Last week I wrote about the developmental and evolutionary origins of large number representation. A series of studies in human infants, monkeys, rats, and fish demonstrated that animals and humans spontaneously represent large (>4), abstract, approximate numerosities. Animals, human infants, and human adults, show the same ratio signatures (based on Weber’s Law). [...]... Read more »
Hauser, M., Carey, S., & Hauser, L. (2000) Spontaneous number representation in semi-free-ranging rhesus monkeys. Proceedings: Biological Sciences, 267(1445), 829-833. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2000.1078
Feigenson L, Carey S, & Hauser M. (2002) The representations underlying infants' choice of more: object files versus analog magnitudes. Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS, 13(2), 150-6. PMID: 11933999
Figure 1: Does Mickey feel empathy?
It probably depends on how you define empathy. Empathy, by any definition, implies emotional sensitivity to the affective state of another. Sometimes the empathy response is automatic or reflexive, like when babies start to cry upon hearing another baby crying. Sometimes a strong cognitive component is required, such as for [...]... Read more »
Jeon D, Kim S, Chetana M, Jo D, Ruley HE, Lin SY, Rabah D, Kinet JP, & Shin HS. (2010) Observational fear learning involves affective pain system and Ca(v)1.2 Ca(2 ) channels in ACC. Nature neuroscience, 13(4), 482-8. PMID: 20190743
The willingness to cooperate in a prisoner's dilemma has long been thought the same for men and women. Adding an audience to the classic prisoner's dilemma experiment, however, paints a far more nuanced picture...... Read more »
Gary Charland and Aldo Rustichini. (2009) Gender differences in cooperation with group membership. N/A. info:/
Jet lag is the perennial unwelcome companion of the air traveler, an experience that can make one’s mind feel like it was left back at the airport. That powerful disorientation has made jet lag a topic of interest for scientists, who have looked at changes to a person’s brain chemistry and physiology after lengthy, intercontinental [...]... Read more »
Doane, L., Kremen, W., Eaves, L., Eisen, S., Hauger, R., Hellhammer, D., Levine, S., Lupien, S., Lyons, M., Mendoza, S.... (2010) Associations between jet lag and cortisol diurnal rhythms after domestic travel. Health Psychology, 29(2), 117-123. DOI: 10.1037/a0017865
Two of the frequent aims of career coaching or counselling are to empower clients and to help them develop amibtious personal goals. Nothing could possibly be wrong with that, you might think.
However, according to studies performed by Mario Weick, from the University of Kent, and Ana Guinote, from University College London, people who experience feelings [...]... Read more »
Weick, M., & Guinote, A. (2010) How Long Will It Take? Power Biases Time Predictions. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2010.03.005
A couple of weeks ago there was an interesting exchange in The Guardian between George Monbiot and Nicholas Maxwell, a philosopher of science from University College London. In his piece, Monbiot presents an excellent, if overly pessimistic, analysis of the psychology behind climate change denial. In his response, Maxwell draws on some interesting results from the philosophy [...]... Read more »
I think that label has to be one of the most feared amongst the people I see with chronic pain. To be judged as being obsessed about nonexistant illnesses when actually having pain every day must be incredibly difficult to cope with. At the same time, being anxious about health and having mistaken beliefs about [...]... Read more »
Abramowitz, J., Deacon, B., & Valentiner, D. (2007) The Short Health Anxiety Inventory: Psychometric Properties and Construct Validity in a Non-clinical Sample. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 31(6), 871-883. DOI: 10.1007/s10608-006-9058-1
A short while ago there was a shocking advert on British TV that used slow motion to illustrate the bloody, crunching effects of a car crash. The driver had been drinking. Using these kind of scare tactics for anti drink-driving and other health issues makes intuitive sense. The campaigners want to grab your attention and demonstrate the seriousness of the consequences if their message is not heeded. However, a new study makes the surprising finding that for a portion of the population, scare tactics can back-fire, actually undermining a message's efficacy.Steffen Nestler and Boris Egloff had 297 participants, 229 of them female, average age 35, read one of two versions of a fictional news report from a professional medical journal. The report referred to a study showing links between caffeine consumption and a fictional gastro-intestinal disease 'Xyelinenteritis'. One version was extra-scary, highlighting a link between Xyelinenteritis and cancer and saying that the participant's age group was particularly vulnerable. The other version was lower-key and lacked these two details. Both versions of the article concluded by recommending that readers reduce their caffeine consumption. Before gauging the participants' reaction to the article and its advice, the researchers tested them on a measure of 'cognitive avoidance'. People who score highly on this personality dimension respond to threats with avoidance tactics such as distracting themselves, denying the threat or persuading themselves that they aren't vulnerable.The key finding is that participants who scored high on cognitive avoidance actually rated the threat from Xyelinenteritis as less severe after reading the scary version of the report compared with the low-key version. Moreover, after reading the scary version, they were less impressed by the advice to reduce caffeine consumption and less likely to say that they planned to reduce their caffeine intake. On the other hand, highly cognitive avoidant participants were more responsive to the low-key report than were the low cognitive avoidant participants. In other words, for people who are cognitively avoidant, scary health messages can actually back-fire. 'Practically, our results suggest that instead of giving all individuals the same threat communications, messages should be given that are concordant with their individual characteristics,' Nestler and Egloff said. 'Thus, the present findings are in line with the growing literature on tailoring intentions to individual characteristics, and they highlight the role of individual differences when scary messages are used.'_________________________________Nestler, S., & Egloff, B. (2010). When scary messages backfire: Influence of dispositional cognitive avoidance on the effectiveness of threat communications Journal of Research in Personality, 44 (1), 137-141 DOI: 10.1016/j.jrp.2009.10.007Also on the Digest:-Morbid warnings on cigarette packs could encourage some people to smoke.-How to promote the MMR Vaccine.-Public health leaflets ignore findings from health psychology.
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Nestler, S., & Egloff, B. (2010) When scary messages backfire: Influence of dispositional cognitive avoidance on the effectiveness of threat communications. Journal of Research in Personality, 44(1), 137-141. DOI: 10.1016/j.jrp.2009.10.007
Domestic animals and their wild counterparts can be different in big ways; there can be differences in morphology (physical characteristics), physiology, and behavior. These changes may depend on spontaneous adaptations to captivity or to artificial selection pressures arising from the motivation for domesticating the animal in the first place. For example, some of the morphological [...]... Read more »
Lewejohann L, Pickel T, Sachser N, & Kaiser S. (2010) Wild genius - domestic fool? Spatial learning abilities of wild and domestic guinea pigs. Frontiers in zoology, 7(1), 9. PMID: 20334697
Lifestyle is the most important factor for medical students in their specialty choice. With specialty choice in this research is meant the distinction between person oriented and technique oriented specialty.
person-oriented specialties are considered to be family practice, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and psychiatry, whereas technique-oriented specialties are anesthesiology, dermatology, [...]
Related posts:Emotional Intelligence and Medical Specialty Choice
Speciality Choice of Medical Students, Impact of Clerkship
Unprofessional Online Content By Medical Students
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Borges, N., Manuel, R., Duffy, R., Fedyna, D., & Jones, B. (2009) Influences on specialty choice for students entering person-oriented and technique-oriented specialties. Medical Teacher, 31(12), 1086-1088. DOI: 10.3109/01421590903183787
Manuel, R. (2009) Person-Oriented Versus Technique-Oriented Specialties: Early Preferences and Eventual Choice. Medical Education Online. DOI: 10.3885/meo.2009.Res00284
A possible example of inattentional blindness... Tourists fail to notice when Ig Nobel winner Dan Meyer swallows a sword in front of the famous Liverpool Cavern Club (where the Beatles played).... Read more »
Simons DJ, & Chabris CF. (1999) Gorillas in our midst: sustained inattentional blindness for dynamic events. Perception, 28(9), 1059-74. PMID: 10694957
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In my last post I had mentioned how Seligman and Peterson have tried to correlate their structure of human virtues/character strengths with work of other researchers like the universal dimensions of human mate preferences discovered by Buss et al. Today I wish to discuss in detail the universal dimensions of human mate preferences More >Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
Related posts:Alien Vs Predator : would eugenics and mate selction divide us in two? An interesting discussion is going on at slashdot regarding the...
Framing Effects in the Universal Moral Language I have posted earlier about the similarities between the Universal...
The five domains of human social experience:the SCARF model Image via Wikipedia I recently came across David Rock’s Psychology Today...
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Haslam, N., Bain, P., & Neal, D. (2004) The Implicit Structure of Positive Characteristics. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30(4), 529-541. DOI: 10.1177/0146167203261893
Scene from Paranormal ActivityAfter a young, middle class couple moves into what seems like a typical suburban “starter” tract house, they become increasingly disturbed by a presence that may or may not be demonic but is certainly most active in the middle of the night.Especially when they sleep. Or try to.A new case study in Cortex by neurologist Dr. Fabienne Picard (2010) reports on a patient who experienced unusual phenomena during epileptic seizures. She had the convincing sense that several familiar people (family members) were standing before her. This experience of a "sensed presence" is a classic trope in movies with supernatural themes (e.g., Carnival of Souls [available at Internet Archive], The Haunting [trailer for the 1963 version], Poltergeist, Dark Water), but it's generally attributed to ghosts and not to seizure activity.Here's the case report:A 62-year-old right-handed woman of normal psychiatric history presented a simple focal epileptic seizure including a complex sensation characterized by feeling the presence of several members of her family in the immediate environment, associated with paresthesia of the right hemibody (excluding the face). The feeling of presences and the paresthesia (numbness) appeared concomitantly and lasted in total several minutes. The episode occurred while she was sitting alone on the sofa of her living room and immediately felt the presence of four persons in her frontal space. She did not see or hear these persons (no visual or auditory hallucinations), but felt vividly their presence in her peripersonal [within reach] and near extrapersonal space [just outside of reach]. She “recognized” them as close family members. Closest was her grand-daughter who was sitting on the floor immediately in front of her, without any left or right lateralization in relation to her body, whereas the three other persons, her daughter and two other grand-children, were experienced to be localized at a distance of several meters. ... This highly vivid and convincing feeling of presences was described by the patient as deeply pleasant, although she guessed that it was not possible that they were really there, as she was alone just before. ... She was treated with pregabalin (300 mg/day) and there was no recurrence of simple or complex partial seizures and no further feeling of presences.MRIs revealed abnormal findings due to a right hemisphere subcortical stroke 10 months before the episode (Fig. 1A). The patient's stroke affected a portion of the basal ganglia (the putamen and the globus pallidus) and a large white matter tract within (the internal capsule). Left hemisphere findings in the insular cortex were also apparent, and this was the likely seizure focus. Strokes are known to increase the incidence of seizures: in one study 8.6% of those with ischemic stroke [occlusion of blood supply] and 10.6% of those with hemorrhagic stroke [bleed] had one or more seizures within a year (Bladin et al., 2000).Fig. 1 (adapted from Picard, 2010). FLAIR coronal MR images of the patient. (A) two days after a right capsulo-lenticular haemorragic stroke. (B) ten months later, at the time of the episode of feeling of presence. In addition to the right capsulo-lenticular sequela extending to the insula, a hypersignal is visible in the white matter/grey matter border of the left insular region [already visible in (A)], as well as a diffuse corticosubcortical atrophy, predominating in the right hemisphere, and a leukoencephalopathy [white matter disease]. Picard (2010) thinks this particular case is unique and not a more typical disorder of body perception:Most authors consider the feeling of a presence (FP) as a disorder of own body perception, an illusory reduplicative phenomena involving the self. Thus FP would be akin to the three main forms of autoscopic phenomena (seeing a double of oneself) which include a) out-of-body experience. The subjects appear to see themselves and the world from a location above their physical body. The self is localized outside one's physical body (disembodiment); b) autoscopic hallucination, which consists of seeing one's body in extracorporeal space (as a double) without disembodiment; and c) heautoscopy, an intermediate form between out-of-body experience and autoscopic hallucination.Instead, the felt presence was more akin to a "hallucination" for known people going about normal daily activities. Nonetheless, involvement of the insula, important for interoceptive awareness of bodily states (Craig, 2009), is still suggestive of a disruption in the sense of self and its interaction with the external world.To end our story, the patient's experience of a sensed presence did not recur once her seizures were controlled with medication. A short neurological horror film resolved by prescription of an anticonvulsant drug might not be a strong sell in Hollywood.ReferencesBladin CF, Alexandrov AV, Bellavance A, Bornstein N, Chambers B, Coté R, Lebrun L, Pirisi A, Norris JW. (2000). Seizures after stroke: a prospective multicenter study. Arch Neurol. 57:1617-22.Craig AD. How do you feel--now? The anterior insula and human awareness. (2009). Nat Rev Neurosci. 10:59-70.... Read more »
Picard, F. (2010) Epileptic feeling of multiple presences in the frontal space. Cortex. DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2010.02.002
Ide et al. (2010) think that we have much to learn about the psychosocial context in which relationships wither, and suicidal behaviours become a prominent concern.... Read more »
Ide, N., Wyder, M., Kolves, K., & De Leo, D. (2010) Separation as an Important Risk Factor for Suicide: A Systematic Review. Journal of Family Issues. DOI: 10.1177/0192513X10365317
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Continuing my theme of focusing on human character strengths and virtues and relating them to personality, I have been doing more reading of the literature and want to discuss three papers today.
First up is Shyrack et al’s recent paper that again explores the factor structure of VIA-IS and finds support for a 3 More >Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
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The factor structure of Religiosity and its neural substrates A new article in PNAS by Grafman et al, argues...
Perosnality traits: some more evolutionary perspectives My last post was about the David Buss chapter in...
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Shryack, J., Steger, M., Krueger, R., & Kallie, C. (2010) The structure of virtue: An empirical investigation of the dimensionality of the virtues in action inventory of strengths. Personality and Individual Differences, 48(6), 714-719. DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2010.01.007
MACDONALD, C., BORE, M., & MUNRO, D. (2008) Values in action scale and the Big 5: An empirical indication of structure. Journal of Research in Personality, 42(4), 787-799. DOI: 10.1016/j.jrp.2007.10.003
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Positive psychology is based on the premise that it is equally important to study what is good in life as it is to study what goes wrong. Positive psychology thus focuses on building and capitalizing on existing strengths of people while not focusing too much on their weaknesses, which has been focus More >Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
Related posts:The factor structure of Religiosity and its neural substrates A new article in PNAS by Grafman et al, argues...
Cloninger’s Temaparements and character traits: room for a behaviorist view? Today I wish to discuss C. Robert Cloninger’s theory of...
The eight-fold structure of evolutionary biology/ cultural evolution Regulars readers of this blog will know that I am...
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Dahlsgaard, K., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. (2005) Shared Virtue: The Convergence of Valued Human Strengths Across Culture and History. Review of General Psychology, 9(3), 203-213. DOI: 10.1037/1089-2618.104.22.168
Brdar, I., & Kashdan, T. (2010) Character strengths and well-being in Croatia: An empirical investigation of structure and correlates. Journal of Research in Personality, 44(1), 151-154. DOI: 10.1016/j.jrp.2009.12.001
A brief overview by West et al. (2010) on mental illness stigma, in which the authors call for more focused research to improve understanding of this most unpalatable social problem.... Read more »
A new research paper claims that decision makers value information more than advice. Is that really true?... Read more »
Internet use is growing at a phenomenal rate and much ink has been spilled by commentators forecasting the psychological consequences of all this extra web-time. A lot of that comment is mere conjecture whilst many of the studies in the area are cross-sectional, with small samples, producing conflicting results. The latest research contribution comes from Irena Stepanikova and her colleagues and involves a massive sample, some of whom were followed over time. The results suggest that more time on the internet is associated with increased loneliness and reduced life satisfaction. However, it's a complicated picture because the researchers' different outcome measures produced mixed results.Over thirteen thousand people answered questions about their internet use, loneliness and life satisfaction in 2004 and in 2005. They'd been chosen at random from a list of US land-line numbers. The majority of the people quizzed in 2004 were different from those quizzed in 2005, but 754 people participated in both phases, thus providing some crucial longitudinal data. An important detail is that the researchers used two measures of internet use. The first 'time-diary' method required participants to consider six specific hours spread out over the previous day and to estimate how they'd spent their time during those hours. The other 'global recall' measure was more open-ended and required participants to consider the whole previous twenty-four hours and detail as best they could how they'd used that time. The cross-sectional data showed that participants who reported spending more time browsing the web also tended to report being lonelier and being less satisfied with life. This association was larger for the time-diary measure. The strength of the association was modest, but to put it in perspective, it was five times greater than the (inverse) link between loneliness and amount of time spent with friends and family. Turning to web-communication, the global recall measures showed that time spent instant messaging, in chat rooms and news groups (but not email) was associated with higher loneliness scores. For the time-diary measure, it was increased email use that was linked with more loneliness. The longitudinal data showed that as a person's web browsing increased from 2004 to 2005, their loneliness also tended to increas (based on the global recall measure only). Both measures showed that increased non-email forms of web communication, including chat rooms, also went hand in hand with increased loneliness. Finally, more web browsing over time was linked with reduced life satisfaction by the time-diary measure, whilst more non-email web communication over time was linked with reduced life satisfaction by the global recall measure. Perhaps the most important message to come out of this research is that the results varied with the measure of internet use that was used - future researchers should note this. The other message is that more time browsing and communicating online appears to be linked with more loneliness, the two even increase together over time. However, it is important to appreciate that we don't know the direction of causation. Increased loneliness may well encourage people to spend more time online, rather than web time causing loneliness. Or some other factor could be causing both to rise in tandem. It's worth adding too that the web/loneliness link held even after controlling for time spent with friends and family. So if more web use were causing loneliness, it wasn't doing it by reducing time spent socialising face-to-face. 'We are hopeful that our study will stimulate future research ... ,' the researchers said, 'but at this point any claims suggesting that as Internet use continues to grow in the future, more people will experience loneliness and low life-satisfaction would be premature.'_________________________________Stepanikova, I., Nie, N., & He, X. (2010). Time on the Internet at home, loneliness, and life satisfaction: Evidence from panel time-diary data Computers in Human Behavior, 26 (3), 329-338 DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2009.11.002
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Stepanikova, I., Nie, N., & He, X. (2010) Time on the Internet at home, loneliness, and life satisfaction: Evidence from panel time-diary data. Computers in Human Behavior, 26(3), 329-338. DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2009.11.002
Figure 1: Rio.
Rio is a California Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus). She was born in captivity at Marine World in Northern California, and due to insufficient maternal care from her biological mother, she was transferred to the Long Marine Laboratory at UC Santa Cruz when she was just a few days old. There, she was [...]... Read more »
Reichmuth Kastak C, & Schusterman RJ. (2002) Long-term memory for concepts in a California sea lion ( Zalophus californianus). Animal cognition, 5(4), 225-32. PMID: 12461600
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