coverage from elsewhere on the web

Researchers have reported on the unusual case study of a man, known as RFS, who could read letters but not numbers. When RFS saw numbers, they appeared as a jumbled up mess, writes Sam Kean at Science. Yet he could see the shape of an “8” once it was turned on its side, suggesting that the problem wasn’t a visual deficit, but something specific to number processing.

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How To Get The Most Out Of Virtual Learning

By Emily Reynolds 

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.

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Researchers Assume White Americans Are More Representative Of Humankind Than Other Groups, According To Analysis Of Psychology Paper Titles

By Matthew Warren

It’s well-known that psychology has a problem with generalisability. Studies overwhelmingly involve “WEIRD” participants: those who are western and educated, from industrialised, rich and democratic societies. And while there is increasing recognition that other populations need better representation in research, many psychologists still often draw sweeping conclusions about humanity based on results from a narrow portion of the world’s population.

A new study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science suggests that this problem may have had another, more insidious effect. The authors argue that because of psychology’s traditionally narrow focus, we’ve ended up implicitly assuming that results of studies on WEIRD groups — particularly white Americans — are somehow more universally generalisable than those from other populations.

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