Football And Fast Food: The Week’s Best Psychology Links

Our weekly round-up of the best psychology coverage from elsewhere on the web

A group of researchers has sent an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg, asking that Meta — the company formerly known as Facebook — be more transparent about internal research into how its platforms affect the mental health of young people. The signatories also want the company to make its data available to external researchers for study, and set up an independent trust to oversee work on mental health, Nicole Westman reports at The Verge.

Why do professional footballers sometimes choke during penalty shootouts? Louise Ellis has conducted research to simulate that high pressure environment, and explains the findings at The Conversation.

Social media could also be changing our relationship with food, writes Jessica Brown at BBC Future. We’re more likely to engage with photos of fast food, for instance, which may not only lead us to consume unhealthy foods ourselves, but also encourage others to post more images of the same for maximum engagement. However, as Brown writes, it’s a complicated situation as there are many factors beyond social media that influence our food-related decision making.

Waking up in that strange period between wakefulness and sleep can do wonders for our creativity. That’s according to a study in which participants had to complete a task which required some creative problem solving. Those who were given the chance to nap — but who were interrupted at that crucial phase — were ultimately much more likely to solve the problem than those who remained awake, reports Sofia Moutinho at Science.

Long work hours are bad for our physical and mental health — but they’re also bad for the health of our communities, writes Anna North at Vox. A lack of free time and pressure to always be productive can lead to social isolation and less participation in communal activities like volunteering.

Language is traditionally thought to be “arbitrary”: that is, there is no relation between the sound of a word and its meaning. But a recent study found that people were able to communicate concepts remarkably well using only sounds. The findings suggest that — early in the evolution of language at least — sounds may have represented meaning after all, explains Marcus Perlman at Psyche.

Do trigger warnings work? The evidence is ambiguous, writes James Greig at i-D — and we need to make sure that the politicisation of trigger warnings doesn’t get in the way of evaluating that evidence.

Compiled by Matthew Warren (@MattBWarren), Editor of BPS Research Digest

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