We live our lives in vivid colour. As I write, there is a yellow lamp, a blue notebook and a red teapot on the desk beside me. These colours are not connected with the functions of the objects, or even with the materials they are made from. The teapot, for example, was also available in white, grey, black, orange, yellow, green, blue and turquoise. Colour tastes are notoriously fickle, from avocado bathroom suites to nude heels. Some colours may, however, have a power to influence our feelings and our behaviour regardless of the vagaries of fashion.
Humans get a bad press. Whether through organised war or individual acts of brutality, we seem to be responsible for an inordinate amount of death and destruction. So it might be surprising to realise that we are a relatively peaceful species. Not only that, according to psychologist Steven Pinker, human acts of violence have been steadily decreasing in frequency over millennia and continued to do so through the last century.
How do we define poverty? It is sometimes said that real poverty is rare in Western societies where even people on low incomes may have mobile phones and flat-screen televisions. But with ongoing cuts in welfare benefits and the use of charitable food-banks dramatically increasing, it is difficult to ignore recent findings that demonstrate the major impact that money worries have on our intelligence.
Are you craving something right now? Would you happily just give in and track down that chocolate bar, or rather find a fool-proof way to switch your focus onto something less calorie-packed? Researchers at the School of Psychology in Plymouth have found that playing the classic computer game Tetris could reduce intrusive thoughts about food or drugs like nicotine, alcohol and caffeine.