Psychology In the News

  • Can a five-minute online test help tell whether you are racist or not? In the US, two million people have taken one and now a UK version is available. Racism is a reality encountered every day in Britain, but how many people actually consider themselves racist? It's difficult to be sure because people's true feelings are inevitably concealed by their politeness. So much so that those who harbour prejudice sometimes cannot admit it even to themselves. View news story
  • Women are not attracted to dare-devil men, US researchers believe. Men thought the opposite sex would be attracted by risky stunts such as bungee jumping and fast driving, a study of 48 men and 52 women found. But in contrast, women said it was a turn-off, claiming they preferred more cautious people for partners. View news story
  • Four-year-old children who watch more television than average are more likely to become bullies, research suggests. The University of Washington team found children who went on to bully watched about five hours of TV per day - almost two hours more than those who did not. The study of 1,266 four-year-olds also showed mental stimulation, such as outings, being read to and eating with parents reduced the risk of bullying. View news story
  • US scientists have designed a bionic eye to allow blind people to see again. It comprises a computer chip that sits in the back of the individual's eye, linked up to a mini video camera built into glasses that they wear. Images captured by the camera are beamed to the chip, which translates them into impulses that the brain can interpret. View news story
  • Many animals may have their own forms of laughter, says a US researcher writing in the magazine Science. Professor Jaak Panksepp says that animals other than humans exhibit play sounds that resemble human laughs. These include the panting sounds made by chimps and dogs when they play and chirping sounds observed in rats. This suggests that the capacity for laughter may be a very ancient emotional response that predates the evolution of humankind, says Panksepp. View news story
  • A drug can reduce the disability associated with treatment for Parkinson's disease, research suggests. Doctors at University Hospital, Toulouse, gave the drug, rasagiline, to Parkinson's patients already taking levodopa to control their symptoms. It helped to reduce the impaired and abnormal movements which develop in most patients who take levodopa over a long period.
  • Scanners can help combat depression, a US study of rats shows. Harvard Medical School researchers found MRI scanners, which take internal images of the body, can have the same effect as standard anti-depressants. The team employed a rarely-used type of scan known as EP-MRSI which tends to be used for brain scans. View news story
  • Scientists may have found what makes a tune catchy, after locating the brain area where a song's "hook" gets caught. A US team from Dartmouth College, reported in the journal Nature, played volunteers tunes with snippets cut out. They scanned for brain activity and found it centred in the auditory cortex - which handles information from ears. When familiar tunes played, the cortex activity continued during the blanks - and the volunteers indeed said they still mentally "heard" the tunes. View news story
  • The length of a man's fingers can reveal how physically aggressive he is, Canadian scientists have said. The shorter the index finger is compared to the ring finger, the more boisterous he will be, University of Alberta researchers said. But the same was not true for verbal aggression or hostile behaviours, they told the journal Biological Psychology after studying 300 people's fingers. View news story
  • When it comes to brain size and intelligence, bigger is not necessarily better, say scientists. Although our brains are triple the size of our primitive ancestors, history suggests the growth had nothing to do with becoming smarter. Ancient man went through two periods where brain mass increased, yet during these times toolmaking techniques did not improve, says William Calvin. The Washington University professor says other factors must be responsible. View news story
  • Violent imagery in computer games and on TV increases the risk of young children becoming aggressive and emotionally disturbed, a report says. The study found the effect was "small but significant" in the short-term and especially relevant for boys. The effect was less clear for older children and in the long-term, the Birmingham University researchers said. The review, published in The Lancet, said family and social factors were likely to affect the response too. View news story
  • Thought might not be dependent on language, according to new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A UK team has shown that patients who have lost the ability to understand grammar can still complete hard sums. This suggests mathematical reasoning can exist without language. View news story