The Situationist

Situationism in the Blogosphere – February ’08

Posted by The Situationist Staff on March 5, 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 February. (They are listed in alphabetical order by source.)

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From Cognitive Daily: “The anatomy of an illusion — and what it tells us about the visual system”

“Take a look at this amazing illusion created by Arthur Shapiro (you’ll need the latest version of Flash Player to see it):

Vodpod videos no longer available. from posted with vodpod

You’re looking at two donut-shaped figures whose “holes” are gradually changing color from black to white and back again. It appears that the holes are changing in an opposite pattern — when one is light, the other is dark, and so on. But if you click to remove the surrounding donuts, you’ll see that the two holes are actually changing together.” Read more . . . .

From Deliberations: “Bringing Unconscious Bias Out Of The Dark

“. . . . When the groups deliberated about the summarized trial, the diverse groups performed far better. They raised and discussed more of the evidence they had seen. They mentioned more “missing” evidence, things they had not seen that they thought would have been helpful. And they were more willing to mention, and discuss, the possible role of racism in the case.” Read more . . . .

From Developing Intelligence: “From Mind to Hand: Hidden Knowledge Revealed and Enhanced By Gesture

“We often assume that true understanding is conveyed through spoken speech rather than gesture, but new research shows that “talking with your hands” can not only reveal different information than spoken language, it can be both more correct and yield better learning.” Read more . . . .

From Frontal Cortex: “Crowds and Psychology

“This prank reminds me of that Stanley Milgram experiment where people stopped on busy New York City sidewalks and looked up. When only one person was stopped, about 4 percent of pedestrians joined the man and looked at whatever he was looking at. But as Milgram increased the crowd size, more and more people stopped and stared. In other words, it was a positive feedback loop. A bigger crowd staring at the sky led to even bigger crowds. And everybody was looking at nothing. . . . Such is the power of ‘social validation’.”

Read more . . . .

From Experimental Philosophy: “The Pervasive Impact of Moral Judgment

“It is now widely agreed that people’s moral judgments can affect their intutions about whether or not a behavior was performed intentionally, but considerable disagreement remains about what exactly this effect might be telling us. Some researchers have suggested that the effect observed for intuitions about intentional action is pointing us toward some more general truth about the fundamental relationship between folk psychology and moral judgment, while others argue that the effect just happens to arise because of some quirky feature of the concept of intentional action in particular. In hopes of making progress on this question, Dean Pettit and I conducted a series of new studies.” Read more . . . .

From Mixing Memory: “God (and Gadgets) of the Lonely?

“The paper, by Epley et al., starts with the hypothesis that people may use religious thinking and other examples of perceived agency (e.g., in pets or gadgets) to reduce their feelings of loneliness. Epley et al. note that, for example, that people outside of committed relationships are more likely to have personal relationships with god, that “insecure and anxious attachments to others” are associated with stronger religious beliefs, and that the death of loved ones can increase the strength of religious beliefs. That religion serves a loneliness-reducing function seems a reasonable hypothesis, then. In their first study testing this hypothesis, Epley et al. gave participants descriptions of four “technological gadgets,” and then asked them to rate the gadgets on five anthropomorphic dimensions . . . and three non-anthropomorphic dimensions . . . . Then participants then completed a loneliness scale with questions like, “How often do you feel isolated from others?” . . . [T]hat’s what they found: the correlation between anthropomorphic ratings and loneliness was quite high (r = .53), while the correlation between loneliness and non-anthropomorphic ratings was non-significant (r = .25).” Read more . . . .

From Neuromarketing: “Our Prejudiced Brains

“Harvard researchers [including Situationist contributor Mahzarin Banaji] have found evidence that our brains react to people differently depending on our beliefs about them and whether we perceive that they are “like us.” While obvious external clues like race and sex can trigger the different reactions, even what we believe to be true can have that effect.” . . .”The researchers found that subjects reacted differently to profiles of individuals thought to be either fundamentalist Christians from the Midwest or liberal northeastern students depending on their own beliefs. In fact, the profiles were randomly assigned to photos culled from a dating service. The subjects themselves were surveyed and put in conservative and liberal categories.” Read more . . . .

From Neuromarketing: “Florida Researchers Probe Emotions and Ads

“Researchers at the University of Florida have published the results of their first advertising study using fMRI, a project intended to try to relate brain scan data to specific emotions being experienced by the subjects while viewing ads. Jon Morris, a professor of advertising and communications at Florida, was critical of past fMRI studies, noting, “There was no real key happiness center, no key sad center, no key love center. What you got was brain activity, in general.” The Florida study was intended to narrow the focus of relating emotions to brain scans by giving the subjects a novel way to let researchers know what they were feeling.” Read more . . . .

From OrgTheory: “the mystery of conservative free academia solved: it’s self selection

“There’s a Chronicle of Higher Ed article on researchers who are figuring out why there are so few conservatives in academia. According to Matthew Woessner and April Kelley-Woessner, who teach at Penn State, the issue is simply self selection. Analyzing survey data from college students (public data and their own research), they’ve found that conservative students are less likely to do the things that help you get into grad school (like actively seeking out professors outside of class) and they have a stronger preference for starting a family early. They also found that conservative students are less likely to be interested in the sorts of topics that lead to the PhD degree.” Read more . . . .

From Overcoming Bias: “Moral Wiggle Room

“A new lab experiment confirms results reported a year ago: people prefer to not know how their actions effect others, when such knowledge would induce them to sacrifice to benefit others. ” Read more . . . .

From PsyBlog: “Conviction: 50% of Mistaken Eyewitnesses Certain After Positive Feedback

The results showed that simply congratulating participants on choosing the right suspect had a huge effect on their reports when compared to those told nothing and those told they were wrong. Those given positive feedback were suddenly much more sure they were right, thought the identification was easier, had a better view, thought their judgement was more trustworthy and would be more willing to testify. . . . The surprising thing about this experiment is what a massive effect a simple statement had on such a wide variety of factors. Giving positive (although incorrect) feedback to participants catapulted their confidence in their identifications much higher than they would have been otherwise. Read more . . . .

From PsyBlog: “7 Sins of Memory: Complete Guide

Psychologists have found that right from the moment an event occurs, is laid down in memory (or not), to the moment we try to retrieve it (or can’t), our minds are fallible. Harvard psychologist Professor Daniel L. Schacter has classified memory’s slips, ambiguities and downright lies into the ‘seven sins of memory’: transience, absent-mindedness, blocking, misattribution, suggestibility, bias and persistence (Schacter, 1999). But despite these ‘sins’, we still get by. Memory is what makes us who we are. Practically it enables us to function in everyday life. Without it we would be lost, like those with severe amnesia who can’t remember who they are or achieve even the simplest of tasks. So how can memory’s fallibility be reconciled with its abilities? This series of posts explores these sins and in turn uncovers some bizarre stories as well as shedding light on everyday occurrences. The surprise is that many sins of memory have a redeeming feature; sometimes the very sin itself is the flipside of one of memory’s saintly qualities, one we couldn’t do without.Read more . . . .

From We’re Only Human: “Got An Original Idea? Not Likely.

“. . . . .whether you favor droopy sweaters or Manolo Blahnik shoes, very few people are original thinkers when it comes to what they wear. There are a few true innovators, of course, but unless you spin and dye the fabric and design your own wardrobe, you are cribbing from someone else’s mind. And what’s true of sweaters is also true of less trivial ideas, which move through the ether in unpredictable ways. If you think you coined a clever phrase or “discovered” a new talent, you almost certainly did not.” . . . “That’s because we don’t really operate as free agents in the world. We are all entangled in complex patterns of collective behavior, many spontaneously organized and most entirely outside our understanding or awareness. Psychologists are very interested in these circles of ideas, how they grow and how people navigate them. Is there an ideal social arrangement for creating and sharing ideas, for mixing innovation and imitation? Are there perils in “borrowing” from others’ minds, or in being too much of a rogue explorer.” Read more . . . .

From We’re Only Human: “Hmmm, very interesting . . .”

“. . . . Scientists have shown surprisingly little interest in interest, given its obvious and fundamental connection to learning and education. That’s starting to change. In the past few years a handful of psychologists have started exploring interest in the laboratory, and they are starting to piece together a theory about this curious emotion.” Read more . . . .

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For previous installments of “Situationism on the Blogosphere,” click on the “Blogroll” category in the right margin.

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