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  • April 21, 2009
  • 12:00 PM
  • 2,403 views

Riding the Self-Regulation See Saw

by David DiSalvo in Neuronarrative

The April issue of Psychological Science includes an interesting paradoxical study on moral self-regulation. Building on previous research that examines why people act altruistically even when such action is costly, researchers wanted to take a closer look at the moral back-and-forth we all engage in when deciding how to act.

In the spotlight are two polar opposite terms: moral cleansing and moral licensing. Moral cleansing is the tendency to engage in a moral behavior to offset negative ........ Read more »

  • April 13, 2009
  • 12:00 PM
  • 2,811 views

What Might Make You Trust a Stranger?

by David DiSalvo in Neuronarrative

It comes as no surprise that people tend to prefer others from their same in-group. If you’re a diehard supporter of a political candidate and someone drives by with a bumper sticker endorsing the candidate, you feel a hint of “inness” with that person. If someone drives by with a bumper sticker of the candidate’s opponent, you feel a twinge of “otherness” about that person. If asked why, you might say that the first person probably shares many of your views ........ Read more »

  • March 27, 2009
  • 03:28 PM
  • 1,733 views

So Gay, So Very Gay

by Neural Outlaw in Neural Interface

It's unbelievable what's uncovered sometimes. A recent survey of British psychologists and psychiatrists has uncovered that a sizeable amount have attempted to "convert" homosexual patients or clients to heterosexual orientations!

It's a well-known axiom that (biological) homosexuality is an orientation that cannot be changed, what to speak of the scientific consensus on the matter, and what do you think might happen if any such changes are encouraged? Psychological h........ Read more »

  • March 26, 2009
  • 12:00 PM
  • 2,185 views

What Does Expert Advice Really Do to Our Brains?

by David DiSalvo in Neuronarrative

A new study in PLoS suggests that expert advice causes the brain to “offload” calculations of expected utility (loss or gain) when making a financial decision under risk. This is an intriguing result, but we should take a closer look to see why this study really only examines one aspect of decision-making, and does not suggest, contrary to headlines, that expert advice causes the brain to “switch off rationality” or “shut down.”

... Read more »

Jan B. Engelmann, C. Monica Capra, Charles Noussair, Gregory S. Berns. (2009) Expert Financial Advice Neurobiologically “Offloads” Financial Decision-Making under Risk. PLoS.

  • March 24, 2009
  • 12:00 PM
  • 2,572 views

Finding the Money Illusion in the Brain

by David DiSalvo in Neuronarrative

One of the daggers that have pierced the heart of the long-held economic rationality assumption (that we are all rational actors on the economic stage) is the “money illusion” proposition. Rather than only rationally considering the real value of money (the value of goods that it can buy), we actually consider a combination of the real value and the nominal value (the amount of currency) - and sometimes we ignore the real value altogether.

Using an example from the book Choices, ........ Read more »

Weber, B., Rangel, A., Wibral, M., & Falk, A. (2009) The medial prefrontal cortex exhibits money illusion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0901490106  

  • March 23, 2009
  • 06:50 PM
  • 1,779 views

The "Cancer Faith" Study

by Neural Outlaw in Neural Interface

An interesting study released earlier this week attracted the attention of many bloggers and commentators. It's basic premise is that religious patients with advanced cancer are more likely to opt for aggressive end-of-life treatment. In other words, the more religious they are, the more likely it is that they will place less faith in God and more faith in medical treatment and technology. Let's analyse:

Andrea Phelps and colleagues acknowledge that religion and beliefs account for ........ Read more »

Phelps, A., Maciejewski, P., Nilsson, M., Balboni, T., Wright, A., Paulk, M., Trice, E., Schrag, D., Peteet, J., Block, S.... (2009) Religious Coping and Use of Intensive Life-Prolonging Care Near Death in Patients With Advanced Cancer. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 301(11), 1140-1147. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2009.341  

  • March 23, 2009
  • 02:46 PM
  • 2,480 views

This is Your Brain on the Edge of Chaos

by David DiSalvo in Neuronarrative

What do our brains have in common with piles of sand, earthquakes, forest fires and avalanches? Each of those is a dynamic system in a self-organized critical state, and according to a new study in PloS Computational Biology, so is the brain.

Systems in a critical state are on the cusp of a transition between ordered and random behavior. Take a pile of sand for example: as grains of sand are added to the pile, they eventually form a slope. At a certain point, the sloping sand reaches a &l........ Read more »

Manfred G. Kitzbichler, Marie L. Smith, Søren R. Christensen, Ed Bullmore. (2009) Broadband Criticality of Human Brain Network Synchronization. PLoS Computational Biology.

  • March 19, 2009
  • 12:00 PM
  • 2,215 views

You Can Be Afraid To Lose, But Don’t Lose Perspective

by David DiSalvo in Neuronarrative

Anyone who has ever stood to lose anything (all of us) knows that emotions play a big part in how we react to potential loss. Sweaty palms and upper lips, fidgety fingers and bouncing knees, frantic, racing thoughts – all are signs of emotional tumult when facing the risk of loss – and all seem involuntary. But a recent study indicates that we can influence the degree of emotional reaction, and our level of loss aversion. The solution, in short: think like a trader.

Seasoned traders are........ Read more »

Sokol-Hessner, P., Hsu, M., Curley, N., Delgado, M., Camerer, C., & Phelps, E. (2009) Thinking like a trader selectively reduces individuals' loss aversion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0806761106  

  • March 19, 2009
  • 09:37 AM
  • 2,627 views

Religion and end-of-life care

by Orac in Respectful Insolence

Given that I'm the proverbial lapsed Catholic cum agnostic, religion just doesn't play that large a role in my life and hasn't since around six years ago. I don't know if I'll ever discuss or explain on this blog what the last straw resulting in that transformation was (it's too personal), but a couple of years ago I did go through a period where I became hostile to religion, perhaps spurred on by PZ and the whole anti-religion gestalt of the ScienceBlogs Collective here. That lasted maybe a yea........ Read more »

Andrea C. Phelps, MD, Paul K. Maciejewski, PhD, Matthew Nilsson, BS, Tracy A. Balboni, MD, Alexi A. Wright, MD, M. Elizabeth Paulk, MD, Elizabeth Trice, MD, PhD, Deborah Schrag, MD, MPH, John R. Peteet, MD, Susan D. Block, MD.... (2009) Religious Coping and Use of Intensive Life-Prolonging Care Near Death in Patients With Advanced Cancer. JAMA, 301(11), 1140-1147. DOI: http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/301/11/1140  

  • March 17, 2009
  • 12:42 PM
  • 2,323 views

Why ‘Many’ Might be the Loneliest Number: An Interview with John Cacioppo

by DD in Neuronarrative

Right now we enjoy more ways to stay connected with people across the globe than at any time in history. What a remarkable irony, then, that “loneliness” is still a topic finding its way into headlines, perhaps now more than ever. How can oceans of distance no longer be an obstacle to communicating, and yet [...]... Read more »

  • January 28, 2009
  • 04:43 PM
  • 2,154 views

Reading graphs: How we do it, and what it tells us about making better ones

by Dave Munger in Cognitive Daily

Take a look at this graph showing population distribution by county in a fictional U.S. state:

How do you read such a graph? Is this the ideal way to depict this sort of information? If you wanted to know which part of the state was most populous, how would you go about figuring it out? Researchers have developed conflicting models to explain how it's done. One model suggests that people reading this kind of graph must cycle between the different parts in order to understand it. This makes some........ Read more »

Raj M. Ratwani, J. Gregory Trafton, & Deborah A. Boehm-Davis. (2008) Thinking graphically: Connecting vision and cognition during graph comprehension. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 14(1), 36-49. DOI: 10.1037/1076-898X.14.1.36  

  • January 25, 2009
  • 07:08 AM
  • 1,680 views

Are U(FO) Dreaming Of A Paranormal Christmas?

by Kylie Sturgess in Podblack Blog

A new paper on alien belief and correlation to hypnotic suggestion and hallucination reveals an interesting link to the song White Christmas in previous studies.... Read more »

  • December 4, 2008
  • 11:29 AM
  • 2,548 views

The Psychology Behind Wrapping Paper [Reprise]

by GrrlScientist in Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

tags: peer-reviewed paper, psychology, gift wrapping, wrapping paper, behavior, holidays, holidaze

Besides bright lights, my favorite thing about the holidays is wrapping gifts. I love covering a boxed gift with colored papers (or even with plain brown paper bags), I get tremendous satisfaction from folding the paper so it makes precise corners and then I especially enjoy decorating the wrapped gift with bows, ribbons and toy flowers and birds, christmas ornaments or other decorations. I also e........ Read more »

Daniel J. Howard. (1992) Gift-Wrapping Effects on Product Attitudes. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 1(3), 197-223. DOI: 10.1207/s15327663jcp0103_01  

  • October 19, 2008
  • 12:00 AM
  • 1,188 views

Rational Choice Theory: Not as Dead as You Think

by Lindsay in Autist's Corner

Discusses an fMRI study of autistic people given a hypothetical choice between two amounts of money; the choice is a test of the "framing effect," which is the tendency most people have of choosing the amount of money that's described in positive terms, rather than the objectively larger amount. ... Read more »

  • August 30, 2008
  • 10:10 PM
  • 3,576 views

Hot Chicks Make Men Nervous

by Neural Outlaw in Neural Interface

Yes, really, they do. It's a scientific fact.As someone who has to read a lot of academic science papers, I occasionally come across studies that really should have been funded by the Ministry of the Bleeding Obvious. I mean, really, it makes you wonder what some researchers are thinking when they carry out these sorts of studies, and whether they actually get grants to do this stuff?Here, let me explain. An item in the latest BPS Research Digest let me know of an "eye-catching study that didn't........ Read more »

  • August 21, 2008
  • 11:46 PM
  • 2,074 views

How Representative are Volunteers?

by Neural Outlaw in Neural Interface

As if by magic, another item at the BPS Research Digest which is also relevant to my recent forays discusses the question of whether participants in psychology studies are "representative" of the total sample under review. It seems like the majority of those who take part in psychology studies are generally more "stable and outgoing", which begs questions about whether said studies are reliable in their testing of depression measures, for example.To give some background, the popular five-factor ........ Read more »

Jan-Erik Lönnqvist, Sampo Paunonen, Markku Verkasalo, Sointu Leikas, Annamari Tuulio-Henriksson, & Jouko Lönnqvist. (2007) Personality characteristics of research volunteers. European Journal of Personality, 21(8), 1017-1030. DOI: 10.1002/per.655  

  • August 20, 2008
  • 11:11 PM
  • 2,556 views

How Clinical is Non-Clinical?

by Neural Outlaw in Neural Interface

So far in my budding career I've been involved in three psychology studies, all of which required the recruitment of non-clinical participants. Even before that, my psych undergraduate final-year project on schizophrenia was carried out by surveying non-clinical participants. For the benefit of lay readers, non-clinical participants refers to "normal" people who are recruited to take part in the study and are different to results gleaned from sufferers of psychosis, anxiety or oth........ Read more »

Idia B. Thurston, Jessica Curley, Sherecce Fields, Dimitra Kamboukos, Ariz Rojas, & Vicky Phares. (2008) How nonclinical are community samples?. Journal of Community Psychology, 36(4), 411-420. DOI: 10.1002/jcop.20223  

  • November 30, 1999
  • 12:00 AM
  • 3,437 views

Bisexuality is natural for women

by United Academics in United Academics

Researchers at the Boise State University have found that most women are bisexual by nature. Also, they discovered that these bisexual feelings increase with age. During this study, 484 heterosexual women were surveyed. 60 percent of them said to be sexually attracted to other women, 45 percent had already kissed with a woman en about half of the participants had fantasized about it.... Read more »

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