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Situationism in the Blogosphere – May, Part I

Posted by The Situationist Staff on June 8, 2010

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Below, we’ve posted titles and a brief quotation from some of our favorite non-Situationist situationist blogging during May 2010 (they are listed in alphabetical order by source).

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From Big Think: “To Improve Girls’ Science Scores, Show Them Women Scientists”

“Standardized tests are supposed to measure innate abilities. The subject of your last conversation, the lead story on the news last night, the pictures on the wall at the test site—this trivia is presumed to have zero impact on your score in geometry or chemistry. Trouble is, it’s increasingly clear that this presumption is simply false. Case in point: This study, published in last month’s Journal of Social Psychology, which erased the usual gender gap in high-school chemistry tests. All it took was a change in the illustrations in a textbook.” Read more . . .

From BPS Research Digest: “How to increase voter turnout”

“The political parties don’t agree on much but what they do all agree on is that the more people who exercise their right to vote, the better. Psychology can help. A new study shows that phone calls to encourage people to vote can be made more effective by a simple strategy – that is, by asking the would-be voter to spell out what time they plan to vote, where they will be coming from prior to voting and what they will have been doing beforehand.” Read more . . .

From Brain Blogger: “Societal Assumptions on Abuse and the Victim’s Perspective”

“Sexual abuse of children is morally revolting and a topic wrought with emotions. In the past few decades, awareness of the prevalence of child abuse and its psychological repercussions has increased. A “trauma model” has been built around sexual abuse that perceives it as being directly traumatic and frightening, and necessarily damaging.” Read more . . .

From Everyday Sociology: “Can Social Problems Be Solved?”

“If you have ever taken or taught a sociology class, you know that many students leave feeling like some problems are too deeply entrenched in our social structure to ever change. This, of course, is not true; social change is possible. But how?” Read more . . .

For previous installments of “Situationism on the Blogosphere,” click here.

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Situationism in the Blogosphere – April, Part I

Posted by The Situationist Staff on May 19, 2010

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Below, we’ve posted titles and a brief quotation from some of our favorite non-Situationist situationist blogging during April 2010 (they are listed in alphabetical order by source).

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From Big Think: “New Study: Insurers Take Both Sides in the War on Obesity”

“The other day I pointed out the conflicting motives of corporations that sell soda, snacks and fast food: They promote “wellness” because they want manageable health-care costs, but they also promote their products. And those are linked to just those long-term “lifestyle” diseases that push health-care costs up. Now comes this study in the American Journal of Public Health, which documents the mixed motives of another set of corporations—companies that sell health and life insurance.” Read more . . .

From BPS Research Digest: “Milgram’s personal archive reveals how he created the ‘strongest obedience situation’”

“Stanley Milgram’s 1960s obedience to authority experiments, in which a majority of participants applied an apparently fatal electric shock to an innocent ‘learner’, are probably the most famous in psychology, and their findings still appall and intrigue to this day. Now, in a hunt for fresh clues as to why ordinary people were so ready to harm another, Nestar Russell, at Victoria University of Wellington, has reviewed Milgram’s personal notes and project applications, which are housed at Yale University’s Sterling Memorial Library.” Read more . . .

From Brain Blogger: “The Brain Rejects Inequality”

“The human brain likes balance. Not simply biological and physiological homeostasis that maintains the proper functioning of the brain, but emotional, social and psychological balance. Notably, the human brain dislikes inequality when it comes to money, and rejects it at all costs, according to new research in the journal Nature.” Read more . . .

From Frontal Cortex: “Classroom Creativity”

“Everybody wants a creative child – in theory. The reality of creativity, however, is a little more complicated, as creative thoughts tend to emerge when we’re distracted, daydreaming, disinhibited and not following the rules. In other words, the most imaginative kids are often the trouble-makers.” Read more . . .

From Jury Room: “Neurolaw Update: Who’s in charge here—me or my brain?”

“Our brains. They seem to be all powerful. They make us do stuff. Stuff beyond our control or even awareness, or so it seems. For example, if you are a young (and presumably heterosexual, for this study) male, you are more likely to do something really risky if you are being watched by a young woman rather than another man.” Read more . . .

For previous installments of “Situationism on the Blogosphere,” click here.

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Situationism in the Blogosphere – March, Part II

Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 24, 2010

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Below, we’ve posted titles and a brief quotation from some of our favorite non-Situationist situationist blogging during March 2010 (they are listed in alphabetical order by source).

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From Neuronarrative: “When You Expect Rapid Feedback, the Fire to Perform Gets Hotter”

“Let’s say that you’re preparing for an extremely important test that you and roughly 100 other classmates will be taking in a week.  A few days before the test, you find out that your instructor will be going on a trip not long after the test is over and will be providing written and verbal feedback to the students within a day of the test.” Read more . . .

From Neurophilosophy: “Magnetic manipulation of the sense of morality”

“When making moral judgements, we rely on our ability to make inferences about the beliefs and intentions of others […] The legal system also places great emphasis on one’s intentions: a “guilty act” only produces criminal liability when it is proven to have been performed in combination with a “guilty mind”, and this, too, depends on the ability to make reasoned moral judgements. MIT researchers now show that this moral compass can be very easily skewed.” Read more . . .

From Social Psychology Eye: “The Bottom Line”

“What determines the importance of fairness, particularly to strangers?  There are no incentives to play fair when dealing with people we don’t know, aren’t related to, and will never interact with again. Evolutionary psychologist might point to carryover effects of living in smaller communities in our distant past. A recent study led by Joseph Henrich hopes to clarify the issue postulating that there is more to it than simply inheriting fairness attitudes.” Read more . . .

From Psyblog: “How to Increase Your Self-Control Without Really Trying”

“New study shows that self-control can be automatically, unconsciously bolstered by abstract thinking. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just spontaneously and automatically exercise self-control, without all that painful back-and-forth battle with ourselves? […] Unfortunately so often temptation wins. And experiments show that when we are run down from exercising self-discipline all day, we become even more likely to give in to temptation.” Read more . . .

From We’re Only Human: “Fast food, racing thoughts”

“Fast food is unhealthy. I know, I know. Few of us need convincing of that fact any more. But as unassailable as it is, the brief against fast food has for years focused almost entirely on the food in fast food—the high fructose corn syrup and artery-busting fats and nutritional bankruptcy of burgers and French fries and soft drinks. But what about the fast in fast food? New science is now suggesting that fast food may be doubly unhealthy—not only nutritionally damaging but psychologically detrimental as well.” Read more . . .

For previous installments of “Situationism on the Blogosphere,” click here.

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Situationism in the Blogosphere – March, Part I

Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 8, 2010

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Below, we’ve posted titles and a brief quotation from some of our favorite non-Situationist situationist blogging during March 2010 (they are listed in alphabetical order by source).

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From BPS Research Digest: “Scary health messages can backfire”

“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.” Read more . . .

From Brain Blogger: “Why Some Human Brains Become Leaders, While Others Followers?”

“The human brain is a biological pattern making machine. At birth, a baby’s brain contains 100 billion neurons, roughly as many nerve cells as there are stars in the Milky Way. These billions of neurons in human brain have extraordinary capacity to construct and weave strings of useful information patterns which gets ever more complex as cognitive thought process increases. These neural patterns help the brain to recognize, organize, store and retrieve information patterns when needed. It has been noticed that leaders engage in activities which provide the time, space and structure to facilitate the construction of such neural patterns.” Read more . . .

From Frontal Cortex: “Inequality Aversion”

“The ultimatum game is a simple experiment with profound implications. The game goes like this: one person (the proposer) is given ten dollars and told to share it with another person (the responder). The proposer can divide the money however they like, but if the responder rejects the offer then both players end up with nothing. […] In a paper published last week in Nature, a team of Caltech and Trinity College psychologists and neuroeconomists looked at how the brain’s response to various monetary rewards is altered by the context of inequality.” Read more . . .

From Jury Room: “Simple Jury Persuasion: You may want to disagree with this post”

“Here’s a simple and powerful persuasion strategy. Although somewhat paradoxical, giving people the freedom to resist your message appears to undermine their wish to do so.” Read more . . .

From Jury Room: “Your brain is a liar: It will find what it wants before it even starts looking”

“Brains are pretty amazing. And the research on how our brains affect us comes out so fast it’s hard to keep up with–so we’re simply giving you a post with a hodge-podge of research findings. Prepare to be amazed (or perhaps amused).” Read more . . .

For previous installments of “Situationism on the Blogosphere,” click here.

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Situationism in the Blogosphere – February, Part II

Posted by The Situationist Staff on March 22, 2010

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Below, we’ve posted titles and a brief quotation from some of our favorite non-Situationist situationist blogging during February 2010 (they are listed in alphabetical order by source).

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From Law and Mind: “The Law’s Relationship to Self-Interested, Competitive, and Trusting Behavior”

“In “Associations between Law, Competitiveness, and the Pursuit of Self-Interest,” Mitchell Callan and Aaron Kay present and analyze their research regarding whether the existence of law, “implicitly fosters the assumptions that people are self-interested, competitive, and cannot be trusted.” Read more . . .

From Mind Hacks: “Subliminal cigarette marketing”

“The Tobacco Documents Library is an online database of millions of tobacco industry documents made public through court cases. Included are letters written to cigarette companies including several  where the public have complained about ‘subliminal messages’ hidden in adverts.” Read more . . .

From Neurophilosophy: “Your eyes betray the timing of your decisions”

“When it comes to making decisions, timing can be everything, but it is often beneficial to conceal the decision that has been made. Take a game of poker, for instance: during each round, the player has to decide whether to bet, raise the stakes, or fold, depending on the hand they have been dealt. A good player will have perfected his “poker face”, the blank expression which conceals the emotions he feels and the decisions he makes from the other players sitting at the table.” Read more . . .

From Neuromarketing: “The Power of Text”

“What makes an engaging television commercial? If you think visual and auditory appeal – action, sound, music, people, color, etc. – you would usually be correct. Ditto for high production values. An exotic location might help, too. But the recent Super Bowl provided an example that should warm the hearts of copy writers everywere: the Google “Parisian Love” ad.” Read more . . .

From Psyblog: “Conformity: Ten Timeless Influencers”

“Conformity is such a strong influence in society that it’s impossible to understand human behaviour without it. Psychological experiments show that people will deny the evidence of their own eyes in order to conform  with other people.” Read more . . .

For previous installments of “Situationism on the Blogosphere,” click here.

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Situationism in the Blogosphere

Posted by The Situationist Staff on March 9, 2010

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Below, we’ve posted titles and a brief quotation from some of our favorite non-Situationist situationist blogging during February 2010 (they are listed in alphabetical order by source).

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From Ambigamy: “Consciously unconscious: Reflections on the annual social psychology conference”

“I just got back from the annual Social Psychology meeting in Las Vegas. Are you following this amazing field? It’s not hard to follow, what with the wealth of marvelously accessible books with monosyllabic titles like Blink, Switch, Nudge, and Sway, not to mention The Hidden Brain, Predictably Irrational, The political brain, On being certain, How we decide, and well, really too many to mention.” Read more . . .

From Brain Blogger: “I Feel Your Pain” – The Neural Basis of Empathy”

“Last month, a terrible earthquake raised havoc in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. While the Haitians in Port-au-Prince are miles away from us, witnessing media images of their physical and emotional suffering moves us tremendously, and motivates many of us to respond to their distress with monetary and other donations. In a sense, this is an amazing human feat—that we are able to feel for other people’s far away tragedies. How is it that we are so moved? This is a question about human empathy, and it has boggled the minds of great thinkers for centuries.” Read more . . .

From BPS Research Digest: “Your left brain has a bigger ego than your right brain”

“Psychologists have used an inventive combination of techniques to show that the left half of the brain has more self-esteem than the right half. The finding is consistent with earlier research showing that the left hemisphere is associated more with positive, approach-related emotions, whereas the right hemisphere is associated more with negative emotions.” Read more . . .

From Cognition and Culture: “Better live in Sweden than in the US: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better”

“Let’s talk about politics for once. It is common knowledge that in rich societies the poor have shorter lives and suffer more from almost every social problem. In a quite fascinating book, The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always do Better, epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett demonstrate that more unequal societies are bad for almost everyone – the well-off as well as the poor (here is the Guardian review, and here is Nature’s).” Read more . . .

From Jury Room: “Lighter Skin, More Like Me”

“[…]It’s a timely piece. As the country becomes increasingly polarized, researchers keep churning out work on our biases and how they result in us modifying how we see others. For example, the Atlantic reports on a study showing that our own partisanship determines how we perceive skin color. The more we believe the person shares our own values and political perspective, the lighter skinned we believe them to be. If we do not believe they share our perspective and values, we see them as darker skinned.” Read more . . .

For previous installments of “Situationism on the Blogosphere,” click here.

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Situationism in the Blogosphere – January, Part II

Posted by The Situationist Staff on February 17, 2010

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Below, we’ve posted titles and a brief quotation from some of our favorite non-Situationist situationist blogging during January 2010 (they are listed in alphabetical order by source).

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From Neuroscience Marketing: “Green Marketing: Light Up Sales”

“Green marketing” usually refers to using an environmental pitch to sell a product. A car creates less pollution, a paper product is made from recycled content, and so on. Results of appealing to environmental sentiment have been mixed.” Read more . . .

From Neurophilosophy: “Desire influences visual perception”

“WE tend to assume that we see our surroundings as they really are, and that our perception of reality is accurate. In fact, what we perceive is merely a neural representation of the world, the brain’s best guess of its environment, based on a very limited amount of available information. This is perhaps best demonstrated by visual illusions, in which there is a mismatch between our perception of the stimulus and objective reality.” Read more . . .

From Social Psychology Eye: “Why people choose to kill? The allure of terrorism”

“The 23-year-old Nigerian who boarded an international flight for Detroit with a bomb in his underwear on Christmas Day reminded many people of the important lessons they learned from Sept. 11. Terrorism attracts worldwide attention again. Many people, especially the psychologists, start to think more about the motivation of terrorism and solution to it. What do the terrorists who attempted to strike U.S. territory in common? What is the allure of terrorism? Is religion the only reason?” Read more . . .

From We’re Only Human: “Hyper-binding ain’t for sissies”

“Imagine this hypothetical scenario: You’re at a cocktail party and the host introduces you to a stranger, whose name is Jeremy. It’s a crowded party, and as you chat with Jeremy, you’re also picking up snippets of another conversation nearby. Something about a big football game on Sunday. It doesn’t concern you, so you try to tune it out. You have a short but pleasant conversation with Jeremy, then go on to mingle with other guests.” Read more . . .

From We’re Only Human: “The Science of Prayer”

“Everyone who is in any kind of serious relationship—with a partner, a child, a close friend—has been guilty of transgression as one time or another. That’s because we’re not perfect. We all commit hurtful acts, violate trust, and hope for forgiveness. […] Why not take all that prayer and direct it at the people who have wronged us? Is it possible that directed prayer might spark forgiveness in those doing the praying—and in the process preserve relationships?” Read more . . .

For previous installments of “Situationism on the Blogosphere,” click here.

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Situationism in the Blogosphere – January, Part I

Posted by The Situationist Staff on February 5, 2010

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Below, we’ve posted titles and a brief quotation from some of our favorite non-Situationist situationist blogging during January 2010 (they are listed in alphabetical order by source).

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From BPS Research Digest: “Morbid warnings on cigarette packs could encourage some people to smoke”

“Every now and again a finding comes along that provides perfect ammunition for psychologists confronted by the tiresome claim that psychology is all ‘common sense.’ Researchers have found that death-related health warnings on cigarette packs are likely to encourage some people to smoke. The surprising result is actually consistent with ‘Terror-management Theory’, according to which thoughts of mortality cause us to cling more strongly to our cultural beliefs and to pursue ego-boosting activities.” Read more . . .

From BPS Research Digest: “Prejudice towards migrants stems partly from the fact that they’re awkward to think about”

“Survey research consistently shows that people tend to have a poor view of migrants. It’s unpalatable but psychologically speaking, it’s no great surprise. After all, the odds are stacked against new-comers: most of us display inherent biases against people who we perceive to be in a different social group from our own – the so-called ‘out group bias’ – together with a similar aversion to people who are members of a social minority. Migrants usually fit both these descriptions.” Read more . . .

From Brain Blogger: “Too Much Information?”

“How things have changed. Once information was a precious commodity, jealously guarded by the elite who deliberately withheld it from the masses in order to keep them in their place. Now information is everywhere, available to everybody, all of the time. While the democratization of information is undoubtedly a force for good, is there such a thing as too much information? And, who is verifying the information? Does something become true just because it has been written?” Read more . . .

From Frontal Cortex: “Self-Control and Peer Groups”

“For the most part, self-control is seen as an individual trait, a measure of personal discipline. If you lack self-control, then it’s your own fault, a character flaw built into the brain. However, according to a new study by Michelle vanDellen, a psychologist at the University of Georgia, self-control contains a large social component; the ability to resist temptation is contagious.” Read more . . .

From Mediation Channel: “Does law lag behind science? Psychologists question Supreme Court campaign finance decision”

“In yesterday’s mail, among the bills, bank statements, and catalogs, I found a solicitation from a non-profit. The package it arrived in declared in bold red letters that my “signature is needed” (not to mention, no doubt, my cash) for a petition to halt some objectionable political action. Visible through the plastic wrapper was a pen, their gift to me.” Read more . . .

For previous installments of “Situationism on the Blogosphere,” click here.

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Situationism in the Blogosphere – December, Part II

Posted by The Situationist Staff on January 15, 2010

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Below, we’ve posted titles and a brief quotation from some of our favorite non-Situationist situationist blogging during December 2009 (they are listed in alphabetical order by source).

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From Mind Hacks: “Fan violence: take a swing when you’re winning”

“Popular sporting occasions have long been associated with violence and it was long assumed that assaults were more likely to be initiated by losing fans taking out their frustration. This has been contradicted by recent research that suggests it is fans of the winning team whom are more likely to be violent.” Read more . . .

From Neuronarrative: “What’s More Potent, Testosterone or the Power of Belief?”

“When most people think of testosterone, words like “aggression,” “dominance,” and “violence” usually come to mind.  Those words are memetically linked with testosterone the way “expensive” is linked with diamonds, and most of us have adopted the linkage without thinking much about it.  Collectively, we’ve adopted a “folk hypothesis” about testosterone–a generalized presupposition grounded in folk wisdom assumed to be correct.” Read more . . .

From Neuronarrative: “A Photo is Worth a Thousand Ways to Change Your Memory”

“[…]A recent study in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology tested whether showing people photos of completed actions–such as a broken pencil or an opened envelope–could influence them to believe they’d done something they had not, particularly if they were shown the photos multiple times.” Read more . . .

From PsyBlog: “When Situations Not Personality Dictate Our Behaviour”

“A modern test of an ancient bible story demonstrates the power of situations to trump personality in determining behaviour. A fundamental mistake we often make when judging other people is assuming that their behaviour mainly reflects their personality. Unfortunately this ignores another major influence on how people behave staring us right in the face: the situation.” Read more . . .

From PsyBlog: “How Other People’s Unspoken Expectations Control Us”

“We quickly sense how others view us and play up to these expectations. A good exercise for learning about yourself is to think about how other people might view you in different ways. Consider how your family, your work colleagues or your partner think of you. Now here’s an interesting question: to what extent do you play up to these expectations about how they view you?” Read more . . .

For previous installments of “Situationism on the Blogosphere,” click here.

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Situationism in the Blogosphere – December, Part I

Posted by The Situationist Staff on January 7, 2010

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Below, we’ve posted titles and a brief quotation from some of our favorite non-Situationist situationist blogging during December 2009 (they are listed in alphabetical order by source).

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From Brain Blogger: “Sex, Violence and The Male Warrior Hypothesis”

“Throughout the history of human civilization, wars have a common feature of being practiced primarily by males. This group aggression by males is a persistent trait of human behavior, seen across different continents among civilizations that have developed independent of each other.” Read more . . .

From Brain Blogger: “White Bears – The Paradox of Mental Suppression”

“Whatever you do, don’t think of a white bear. Go on, close your eyes, relax, but don’t think of a white bear… So, what happened? Most likely, you were overwhelmed by thoughts of a white bear. This mini-experiment highlights the fascinating paradox of thought suppression.” Read more . . .

From BPS Research Digest: “Step away from the cookie jar! Over-confidence in self-control leads us to temptation”

“Out on a shopping trip after lunch, you buy a couple of boxes of chocolates to put in storage for enjoyment over the festive break. You’re not particularly hungry, and you see no obvious problems with the plan. Later that night, however, the munchies kick in and before you know it you’re raiding the cupboard, tearing open the box and gorging yourself. According to a new paper by Loran Nordgren and colleagues, such lapses occur all to frequently because of our inability, when satiated, to fully recognise the power of our visceral needs when hungry, tired, or lustful.” Read more . . .

From Frontal Cortex: “Free Will and Ethics”

“Earlier this week, I wondered if all of our new knowledge about the brain, which is too often presented in a lazy causal fashion – if x lights up, then we do y – might undermine our sense of self and self-control. I’ve since riffled through the literature and found some interesting and suggestive answers.” Read more . . .

For previous installments of “Situationism on the Blogosphere,” click here.

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Situationism in the Blogosphere – November, Part III

Posted by The Situationist Staff on December 21, 2009

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Below, we’ve posted titles and a brief quotation from some of our favorite non-Situationist situationist blogging during November 2009 (they are listed in alphabetical order by source).

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From Neuronarrative: “Thinking You’re in Control Can Lead to an Impulsive Demise”

“[…] A new study in the journal Psychological Science investigated the dynamics underlying why we repeatedly convince ourselves that we’ve overcome impulsiveness and can stop avoiding our worst temptations.  This particular tendency toward self-deception is called restraint bias, and four experiments were conducted under this study to test the hypothesis that it’s rampant in our bias-prone species.” Read more . . .

From Psyblog: “Our Minds Are Black Boxes – Even to Ourselves”

“We all have intuitive theories about how our own and other people’s minds work. Unfortunately psychological research demonstrates that these theories are often wrong. The gulf between how we think our minds work and how they actually work is sometimes so huge it’s laughable.” Read more . . .

From Psyblog: “Ads For Unhealthy Foods Increase Children’s Consumption 45%”

“Nowadays the word ‘obesity’ is rarely seen in print without its partner-in-crime, ‘epidemic’. The developed world seems to be intent on eating itself to death and no small proportion of the newly obese are children: one-third in the US, with a further third at risk.” Read more . . .

From Sam Sommers Psychology Today Blog: “Fort Hood Fallout”

“Psychologists call it illusory correlation. The idea is that when we think about others, we tend to overestimate the association between groups and actions that are distinctive. It’s one of the ways in which societal stereotypes are perpetuated and endure over time. And it’s exactly what has many an American Muslim concerned in the wake of this week’s tragic shooting spree at the Fort Hood Army base.” Read more . . .

From We’re Only Humans: “Some of my best friends are pawns”

“[…] University of Waterloo psychologist Grainne Fitzsimons is interested in the interplay of personal goals and stereotypes. We are all motivated by goals, from big ones like career success to more modest ones […]. We also categorize people. We all do, whether we like it or not, simply because we need to find order in the world’s complexity. […] Given that personal goals and stereotyping are both so basic to our psychology, Fitzsimons reasoned, is it possible that our goals actually influence how we pigeonhole people?” Read more . . .

For previous installments of “Situationism on the Blogosphere,” click here.

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Situationism in the Blogosphere – November, Part II

Posted by The Situationist Staff on December 11, 2009

Below, we’ve posted titles and a brief quotation from some of our favorite non-Situationist situationist blogging during November 2009 (they are listed in alphabetical order by source).

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From Art Markman Psychology Today Blog: “When cigarette warnings backfire”

“[…]  There are two classes of measures that have been taken to fight smoking (and related public health problems like alcohol and unhealthy eating). One is to make smoking less attractive in the short-term to counteract the positives of smoking. The other is to provide warnings about the dangers of smoking. […] A paper by Jochim Hansen, Susanne Winzeler, and Sascha Topolinski in the January 2010 issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology examined the effectiveness of these warnings on the attitudes of smokers toward smoking.” Read more . . .

From BPS Research Digest: “When a police line-up with six one-eyed men is better than a line-up with none”

“You’re mugged by a man with a patch over one eye. You describe him and his distinctive appearance to the police. They locate a one-eyed suspect and present him to you in a video line-up with five innocent “foils”. If this suspect is the only person in the line-up with one eye, prior research shows you’re highly likely to pick him out even if, in all other respects, he actually bears little resemblance to your mugger. So the challenge is: How to make police line-ups fairer for suspects who have an unusual distinguishing feature?” Read more . . .

From Everyday Sociology: “Losing Confidence: Americans and Social Institutions”

“Do you feel less confidence in the government? In corporations? In the press? If so, your feelings reflect a general trend found in the most recent data from the General Social Survey, a nationally representative household survey taken every other year of American attitudes on a variety of issues. Since 1973 the survey has asked respondents how much confidence they have in a variety of American social institutions. Their 2008 survey results suggest that the public has less confidence in every major social institution (except the military) compared with 2006.” Read more . . .

From Joachim I. Krueger Psychology Today Blog: “Self-control: When optimism is self-defeating”

“The Little Engine that Could is a classic story about the virtue of optimism. In this tale, the eponymous locomotive is challenged to carry freight over a steep mountain top. The little engine struggles in climbing the mountain, but ultimately succeeds in his mission. As the engine falters on its journey, it repeats the self-empowering mantra: “I think I can; I think I can.” The little engine’s message to readers is clear – maintain positive beliefs and you can accomplish great things. The utility of optimism is supported by research on social cognition.” Read more . . .

From John Tauer Psychology Today Blog: “Monday Morning Quarterbacking: The Case of the Hindsight Bias”

“In last week’s blog, we analyzed Bill Belichick’s decision to go for it on 4th down and 2 late in the game vs. Indianapolis. This was an unconventional but statistically sound decision. When the move didn’t work, Belichick received considerable criticism. Many called it the worst coaching decision he had ever made. That’s a large statement, given the length of Belichick’s coaching career and the fact that the decision was logical and data driven. Why is it that coaches receive so much criticism when their decisions don’t turn out well?” Read more . . .

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For previous installments of “Situationism on the Blogosphere,” click here.

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Situationism in the Blogosphere, November 2009 – Part II

Posted by The Situationist Staff on December 3, 2009

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Below, we’ve posted titles and a brief quotation from some of our favorite non-Situationist situationist blogging during November 2009 (they are listed in alphabetical order by source).

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From Nicholas Herrera Psychology Today Blog: “Attributional Biases and Violent Soccer Play”

“On November 5, 2009, during a soccer match between the University of New Mexico and Brigham Young University, UNM defender Elizabeth Lambert behaved badly. […] People seem to think that Lambert’s actions on the field reflect a deep-seated anger, moral defect, or unconscious conflict. […] These simple explanations are comforting, because they reaffirm what most people already believe: Good people do good things and bad people do bad things. However, they neglect the findings of social psychology, which show that behavior is a function of the person and the situation.” Read more . . .

From Nicholas Herrera Psychology Today Blog: “Cognitive Dissonance, the Need to Belong, and Mass Murder”

“On Thursday, November 5, 2009, Major Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, killed 13 people and wounded 29 others at Fort Hood in Texas. Since then, there has been much speculation as to why he behaved as he did. Some of the more prominent explanations include post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of working with combat veterans, harassment from fellow soldiers because he is an Arab and a Muslim, dissatisfaction with the Army, depression, and distress caused by his upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. […]  In Hasan’s case, social causes seem to be especially important. In particular, he seems to have suffered from social isolation, harassment, and cognitive dissonance.” Read more . . .

From Nicholas Herrera Psychology Today Blog: “The Chicago Cubs and the Curse of a Stereotype (Part 1)”

“Once again, the Chicago Cubs are not in the World Series. Last year, however, they seemed destined to win it. They won 97 games, the most for any Cubs team since 1945 and the most in the National League. […] Given the Cubs’ history and people’s love of supernatural explanations this is not surprising. People are especially likely to believe in superstitions when they feel that they lack control over an event. People also expect the cause of a dramatic event to be equally dramatic. Oftentimes, however, the cause is not dramatic, but rather a subtle and seemingly unimportant situational factor. In the case of the Cubs, this factor may have been the stereotype that they are “loveable losers.” Read more . . .

From Nicholas Herrera Psychology Today Blog: “The Chicago Cubs and the Curse of a Stereotype (Part 2)”

“Stereotype threat, a social psychological theory developed by Claude Steele and his colleagues, describes the fear experienced by members of a group that their performance might confirm a negative stereotype. This apprehension, as well as the added pressure to perform well, can increase anxiety and physiological arousal, trigger distracting thoughts, and reduce working memory capacity, all of which can impair performance. Even well-learned motor skills can be affected. Ironically, people who care more about their social group and performing well and have higher ability may be most vulnerable.” Read more . . .

From Psychology Today Editors Psychology Today Blog: “The Danger of Self-Affirmation”

“All people want to think well of themselves. This is, at least, what many psychologists would have us believe. So too would hundreds of practitioners of the self-help movement. Indeed, in the US, a multi-billion dollar personal improvement industry is built on the premise that people have an insatiable hunger for positive self-views. […] With enough repetitions, the argument goes, people who suffer from low self-esteem will transform themselves into highly self-confident individuals who will discover that the world is their oyster.” Read more . . .

From Sam Sommers Psychology Today Blog: “Fort Hood Fallout”

“Psychologists call it illusory correlation. The idea is that when we think about others, we tend to overestimate the association between groups and actions that are distinctive. It’s one of the ways in which societal stereotypes are perpetuated and endure over time. And it’s exactly what has many an American Muslim concerned in the wake of this week’s tragic shooting spree at the Fort Hood Army base.” Read more . . .

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For previous installments of “Situationism on the Blogosphere,” click here.

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Situationism in the Blogosphere – October 2009, Part III

Posted by The Situationist Staff on November 27, 2009

blogosphere image

Below, we’ve posted titles and a brief quotation from some of our favorite non-Situationist situationist blogging during October 2009 (they are listed in alphabetical order by source).

* * *

From Neuronarrative: “When the Powerful Feel Incompetent, the Rest of Us Feel Their Wrath”

“[…]It’s no surprise that power and aggression often move along the same track. In particular, the threat of losing power is like striking a match near the aggression gun powder keg.  Studies have shown that the perceived need to protect one’s power kicks ego defenses into high gear, loaded with enough aggression to regret for a lifetime.” Read more . . .

From Neuronarrative: “Once You Start Trusting a Source, Beware the Trust Trap”

“If you follow a news commentator closely, reading everything he or she writes in whatever venue it appears, you may unknowingly be in a trust trap.  Studies have shown that once we invest trust in a particular source of knowledge, we’re less likely to scrutinize information from that source in the future.” Read more . . .

From We’re Only Human: “Sneezing at health care reform”

“[…]A stranger’s sneeze can be a good thing in a way. Think of it as a public service announcement, a very-simple-to-understand message about health risk. A sneeze can remind us to wash our hands and schedule our inoculations—probably more effectively than a lecture. But what if, in our hyper-vigilance, we overreact to everyday sneezes and coughs and sniffles? Can such signals change healthy prudence into an unreasonable fearfulness about germs and more?” Read more . . .

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For previous installments of “Situationism on the Blogosphere,” click here.

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Situationism in the News

Posted by The Situationist Staff on November 21, 2009

situationism-in-the-news

Below, we’ve posted titles and a brief quotation from some of the Situationist news over the last several weeks.

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From Fox News: “Romantic Rivalries Stir Religious Feelings”

“Rivals on the dating scene could make one feel closer to God, according to new research that suggests one’s religiousness may be more closely related to mating strategies than previously known.” Read more . . .

From Origins: “Does Studying Why People Believe in God Challenge God’s Existence?”

“[…] One leading model from cognitive science suggests that religion is a natural consequence of human social cognition and that we are primed to see the work of another thinking being—an agent—in the natural world and our lives. But a person of faith might give a different kind of answer: Religion arose because divinity exists, and belief in deities represents the human response to it.” Read more . . .

From  Seedmagazine.com: “As obesity rates soar, Americans are consuming more low-calorie artificial sweeteners. But do artificial sweeteners actually help people lose weight?”

“Could cheap, sugary soft drinks really be at the root of the obesity crisis in America? And if so, isn’t switching to artificially sweetened “diet” soda the obvious answer? Travis Saunders, an obesity researcher and ResearchBlogging.org health editor who blogs at Obesity Panacea, can at least answer the first question: The increase in consumption of sugars, especially high-fructose corn syrup, has marched in lock-step with the rise in obesity in the US over the past 30 years. He cites research suggesting that sugar actually disrupts the metabolism and makes you hungrier.” Read more . . .

From  The New York Times: “How Understanding the Human Mind Might Save the World From CO2”

“What will solve climate change? Will it be technology? Policy? A growing number of researchers and activists say it’s what’s behind it all: people. And understanding them is vital to addressing climate change.  The problem is that people don’t understand people very well, research shows.” Read more . . .

From The River News: “Discrimination is not always black and white”

“Well-intentioned people can discriminate against others without realizing they are doing so, said a speaker in the Bart Luedeke Center Theater Wednesday. Dr. Samuel Gaertner, the director of social psychology at the University of Delaware, […] said that, on an unconscious level, some people refuse to see that they are discriminatory. These people completely believe that they are not biased and try to live their lives as such, he said.” Read more . . .

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Situationism in the Blogosphere – October 2009, Part II

Posted by The Situationist Staff on November 15, 2009

blogosphere image

Below, we’ve posted titles and a brief quotation from some of our favorite non-Situationist situationist blogging during October 2009 (they are listed in alphabetical order by source).

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From Deliberations: “When They Don’t See What You See”

“A recent study highlights what might be the most important thing lawyers and clients miss about how juries will react to their cases.  The same evidence that makes you angry at the other side might make jurors angry at you.” Read more . . .

From Everyday Sociology: “Equality in Justice: Cognitive Dissonance and Fame”

“Two cases involving the rape of a young girl have been in the news: one involving Roman Polanski’s arrest and the other about Elizabeth Smart’s court testimony. While these cases have the “adult male-minor female” rapes as their basic similarity, most other things have been very different, especially in news reports and public reactions.” Read more . . .

From The Frontal Cortex: “Calorie Postings”

“A new study reveals that all those unappetizing calorie counts on New York City menus – do you really want to know how much sugar is in a Frappuccino? Or that an Olive Garden breadstick contains hundreds of calories? – don’t lead to more responsible food decisions.” Read more . . .

From Neuroanthropology: “The Encultured Brain: Why Neuroanthropology? Why Now?”

“Neuroanthropology places the brain and nervous system at the center of discussions about human nature, recognizing that much of what makes us distinctive inheres in the size, specialization, and dynamic openness of the human nervous system. By starting with neural physiology and its variability, neuroanthropology situates itself from the beginning in the interaction of nature and culture, the inextricable interweaving of developmental unfolding and evolutionary endowment.” Read more . . .

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For previous installments of “Situationism on the Blogosphere,” click here.

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Situationism in the Blogosphere – October 2009, Part I

Posted by The Situationist Staff on November 6, 2009

blogosphere image

Below, we’ve posted titles and a brief quotation from some of our favorite non-Situationist situationist blogging during October 2009 (they are listed in alphabetical order by source).

* * *

From 3 Quarks Daily: “Lard Lesson: Why Fat Lubricates Your Appetite”

“When you’ve spent the weekend splurging on greasy fast foods, your bathroom scale isn’t alone in reeling from the impact. Your brain does, too. New research shows just how saturated fat tricks us into eating more and elucidates the evolutionary basis for the propensity for poundage in developed nations. Our brain physiology, it seems, is glaringly out-of-date in the modern world.” Read more . . .

From Brain Blogger: “How Culture Shapes Our Mind and Brain”

“Most people would agree that culture can have a large effect on our daily lives — influencing what we may wear, say, or find humorous. But many people may be surprised to learn that culture may even effect how our brain responds to different stimuli. Indeed, until recently, most psychology and neuroscience researchers took for granted that their findings translated across individuals in various cultures. In the past decade, however, research has begun to unravel how cultural belief systems shape our thoughts and behaviors.” Read more . . .

From BPS Research Digest: “Young children’s moral understanding more sophisticated than previously thought”

“[…] In judging moral responsibility, we adults focus almost exclusively on intention rather than outcome. Stated starkly, the person who deliberately attempts to kill an innocent, but fails, is judged as more evil than the person who accidentally kills an innocent. Now researchers have a taken a fresh look at how these moral processes develop in children.” Read more . . .

From BPS Research Digest: “The speed of free will”

“Crudely speaking, our actions can be divided into those that are automatic and driven by the environment and those that are initiated volitionally, as an act of will. In an intriguing new study, Todd Horowitz and colleagues claim to have recorded the relatively sluggish time taken for free will to be enacted.” Read more . . .

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For previous installments of “Situationism on the Blogosphere,” click here.

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Situationism in the Blogosphere – September 2009, Part III

Posted by The Situationist Staff on October 31, 2009

blogosphere image

Below, we’ve posted titles and a brief quotation from some of our favorite non-Situationist situationist blogging during September 2009 (they are listed in alphabetical order by source).

* * *

From PsyBlog: “Group Polarization: The Trend to Extreme Decisions”

“[…]We tend to think that group decisions average out the preferences of participants so they would come up with something closer to the Ford Focus. But the psychological research doesn’t support this conclusion. In fact group discussions tend to polarize groups so that, rather than people’s views always being averaged, their initial preferences can become exaggerated and their final position is often more extreme than it was initially.” Read more . . .

From PsyBlog: “Essentials of Group Psycholog”

“When we’re in a group other people have an incredibly powerful effect on us. Groups can kill our creativity, inspire us to work harder, allow us to slack off, skew our decision-making and make us clam up. […] This post provides an overview and you can follow the links to explore the experiments that reveal the power groups hold over us.You shouldn’t believe everything you read, yet according to a classic psychology study at first we can’t help it.” Read more . . .

From We’re Only Human: “Cold Shoulder, Warm Heart”

“[…] Volunteers who had just arrived in the lab were asked to hold the experimenter’s beverage for a few minutes, ostensibly so he could do something that required two hands. Some were handed a cold beverage, and others a warm one. Then they were asked to rate both themselves and an acquaintance on a well-known scale that measures social proximity; the more they overlapped with the other, the higher their score on closeness; the less overlap, the more distant they were feeling. The results were also straightforward. Holding the warm beverage induced greater feelings of closeness than the cold beverage.” Read more . . .

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For previous installments of “Situationism on the Blogosphere,” click here.

Posted in Abstracts, Blogroll | 1 Comment »

Situationism in the News

Posted by The Situationist Staff on October 28, 2009

situationism-in-the-news

Below, we’ve posted titles and a brief quote from some of the Situationist news over the last several weeks.

* * *

From Boston.com: “She’s just not that into it”

“It goes without saying that men are aggressive. But that’s exactly the problem, according to psychologists. They asked men and women to imagine various conflict scenarios and found that men systematically overestimate the prevalence and social approval of aggression, even while having mixed feelings about it themselves.” Read more . . .

From Discovery Channel: “As Reactions to Threats Fade, Fear Does Too”

“Remember the global financial crisis? How about the H1N1 flu virus? Al-Qaida? Climate change? Each of these headline-grabbing issues poses a threat to our well-being, but the way we perceive these dangers might depend on how recently we read about them, a study from the University of Colorado suggests.” Read more . . .

From Live Science: “Conservatives Are More Easily Disgusted”

“People who squirm at the sight of bugs or are grossed out by blood and guts are more likely to be politically conservative, new studies find.  In particular, the squeamish are more apt to have conservative attitudes about gays and lesbians.  Lots of other research has tied politics to biology and behavior.” Read more . . .

From Yale Alumni Magazine: “Politics and maggots”

“Pus, maggots, vomit, feces, rotten food: in almost every human society, people share a knee-jerk revulsion for certain substances. Now, Yale psychologist Paul Bloom and his colleagues have found that the level of disgust a person feels can predict his or her political orientation. In a word: “We found that conservatives are more easily disgusted than liberals.” Read more . . .

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Situationism in the Blogosphere – September 2009, Part II

Posted by The Situationist Staff on October 23, 2009

blogosphere image

Below, we’ve posted titles and a brief quotation from some of our favorite non-Situationist situationist blogging during September 2009 (they are listed in alphabetical order by source).

* * *

From Neurophilosoply: “If You Want to Catch a Liar, Make Him Draw”

“A man accused of a crime is brought into a police interrogation room and sits down at an empty table.  […] He sets them in front of the suspect, steps back, and calmly says, “draw.” That’s a greatly oversimplified description of what could happen in actual interrogation rooms if the results of a recent study in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology are widely adopted. The study is the first to investigate whether drawing is an effective lie detection technique in comparison to verbal methods.” Read more . . .

From Neurophilosoply: “The Closer You Are, the More I Believe You”

“The answer may have much to do with a dynamic called the “vividness effect,” which suggests that vivid testimony—that which is perceived as emotionally interesting, concrete and proximate—will be paid more attention, perceived as more credible, and better remembered than “non-vivid” testimony.  By this argument, if you are listening to someone tell a compelling story of their innocence in person—the condition that offers the greatest proximity and opportunity for emotional engagement—you are more likely to find her credible than you would if watching her on a TV screen [...].” Read more . . .

From Project Implicit: “The Surprisingly Limited Malleability of Implicit Racial Evaluations”

“When individuals are asked to report how much they prefer Black people to White people they might report egalitarian feelings, reporting no preference for either social group. However, psychological research has shown that sometimes individuals’ automatic evaluations do not reflect these explicit endorsements.” Read more . . .

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For previous installments of “Situationism on the Blogosphere,” click here.

Posted in Abstracts, Blogroll | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

 
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