Posts Tagged ‘Psychology’

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More and more American university students think they are something special – but could high self-esteem actually be bad for your life chances?
Wildcat2030’s insight:

Research suggests that more and more American university students think they are something special. High self-esteem is generally regarded as a good thing – but could too much of it actually make you less successful?

About nine million young people have filled out the American Freshman Survey, since it began in 1966.

It asks students to rate how they measure up to their peers in a number of basic skills areas – and over the past four decades, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of students who describe themselves as being “above average” for academic ability, drive to achieve, mathematical ability and self-confidence.

This was revealed in a new analysis of the survey data, by US psychologist Jean Twenge and colleagues.

  • The Self-Esteem Movement is said to have its roots in the civil rights movement, which promoted group solidarity – but also the rights of individuals to be who they want
  • A series of seminars were held in the 1960s on achieving happiness and fulfilment by tapping inner potential – it was called The Human Potential Movement
  • First popular book on self-esteem published in 1969 – The Psychology of Self-Esteem by psychologist Nathaniel Branden
  • Werner Erhard (above) held sessions aimed at boosting self-esteem in US prisons in the 1970s – there were similar programmes in the 1980s to try to reduce teen pregnancy rates and crime
  • Interest is still high – there were more than 40,000 articles about self-esteem in newspapers and magazines between 2002 and 2007

See on bbc.co.uk

Posted: December 7, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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A book is a human-powered film projector (complete with feature film) that advances at a speed fully customized to the viewer’s mood or fancy. This rare harmony between object and user arises from the minimal skills required to manipulate a bound sequence of pages. Each piece of paper embodies a corresponding instant of time which remains frozen until liberated by the act of turning a page.

John Maeda (via inthenoosphere)

According to psychological lore, when it comes to items of information the mind can cope with before confusion sets in, the “magic” number is seven. But a new analysis by a leading Australian psychiatrist challenges this long-held view, suggesting the number might actually be four. In 1956, American psychologist George Miller published a paper in the influential journal Psychological Review arguing the mind could cope with a maximum of only seven chunks of information. The paper, “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two. Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information”, has since become one of the most highly cited psychology articles and has been judged by the Psychological Review as its most influential paper of all time. But UNSW professor of psychiatry Gordon Parker says a re-analysis of the experiments used by Miller shows he missed the correct number by a wide mark. Writing in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, Scientia Professor Parker says a closer look at the evidence shows the human mind copes with a maximum of four ‘chunks’ of information, not seven. “So to remember a seven numeral phone number, say 6458937, we need to break it into four chunks: 64. 58. 93. 7. Basically four is the limit to our perception. “That’s a big difference for a paper that is one of the most highly referenced psychology articles ever – nearly a 100 percent discrepancy,” he suggests.

Four is the ‘magic’ number for our mind coping with information | ZeitNews

Posted: December 1, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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Moral evaluations of harm are instant and emotional, brain study shows

People are able to detect, within a split second, if a hurtful action they are witnessing is intentional or accidental, new research on the brain at the University of Chicago shows. The study is the first to explain how the brain is hard-wired to recognize when another person is being intentionally harmed. It also provides new insights into how such recognition is connected with emotion and morality, said lead author Jean Decety, the Irving B. Harris Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at UChicago. “Our data strongly support the notion that determining intentionality is the first step in moral computations,” said Decety, who conducted research on the topic with Stephanie Cacioppo, a research associate (assistant professor) in psychology at UChicago. They published the results in a paper, “The Speed of Morality: A High-Density Electrical Neurological Study,” to be published Dec. 1 and now on early preview in the Journal of Neurophysiology. The researchers studied adults who watched videos of people who suffered accidental harm (such as being hit with a golf club) and intentional harm (such as being struck with a baseball bat). While watching the videos, brain activity was collected with equipment that accurately maps responses in different regions of the brain and importantly, the timing between these regions. The technique is known as high-density, event-related potentials technology. (via Moral evaluations of harm are instant and emotional, brain study shows)

Posted: November 28, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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neurosciencestuff:

Researchers find reading uses the same brain regions regardless of language

A team of French and Taiwanese researchers has found evidence to indicate that people use the same regions of the brain when reading, regardless of which language is being read. In their paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they describe how fMRI brain scans made while people were reading revealed that there are very few differences in how the brain works as reading occurs.

The researchers note that previous research has suggested that different neural networks might be involved when people read text written in very different types of languages. French, for example, is an alphabetic language, whereas Chinese is logographic. Those of Roman origin are based on abstract concepts while Chinese characters are based on realistic depictions of handwriting strokes.

To learn more, the researchers ran fMRI scans on volunteers reading either Chinese or French material as their native language. The material presented was shown in various forms, e.g. normal, static, backwards or distorted. The researchers also employed priming, which is where words are flashed on a screen for such a short period of time as to be unknown to the reader. Priming has been found to influence the rate at which readers recognize words that are shown thereafter for a normal duration of time. The material written in French was presented as cursive rather than block printed letters.

In analyzing the results, the researchers found the differences in brain activity between the two groups as they read to be minimal. Those differences that were found, centered around a slight increase in the brain regions associated with processing the physical movements that had occurred in creating the characters, which in the brain is recognized as motor skills.

The researchers suggest that their results indicate that because reading is a relatively new process for the human brain, it likely evolved using previously existing neural network circuitry, which would explain why it appears the brain works in roughly the same way when reading, regardless of language.

In the 1960s and 1970s, classic social psychological studies were conducted that provided evidence that even normal, decent people can engage in acts of extreme cruelty when instructed to do so by others. However, in an essay published November 20 in the open access journal PLOS Biology, Professors Alex Haslam and Stephen Reicher revisit these studies’ conclusions and explain how awful acts involve not just obedience, but enthusiasm too—challenging the long-held belief that human beings are ‘programmed’ for conformity. This belief can be traced back to two landmark empirical research programs conducted by Stanley Milgram and Philip Zimbardo in the 1960s and early 1970s. Milgram’s ‘Obedience to Authority’ research is widely believed to show that people blindly conform to the instructions of an authority figure, and Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE) is commonly understood to show that people will take on abusive roles uncritically. However, Professor Haslam, from the University of Queensland, argues that tyranny does not result from blind conformity to rules and roles. Rather, it is a creative act of followership, resulting from identifying with authorities who represent vicious acts as virtuous. “Decent people participate in horrific acts not because they become passive, mindless functionaries who do not know what they are doing, but rather because they come to believe—typically under the influence of those in authority—that what they are doing is right,” Professor Haslam explained.

Human obedience: The myth of blind conformity

The fascination of socially awkward moments certainly hasn’t been missed by comedy writers. Millions of us have cringed our way through series like Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Office. In contrast, psychology before now has largely neglected to study this fundamental part of social life. In a new exploratory study, Johsua Clegg proposes a model. Social awkwardness, he posits, is what we feel when the situation threatens our goal of being accepted by others. The feeling prompts us to direct our attention inwards, to monitor our behaviour and attempt to behave in a way that will improve our chances of achieving acceptance. There’s been a lot of research before on embarrassment, but that’s tended to focus on embarrassed individuals, their feelings and dispositions. This new study is less personal, being more about the situations that reliably trigger everyday feelings of social awkwardness in most people. Clegg invited 30 undergrad participants (13 men) into a carefully prepared room in groups of three. Each trio sat facing each other on chairs arranged in a triangle. They knew they were being filmed through a two-way mirror. There was also a table with a microphone and five cookies on it.

BPS Research Digest: The new psychology of awkward moments