Category Archives: Other People

Laughter as a window on the infant mind

What makes a baby laugh? The answer might reveal a lot about the making of our minds, says Tom Stafford. What makes babies laugh? It sounds like one of the most fun questions a researcher could investigate, but there’s a serious scientific reason why Caspar Addyman wants to find out. He’s not the first to […]

Compulsory well-being: An interview with Will Davies

The UK government’s use of psychology has suddenly become controversial. They have promised to put psychologists into job centres “to provide integrated employment and mental health support to claimants with common mental health conditions” but with the potential threat of having assistance removed if people do not attend treatment. It has been criticised as ‘treating […]

John Nash has left the building

So goodbye John Nash, brilliant mathematician and beautiful mind, who has sadly just passed away after being involved in a taxi crash with his wife. Nash was famous for many things, but was probably most well-known for being the subject of the biopic A Beautiful Mind – an Oscar-winning production that sugar-coated the details although […]

Five minutes with Carolyn Mair

I’ve often seen people on the web who advertise themselves as ‘fashion psychologists’ who say they can ‘match clothes to your personality’. I’ve always rolled my eyes and moved on. So I was fascinated to meet Carolyn Mair, a cognitive scientist who did her PhD in perceptual cognition, who now leads a psychology programme at […]

When society isn’t judging, women’s sex drive rivals men’s

Men just want sex more than women. I’m sure you’ve heard that one. Stephen Fry even went as far as suggesting in 2010 that straight women only went to bed with men because sex was “the price they are willing to pay for a relationship”. Or perhaps you’ve even heard some of the evidence. In […]

Cognitive lives scientific

The BBC Radio 4 series The Life Scientific has recently profiled three four, count’em, three four, cognitive scientists. Because the BBC find the internet confusing I’m just going to link straight to the mp3s to save you scrabbling about on their site. The most recent profile you can grab as an mp3 was artificial intelligence […]

An instinct for fairness lurking within even the most competitive

It stings when life’s not fair – but what happens if it means we profit? As Tom Stafford writes, some people may perform unexpected self-sabotage. Frans de Waal, a professor of primate behaviour at Emory University, is the unlikely star of a viral video. His academic’s physique, grey jumper and glasses aren’t the usual stuff […]

Radical embodied cognition: an interview with Andrew Wilson

The computational approach is the orthodoxy in psychological science. We try and understand the mind using the metaphors of information processing and the storage and retrieval of representations. These ideas are so common that it is easy to forget that there is any alternative. Andrew Wilson is on a mission to remind us that there […]

The celebrity analysis that killed celebrity analysis

Most ‘psy’ professionals are banned by their codes of conduct from conducting ‘celebrity analysis’ and commenting on the mental state of specific individuals in the media. This is a sensible guideline but I didn’t realise it was triggered by a specific event. Publicly commenting on a celebrity’s psychological state is bad form. If you’ve worked […]

Evidence based debunking

Fed up with futile internet arguments, a bunch of psychologists investigated how best to correct false ideas. Tom Stafford discovers how to debunk properly. We all resist changing our beliefs about the world, but what happens when some of those beliefs are based on misinformation? Is there a right way to correct someone when they […]

Implicit racism in academia

Subtle racism is prevalent in US and UK universities, according to a new paper commissioned by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education and released last week, reports The Times Higher Education. Black professors surveyed for the paper said they were treated differently than white colleagues in the form of receiving less eye contact or requests […]

A thought lab in the sun

Neuroscientist Karl Friston, being an absolute champ, in an interview in The Lancet Psychiatry “I get up very late, I go and smoke my pipe in the conservatory, hopefully in the sunshine with a nice cup of coffee, and have thoughts until I can raise the energy to have a bath. I don’t normally get […]

The best way to win an argument

How do you change someone’s mind if you think you are right and they are wrong? Psychology reveals the last thing to do is the tactic we usually resort to. You are, I’m afraid to say, mistaken. The position you are taking makes no logical sense. Just listen up and I’ll be more than happy […]

Research Digest #3: Getting to grips with implicit bias

My third and final post at the BPS Research Digest is now up: Getting to grips with implicit bias. Here’s the intro: Implicit attitudes are one of the hottest topics in social psychology. Now a massive new study directly compares methods for changing them. The results are both good and bad for those who believe […]

Lou Reed has left the building

Chronicler of the wild side, Lou Reed, has died. Reed was particularly notable for students of human nature for his descriptions of drugs, madness and his own experience of psychiatry. We’ve touched on his outrageous performance to the New York Society for Clinical Psychiatry before and his songs about or featuring drug use are legendary. […]

Race perception isn’t automatic

Last week’s column for BBC Future describes a neat social psychology experiment from an unlikely source. Three evolutionary psychologists reasoned that that claims that we automatically categorise people by the ethnicity must be wrong. Here’s how they set out to prove it. The original column is here. For years, psychologists thought we instantly label each […]


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