New article in Motivation and Emotion

May 8th, 2023

On Saturday my new article was published in Motivation and Emotion 🙂 This one is called Probability bias is an independent correlate of depressive symptoms, and I ran the project with my colleague Çağla Aydın, and two excellent Independent Study Project students, Ekin Ulupunar and Mahnoor Nadeem.

You can find the paper here:

Small grant from TÜBİTAK

May 8th, 2023

I’m rather late posting this, but in January another project of mine started, with TÜBİTAK support. Thanks, TÜBİTAK!

This one is called Türk Ögrencilerde Depresyon: Zamanlar Arası Bir Meta-Analiz (Depression in Turkish students: A cross-temporal meta-analysis), and I am running it in equal collaboration with my previous Master’s student, Elif Şengül, with assistance from our friend İrem Ayçiçek.

We’re hoping to see whether reporting depressive symptom severity, among students at Turkish universities, has fluctuated since 1990. In particular, we are interested to see how depressive symptoms in this group were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project is progressing well, and I’m excited to see the results!

New article in CRPI!

April 9th, 2022

More good news: I was able to help my good friend Olesya Blazhenkova and our colleague Kıvılcım Döğerlioğlu Demir with one of their studies, about how face masks of different designs affect emotion recognition. This week the work has been published in the journal Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications. The article is freely available from the link below. I hope you like it!

New paper in Personality and Individual Differences!

March 4th, 2022

Today another of my paper on probability estimates has been published. Whoo!

This one is, inevitably, about COVID. We show that, early on in the pandemic, Turkish people’s (self-reported) COVID-preventive behaviours were completely unrelated to their perceived risk of catching the virus, but were related to their overall probability estimates for positive events. In other words, people who made more optimistic estimates about the probabilities of their becoming wealthy, being successful, being liked by other people etc. were more likely to take effective action against COVID by staying home, wearing masks, and washing their hands. People who made more pessimistic estimates about their probability of catching COVID did not take action to protect themselves. Weird, right?

You can access the paper for free, until 23rd April, from here.

Booth, R.W., Peker, M., Yavuz, B.B., & Aksu, A. (2022). Estimated probabilities of positive, vs. negative, events show separable correlations with COVID-19 preventive behaviours. Personality and Individual Differences, 191, 111576.

No ISP in Fall 2021 :(

June 27th, 2021

Small announcement: I’m probably not going to take any Independent Study students this coming Fall semester, 2021.  I really like running ISPs with good students, but this past semester I burned myself out trying to run four at once (plus a masters thesis or two), and I need to sit down and write some papers.

This really sucks, but I’ve learned that trying to help people out with ISPs, and then not being able to do them as well as I’d like, sucks even more.

New article in JBTEP!

June 27th, 2021

A new article of mine has been published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry!  It’s called Biased probability estimates in trait anxiety and trait depression are unrelated to biased availability, and it reports a study I ran in England a couple of years ago with my old friend Dinkar Sharma.  You can access a preprint via the link below (or by emailing me and asking for one!).

This is now the second article I’ve published on judgement biases in anxiety and depression, which has become my main research interest over the last few years.  I have a whole bunch of very interesting datasets sitting on my desktop, so hopefully you’ll see a few more articles about this from me before the end of the year! 

Booth, R.W., & Sharma, D. (2021). Biased probability estimates in trait anxiety and trait depression are unrelated to biased availability.  Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, article in press.

Talk at Neuroscience, Law, Psychology and Beyond symposium

October 17th, 2020

On 7th-8th October, my friends at MEF University held a great symposium on different approaches to free will.  I took the opportunity to talk about judgement biases, and how they might introduce predictable biases in the ‘free’ decisions of healthy and not-so-healthy people.  You can watch the video here:

Free will talk (Turkish dubbed)

(This is the Turkish-dubbed version, because the talk was broadcast with a simultaneous translation.  If we can find the original English version, I will post that too.)

New article in Heliyon!

June 16th, 2020

Recently I helped out my friend and colleague Dr Olesya Blazhenkova with a project on play preferences, and their variations between sexes and across age.  This work has now been published open-access in Heliyon.  You can find the article here!

Blazhenkova, O., & Booth, R.W. (2020).  Individual differences in visualization and childhood play preferences.  Heliyon, 6, e03953.


February 17th, 2020

Got myself a new electric shock generator from England.

It goes up to 400 volts.

Figured I might attach it to some students, and see what happens.


New grant from TÜBİTAK!

January 12th, 2020

The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) has supported my project “A Physiological Confirmation of Probability Bias in Anxiety and Depression”.  Thanks, folks!

The project is officially running from November 2019 to May 2021, but I hope it will produce lots of interesting new leads to explore over the coming years.  But for now, I’m going to spend my Spring semester sticking electrodes on people.  I’m looking forward to it!

New article in Cognition and Emotion!

August 13th, 2019

Hello again, it’s a been a good couple of weeks 🙂

This article is the first to be published about my new passion, which is judgement biases in anxiety and depression.  This paper is about probability bias, which is the tendency to think bad things are more likely to happen than good things.  We see this in people with anxiety, and in people with depression.

This article demonstrates that we also see the same bias in people who have weak attentional control, even if they’re not anxious or depressed.  That’s a bit surprising, but it reinforces the idea – which you’ll find a lot in the literature – that weak attentional control is a risk factor for emotional disorders.  This is because biases, like probability bias, are thought to play a role in the causation of emotional disorders, so anything which increases the chances of showing probability bias will probably also increase the chances of developing a disorder.  Stay tuned for more work on these topics …

Booth, R. W., & Sharma, D. (2019).  Attentional control and estimation of the probability of positive and negative events.  Cognition and Emotion.  Article accepted for publication.

New paper in the International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy!

August 13th, 2019

Another article accepted, this time in the International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy.  This one is about attentional control, and whether it is linked to anxiety disorders.  We know poor attentional control is linked to anxiety, but we didn’t know whether it had a special connection to anxiety disorders.  In other words, we didn’t know whether there would be a measurable difference in attentional control between someone with the mildest diagnosable anxiety disorder, and someone with very severe but not-diagnosably-high anxiety.  Long story short, there isn’t.

Booth, R. W., & Tekeş, B. (2019).  Individual differences in anxiety and worry, not anxiety disorders, predict weakened executive control: Preliminary evidence.  International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy, 19, 337-344.

The article is now available, open access, from here

New article in PLOS ONE!

April 4th, 2019

An article of mine, “A relationship between weak attentional control and cognitive distortions, explained by negative affect”, has been accepted for publication in PLOS ONE.  This article is about ‘cognitive distortions’, which are particular thinking habits we see in people high in anxiety and depression.  We show that these distortions seem to be related to weak attentional control, but only because weak attentional control is also related to anxiety and depression.

This is a nice one for me, for two reasons.  Firstly, it’s actually the first data I’ve published which were collected here at Sabancı.  Secondly and more importantly, Study 1 from the paper was run as a PROJ201 project with eight students from all faculties.  I gave them the study and they worked hard collecting the data, and make good presentations about their work at the end of semester.  Since they ran the study as part of a course, and therefore contributed intellectually to the project and to my writeup,  I am delighted to make them authors on the paper.  Well done, folks!

Booth, R.W., Sharma, D., Dawood, F., Doğan, M., Emam, H.E.M., Gönenç, S.S., Kula, A., Mazıcı, B., Saraçyakupoğlu, A., & Shahzad, A.-U.-R. (2019).  A relationship between weak attentional control and cognitive distortions, explained by negative affect. PLOS ONE, 14(4): e0215399.

Booth et al. 19 PLOS ONE

Independent Study Projects – Spring 2019

December 25th, 2018

Hi!  It’s that time of year again.  If you would like to work with me on your ISP this coming semester, please contact me NOW.

You can have your own idea, or you can join a project of mine …  Just email me with your interests, GPA and Research Methods grades.

New paper in Current Psychology!

October 19th, 2018

Today our paper “Perceived Self-Society Moral Discrepancies Concerning Fairness Predict Depression and Paranoid Ideation” has been accepted for publication in the journal Current Psychology.  This paper follows up some of our earlier work with our graduate Nurdan Gündoğdu.  Replicating that work, we found that perceiving that one’s own moral beliefs are different (not stronger, just different) to those of the larger society correlated with symptoms of depression and paranoia.  This is, unfortunately, more and more relevant in these days of large-scale migration and political polarisation.

Peker, M., Booth, R.W., & Güney, O. (2018). Perceived self-society moral discrepancies concerning fairness predict depression and paranoid ideation.  Current Psychology.

New article in QJEP!

August 6th, 2018

Hello, today an article of mine has been formally accepted for publication in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.  Which is nice.  You can find the preprint here.

The article is about why stress sometimes improves selective attention.  Long story short, it seems to overload your attention system, so that you can pay attention to less stuff.  Ironically, this can mean you pay attention to less irrelevant stuff, and get distracted less.  Obviously this effect only works under certain specific circumstances: you should not try to increase your stress level when studying for exams!

Booth, R.W. (2018).  Reduced Stroop interference under stress: Decreased cue utilisation, not increased executive control.  Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.  Article in press.

ISPs for Fall 2018

July 11th, 2018

Hi, if you are interested in working with me for your Independent Study Project in Fall 2018, please contact me NOW.  Tell me your interests, your PSY303 grade, your overall GPA, and how many courses you plan to take this semester.