284 posts · 409,022 views
I am a freelance writer, former editor, and co-founder of ResearchBlogging.org. I'm the author of three different books for college writing students: 80 Readings (HarperCollins, 1992), The Pocket Reader (Longman, 2000), and Researching Online (Longman, 1999-2001). I hold a B.A. (1989) from the University of Chicago, a Master's in Science Education (1994) from Teachers College, Columbia University and a Master's in English (2004) from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.
Psychologists often complain that neuroscientists get a disproportionate share of the glory when the mainstream media reports on their studies. It seems to some that an important new psychology study is often neglected or ignored entirely, while neuroscience studies of similar importance are hailed as "groundbreaking." What is it about pictures of brains that are so appealing?
A while back, were excited to hear of a study which promised to show that people are more impressed by neuros........ Read more »
Deena Weisberg, Frank C Keil, Joshua Goodstein, Elizabeth Rawson, & Jeremy R Gray. (2008) The Seductive Allure of Neuroscience Explanations. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 20(3), 470-477. http://jocn.mitpress.org/cgi/content/abstract/20/3/470
It shouldn't take you long to notice what's wrong with this picture:
Obviously Nora is defying gravity in this shot -- you can't help but notice it. But in your first glance at the photo, how quickly do you notice what's wrong? Do you spot the oddity faster than you'd notice Nora in the original, unaltered picture?
A 1978 study by Geoffrey Loftus and Norman Mackworth found that people respond quicker to unusual or inappropriate objects in line drawings, such as........ Read more »
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
When I write an article for Cognitive Daily, I follow a similar pattern nearly every time. First I carefully read the journal article I'll be discussing. Next I take a break and work on something else. Then I get myself a caffeinated beverage and some kind of sweet treat (usually it's chocolate-covered raisins but today I'm in a coffee shop having just finished a toffee almond bar). Often it won't be until ten or fifteen minutes after I've eaten that I really get into a ........ Read more »
Matthew Gailliot, Roy F Baumeister, C Nathan DeWall, Jon K Maner, E Ashby Plant, Dianne M Tice, Lauren E Brewer, & Brandon J Schmeichel. (2007) Self-Control Relies on Glucose as a Limited Energy Source: Willpower Is More Than a Metaphor. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(2), 325-336. DOI: 10.1037/0022-35188.8.131.525
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
You might expect someone's cultural background to influence their speech, their appearance, their musical tastes, and the foods they like. You'd probably also expect culture to have an impact on values and beliefs, on stories and traditions. But what about their bodies -- not just physical features like skin color or hair texture, but attitude towards the self? If culture touches on so many aspects of an individual, perhaps it can also impact the subtle ways people think about of their........ Read more »
Angela Leung, & Dov Cohen. (2007) The Soft Embodiment of Culture: Camera Angles and Motion Through Time and Space. Psychological Science, 18(9), 824-830. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.01986.x
It's hard to resist flirting with babies. Even if a baby has been screaming her head off for hours on end in the seat behind you on a transatlantic flight, if she giggles and smiles when you're deplaning, you'll probably smile back. What is it about babies that makes our hearts melt almost instantaneously when we see them? Is it their cuteness, their happiness, or just their babyness?
A team led by Morten Kringelbach showed photos of babies and adults to twelve volunteers while t........ Read more »
Morten Kringelbach, Annukka Lehtonen, Sarah Squire, Allison G Harvey, Michelle G Craske, Ian E Holliday, Alexander L Green, Tipu Z Aziz, Peter C Hansen, Piers L Cornelissen.... (2008) A Specific and Rapid Neural Signature for Parental Instinct. PLoS ONE, 3(2). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0001664
When adults are asked if they remember pictures of faces, they're more accurate when the faces are the same race as they are. It makes some sense -- people are likely to spend more time with and have more same-race friends, so they may become better attuned to the differences in individuals in their own racial group. This finding can be especially important in eyewitness testimony: If a crime victim identifies his assailant as someone of a different race, then the research suggests that thi........ Read more »
B CORENBLUM, & C MEISSNER. (2006) Recognition of faces of ingroup and outgroup children and adults. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 93(3), 187-206. DOI: 10.1016/j.jecp.2005.09.001
One of the most common "icebreaker" conversation topics is music preferences. We ask friends what they're listening to on their iPods, bloggers post playlists on their sidebars, and one of the most popular websites on the planet (MySpace) is built around sharing music. The assumption is that musical preferences can tell us something beyond what someone likes to listen to -- we believe we can judge a person's personality, fashion preferences, and more based just on the style o........ Read more »
Peter Rentfrow, & Samuel D Gosling. (2007) The content and validity of music-genre stereotypes among college students. Psychology of Music, 35(2), 306-326.
Take a look at this amazing illusion created by Arthur Shapiro (you'll need the latest version of Flash Player to see it):
You're looking at two donut-shaped figures whose "holes" are gradually changing color from black to white and back again. It appears that the holes are changing in an opposite pattern -- when one is light, the other is dark, and so on. But if you click to remove the surrounding donuts, you'll see that the two holes are actually changing together........ Read more »
I don't need words to think about the shape of a car, or how to throw a football, or the taste a chocolate chip cookie. In fact, things like that are probably easier to think about without using language. That's why the strong form of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis -- that language is necessary for conscious thought -- doesn't hold up. But even if language isn't required for some domains, it's still possible that it is required for certain types of mental processes. It may e........ Read more »
Ashley Newton, & Jill G Villiers. (2007) Thinking While Talking: Adults Fail Nonverbal False-Belief Reasoning. Psychological Science, 18(7), 574-579. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.01942.x
Which of these two pictures is more memorable?
The shot on the left is interesting primarily because Nora's in it -- if it was just a picture of a muddy trail, it wouldn't be notable at all to most people. The shot on the right is a dramatic mountain scene that you might remember even though (or perhaps because) there's not a human in sight.
But a seasoned hiker might be more interested in the photo of the muddy trail, which gives more information about the difficulty of the........ Read more »
Satoru Kawamura, Sae Suzuki, & Kazunori Morikawa. (2007) Short report: The effect of expertise in hiking on recognition memory for mountain scenes. Memory, 15(7), 768-775. DOI: 10.1080/09658210701582315
Take a look at this short video clip (QuickTime required). It's called an RSVP (rapid serial visual presentation), meaning that it's a quick sequence of still images. In this case, it's a random sequence of letters. Your job is to look for a number among the letters. At some point during the clip, you should also see a dot flash in one corner of the video. You also need to take note of the corner in which the dot appears. A rectangle will flash shortly before the dot, possibly giv........ Read more »
Valerio Santangelo, Marta Olivetti Belardinelli, & Charles Spence. (2007) The Suppression of Reflexive Visual and Auditory Orienting When Attention Is Otherwise Engaged. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 33(1), 137-148. DOI: 10.1037/0096-15184.108.40.206
You're trapped inside a rectangular room with four doors, one in each corner. You try the first door. It's locked. You try the second and the third door -- locked again. Finally the fourth door opens. You make a point of remembering which corner of the room it's in, which turns out to be useful, because before you know it you're trapped in another identical room. Now, how did you remember what door opened last time? You can't rely on your physical orientation because you........ Read more »
Alisha Brown, Marcia L Spetch, & Peter L Hurd. (2007) Growing in Circles: Rearing Environment Alters Spatial Navigation in Fish. Psychological Science, 18(7), 569-573. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.01941.x
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
When we watch a movie, we're usually not conscious of the cuts made by the editor. The camera angle may change dozens of times during a scene, and we follow along as if the flashing from one viewpoint to another wasn't at all unusual. You might think this is just because we've been accustomed to watching TV and movies, but researchers have found that even people who've never seen a motion picture have no difficulty following along with the cuts and different camera angles in........ Read more »
Two facts are true about young children: they sleep a lot more than adults, and they learn language at an astonishing rate. How can they learn so much when they're sleeping so much of the time? Perhaps sleep itself enhances learning. In fact, a number of studies suggest that naps actually enhance learning in adults. What about kids?
A team led by Rebecca Gómez developed a clever test to see if 15-month-olds learn language faster when they've had a nap. At 15 months, most infant........ Read more »
Rebecca Gomez, Richard R Bootzin, & Lynn Nadel. (2006) Naps Promote Abstraction in Language-Learning Infants. Psychological Science, 17(8), 670-674. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2006.01764.x
When you know something, is that different from remembering? Both types of thoughts are clearly part of the memory system, but is there really any difference between the two concepts? We often use the two terms nearly interchangeably: I might say "I remember Suzanne had her purse when we left the restaurant because I saw her pull out her phone at the bus stop," but I might equally say "I know Suzanne had her purse on the bus because she was gabbing on the phone the whole ride home........ Read more »
John Gardiner, Vernon H Gregg, & Irene Karayianni. (2006) Recognition memory and awareness: Occurrence of perceptual effects in remembering or in knowing depends on conscious resources at encoding, but not at retrieval. Memory , 34(2), 227-239.
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
Take a look at this slideshow (QuickTime required). You'll first see a photo in perfect focus. Then 12 more pictures will flash by, each of them blurred using Photoshop. Finally, the original photo will appear again. Is it the same as before, or slightly blurrier or sharper?
I'll give the answer after a few readers have had a chance to make a guess in the comments. Most people with normal vision will gradually adapt to blurry photos (though it might take a little longer than I'........ Read more »
Do you write about peer-reviewed research in your blog? Use ResearchBlogging.org to make it easy for your readers — and others from around the world — to find your serious posts about academic research.
If you don't have a blog, you can still use our site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.
Research Blogging is powered by SMG Technology.
To learn more, visit seedmediagroup.com.