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On the visual imagination of the literary character

If I said to you, “Describe Anna Karenina,” perhaps you’d mention her beauty. If you were reading closely you’d mention her “thick lashes,” her weight, or maybe even her little downy mustache (yes—it’s there). Matthew Arnold remarks upon “Anna’s shoulders, and masses of hair, and half-shut eyes … ” But what does Anna Karenina look like? What do we see when we read?
posted by shivohum on Aug 14, 2014 - 24 comments

The itch nobody can scratch

“It’s just like something from science fiction. It’s something that you’d see in a movie or in a book on aliens from another planet. It’s out of this world.” [closeup images of human skin that may be disturbing] Morgellon's disease [no images] is the topic of this week's Stuff You Should Know podcast. [no transcript] A CDC study could not identify a cause, and the medical community's consensus is that it is a form of delusional parasitosis, but conspiracy theories abound [images]. (previously)
posted by desjardins on Aug 3, 2014 - 58 comments

Wheel turnin' 'round and 'round

Jason Mitchell, a scientist in the Harvard Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab recently published an essay on his website titled "On the emptiness of failed replications". In the essay he makes several controversial arguments, the most notable of which may be his assertion that studies designed to replicate previous work have no inherent scientific merit:
Because experiments can be undermined by a vast number of practical mistakes, the likeliest explanation for any failed replication will always be that the replicator bungled something along the way. Unless direct replications are conducted by flawless experimenters, nothing interesting can be learned from them.
[more inside]
posted by wintermind on Jul 8, 2014 - 34 comments

Left on your own in the jail of your mind

Electric shocks preferable to being left alone with your own thoughts, study suggests
posted by prize bull octorok on Jul 3, 2014 - 58 comments

Hey, dummy!

Retail Therapy: What Mannequins Say About Us
Like the larger fashion industry, mannequin design echoes seasonal styles that come and go, both in regard to technological improvements and the way we view our bodies. “It’s often the body attitudes and facial expressions that reflect what’s going on socially,” says Hale. Accordingly, the stiff, unnatural bodies of early mannequins were well-matched for the Victorian Era‘s restrictive ideas about women’s rights and fashions, which dictated they wear many layers of heavy fabric over tight-fitting corsets.
[more inside]
posted by Room 641-A on Jul 1, 2014 - 14 comments

Dads who do dishes have more ambitious daughters

A new study suggests that dads who equally divide household chores with their wives tend to have daughters whose career aspirations are less gender-stereotypical. The study results suggest that even when fathers publicly endorse gender equality, when there is a traditional division of labor at home daughters are more likely to see themselves in traditionally female-dominant jobs.
posted by rcraniac on Jun 26, 2014 - 67 comments

“It’s depressing,..We were definitely depressed,” he repeated

I DON’T WANT TO BE RIGHT: why do people persist in believing things that just aren't true? The New Yorker asks. Alternatively, a BBC Future author offers up some beguiling and subtle solutions in The best way to win an argument.
posted by quin on Jun 21, 2014 - 61 comments

PPD

"Postpartum depression isn’t always postpartum. It isn’t even always depression. A fast-growing body of research is changing the very definition of maternal mental illness, showing that it is more common and varied than previously thought." ‘Thinking of Ways to Harm Her’ and "After Baby, an Unraveling". [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jun 18, 2014 - 60 comments

On the illusion of infinite happiness

For it is the future generation in its entire individual determination which forces itself into existence through the medium of all this strife and trouble...That growing affection of two lovers for each other is in reality the will to live of the new being, of which they shall become the parents...The lovers have a longing to be really united and made one being, and to live as such for the rest of their lives; and this longing is fulfilled in the children born to them, in whom the qualities inherited from both, but combined and united in one being, are perpetuated...Therefore Nature attains her ends by implanting in the individual a certain illusion by which something which is in reality advantageous to the species alone seems to be advantageous to himself... Arthur Schopenhauer on the Metaphysics of Love.
posted by shivohum on Jun 17, 2014 - 11 comments

On Adam Phillips

Symptoms are forms of self-knowledge. When you think, I’m agoraphobic, I’m a shy person, whatever it may be, these are forms of self-knowledge. What psychoanalysis, at its best, does is cure you of your self-knowledge. And of your wish to know yourself in that coherent, narrative way. You can only recover your appetite, and appetites, if you can allow yourself to be unknown to yourself. Because the point of knowing oneself is to contain one’s anxieties about appetite. Psychoanalyst and writer Adam Phillips interviewed by The Paris Review.
posted by shivohum on Jun 4, 2014 - 21 comments

The search for psychology's lost boy

"He pictured sitting down with Albert—who would have been in his 80s when Beck started searching for him—and watching the Little Albert video together." [more inside]
posted by Catseye on Jun 2, 2014 - 7 comments

beautiful broken nose

When looking at a face, Perrett concludes, “I think because we are busy processing one side at one time, we don’t notice the left-right differences.”
posted by sammyo on May 23, 2014 - 22 comments

The Sushi Personality Test

Read this and have some sushi with friends.
posted by sidra on May 21, 2014 - 58 comments

Looking at us looking at animals

Why are humans so fascinated with other animals? Looking to psychology and evolution to find out.
posted by rcraniac on May 20, 2014 - 13 comments

An impending train wreck in social psychology.

The current critique of experimental social science is coming mainly from the inside. Strohminger, Simmons, and a handful of other mostly young researchers are at the heart of a kind of reform movement in their field. Together with a loose confederation of crusading journal editors and whistle-blowing bloggers, they have begun policing the world of experimental research, assiduously rooting out fraud and error, as if to rescue the scientific method from embarrassment—and from its own success. The Reformation: Can Social Scientists Save Themselves?
posted by Ghostride The Whip on May 19, 2014 - 50 comments

Genie.

Genie (born 1957) is the pseudonym of a feral child who was the victim of extraordinarily severe abuse, neglect and social isolation. Her circumstances are recorded prominently in the annals of abnormal child psychology. Born in Arcadia, California, United States, Genie's father kept her locked alone in a room from the age of 20 months to 13 years, 7 months, almost always strapped to a child's toilet or bound in a crib with her arms and legs completely immobilized.
"Secret of the Wild Child" - A 1997 NOVA episode.
posted by azarbayejani on May 18, 2014 - 45 comments

Ditch the 10,000 hour rule!

Obsessive practice isn't the key to success. Spaced, interleaved, varied practice is.
posted by shivohum on Apr 21, 2014 - 45 comments

guilt and shame, nouns and verbs, actions and words

"When our actions become a reflection of our character, we lean more heavily toward the moral and generous choices" asserts professor Adam Grant (of the Wharton School) in a NYT opinion piece entitled "Raising a Moral Child". Some research suggests that when parents "praise effort rather than ability, children develop a stronger work ethic and become more motivated" and Grant draws sharp distinctions between how shame and guilt affect us citing several experiments and studies which support the conclusions that when teaching children about moral behaviors "nouns work better than verbs" and "if we want our children to care about others, we need to teach them to feel guilt rather than shame when they misbehave." Grant has written an entire book about how these concepts influence our generosity and success, and how powerfully feeling "guilt rather than shame" as children can shape us. [more inside]
posted by trackofalljades on Apr 15, 2014 - 38 comments

Visions of Impossible Things

The chaplain then explained how he had spoken with the dead man’s wife, who related a vivid dream she’d had that night of her husband standing next to her bed, apologizing and explaining that he had been in a car accident, and that his car was in a ditch where it could not be seen from the road...They recovered the body 20 minutes later. Most scholars have no idea what to do with such poignant, powerful stories, other than to dismiss them with lazy words like "anecdote" or "coincidence."...We should put these extreme narratives, these impossible stories, in the middle of our academic table. I would also like to make a wager, here and now, that once we put these currently rejected forms of knowledge on our academic table, things that were once impossible to imagine will soon become possible not only to imagine but also to think, theorize, and even test. Professor Jeffrey Kripal explains why the humanities needs to expand its field of acceptable topics for investigation.
posted by shivohum on Apr 2, 2014 - 114 comments

The Charm Hacker

“What your mind believes, your body manifests.” Executive charisma coach Olivia Fox Cabane says she can make anyone more likable—for a price. But can charisma really be taught?
posted by rcraniac on Mar 30, 2014 - 38 comments

The Drugging of the American Boy

By the time they reach high school, nearly 20 percent of all American boys will be diagnosed with ADHD.

posted by Sokka shot first on Mar 28, 2014 - 116 comments

Meet the Super Taskers

Many people who say they can multitask show a cognitive deterioration when trying to perform more than one task at once. But according to Psychology Today, there are a small group of people who can actually multitask flawlessly.
posted by reenum on Mar 25, 2014 - 53 comments

The Box

Twilight in the Box. "The suicide statistics, the squalor and the recidivism haven’t ended solitary confinement. Maybe the brain studies will." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Feb 28, 2014 - 24 comments

Supernormal Stimuli

Is Your Brain Truly Ready for Junk Food, Porn, or the Internet?
posted by Cash4Lead on Feb 9, 2014 - 103 comments

Understanding Ourselves: Personal Identity is Mostly Performance

"Without external props, even our personal identity fades and goes out of focus. The self is a fragile construction of the mind."
posted by rcraniac on Jan 31, 2014 - 33 comments

Look at all these people, liking a thing!

Criticising popular things: why is it so popular?
posted by Artw on Dec 23, 2013 - 118 comments

That's when you started graphing everything.

The 15 Best Behavioural Science Graphs of 2010-13. [more inside]
posted by aka burlap on Dec 21, 2013 - 4 comments

Do cats love us back?

A researcher at the University of Lincoln tests whether cats form secure attachments in the same way human babies or dogs do. [SLYT] [more inside]
posted by dontjumplarry on Dec 14, 2013 - 171 comments

Math with Bad Drawings

Headlines from a Mathematically Literate World [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Dec 4, 2013 - 32 comments

Many Labs Replication Project

Nature reports that a large international group set up to test the reliability of psychology experiments has successfully reproduced the results of 10 out of 13 past experiments. The consortium also found that two effects could not be reproduced. [more inside]
posted by Jpfed on Nov 27, 2013 - 22 comments

The psychology of objectification

What goes on in our minds when we see someone naked? A 2011 study [PDF] led by Kurt Gray revealed a curious fact about how people perceive other people when they take their clothes off: What emerged was that we see the capacity for feelings, whether pleasure or pain or happiness or anger, as distinct from the capacity for intellectual thought and planning. Namely, that we treat those we objectify as less intelligent, yet simultaneously we endow them with a greater ability to feel things.
posted by Cash4Lead on Nov 13, 2013 - 49 comments

"one key difference between kids who excel at math and those who don't"

"Psychologists Lisa Blackwell, Kali Trzesniewski, and Carol Dweck [found that] convincing students that they could make themselves smarter by hard work led them to work harder and get higher grades. The intervention had the biggest effect for students who started out believing intelligence was genetic."
posted by jeffburdges on Nov 12, 2013 - 64 comments

The Power of Patience

It took me nine minutes to notice that the shape of the boy’s ear precisely echoes that of the ruff along the squirrel’s belly—and that Copley was making some kind of connection between the animal and the human body and the sensory capacities of each. It was 21 minutes before I registered the fact that the fingers holding the chain exactly span the diameter of the water glass beneath them. It took a good 45 minutes before I realized that the seemingly random folds and wrinkles in the background curtain are actually perfect copies of the shapes of the boy’s ear and eye, as if Copley had imagined those sensory organs distributing or imprinting themselves on the surface behind him. And so on. What this exercise shows students is that just because you have looked at something doesn’t mean that you have seen it.
posted by shivohum on Oct 23, 2013 - 40 comments

Clearly I don't belong here

Which (US) state matches your personality? A fun little quiz based on an exhaustive psychological study of American attitudes.
posted by desjardins on Oct 23, 2013 - 251 comments

A way for the monkey mind to cope with the modern world

The Melancholy of Subculture Society, an essay on the rise of multiple subcultures, the idea of “opting out” of the mainstream culture and the social and psychological benefits of the existence of alternative status hierarchies. [more inside]
posted by acb on Oct 22, 2013 - 18 comments

Book of Lamentations

A new dystopian novel in the classic mode takes the form of a dictionary of madness. Sam Kriss reviews a recent book. [more inside]
posted by RogerB on Oct 19, 2013 - 26 comments

Maybe there isn't a "positivity ratio" after all.

Positive psychology superstars Barbara Fredrickson and Marcial Losada had put forward a theory, seemingly with experimental confirmation, that was bolder than bold: that mankind, whether working alone or in groups, is governed by a mathematical tipping point, one specified by a ratio of 2.9013 positive to 1 negative emotions. When the tipping point is crested, a kind of positive emotional chaos ensues—“that flapping of the butterfly’s wing,” as Fredrickson puts it—resulting in human “flourishing.” When it is not met (or if a limit of 11.6346 positive emotions is exceeded, as there is a limit to positivity), everything comes grinding to a halt, or locks into stereotyped patterns like water freezing into ice. Nick Brown smelled bull.
posted by shivohum on Oct 17, 2013 - 68 comments

"...somewhere where no one was asking me for anything.”

Daniel Radcliffe’s Next Trick Is to Make Harry Potter Disappear (slnyt profile, via) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 3, 2013 - 29 comments

Reactance

Psychological reactance is an aversive affective reaction in response to regulations or impositions that impinge on freedom an autonomy. It is experienced whenever a free behavior is restricted. [more inside]
posted by curuinor on Sep 24, 2013 - 74 comments

Those paid more than the value they create are thieves.

Quit. Quit early and quit often, not when something is hard, but when something isn't for you. That's the way you find your genius, (YT) says Prof. Deepak Malhotra, who gave this among other tips to graduating students at Harvard Business School in a speech on how to avoid the tragedy of living an unhappy life. [more inside]
posted by shivohum on Sep 22, 2013 - 48 comments

The first decade

Portrait of a Ten-Year-Old Canadian Girl
posted by zarq on Sep 18, 2013 - 10 comments

If we want it to fall silent, aren’t we yearning for the end of self?

If perception of sound depends on our state of mind, then conversely a state of mind can hardly exist without an external world with which it is in relation and that conditions it — either our immediate present environment, or something that happened in the past and that now echoes or goes on happening in our minds. There is never any state of mind that is not in some part, however small, in relation to the sounds around it — the bird singing and a television overheard as I write this now, for example. [more inside]
posted by whyareyouatriangle on Sep 3, 2013 - 18 comments

The Bandwidth Tax

Most people, including social scientists, think about poverty in one of two ways. Either they view the behaviors of the poor as rational, "calculated adaptations to prevailing circumstances", or as the result of deviant values and character flaws stemming from, and perpetuating, a "culture of poverty". A third view is emerging in which "the poor may exhibit the same basic weaknesses and biases as do people from other walks of life, except that in poverty, with its narrow margins for error, the same behaviors often manifest themselves in more pronounced ways and can lead to worse outcomes." "It's not that foolish choices make you poor; it's that poverty's effects on the mind lead to bad choices." (original research, pdf) [more inside]
posted by AceRock on Aug 30, 2013 - 50 comments

Haters Gonna Hate

"New research has uncovered the reason why some people seem to dislike everything while others seem to like everything." Yes, this finding comes from the field of psychology, in an area of research called "attitude theory," but maybe they've struck upon something we've suspected is true all along.

From the paper: "The dispositional attitude construct represents a new perspective in which attitudes are not simply a function of the properties of the stimuli under consideration, but are also a function of the properties of the evaluator."
posted by ChuckRamone on Aug 26, 2013 - 54 comments

The Reality Show

Schizophrenics used to see demons and spirits. Now they talk about actors and hidden cameras – and make a lot of sense. Clinical psychiatry papers rarely make much of a splash in the wider media, but it seems appropriate that a paper entitled ‘The Truman Show Delusion: Psychosis in the Global Village’, published in the May 2012 issue of Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, should have caused a global sensation. Its authors, the brothers Joel and Ian Gold, presented a striking series of cases in which individuals had become convinced that they were secretly being filmed for a reality TV show.
posted by Telf on Aug 23, 2013 - 48 comments

Another scandal in academic psychology

Most work in the psychological and social sciences suffers from a lack of conceptual rigor. It’s a bit sloppy around the edges, and in the middle, too. For example, “happiness research” is a booming field, but the titans of the subdiscipline disagree sharply about what happiness actually is. No experiment or regression will settle it. It’s a philosophical question. Nevertheless, they work like the dickens to measure it, whatever it is—life satisfaction, “flourishing,” pleasure minus pain—and to correlate it to other, more easily quantified things with as much statistical rigor as deemed necessary to appear authoritative. It’s as if the precision of the statistical analysis is supposed somehow to compensate for, or help us forget, the imprecision of thought at the foundation of the enterprise.
posted by AceRock on Aug 22, 2013 - 48 comments

Privacy Instincts

Too much information: Our instincts for privacy evolved in tribal societies where walls didn't exist. No wonder we are hopeless oversharers. [Via]
posted by homunculus on Aug 8, 2013 - 14 comments

You are the machine; the machine is you

This is where you go when you just can't stop looking at pictures on Facebook
posted by latkes on Aug 1, 2013 - 36 comments

50 shades of gray: A research story

Psychologists recount a valuable lesson about the fragility of statistical validity and the state of publishing. "Two of the present authors, Matt Motyl and Brian A. Nosek, share interests in political ideology. We were inspired by the fast growing literature on embodiment that demonstrates surprising links between body and mind to investigate embodiment of political extremism. Participants from the political left, right, and center (N = 1,979) completed a perceptual judgment task in which words were presented in different shades of gray. Participants had to click along a gradient representing grays from near black to near white to select a shade that matched the shade of the word. We calculated accuracy: How close to the actual shade did participants get? The results were stunning. Moderates perceived the shades of gray more accurately than extremists on the left and right (p = .01). Our conclusion: Political extremists perceive the world in black and white figuratively and literally. Our design and follow-up analyses ruled out obvious alternative explanations such as time spent on task and a tendency to select extreme responses. Enthused about the result, we identified Psychological Science as our fallback journal after we toured the Science, Nature, and PNAS rejection mills. The ultimate publication, Motyl and Nosek (2012), served as one of Motyl’s signature publications as he finished graduate school and entered the job market. The story is all true, except for the last sentence; we did not publish the finding." [more inside]
posted by MisantropicPainforest on Jul 29, 2013 - 19 comments

Hypersexuality does not appear to explain brain differences in sex

A new brain study questions the existence of sexual addiction. The study, posted in the Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology, concludes that so-called "hypersexuality" does not appear to explain brain differences in sexual response.
posted by mrgrimm on Jul 19, 2013 - 11 comments

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