Ask the average person on the street if men and women are wired differently and you'll more often than not get an affirmatory response. Not overly suprising given the knowledge that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Am I right? But dive a little deeper and chances are you'll find that the vast majority of people would be relying heavily on deeply ingrained stereotypes, such as the "mythically superior 'multitasking’ abilities" of women or men who just don't listen, rather than any s........ Read more »
Why is it that modern trials of antidepressant drugs increasingly show no benefit of the drugs over placebo? This is the question asked by Cornell psychiatrists Brody et al in an American Journal of Psychiatry opinion piece.They suggest that maybe it's the patients fault:Participation that is induced by cash payments may lead subjects to exaggerate their symptoms [i.e. in order to get included into the trial]... Another contributing factor to high placebo response rates may be the extent to whic........ Read more »
Brody B, Leon AC, & Kocsis JH. (2011) Antidepressant clinical trials and subject recruitment: just who are symptomatic volunteers?. The American journal of psychiatry, 168(12), 1245-7. PMID: 22193668
If non-human great apes were coaching more football games, you could expect to see fewer extra points being kicked. We risk-averse humans usually prefer kicking an easy extra point after a touchdown, rather than attempting a more difficult 2-point conversion. But chimps and other great apes, after considering their odds, usually opt for the greater risk and the bigger reward.
By "reward," I mean banana.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Germany tested a group of chimpanzees, bonobo........ Read more »
Haun, D., Nawroth, C., & Call, J. (2011) Great Apes' Risk-Taking Strategies in a Decision Making Task. PLoS ONE, 6(12). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028801
Darth Vader had one thing going for him: a deep voice. The ranks of George Clooney, Denzel Washington, Clint Eastwood, Don LaFontaine, and Barry White includes a common factor: A lower pitched voice—considered a positive masculine feature associated with with older, heavier, taller, hairier, and more attractive men (1). Studies have demonstrated a female preference [...]
... Read more »
Feinberg, D., Jones, B., Little, A., Burt, D., & Perrett, D. (2005) Manipulations of fundamental and formant frequencies influence the attractiveness of human male voices. Animal Behaviour, 69(3), 561-568. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2004.06.012
Simmons, Leigh, Peters, Marianne, & Rhodes, Gillian. (2011) Low Pitched Voices are Perceived as Masculine and Attractive but Do They Predict Semen Quality in Men?. PLoS One, 6(12), 1-6. info:/10.1371/journal.pone.0029271
It's fair to say that for most of us the day doesn't truly begin until we can feel the warm lick of caffeine coursing through our veins. Be it an espresso, flat white, latte or low-fat, soy, double-shot, moccacino. Whatever your poison very little in our lives is ever achieved before that first cup of black magic has passed our lips. However despite our love affair with this bitter alkaloid, the exact manner in which caffeine interacts with our brains has been largely misunderstood. That is unt........ Read more »
Simons, S., Caruana, D., Zhao, M., & Dudek, S. (2011) Caffeine-induced synaptic potentiation in hippocampal CA2 neurons. Nature Neuroscience, 15(1), 23-25. DOI: 10.1038/nn.2962
Before humans learned to become reality TV stars and patent trolls our brains actually developed some fairly neat tricks. The latest evidence of our past mental prowess comes from a study that examines embarrassment as a social cue. It turns out that when you appear embarrassed after tripping in public, there's a lot more going on than meets the eye.... Read more »
Feinberg, M., Willer, R., & Keltner, D. (2012) Flustered and faithful: Embarrassment as a signal of prosociality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102(1), 81-97. DOI: 10.1037/a0025403
by Persuasion Strategies in Persuasive Litigator
As we turn the page on a new year, it is a good time to look back on the trials of 2011. The year had its share of high profile cases from the 'second times a charm' prosecution of Rod Blagojevich, to the conviction of Dr. Conrad Murray, and even the grand jury phases of the Jerry Sandusky trial. In these cases and others, the year held many great trial moments, but as far as the trial moment with biggest impact on litigation generally, the distinction goes to the Casey Anthony case, not for i........ Read more »
O'Connor, Brendan, Balasubramanyan, Ramnath, Routledge, Bryan R., & Smith, Noah A. (2010) From Tweets to Polls: Linking Text Sentiment to Public Opinion Time Series. Tepper School of Business. info:/
When I was a young graduate student, with one publication to my record, I ambitiously wrote a piece for the Association of Psychological Science's (APS) Magazine, the Observer, lamenting the difficulties of scientific writing. Oh, to be a young researcher again!
I look back on this bit of writing with equal parts pride (the Observer goes out to all APS members) and embarrassment (here I was, early in my career, trying to tell people how to write). Anyway, as we are starting the New Year,........ Read more »
A round-up of this year’s drugs news along with the latest available statistical data which shows that helium killed more than ecstasy, cannabis, mephedrone and GHB combined.... Read more »
Nutt, D., King, L., & Phillips, L. (2010) Drug harms in the UK: a multicriteria decision analysis. The Lancet, 376(9752), 1558-1565. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(10)61462-6
Measham,F. Moore, K. Østergaard, J. (2011) Mephedrone, ‘‘Bubble’’ and unidentiﬁed white powders: the contested identities of synthetic ‘‘legal highs". DRUGS AND ALCOHOL TODAY, 137-146. info:/
Editorial team. (2010) The EMCDDA annual report 2010: the state of the drugs problem in Europe. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, also published in Euro surveillance :European communicable disease bulletin, 15(46). PMID: 21144426
by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room
Ahhh….it’s a good thing we know why. We write regularly about increasing likability of your client by making them “like” your jurors. And for the same reason, we cover research about values, attitudes, beliefs, community and family involvement and so on. This research nugget points out another way of making your client “like” the jurors–and [...]
A long tall Texan (and an auto repair shop tale)
Why facts don’t matter
Huge damages and playground logic
... Read more »
Gunaydin, G., Zayas, V., Selcuk, E., & Hazan, C. (2012) I like you but I don’t know why: Objective facial resemblance to significant others influences snap judgments. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 350-353. info:/
Why do our eyes move during sleep?Here at Neuroskeptic we've already asked why do we sleep? and why do we dream? There are plenty of theories, but no clear answers to either of those questions.We don't even know the function of one of the most famous sleep phenomena, rapid eye movements (REMs). It's been known for decades that during certain phases of sleep, the eyes show a pattern of rapid flickering movements, and that this REM sleep is when most (but not all) dreams occur.But what are the eye........ Read more »
Arnulf I. (2011) The 'scanning hypothesis' of rapid eye movements during REM sleep: a review of the evidence. Archives italiennes de biologie, 149(4). PMID: 22205589
New Year’s Resolutions: Do they work? What’s so magical about the stroke of midnight on December 31st? Many of us pledge to get fit, save money or stop smoking. Many of us also know how often these attempts end in failure. Perhaps Oscar Wilde had it right: Resolutions are “pure vanity. Their result is absolutely nil”. Oscar [...]... Read more »
Norcross JC, Mrykalo MS, & Blagys MD. (2002) Auld lang syne: success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year's resolvers and nonresolvers. Journal of clinical psychology, 58(4), 397-405. PMID: 11920693
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, after thirty years of silence, authors of a standard clinical psychiatric bedside test have issued take down orders of new medical research.... Read more »
Ah, New Year's Eve: It feels so important to find something significant, meaningful, memorable to do. And then two weeks later you can't recall what it was, because it was so much like all the others. If this year brought something really unique and striking (a sky-parade of 12 dancing pink ...Read More
... Read more »
Jack, F., Simcock, G., & Hayne, H. (2011) Magic Memories: Young Children’s Verbal Recall After a 6-Year Delay. Child Development. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01699.x
by Dorit Kliemann in neuro JC
The authors of the current study (2) investigated the relationship of common genetic variations and gaze patterns. In particular, they tested whether variations in the cannabinoid receptor 1 (CNR1) gene would modulate gaze duration on (happy) faces. To this end, four single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the CNR1 gene were genotyped in 30 healthy subjects (13 [...]... Read more »
Chakrabarti B, Kent L, Suckling J, Bullmore E, & Baron-Cohen S. (2006) Variations in the human cannabinoid receptor (CNR1) gene modulate striatal responses to happy faces. The European journal of neuroscience, 23(7), 1944-8. PMID: 16623851
Chakrabarti, B., & Baron-Cohen, S. (2011) Variation in the human cannabinoid receptor CNR1 gene modulates gaze duration for happy faces. Molecular Autism, 2(1), 10. DOI: 10.1186/2040-2392-2-10
(This post first appeared in April 2011. See you all next year!)
If you have a fear of heights, called acrophobia, you probably consider activities such as standing on a glass ledge 103 stories high to be stressful. But a scientist in Switzerland says that cortisol, the stress hormone, can actually help banish your fear.
A team of researchers led by Dominique de Quervain at the University of Basel recruited 40 patients with serious acrophobia. All the patients received a se........ Read more »
de Quervain, D., Bentz, D., Michael, T., Bolt, O., Wiederhold, B., Margraf, J., & Wilhelm, F. (2011) From the Cover: Glucocorticoids enhance extinction-based psychotherapy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(16), 6621-6625. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1018214108
How representative are fMRI experiments? Is "the brain" that we investigate with fMRI the same brain that we use outside the MRI scanner?A new paper from Bernhard Hommel and colleagues of Leiden in the Netherlands offers some important caveats. They looked to see what effect playing some recorded MRI scanner sounds had on people's ability to perform some simple cognitive tasks, while sitting outside the scanner.MRI is notoriously noisy. When you have an MRI scan you have to wear earplugs to prot........ Read more »
Commentary on a recent article in New England Journal of Medicine about authors copyrighting simple psychological assessment... Read more »
When it’s time to make an important purchase there are way to ensure you don’t get screwed. You could talk to your friend who’s an industry insider, spend days scanning various websites for good deals, or simply go to the store and attempt to bargain. Nevertheless, in the end the people doing the selling will [...]... Read more »
Coulter, K., Choi, P., & Monroe, K. (2011) Comma N' cents in pricing: The effects of auditory representation encoding on price magnitude perceptions. Journal of Consumer Psychology. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcps.2011.11.005
by Persuasion Strategies in Persuasive Litigator
Around the war room conference table, all of the eyebrows went up at once as I shared a recommendation for the opening statement. I can't share the idea without revealing the case, but suffice it to say that it was unorthodox. Several around the table shared that they had never done an opening that way before, and I countered that they had probably never tried a case with exactly these challenges before.
As much as litigators like to believe that they are at the cutting edge of persuasion, I........ Read more »
Mueller JS, Melwani S, & Goncalo JA. (2011) The Bias Against Creativity: Why People Desire but Reject Creative Ideas. Psychological science. PMID: 22127366
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