Tag Archives | Behavior

A Vaccination Against Social Prejudice

Vaccine InjectionVia 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 illness, they exhibit more bias toward stigmatized groups. But a new study in Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science suggests there might be a modern way to break that link.

“We thought if we could alleviate concerns about disease, we could also alleviate the prejudice that arises from them,” says Julie Y. Huang of the University of Toronto, about a study she conducted with Alexandra Sedlovskaya of Harvard University; Joshua M. Ackerman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Yale University’s John A. Bargh. The group found that the sense of security derived through measures such as vaccination and hand washing can reduce bias against “out” groups, from immigrants to the obese.

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The Neuroeconomics Revolution

NeuroeconomicsThe 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: medical schools and their research facilities. Neuroscience — the science of how the brain, that physical organ inside one’s head, really works — is beginning to change the way we think about how people make decisions. These findings will inevitably change the way we think about how economies function. In short, we are at the dawn of “neuroeconomics”.

Efforts to link neuroscience to economics have occurred mostly in just the last few years, and the growth of neuroeconomics is still in its early stages. But its nascence follows a pattern: revolutions in science tend to come from completely unexpected places. A field of science can turn barren if no fundamentally new approaches to research are on the horizon.

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Male Spiders Pay For Sex

Nursery Web SpiderVia 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 the prey has already been eaten (presumably by the male himself!).

Males will also ‘play dead’ if a female moves away and then attempt to re-establish mating. New research published in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology examines the reproductive success of deceitful males and shows that females are not impressed by worthless gifts.

Male spiders were provided with either a potential gift of a fly, or a worthless item, such as a cotton wool ball, a dry flower head, a prey leftover (previously eaten housefly), or no gift at all. All the gifts were approximately the same size, so the females would not be able to tell what the gift was without unwrapping it.

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Malls Track Shoppers’ Cell Phones on Black Friday

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.

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America’s Concentration Threatened By Adderall Shortage

2310749647_339fa45387Is Adderall the crystal meth of the middle and upper classes? Well, both drugs became huge at around the same time. The Fix writes that prices are skyrocketing and panic and withdrawal are setting in across the nation as pharmacies’ shelves run short:

When Jay V.’s pharmacist told him about the nationwide Adderall shortages last weekend, he reacted as any economically rational finance professional would, and attempted to bribe her. Whatever the cost, “it’s cheaper than cocaine,” his reasoning went. And even if it isn’t, you can’t put a price on never having to go back to doing bumps in the work bathroom to get through late night deal committee meetings, can you?

Jay’s pharmacist said she was reserving her supply for regular customers, but that the price had doubled and the clock was ticking.

If addiction is the kind of thing you think about a lot, it’s easy to overlook its significance in the cold, objective Realpolitik scheme of things, which is this: it’s a great fucking business model.

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High Childhood IQ Linked to Subsequent Illicit Drug Use

Child ProdigiesVia ScienceDaily:

A high childhood IQ may be linked to subsequent illegal drug use, particularly among women, suggests research published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. The authors base their findings on data from just under 8,000 people in the 1970 British Cohort Study, a large ongoing population based study, which looks at lifetime drug use, socioeconomic factors, and educational attainment.

The IQ scores of the participants were measured at the ages of 5 and 10 years, using a validated scale, and information was gathered on self reported levels of psychological distress and drug use at the age of 16, and again at the age of 30 (drug use only) . Drug use included cannabis; cocaine; uppers (speed and wiz); downers (blues, tanks, barbiturates); LSD (acid); and heroin.

By the age of 30, around one in three men (35.4%) and one in six women (15.9%) had used cannabis, while 8.6% of men and 3.6% of women had used cocaine, in the previous 12 months.

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The Hegemony of the Economic

Sao Paulo Stock Exchange

Photo: Rafael Matsunaga (CCO

James W. Jones writing in Psychology Today, from September of last year:

I recently returned from Europe. I was at a European wide Forum that brought together people from a variety of fields: politics, economics, social science, technology as well as the arts and philosophy. They were there to discuss a variety of issues confronting Europe (and the world) today. Most focused on politics and economics.

In addition, of course, I spent a lot of time on airplanes and in airports reading the newspapers and magazines one finds there. These discussions, plus the newspapers and magazines I read there and on the plane, suggested to me that the vast majority of people in the West are convinced that the all the problems of the world are really economic. That economic “progress” is the only solution to the world’s problems and that anything that hinders the “progress” of the economy is to be immediately rejected without further consideration.

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Storytelling As A National Security Issue?

darpaDavid Metcalfe writes on Modern Mythology:

“If I were a betting man or woman, I would say that certain types of stories might be addictive and, neurobiologically speaking, not that different from taking a tiny hit of cocaine.”

—William Casebeer of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

Despite the fact that it’s readily apparent Mr. Casebeer has never tried cocaine, DARPA’s current interest in narratives is an interesting development at an agency known for unique scientific inquiries. On April 25 and 26th DARPA held a conference called Narrative Networks (N2): The Neurobiology of Narratives. The purpose of this conference was to follow up a Feburary 26th event which sought to outline a quantitative methodology for measuring the effect of storytelling on human action.

We owe much of the early development of the internet to DARPA, along with remote viewing, remote controlled moths, invisibility cloaks and other wonders of the contemporary age.

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Mean Bosses & Co-Workers Cause Damage Beyond the Workplace

J Jonah JamesonFrom ScienceDaily:

A co-worker’s rudeness can have a great impact on relationships far beyond the workplace, according to a Baylor University study published online in the Journal of Organizational Behavior.

Findings suggest that stress created by incivility can be so intense that, at the end of the day, it is taken home by the worker and impacts the well-being of the worker’s family and partner, who in turn takes the stress to his/her workplace.”Employees who experience such incivility at work bring home the stress, negative emotion and perceived ostracism that results from those experiences, which then affects more than their family life — it also creates problems for the partner’s life at work,” said Merideth J. Ferguson, Ph.D., assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship at the Baylor University Hankamer School of Business and study author.

“This research underlines the importance of stopping incivility before it starts so that the ripple effect of incivility does not impact the employee’s family and potentially inflict further damage beyond the workplace where the incivility took place and cross over into the workplace of the partner,” she said.

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