Monday, 28 December 2015

Our most popular posts of 2015

This has been a record-breaking year for the British Psychological Society's Research Digest blog – in terms of the amount of material we've published, and in the number of people reading our posts. In a tight contest, here are the 10 posts that received the most hits in 2015:

1. Weird things start to happen when you stare into someone's eyes for 10 minutes
by Christian Jarrett
A psychologist based in Italy says he has found a simple way to induce in healthy people an altered state of consciousness – simply get two individuals to look into each other's eyes for 10 minutes while they are sitting in a dimly lit room. Read more

2Guilt-prone people are highly skilled at recognising other people's emotions
by Christian Jarrett
It's not pleasant to feel perpetually that you're responsible for mishaps and screw-ups, but some people do. Psychologists recognise this as a distinct trait, which they call "guilt-proneness" and now they've discovered that it tends to go hand in hand with an enhanced ability to recognise other people's emotions. Read more

3Feeling like you're an expert can make you closed-minded by Alex Fradera
What happens to us as we accrue knowledge and experience, as we become experts in a field? Competence follows. Effortlessness follows. But certain downsides can follow too. Read more

4The “Backfire Effect”: Correcting false beliefs about vaccines can be surprisingly counterproductive by Simon Oxenham
Forty-three per cent of the US population believes wrongly that the flu vaccine can give you flu. In fact any adverse reaction to the vaccine, besides a temperature and aching muscles for a short time, is rare. It stands to reason that correcting this misconception would be a good move for public health, but debunking this false belief actually has a seriously counterproductive effect. Read more

5. 10 Hellish psychology studies you'll be glad not to have participated in 
by Christian Jarrett
Many psychology studies involve nothing more challenging for participants than sitting down with a short paper questionnaire and ticking off agreement or not with a series of anodyne statements. This post is not about that kind of research. Here, we take a tour of some rather more arduous and quirky experiments from the psychology archives. Read more

6The psychology of Facebook, digested
by Christian Jarrett
With over a billion users, Facebook is changing the social life of our species. Common topics for study are links between Facebook use and personality, and whether the network alleviates or fosters loneliness. The torrent of new data is overwhelming and much of it appears contradictory. To help, we've digested many of the most important studies. Read more

7What kinds of actions do people think of as most stupid? by Christian Jarrett
To avoid people thinking you're stupid, above all you need to refrain from undertaking risky tasks for which you lack suitable knowledge or skills. That's according to this study, the first to systematically investigate the kinds of behaviours that people consider to be stupid or foolish.

8The psychology of mindfulness, digested
by Christian Jarrett
Mindfulness is a hot topic in psychology and beyond. And yet, a dissenting voice in this chorus of enthusiasm, a new book out last month – The Buddha Pill: Can Meditation Change You? – warned that mindfulness is not harmless. Here we dive into the research literature to bring you up to speed in a jiffy. Read more

9Expert philosophers are just as irrational as the rest of us
by Dan Jones
If you want to improve your tennis swing, learn how to repair your car, or master the piano, you’re likely to seek the help of an expert. Similarly, many people who want to sharpen their critical thinking skills turn to one of the many books written by philosophers. But what if philosophers are just as susceptible to bad thinking as the rest of us? Read more

10What the textbooks don't tell you about psychology's most famous case study 
by Christian Jarrett
It's a remarkable, mythical tale with lashings of gore – no wonder it's a favourite of psychology students the world over. I'm talking about Phineas Gage, the 19th century railway worker who somehow survived the passing of a 3-foot long tamping iron through the front of his brain and out the top of his head. What happened to him next? Read more

I wonder what this list says about people's interests and concerns in 2015? 
Post compiled by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.

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