Psychology

Consuming an alcoholic beverage may make men more responsive to the smiles of others in their social group,  but now women.

That suggests to psychologists behind a new paper in Clinical Psychological Science that since alcohol increases sensitivity to rewarding social behaviors like smiling, it may contribute to problem drinking among men.


Almost everyone agrees the Western world is over-prescribed; except the people doing the prescribing. Symptom-based medicine stopped being used 50 years ago but when it comes to mood disorders, it is still the norm. And "brief depression symptom measures," the self-administered questionnaires are used in primary care settings to determine the frequency and severity of depression symptoms among patients, are being linked to antidepressant medications being prescribed when they may not be needed, according to a paper in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.


We know our bodies don't just change in size, which makes it an effective metric in a world in motion.

Psychologists have found that people tend to perceive their dominant hand as staying relatively the same size even when it's magnified, lending support to the idea that we use our hand as a constant perceptual "ruler" to measure the world around us.

To size up the world around us, we need to be able to translate the information that comes in through our eyes into units that are relevant to our everyday lives. The body is a particularly effective metric because it allows us to relate information about object size to actions that we're able to perform on or with the object.


There's a common trope in Hollywood celebrities who gain weight and receive attention for it. They talk about how much healthier and better they feel about themselves at higher weight - and then they immediately lose weight and talk about how much healthier and better they feel about themselves.

Severely obese people who aren't famous also experience much better spirits once they shed weight through diet, lifestyle changes or medical intervention but Valentina Ivezaj and Carlos Grilo of the Yale University School of Medicine write in Obesity Surgery that it is not a psychological magic bullet.


Antidepressants are the most commonly used treatment for social anxiety disorder but we know they don't work for many people and their efficacy goes down over time.

New research finds they are not even needed in many instances. 

Social anxiety disorder is a condition characterized by fear and avoidance of social situations. It affects as many as 13 percent of the Western world. For most people, it is not severe, and they never receive treatment for the disorder but those who do get treatment are usually assigned medication.



Sympathetic or jealous? Credit: Belly by Shutterstock

By Arthur Brennan, St George's, University of London

Harry Ashby, the 29-year-old security guard who was signed off work with morning sickness, cravings, a growing stomach and breasts during his girlfriend’s pregnancy, was told he had Couvade syndrome.

For some people, their own standard is much more demanding that anything the outside world could expect. Perfectionism is a bigger risk factor in suicide than it is credited for, says York University Psychology Professor Gordon Flett, who is calling for closer attention to its potential destructiveness, adding that clinical guidelines should include perfectionism as a separate factor for suicide risk assessment and intervention.


A new evolutionary psychology paper says that men and women have different age preferences regarding sexual partners - but it's primarily women realize their preferences. 


If you had an angel walking beyond you, would you be more reckless or more cautious?

It's surprising how many people believe that guardian angels watch over them to keep them safe in a dangerous world, and it's even more surprising that those who believe are actually less inclined to take risks despite this protection. 

Scholars David Etkin, Jelena Ivanova, Susan MacGregor and Alalia Spektor surveyed 198 individuals and found that of those who believe in guardian angels, 68% said that this belief affects how they take risks. 


Do kids of "tiger moms" - the term used by culture for demanding mothers in Asian families and   popularized due to the 2011 book "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" by Amy Chua - have lower self-esteem?

Not if the halls of Caltech are any indication. And do we need more young people with high levels of self-esteem living with their parents in their 30s? Regardless, a new paper in 
the Journal of Family Issues finds that less supportive and punitive parenting techniques used by some Chinese parents might lead to the development of low self-esteem and school adjustment difficulties, leaving kids vulnerable to depression and problem behaviors.