Sussex Psychology in the Media: April 2019

Research carried out by Dr Graham Hole with Dr Gemma Briggs and Dr Jim Turner from the Open University shows that using a hands-free mobile phone while driving is as dangerous as calling on a hand-held device. Gemma and Graham wrote a post for the blog of Brake the road safety charity last month explaining the results of their research and proposing that the use of hands-free devices behind the wheel should be banned. The Evening Standard includes a prominent quote from Graham in an article saying that drivers are four times more likely to crash when taking phone calls.

LADBible, the biggest publisher of news on Facebook, interviewed Dr Richard De Visser for a piece they were writing on how people should prepare for Bachelor parties. According to The Guardian, at least 30 British men died on stag dos between 2008 and 2018, while many others have suffered severe injuries. Richard pointed out how stag and hen dos tend to be seen as timeout (especially if the celebration involves travelling abroad) where the usual individual limits are lessened, and how this might lead to risk-taking behaviours.

istolethetv from Hong Kong, China [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

Prof Robin Banerjee discussed the nature of kindness in Positive News: “Time to be kind: why kindness matters.” Robin, who is the director of Sussex Kindness, explained that kindness is subjective and that what is a kind act for some might be an unkind act for others. The same article mentions PhD student Jo Cutler’s research on altruism. Jo and her supervisor Dr Daniel Campbell-Meiklejohn examined fMRI scans of more than 1000 people making kind decisions, whether for strategic reasons (i.e. expecting something in return) or completely altruistically. The study showed that both types of kindness activate our endorphin-reward system, but purely altruistic acts made other parts of our brain to become even more active, creating what it has sometimes been described as a warm glow.

The popular science website IFL Science talked about The World’s Favourite Colour Project, a collaboration between the paper merchant G. F. Smith and the Sussex Colour Lab led by Prof Anna Franklin. The IFL Science article focuses exclusively on the most relaxing colour (spoiler alert: it’s navy blue) and quotes Anna’s blog post on Theories of Colour Preference.

Posted in Psychology in the Media

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