Our weekly round-up of the best psychological coverage from elsewhere on the internet
“Grumpy” dogs can be better learners than their more pleasant counterparts, reports James Gorman at The New York Times. The researchers found that grumpier canines were better able to learn how to reach an object behind a fence by watching a stranger. However, other scientists suggest that something more specific than “grumpiness” is responsible for the animals’ superior performance, such as: B. increased aggression, decreased inhibition or hyperactivity.
Adults are more compassionate when children are around. This emerges from a number of studies, the results of which include the finding that people are more likely to donate to charity when there are more children around, and that even adults are more prosocial when they only think about children. Lukas Wolf and colleagues explain the work at The conversation.
Psychologists are working on various strategies to help people deal with the “infodemia” of fake news and the manipulation of social media. At the Undark, Teresa Carr examines some of these attempts, ranging from online gaming to lessons on how to act like fact checkers.
The country’s recent obsession with the Union flag could damage social cohesionwarns Amit Katwala Wired. While flags can act as symbols of unity, research has found that they can also make outsiders feel less welcome. Other work has shown that the presence of a flag can in some cases heighten feelings of nationalism and prejudice against immigrants.
In the not too distant future, our lives could revert to something similar to the days before 2020. But after more than a year of bans and social distancing rules, many of us may find it difficult to get back to “normal” life. At the Scientific American, Melba Newsome is investigating what some people call “cave syndrome”.
Two hundred years ago, Franz Joseph Gall popularized phrenology, the idea that patterns of bumps on our skulls predict our character. In one BBC Video hosted at aeonClaudia Hammond explores the history of an idea that was clearly pseudoscientific, but nonetheless contributed in some ways to modern psychology and neuroscience.
Patients can have beneficial effects from taking a placebo even if they know they are being given an inert pill. This is the case with conditions ranging from depression and anxiety to arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome. How exactly do these open label placebos work? Brian Resnick takes a look Vox.
Compiled by Matthew Warren (@ MattBWarren), Editor of BPS Biomedarticles