Home > General > The Cutting Edge: 5 New Psychological Discoveries

The Cutting Edge: 5 New Psychological Discoveries

Hot off the presses this week:

Monastery on the campus of Villanova University.

Monastery on the campus of Villanova University. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1) Jealousy Makes Us View Ourselves as More Like Our Rivals

Three new studies by Erica Slotter of Villanova University (and her colleagues) came out today in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. We already know that the way we view ourselves often changes depending on circumstance. We know that people will change how they view themselves in order to rationalize incongruent behaviors. Sometimes we use distorted self-beliefs as defense mechanisms, etc. So it should come as no surprise that, when we feel jealous about a personal rival, we alter how we view ourselves. But what is fascinating is that we alter ourselves to seem more like our rival, rather than setting ourselves apart from them.

2) Sad Music Could Actually Evoke Positive Emotions

If sad music evokes sadness, then why do we listen to it? Sadness is, after all, unpleasant. A Japanese study published in Frontiers in Psychology suggests that sad music actually evokes a complex set of emotions – not just sadness but romanticism and blitheness of spirit – and this complex ambivalence makes the experience pleasant. The study also suggests that experiencing sadness through art may feel pleasant because there is no real life threat to our health and safety.

3) The Top Predictor of Divorce: Early Arguments About Money

In a new study from Sonya Britt of Kansas State University, money arguments are found to be top predictor of divorce: “It’s not children, sex, in-laws or anything else. It’s money — for both men and women.” The study, published today in Family Relations, controls for factors like income, debt and net worth – and concludes that money arguments are the best divorce predictors for people from all financial circumstances.

4) Scientists Create a Daydreaming Computer

A fMRI scan showing regions of activation in o...

A fMRI scan showing regions of activation in orange, including the primary visual cortex (V1, BA17). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the late 1990’s just as fMRI-based neurology studies were becoming popular, scientists noticed that certain brain centers remain very active even if the mind is idle. Now, an international team of neuroscientists have created a computer model of the brain based on the dynamics and interconnections of brain cells that actually simulates the brain at rest. It can actually “daydream” like a human. This technology can help us understand the brain’s resting-state networks, which are actually very busy and complex.

5) Mass-shooter Psychology and Law Enforcement Strategy

Researcher Adam Lankford’s new study on mass shooters, published today in Justice Quarterly, is “…the first largescale academic analysis of “active shooters,” defined by the US Department of Homeland Security as: ‘an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area'” (Sciencedaily.com). The study shows that there are numerous psychological differences between shooters who commit suicide or suicide-by-cop, and those who survive the crime. The study suggests that training officers to distinguish those perpetrators who are likely suicidal from those who are not may influence the outcome of the shooting.

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