Shaking our understanding of uncertainty

Uncertainty certainly makes life interesting. Without it, we’d be locked in a repetitive experiential loop. Because the future, by its very nature, is yet to unfold, what it holds for us is largely unknown. For example, we know we will die, but when and how are largely a mystery. However, the future is unavoidable and must be confronted; how we do that, and the frame of mind we employ to do so are the research reserve of those examining the psychology of uncertain situations – when prediction is impossible. It is a field of study with its fair share of dark corners, including how to operate more efficiently in the face of uncertainty. A new research is helping point a light in that direction.

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Green baize gladiators: Bridge as a mindsport for all

Electronic sports, or esports, have evolved the concept of ‘sport’, especially around the mental acuity needed to play. Professor Samantha Punch at the University of Stirling, together with Dr David Scott at Abertay University, Scotland, see similarities in the card game bridge. They are helping establish a new academic subdiscipline – the sociology of mindsport. In the process, Punch and Scott have uncovered characteristics of the game bridge, including its intense physicality and team play, that have remained largely unnoticed. Their research also draws attention to bridge’s status as a mindsport that anyone can play.

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Who will care for the mental healthcare professionals? A wake-up call from the Netherlands

The COVID-19 pandemic taught us many lessons; one is that mental healthcare workers are not immune to the ravages of mental health problems. The pandemic put them under considerable stress in ways unimaginable before; many are still feeling it. Dr Anneloes van den Broek and Dr Lars de Vroege, senior researchers and clinical psychologists in mental healthcare in the Netherlands, reached out to their colleagues during and after the pandemic to find out how they were coping. What they learned is worrying.

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Crowd behaviour: united they stand

Abstract: Is there a link between the Arab Spring uprisings and the behaviour of market traders?...

From Cairo to Tunis, demonstrators united by emotion, purpose and social media gather in their thousands to topple long-standing despotic regimes. Across the UK, crowds of a different temperament surge through summer streets, leaving behind them a trail of destruction. Meanwhile, in the world's financial centres, bond traders linked by the internet behave like a "virtual" crowd as they sell the securities of increasingly embattled eurozone members, leading yields to soar.

The crowd was at the heart of some of the most memorable events of 2011, demonstrating the power of the group driven by common identity and capacity for decision-making. They are classic examples of the herd mentality - the shared and self-regulated thinking of individuals in a group - an area of study popular with sociologists and

He’s just not that into psychology

Abstract: Psychology, it seems, has been hijacked by TV writers of female angst... Maybe it says something about the male human condition that when I die I want to do so in a blaze of glory, saving a toddler from an oncoming train, wrestling a Great White shark, or attempting to defuse a bomb with nothing but a pair of tweezers and nerves of steel. I didn't think it would be clutching my chest whilst crouched next to the psychology section in Exclusive Books. But it seems I have the female human condition to thank for that. When I left school I chose to study clinical psychology because it sounded cool. It was also, I believed at the time, a great place to meet girls. Most of my schoolmates had chosen to study science or engineering, and I certainly didn't fancy my university career

When you can bet he’s going to cheat on you

Abstract: Mother nature has provided some clues to your partner's possible infidelity... For women concerned with the fidelity of their partner, history has provided them with little in the way of counsel. They have had to rely largely on religious texts and cultural prerogatives; which, given their historical foundation, have been largely skewed towards the preferences of men. But now women have a new tool in the fight against infidelity. It's called an 'ear bud'. If one were to find a phrase that accurately encapsulates our current technological zeitgeist, it would be 'there's an app for that'. Our modern lifestyle relies so much on connectivity and instant gratification that we are becoming increasingly reliant on the interfaces on our phones and computers that give us direct access to fulfilment. If we're looking for the latest news, we simply hit a button. If we want to

What’s in a name? Your job, possibly

Abstract: You could be more connected to your career than you realise... "What's in a name?" wrote Shakespeare, "that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet". An admirable line for a man who was in the wrong job - he should have been a soldier, or at least an ironmonger. The clue is in his own name. Not so long ago I was doing some research for an article on bar-headed geese (not for this magazine obviously). They're remarkable creatures that, it is believed, can fly right over the top of the Himalayas, at altitudes that would kill a human. Anyway, my investigations led me to a study by a Dr Hawkes. I suggested to her that it was interesting that someone called Hawkes was studying birds. She agreed. But then she took me in a direction where things

When girls go mad

Abstract: Teenage girls display signs of delirium. No, seriously... Ask any parent of a teenage girl what the experience is like and they will shake their head, appear for a second as if they're about to burst into tears, and then, from somewhere deep inside, bravely dig up a tired smile and say something like, "we do our best". For such parents, science may now be able to offer a reassuring hand on their shoulder. Sort of. There's something particularly challenging in raising a teenage girl. It's hard to describe without wanting to reach for a double scotch, a carton of cigarettes and then your cellphone to call your therapist. 'Testing' is a word most parents of teenage girls would use to describe their offspring during this particular period in their lives. It's not a coincidence then that their eventual blossoming into young adulthood

Beware the mind of the crowd

Abstract: If you think you're in your right mind shopping in a crowd - think again!...

...and they're off! And they stop. This weekend sees the start of 'the madness', when hundreds of thousands of people gallop into the province's shopping centres and promptly come to a grinding halt. They will curse and they will say how much they hate it, all the time unaware that they are undergoing a subtle but fascinating change.

This is one of the most stressful weekends of the year. Many businesses around the country closed shop on Thursday ahead of the long weekend, their staff heading off on their holidays, many of them into KZN. The province is groaning under the strain of the extra bodies, and most of them will squeeze into the already busy shopping centres, credit and debit cards at the ready, impatient to place added