background preloader

Thanks Megan - cognitive psychology

Thanks Megan - cognitive psychology
There seems to be a simple way to instantly increase a person’s level of general knowledge. Psychologists Ulrich Weger and Stephen Loughnan recently asked two groups of people to answer questions. People in one group were told that before each question, the answer would be briefly flashed on their screens — too quickly to consciously perceive, but slow enough for their unconscious to take it in. The other group was told that the flashes simply signaled the next question. In fact, for both groups, a random string of letters, not the answers, was flashed. But, remarkably, the people who thought the answers were flashed did better on the test. Our cognitive and physical abilities are in general limited, but our conceptions of the nature and extent of those limits may need revising. Can our thoughts improve our vision? To rule out the possible effect of motivation, the researchers brought another group of people into the cockpit and asked them to read a brief essay on motivation.

thanks Jessie - forensic psychology In the old days of criminal profiling, a psychologist would study the idiosyncrasies of a crime scene with the expert-eye of an art collector inspecting a painting of unknown provenance. They'd draw on their clinical and forensic knowledge to help the police narrow their search, describing to them the kind of person who would likely commit a crime in this way. It wasn't particularly scientific and there were some high profile blunders, such as the misguided entrapment of Colin Stagg during the hunt for the killer of Rachel Nickell. By contrast, contemporary criminal profiling is more data-driven. This empirical approach is also being brought to bear on more psychological aspects of crime scenes. Trojan and Salfati obtained records from the Cincinnati Police Department of 122 murders committed by someone who'd only ever killed once (between 1997 and 2006), and records of nine serial killers from across the USA. What about the serial killers? The study had its limitations.

George Saunders's Advice to Graduates It’s long past graduation season, but we recently learned that George Saunders delivered the convocation speech at Syracuse University for the class of 2013, and George was kind enough to send it our way and allow us to reprint it here. The speech touches on some of the moments in his life and larger themes (in his life and work) that George spoke about in the profile we ran back in January — the need for kindness and all the things working against our actually achieving it, the risk in focusing too much on “success,” the trouble with swimming in a river full of monkey feces. The entire speech, graduation season or not, is well worth reading, and is included below.

Thanks Georgia - psychopaths Put aside the dramatic Hollywood portrayals. Suited, married, high achieving, some of them walk among us. No, not vampires or super-heroes but 'successful psychopaths'. Like their criminally violent cousins - the standard psychopaths - these people are ruthless, callous, fearless and arrogant. Stephanie Mullins-Sweatt and her collaborators tried a different tack. Of the 118 APA members, 31 attorneys and 58 psychology professors who replied, 81, 25 and 41, respectively, said they'd previously known a successful psycho. The key difference between successful and standard psychopaths seemed to be in conscientiousness. 'The current study used informant descriptions to provide information about successful psychopaths,' the researchers concluded. Mullins-Sweatt, S., Glover, N., Derefinko, K., Miller, J., & Widiger, T. (2010). Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.

How a secretive panel uses data that distorts doctors’ pay “I have experience,” the Yale-trained, Orlando-based doctor said. “I’m not that slow; I’m not fast. I’m thorough.” This seemingly miraculous proficiency, which yields good pay for doctors who perform colonoscopies, reveals one of the fundamental flaws in the pricing of U.S. health care, a Washington Post investigation has found. Unknown to most, a single committee of the AMA, the chief lobbying group for physicians, meets confidentially every year to come up with values for most of the services a doctor performs. Those values are required under federal law to be based on the time and intensity of the procedures. But the AMA’s estimates of the time involved in many procedures are exaggerated, sometimes by as much as 100 percent, according to an analysis of doctors’ time, as well as interviews and reviews of medical journals. If the time estimates are to be believed, some doctors would have to be averaging more than 24 hours a day to perform all of the procedures that they are reporting.

thanks Laura W-social psychology -social media WEDNESDAY, Aug. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Despite all the virtual socializing and "liking" involved, using Facebook is actually associated with a decline in happiness, according to a small new study. "On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection," lead author Ethan Kross, a social psychologist at the University of Michigan, said in a university news release. "But rather than enhance well-being, we found that Facebook use predicts the opposite result -- it undermines it," Kross said. And, added study co-author John Jonides, "This is a result of critical importance because it goes to the very heart of the influence that social networks may have on people's lives." The study of 82 young adult Facebook users found that the more they used Facebook over a given time, the more their happiness and life satisfaction levels declined. The study was published online Aug. 14 in the journal PLoS One. More information

Atul Gawande: How Do Good Ideas Spread? Why do some innovations spread so swiftly and others so slowly? Consider the very different trajectories of surgical anesthesia and antiseptics, both of which were discovered in the nineteenth century. The first public demonstration of anesthesia was in 1846. The Boston surgeon Henry Jacob Bigelow was approached by a local dentist named William Morton, who insisted that he had found a gas that could render patients insensible to the pain of surgery. That was a dramatic claim. On October 16, 1846, at Massachusetts General Hospital, Morton administered his gas through an inhaler in the mouth of a young man undergoing the excision of a tumor in his jaw. Four weeks later, on November 18th, Bigelow published his report on the discovery of “insensibility produced by inhalation” in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal. There were forces of resistance, to be sure. Sepsis—infection—was the other great scourge of surgery. Far from it. But anesthesia was no easier.

THanks Briony-developmental psychology The company of an imaginary friend used to be interpreted as a sign of a child's deficient character. Writing in a 1934, for example, M. Svendsen said of those children in his sample with an imaginary friend that "personality difficulties were present in most", with "timidity being most common". Times have changed. It depends on the precise definition of "imaginary friend", but by some modern estimates, nearly half of all young children have an imaginary companion at some point. Trionfi and Reese interviewed 48 mothers and their five-and-a-half year-old children (half of whom were girls) about whether the children had an imaginary friend now, or had had one in the past. The researchers aren't sure exactly how imaginary companions and narrative skills are linked, but one possibility is that children with an unseen companion get practice at telling stories whenever they are asked by parents or others about their invisible friend. Trionfi G, & Reese E (2009).

“Good” Patients and “Difficult” Patients — Rethinking Our Definitions Four weeks after his quadruple bypass and valve repair, 3 weeks after the bladder infection, pharyngeal trauma, heart failure, nightly agitated confusion, and pacemaker and feeding-tube insertions, and 2 weeks after his return home, I was helping my 75-year-old father off the toilet when his blood pressure dropped out from under him. As did his legs. I held him up. My mother was 71 years old and, fortunately, quite fit. Together, we lowered my father to the bathroom floor. In the emergency department, after some fluids, my father felt better. My mother waited with my father. After weeks of illness and caregiving, it can be a relief to be a daughter and leave the doctoring to others. I rested my hand on my father's arm to get his attention and said, “Dad, how much would you mind if I did a rectal?” We doctors do many things that are otherwise unacceptable. “Kid,” he replied, “do what you have to do.” I found gloves and lube.

Thanks Natasha -social psychology Aug. 3, 2010 — Where you grow up can have a big impact on the food you eat, the clothes you wear, and even how your brain works. In a report in a special section on Culture and Psychology in the July Perspectives on Psychological Science , a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, psychological scientists Denise C. Park from the University of Texas at Dallas and Chih-Mao Huang from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign discuss ways in which brain structure and function may be influenced by culture. There is evidence that the collectivist nature of East Asian cultures versus individualistic Western cultures affects both brain and behavior. East Asians tend to process information in a global manner whereas Westerners tend to focus on individual objects. There are differences between East Asians and Westerners with respect to attention, categorization, and reasoning. Share this story on Facebook , Twitter , and Google : Other social bookmarking and sharing tools: