psychology

How the world appears to us in certain forms imposed by our brains

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Is our perceptual experience a veridical representation of the world or is it a product of our beliefs and past experiences? Cognitive penetration describes the influence of higher level cognitive factors on perceptual experience and has been a debated topic in philosophy of mind and cognitive science.

{ Consciousness and Cognition | Continue reading }

photo { Can you think a thought which isn’t yours? A remarkable new study suggests you can }

‘We may also attack simply to become aware of our own strength.’ —Nietzsche

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We found that women experience more jealousy toward women with cosmetics, and view these women as more attractive to men and more promiscuous.

{ Perception | Continue reading }

photo { Bon Jane }

‘The first principle of all action is leisure.’ —Aristotle

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The publication of Richard Krafft-Ebbing’s masterwork Psychopathia Sexualis in 1886 represented a landmark in thinking about human sexuality and the bizarre forms that it can take. In addition to describing different types of sexual expression that the author regarded as “perverse” (usually any form of sex that didn’t lead to procreation), it quickly became one of the most influential books on human sexuality ever written and introduced numerous new terms into common usage. One of these terms was “masochism,” which Krafft-Ebbing defined as the opposite of sadism (which he also coined). While the later is the desire to cause pain and use force, the former is the wish to suffer pain and be subjected to force.  

one person in particular who was less than pleased with the new term was the Austrian author, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. Krafft-Ebbing justified naming this new sexual anomaly after the prominent author whom he described as “the poet of Masochism” due to his erotic writings and because of his own eccentric personal life. […]

Venus in Furs, the short novel for which Sacher-Masoch is best known, was published in 1870, and has become an erotic classic in its own right. In this book, the hero Severin asks to be treated as a slave and to be abused by Wanda (the “Venus in furs” of the story). The fact that Sacher-Masoch often acted out these fantasies in real-life with his wives and mistresses was not well-known. […]

It may be a coincidence that his health went into a decline shortly after Psychopathia Sexualis came out but by March of 1895, he was delusional and violent. After attempting to kill his then-wife Hulda, she arranged for him to be discreetly moved to an asylum in Lindheim, Hesse. Although his official obituary states that he died that year, there are claims that Sacher-Masoch lived on as an anonymous asylum inmate and actually died years later.

{ Providentia | Continue reading }

People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles

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Most people in industrialized societies grow up in core (parents only) families with few if any siblings. Based on an evolutionary perspective, it may be argued that this environment reflects a mismatch, in that the tribal setting offered a larger number of close affiliates. The present project examined whether this mismatch may have a negative impact on mental health. […]

The number of household members correlated with scores on good mental health at all ages tested (3, 5 and 8 years). […] Living with a single mother did not make any difference compared to two parents. Girls were slightly more responsive to the presence of siblings than boys. Household pets did not have any appreciable impact.

{ BMC Psychology | Continue reading }

Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road

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A majority of people the world over eat meat, yet many of these same people experience discomfort when the meat on their plate is linked to the death of animals. We draw on this common form of moral conflict — the meat-paradox — to develop insights into the ways in which morally troublesome behaviors vanish into the commonplace and every day.

Drawing on a motivational analysis, we show how societies may be shaped by attempts to resolve dissonance, in turn protecting their citizens from discomfort associated with their own moral conflicts. To achieve this, we build links between dissonance reduction, habit formation, social influence, and the emergence of social norms and detail how our analysis has implications for understanding immoral behavior and motivations underpinning dehumanization and objectification.

{ Personality and Social Psychology Review }

‘A great truth is a truth whose opposite is also a truth.’ –Thomas Mann

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A disproportionate share of people choose spouses, places to live, and occupations with names similar to their own. These findings, interpreted as evidence of implicit egotism [the liking of things connected to the self], are now included in most modern social psychology textbooks and many university courses. […]

This paper re-evaluates evidence that seemed to show that implicit egotism can influence marriage, occupation, and moving decisions, finding that all existing evidence appears to be spurious.

{ NPR | Continue reading }

art { Lawren Harris, Mount Thule, Bylot Island, 1930 }

You don’t shoot down every fighter plane launched against you, you blow up the platform they’re being launched from

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Although genius has been defined in the dictionary as requiring an IQ above 140, this definition depends on an arbitrary methodological decision made by Lewis Terman for his longitudinal study of more than 1500 intellectually gifted children, a study that occupies four of the five volumes of Genetic Studies of Genius. […]

[T]he actual relation between IQ and genius is small and heavily contingent on domain-specific assessment, the operation of traits like persistence and openness to experience, and the impact of diversifying experiences, including both developmental adversity and subclinical psychopathology. Hence, the dictionary definition of “genius” has minimal, if any, justification.

{ Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences | Continue reading }

image { Details | PDF }

A mood comes neither from ‘outside’ nor from ‘inside,’ but arises out of Being-in-the-world, as a way of such being

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We present a case with excessive Internet use, with a particular focus on phenomenology and psychiatric comorbidities. Fifteen-year-old girl with childhood onset attention deficit disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, adolescent onset trichotillomania, and disturbed family environment presented with excessive Facebook use. Main online activity was creating profiles in names of mainstream fictional characters and assuming their identity (background, linguistic attributes, etc.).

{ Journal of Behavioral Addictions | Continue reading }

art { thedatadrive.com }

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‘I experimented with marijuana a time or two and I didn’t like it. I didn’t inhale.’ —Bill Clinton

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Most of us think that friendship is a two-way street — but that’s true only half the time, according to research from Tel Aviv University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Their new joint study says only half of your friends would consider you their own friend. People have a very poor perception of friendship ties, and this limits their ability to influence their “friends,” according to the research, published in PLoS One on March 22, 2016.

If researchers can understand this limitation, companies and social groups that depend on social influence for collective action, information dissemination and product promotion could improve their strategies and interventions.

“It turns out that we’re very bad at judging who our friends are,” says Dr. Erez Shmueli, who conducted the study with Dr. Laura Radaelli, both of TAU’s Department of Industrial Engineering, in collaboration with Prof. Alex Pentland and Abdullah Almatouq of MIT. “And our difficulty determining the reciprocity of friendship significantly limits our ability to engage in cooperative arrangements.”

{ Tel Aviv University | Continue reading }

oil on canvas { Kei Imazu, Berlin 1943-1945, 2014 }

Cause we’re the party people night and day

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The Devil looks you in the eyes and offers you a bet. Pick a number and if you successfully guess the total he’ll roll on two dice you get to keep your soul. If any other number comes up, you go to burn in eternal hellfire.

You call “7” and the Devil rolls the dice.

A two and a four, so the total is 6 — that’s bad news.

But let’s not dwell on the incandescent pain of your infinite and inescapable future, let’s think about your choice immediately before the dice were rolled.

Did you make a mistake? Was choosing “7” an error?

In one sense, obviously yes. You should have chosen 6.

But in another important sense you made the right choice. There are more combinations of dice outcomes that add to 7 than to any other number. The chances of winning if you bet 7 are higher than for any other single number.

The distinction is between a particular choice which happens to be wrong, and a choice strategy which is actually as good as you can do in the circumstances. If we replace the Devil’s Wager with the situations the world presents you, and your choice of number with your actions in response, then we have a handle on what psychologists mean when they talk about “cognitive error” or “bias”.

{ Mind Hacks | Continue reading }

‘The trust in life is gone: life itself has become a problem. Yet one should not jump to the conclusion that this necessarily makes one gloomy. Even love of life is still possible, only one loves differently.’ —Nietzsche

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Stressful, busy days have been linked with increases in angry and withdrawn marital behavior. The process by which stressors in one domain, such as work, affect an individual’s behavior in another domain, such as the marital relationship, is known as spillover.

{ Journal of Family Psychology | Continue reading }

‘We have psychologized like the insane, who aggravate their madness in struggling to understand it.’ —Beaudelaire

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According to film mythology, the Soviet filmmaker Lev Kuleshov conducted an experiment in which he combined a close-up of an actor’s neutral face with three different emotional contexts: happiness, sadness, and hunger. The viewers of the three film sequences reportedly perceived the actor’s face as expressing an emotion congruent with the given context.

It is not clear, however, whether or not the so-called “Kuleshov effect” really exists. The original film footage is lost and recent attempts at replication have produced either conflicting or unreliable results.

The current paper describes an attempt to replicate Kuleshov’s original experiment using an improved experimental design. In a behavioral and eye tracking study, 36 participants were each presented with 24 film sequences of neutral faces across six emotional conditions. For each film sequence, the participants were asked to evaluate the emotion of the target person in terms of valence, arousal, and category. The participants’ eye movements were recorded throughout.

The results suggest that some sort of Kuleshov effect does in fact exist.

{ Perception | Continue reading }