The actor Sir Peter Ustinov once famously said "Contrary to general belief, I do not believe that friends are necessarily the people you like best, they are merely the people who get there first." Psychologists now believe there is some truth to this argument.
Rather than picking our friends based on intentional choice like common values and interests, our friendships may be based on more superficial factors like proximity or group assignments, like a department where you work or even an entirely new job.
Mitja Back, Stefan Schmukle, and Boris Egloff of the University of Leipzig sought to test the notion that random proximity and random group assignment at zero acquaintance would foster friendship in the long run. The researchers investigated 54 college freshmen upon encountering one another for the first time at the beginning of a one-off introductory session and randomly assigned them a seat number in a group of chairs organized in rows.
A whole generation of World War II soldiers endured the same trauma as soldiers in any war but for the most part kept quiet about it with little ill effect. Somewhere after that it became normal and healthy to relive bad experiences, like war or a school shooting or terrorist attack, by discussing it publicly or in therapy.
A new study says it is okay not to express one's thoughts and feelings after experiencing a collective trauma. In fact, people who choose not to express their feelings after such an event may be better off than those who do talk about their feelings, according to University at Buffalo psychologist Mark Seery, Ph.D., lead author of a study to appear in the June issue of Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.
The study investigated the mental and physical effects of collective traumas on people who are exposed to a tragedy but who do not experience a direct loss of a friend or family member. It focused on people's responses to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but the results may generalize to include responses to other collective traumas.
You went to a wedding yesterday. The service was beautiful, the food and drink flowed and there was dancing all night. But people tell you that you are in hospital, that you have been in hospital for weeks, and that you didn’t go to a wedding yesterday at all.
The experience of false memories like this following neurological damage is known as confabulation. The reasons why patients experience false memories such as these has largely remained a mystery. Now a new study conducted by Dr Martha Turner and colleagues at University College London, published in the May 2008 issue of Cortex offers some clues as to what might be going on.
The authors studied 50 patients who had damage to different parts of the brain, and found that those who confabulated all shared damage to the inferior medial prefrontal cortex, a region in the centre of the front part of the brain just behind the eyes.
Sensitivity to reward loss is an indicator of animal emotion and welfare, say scientists at Bristol University Veterinary School.
Rats housed in standard conditions show a stronger response to the loss of an expected food reward than those housed in enriched conditions, perhaps indicating a more negative emotional state, according to the new research by published in this week's issue of Royal Society Biology Letters.
The researchers have developed a new approach to the measurement of animal emotional states based on findings from human psychology that emotions affect information processing. In general, people are more sensitive to reward losses than gains, but depressed people are particularly sensitive to losses. The researchers wanted to know whether animals' sensitivity to reward loss might also be related to their emotional state.
When a child has a medical problem, doctors see the child and parent together. It would be unusual to have a clinician meet alone with a minor with an illness or injury or a regular check-up. But this situation is reversed in child psychology. Parents are often asked to wait outside while a child is evaluated, and young patients are assured that nothing they say has to be discussed with mom and dad. This safeguard is meant to make children feel safe, and allow safe disclosure of abuse, but parents unfamiliar with this convention in psychological treatment often report feeling uncomfortable and even judged as bad parents.
Does playing violent video games make players aggressive? It is a question that has taxed researchers, sociologists, and regulators ever since the first console was plugged into a TV and the first shots fired in a shoot ‘em up game.
Writing today in the International Journal of Liability and Scientific Enquiry, Patrick Kierkegaard of the University of Essex, England, suggests that there is scant scientific evidence that video games are anything but harmless and do not lead to real world aggression. Moreover, his research shows that previous work is biased towards the opposite conclusion.
Video games have come a long way since the simplistic ping-pong and cascade games of the early 1970s, the later space-age Asteroids and Space Invaders, and the esoteric Pac-man. Today, severed limbs, drive-by shootings, and decapitated bodies captivate a new generation of gamers and gruesome scenes of violence and exploitation are common.
We all know that children who are popular do well socially. A new study has found that teenagers who feel good about themselves and are comfortable with their peers can also be socially successful without being popular in the traditional sense.
These findings come from researchers at the University of Virginia and are published in the May/June 2008 issue of the journal Child Development.
Researchers studied 164 adolescents from racially, ethnically, and socio-economically diverse backgrounds. The teens were interviewed at age 13 and then again at 14. The researchers also interviewed the adolescents’ same-sex close friends.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, social anxiety disorder affects approximately 15 million American adults and is the third most common mental disorder in the United States, after depression and alcohol dependence.
The essential feature of the disorder is the fear of being evaluated by others, with the expectation that such an assessment will be negative and embarrassing. It tends to run a chronic and unremitting course and often leads to the development of alcoholism and depression. The disorder most often surfaces in adolescence or early adulthood, but it can occur at any time, including childhood.
Using single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), researchers in The Netherlands were able to detect biochemical differences in the brains of individuals with generalized social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia), providing evidence of a long-suspected biological cause for the dysfunction.
Martin Fischer, University of Dundee, Scotland, recently reported results showing that the majority of adults prefer to start counting on their left hand, regardless of whether they are left- or right-handed. In a subsequent odd-even task, the left-starters had more consistent spatial-numerical associations than the right-starters.
Simple numerical tasks, such as classifying digits as odd or even by pressing left or right buttons reveal that we like to associate small numbers with left space. Where does this preference come from?
Not long ago, Howard Wainer, a statistician I mentioned recently, learned that his blood sugar was too high. His doctor told him to lose weight or risk losing his sight. He quickly lost about 50 pounds, which put him below 200 pounds. He also started making frequent measurements of his blood sugar, on the order of 6 times per day, with the goal of keeping it low.
It was obvious to him that the conventional (meter-supplied) analysis of these measurements could be improved. The conventional analysis emphasized means. You could get the mean of your last n (20?) readings, for example. That told you how well you were doing, but didn’t help you do better.
Howard, who had written a book about graphical discovery, made a graph: blood sugar versus time. It showed that his measurements could be divided into three parts: