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151 news posts in Psychology


06 Oct 2023

Our sense of smell changes the colors we see, show scientists

By Mischa Dijkstra, Frontiers science writer Crossmodal associations occur when people make unconscious but stereotypical connections between two or more senses. Here, scientists showed that associations between odors and colors can be particularly strong: powerful enough to distort our perception of colors. Our five senses bombard us with environmental input 24/7. One way our brain makes sense of this abundance of information is by combining information from two or more senses, such as between smells and the smoothness of textures, pitch, color, and musical dimensions. This sensory integration also causes us to associate higher temperatures with warmer colors, lower sound pitches with less elevated positions, and colors with the flavor of particular foods – for example, the taste of oranges with the color of the same name. Now, a study in Frontiers in Psychology has shown experimentally that such unconscious ‘crossmodal’ associations with our sense of smell can affect our perception of colors. “Here we show that the presence of different odors influences how humans perceive color,” said lead author Dr Ryan Ward, a senior lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University in Liverpool, UK. Sensory-deprived room Ward and colleagues tested for the existence and strength of odor-color associations in 24 […]



07 Jun 2023

Science shows why our taste in music can’t be siloed into catch-all genres

By Deborah Pirchner, Frontiers science writer Image: Music genres have long been used to describe people’s musical taste. Now, a team of scientists has examined music tastes of a broad German sample and found that it is not sufficient to know what genres people like to describe their musical taste. The researchers also found certain musical tastes may be connected to specific socio-demographic and personality variables of people who like the same genres. Liking certain things or styles is an important aspect of people’s identities and social lives. Tastes can influence the ways humans act and judge. How to best describe musical taste reliably is – due to the ever-changing diversification and transformation of music – difficult and open to debate. Using an approach which also considered sub-genres, researchers in Germany surveyed more than 2,000 people on their musical taste and took a closer look at the fans of five genres: European classical music, electronic dance music (EDM), metal, pop, and rock. “Our analyses revealed that people who like the same genre can have very different tastes if asked which sub-genres they like,” said Anne Siebrasse, a doctoral student at Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics and lead author […]


04 May 2023

Ill-fitting gear puts female firefighters at risk: Five Frontiers articles you won’t want to miss

By Deborah Pirchner, Frontiers science writer Image: CAL FIRE_Official/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) At Frontiers, we bring some of the world’s best research to a global audience. But with tens of thousands of articles published each year, it’s impossible to cover all of them. Here are just five amazing papers you may have missed. Ill-fitting gear increases female firefighters’ risk on the job Over the past years, the number of female firefighters has been rising steadily. As of 2020, women make up 9% of firefighters in the US. Despite this, the gear they are wearing is still made for male bodies. Using 3D body scans of 189 female firefighters, US-based researchers have studied this gear to improve comfort, mobility, and safety for female firefighters. They published their results in Frontiers in Materials. The scientists found that female firefighters are wearing personal protective clothing (PPC) with significant fit issues. This reduces comfort, restricts mobility and increases safety risks on the job, they wrote. Between 15% and 21% of female firefighters were found to intentionally leave off a part of their PPC, mostly pants and coats, at least ‘sometimes,’ if not ‘nearly always’. The researchers also identified where the highest potential for design […]


05 Apr 2023

How a city walk may improve your mood: Here are five Frontiers articles you won’t want to miss

By Deborah Pirchner, Frontiers science writer Image: At Frontiers, we bring some of the world’s best research to a global audience. But with tens of thousands of articles published each year, it’s impossible to cover all of them. Here are just five amazing papers you may have missed. Walking in the city might be just as good for our mood as walking in nature Time spent in urban environments is associated with depletion of cognitive resources and an increasing prevalence of mental illness. Few studies, however, have measured working memory capacity. Now, writing in Frontiers in Psychology, US researchers have compared memory performance and self-reported mood before and after a 30-minute walk in a natural or urban environment. The scientists assigned participants to either a nature or an urban condition and measured differences in self-reported affect and OPSAN, a complex measure of working memory capacity, before and after going on a walk in the respective environment. Their results showed that regardless of the setting, walkers exhibited an increase in positive affect and a decrease in negative affect, suggesting that going outside for a walk can boost mood regardless of environment type. They found, however, no significant changes in working memory […]


15 Mar 2023

What does flattery do to our brains? Here are five Frontiers articles you won’t want to miss

By Deborah Pirchner, Frontiers science writer Image: At Frontiers, we bring some of the world’s best research to a global audience. But with tens of thousands of articles published each year, it’s impossible to cover all of them. Here are just five amazing papers you may have missed. What praise and flattery does to our brains Both sincere praise and flattery are rewarding in different ways, but the various effects of these types of praise are not obvious. Now, researchers from Japan have published an article in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience in which they examined the brain activity of participants who received sincere praise or flattery after performing a visual search task. Using neuroimaging, the researchers found different effects of praise. The activation of the part of the brain modulating reward and pleasure processing was higher when participants received sincere praise than when they received flattery. The scientists also observed a socio-emotional effect, based on the positive feedback conveyed by praise. Altogether, they found that the neural dynamics of the rewarding and socio-emotional effects of different types of praise differ. Article link: Fish bone matrix may help heal bone defects Biocompatibility and osteogenic activity are properties of decalcified bone […]


03 Mar 2023

Scientists find that people use emojis to hide, as well as show, their feelings

by Angharad Brewer Gillham, Frontiers science writer Image: Scientists asked 1,289 people who use emojis to respond to internet chat messages and report their feelings and emoji use. They found that more emojis were used between closer friends, that using positive emojis to express positive feelings correlated with personal wellbeing, and that positive emojis could be used to mask the expression of negative feelings. Have you ever received an unwanted gift and still said ‘thank you’? This choice to hide a negative emotion is a display rule — one of many which define socially appropriate responses to emotions. Although display rules can promote interpersonal harmony, they can also have negative consequences for the person choosing to change how they express emotions. As more social interaction goes online, scientists are investigating how emojis are used to reflect our emotions in different contexts. Are there display rules that apply to emojis, and how do those affect people’s wellbeing? “As online socializing becomes more prevalent, people have become accustomed to embellishing their expressions and scrutinizing the appropriateness of their communication,” said Moyu Liu of the University of Tokyo, who investigated this question in a study published in Frontiers in Psychology. “However, I […]


25 Jan 2023

Using running to escape everyday stresses may lead to exercise dependence instead of mental wellbeing

By Angharad Brewer Gillham, Frontiers science writer Image/ Different kinds of escapism can motivate people to take part in running, but using running to escape from negative experiences rather than using it to escape to positive ones may lead to exercise dependence. Recreational running offers a lot of physical and mental health benefits – but some people can develop exercise dependence, a form of addiction to physical activity which can cause health issues. Shockingly, signs of exercise dependence are common even in recreational runners. A study published in Frontiers in Psychology investigated whether the concept of escapism can help us understand the relationship between running, wellbeing, and exercise dependence. “Escapism is an everyday phenomenon among humans, but little is known regarding its motivational underpinnings, how it affects experiences, and the psychological outcomes from it,” said Dr Frode Stenseng of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, lead author of the paper. Running to explore or to evade? “Escapism is often defined as ‘an activity, a form of entertainment, etc. that helps you avoid or forget unpleasant or boring things’. In other words, many of our everyday activities may be interpreted as escapism,” said Stenseng. “The psychological reward from escapism is […]


24 Nov 2022

How you help a child go to sleep is related to their behavioral development, finds new study

By Suzanna Burgelman, Frontiers science writer Image: yamasan0708/ A group of international researchers examined parental methods to help toddlers sleep across 14 cultures and found that these methods are related to the development of a child’s temperament. The researchers suggested focusing on better sleep-related parenting practices to support positive behavioral development across cultures. The importance of good sleep during childhood development has been extensively researched. Bad sleep quality and behaviors are detrimental to neurobehavioral functioning, emotional reactivity and regulation, and can pose a risk for future psychopathology. “Parental sleeping techniques are correlated with children’s sleep quality, and the importance of cultural context in child development has been long recognized,” said corresponding author Ms Christie Pham, of Washington State University. “We wanted to examine whether cross-cultural differences in parental sleep-supporting strategies account for differences in toddler temperament.” In a study published in Frontiers in Psychology, Pham and her colleagues studied the effect of different parental sleep-supporting techniques on child temperament across 14 cultures. They hypothesized that passive ways of helping a child fall asleep (eg, cuddling, singing, and reading), but not active methods (eg, walking, car rides, and playing), would be positively related to a child’s temperament. ► Read original article► Download original […]


29 Aug 2022

41% of teenagers can’t tell the difference between true and fake online health messages

By Suzanna Burgelman, science writer Image: A new study has found that teenagers have a hard time discerning between fake and true health messages. Only 48% of the participants trusted accurate health messages (without editorial elements) more than fake ones. Meanwhile, 41% considered fake and true neutral messages equally trustworthy and 11% considered true neutral health messages less trustworthy than fake health messages. The results highlight a need for better training of teenagers to navigate a world where fake health news is so widespread. Health mis- and disinformation are a serious public health concern, with an increased spread of fake health news on social media platforms in the last few years. Previous research has shown that online health messages are mostly incomplete and inaccurate and have potentially harmful health information. Fake health news can lead to poor health choices, risk-taking behavior, and loss of trust in health authorities. “There has been an explosion of misinformation in the area of health during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said principal investigator Dr Radomír Masaryk, of Comenius University. Most research on message credibility has focused on adults. Masaryk and his colleagues have now investigated whether teenagers are equipped to tackle the high volume of […]


17 Jun 2022

Colorful urban environments, even if just in virtual reality, promote wellbeing

By Conn Hasting, science writer Colorful virtual reality cityscape. Image credit: A. Batistatou, F. Vandeville, and Y.N. Delevoye-Turrell Urban environments can be drab and stressful, but introducing vegetation or colorful designs could improve the wellbeing of city dwellers. A new study investigated the potential of these simple interventions using a virtual reality simulation. It found that green vegetation was pleasurable for volunteers, whereas colorful designs increased curiosity and fascination. The virtual methods could be useful for urban planners in testing new methods to improve wellbeing.   Drab urban environments tend to increase our stress, whereas nature can soothe the soul, but how do you get the best of both? One option is to increase color and vegetation in cities, but finding the best approach can be tricky. A new study in Frontiers in Virtual Reality tested the effects of vegetation and colorful patterns in an urban environment. Employing virtual reality, the study found that green vegetation caused volunteers to walk more slowly, while also increasing their heartrate, indicating a pleasurable experience. Meanwhile, colorful patterns increased alertness, fascination and curiosity. The study illustrates the potential of simple interventions to improve the lives of urbanites, and also the power of virtual reality […]


09 Mar 2022

Editor’s Choice Awards: Frontiers in Psychology (Positive Psychology)

In March 2021, Frontiers in Psychology launched a new section dedicated to the scientific advancement of Positive Psychology. This new section aimed to provide an interdisciplinary platform for disseminating cutting-edge scientific research on the science and practice of positive psychology. Over the last year, the section established itself as the 12th most popular within the entire Psychology collection, with more than 273 submissions and 17 special issues submitted from 6 continents and 55 countries. It also gained a significant amount of international exposure, with the editors being invited to represent the section at several international positive psychology societies and conferences. The editorial board comprises 2 Specialty Chief Editors, 31 Associate Editors, and 145 Review Editors who collaborate closely to ensure high-quality reviews and fast turnaround times to fast track the dissemination of scientific discoveries.  Over the past year, the section’s success depended heavily upon a close, symbiotic relationship between the editorial office, the editorial board (associate and review editors), and our contributing authors. Although each of these stakeholders played a significant role in growing the section, a few outliers have gone above and beyond the call of duty this year. With this significant contribution in mind, we want to recognize […]


28 Feb 2022

Origins of life and plastic invasions: The most viewed Frontiers news articles of January 2022

By Colm Gorey, Science Communications Manager Image: DisobeyArt/ Each month, Frontiers shines a spotlight on some of the leading research across a wide range of topics. Here are just some of the highlights that resonated strongly with readers on our news site in the month of January. Likely energy source behind first life on Earth found ‘hiding in plain sight’ Life on Earth arose roughly 4bn years ago. How it arose, and from what energy source is of interest to everyone because we humans like to know where we come from. The team of Prof William Martin at the University Düsseldorf’s Institute of Molecular Evolution investigates early evolution. In a recent paper in Frontiers in Microbiology, they argue that the source of energy required at life’s origin has been hiding in plain sight: under the environmental conditions at deep sea hydrothermal vents, hypothesized to have been the sites where life on Earth originated, the central biosynthetic reactions of life do not require an external energy source. Article link: 2. How do we define a well-lived life? First scientific evidence helps us get closer to an answer A transition, such as the beginning of a new year or entering the second half of life, […]