Episodes
We’ve lived side-by-side with domestic cats for thousands of years, yet they maintain an aura of mystery and a reputation for aloofness and even outright disdain for humans. But are cats really so enigmatic – or are we only just beginning to understand them? In this episode, Ella Rhodes, journalist for The Psychologist, speaks to two experts who are working to help us to understand cats. They discuss research on cat cognition and intelligence, chat about what we can do how to make our cats’...
Published 09/06/22
Published 09/06/22
From carefully avoiding cracks in the pavement to saluting every magpie that you meet, superstitious behaviour is really common. But why do we have superstitions? Where do they come from? And are they helpful or harmful?  To find out, our presenter Ginny Smith talks to Stuart Vyse, former professor of psychology at Connecticut College and author of Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition. Ginny also chats to Laramie Taylor, professor of communication at the University of...
Published 05/13/22
Why do people share false information? In this episode, our presenters Ginny Smith and Jon Sutton explore the psychology of misinformation. They hear about the factors that make people more or less likely to share misinformation, discuss strategies to correct false information, and learn how to talk to someone who is promoting conspiracy theories. Our guests, in order of appearance, are Tom Buchanan, Professor of Psychology at the University of Westminster, and Briony Swire-Thompson,...
Published 01/26/22
In this episode, our presenter Ginny Smith explores the psychology of earworms. Ginny hears about the possible evolutionary reasons for why we experience the phenomenon, learns what earworms can teach us about memory — and finds out how to get rid of them.
Published 10/15/21
In this episode, our presenter Ginny Smith talks to researchers who have been conducting work throughout the pandemic to understand the toll that it has taken on our wellbeing. Ginny learns about the different factors that can make us more or less vulnerable to these effects, finds out how pregnant women have fared during this stressful time, and also hears about emerging data that finds links between the virus itself and mental health conditions.
Published 08/03/21
Are our personalities set in stone, or can we choose to change them? In this bonus episode, Matthew Warren talks to former Research Digest editor Christian Jarrett about his new book, "Be Who You Want: Unlocking the Science of Personality Change". Christian discusses the evidence-based methods you can use to alter your personality, and explains how our personalities evolve over the course of our lifespans, even when we’re not consciously trying to change them.
Published 05/18/21
What role does play have in child development? In this episode, our presenter Ginny Smith talks to some top play researchers to find out how children learn new skills and concepts through play, and explores what teachers and parents can do to encourage this kind of learning. Ginny also discovers how the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way kids play and learn.
Published 04/13/21
Emily Reynolds, staff writer at Research Digest, explores modern psychology’s relationship with race and representation. How does psychology's focus on White American participants shape the assumptions we make about people of different racial identities or cultures? And what can top-tier psychology journals do to improve diversity among not only participants but also authors and editors?
Published 01/21/21
Ella Rhodes, Journalist for The Psychologist, explores the boundaries between wakefulness and dreaming. What can we can learn about consciousness from the strange transition period between being awake and asleep, known as hypnagogia? And why do some people experience visions and imaginings that take them away for hours at a time?
Published 11/03/20
What can we do to stay connected in the middle of a pandemic? Our presenter Ginny Smith looks at how video chats compare to in-person interaction, and how psychology could help improve virtual communication in the future. She also examines the importance of touch for reducing stress — and asks whether interactions with our furry friends could make up for a lack of human contact.
Published 09/02/20
What can psychology teach us about dealing with pain? Our presenter Ginny Smith learns that swearing can have a pain-reducing effect, and puts the theory to the test with an experiment on editor Matthew Warren. Ginny also hears about how virtual reality could provide a welcome distraction to patients suffering from chronic pain.
Published 03/02/20
Do we worry too much about screen time? The issue of screen use by children and teenagers is rarely out of the headlines — but what does the science say? To find out, our presenter Ella Rhodes talks to Dr Amy Orben, Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge and winner of the 2019 BPS award for Outstanding Doctoral Research, who has explored the psychological effects of screen time in her research. 
Published 01/28/20
Can psychology help us become more creative? Our presenter Ginny Smith learns how we can develop our creativity with practice, and discovers that our best “Eureka” moments often come when we step away from the task at hand. She also investigates how members of the public fare with the riddles psychologists use to study creative problem solving — see how you get on at home.
Published 09/09/19
Can psychology help make running more enjoyable? Our presenter Christian Jarrett speaks to several experts about various strategies including "cognitive reappraisal" and the benefits of taking part in organised runs. He also hears how some of us are genetically disposed to find running less enjoyable than others, and why that isn't an excuse for giving up.
Published 07/23/19
Ella Rhodes, journalist for The Psychologist magazine, delves into the growing body of research exploring aphantasia – a condition she has personal experience of. While most people can see images formed in their minds people with aphantasia draw a blank, what might this mean for autobiographical memory, face perception and imagination?  Our guests, in order of appearance, are: Zoe Pounder at the University of Westminster and Professor Adam Zeman at the University of Exeter.  Background...
Published 05/03/19
Mindfulness is everywhere these days, but is it really as beneficial as it's often made out to be? Our presenter Ginny Smith hears from clinical psychologist Dr Catherine Wikholm (co-author of The Buddha Pill: Can Meditation Change You?); she visits the Cambridge Buddha Centre to meet people who have taken up mindfulness meditation; and she discusses some of the latest mindfulness research trials with Professor Barney Dunn, a clinical psychologist at Exeter University.
Published 03/19/19
This is Episode 14 of PsychCrunch, the podcast from the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest, sponsored by Routledge Psychology. Can psychology help your cooking taste better? Our presenter Ginny Smith hears about the importance of food presentation, pairing and sequencing, and how our perception of food is a multi-sensory experience. She and her friends conduct a taste test using "sonic seasonings" that you can also try at home.
Published 11/07/18
Can psychology help us to learn better? Our presenter Christian Jarrett discovers the best evidence-backed strategies for learning, including the principle of spacing, the benefits of testing yourself and teaching others. He also hears about the perils of overconfidence and the lack of evidence for popular educational ideas like "learning styles" and "brain gym".
Published 08/29/18
Can psychology help us to be funnier? Our presenter Ginny Smith hears how a key ingredient of humour is "incongruity" and the surprise of unexpected meanings. Individual words too can be amusing, but actually most of the time we laugh not because we've seen or heard a joke, but as a natural part of friendly interaction.
Published 06/27/18
This is Episode 11 of PsychCrunch the podcast from the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest, sponsored by Routledge Psychology. Can psychology help us get a better night's sleep? Our presenter Ginny Smith hears how worry about sleep is sometimes more of a problem than lack of sleep itself. She gives us some evidence-backed sleep tips and finds out about "sleep engineering" – deliberately manipulating the sleep process to aid memory and enhance its health benefits.
Published 02/21/18
Can psychology help us avoid procrastinating and get on with the important things we know we should be doing? Our presenter Christian Jarrett hears about what causes procrastination, how to stop it, and whether it has any upsides. Also, we put the psychologists on the spot and ask whether they've managed to cure their own procrastination.
Published 11/01/17
This is Episode 9 of PsychCrunch, the podcast from the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest, sponsored by Routledge Psychology. Can psychology help us work together better in teams? Our presenter Christian Jarrett hears about the benefits of appointing a "meta-knowledge champion" for the team, making sure everyone has contact with the team's "extra miler", and why you should think carefully about the physical space that you do your teamwork in. Our guests in order of...
Published 02/21/17
This is Episode 8 of PsychCrunch, the podcast from the British Psychological Society's Research Digest, sponsored by Routledge Psychology. Can we trust psychological studies? We speak to Brian Earp, of Oxford University and Yale University, about how to respond when we're told repeatedly that the veracity of eye-catching findings, or even cherished theories, has come under scrutiny. Brian also talks about his own experience of publishing a failed replication attempt – a must-listen for any...
Published 11/07/16