psychology

When I wake up in the afternoon, which it pleases me to do

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What do you want to hear first: Good news or bad news?

Our answer to this question is different depending on whether we’re the one delivering the news or we’re the one receiving the news.

{ Jeremiah Stanghini | Continue reading }

photo { Anna Grzelewska }

‘Never confuse the size of your paycheck with the size of your talent.’ —Marlon Brando

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People often believe they have more control over outcomes (particularly positive outcomes) than they actually do. Psychologists discovered this illusion of control in controlled experiments. […] People suffering from depression tend not to fall for this illusion. That fact, along with similar findings from depression, gave rise to the term depressive realism. Two recent studies now suggest that patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may also represent contingency and estimate personal control differently from the norm. […] Their obsessions cause them distress and they perform compulsions in an effort to regain some sense of control over their thoughts, fears, and anxieties. Yet in some cases, compulsions (like sports fans’ superstitions) seem to indicate an inflated sense of personal control. Based on this conventional model of OCD, you might predict that people with the illness will either underestimate or overestimate their personal control over events. So which did the studies find? In a word: both.

{ Garden of the Mind | Continue reading }

‘By letting it go it all gets done.’ —Lao Tze

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Male movements serve as courtship signals in many animal species, and may honestly reflect the genotypic and/or phenotypic quality of the individual. Attractive human dance moves, particularly those of males, have been reported to show associations with measures of physical strength, prenatal androgenization and symmetry. […]

By using cutting-edge motion-capture technology, we have been able to precisely break down and analyse specific motion patterns in male dancing that seem to influence women’s perceptions of dance quality. We find that the variability and amplitude of movements in the central body regions (head, neck and trunk) and speed of the right knee movements are especially important in signalling dance quality.

{ Biology Letters | PDF }

A roman walks into a bar, holds up two fingers and says, Five beers please

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Your voice betrays your personality in a split second

[…]

They extracted the word “hello” and asked 320 people to rate the voices on a scale of 1 to 9 for one of 10 perceived personality traits – including trustworthiness, dominance and attractiveness. […] “We were surprised by just how similar people’s ratings were.” […] most people agreed very closely to what extent each voice represented each trait.

{ NewScientist | Continue reading }

related { How sound affects the taste of our food }

‘The higher we soar, the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly.’ —Nietzsche

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These fictional examples suggest that creativity and dishonesty often go hand-in-hand. Is there an actual link? Is there something about the creative process that triggers unethical behavior? Or does behaving in dishonest ways spur creative thinking? My research suggests that they both exist: Encouraging people to think outside the box can result in greater cheating, and crossing ethical boundaries can make people more creative in subsequent tasks. 

{ Scientific American | Continue reading }

‘Max I can loose is 100%. Max I can gain is unlimited.’ —Shit /r/Bitcoin says

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The arguments for ditching notes and coins are numerous, and quite convincing. In the US, a study by Tufts University concluded that the cost of using cash amounts to around $200 billion per year – about $637 per person. This is primarily the costs associated with collecting, sorting and transporting all that money, but also includes trivial expenses like ATM fees. Incidentally, the study also found that the average American wastes five and a half hours per year withdrawing cash from ATMs; just one of the many inconvenient aspects of hard currency.

While coins last decades, or even centuries, paper currency is much less durable. A dollar bill has an average lifespan of six years, and the US Federal Reserve shreds somewhere in the region of 7,000 tons of defunct banknotes each year.

Physical currency is grossly unhealthy too. Researchers in Ohio spot-checked cash used in a supermarket and found 87% contained harmful bacteria. Only 6% of the bills were deemed “relatively clean.” […]

Stockholm’s homeless population recently began accepting card payments. […]

Cash transactions worldwide rose just 1.75% between 2008 and 2012, to $11.6 trillion. Meanwhile, non traditional payment methods rose almost 14% to total $6.4 trillion.

{ TransferWise | Continue reading }

The anal stage is the second stage in Sigmund Freud’s theory of psychosexual development, lasting from age 18 months to three years. According to Freud, the anus is the primary erogenous zone and pleasure is derived from controlling bladder and bowel movement. […]

The negative reactions from their parents, such as early or harsh toilet training, can lead the child to become an anal-retentive personality. If the parents tried forcing the child to learn to control their bowel movements, the child may react by deliberately holding back in rebellion. They will form into an adult who hates mess, is obsessively tidy, punctual, and respectful to authority. These adults can sometimes be stubborn and be very careful over their money.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

related { Hackers Hit Mt. Gox Exchange’s CEO, Claim To Publish Evidence Of Fraud | Where are the 750k Bitcoins lost by Mt. Gox? }

‘One is always wrong, but with two, truth begins.’ –Nietzsche

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Two fields stand out as different within cognitive psychology. These are the study of reasoning, especially deductive reasoning and statistical inference, and the more broadly defined field of decision making. For simplicity I label these topics as the study of reasoning and decision making (RDM). What make RDM different from all other fields of cognitive psychology is that psychologists constantly argued with each other and with philosophers about whether the behavior of their participants is rational. The question I address here is why? What is so different about RDM that it attracts the interests of philosophers and compulsively engages experimental psychologists in judgments of how good or bad is the RDM they observe.

Let us first consider the nature of cognitive psychology in general. It is branch of cognitive science, concerned with the empirical and theoretical study of cognitive processes in humans. It covers a wide collection of processes connected with perception, attention, memory, language, and thinking. However, only in the RDM subset of the psychology of thinking is rationality an issue. For sure, accuracy measures are used throughout cognitive psychology. We can measure whether participants detect faint signals, make accurate judgments of distances, recall words read to them correctly and so on. The study of non-veridical functions is also a part of wider cognitive psychology, for example the study of visual illusions, memory lapses, and cognitive failures in normal people as well as various pathological conditions linked to brain damage, such as aphasia. But in none of these cases are inaccurate responses regarded as irrational. Visual illusions are attributed to normally adaptive cognitive mechanisms that can be tricked under special circumstances; memory errors reflect limited capacity systems and pathological cognition to brain damage or clinical disorders. In no case is the person held responsible and denounced as irrational.

{ Frontiers | Continue reading }

photo { Slim Aarons }

JFK ✈ YOUR BEDROOM

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Both men and women erred in estimating what the opposite sex would find attractive. Men thought women would like a heavier stature than females reported they like, and women thought men would like women thinner than men reported they like.

Results suggest that, overall, men’s perceptions serve to keep them satisfied with their figures, whereas women’s perceptions place pressure on them to lose weight.

{ APA/PsycNET | Continue reading }

‘The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.’ –Nietzsche

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fMRI studies show that the same areas of the brain become activated when we experience rejection as when we experience physical pain.

{ Psychology Today | Continue reading | Thanks Tim }

‘I’m running the Shakespeare Monologue booth at this year’s Van’s Warped Tour. It’s $5 for tragedies.’ —Jeb Lund

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It’s a con­cept that had become uni­ver­sally under­stood: humans expe­ri­ence six basic emotions—happiness, sad­ness, anger, fear, dis­gust, and surprise—and use the same set of facial move­ments to express them. What’s more, we can rec­og­nize emo­tions on another’s face, whether that person hails from Boston or Borneo.

The only problem with this con­cept, according to North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor of Psy­chology Lisa Feldman Bar­rett, is that it isn’t true at all.

{ Northeastern | Continue reading }

art { Richard Hamilton, Swingeing London 67 (f), 1968-9 | Acrylic paint, screenprint, paper, aluminium and metalised acetate on canvas }

Hell is the impossibility of reason

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Men want sex more than women do. (While I am sure that you can think of people who don’t fit this pattern, my colleagues and I have arrived at this conclusion after reviewing hundreds of findings. It is, on average, a very robust finding.) This difference is due in part to the fact that men, compared to women, focus on the rewards of sex. Women tend to focus on its costs because having sex presents them with bigger potential downsides, from physical (the toll of bearing a child) to social (stigma).

Accordingly, the average man’s sexual system gets activated fairly easily. When it does, it trips off a whole system in the brain focused on rewards. In fact, merely seeing a bra can propel men into reward mode, seeking immediate satisfaction in their decisions.

Most of the evidence suggests that women are different, that a sexy object would not cause them to shift into reward mode. This goes back to the notion that sex is rife with potential costs for women. Yet, at a basic biological level, the sexual system is directly tied to the reward system (through pleasure-giving dopaminergic reactions). This would seem to suggest a contrasting hypothesis that perhaps women will also shift into reward mode when their sexual system is activated. […] Women, more than men, connect sex to emotions. Festjens and colleagues therefore used a subtle, emotional cue to initiate sexual motivation – touch. Across three experiments, Festjens and colleagues found that women who touched sexy male clothing items, compared to nonsexual clothing items, showed evidence of being in reward mode.

{ Scientific American | Continue reading }

“If a stranger came up to a woman, grabbed her around the waist, and rubbed his groin against her in a university cafeteria or on a subway, she’d probably call the police. In the bar, the woman just tries to get away from him.”

[…]

“The current study was part of an evaluation of the Safer Bars program, a program we developed to reduce aggression in bars, primarily male-to-male aggression,” said Graham. “However, when we saw how much sexual aggression there was, we decided to conduct additional analyses. So these analyses of sexual aggression were in response to how much we observed – which was considerably more than we were expecting.”

{ ScienceNewsline | Continue reading }

photo { John Gutmann, Memory, 1939 }

Yes, some spinach. Crucial moment.

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Almost half of all disturbing dreams contain primary emotions other than fear, study finds […]

The research also found that men and women tend to have different dreams. Men were “significantly” more likely to report themes involving disaster or calamity as well as insects while women’s dreams were more likely to feature interpersonal conflicts.

{ Telegraph | Continue reading }

related { Use what hotels know about sleeping to build your own dreamland }