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A new cognitive psychology article nearly every day
A particular source of dread for politicians is how to respond to negative campaigning or other information impugning their character. By responding, they might only bring attention to an issue that voters hadn't even recognized: "Contrary to my opponent's claims, I have stopped beating my wife, and I haven't consumed more than a fifth of hard liquor in a single sitting."
Worse, many studies have found that even unequivocal denials fail to register in memory. In one stu........ Read more »
David Rapp, & Panayiota Kendeou. (2007) Revising what readers know: Updating text representations during narrative comprehension. Memory , 35(8), 2019-2032. http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/psocpubs/mrc/2007/00000035/00000008/art00016
The Mafa people, who live in the far north of Cameroon in the Mandara mountains, are one of the most culturally isolated groups in the world. Since many of their settlements lack electricity, there are some individuals who have never been exposed to western movies, art, or music.
But the Mafa do have their own musical tradition. Many of their ceremonies are accompanied by a unique chorus of flutes of varying sizes, which can produce different pitches by covering and uncovering a small hole at t........ Read more »
Fritz, T., Jentschke, S., Gosselin, N., Sammler, D., Peretz, I., Turner, R., Friederici, A., & Koelsch, S. (2009) Universal Recognition of Three Basic Emotions in Music. Current Biology. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.02.058
The Rokeby Venus by Diego Velázquez is a good example of a very common illusion in many paintings:
Most viewers would say this picture depicts a woman viewing her own reflection in a mirror. But based on the orientation of the mirror, it's actually physically impossible for her to see her own reflection. Since we can see her face, then if she could see face in the mirror, her head would have to be positioned between us and the the mirror. At best all she would be able to see is us (or rather, ........ Read more »
Bertamini, M., Latto, R., & Spooner, A. (2003) The Venus effect: people's understanding of mirror reflections in paintings. Perception, 32(5), 593-599. DOI: 10.1068/p3418
What makes children so cute? Is it their adorably soft skin? Their innocently mischievous smiles? Their oversized eyes and tiny little mouths? Why is it that some kids singled out for TV commercials and child beauty pageants, while others don't seem to be noteworthy in any way?
Attractiveness in children isn't trivial -- teachers believe more attractive students are more intelligent, and are less likely to punish them for misbehavior. There are also gender differences: Teachers give b........ Read more »
Reiko Koyama, Yuwen Takahashi, & Kazuo Mori. (2006) ASSESSING THE CUTENESS OF CHILDREN: SIGNIFICANT FACTORS AND GENDER DIFFERENCES. Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, 34(9), 1087-1099. DOI: 10.2224/sbp.2006.34.9.1087
Every year about this time, we start thinking about an exciting television event: the Super Bowl. I'm excited because it's the biggest football game of the year. The rest of the family just likes to watch the commercials. No doubt, some of those commercials are hilarious, and there's often more conversation about the commercials than the game itself. Companies spend millions buying advertising time, and millions more developing commercials that will stand out from the pack on Super Bowl Sunday. ........ Read more »
James J. Kellaris, & Thomas W. Cline. (2007) Humor and ad memorability: On the contributions of humor expectancy, relevancy, and need for humor. Psychology and Marketing, 24(6), 497-509. DOI: 10.1002/mar.20170
Ask almost anyone whether willfully deceiving another person -- lying -- is wrong, and they'll say it is. But probe a little deeper and most people will say there are some instances where lying is okay: lying to prevent a crime or an injustice is acceptable, just not lying for personal gain. Parents teach their kids that lying is wrong, and punish them for telling lies.
I can still remember the shock when my parents "lied" about my sixth birthday (which was a day away) at an ice-........ Read more »
Serena Perkins, & Elliot Turiel. (2007) To Lie or Not to Lie: To Whom and Under What Circumstances. Child Development, 78(2), 609-621. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2007.01017.x
Take a look at these two pictures of the Mona Lisa:
They're derived from a series of images of the famous painting that had been obscured by random noise filters (like when your old analog TV wasn't getting a signal), like this:
Each picture appears to have a slightly different facial expression -- some happier, some sadder, depending on the random alteration of the image due to the visual noise. The two color pictures above are composites, made by picking the saddest (for picture B) and happi........ Read more »
One of the most controversial topics here on Cognitive Daily is whether playing video games can lead to aggressive behavior or violence -- and one of the most dramatic demonstrations of the impact of violent video games was a 2000 study by Craig Anderson and Karen Dill. In that study, participants played violent or non-violent games, and then were asked to play another "game," this time against what they believed was a real person in a nearby room. In fact, there was no human opponent, and the ........ Read more »
MEIER, B., WILKOWSKI, B., & ROBINSON, M. (2008) Bringing out the agreeableness in everyone: Using a cognitive self-regulation model to reduce aggression. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44(5), 1383-1387. DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2008.05.005
(This entry was originally posted in May, 2006)
We've discussed implicit attitudes on Cognitive Daily before, but never in the context of food. The standard implicit attitude task asks you to identify items belonging to two different categories. Consider the following lists. Use your mouse to click on items which are either pleasant or related to Genetically Modified foods (GM foods). (Clicking won't actually do anything, it's just a way of self-monitoring your progress)
Transg........ Read more »
Spence, A., & Townsend, E. (2006) Implicit attitudes towards genetically modified (GM) foods: A comparison of context-free and context-dependent evaluations. Appetite, 67-74.
How do you decide how dangerous a sex-offender is? Certainly all cases of sexual assault are appalling, but clearly some incidents are worse than others. In some places, teenagers who photograph themselves naked and send the pictures to their friends can be prosecuted as purveyors of child-pornography. While we may want to intervene in these cases, surely the action shouldn't be as drastic as when we're dealing with an adult who's a serial child rapist.
There are miles of gray area between thes........ Read more »
Anthony R. Beech, Ellis Kalmus, Steven P. Tipper, Jean-Yves Baudouin, Vanja Flak, & Glyn W. Humphreys. (2008) Children induce an enhanced attentional blink in child molesters. Psychological Assessment, 20(4), 397-402. DOI: 10.1037/a0013587
In 2007 I received a really cool Christmas present that I still haven't used. It's a kit to help identify the various components of the aroma in a glass of wine. I haven't used it because I wanted to wait for the right occasion -- say, a party with some of my wine-loving friends. But I've also been secretly skeptical whether it would really help. The kit has tiny vials that are supposed to represent individual aromas: "oak," "hazelnut," "coffee," "cherry," and so on. What does identifying an aro........ Read more »
Stevenson, R.J., Case, T.I., & Mahmut, M. (2007) Difficulty in evoking odor images: The role of odor naming. Memory , 35(3), 578-589.
[Originally posted in November 2006]
The recent controversial shooting of an unarmed black man in New York has generated terrible grief and perhaps justifiable anger. But if officers honestly believed the man was armed and intended to harm them, weren't they justified in shooting?
Perhaps, but an important additional question is this: were they predisposed to believe he was armed simply because he was black? Consider this quick movie:
Click to play (QuickTime required)
It will flash two pict........ Read more »
Ashby Plant, E., & Michelle Peruche, B. (2005) The Consequences of Race for Police Officers' Responses to Criminal Suspects. Psychological Science, 16(3), 180-183. DOI: 10.1111/j.0956-7976.2005.00800.x
Take a look at this quick movie. You'll be shown a "ready" screen, followed by a quick flash of eight letters arranged in a circle. Your job is to spot either a "Z" or a "K" in that circle of letters, while ignoring other letters appearing outside of the circle.
You'll see two different circles of letters in the movie. Each circle will either contain a Z or a K. Again, ignore the letters appearing outside of the circle. Go ahead, give it a shot.
If things flashed by too fast the first time, gi........ Read more »
Sophie Forster, & Nilli Lavie. (2007) High Perceptual Load Makes Everybody Equal: Eliminating Individual Differences in Distractibility With Load. Psychological Science, 18(5), 377-381. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.01908.x
Take a look at this quick video. You'll see a set of six small images, arranged in a circle, for 1 second. Then the screen will go blank for 1 second. Finally, one image will reappear in the place of one of the first six pictures. Your job: indicate whether the final image is the same or different as the image that originally appeared in that same spot.
Click here to view the movie (QuickTime required)
In principle, this should be an easy task, right? Your visual working memory can hold around........ Read more »
M. SCOLARI, E. K. VOGEL, & E. AWH. (2008) Perceptual expertise enhances the resolution but not the number of representations in working memory. Psychonomic Bulletin , 15(1), 215-222. DOI: 10.3758/PBR.15.1.215
What are we looking at when we recognize faces? The shapes of of the individual components of the face -- eyes, nose, mouth? Or are we recognizing the larger patterns of how those parts relate to one another -- the distance between the eyes, the position of the mouth relative to the nose? We're actually probably doing some of each, with those configural patterns playing a slightly more important role.
But this raises an important question for perception researchers, because recognizing details ........ Read more »
Olivia S. Cheung, Jennifer J. Richler, Thomas J. Palmeri, & Isabel Gauthier. (2008) Revisiting the role of spatial frequencies in the holistic processing of faces. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 34(6), 1327-1336. DOI: 10.1037/a0011752
A number of studies have found that older adults aren't as good at certain visual tasks compared to younger adults. Mental rotation, for example, is both slower and less accurate. But other studies have found that for certain types of mental rotation, older adults do just as well as younger adults. The dividing line, these researchers argued, was based on whether the viewer was rotating or the objects themselves were rotating.
So in a classic mental rotation task like Shepard and Metzler's, old........ Read more »
Mélanie Joanisse, Sylvain Gagnon, Joshua Kreller, & Marie-Claude Charbonneau. (2008) Age-related differences in viewer-rotation tasks: Is mental manipulation the key factor?. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 63B(3), 193-200. http://psychsoc.gerontologyjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/63/3/P193
When we first moved to the small suburban town we still live in, we quickly realized we needed to buy a second car. Nora and Jim were just one and two and a half years old, only barely beginning to understand language. After we made our purchase, sometimes we drove in the old car (a Subaru station wagon), and sometimes in the new car (a Plymouth minivan). Since neither child could pronounce words as complicated as "minivan," they had to come up with their own way to refer to the vehicl........ Read more »
Jodie Plumert, & Penney Nichols-Whitehead. (2007) Developmental differences in preferences for using color, size, and location information to disambiguate hiding places. Journal of Cognitive Development, 8(4), 427-454. DOI: 10.1080/15248370701612977
Imagine the following scenario:
Matthew is playing with his new kitten late one night. He is wearing only his boxer shorts, and the kitten sometimes walks over his genitals. Eventually, this arouses him, and he begins to rub his bare genitals along the kitten's body. The kitten purrs, and seems to enjoy the contact. How wrong is it for Matthew to be rubbing himself against the kitten?
Or how about this one:
You find a wallet with several hundred dollars in cash, along with credit cards includ........ Read more »
Schnall, S., Benton, J., & Harvey, S. (2008) With a Clean Conscience: Cleanliness Reduces the Severity of Moral Judgments. Psychological Science, 19(12), 1219-1222. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02227.x
Any serious wine drinker will tell you she can distinguish between inexpensive, low-quality wine and the fancy premium-priced stuff. She may also claim the ability to discern the difference between wine made from different grapes, or produced in different regions of the world. Yet some studies have found that even so-called experts are unable to figure that "red wine" was actually a white wine dyed red, and nearly everyone seems to be swayed by the label on a wine bottle. Wouldn't........ Read more »
GARY PICKERING, & GORDON ROBERT. (2006) PERCEPTION OF MOUTHFEEL SENSATIONS ELICITED BY RED WINE ARE ASSOCIATED WITH SENSITIVITY TO 6-N-PROPYLTHIOURACIL. Journal of Sensory Studies, 21(3), 249-265. DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-459X.2006.00065.x
[Originally posted in November, 2007]
Do people ever tell you to "just smile, you'll feel better"? If you're like our daughter Nora, you hear it a lot, and you get annoyed every time you hear it. Telling a teenager to smile is probably one of the best ways to ensure she won't smile for the next several hours. But the notion that "smiling will make you feel better" has actually been confirmed by research. There are several studies demonstrating that people are happier when they smile, at least i........ Read more »
Soussignan, R. (2002) Duchenne smile, emotional experience, and autonomic reactivity: A test of the facial feedback hypothesis. Emotion, 2(1), 52-74. DOI: 10.1037//1528-35220.127.116.11
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