When you have craved truth as you crave air, then you will know what truth is


We review recent evidence revealing that the mere willingness to engage analytic reasoning as a means to override intuitive “gut feelings” is a meaningful predictor of key psychological outcomes in diverse areas of everyday life. For example, those with a more analytic thinking style are more skeptical about religious, paranormal, and conspiratorial concepts. In addition, analytic thinking relates to having less traditional moral values, making less emotional or disgust-based moral judgments, and being less cooperative and more rationally self-interested in social dilemmas. Analytic thinkers are even less likely to offload thinking to smartphone technology and may be more creative.

{ SSRN | Continue reading }

oil on canvas { Alberto Giacometti, Portrait of Pierre Josse, 1961 }

Prank your future self by wasting your life


Health has been identified as an important variable involved in mate choice. Unhealthy organisms are generally less able to provide reproductively important resources to partners and offspring and are more likely to pass on communicable disease.

Research on human mate preferences has shown that both men and women prefer healthy mates. Yet to date, little research has examined how health relates to one’s own mating experiences. In the present study, 164 participants (87 women) who were currently in heterosexual romantic relationships completed measures of frequency and severity of health problems, anticipated partner infidelity, and intensity of jealousy felt in their current relationship. […]

[I]ndividuals who believe they are in poor health are also likely to perceive themselves to be at a mating disadvantage. Results indicated that self-reported poor health, in terms of both frequency and severity of health symptoms, predicted a greater perception that one’s partner would commit an infidelity as well as increased romantic jealousy. Anticipated partner infidelity mediated the links between health problems and jealousy, suggesting that unhealthy individuals perceive their partners as being more likely to mate with an intrasexual (same-sex) rival, in turn facilitating jealousy.

{ Evolutionary Psychology | PDF }

It’s a great thing when you realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself


A new study from Duke University finds that adolescents ages 10 to 16 can be more analytical in their economic choices than many slightly older young adults. […]

Scott Huettel, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke: “The new results point to the idea that we should not think of adolescents as being irrational. What’s different about them is they don’t use simple rules as effectively.”

Such simple rules are the mental shortcuts people take in decision-making—often to their benefit—as they age and gain more experience. Most adults apply the “don’t drink and drive” rule, for example, to avoid getting in a car with someone who’s been drinking. In contrast, teens may more carefully weigh this decision.

“Adolescents are going to be more likely to use cost-benefit analysis than the (simple rules) that adults use.” […]

Other research has shown that adolescents aren’t necessarily more risk-seeking but that they are more sensitive to good outcomes compared with adults.

{ Science Beta | Continue reading }

photo { Vasantha Yogananthan }

‘Every word is a prejudice.’ –Nietzsche


In daily life, we frequently encounter false claims in the form of consumer advertisements, political propaganda, and rumors. Repetition may be one way that insidious misconceptions, such as the belief that vitamin C prevents the common cold, enter our knowledge base. Research on the illusory truth effect demonstrates that repeated statements are easier to process, and subsequently perceived to be more truthful, than new statements.

The prevailing assumption in the literature has been that knowledge constrains this effect (i.e., repeating the statement “The Atlantic Ocean is the largest ocean on Earth” will not make you believe it). We tested this assumption. […]

Contrary to prior suppositions, illusory truth effects occurred even when participants knew better. […] Participants demonstrated knowledge neglect, or the failure to rely on stored knowledge, in the face of fluent processing experiences.

{ Journal of Experimental Psychology | Continue reading }

‘It’s about a guy who acts like he knows everything and then comes back crawling on his knees, which has happened to me so many times.’ —Claire Boucher


An experiment was carried out in a French bar. A waitress briefly touched (or not) the forearm of a patron when asking him/her what he/she want to drink. Results show that touch increases tipping behavior although giving a tip to a waitress in a bar is unusual in France. The familiarity of tactile contact in France was used to explain our results.

{ International Journal of Hospitality Management | Continue reading }

still { Ingmar Bergman, The Passion of Anna, 1969 }

A tweeker will steal your stuff and then help you look for it


“Despite the common belief that remembering our mistakes will help us make better decisions in the present,” says the study’s lead author, “we actually find that thinking about our failures at self-control leads us to repeat them and indulge in the present, so it’s not helpful at all.”

{ EurekAlert | Continue reading }

‘We all have darkness and light within us, and we are in control of neither.’ —Fiona Neill


A mezuzah is a small case affixed to the doorframe of each room in Jewish homes and workplaces which contains a tiny scroll of parchment inscribed with a prayer. It is customary for religious Jews to touch the mezuzah every time they pass through a door and kiss the fingers that touched it. However, kissing the mezuzah has also become customary for many secular Jews who think of the mezuzah as a good luck charm.

In view of a recent revelation that kissing the mezuzah entails a health hazard, the present paper inquires whether it also has some observable benefit. In an experiment conducted among non-religious mezuzah-kissing economics and business students confronted with a logic-problem exam, some were allowed to kiss the mezuzah before taking the exam, whereas the others were asked not to do so or could not do so because it had been removed from the room doorframe. The experiment revealed that participants who did not kiss the mezuzah performed worse than those who kissed it, and that the stronger is one’s belief in the mezuzah’s luck-enhancing properties, the better he performs when he kisses it but the worse he performs when he does not.

{ Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization | Continue reading }

‘Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?’ —T.S. Eliot


We meta-analyzed the effects of sexual media, violent media, sexual ads, and violent ads on the advertising outcomes of brand memory, brand attitudes, and buying intentions. The meta-analysis included 53 experiments involving 8,489 participants.

Analyses found that brands advertised in violent media content were remembered less often, evaluated less favorably, and less likely to be purchased than brands advertised in nonviolent, nonsexual media. Brands advertised using sexual ads were evaluated less favorably than brands advertised using nonviolent, nonsexual ads. There were no significant effects of sexual media on memory or buying intentions. There were no significant effects of sexual or violent ads on memory or buying intentions.

As intensity of sexual ad content increased, memory, attitudes, and buying intentions decreased.

When media content and ad content were congruent (e.g., violent ad in a violent program), memory improved and buying intentions increased.

Violence and sex never helped and often hurt ad effectiveness.

{ Psychological Bulletin/American Psychological Association | PDF }

related { Allegation that ad-serving companies deliberately slow down web pages to maximise profit }

Adding up is the essence of democracy


We present participants with coherent and incoherent narratives

When presented to coherent narratives participants remember plots

When presented to incoherent narratives participants remember facts

Plot formation modulate activity in the Default Mode Network of the brain

{ NeuroImage | Continue reading }

‘Saints live in flames; wise men, next to them.’ –Cioran


New research finds that sarcasm is far more nuanced, and actually offers some important, overlooked psychological and organizational benefits.

“To create or decode sarcasm, both the expressers and recipients of sarcasm need to overcome the contradiction (i.e., psychological distance) between the literal and actual meanings of the sarcastic expressions. This is a process that activates and is facilitated by abstraction, which in turn promotes creative thinking” […]

“Those in the sarcasm conditions subsequently performed better on creativity tasks than those in the sincere conditions or the control condition. This suggests that sarcasm has the potential to catalyze creativity in everyone. That being said, although not the focus of our research, it is possible that naturally creative people are also more likely to use sarcasm, making it an outcome instead of [a] cause in this relationship.” […]

“While most previous research seems to suggest that sarcasm is detrimental to effective communication because it is perceived to be more contemptuous than sincerity, we found that, unlike sarcasm between parties who distrust each other, sarcasm between individuals who share a trusting relationship does not generate more contempt than sincerity”

{ Harvard Gazette | Continue reading }

art { Broomberg & Chanarin }

Thursday: not a good day either for a mutton kidney at Buckley’s.


Healthy people who were given the serotonin-boosting antidepressant citalopram were willing to pay twice as much to prevent harm to themselves or others, compared to those given a placebo. By contrast, those who were given a dose of the dopamine-enhancing Parkinson’s drug levodopa made more selfish decisions, overcoming an existing tendency to prefer harming themselves over others.

{ IB Times | Continue reading }

If not reason, then the devil


New research shows that, for most of us, the last experience we’ve had can be the defining one when it comes to taking a decision, coming at the expense of other experiences we’ve accumulated further back in time. […]

People’s natural inclination towards a ‘happy ending’ means that we often ascribe greater value to experiences than they are worth, say researchers, meaning that we end up overvaluing experiences with a final uptick over those that taper at the last minute, despite being of equal or even lesser overall value, and making our next moves on that basis.

Writing in the journal, they use the analogy of a three-course dinner: it has mediocre starter, a fine main, and an excellent dessert. This will be viewed much more favourably – and have much more weight in any future decision – than the inverse: an excellent starter and ending with a mediocre dessert, despite the fact that overall both experiences share equal value.

{ ScienceBlog | Continue reading }