Psychology

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.


In American culture, media and men are criticized for how women feel about their bodies while in Europe women are given more credit for being able to decide for themselves how they feel. 

Europeans may be onto something. A paper in Psychology of Women Quarterly finds that body dissatisfaction among young girls isn't caused by ads for skinny jeans on television or males, it is caused by older girls in schools. 


Most dogs are happy and they are "man's best friend" because they brighten our day. If you rescue a starving dog they will love you forever whereas if you rescue a starving human, in a week they will have decided they did you a favor. With cats, that sentiment lasts until the first meal is over.

But inside, your dog may be more pessimistic, according to a paper from Dr. Melissa Starling of the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney. 

Dogs were taught to associate two different sounds (two octaves apart) with whether they would get the preferred reward of milk or instead get the same amount of water. Once the dogs have learnt the discrimination task, they are presented with 'ambiguous' tones.


Google buses yuppifying San Francisco. Facebook creepily profiling us. iCloud giving up our pubes to hacker paparazzi. We poured our faith and money into these companies, and now we feel like jilted lovers.

Apple once made “the computer for the rest of us.” OK, we always knew Google wanted world domination, but we thought it would be benevolent.