The Situationist

Situationism in the Blogosphere – January ’08

Posted by The Situationist Staff on February 3, 2008

Josh Radovan & Digital Methods Initiative

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

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From In Mind: Are Stereotypes True?

“Are African Americans really better at basketball than Caucasians? Are blonds really dumber than brunettes? Are women really worse at math than men? The short answer is yes. The longer answer is no. Let me explain by focusing on the stereotype that women can’t do math. At first glance, this stereotype seems to be true. For instance, men continue to outperform women on the math sections of the SAT and GRE, and men outnumber women in college math courses and math-related jobs. Surely this is evidence that women are not as good at math as men. But as this article will explain stereotypes are self-perpetuating and not only reflect but also cause performance differences between groups.Read more . . . .

From In Mind: The Naked Power: Understanding Nonverbal Communications of Power

“Because power is something we often avoid discussing openly, its nonverbal communication is fascinating to lay people and psychologists alike. When directly asked, people interpret many different nonverbal signs as indicating high or low power – unfortunately, these ideas are often exaggerated and misguided. Likewise, social psychologists still have no good understanding of the nonverbal cues to power. This article sheds more light on what is actually underlying nonverbal communication of power. We identify two new insights: First, much of the nonverbal communication of power takes places unconsciously and is hard to control. Second, people use abstract schemas to judge power, and they not only apply these schemas to understanding body talk, but also elements of art, advertisement, and architecture.” Read more . . . .

From Laura’s Psychology Blog: Quick judgments of sexual orientation . . .

“We are remarkably good at making quick judgments of people. In an analysis of choices made during speed dating, the authors comment, ‘HurryDate participants are given three minutes in which to make their judgments, but they mostly could be made in three seconds.’ Not too surprisingly, these quick choices are made on the basis of physical appearance. For men in the HurryDate study, choices were dominated by a woman’s thinness. Women preferred men who were physically attractive, young, medium build, and of a similar race to themselves. Nalini Ambady and Nicholas Rule have extended our understanding of these quick judgments to sexual orientation.” Read more . . . .

From Mind Hacks: Mapping emotions onto the city streets

“Christian Nold maps cities. But instead of mapping their physical layout, he maps their emotional geography. He uses a technique he invented called biomapping where participants walk the area connected to a system that measures galvanic skin response – a measure of the electrical resistance of the skin which is known to give a rating of arousal and stress.” Read more . . . .

From Neuromarketing: Why Choose This Book? (Book Review)

Why Choose This Book? How We Make Decisions by Read Montague sounds like the perfect read for neuromarketing and neuroeconomics enthusiasts. In fact, the book does provide some interesting insights but the overall density of actionable information, at least for marketers, is fairly low. The title might lead one to believe that the book is a distillation of consumer purchasing behavior, but in fact it is a wide-ranging discussion of the neuroscience of human decision making.” Read more . . . .

From OrgTheory: violence, individual or relational?

“Violence is a gritty topic. Movies and books often glorify violence and treat it as an individual feat. Some individuals are violent, most are not. This common view of violence – seeing it as an individual outcome – easily leads us to see violence as causally determined by innate tendencies or characteristics, some of which may be products of genes or hormonal differences. Thus, we can say with some confidence that men are more violent than women because of differences in biological makeup. Randall Collins’s new book from Princeton University Press, Violence: A Micro-sociological Theory, challenges this conception of violence. . . . [A] predisposition is not a sufficient cause for violent behavior. If it were, we’d see much more violence than we actually see. Violence as a behavior is relatively rare and tends to be concentrated in particular kinds of situations.” Read more . . . .

From PsyBlog: The double edged sword of the cabbies’ hippocampi

“With all the conferences that are going on lots of us are starting to look forward to the new 2008 specifications: what are the studies like; what else have the authors done? One of the new studies in the physiological psychology module of the AS is Maguire’s research into the size of London cabbies’ hippocampus. Through the use of MRI scanners her and her team have studied the hippocampi of London cabbies to investigate if their choice of vocation has had any cognitive or physiological effect on their brain. Read more . . . .

From PsyBlog: Is Modern Self-Help Just a Massive Money-Making Scam?

“From humble beginnings, self-help books have now colonised huge and ever-growing areas of bookshops. Best-selling titles like ‘Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus‘, or ‘Don’t Worry, Make Money‘ promise to teach us how to fix our relationships and live ‘more fully’. But are these, and other come-ons, just empty assurances designed to sell a product?Read more . . . .

From Research Digest Blog: The type of interrogation likely to lead to false confessions

“Not surprisingly, confessions are extremely persuasive in court, but according to Jessica Klaver and colleagues, all too often these confessions are false, leading to the wrong person being found guilty. Now Klaver’s team have used an elegant laboratory task to compare two types of interrogation technique and found that it is so-called ‘minimising’ questions and remarks – those that downplay the seriousness of the offence, and which blame other people or circumstances [i.e., situation] – that are the most likely to lead to a false confession.Read more . . . .

From The Splintered Mind: Rationalizing Emotions and The Moral Behavior of Kantians

“I’ve recently been enjoying Joshua Greene’s “The Secret Joke of Kant’s Soul” (penultimate manuscript available here). Greene’s research suggests that the moral judgments of Kantian deontologists (who focus on such things as rights, duties, and “respect for persons”) tend largely to be rationalizations of evolutionarily-selected emotional responses, while the moral judgments of utilitarians and consequentialists (who focus on such things as maximizing the good of everyone) tend to be more rationally driven (or at least less driven by emotional “alarm systems”). The sorts of cases on which Kantians and consequentialists tend to disagree are cases where maximizing the good violates what we might perceive as someone’s rights. Should you push someone in front of a runaway trolley, thereby killing him, if that’s the only way to save five other innocent people? Should you smother your baby to death if that’s the only way to prevent yourself, your baby, and several other people from being found and killed by Nazis? The Kantian impulse (with caveats and complications, of course) is to say no in such cases, the consequentialist to say yes.Read more . . . .

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For previous installments of “Situationism on the Blogosphere,” click on the “Blogroll” category in the right margin. Finally, we want to wish Michael Connelly all the best with the time that he will now spend not blogging. He has “turned out the lights” on his excellent blog Corrections Sentencing, which will be missed.

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