Friday, 16 December 2011


We trawl the web for the latest and best psychology links so you don't have to:

"Teachers don't like creative students" Alex Tabarrok picks up on an intriguing review paper.

The Royal Society has released its fourth Brainwaves report, this one on neuroscience and the law. Read coverage from Alok Jha in the Guardian.

Alexander Linklater picks out his favourite psychology books of the year for the Observer. Don't forget to check out our own round-up of the best 2011 psychology books.

Alex Kraut, the executive director of the Association for Psychological Science, defends psychological science in the wake of the Stapel fraud scandal and the recent survey showing widespread questionable practices in psychology.

Eleanor Maguire, the UCL psychologist famous for her studies of the brains of London cabbies, is herself useless at wayfinding. This is just one of the revelations in Ed Yong's splendid report on her new study. This time Maguire followed trainee cabbies over time, observing how their training changed their brains.

Expertise is all about practice, right? Lots of it. We know that from books like Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, which have popularised the work of the psychologist K. Anders Ericsson. But writing in the New York Times, David Hambrick and Elizabeth Meinz exhort us not to get too carried away. Yes, practice is very important for expertise and achievement. But so too are IQ and working memory, which are fairly stable characteristics.

On a related note. Neuroskeptic covers a new study that's looked at genetic associations with intelligence. "... [F]or people who do believe in the genetics of intelligence, this shows us that we have no idea what the genes are, and that everything published so far has been pretty much for naught."

Remember the astonishing Daryl Bem paper published last year that found events in the future affected psychological states in the present? Find out what happened when a group of UK psychologists tried to get their failed replication published.

" ... the scientists [located] a pattern of activity that appeared whenever a painting was deemed to be authentic, regardless of whether or not it was actually “real.” Jonah Lehrer on the way the brain responds to art (and expensive wine).

Don't tell Paul Ekman: A new paper claims that "expressions are not inborn emotional signals that are automatically expressed on the face". In related news, the Darwin Correspondence Project is recreating Darwin's classic experiment on the categorisation of facial expressions of emotion.

Leaning to the left makes the Eiffel Tower seem smaller - reports the marvellous Mo Costandi (check out the lead author's defence of the study in the blog comments).

The Journal of Family Theory and Review gets stuck into Jonathan Franzen's Freedom.

"There is no scientific evidence that boys prefer blue and girls prefer pink" - the Guardian takes another look at claims about innate differences in gender colour preferences.

"We don't have free will, in the spiritual sense. What you're seeing is the last output stage of a machine" - Patrick Haggard is interviewed in The Telegraph.

Explore your blindspot: discover how the mind hides its tracks. New free e-book from Mind Hacker Tom Stafford.

More wonderful writing from Ed Yong, this time in Nature, where he describes his visit to the body-illusion lab of Henrik Ehrsson. Might it one day be possible to create the sense of having two bodies? "We're working on it," says Ehrsson. On a similar note, David Byrne segues from discussing Ehrsson's Barbie illusion to railing against unrealistic portrayals of beauty in the magazine and entertainment industry.


New podcast from the Wellcome Collection: Mirror neuron researcher Dr Zarinah Agnew reflects on her career.

New BBC Radio 4 series on parenting and disciplining children - available on iPlayer.

Latest episode of BBC Radio 4's All in the Mind, tackled neuroscience and the law; plus the new taxi driver study - available on iPlayer.


Feast will return in the new year.

Post compiled by Christian Jarrett for the BPS Research Digest.

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