“Girls can’t play”: How stereotypes impact on females’ digital gaming performance

Recent research in the Department of Psychology has found that when presented with a stereotype about gender and gaming, female players perform worse on a gaming task than those who are not given this information. These were the findings of Dr Linda Kaye and Charlotte Pennington, in their experiments to test these effects. Most noteworthy, when female players were given additional information which distracted from their threatened gender identity, they appeared to be protected against this performance detriment. The findings suggest that gender stereotypes are indeed harmful in digital gaming contexts, but that psychology can hold the key on strategies on how to alleviate these effects. The research has just been published in Computers in Human Behavior and can be found here.

What do Kanye West’s tweets reveal about his inner thoughts?

Kanye West is seldom out of the spotlight. This week saw the launch of The Life of Pablo at Madison Square Garden, with a combined fashion show of his Yeezy Season 3 collection and album playback, which delighted some and puzzled others. Dressing the Kardashian–Jenners in outfits co-designed by Olivier Rousteing (and not even part […]

Is it worth a quick look to spot cancer? Not necessarily!

Research undertaken in the Department of Psychology has explored the question about whether viewing a visual preview of a scene can aid subsequent eye movement performance and how our experience shapes where we look. Dr Damien Litchfield and colleagues undertook a series of experiments in which they showed flash-previews of visual stimuli (medical images or everyday real-world scenes) lasting just a quarter of a second and then asked observers to undertake visual search tasks to find particular targets whilst their eye movements were recorded. In one experiment, they recruited both expert radiologists and novice observers (psychology students) to see whether these initial glimpses of the scene could help guide the observers search behaviour. The research team found that initial scene previews of more generic everyday scenes was useful in guiding subsequent visual search for both expert and novices. However, when searching for lung nodules (cancer) from medical images, experts were better than novices overall, but experts were not that much better at finding targets if given a preview beforehand. More controversially, the researchers found new evidence to suggest that when trying to identify clinical abnormalities from medical images, viewing a brief preview of the image before searching could actually impair diagnostic decision-making. This research has recently been published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance and can be found here

Don’t judge a (Face)book by its cover!

Research from the Department of Psychology has recently explored how we form impressions of others online, and how accurate these are. The research conducted by Dr Helen Wall, Dr Linda Kaye and former undergraduate students Demi Darbyshire and Charlotte Kirk has revealed new insights into how we make personality judgements based on online behaviours on Facebook. Through a series of studies, they revealed a number of behaviours are important to the judgements which are made, and that, through these, we are better at judging certain types of personality traits than others. The research has just been published in Computers in Human Behavior and can be found here

The psychology of instant financial decisions

Professor Beattie has conducted a number of radio and press interviews on how the public often make instantaneous decisions about financial offers.  New research conducted by Barclays suggests that 61% of people make a decision about a financial offer in less than a second.  Professor Beattie says that to understand this, we need to consider the two systems of human thinking, System 1 and System 2, as described by the Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman.  System 1 is the very quick, automatic,  intuitive system, often emotionally charged, and prone to error; System 2 is slower, more conscious and reflective and less prone to error.  We rely a great deal on System 1 in everyday life, and make many decisions without slower, conscious thought.   It seems that we also do this when presented with financial offers that could actually be beneficial to us.  The majority of people make an instant decision, without even considering the pros and cons of the offer.  Our responses are typical automatic System 1 responses, here guided by negative emotion – primarily fear of hidden catches.   If people took a few extra seconds to make a decision, it would allow the more rational System 2 to play a role.  Kahneman has described System 1 as a bit of a ‘workaholic’ and System 2 as quite lazy.  This characterisation even seems to apply to issues to do with financial decision making.

How relevant is psychology to today’s world?

The President of the British Psychological Society, Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes, is visiting Edge Hill to deliver a public lecture titled The Role and Relevance of Psychology in Today’s World.