Psychology Studies: 11 Of The Most Popular

Popular psychology studies include: 6 signs of a narcissist, hairy chests and intelligence and the effects of alcohol on the brain.

Popular psychology studies include: 6 signs of a narcissist, hairy chests and intelligence and the effects of alcohol on the brain.

Below are some of the most popular studies published here on PsyBlog, in reverse order.

Click the links for more on each of the popular psychology studies:

11. Six signs you are dealing with a narcissist

Narcissists tend to have brittle self-esteem, they are highly susceptible to flattery, they like to make a big production out of everything, they are very envious, they lack empathy and they are volatile.

But if you will insist on electing them to high office….

More on this popular psychology study: six signs of a narcissist.

10. Reduce rumination to recover from depression

Rumination — thinking about the causes and consequences of depressing events — is common in depression.

However, simply realising that you don’t have to ruminate can be liberating, psychological research suggests.

When people learned to reduce how much they ruminated, 80% had recovered after six months (including 10 weeks of therapy).

9. Women’s lips are their most attractive facial feature

The lips are the most attractive facial feature on women, according to a survey.

In the first 10 seconds of meeting a women, on average, a man will spend around half that time looking at her lips.

If the woman is wearing lipstick then it attracts men’s attention even more.

Men fixated on pink lipstick for 6.7 seconds on average out of the first 10, and for 7.3 for red lipstick.

When women wore lipstick men only devoted 0.95 seconds, on average, to looking at her eyes and 0.85 seconds looking at her hair.

8. Saffron better than Prozac

Extract of saffron, the exotic spice, is a safer alternative to pharmaceutical antidepressants in mild to moderate depression, recent psychology studies find.

Saffron has fewer side effects and is just as effective in some cases.

The conclusions come from a review of six separate studies that included 230 clinically depressed patients.

Using saffron as an antidepressant was compared with both Prozac and Tofranil (generically known as fluoxetine and imipramine).

All the studies were high-quality randomised controlled trials — although they were small.

7. Too much sugar linked to Alzheimer’s

Excess sugar in the diet could play an important role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, psychology research finds.

Too much glucose (sugar) in the diet damages a vital enzyme which helps fight the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

6. Higher intelligence linked to hairy chest (in men!)

A hairy chest signals higher intelligence in a man, psychological research finds.

Dr Aikarakudy Alias, a psychiatrist, has found that hairy chests are more frequent among men who are highly educated, such as doctors.

Dr Alias surveyed male trainee doctors in the US and found that 45% of them were ‘very hairy’.

This is in comparison to the 10% of men in the general population who are very hairy.

5. People with high IQs have better rhythm

People with high IQs find it easier to keep time, research on signs of intelligence finds.

This has nothing to do with being musical, just the simple ability to tap out a regular rhythm.

Good timing seems to be built in at a fundamental level to the brains of more intelligent people.

4. Cheating partners have fear of intimacy

According to various studies, somewhere between 40% and 76% of people cheat on their partners over the course of their relationship.

The type of people most likely to cheat are those with ‘avoidant attachment styles’.

In other words: these are people who find intimacy uncomfortable.

They are the kind of people who want to avoid being too attached to one person.

3. Vegetarianism linked to depression

Vegetarians are twice as likely to experience depression as those eating a regular balanced diet, a psychology study finds.

The longer people followed a vegetarian diet, the higher their depression scores, the researchers found.

It is possible that the link is down to poor nutrition.

Vegetarians typically have low levels of vitamin B12 in their diet.

Indeed, around 50% of vegans have a vitamin B12 deficiency, while 7% of vegetarians have the deficiency.

2. Moderate alcohol intake shrinks brain

Even moderate levels of alcohol consumption are linked to long-term brain damage and declines in mental skills, psychological research finds.

Moderate alcohol intake means around 14 to 21 UK units per week (in the US this is between 7 and 10 standard drinks, which are 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine etc.).

The study also found no support for the idea that low levels of alcohol intake are beneficial for the brain.

1. The one simple question that improves your relationship is…

“How will I feel in one year about this current conflict in my relationship?”

Asking a question with a future-orientation helps people feel more positive about their relationship, a study finds.

People feel more forgiving and interpret their relationship in a more positive light when they think about it from a future perspective.


10 Most Thought-Provoking Psychology Studies Of 2022

Fascinating new theories of consciousness, the alienating effects of smartphones and what Namibian nomads can teach us about relationships.

Fascinating new theories of consciousness, the alienating effects of smartphones and what Namibian nomads can teach us about relationships.

Some psychology studies have that special power to make one stop and reflect for a moment and maybe even see the world in a slightly different way.

In 2022, I marvelled over fascinating new theories of consciousness, wondered if smartphones alienate people from society and discovered what Namibian nomads can teach us about relationships.

So, below are 10 psychology studies from the members-only section of PsyBlog that might make you think twice.

(If you are not already, find out how to become a member here.)


10 Happiest Psychology Studies Of 2022

The psychology of small gifts, happy routines, creating more meaning in life and why other people make us so happy — some of the time.

The psychology of small gifts, happy routines, creating more meaning in life and why other people make us so happy — some of the time.

Those of you that read yesterday’s article on the most popular psychology studies of 2022 will notice I am continuing the long and noble tradition of reruns and repeats at this time of year.

Moving on from the most popular PsyBlog posts from last year, here is my collection of uplifting members-only studies from 2022.

(If you are not already, find out how to become a member here.)

Even if you don’t trawl through all of these, have a look at the first one as it’s particularly relevant at this time of year.

  1. Small Gifts Give Much More Pleasure Than We Predict
  2. Why Other People Make Us So Happy – And Also So Sad
  3. How To Experience More Meaning In Life
  4. The ‘Love Hormone’ That Makes People Happier With Age
  5. The Income People Say They Require For The Ideal Life
  6. These Routines Make Seniors Happier And Sharper
  7. Forcing A Smile Makes You Happier
  8. The Type of Music That Makes You Feel Most Powerful
  9. These Everyday Interactions Increase Sense Of Purpose In Life
  10. The Positive Signs Of The Most Healthy Relationships

For newer PsyBlog readers who haven’t seen it already, here is an article I usually wheel out around now:

Once again, seasons greetings to all PsyBlog readers!


10 Most Popular Psychology Studies Of 2022

Happy holidays to all PsyBlog readers!

Happy holidays to all PsyBlog readers!

Many thanks to everyone who has supported PsyBlog over the years.

Paid memberships mean PsyBlog can keep exploring the science of the mind.

So here, dear readers, are the 10 most popular members-only articles from PsyBlog in 2022.

This is what you voted for with your clicks over the year — and very good choices they are too!

Happy holidays to all PsyBlog readers!


5 Most Popular Psychology Studies Of February 2018

The attachment styles that damage relationships, alcohol, cannabis and brain health, Alzheimer’s reversed, and more…

The attachment styles that damage relationships, alcohol, cannabis and brain health, Alzheimer’s reversed, and more…

Below are the five most popular articles from February 2018 on PsyBlog

Click the links for more on each study.

1. Two attachment styles that damage relationships

Partners who have attachment issues cause considerable instability in their relationship, research finds.

One type, known as ‘attachment anxiety’ by psychologists, involves see-sawing feelings.

Around one in five people have an anxious attachment style.

The second problematic type is attachment avoidance.

This is someone who wants to avoid getting too attached to the other person.

Around one in four people has an avoidant attachment style.

High levels of attachment anxiety are linked to more ups and downs in the relationship, while avoidance is linked to low relationship satisfaction.

2. Alcohol is worse than cannabis for brain health

Long-term alcohol use is more damaging to the brain than long-term cannabis use, new research finds.

The assumption among many scientists has been that cannabis use may be just as damaging to long-term health as alcohol.

But this new study of over 1,000 people’s brains suggests otherwise.

Alcohol use is linked to decreased gray matter size and lower white matter integrity, the researchers found.

Cannabis, though, had no link to reductions in these critical measures of brain health.

3. A wandering eye means partners 50% more likely to cheat

Partners who spend a fraction of a second longer looking at other people they find attractive are 50% more likely to cheat, psychological research finds.

The marriages of those who can’t keep their eyes in their heads are also more likely to fail.

Other signs of infidelity were hidden in couple’s appearance and dating history.

Less attractive women were more likely to be unfaithful, it emerged.

Among men, those that reported more short-term sexual partners before marriage were more likely to have an affair.

4. Alzheimer’s dramatically reversed for first time

Alzheimer’s has been reversed in mice for the first time, raising the hopes of a drug to combat the disease.

Decreasing the levels of a key enzyme — called BACE1 — reduced the levels of amyloid plaques, which are linked to Alzheimer’s.

The mice’s brains were eventually completely free of these tangles and their cognition improved.

This is the first time scientists have been able to clear the brain of these protein tangles.

5. Narcissistic perfectionists are the worst type

Narcissistic perfectionists — like the late Steve Jobs — are arguably the worst type of narcissists.

They are grandiose, see themselves as special, have a high sense of entitlement and extremely high expectations of others.

Plus, they love to criticise.

The study revealed that narcissistic perfectionists were socially toxic.


11 Most Popular Psychology Studies of 2016

Foods that psychopaths like, new view of depression, memory tricks, surprising psychological effects of common drugs, and more…

Foods that psychopaths like, new view of depression, memory tricks, surprising psychological effects of common drugs, and more…

Below are the most popular studies from PsyBlog published in 2016, in reverse order.

Click the links for more on each study:

11. Psychopaths and narcissists like bitter tasting foods

Having a preference for bitter tastes is linked to psychopathy, narcissism and everyday sadism.

A predilection for tonic water or coffee, therefore, could indicated some psychopathic tendencies in a person’s personality.

In contrast, people who dislike bitter tastes tend to be more agreeable, the researchers discovered.

Bitter tastes may be particularly attractive to those with darker personalities because they enjoy sensation-seeking.

Darker personality types have a greater preference for the ups and downs of life.

10. A whole-body view of depression

Depression is more than a mental disorder, it affects the body’s ability to detoxify itself.

It should be seen as a systematic disease that affects the whole body, argues a new study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Accepting that depression affects the whole body could help explain why people experiencing depression are more likely to suffer from cancer, cardiovascular disease and to die younger.

All of these problems can be combated, however, by the usual treatments for depression: talk therapy and/or medication.

9. Why intense exercise is so good for depression

Intense exercise increases the levels of two common neurotransmitters that are linked to depression.

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate are both involved in depression and other neuropsychiatric disorders.

The study’s results are encouraging, concluded Professor Maddock:

“We are offering another view on why regular physical activity may be important to prevent or treat depression.

Not every depressed person who exercises will improve, but many will.”

8. Millennials are the most narcissistic generation ever

People born between 1988 and 1994 — so-called “millennials” — are the most narcissistic generation ever.

At least that is their view and the view of both their parents and grandparents.

Not that the label sits well with them, new research finds.

Mr Joshua Grubbs, a millennial himself who led the research, said:

“Millennials and older generations agree that millennials are the most narcissistic.

They just disagree to the extent of the narcissism.”

7. Underweight women most attractive to men

Women who are almost underweight are most attractive to men, a recent study finds.

Dr Lobke Vaanholt, one of the study’s authors, said:

“Although most people will not be surprised that extreme thinness was perceived as the most attractive body type, since this prevails so heavily in media, culture and fashion, the important advance is that now we have an evolutionary understanding of why this is the case.”

From Texas to Tehran and from Dakar to Beijing, the results were the same.

As a woman’s BMI increased, they become progressively less attractive.

The simple reason men find a low BMI attractive is that it signals youth.

6. One question to instantly reveal someone’s personality

Asking someone what they think about other people reveals much about their own personality.

The reason is that people tend to see more of their own qualities in others.

The generous person sees others as generous and the selfish person sees others as selfish.

Dr Dustin Wood, the study’s first author, said:

“A huge suite of negative personality traits are associated with viewing others negatively.

The simple tendency to see people negatively indicates a greater likelihood of depression and various personality disorders.”

5. The most reassuring thing you can say to the anxious

Dr Suma Chand, a clinical psychologist who helps people with phobias, says:

“The most reassuring thing I can say to anyone about fear is this: All emotions change.

You will never stay in a panicky state for the rest of your life.

Persevere, and the fear will dissolve.”

Fear and anxiety are emotions that can trap you, says Dr Chand:

“The more you feed it, the stronger it grows.

Fear traps people.

Fear puts you in a box.

Your world gets smaller and smaller.

After a while, you’re avoiding the discomfort of the fear itself, rather than the thing you fear.

Read on —>

4. Emotional responses most heritable from mother to daughter

The brain system governing the emotional response is most heritable from mother to daughter, but less so from mother to son, a new study finds.

Fathers, though, are less likely to pass on their emotional brain circuitry to either boys or girls.

The ‘corticolimbic system’ plays an important role in mood disorders, such as depression.

The corticolimbic system is made up of the amydala, hippocampus, anterior cingulate cortex and ventromedial prefrontal cortex.

The research could explain why depression is strongly heritable from mother to daughter.

3. Drawing pictures helps your memory

Drawing pictures of words helps build stronger and more reliable memories, new research finds.

The quality of the drawings themselves does not matter, the study also found.

This suggests everyone can benefit from the technique, whatever their artistic talent.

Mr Jeffrey Wammes, the study’s first author, said:

“Importantly, the quality of the drawings people made did not seem to matter, suggesting that everyone could benefit from this memory strategy, regardless of their artistic talent.

In line with this, we showed that people still gained a huge advantage in later memory, even when they had just 4 seconds to draw their picture.”

2. Why smart people tend to be loners

The more that intelligent people socialise with their friends, the less satisfied they are with life, new research finds.

The finding challenges the accepted idea that socialising generally makes people happier.

It may be that for some people — especially those with high intelligence — socialising does not increase life satisfaction.


With intelligence comes more of a focus on long-term projects and goals.

Socialising may provide a distraction from these types of long-term satisfying projects.

1. Acetaminophen kills empathy

Acetaminophen — commonly known as Tylenol in the US and paracetamol elsewhere — reduces people’s empathy for the pain of others.

Acetaminophen is an ingredient in over 600 different medications, including being the main constituent of Tylenol.

The ubiquitous painkiller does not just kill pain, it also kills our fellow-feeling.

Dr Dominik Mischkowski, the study’s first author, said:

“These findings suggest other people’s pain doesn’t seem as big of a deal to you when you’ve taken acetaminophen.

Acetaminophen can reduce empathy as well as serve as a painkiller.”

Psychology Articles: 10 Most Popular in 2013

Dip your toes into a little clinical psychology, neuroscience, child psychology and more…

Dip your toes into a little clinical psychology, neuroscience, child psychology and more…

It’s been another fascinating year for the science of the mind.

Here on PsyBlog we’ve explored a wider range of topics than ever before.

We’ve dipped our toes into clinical psychology, neuroscience, child psychology and more.

But some articles have really stood out from the crowd.

So here, dear readers, are the 10 most popular articles from PsyBlog in 2013, as most clicked by you:

1. 10 Current Psychology Studies Every Parent Should Know

2. What Caffeine Really Does to Your Brain

3. 10 Easy Activities Science Has Proven Will Make You Happier Today

4. The Anchoring Effect: How The Mind is Biased by First Impressions

5. Depression: 10 Fascinating Insights into a Misunderstood Condition

6. The One (Really Easy) Persuasion Technique Everyone Should Know

7. Beard Psychology: 4 Signals That Serious Facial Hair Sends

8. Attractive Students Get Higher Grades

9. 10 Superb Psychological Advantages of Learning Another Language

10. 8 Fascinating Facts About Anxiety

Image credit: Leol30

PsyBlog’s 10 Most Popular Psychological Insights From 2012

How the mind works, the dark side of creativity and how to be a great leader: these and more…

How the mind works, the dark side of creativity and how to be a great leader: these and more…

Here’s my review of the psychological insights covered here on PsyBlog in 2012 that have proved most popular with you, the readers.

1. How the mind works

Never let it be said that the titles for my articles lack ambition! Here we dipped our toes into 10 counterintuitive psychology studies, the findings from which help show that psychology is much more than just common sense.

Insights included the fact that suppressing your thoughts is counter-productive, brainstorming doesn’t work and hallucinations are more common than you’d think.

2. How to be a great leader

Six factors seem to set apart the truly great leaders from the rest: decisiveness, competence, integrity, vision, persistence and, perhaps most surprisingly: modesty.

We could really do with some more modest leaders, don’t you think?

3. The dark side of creativity

Creativity is always a favourite topic here on PsyBlog but usually we’re talking about the positive aspects. Like most things in life, though, creativity has two sides.

In fact research suggests that creative individuals are also more likely to be arrogant, good liars, distrustful, dishonest and maybe just a little crazy—OK, let’s say eccentric.

Yes, we need all those creative people or the world would be a much more boring place, but take heed and watch out: they’re dangerous!

4.  Why the incompetent don’t know they’re incompetent

While our thoughts are on darker matters, here’s a quote from Bertrand Russell:

 “One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.”

The simple reason is that the incompetent don’t learn from their mistakes. Even telling them seems to make little difference. Unfortunately talented people also tend to underestimate their brilliance. Could this partly be why society doesn’t change?

5. Psychological distance: 10 effects of a simple mind hack

To cheer you up after that, here’s a neat, multi-purpose mind hack.

Imagine you’re suddenly in another country, thousands of miles away. This is one way of achieving psychological distance, which has all sorts of neat effects.

Evidence from studies in the last few years has shown that this can help challenging tasks seem easier, generate self-insight, increase persuasiveness, increase emotional control and much more.

6. Why do people yawn?

It seems like a simple question, but why do people yawn? It turns out that it isn’t just because of boredom or tiredness, but it may also be a social signal or possibly a way of cooling down the brain.

Whatever it is, the best way to stop a chronic attack of yawning is to put a cold cloth on your forehead and breathe through your nose.

(I don’t recommend doing this in a meeting, though, even if it is really, really boring.)

7. How to defeat persistent unwanted thoughts

As we found out earlier in the year, trying to suppress thoughts tends to make them come back stronger. So, what can you do when plagued by thoughts that just won’t go away? Some suggestions on how to defeat persistent unwanted thoughts came from expert on the subject, Professor Daniel Wegner.

They included focused distraction, thought postponement, paradoxical therapy, meditation and writing about it. Some are relatively new techniques, but all are likely to beat the most natural response of trying to push unwanted thoughts out of mind.

8. Memory enhanced by a simple break after reading

I really like this study that found that a 10-minute break after reading enhanced recall 7 days later.

It corroborates my own perception that I remember books better which I’ve read on trains, perhaps because I pause more often to contemplate the view, so enhancing the memory.

9. How memory works

Inspired by the short article on taking a break after reading, I dug up more fascinating facts about how memory works. This culminated in one of my personal favourites of the year.

In ‘How Memory Works: 10 Things Most People Get Wrong‘, I covered some of the vital but less-known facts about memory. These include that forgetting helps you learn, recalling memories alters them and that learning depends heavily on context. Most controversially of all, though: memory does not decay.

10. Making Habits, Breaking Habits

Bit of cheat now because this article comes from 2009: how long does it take to form a habit? But, it was the wonderful response by you to this article 3 years ago which sparked off a journey that led to my new book: ‘Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes that Stick‘.

It looks at how habits work, why they are so hard to change, and how to break bad old cycles and develop new healthy, creative, happy habits. Some of the answers, I think, will surprise you. As ever here, the book is based on findings from psychological science.

It’s available now on or and at all good retailers.

Image credit: Corie Howell

Top 10 Most Popular Articles on PsyBlog in 2011

2011 was the year of the mind-body interaction.

2011 was the year of the mind-body interaction.

As the year draws to a close, it’s time to take a look back over 2011. From the stats I’ve pulled out the most popular articles from the last twelve months, many of which are about the interaction between mind and body.

Here they are listed in descending order, as measured by page views:

  1. 10 Simple Postures That Boost Performance
  2. 10 Psychological Effects of Nonsexual Touch
  3. 6 Easy Steps to Falling Asleep Fast
  4. 11 Goal Hacks: How to Achieve Anything
  5. 10 Ways Our Minds Warp Time
  6. Why We Buy: How to Avoid 10 Costly Cognitive Biases
  7. The Zeigarnik Effect
  8. Top 10 Self-Control Strategies
  9. 10 Hidden Benefits of Smiling
  10. 7 Simple Ways to Improve Your Memory Without Any Training

If you joined the throng here at PsyBlog in 2011 then welcome and thank you for your support.

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Image credit: holeymoon