The Biggest Psychology News Stories of 2016


Every day, scientists are working toward a
better understanding of the human mind. And during 2016, there were some huge news
stories involving psychology. In July, for example, Pokemon GO took the
world by storm. Now you’ve probably heard way too much about
it by now, you’ve probably installed and uninstalled Pokemon GO on your phone by now,
but just in case you don’t know what this is: It is a smartphone game that combines augmented
reality technology with GPS, so you can wander around your neighborhood and “catch” Pokemon
in the real world. With more downloads during its first week
than any other iPhone app in history, it’s clear that something about Pokemon GO really
spoke to us – but what? The game is too new for psychologists to have
conducted any studies, but we know from past research that different parts of the game
really appeal to our brains. For many young adults, this reboot of a classic
game gave them lots of nostalgia, which seems like a sad emotion, but it’s actually good
for you psychologically. Nostalgia increases optimism and social connectedness
by reminding you of good times, like trading Pokemon cards or battling on the playground
with friends. Not to mention, this game gets you out of
the house. And exercise is good for mental health, lowering
levels of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, and releasing endorphins to improve
your mood. Also, the game is super rewarding. Catching new Pokemon and leveling up are digital
rewards, but they’re exciting and frequent, and keep you hooked. No word yet on why so many of us stopped playing…
maybe it’s because people start leveling up slower, or finding fewer new Pokemon, so
that sense of achievement started going away. Or maybe it’s just because our batteries
kept dying and we were like, ‘oh, I actually need my phone for- for other things… besides
Pokemon’. In other news, last spring, scientists announced
that some brain research might be seriously affected by computer problems. Functional magnetic resonance imaging, or
fMRI, is a technique that uses electromagnets to measure brain activity safely, without
sticking anything in there. And it does that by measuring blood flow. When regions of the brain are active – when
those neurons are firing in response to a stimulus or task – they need more oxygen,
so more blood flows there. Researchers depend on computer programs to
analyze fMRI data and figure out if changes in blood flow are significant or not. For a couple years, there’s been talk in
scientific communities about possible problems with these computer programs. And in May, a study reported that they might
be getting it wrong more often than they should. Some scientists decided to test popular software
programs for fMRI analysis on some resting-state fMRI data from almost 500 control subjects. Normally, they’d expect to see a false positive
rate of about 5%, meaning that 5% of the time, the software would say that there’s a change
in brain activity when there wasn’t really a change. Instead, with some analysis methods, the scientists
found higher false positive rates, sometimes even up to 70%, meaning that the software
was artificially inflating the significance of the results. This has gotten a bit overblown with lots
of headlines saying “15 years of fMRI data are bunk”. Not all fMRI research uses the specific kinds
of analysis that seem to have problems. Some past fMRI studies will need reevaluating,
if they used these specific programs and kinds of analyses, and especially if their results
weren’t strongly significant in the first place. But this is not the end of fMRI. With this information, programmers can design
better software for the future, and scientists are encouraged to share more of their data
for easier double-checking with newer analysis methods. Lastly, near the end of the year, some scientists
found that men who upheld masculine norms, especially ones associated with sexism, had
worse mental health than those who didn’t. The meta-analysis that made these big, controversial
waves was published in November, looking at 78 studies with almost 20,000 male participants. The researchers focused on behavioral norms
that could be considered traditionally masculine, like dominance, violence, and the pursuit
of status. And they asked whether or not strong attachment
to these kinds of norms could predict mental health conditions, or willingness to seek
psychological counseling. They found that three things were especially
associated with negative mental health outcomes: self-reliance, pursuit of sexual promiscuity,
and power over women. Men who strongly valued those norms, which
are also closely linked to sexist attitudes, had a little bit more difficulty with social
functioning and more psychological stress than men who didn’t. This kind of makes sense for a few reasons. Placing lots of value on being self-reliant
can be alienating in our social and interconnected culture, and it can make it harder to ask
for help if you need it. On the other hand, sexual promiscuity, which
they describe as a “playboy” reputation, and a desire to have power over women can
have serious impacts on social relationships. Holding onto these attitudes can be isolating
– and isolation contributes to poor mental health. Combined with traditionally masculine norms
like “men don’t show emotion”, men who stick to these values might be less likely
to seek mental health care. It’s important to know, of course, that
the study has its limitations, too. First, it was based on correlations between
these norms and mental health, not experiments where they changed variables to analyze causes
and effects. It only focused on participants from English-speaking
countries, and a lot of them were white males from the U.S. So they can’t know much about how holding
these values affects other groups – like women, or individuals in non-English-speaking
countries. And even though “playboy” behavior and
self-reliance seem to have a negative impact, other traditionally masculine behaviors – like
putting work first, and taking a lot of risks – weren’t associated with poor mental
health. Finally, because the researchers only looked
at one set of masculine norms, this research doesn’t say anything about the health impacts
of less masculine or more feminine norms. Even with these weaknesses, this meta-analysis
highlights a need for psychologists to better understand gendered values and the roles they
play in our lives. So, 2016 was a pretty wild year for a lot
of reasons, and what we learned about psychology was no exception. All of this research sets up a foundation
for psychologists to learn more in the future – and we look forward to sharing more knowledge
with you on our upcoming psychology channel, SciShow Psych! Thanks for watching this special episode of
SciShow News, and thank you especially to all of our patrons on Patreon who make this
show possible. If you want to help us keep making videos
like this, just go to patreon.com/scishow­. And don’t forget to go to youtube.com/scishow
and subscribe!

100 thoughts on “The Biggest Psychology News Stories of 2016”

  1. Instead of worrying about Pokémon go how about they figure out all this bull with angry birds?!?! Good god!! Angry birds this, angry birds that, angry birds take a sh*t, angry birds fly a plane and all that bull sh*t!!! Why is angry birds such a phenomenon??? Study that!!!

  2. That masculine behavioral norms paper had some weak methodology. Seeing this makes me wonder how much effort you guys actually put into vetting your information.

  3. That norms study looks shaky as all hell, and seems like it was created to push an agenda. The fact that you covered it as one of the biggest things in psychology last year calls your integrity into question a bit: Did you add it to the list because you support the claim, or did you add it knowing full well it would get complaints so you would get more discussion?

  4. It would be cool to have a "what we've learnt since 2010" kind of video. Just to cover a bigger time period and because science is so gradual.

  5. I'm actually working an a study on Pokemon Go in a Proffessors lab at my university. If the weather wasn't as bad this fall the paper would already be under review, but it wasn't sunny enough to get as much data as we needed. We're waiting until spring to collect more data, but the paper should be out in the next year! Hope you cover it then!

  6. How about studying the phenomenon of angry birds?? There's an angry birds do this, angry birds do that, angry birds drive a bus, angry birds fly a plane, angry birds… angry birds…. angry birds!!!! Every where you look. It's those stupid angry birds!!!!!! There's a thing to study. How are angry birds so f'n popular?!?!? Spend your time studying something that actually continues to expand for some reason although it's s**t and stupid as a brick. Oh wait I'm insulting the brick….

  7. Self-Reliance seems poorly defined: Does it mean valuing individual ability? Avoiding group participation? Looking to oneself for solutions before looking to others, or only looking to the self? Simply being competent without assistance?

  8. Sci-show Psych- I know, you know, that I'm not telling the truth, I know, you know, they just don't have any proof!

  9. I'm surprised there are enough psychology stories to be made into a whole side channel like Scishow Space. I can't remember the last one that was on the main channel. Maybe they have been keeping them for the new show? Also, isn't there already CrashCourse Psychology?

  10. Literally every single "criticism" of the last study was already covered in the video yet people keep commenting with the same inane assumptions and questions.

  11. I'm super hyped for for SciShow Psych! Also, I think it's really interesting that these negative aspects of many people, male and female, are the social norm. I'm glad that these behavioral issues have negative mental effects because it gives us a reason to be rid of them.

  12. Yeah, that study about masculine norms was using deeply flawed methodology. It's not worth paying attention to.

    5:00 Ironically, over half of the tiny sample group was women, and there actually was a similar study like this done to identify female characteristics. When you look at the studies side by side, you'll notice there's a lot of loaded language.

  13. What a useless study! "COULD be considered traditionally masculine"? That set could only be considered traditionally masculine by someone who is mentally ill. Some of those could be considered traditionally feminine.

  14. Wait, you're promoting your psychology channel AFTER sharing such a horribly flawed study??

    Not a good start. Not a good start at all.

  15. I hate masculine stereotypes. But I also hate femininsm. I'm an artsy fartsy man that like romance novels. But new wave feminism has become a poison to my desire to even bother being straight.

  16. women + self-reliance = good
    men + self-reliance = bad?

    But really tho, regardless of gender or sexuality, you're going to suffer if you avoid help like the plague.
    That sort of stubbornness… is pretty gender neutral though? I don't understand stereotypes…

  17. how nice.. another biased meta-analysis concluding that masculinity is toxic, or that something's wrong with being a man. And don't even get me started on the "characteristics" which the study is claiming analyze, and how obviously judgemental and patronizing they are (playboy? really? what was the same characteristic in the meta-analysis for femininity called? was it equally judgemental and negative?)

  18. Sexist behavioral norms addressing sexism is sexist.
    You can rally awareness against these stigmas that people do face and type cast it into a gender, alienating the other side (again and again). Or you could just… promote healthier attitudes in general.

  19. Why are these qualities "traditionally masculine?" I feel like they're not. Traditional men were/are hard-working, God worshipping, monogamous, not playboys by any means, and had strong social circles. Don't play into bias here, please.

  20. don't say voluntarily because the criminal system is there voluntary participation groups and it can be unwarranted and not voluntarily

  21. Why are white males always under attack nowadays?
    They contributed the most if not everything to western culture, science and society.

  22. Interestingly 2016 is also the year most psychological studies were put in question over non replicable results, i.e. studies which presumed/claimed an outcome but had no significant evidence in one way or another.
    Better still SciShow made a video on the subject.

  23. I'm sorry… do people who find behavioral traits such as need for emotional control, disdain for homosexuality, power over women, and violence as normative behavior correlate with worse mental health… am I getting that right? Would we not consider these traits intrinsic to deviant behavior in the first place? At least in modern American culture? You might as well add desire to torture animals to the list… wonder if that correlates with mental health in some way.

  24. I really believe we should just medicate everyone at varying levels. In about 200 years we'll have got it down to a tee. Learned no end about the brain and the different chemicals. All stigma would be removed and I'd be able to buy tranquillisers so, so much more easily. Everyone's a winner!

  25. 2017 drinking game: take a shot for every entitled "intellectual" sexist cishet man baby in the comments who doesn't like being told that their sexist behaviors are bad for their health

  26. step 1, propose a hypothesis. Step 2, apply for grant. Step 3, massage data to support hypothesis. Step 4, suggest followup study to pay for new car.

  27. Of course the new show is psych, it's the internet, all people care about is themselves and how much of a special snowflake they are

  28. You see you can't create perfect predictive models with phycology or sociology so I don't respect it as a science.
    Self-reliance is a good thing you don't need anyone but yourself try it. If the walls start speaking to you, ignore them they have nothing of value to say.

  29. i have never actively seek mental health care because I don't believe men should show emotion, except to their significant other. so far I only share with my 2 really close friends. I hide everything in person I only talk about it but never show any emotion. only joy and in certain cases anger.

  30. Oh what a surprise, out of the many videos done and studies mentioned, it's the one about masculine norms and their potential negative effects that have everyone wanting to know every single detail about it's methodology.

  31. That meta-analysis. Oh man, there's lot's of problems with that one. Self-reliant is sexist nowadays, it seems. And so is promiscuity. It's good at least, that it highlights the need of further studies on the subject. Perhaps that's the only good thing about it.

  32. I would like to read more about the masculinity meta-analysis. as a Marine Corps veteran and some of the life changing events that I have gone through over the last 10 years it makes me want to hear more. as an individual who has a very alpha male mindset and continues to not seek Mental Health Services , I am curious of what some of their findings are showing.

  33. I mean if you're a misogynist you're probably in a bad mood because you care more or have more conflicting opinions. it would make sense that it'd have negative effects on your mood when you're being an a hole.

  34. So the feminist theory of Toxic Masculinity has been proven? The idea that dangerous male stereotypes negatively affect men. Thats actually pretty cool. Im glad there is now a study you can cite when talking about that!

  35. I love how all the whining about the meta-analysis appears to be driven by the feeling that the study drew broad conclusions it actually didn't. People are fixating on the "traditional" association of certain norms to genders, and completely disregarding the fact that, at the end of the day, agreement with questionnaire items such as "Women should be subservient to men", "I love it when men are in charge of women", or "Things tend to be better when men are in charge" was found to be predictive of negative mental health outcomes in a large sample. How widely applicable those norms are to men is really not that important. How adherence to them affects men's mental health is.

  36. Mental health is just what society thinks how you should behave at this moment in history. And historically we proved that there is no one right way, over and over again. So fuck you society, im not a fucking wheel in a machine.

  37. To understand why the meta analysis wasn't all the great check out Teal Dear's (Tl; Dr) video on it and honeybadger radio's debate "sexist men be crazy".

  38. This was the most shitty cherrypicking liberal shit I have seen SciShow, please do not make more of these pseudo-science videos, its just as bad of those research that say black people have a lower average IQ, and if you want to make your pseudo-science fact then others pseudo-science is also "fact".

  39. all that 2016 has shown me is that there are way more psychoses than i would've ever guess and that most of them are governmentally legalized and protected

  40. That list of "masculine norms" looks to be from the Conformity to Masculine Norms Index. The CMNI seems to be rather biased. TL;DR did video on it's development. One can also simply read up on the CMNI's creation to see how biased it is.

    edit: typos

  41. I quit Pokemon Go because Google didn't reach out to the community – and it wasn't even obvious that it wasn't Nintendo. Plus, knowing Google made it, they really did a crappy job with some of the mechanics of the game. And, for the other 2 topics I just wish we passed laws which state only replicated studies, executed by scientists independent from the original experiment, can be published to the public.

  42. I've been an enthusiastic follower of scientific advancement for almost my entire life, but I absolutely refuse to believe that sexual promiscuity, having instinctual urges to reproduce, is a sign for poor mental health. There is not one person on earth that can convince me that me wanting to impregnate every attractive woman I see is a sign that I have a bad brain, you can fuck right off with that one.

  43. This comment section is usually pretty cool. But you post a video with the word sexist and masculine in it, and people hear whatever rage-inducing thing they wanna hear…. I'll agree that this study sounded fishy to me, too–like they were looking to be proven right instead of really curious about the answer. However, its conclusion was, I think, well-intended. (or, at least, SciShow's interpretation of it is).

    Basically, if a man believes he has to fit in this certain (unrealistic) rigid type, he will be unhappy because no one perfectly fits into ANY socially-imposed role. There is no "man's man." Men should just be themselves, and then they will be happier. Ergo, sexism=bad because it makes EVERYBODY feel trapped or scared to figure out their identity for themselves for fear of stigma. So, chill out, guys, and listen to the words coming out of his mouth.

  44. "scientists are working to get a better understanding of the human mind." True but psychology is the study of behaviour, brain included and nonhuman animals too. "Mind" is an abstraction, hard to define or measure.

  45. Is SciShow Psych out yet? I'm a psychology doc student, so you know, this is my ish.For sure don't want to miss out on it.

  46. People quit playing it because they broke the tracking system and didn't even try to address it for months. Replacing it with something silly and biased didn't help.

  47. 5:23
    Even with those weaknesses, it won't stop feminists from spreading propaganda that 'masculinity' is 'toxic' as though the headlines that they read about this paper are the gospel without actually doing the slightest bit of research into the study itself.

  48. Instead of studying why Pokémon go WAS so popular… try studying why angry birds IS STILL so popular!!!! Good god!!! Angry birds do this!!! Angry birds do that!!!! Angry birds go to the bathroom!!!! Angry birds make a baby!!!! A billion spin off games from a stupid sling shot game!!!!! Study that!!! Not some flash in the pan mini game!!!!!

  49. I didn't recognize his face first but his sound.. Then I remembered yes he was on crash course psychology

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