In Brief

Women at Work

Women at WorkDespite the stereotype that women find it hard to work for other women, they actually show more affinity and support for female bosses than men do, finds a study in the Journal of Applied Psychology. Researchers asked 259 women and men to read a vignette about a supervisor at a financial services company. Half the participants read about a hypothetical female supervisor and half about a male one. Afterwards, women rated the female supervisor as having higher status and being more competent and warm than men did. In a second study, the researchers surveyed 200 employees and their real-life bosses. The women employees rated their female bosses more highly than men did. In addition, female employees were more likely to meet or exceed job expectations when working for female bosses. DOI: 10.1037/apl0000258

NO Laughing Matter

Boys at risk of developing psychopathy don't have the same urge to join in group laughter that most people do, finds a study in Current Biology. Researchers tested 62 11- to 16-year-old boys diagnosed with disruptive behaviors, along with 30 age-matched controls. Half of the disruptive boys also showed high levels of callous-unemotional traits; the other half did not. After listening to recorded laughter, the 32 boys with both disruptive behavior and high levels of callous-unemotional traits reported less desire to join in with the laughter, on average, than did the other boys. Also, fMRI scans showed that the boys with both disruptive behavior and callous-unemotional traits who listened to laughter had less brain activity in the anterior insula and supplementary motor area—brain regions believed to be involved in linking physical action (laughter) with emotional experiences. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.08.062

Head Start

Head Start may help at-risk kids stay out of foster careAt-risk children who participate in the federal Head Start preschool program are less likely to end up in foster care than those who don't, finds a study in Children and Youth Services Review. Researchers analyzed data on nearly 2,000 children who had entered the child welfare system because of suspected neglect or abuse. Those children who were enrolled in Head Start were 93 percent less likely to enter foster care than those who were not. The researchers suggest Head Start might prevent children entering foster care because it supports a child's entire family. They did not see the same protective effect among children who attended non-Head Start preschools and day care centers. DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2017.09.006

Late-onset ADHD

Most cases of apparent late­onset ADHD may be due to other underlying conditions, suggests a study in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Researchers analyzed data from a long-term study of 579 children diagnosed with ADHD by age 9, as well as 289 controls without childhood ADHD. Among those controls, 24 went on to develop late-onset ADHD as teens or adults. However, the researchers found that in nearly all cases, the late-onset ADHD symptoms could more likely be explained by depression, anxiety, trauma, marijuana use or underlying factors. DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp/2017.17030298

Seeing 'others' as individuals

Teaching Chinese children to recognize black people as individuals could reduce implicit biasA short intervention that teaches young children to recognize people of other races as individuals can reduce implicit bias, finds research in Child Development. Researchers worked with 95 preschoolers in China, none of whom had had any direct in-person interactions with non-Asian people before. In a pre-test using an adaptation of the implicit association task, the researchers found that the children, on average, showed significant implicit biases against black people. Then, in two 20-minute sessions, the researchers showed photos of five black people to one-third of the children and taught the children to recognize the people individually. Another third saw photos of five white people, and the final third saw photos of five Asian people. In a follow-up test two months later, the children who had been taught to individuate black faces showed a significant reduction, on average, in their implicit bias against black people, while the children taught to individuate white and Asian faces did not show a reduction in implicit bias against black people. DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12971

Listen carefully

People's voices convey more emotion than their faces, suggests a study in American Psychologist. In five experiments, researchers asked a total of 1,772 participants to interact with another person or to observe an interaction between two other people. In some cases, participants could listen but not look during the interaction; in others, they could look but not listen; and in others they could both look and listen. Across all five experiments, on average, people who could listen but not look more accurately identified the emotions being experienced in the interactions. DOI: 10.1037/amp0000147


"Humblebragging"—hiding a boast in either a complaint or false humility—is ubiquitous, and not a good way to get others to like you, finds a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Researchers found that humblebragging is extremely common: In a survey of 113 participants, 91 percent reported encountering at least one humblebrag over the course of a week, in person or on social media. In a follow-up experiment, 403 online participants read a series of humblebrags (e.g.,"I hate when first class is no different than coach #wasteofmoney") and straightforward brags (e.g., "I am flying first class"), then rated the braggarts' likeability, competence and sincerity. Humblebraggers were rated less likable, competent and sincere than straightforward braggarts. DOI: 10.1037/pspi0000108

Does happy=healthy?

Does happy=healthy?Feeling happy is linked to good physical health among Americans but not among Japanese, finds a study in Psychological Science. Researchers analyzed data from almost 1,400 participants in two studies of midlife adults, one in the United States and one in Japan. Participants recorded how often they felt 10 different positive emotions over one month. Feeling frequent positive emotions was associated with healthy blood lipid levels among American participants but not Japanese participants. This could be because Americans place more emphasis on personal happiness, the researchers say, and it suggests that the relationship between emotions and physical health is mediated by cultural factors. DOI: 10.1177/0956797617713309

Liquid courage

Liquid courageA small amount of alcohol can help people speak a non-native language more fluently, according to a study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. Researchers tested this widespread lay belief by asking 50 German students who were learning to speak Dutch to drink about a pint of 5 percent beer (adjusted for body weight) or a nonalcoholic beverage and then chat with the experimenter in Dutch. Two native Dutch speakers then evaluated audio recordings of the conversations. The raters gave higher fluency scores to participants who drank the alcohol—particularly on their pronunciation skills—than to those who had the nonalcoholic drink. The researchers suggest that might be because a low dose of alcohol can reduce social anxiety and increase confidence. DOI: 10.1177/0269881117735687

Postpartum depression

Postpartum affective disorder, including postpartum depression, occurs in about one in every 200 births to mothers with no prior psychiatric history, according to an analysis of Danish birth registry data in PLOS Medicine. Researchers analyzed information from more than 450,000 women who gave birth once or more between 1996 and 2013—a total of 789,068 births. Of the 4,550 (0.6 percent) cases of postpartum affective disorder, 28 percent still needed treatment one year later and 5.4 percent still needed treatment four years later. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002392

Concussion rates

About one in five U.S. teens has suffered at least one concussion in his or her lifetimeAbout one in five U.S. teens has suffered at least one concussion in his or her lifetime, and 5 percent have suffered two or more, finds a study in JAMA. Researchers analyzed self-report data from more than 13,000 students in grades eight, 10 and 12 who took part in the 2016 Monitoring the Future study. Boys, older teens and those who participated in competitive sports were more likely to have had a concussion. Among students who competed in contact sports, 11 percent had suffered more than one concussion. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2017.9087

Go robot go

An artificial intelligence system outperforms humans when playing the ancient strategy game Go.A self-taught artificial intelligence (AI) system is now the best player in the world of Go, an ancient strategy game invented in China 2,500 years ago, according to a report in Nature. Researchers designed the AI system, called AlphaGo Zero, to be "self-training." It begins by using random moves and learns from playing against itself. After playing 30 million games in 40 days, the system beat the previous world champion—another AI system, called AlphaGo Master, that had learned to play by competing against human opponents. The researchers say that the new self-taught system could be adapted to help solve complex scientific problems. DOI: 10.1038/nature24270

Screen time

Children who have televisions or video game systems in their bedrooms spend more time watching screens and less time reading and sleeping, which in turn leads to poorer school performance, finds a study in Developmental Psychology. Researchers analyzed data from three separate studies with more than 4,000 children in the third through eighth grades from the United States and Singapore. Children with bedroom TVs and video games were also more likely to be overweight and to watch more violent content, which was then associated with increased physical aggression, the researchers found. DOI: 10.1037/dev0000399

Pretty bias

Generally, good-looking applicants have an advantage in the job market. But a new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests an exception to that: Employers are less likely to hire attractive applicants for low-status, relatively unappealing jobs. In four experiments with more than 750 total participants, researchers asked university students and real-life hiring managers to choose between two potential job candidates, with attached photos. The photos were vetted in a previous experiment to ensure that one was considered attractive and one unattractive. Overall, participants were more likely to choose the attractive candidate for a more desirable, high-status job, like a manager or IT intern, but less likely to hire the attractive candidate for a less desirable job, like a warehouse worker or housekeeper. DOI: 10.1037/pspi0000114

A familiar face

The ability to recognize and respond to faces may not be innate in primatesThe ability to recognize and respond to faces may not be innate in primates, as long believed, but instead may be learned, suggests a study in Nature Neuroscience. Researchers raised two groups of macaques: One had normal exposure to human and macaque faces, while the other was raised by human handlers who always wore face-hiding masks. The researchers used fMRI to scan the macaques' brains at 6 months old, as the macaques looked at photos of other macaques and humans as well as of hands and other items. The normally raised monkeys preferred to look at faces, as expected. However, the monkeys with no exposure to faces looked preferentially at hands. Also, the fMRI data revealed that the brains of normally raised monkeys had developed the expected face-recognition areas, along with areas for recognizing hands, objects, scenes and bodies. The monkeys who had grown up without face exposure did not have any brain area specialized for face recognition. DOI: 10.1038/nn4635

Study habits

Study HabitsHomework may do more than help students master a subject: It could also train them to be more conscientious, suggests a study in the Journal of Research in Personality. Researchers followed 2,760 students in Germany for three years, beginning in the fifth grade. They surveyed the children and their parents once a year, asking about homework habits as well as measures of conscientiousness. In general, conscientiousness tends to dip temporarily in early adolescence, but the researchers found that students who invested more time and effort into their homework between the fifth and eighth grades became more conscientious in other areas as well, such as neatness. DOI: 10.1016/j.jrp.2017.08.007

Support at work

Giving mental health training to managers can benefit both their employees and the company's bottom line, finds a study in The Lancet Psychiatry. Researchers assigned 88 managers in an Australian Fire and Rescue agency to either an intervention group that received a four-hour training session on how to recognize and respond to common mental health concerns in the workplace, or a wait-list control group. In total, the 88 managers supervised more than 4,000 employees. Six months later, the researchers found that work-related sick leave decreased by 18 percent among employees of managers in the intervention group compared with the control group. DOI: 10.1016/S2215-0366(17)30372-3

Crisis communication

People who rely on social media for updates and information during a fast-moving crisis get more conflicting information and feel more stress than those who rely on communications from officials and traditional media, finds a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers surveyed almost 3,900 university students one week after the students' school was put on a two-hour lockdown because of an active shooter on campus. They found that the students who relied most on texts and social media updates from unofficial sources encountered more misinformation and felt more anxiety during the lockdown. Students who generally trusted information on social media felt the most stress. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1708518114

Flu shot

Flu shotBeing in a good mood on the day that you get your flu shot could make the shot more effective, suggests research in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. Researchers followed 138 adults older than 65 for two weeks before they got the shot and four weeks afterward, asking them three times per week about their moods, anxiety, sleep and physical health. Participants who were in a good mood on the day of the shot had more flu antibodies in their blood four and 16 weeks after the shot—in fact, mood accounted for between 8 and 14 percent of the variability in antibody levels. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbi.2017.09.008

Stress errors

Nurses who suffer from depression and anxiety are more likely to make medical errors, finds a study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. In a survey of almost 1,800 nurses in clinical practice, 54 percent reported poor physical or mental health, and about a third said they experienced depression, anxiety or stress. In addition, about half reported making medical errors in the past five years. Nurses in poorer health were 26 to 71 percent more likely to report medical errors than their healthier peers. DOI: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001198

Boys' club

Among scientists, men are more likely to share their research results with other men than they are with women, and men are also more likely to share with each other than women are, finds a paper in Scientific Reports. In the study, two male and two female researchers sent requests to 292 fellow scientists in their fields—comparative psychology and social cognition—asking for either a PDF of a study or raw data from the study. Overall, about 80 percent of respondents were willing to share a PDF and almost 60 percent were willing to share raw data. But men were more likely to share with other men, and male-to-male requests were granted about 15 percent more often than all other gender combinations. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-13491-0

Bullied no more

Children who are bullied are at greater risk for many mental health problems, but there is hope: Those effects dissipate over time, suggests research in JAMA Psychiatry. Researchers analyzed data from a large longitudinal study that followed more than 11,000 twins from ages 11 to 16. After controlling for shared genetic and environmental factors, they found that children who were bullied at age 11 experienced more anxiety, depression, hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattention and conduct problems at that time. By age 14, children who had been bullied at 11 still experienced more anxiety, but by age 16 they were no more likely to experience any of those problems, although they were still more likely to have paranoid thoughts. DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.2678

Primed for anxiety

Primed for anxietyBabies of anxious mothers are more attuned to threats than other babies are, suggests a study in Emotion. Researchers used eye-tracking technology to follow the gazes of 98 babies, ages 4 months to 24 months, as they watched pictures of happy, neutral and angry faces on a computer. After the babies focused on a photo, another picture would flash in their peripheral vision to distract them. The researchers measured how long it took the babies to shift their gaze from the face photo to the distracting one. They found that babies whose mothers scored higher on an anxiety scale took longer to look away from the angry faces. The finding could help explain how anxiety develops in children and point to ways to identify children at risk earlier, according to the researchers. DOI: 10.1037/emo0000275

Controlling our dreams

Controlling our dreamsHave you ever realized mid-dream that you're dreaming, and then been able to somewhat control the experience? Only about 20 percent of people regularly have such "lucid dreams," but a study in Dreaming suggests it may be possible to induce them. Researchers asked 169 participants to try several techniques, and one called MILD (mnemonic induction of lucid dreams) proved particularly effective. Researchers instructed participants to use an alarm to wake up after five hours of sleep and repeat the phrase "The next time I'm dreaming, I will remember that I'm dreaming," then fall back asleep. Among those who managed to fall back asleep quickly (within five minutes), the percent of lucid dreams increased from about 8 percent in the week before the intervention to 46 percent after. DOI: 10.1037/2Fdrm0000059

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