Fifty Shades: Glamorizing Abuse or Harmless Escapism?

The Fifty Shades Trilogy has provoked controversy because the story revolves around an abusive relationship. A group of researchers has argued that the books may harm women by glamorizing abuse. However, the authors' findings are inconsistent with their claims. Whether the books have a harmful influence or are simply titillating fantasy remains to be demonstrated.

Personality Traits of BDSM Practitioners: Another Look

A recent study provides some new insights into the personality traits of dominant and submissive BDSM practitioners. Dominant practitioners seem to be more calm and have a greater desire for control, while submissive ones may be more emotional and introverted. Some questions remain about how these findings compare to previous studies into this fascinating world.

Who Uses Their Head and Who Listens to Their Heart?

Whether a person identifies with their head or their heart can say a lot about their personality. Are people in their heads really smarter than those in their hearts? The head/heart distinction might reveal something about how personality and intelligence are related. Shifting a person's attention between the head or the heart might change the way they think and behave.

Do Personality Traits and Values Form a Coherent Whole?

Personality psychologists are currently attempting to create more comprehensive theories that integrate many different components of personality. According to Life History Theory there is a general factor of personality that combines all personality traits in a specific way. However, attempting to integrate personal values with traits poses problems for this model.

When Being Nice Gets in the Way of Being Smart

The relation between intelligence and the personality trait agreeableness presents a puzzle. Agreeableness is unrelated to IQ, yet lay people tend to associate agreeableness with lower intelligence, even though it is a desirable quality. A new study found that agreeable people choke under pressure, suggesting that being too nice can be a liability at times.

What Is An Intelligent Personality?

Some theorists argue that intelligence and socially desirable personality traits naturally go together. However, lay people associate intelligence with a mix of desirable and undesirable personality traits, such as disagreeableness. The relationship between personality and intelligence may be more complicated than is suggested by grand unitary theories.

What Do Heroes and Psychopaths Have in Common?

Recent research looks at whether heroes and psychopaths are "twigs from the same branch." People who have performed heroic actions to help others often have a history of antisocial behavior as well. There may be loose connections between heroism and having "psychopathic" qualities, but the reasons for this remain unclear.

DMT: Gateway to Reality, Fantasy or What?

The bizarre phenomenon of encounters with non-human entities under the influence of DMT has inspired both mystical and scientific speculations. Greater understanding of the psychological and personality characteristics of DMT users might help shed light on this curious phenomenon.

Peak Experiences in Psilocybin Users

A recent study of intensely positive experiences in people who have used psilocybin found that some users had experienced profoundly altered states of consciousness, including visual hallucinations even when not under the direct influence of the drug. Perhaps psilocybin might have lasting effects on a person’s ability to enter altered states of consciousness without drugs.

Are Dog People More Prejudiced Than Cat People?

A new study finds that self-identified dog people are higher in social dominance orientation than cat people, a trait associated with prejudice. However, this seems puzzling as previous research found that dog people are also more agreeable and conscientious. Further research is needed to determine dog people really are more prejudiced than cat people and if so, why.

Can Cannabis Cause Psychosis? A Hard Question to Answer

Although a number of long-term studies have linked cannabis use to later risk of mental illness, the question of whether the one causes the other remains unresolved. The possibility that a third factor, such as genetic or personality predispositions, underlies both cannabis use and the development of psychosis needs to be considered more carefully in future research.

Challenging the "Banality" of Evil and of Heroism Part 2

Situationism implies that evil-doers are victims of circumstances beyond their control, yet argues that heroes are those who can rise above their circumstances to do what is right. An ideology of victimisation is incompatible with heroism. Personal responsibility for one's actions cuts both ways.

Challenging the "Banality" of Evil and of Heroism Part 1

What makes a hero, what makes a villain? Phil Zimbardo has claimed that evil and heroism are equally banal and mainly arise as a matter of circumstance rather than any special qualities of the person. However, his own analysis blames evil on external forces, but views heroism as coming from within the person. A more balanced view is needed to understand these extremes.

Who Supports Censorship of Blasphemous Art?

Blasphemy in the name of art always provokes controversy, but should it be censored? A recent study found that while Christians wanted to ban all blasphemous art, non-religious people only wanted to ban art that offends Muslims but not if it offends Christians. Does this double standard reflect a wider problem in modern Western culture?

Monster Porn and the Science of Sexuality

Monster porn has gained attention as a hot new trend in women's erotic fiction. John Horgan recently argued that this phenomenon defies scientific explanation, particularly by evolutionary psychology. On the contrary, a closer look shows that monster porn makes use of popular themes in women's erotic fiction and is hardly beyond the scope of scientific analysis.

Is There A Scientific “Taboo” Against Parapsychology?

A recent letter signed by 100 scientists calls for an end to the "taboo" against investigating parapsychology. However, a closer look into the history of the subject shows that mainstream science has been more than fair in giving parapsychology a chance to prove its scientific credentials. The supposed "taboo" seems to be no more than a figment of the imagination.

More Knowledge, Less Belief in Religion?

A recent review of 63 studies found that higher intelligence was associated with less religious belief. The reasons for this are not known, although a number of explanations are possible. One factor that may be relevant is that religious people tend to be less knowledgeable about religion and about other topics than atheists and agnostics.

Belief in Hell: Does it Benefit or Harm Society?

A widely reported study last year claimed that belief in Hell had more impact on reducing a country's crime rate than belief in Heaven. However, contrary to this a previous study found that countries with more belief in Hell had worse murder rates. Belief in Hell may have detrimental consequences for society that outweigh any of its supposed benefits.

Facebook Usage and Easy Acceptance of Racism

A research study found that people who spend a lot of time on Facebook are more accepting of racist content than less frequent users. This may reflect an online culture of shallow information processing. Whether Facebook is more apt for spreading misinformation compared to other social media sites is not yet known.

The Illusory Theory of Multiple Intelligences

The theory of Multiple Intelligences suggests that everyone can be "intelligent" in some way even if they do not have a high IQ. As appealing as this idea is to egalitarian sentiments, the theory has never been validated and is not supported by any empirical research.

What Oprah Doesn't Understand About Awe and Atheists

Oprah Winfrey's comments to Diana Nyad that she cannot be an atheist because she is "in awe" have provoked considerable criticism. Such comments reflect broader prejudice and misunderstanding of atheists. Atheists not only are capable of awe in the absence of belief, but may find the experience of awe enriches their sense of satisfaction with life.

Personality’s Big One Revisited: The Allure of the Dark Side

Some scholars have proposed the existence of a general factor of personality combining all the socially desirable personality traits. However, new research suggests that people who are reliable and honest also tend to be socially awkward, while those who are selfish and deceitful are more socially skilled. Not all "good" traits seem to fit together in a nice whole.

Dogmatism and Openness to Experience in the Non-Religious

Dogmatism is usually associated with low levels of openness to experience, particularly among the religious. A study on the non-religious found that among atheists higher levels of openness to experience were actually associated with greater dogmatism, particularly if they had a strong social identity as atheists.

Individual Differences in the Stanford Prison Experiment

The Stanford Prison Experiment has long been held up as an example of the power of strong situations to overcome individual differences in personality and choices. The SPE not only did NOT show this, it was not even an adequate test of such a claim. People can still make personal choices even in tough situations.

The Knowledgeable Personality

Research looking at how a person's knowledge of the world is correlated with their personality traits has had inconsistent findings. However, when all the findings are put together, openness to experience is the only Big Five trait substantially related to general knowledge.

BDSM, Personality and Mental Health

Are people into BDSM psychologically healthier than other people, as has been widely reported? Research actually shows that dominants but not submissives are less neurotic than most people. However, the research findings should be treated with caution.

Infidelity Detection and Women’s Interest in Oral Sex

A recent paper attempts to link women's interest in fellatio with an evolutionary theory of infidelity detection. The results were negative, but the authors make some convoluted efforts to support their theory. The actual psychological factors influencing women's interest in oral sex are not well understood, but personality traits may play an important role.

Belief in God Supports Prejudice Against Gays and Atheists

Religiousness has long been linked with different kinds of prejudice. Some researchers have linked prejudice to religious dogmatism rather than specific beliefs. However, a recent study shows that greater belief in God is linked directly to specific prejudices against gay people and atheists, independently of how dogmatically a persons beliefs are held.

Intelligence And Politics Have a Complex Relationship

The issue of how intelligence is related to political orientation naturally provokes controversy. Although some have claimed that liberals tend to be more intelligent than conservatives, the actual relationship appears to be quite complex and to vary according to social context. Both conservatives and liberals may have intellectually sophisticated reasons for their views.

Cat People Are More Distinctive Than Dog People

A large survey found that self-identified dog people and cat people differ in all of the Big Five personality traits. Cat people have a personality profile that stands out from other people more than that of dog people. Whether these personality differences affect other life outcomes such as happiness, has not been explored.