Behavior



Scientific American on the mysterious benefit and power behind “irrational” rituals: Rituals take an extraordinary array of shapes and forms. At times performed in communal or religious settings, at times performed in solitude;…







Want to see how people will change to fit in? In 1962, groundbreaking social psychologist Solomon Asch teamed up with the television show Candid Camera to demonstrate how quickly a basic social norm (how people stand in an elevator) could be reversed using group conformity. Just imagine all the behaviors and beliefs you could get tricked into following, via the power of social pressure. (The elevator experiment was still effective when replicated in the present day on the University of South Florida campus.)






Paul J. Zak, author of The Moral Molecule: The Source of Love and Prosperity, asks “Could a single molecule—one chemical substance—lie at the very center of our moral lives?” in the Wall Street Journal:

Research that I have done over the past decade suggests that a chemical messenger called oxytocin accounts for why some people give freely of themselves and others are coldhearted louts, why some people cheat and steal and others you can trust with your life, why some husbands are more faithful than others, and why women tend to be nicer and more generous than men. In our blood and in the brain, oxytocin appears to be the chemical elixir that creates bonds of trust not just in our intimate relationships but also in our business dealings, in politics and in society at large.

Known primarily as a female reproductive hormone, oxytocin controls contractions during labor…



A poll by The Guardian and Mixmag magazine reveals that in many cases people have no idea what drugs they are taking:

A fifth of young drug users admit to taking “mystery white powders” without any idea what they contain, according to an international Guardian survey that reveals the extent of reckless behaviour among a new generation of high-risk drug takers.

The poll of 15,500 people by the Guardian and Mixmag magazine also found that more respondents in the UK and US admitted taking cannabis than either tobacco or energy drinks. Those who defined themselves as clubbers were more likely to take ecstasy than smoke cigarettes…




Via ScienceDaily: Contrary to what many psychological scientists think, people do not all have the same set of biologically “basic” emotions, and those emotions are not automatically expressed on the faces of…



Via ScienceDaily: Evolutionary psychologists suspect that prejudice is rooted in survival: Our distant ancestors had to avoid outsiders who might have carried disease. Research still shows that when people feel vulnerable to…


The left/right paradigm is coming to a quicker end than I thought. Robert Schiller writes at Al Jazeera: Economics is at the start of a revolution that is traceable to an unexpected source:…


Via PhysOrg: Male nursery web spiders (Pisaura mirabilis) prepare silk-wrapped gifts to give to potential mates. Most gifts contain insects, but some gifts are inedible plant seeds or empty exoskeletons left after…


Black Friday Hot DealAnnayln Censky reports for CNN:

Attention holiday shoppers: your cell phone may be tracked this year.

Starting on Black Friday and running through New Year’s Day, two U.S. malls — Promenade Temecula in southern California and Short Pump Town Center in Richmond, Va. — will track guests’ movements by monitoring the signals from their cell phones.

While the data that’s collected is anonymous, it can follow shoppers’ paths from store to store.

The goal is for stores to answer questions like: How many Nordstrom shoppers also stop at Starbucks? How long do most customers linger in Victoria’s Secret? Are there unpopular spots in the mall that aren’t being visited?

While U.S. malls have long tracked how crowds move throughout their stores, this is the first time they’ve used cell phones.