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Archive for category 'psychology'

Hyperbole and extroversion


Research showing that extroverts are more likely to make survey responses at extremes (such as 1 or 5 on a five-point scale), more likely to use words like "sweltering" over merely "hot", etc.

Measuring love with an fMRI

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The Romance System. This produces the cocaine rush you get from beginning love. And cocaine is more than an idle metaphor. The reptilian brain — one of the nervous system's most ancient parts — floods you with dopamine, just as it does after you snort a line of blow. The dopamine gives you the same high, lack of sleep, delusional optimism, and obsessive thoughts. The great poet Robert Palmer was right: You can be addicted to love.

The illusion of sex


Adjusting the contrast of an androgynous face makes it look feminine (high contrast) or masculine (low contrast).

The globalisation of addiction


[T]he 'addictiveness' of drugs such as opiates and cocaine was established by observing how frequently caged animals would push levers to obtain doses.

[In the followup experiment, a] colony of rats, who are naturally gregarious, were allowed to roam together in a large vivarium enriched with wheels, balls and other playthings, on a deep bed of aromatic cedar shavings and with plenty of space for breeding and private interactions. Pleasant woodland vistas were even painted on the surrounding walls. In this situation, the rats' responses to drugs such as opiates were transformed. [...] It seemed that the standard experiments were measuring not the addictiveness of opiates but the cruelty of the stresses inflicted

insightful internet comment of the day


Pretty much everyone laughs at suffering of some sort or another, and everyone has a limit, a degree of suffering beyond which they'll find no humor. And everyone thinks that people who draw the line elsewhere are either hypersensitive or monstrous.

  • Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America

(You can't argue with qualifications like those!)

Bruce Schneier: The Psychology of Security


Fascinating, like a security book by Malcolm Gladwell or Steven Levitt.

Ig Nobel Prize For Literature, 2006: Consequences of erudite vernacular utilized irrespective of necessity: problems with using long words needlessly

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Does complex, jargon-heavy writing make you seem intelligent? Apparently not. Before rushing to attack Derrida, note that the study's only real result is that fluency is the key. Increased complexity may not necessarily come at the cost of fluency. Long words are only problematic if used inappropriately.

Unfortunately, the chosen samples weren't much good. The complicated samples read as though a thesaurus had been used to inappropriately substitute words. (Which, for the experiment, it had.) The simplified samples read better, but with significant loss of nuance; even if undergraduates didn't notice, a domain expert would have.

By far the most interesting point came from the fifth experiment. Copies of the same document were divided amongst two groups, but the copies given to the second group were printed badly, making the text (optically) difficult to read. The low-toner group rated the intelligence of the author higher.

[W]hen an obvious source for the lack of fluency is present, people discount that lack of fluency when making their judgement. They do so to such an extent that they end up biasing their judgement in the opposite direction!

Creator of flash mobs did it to make fun of hipsters


Not only was the flash mob a vacuous fad; it was, in its very form (pointless aggregation and then dispersal), intended as a metaphor for the hollow hipster culture that spawned it.

Timothy Leary


Leary was convicted of a drug possession charge, fled, and was eventually imprisoned for several years. When he arrived in prison, he was given a standard psychological test that the prison used to assign inmates to appropriate work assignments. Having written the test himself, he was able to give the answers that got him a job working in the prison library.

Small things, links and miscellany, sparkling with light. Sam's tumblelog.

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