7 ± 2: Facebook, Depression, and Obama’s Call to End “Conversion Therapies”

This is 7 ± 2, my weekly roundup of psychological science in the news. Below are some of the most popular stories featuring psychological research from the past 7 ± 2 days.

1. Research Debunks Commonly Held Belief About Narcissism. Contrary to popular belief, excessive use of first-person singular pronouns such as “I” and “me” does not necessarily indicate a narcissistic tendency, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

2. The brain game: How decreased neural activity may help you learn faster. Why are some people able to master a new skill quickly while others require extra time or practice? Counterintuitive as it may seem, study participants who showed decreased neural activity learned the fastest. The critical distinction was in areas not directly related to seeing the cues or playing the notes that participants were trying to learn: the frontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex. These cognitive control centers are thought to be most responsible for what is known as executive function. The frontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex are among the last brain regions to fully develop in humans, which may help explain why children are able to acquire new skills quickly as compared to adults.

3. The Psychology of Healthy Facebook Use: No Comparing to Other Lives. Do you ever go to parties just to look at beautiful people and listen to them chatter about their lovely lives? Lives punctuated only occasionally by some glitch—maybe a death in the family, or a social injustice that warrants reprimanding of societal power structures—but even in those moments the people are brimming with compassion, empathy, and insight? And you just show up and stare and listen and stare.

4. Childhood ADHD Linked to Secondhand Smoke. Children exposed to tobacco smoke at home are up to three times more likely to have attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) as unexposed kids, according to a new study from Spain.

5. American Psychological Association Applauds President Obama’s Call to End Use of Therapies Intended to Change Sexual Orientation. The American Psychological Association expressed strong support for President Obama’s call for a society that accepts young people in their gender and sexual development, rather than rejecting them, labeling them as bad, or suggesting that they should change. APA has previously voiced its concerns about the scientific and ethical basis of efforts to change sexual orientation and about the way the promotion of such efforts by some individuals and organizations contributes to the social stigma that harms gender and sexual minorities.

6. Men And Women Use Different Scales To Weigh Moral Dilemmas. You find a time machine and travel to 1920. A young Austrian artist and war veteran named Adolf Hitler is staying in the hotel room next to yours. The doors aren’t locked, so you could easily stroll next door and smother him. World War II would never happen. But Hitler hasn’t done anything wrong yet. Is it acceptable to kill him to prevent World War II?

7. The Cost of Faking Your Personality at Work. There is you, and then there is work-you. Work-you is, depending on your job, perhaps a little more outgoing and maybe a little more organized than regular-you. In short bursts, this is fine. But what happens when your job requires you to act against your natural personality for an extended period of time?

8. Nearly 1 in 10 adults have impulsive anger issues and access to guns. An estimated 9 percent of adults in the U.S. have a history of impulsive, angry behavior and have access to guns, according to a study published this month in Behavioral Sciences and the Law. The study also found that an estimated 1.5 percent of adults report impulsive anger and carry firearms outside their homes.

9. Underweight people face significantly higher risk of dementia, study suggests. People who are underweight in middle-age – or even on the low side of normal weight – run a significantly higher risk of dementia as they get older, according to new research that contradicts current thinking.

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