science

Still walkin barefoot, in Beverly Hills

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Litigation stemming from an incident in which a middle-aged woman tripped while stepping backward to take a photograph, and without first looking in her direction of travel, led to an observational study of the frequency with which people taking photographs step back without first looking where they were stepping. Prior research on looking before stepping backward did not exist.

Research assistants asked a convenience sample of middle-aged women to take a photograph of the assistants standing in front of a building. The task required the participants to step away from the building. The study found that 87% of the participants looked back at least once before or during a backward step, and that 83% of the steps away from the building were preceded by or accompanied by a look in the direction of travel. Suggestions for future research are provided.

{ Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting }

related { “The First Moonwalk” — Bill Bailey at the Apollo Theatre, New York, 1955 }

unrelated { Man accused of sexually abusing minor identifies himself as Michael Jackson }

still image { Faye Dunaway in Eyes of Laura Mars, 1978 }

who’s that peeping in my window, wow, the Feds on me now

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Paranoia is the most common symptom of psychosis, but paranoid concerns occur throughout the general population. […]

We suggest that paranoia should not solely be viewed as a pathological symptom of a mental disorder but also as a part of a normally-functioning human psychology.

{ Nature Human Behaviour | Continue reading | PDF }

screenprint on Perspex { Bridget Riley, Untitled [Fragment 5/8], 1965 }

But she caught me on the counter (It wasn’t me)

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many people will reject their own arguments – if they’re tricked into thinking that other people proposed them.

{ Neuroskeptic | Continue reading }

set of 10 woodcuts in ultramarine blue, on Okawara paper { Donald Judd, Untitled, 1988 }

Change my name in NY, they don’t know where I be

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The first cluster, or factor, of psychopathy is Fearless Dominance, which is characterized by social and physical boldness, adventurousness, and immunity to stress. The second factor of psychopathy is Self-Centered Impulsivity, which is is characterized by a narcissistic, callous and impulsive lifestyle and a willingness to take advantage of others without experiencing guilt. Note that those who score high in psychopathy tend to score high on both factors. In fact, if you just score high in Fearless Dominance, that might be an indication of a healthy personality! It’s the combination of these traits in a single package that makes it psychopathy. […]

In general, people did not find psychopathic characteristics particularly attractive for any form of relationship — whether it was a date, a short-term relationship, or a long-term relationship. […]

[T]hose with higher levels of psychopathic characteristics were more attracted to those with psychopathic characteristics. […] It wasn’t just psychopathy that predicted attraction to psychopathy. Many personality disorder features– such as histronic, narcissistic, obsessive-compulsive, schizotypal, passive-aggressive, self-defeating, antisocial, paranoid, borderline, avoidant, dependent, and sadistic features– were correlated with a preference for psychopathic characteristics.

{ Scientific American | Continue reading }

formica and industrial paint on wood { Lygia Clark, Planes in Modulated Surface 4, 1957 }

Just bees and things and flowers

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Hot temperatures do not have a significant effect on sexual activity on a given day. […] we found that temperature does not influence sexual activity on subsequent days either. […]

the relationship between temperature and sexual activity might be a mechanism of minor importance in the relationship between temperature and birth rates.

{ Demographic Research | Continue reading }

‘Ne nous prenons pas au sérieux, il n’y aura aucun survivant.’ –Alphonse Allais

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Contrary to the belief that happiness is hard to explain, or that it depends on having great wealth, researchers have identified the core factors in a happy life. The primary components are number of friends, closeness of friends, closeness of family, and relationships with co-workers and neighbors. Together these features explain about 70 percent of personal happiness.

{ Murray & Peacock, A model-free approach to the study of subjective well-being, 1996 }

related {  Having Poor Quality Relationships Is Associated With Greater Distress Than Having Too Few }

photo { Janice Guy }

I’ll take a rusty nail, and scratch your initials in my arm

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Leveraging popular social networking sites, individuals undertake certain forms of behavior to attract as many likes and followers as they can. One platform that symbolizes people’s love for strategic self-presentation to the utmost degree is Instagram. […]

Narcissism is characterized by grandiose exhibition of one’s beauty and pursuit of others’ admiration. Posting selfies/groupies is associated with narcissism and need for popularity. […]

Instagram selfies and groupies symbolize social media users’ public display of narcissism. From an evolutionary psychological perspective on the renovated hierarchy of fundamental human motives and needs, this study examined the interaction effects of Instagram photo types (selfies, group selfies, long-shot photos taken by others, and neutral photos) and Instagram peer viewers’ individual difference factors (intrasexual competition [ISC] for mates, need for popularity [NfP], loneliness, and need to belong [NtB]) on intersexual attraction. […]

The findings confirmed the assumption that a potential mate who posts selfies and groupies is perceived by opposite-sex viewers to be more narcissistic compared to a potential mate who posts neutral photos.

{ Evolutionary Psychology | Continue reading }

photo { Thierry Mugler, Monster Show, Elle US, November 1991 }

This is very surprising and it is a really bad news for CoCos, specially for those that have low coupon for the first call

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Revising things makes people think they are better, absent objective improvement. We refer to this phenomenon as the revision bias. […]

We propose that the fact that revisions typically are intended to be improvements over their originals gives rise to an overgeneralized heuristic that revisions necessarily are improvements over their originals. Yet, as any author responding to editorial reviews knows, not every revision turns out better than before. […]

Things that are objectively unchanged (or even made worse) in the revision process may nonetheless be adopted, so long as observers believe they possess a “revised” version.

{ Harvard Business School | PDF }

images { Sculpture by Yoan Capote | Barbara Kruger-annotated photo of Eliot Spitzer for New York magazine, 2008 }

A word now against Kant as a moralist

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If a rat sees another rat drowning, for example, it will forgo a chunk of chocolate to save its imperiled friend. […]

Scientists at the University of Chicago […] found that a white rat raised among only white rats will do nothing to save a black rat from a trap. Rats, like humans, can be biased in how they act on, or don’t act on, their empathy.

In a variant of the experiment, a white rat raised among only black rats would save a black rat from a trap — but would fail to save other white rats.

And a white rat raised among black and white rats rescued rats of both colors. The researchers found that it is not the rat’s color that determines which type of rat it will show empathy for, but the social context in which it was raised.

{ Henry James Garrett/NY Times | Continue reading }

related { when given a choice, do people avoid empathy? And if so, why? }

linocut on transfer paper { Christian Waller, The spirit of light, 1932 }

Counterintuitive nature of quantum physics leads to a number of paradoxes. One of them is a “quantum vampire” effect consisting in the fact that photon annihilation in a part of a large beam doesn’t change the shape of the beam profile (i. e., doesn’t cast a shadow), but may change the total beam intensity.

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First of all, I can remember very specific odors in extraordinary detail pretty much indefinitely. Moreover, I can conjure the memory of these odors exactly and at will. I have it on excellent authority from several researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center that this is a very rare capacity. […]

Secondly, I can mentally and very accurately forecast how the perceived odor of any given substance will change at various levels of concentration. […]

Thirdly and largely because of the two previously mentioned strange abilities, I can imagine discrete odors and know what will happen when I combine and arrange them while adjusting their concentrations – entirely in my head without even opening a bottle or picking up a pipette.

{ CB I Hate Perfume | Continue reading | Thanks Tim }

photo { Robert Mapplethorpe, Jack in the Pulpit, 1988 }

perhaps the same bird echoed through both of us

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identical twins […] bought home kits from AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA and Living DNA, and mailed samples of their DNA to each company for analysis. Despite having virtually identical DNA, the twins did not receive matching results from any of the companies. […]

An entire DNA sample is made up of about three billion parts, but companies that provide ancestry tests look at about 700,000 of those to spot genetic differences.

{ CBC | Continue reading }

Fuck your white horse and a carriage

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Advertising is ubiquitous in modern life. Yet might it be harmful to the happiness of nations? This paper blends longitudinal data on advertising with large-scale surveys on citizens’ well-being. The analysis uses information on approximately 1 million randomly sampled European citizens across 27 nations over 3 decades. We show that increases in national advertising expenditure are followed by significant declines in levels of life satisfaction.

{ University of Warwick | PDF }

photo { Joel Meyerowitz, New York City, 1968 }