Here are 7 wacky psychology findings from early 2016

We have barely made inroads into 2016, but we’ve already learned a number a strange things about our mind and our behavior. Here’s a sample of some odd psychology studies from the past two months.

1.) ‘Tripping’ and domestic violence

Classic psychedelics such as psilocybin and LSD appear to have therapeutic potential for reducing intimate partner violence.

“Although we’re attempting to better understand how or why these substances may be beneficial, one explanation is that they can transform people’s lives by providing profoundly meaningful spiritual experiences that highlight what matters most,” a researcher involved in the study explained.


2.) Bilingual brain fight

Researchers found that languages are in competition with one another in the brains of bilingual people.

“The consequences of bilingualism are not limited to language but reflect a reorganization of brain networks that hold implications for the ways in which bilinguals negotiate cognitive competition more generally,” as one researcher put it.

3.) Abusive, ethical bosses

Business leaders who made displays of ethical behavior were found to be more likely to lash out at employees.

“Ironically, when leaders felt mentally fatigued and morally licensed after displays of ethical behavior, they were more likely to be abusive toward their subordinates on the next day,” Russell Johnson Johnson, an expert on the psychology of the workplace, explained.

4.) Narcissists who dislike themselves

A study found that — despite feeling superior to others — narcissists could have a low self-esteem.

The lead researcher remarked: “The distinction between narcissism and self-esteem has important implications for intervention efforts. Over the past few decades, Western youth have become increasingly narcissistic. It is therefore important to develop interventions that curb narcissism and raise self-esteem.”

5.) Alexander Hamilton was president of the United States?

Researchers found that about 70 percent of Americans were confident that Alexander Hamilton was once president of the United States. (He wasn’t!)

“I had predicted that Benjamin Franklin would be the person most falsely recognized as a president, but Hamilton beat him by a mile,” the researchers said.

6.) Beware of positive thinking

A study found that  people who fantasized about an idealized future tended to have depressive symptoms in the future.

“The modern era is marked by a push for ever-positive thinking, and the self-help market fueled by a reliance on such positive thinking is a $9.6 billion industry that continues to grow. Our findings raise questions of how costly this market may be for people’s long-term well-being and for society as a whole,” researcher Gabriele Oettingen and her colleagues wrote in their study.

7.) Psychotherapy can shrink (part of) your brain

Researchers discovered that the brain of patients suffering from social anxiety disorder changed in volume after nine weeks of internet-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy.

“The greater the improvement we saw in the patients, the smaller the size of their amygdalae. The study also suggests that the reduction in volume drives the reduction in brain activity”, says doctoral student Kristoffer NT Månsson