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A new cognitive psychology article nearly every day
We've discussed synesthesia many times before on Cognitive Daily -- it's the seemingly bizarre phenomenon when one stimulus (e.g. a sight or a sound) is experienced in multiple modalities (e.g. taste, vision, or colors). For example, a person might experience a particular smell whenever a given word or letter is seen or heard. Sometimes particular faces are associated with specific colors or auras. Synesthesia is relatively rare, but the people who experience it are genuine: their perceptions ar........ Read more »
Bargary G, Barnett KJ, Mitchell KJ, & Newell FN. (2009) Colored-speech synaesthesia is triggered by multisensory, not unisensory, perception. Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS, 20(5), 529-33. PMID: 19476587
Today I had to put off my normal morning run in order to make time to be interviewed on a radio show at 7:30 a.m. As I waited on hold for the interview to start, I could hear the hosts joking back-and-forth about what the "latest TV controversy" is. "Is it the Jay Leno / Conan O'Brien news on NBC?" the host asked? No. Then the hosts rattled through several other hot-button issues on television before arriving at this: "New research from the American Heart Association Journal [Circulation] sugges........ Read more »
Dunstan, D., Barr, E., Healy, G., Salmon, J., Shaw, J., Balkau, B., Magliano, D., Cameron, A., Zimmet, P., & Owen, N. (2010) Television Viewing Time and Mortality. The Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab). Circulation. DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.894824
It's football season in America: The NFL playoffs are about to start, and tonight, the elected / computer-ranked top college team will be determined. What better time than now to think about ... baseball! Baseball players, unlike most football players, must solve one of the most complicated perceptual puzzles in sports: how to predict the path of a moving target obeying the laws of physics, and move to intercept it.
The question of how a baseball player knows where to run in order to catch a f........ Read more »
Fink, P.W., Foo, P.S., & Warren, W.H. (2009) Catching fly balls in virtual reality: A critical test of the outfielder problem. Journal of Vision, 9(13), 1-8. info:/10.1167/9.13.14
The TV show Lie To Me focuses on the exploits of an expert in lie-detection as he solves perplexing crimes in his high-tech Washington laboratory. It's actually fun to watch, especially since it appears to make some effort to get the science right (a real-life expert on lie-detection, Paul Ekman, serves as a science adviser on the show).
One of the show's premises is that only highly-trained experts (most importantly, its protagonist, Cal Lightman) are capable of sniffing out a well-schooled l........ Read more »
Suppose your organization is interviewing candidates for an important job. Would it be better for one trusted person to have an extended interview with them, or for several people to talk to them for less time? How many people would you need to conduct the interviews? Would three be enough? Would ten be too many? If ten is good, wouldn't twenty be even better?
We've discussed thin-slicing studies before -- the idea that a few brief exposures to an individual can give just as accurate an impress........ Read more »
Borkenau, P., Mauer, N., Riemann, R., Spinath, F., & Angleitner, A. (2004) Thin Slices of Behavior as Cues of Personality and Intelligence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86(4), 599-614. DOI: 10.1037/0022-35188.8.131.529
I attended an unusual middle school. It was designed on an "open concept," with the idea that there should be no walls between classrooms. Social pressure would keep the noise levels down, because if kids got too loud, then their peers in other classes would encourage them to hush up. This actually worked most of the time, but one day one of the English teacher's classes was getting out of hand, and after trying several ways to get their attention, she resorted to something a big more dramatic. ........ Read more »
Huang, Y., Baddeley, A., & Young, A. (2008) Attentional capture by emotional stimuli is modulated by semantic processing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 34(2), 328-339. DOI: 10.1037/0096-15184.108.40.2068
Nalini Ambady has become famous for her research on "thin slicing," the idea that ordinary people can make accurate judgments about others amazingly quickly. We've discussed work from her lab showing that people can accurately predict teaching ability by watching just six seconds of video of a teacher at work. Other judgments, like gender, race, and age, can be made even faster.
But what about less obvious traits? Nicholas Rule and Ambady designed a study to see if college students could accura........ Read more »
Rule, N., & Ambady, N. (2008) Brief exposures: Male sexual orientation is accurately perceived at 50ms☆. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44(4), 1100-1105. DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2007.12.001
If you're a regular reader of Cognitive Daily, you're relatively accustomed to seeing surprising things. Indeed, it's gotten to the point where you might even expect it. You've seen optical illusions and videos that baffle the imagination. Yet most participants in psychology research studies aren't aware of the many ways the mind can be "tricked." One of the most dramatic tricks, which we've discussed several times, is the phenomenon of Change Blindness. A........ Read more »
Proulx T, & Heine SJ. (2008) The case of the transmogrifying experimenter: affirmation of a moral schema following implicit change detection. Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS, 19(12), 1294-300. PMID: 19121140
Recently a woman had her sick leave benefits based on a diagnosis of clinical depression terminated because of a few pictures she posted on her Facebook page showing her smiling at a birthday party and enjoying a trip to the beach. Was this a fair assessment of her medical condition? Probably not--people with clinical depression can have moments of genuine joy or elation, and even sad people can fake a smile for a photo.
But regardless of whether a few photos posted online are sufficient eviden........ Read more »
Weisbuch, M., Ivcevic, Z., & Ambady, N. (2009) On being liked on the web and in the “real world”: Consistency in first impressions across personal webpages and spontaneous behavior. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45(3), 573-576. DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2008.12.009
How does our visual system decide if something is a face? Some automated face-detecting software uses color as one cue that something is a face. For example Apple's iPhoto has no trouble determining that there are two faces in this color picture:
That's Nora in the back, and her cousin Ginger in front. In this picture, however, iPhoto can't identify a face:
That's a vintage black-and-white photo of Nora and Ginger's grandfather, but the computer can't find any faces in it. Do people, like ........ Read more »
Bindemann, M., & Burton, A.M. (2009) The Role of Color in Human Face Perception. Cognitive Science, 1144-1156. info:/10.1111/j.1551-6709.2009.01035.x
Who's more "sociable," men or women? Common sense says it's women, right? And many research studies back this impression up: Women are more interpersonal, more connected, more interdependent than men. Women are more likely to share intimate information with each other than men. But is that really the whole story?
There is also research suggesting that men have larger social networks than women do, and that male-male friendships last longer than female-female ones.
A team led by Joyce Benenson ........ Read more »
When we were getting ready to have our first child, I decided that I would quit my job, work out of home as a freelancer, and take care of our baby while Greta finished graduate school.
That worked well for about two years, but by the time Nora was born, we decided to hire a part-time nanny so I could finish a degree of my own. When Nora was one and Greta and I were starting new jobs in a new state, both kids entered full-time day care, and that was our child-care arrangement until they starte........ Read more »
Take a look at this video from last night's episode of Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show."
If you'd like, you can skip past all the political snark to the 4:47 mark to watch Jon bring cognitive psychology into prime time (or at least latenight cable)! That's right; you saw it: Jon Stewart mentioned the psychological concept of "object permanence" on national TV. Object permanence was introduced by Jean Piaget as a way of measuring the growing cognitive ability of children. Three-month-olds don't ........ Read more »
KAMINSKI, J., CALL, J., & TOMASELLO, M. (2008) Chimpanzees know what others know, but not what they believe. Cognition, 109(2), 224-234. DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2008.08.010
Greta and I did our undergraduate studies at the University of Chicago, or as a commonly-sold T-shirt on campus put it, "where fun goes to die." To say that Chicago didn't emphasize academics over a social life is to deny that people literally lived in the library (a full-scale campsite was found behind one of the stairwells in the stacks; students had been living there for months). It's not that the administration didn't try to encourage its students to socialize. The library did close at 10 p......... Read more »
Felsten, G. (2009) Where to take a study break on the college campus: An attention restoration theory perspective. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 29(1), 160-167. DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvp.2008.11.006
One of my favorite cartoons as a child was "Speed Racer." It featured an all-American boy (first name, "Speed," last name, "Racer") engaging in that most American of pastimes: driving fast cars. Except that "Speed Racer" wasn't really American; it was made in Japan, and the original Japanese voices were crudely overdubbed in English. Perhaps I can be excused for not noticing the Japanese origins of the show -- I was only 10 years old. Even now, as an ........ Read more »
Lu, A.S. (2009) What Race Do They Represent and Does Mine Have Anything to Do with It? Perceived Racial Categories of Anime Characters. Animation, 4(2), 169-190. DOI: 10.1177/1746847709104647
Take a look at this face:
Does it look more angry or fearful? It may be rather difficult to tell: About fifty percent of adults say faces like this are angry and fifty percent say it's fearful. However, for children, the story is different. Researchers have found that small children aren't as good as adults at recognizing emotions in faces. Young children would see this picture as more fearful than angry. However, most research has suggested that kids are just about as good as adults by the t........ Read more »
Thomas, L., De Bellis, M., Graham, R., & LaBar, K. (2007) Development of emotional facial recognition in late childhood and adolescence. Developmental Science, 10(5), 547-558. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2007.00614.x
Product placements in movies and TV shows are becoming so commonplace that my kids now cynically take note of them whenever they appear. It wasn't always that way. In 1982 when I first saw E.T. I had no idea that Elliott's use of Reeses' Pieces to lure E.T. into his home was part of a clever marketing ploy that had been pre-arranged with the multinational conglomerate selling the candy. Now that nearly every household has a DVR allowing viewers to fast-forward through commercials, advertisers ar........ Read more »
Yang, M., & Roskos-Ewoldsen, D. (2007) The Effectiveness of Brand Placements in the Movies: Levels of Placements, Explicit and Implicit Memory, and Brand-Choice Behavior. Journal of Communication, 57(3), 469-489. DOI: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.2007.00353.x
When Jim and Nora were in elementary school, both Greta and I worked challenging jobs, so we did whatever we could to save time. Instead of bringing lunches made by their parents, the kids bought hot meals at school. The school was proud of its cafeteria. Kids had credit accounts, which meant they didn't have to carry lunch money to school (thus making them less of a target for bullies). The children were encouraged to make "healthy choices" instead of just getting a ladleful of mystery meat plo........ Read more »
HENDY, H., WILLIAMS, K., & CAMISE, T. (2005) “Kids Choice” School lunch program increases children's fruit and vegetable acceptance. Appetite, 45(3), 250-263. DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2005.07.006
Recently we took our hybrid car into the shop for its annual emissions test. In our state, the test is conducted while the car is idling. A hybrid doesn't actually idle -- it shuts the engine off completely. So our car's emissions were tested at 0 RPM. It may be time to rethink our state's emissions laws.
There's another law that might need rethinking in the age of hybrids. Our car's internal combustion engine often doesn't start up even when the car is moving at low speeds -- it uses electric ........ Read more »
I've just read an engrossing report about some very promising research in a an exciting field. The researchers combined fMRI research with genetic analysis to see if they could identify a genetic basis for anger. And they actually found something quite interesting.
If I was writing for the New York Times, the headline might read something like this: "Researchers identify gene responsible for regulating anger." For the Washington Post, it could be "Is there an anger gene?" For the New York Post,........ Read more »
Reuter, M., Weber, B., Fiebach, C., Elger, C., & Montag, C. (2009) The biological basis of anger: Associations with the gene coding for DARPP-32 (PPP1R1B) and with amygdala volume. Behavioural Brain Research, 202(2), 179-183. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2009.03.032
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