Sunday, 24 June 2012

Psychology stuff from the week 18-24/6/12

'What's your name again? Why it might not be your brain's ability but your lack of interest that causes a bad memory'
Everybody's good at remembering something - they might have a good trivia memory, a good mechanistic memory, a good relational memory, or a good autobiographical memory...
But what determines whether we remember specific things, is whether we're interested in those things.

'Belief in hell, according to international data, is associated with reduced crime'
Oh, the perils of authoritarianism.
When respondents believed in a heaven, but not a hell, they were more likely to commit crimes, presumably because they felt they were committing them with impunity
When respondents believed in a hell, but not a heaven, they were less likely to commit crimes, presumably because they live in perpetual fear and therefore don't do anything!
What this study does do, is add another pebble to the moutnain of evidence that beliefs determine behaviour, and that theistic forgiveness does damage to society.
What this study does not to, is compare the criminal records of theists and atheists. In fact, atheists are left out, altogether.
There was a high covariance between belief in heavens and belief in hells, so it should not be presumed that people who did not believe in heaven/hell were atheists.

'Yankee fans keep enemy Red Sox closer, study shows'
People perceive other factions to be closer, the greater a threat they perceive them to be.
Yankee fans perceived the Red Sox' ground to be closer than other people, and people who 'felt threatened' by Mexican migrants (xenophobes) perceived Mexico City to be closer than than people who didn't!

'Breaking your budget? Why consumers overspend on exceptional purchases'
People spend more money than they can really afford, because they fail to appreciate that rare events happen quite frequently.
Because there are so many different rare things that can happen, people overspend by treating too many transactions as 'one offs', isolated from all the other 'one-offs'.
"This tendency to underbudget for so-called 'exceptional' purchases occurs because, although each purchase is unusual in isolation, when combined they tend to occur with unexpected frequency"

'She won a gold medal because she's pretty'
This'll come as no surprise to some, but the sexism, racism, and nationalism of commentators during Olympic events... well, it shows... just a tad!

'Study shows black bears able to "count"'
This isn't the first study to show a non-human species with counting ability, and i'm fairly sure it won't be the last!
Monkeys and pigeons can count too:

But babies are not! Before the age of 2, humans can not distinguish between eight and two.

'Where to put nuclear waste? Yes to my back yard'
Who's most scared of nuclear power? The people least familiar with it...

[video] Good dancer, bad dancer? What do you think?

'Short-term memory is more flexible than thought'
The more items you hold in your memory, the less well you will remember each item.

'Celebrity endorsements not always a good bet, study shows'
If companies don't match the personas of their chosen celebrities to their brands well, the public's negative associations with the celeb hang around, even when the positive associations don't. Oh, the perils of celebrity endorsement!

'How to convince climate sceptics to be pro-environment'
Ah - the rather banal mechanics of persuasion

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