Tag Archives | Psychology

Electrode-Wearing Writer May Reveal Neurological Roots of Creativity

Picture: Michael Neagle (C)

Picture: Michael Neagle (C)

Dutch novelist Arnon Grunberg is participating in a neuroscience experiment that will shed some light on how art is created and experienced:

New York Times:

Over the past two weeks, Mr. Grunberg has spent several hours a day writing his novella, while a battery of sensors and cameras tracked his brain waves, heart rate, galvanic skin response (an electrical measure of emotional arousal) and facial expressions. Next fall, when the book is published, some 50 ordinary people in the Netherlands will read it under similarly controlled circumstances, sensors and all.

Researchers will then crunch the data in the hope of finding patterns that may help illuminate links between the way art is created and enjoyed, and possibly the nature of creativity itself.

“Will readers of Arnon’s text feel they understand or embody the same emotions he had while he was writing it, or is reading a completely different process?” said Ysbrand van der Werf, a researcher at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience and the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, who designed the experiment with Jan van Erp of the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research.

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Black Friday Isn’t Even the Best Day to Get a “Deal”

dawn_of_the_dead_1978_404_303_photos121This won’t be news to most disinfonauts, but here are some details you can share with your less informed friends and family.  Tiffany Hsu writes at the Los Angeles Times:

As the hardiest of shoppers prepare for the annual Black Friday consumption frenzy, many are convinced it’s their one shot at a great deal.

But “that’s not even close to the truth,” said Matthew Ong, senior retail analyst at online personal finance company NerdWallet Inc. Bargain hunters can — and, in some cases, should — avoid the Black Friday weekend crush, several experts said. Many characterize the shopping bonanza as an expertly marketed ploy to capitalize on shoppers’ fear of missing out. By dangling a small batch of irresistible savings, stores land hordes of hopeful shoppers all scheming to score the retail version of Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. Yet only a tiny percentage of customers end up with the most desirable deals.

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Study Suggests That Fast Food Logos Weaken Our Ability To Experience Simple Joys

mcdonaldsdisasterVia the Raw Story, a study suggests that corporate values have so reshaped our thinking and behavior that merely seeing a fast food symbol renders us less able to derive joy from nature scenes and music:

Focus on time efficiency could be making the small things in life harder to enjoy. The research, published online in Social Psychological and Personality Science, found people exposed to fast-food symbols were less likely to find pleasure in beautiful pictures and music. The research also found those living in neighborhoods with a higher concentration of fast-food restaurants were less likely to savor pleasurable experiences.

House and his colleagues decided to examine fast food — and McDonald’s in particular — because it “has arguably become the ultimate symbol of time efficiency.”

In their first analysis, which included 280 participants from the United States, the researchers found greater fast-food concentration in one’s neighborhood was associated with reduced savoring of emotional responses to enjoyable experiences.

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The Fascinating Psychology of People Who Know the Real Truth About JFK, UFOs, and 9/11

9.11.11Sept11Attacks10thAnniversaryByLuigiNovi24William Saletan suggests that conspiracy theorists aren’t really skeptics, at Slate:

To believe that the U.S. government planned or deliberately allowed the 9/11 attacks, you’d have to posit that President Bush intentionally sacrificed 3,000 Americans. To believe that explosives, not planes, brought down the buildings, you’d have to imagine an operation large enough to plant the devices without anyone getting caught. To insist that the truth remains hidden, you’d have to assume that everyone who has reviewed the attacks and the events leading up to them—the CIA, the Justice Department, the Federal Aviation Administration, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, scientific organizations, peer-reviewed journals, news organizations, the airlines, and local law enforcement agencies in three states—was incompetent, deceived, or part of the cover-up.

And yet, as Slate’s Jeremy Stahl points out, millions of Americans hold these beliefs. In a Zogby poll taken six years ago, only 64 percent of U.S.

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Liberals Show ‘Truly False Uniqueness’ According to Psychological Study

SnowflakesWilsonBentleyPolitical liberals falsely assume that other liberals don’t hold their views, according to a recent study published in Psychological Science:

Via EurekaAlert:

Liberals showed what the researchers call “truly false uniqueness,” perceiving their beliefs as more divergent from the beliefs of other liberals than they actually were. Moderates and conservatives, on the other hand, showed evidence of “truly false consensus,” perceiving their beliefs to be more similar to those of other members of their political group than they actually were.

Data from a second study suggest that the relationship is driven by participants’ desire to feel unique: Liberals reported a stronger desire for uniqueness than did moderates or conservatives.

Surprisingly, these trends even emerged among nonpolitical judgments, such as preference for coffee: Liberals believed their preferences were more different from those of other liberals than they actually were, while conservatives believed their preferences were more similar to those of other conservatives than they actually were.

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What It Feels Like to Be Suicidal

398px-Hofmann_Lehrbuch_suicide_stabbingInteresting piece on suicidal ideation in Scientific American.

Scientific American:

In considering people’s motivations for killing themselves, it is essential to recognize that most suicides are driven by a flash flood of strong emotions, not rational, philosophical thoughts in which the pros and cons are evaluated critically. And, as I mentioned in last week’s column on the evolutionary biology of suicide, from a psychological science perspective, I don’t think any scholar ever captured the suicidal mind better than Florida State University psychologist Roy Baumeister in his 1990 Psychological Review article , “Suicide as Escape from the Self.” To reiterate, I see Baumeister’s cognitive rubric as the engine of emotions driving deCatanzaro’s biologically adaptive suicidal decision-making. There are certainly more recent theoretical models of suicide than Baumeister’s, but none in my opinion are an improvement. The author gives us a uniquely detailed glimpse into the intolerable and relentlessly egocentric tunnel vision that is experienced by a genuinely suicidal person.

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Medical, Military, and Ethics Experts Say Health Professionals Designed and Participated in Cruel, Inhumane, and Degrading Treatment and Torture of Detainees

The documentary “Doctors of the Dark Side” revealed the issues highlighted in the report.

The Institute on Medicine as a Profession’s press release, below, summarizes the report “Ethics Abandoned: Medical Professionalism and Detainee Abuse in the War on Terror“ that is causing a massive stir in the media. Let’s hope it ends up affecting policy…

New York, NY — An independent panel of military, ethics, medical, public health, and legal experts today charged that U.S. military and intelligence agencies directed doctors and psychologists working in U.S. military detention centers to violate standard ethical principles and medical standards to avoid infliction of harm. The Task Force on Preserving Medical Professionalism in National Security Detention Centers (see attached) concludes that since September 11, 2001, the Department of Defense (DoD) and CIA improperly demanded that U.S. military and intelligence agency health professionals collaborate in intelligence gathering and security practices in a way that inflicted severe harm on detainees in U.S.

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“Real” positive thinking

Photo: Newthoughtdocumentary (CC)

Photo: Newthoughtdocumentary (CC)

Swami Lego Ver explains the benefit of letting go of pessimistic fears.

via Anxiety Culture

Once upon a time, people performed ritual sacrifices in an attempt to avert natural disasters. Nowadays, the most popular ritual for avoiding disasters is to accumulate money. Our ancestors didn’t know when to stop spilling blood, as their gods never announced: “That’s enough”. Modern people can’t stop accumulating money for a similar reason.

A conviction (or suspicion) that the world is essentially hostile probably underlies this behaviour. In which case, no amount of sacrifice or money will remove the underlying sense of insecurity. No burglar-alarm can make you feel safe, if you believe the neighbourhood is dangerous enough to require it.

Feeling safe requires an alteration of your belief-system to remove the archaic “programming” concerning the hostile/dangerous “nature” of things. The gimmick is to do this without offending your sense of “reality” (which might be difficult if you live in a war zone).

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Herpes Medication Produces “Walking Corpse Syndrome”

pillsVia New Scientist, the bizarre, unintended side effect of a cold sore medication suggests that it may be possible to engineer a drug that induces the living-dead mental state:

Pharmacologists have discovered a mechanism that triggers Cotard’s syndrome – the mysterious condition that leaves people feeling like they, or parts of their body, no longer exist. With the ability to switch the so-called walking corpse syndrome on and off comes the prospect of new insights into consciousness.

Acyclovir – also known by the brand name Zovirax – is a common drug used to treat cold sores and other herpes infections. However, about 1 per cent of people who take the drug orally or intravenously experience some psychiatric side effects, including Cotard’s. These occur mainly in people who have renal failure.

One woman with renal failure began using acyclovir to treat shingles. She ran into a hospital screaming. After an hour of dialysis, she started to talk: she said the reason she was so anxious was that she had a strong feeling she was dead.

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Why The News Is A Waste of Your time

fear_tvIt’s not what’s important; it’s what’s selling.

How does the news keep your attention? With negativity, shock, and sensationalism.

Warren Francke, a journalism professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, designed a study that revealed just how essential negative storylines were to editors of newspapers. That study was described in the book Sensationalism, where the authors wrote:

Francke’s study found sensational content was printed for entertainment and in order to sell newspapers, but editors rarely admitted that these were the reasons for including sensational content. An interesting finding in Francke’s study was that if crime news came in without grotesque details, the editors often would add them. Most criminal cases were not seen firsthand, so the editors would imagine the crime scene and would add in “the rotting body” or “brains thrown throughout the room.”

In addition to Francke’s research, I have also heard a popular tale about the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.… Read the rest

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