Every year Universities from around the world publish hundreds of new research papers in the behavioural sciences. These findings help us to understand others, as well as ourselves, and take us closer to understanding the human condition. We bring you the latest psychological insights that open our eyes and may change the world around us.

1. Toddlers at the age of 5 - 8 months are already understand ethical and non-ethical behaviour through play, according to the publication Nature Journal. If the child roll-plays an argument between two dolls, and one wins fairly, this doll will be shown favouritism. However, if a doll won unfairly (for example, by hitting the other doll), the child will sympathize with the one that was hit. It means even at this young age children already understand ethics in order to get what they desire.

2. Our attention is not attracted by the sparkling, blinking or bright around us, but what is important for us in that moment, reveals another finding published by Nature Journal. If a man is passing a window display full of beer coolers, tool sets and Marvel magazines, he won’t notice anything he desires if he is distracted looking for the lavatory! Maybe that’s why department stores and supermarkets place toilets at the entrance, so that after the shopper can concentrate on the products on offer!

3. People enjoy our company much more than we think. The research from Cornell University, Harvard University, University of Essex and Yale University showed that we underestimate the first impression that we make on others. It could be that we focus on ourselves so much that we don’t fully appreciate what the other person is thinking. We worry we could be boring or that we may say the wrong thing, but in fact there is a huge chance that the other person is actually enjoying our company - a lot! So, just relax. People like you more than you think.

4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed a vuirtual agent that could recognise the neural networks in people experiencing depression using their written text or speech. This huge breakthrough in diagnostics offers great cost savings compared to using for example, a brain scan. When the findings surrounding this virtual agent become more advanced, diagnosis could be found from the comfort of your own home via conversations with an AI robot!

5. Self-compassion is compassion to one’s self when dealing with feelings of inadequacy. To be self-compassionate can mean to not set extreme, super-high standards and demands. Research published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology showed that such an attitude towards oneself lowers levels of pain intensity and symptoms of depression. So, if we do accept that we are normal living beings with different imperfections, we will less likely turn to medication and value the positive in all of us. Quite a good start!

6. Women practicing BDSM in the passive role can find themselves with a change to their neuropsychological behaviour, according to the Jinan University and Sun Yat-Sen University in China. Apart from deriving pleasure from being dominated, their ability for empathy and reaction to someone else’s pain decreases. There is still a lot more to find out - given the lack of research on men. Maybe they also begin to lack empathy by being dominated, but depending on which role you prefer, enjoy yourself!

7. Happiness

Do you want more? Plan to spend more time with your family and friends. German scientists from Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Freie Universität, University of Leipzig, discovered that people, who make more social plans for the year, feel far happier than those who prioritise self-improvement such as the desire to give up smoking or start a keep-fit regimen. Even if they were successful, the scientists concluded that a greater level happiness is to be found in socialising. Let’s hope that 2021 allows us to do just that!


https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-018-0415-3 https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-31894-5 https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797618783714

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0028393217300337 https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0956797618761660