Br ief IN
Snapshots of some of the latest peer-reviewed
research within psychology and related fields.
liberated rat, suggesting that the desire
for a playmate was not the driving force
behind their empathy. (Science, Dec. 9)
Toddlers who don’t get their normal naps are more anxious and are less able to solve
problems, new research suggests.
n Many soldiers remain reluctant to
admit they suffer from post-traumatic
stress disorder or have suicidal
thoughts, according to a review of post-deployment screening questionnaires
completed by more than 1,700 U.S.
Army soldiers. The study finds that
soldiers who were allowed to complete
the forms anonymously reported
symptoms of depression and PTSD
and suicidal thoughts two to four times
more often than those who had to put
their names on the forms. In addition,
more than 20 percent of the soldiers
who screened positive for depression
or PTSD said they were uncomfortable
reporting their answers honestly in
routine post-deployment screenings.
(Archives of General Psychiatry, October)
n Nap-deprived children are missing
more than sleep, according to scientists
at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Researchers assessed the emotional
expressions of healthy, nap-deprived
toddlers one hour after their normal nap
times, and tested them again on another
day after they had their normal naps. The
researchers found that missing just one
nap led to more anxiety, less joy and less
understanding of how to solve problems.
(Journal of Sleep Research, in press)
n Thinking back to childhood may
make you more likely to help others,
according to a study by Harvard
University scientists. In one experiment,
researchers asked participants to donate
to a charitable cause. Those who had
been prompted to think back to their
childhoods shortly before gave more
to charity than participants who were
asked to do something neutral, such
as think about the last time they went
grocery shopping. (Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology, Dec. 19)
n Empathy may drive rats to help each
other, suggesting the feeling is not
limited to humans and other primates,
according to research led by University
of Chicago scientists. The team put pairs
of rats together in cages, allowing one
rat to roam freely and restraining the
other in a clear tube at the cage’s center.
The researchers found that the free rats
would release the door and set their
captive, distressed companions free.
The findings were replicated even when
the free rats were denied access to the
n Self-affirmation may help encourage
medical screenings, according to a
study by researchers at the University
of Florida. Scientists asked study
participants to think of a trait they
value, such as compassion or honesty,
and then write about how they or
a friend demonstrated that trait.
Participants then watched a video about
a disorder that could lead to several
medical complications, and had the
option of completing an online risk
calculator for the disorder. Compared
with those who had written about a
friend’s compassion, more participants
who wrote self-affirming essays chose
to find out their risk for the disorder.
(Psychological Science, in press)