"Without external props, even our personal identity fades and goes out of focus. The self is a fragile construction of the mind."
False memories of fabricated political events [ABSTRACT]. In the largest false memory study to date, 5,269 participants were asked about their memories for three true and one of five fabricated political events. Each fabricated event was accompanied by a photographic image purportedly depicting that event. Approximately half the participants falsely remembered that the false event happened, with 27% remembering that they saw the events happen on the news. Political orientation appeared to influence the formation of false memories, with conservatives more likely to falsely remember seeing Barack Obama shaking hands with the president of Iran, and liberals more likely to remember George W. Bush vacationing with a baseball celebrity during the Hurricane Katrina disaster. A follow-up study supported the explanation that events are more easily implanted in memory when they are congruent with a person's preexisting attitudes and evaluations, in part because attitude-congruent false events promote feelings of recognition and familiarity, which in turn interfere with source attributions. [FULL TEXT PDF AVAILABLE HERE] [more inside]
The amazing influence of unconscious cues is among the most fascinating discoveries of our time—that is, if it's true. The studies that raise eyebrows are mostly in an area known as behavioral or goal priming, research that demonstrates how subliminal prompts can make you do all manner of crazy things. A warm mug makes you friendlier. The American flag makes you vote Republican. Fast-food logos make you impatient. A small group of skeptical psychologists—let's call them the Replicators—have been trying to reproduce some of the most popular priming effects in their own labs. What have they found? Mostly that they can't get those results. The studies don't check out. Something is wrong.
"Somehow, we all end up in the same place, chasing the same trends while drinking the same drink while staring at the same app on the same phone." Jonah Lehrer (previously 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) looks at the drive for distinctiveness via a recently published study [PDF] by Jonah Berger and Baba Shiv. "The point is that our most essential desires are weirdly intertwined, which is why it’s interesting that making people think about distinctiveness has such a big impact on how badly they crave food."
It's not the objective environment that influences people, but their constructs of the world. You have to get inside people's heads and see the world the way they do. You have to look at the kinds of narratives and stories people tell themselves as to why they're doing what they're doing... Many policy makers, if they're thinking about a problem turn to economists... When economists think about how to solve a problem such as closing the achievement gap in education, or reducing teenage pregnancy, their inclination is to use incentives... To a social psychologist, it is a little naïve to think that adding external incentives is all you have to do. Not to say that incentives can't work, but they can sometimes backfire if you look at it through the eyes of the person who is getting that incentive.Pioneering investigator of the unconscious Timothy Wilson on the state of social psychology and its practical applications – including government attempts to shape public behaviour, and the futility of the self-help industry. [via]
Shifting Blame Is Socially Contagious. Merely observing someone publicly blame an individual in an organization for a problem -- even when the target is innocent -- greatly increases the odds that the practice of blaming others will spread with the tenacity of the H1N1 flu, according to new research. "When we see others protecting their egos, we become defensive too," says Fast, the study's lead author. "We then try to protect our own self-image by blaming others for our mistakes, which may feel good in the moment." He adds that in the long run, such behavior could hurt one's reputation and be destructive to an organization and further to our society as a whole. [more inside]
The Milgram Experiment Today? "Students commonly assume that, even if Milgram’s famous experiment sheds important light on the power of situation today, were his experiment precisely reproduced today, it would not generate comparable results. To oversimplify the argument behind that claim: The power of white lab coats just ain’t what it used to be. Of course, that assertion has been difficult to challenge given that the option of replicating the Milgram experiment has been presumptively unavailable — indeed, it has been the paradigmatic example of why psychology experiments must be reviewed by institutional review boards ('IRBs'). Who would even attempt to challenge that presumption? The answer: Jerry Burger, a psychology professor at Santa Clara University. With some slight modifications, Burger manage to obtain permission to replicate Milgram’s experiment — and the results may surprise you." [Via MindHacks]
Questioning the banality of evil. "There is a widespread consensus amongst psychologists that tyranny triumphs either because ordinary people blindly follow orders or else because they mindlessly conform to powerful roles. However, recent evidence concerning historical events challenges these views. In particular, studies of the Nazi regime reveal that its functionaries engaged actively and creatively with their tasks. Re-examination of classic social psychological studies points to the same dynamics at work. This article summarises these developments and lays out the case for an updated social psychology of tyranny that explains both the influence of tyrannical leaders and the active contributions of their followers." [Via Mind Hacks.]
"In the summer of 1954, twenty-two fifth-grade boys were taken out to a campground at Robbers Cave State Park, Oklahoma. [...] Ostensibly it was an unremarkable summer camp. [...] what they had really done for two and a half weeks was unwittingly take part in an elaborate and fascinating psychological experiment." [more inside]
As one, the students shouted, "Strength through discipline!" - "The Third Wave", A Dangerous Experiment. More disturbing even than the "Milgram Experiment": "When Ron Jones started teaching at Cubberley High School in the fall of 1968, it was considered the most innovative of Palo Alto's high schools. ....His methods were experimental and his goal was to bring social studies to life.....Jones turned his class into an efficient youth organization, which he called the Third Wave. Some students were informers, and some were told they couldn't go certain places on campus. He insisted on rigid posture and that questions be answered formally and quickly....."It was strange how quickly the students took to a uniform code of behavior. I began to wonder just how far they cold be pushed," Jones wrote....But soon the experiment began spinning out of control.... five days into the experiment, Jones announced, "We can bring (the nation) a new sense of order, community, pride, and action. Everything rests on you and your willingness to take a stand." As one, the students shouted, "Strength through discipline!" ". Ron Jones wrote about it in No substitute for Madness, which is out of print in English but required reading in German public schools. As Umberto Eco notes in "Eternal Fascism", this is a timeless tale of human nature.
UMass Researcher Finds Most People Lie In Everyday Conversation UMass Researcher Finds Most People Lie In Everyday Conversation "Most people lie in everyday conversation when they are trying to appear likable and competent, according to a study conducted by University of Massachusetts psychologist Robert S. Feldman and published in the most recent Journal of Basic and Applied Social Psychology…The study also found that lies told by men and women differ in content, though not in quantity. Feldman said the results showed that men do not lie more than women or vice versa, but that men and women lie in different ways. "Women were more likely to lie to make the person they were talking to feel good, while men lied most often to make themselves look better," Feldman said." Are you a liar? C’mon now, tell the truth.
A Grand Narrative "When Hindus kill Muslims it's not a story, because there are a billion Hindus and they aren't part of the Muslim narrative. When Saddam murders his own people it's not a story, because it's in the Arab-Muslim family. But when a small band of Israeli Jews kills Muslims it sparks rage — a rage that must come from Muslims having to confront the gap between their self-perception as Muslims and the reality of the Muslim world." Thomas Friedman looks for an angle and finds a story! What role, if any, does narrative consciousness and social psychology play in the Middle East? (via blogdex :)