Sunday, 29 July 2012

Psychology and Sociology stuff from the week 23-29/7/12

Children easily pick up cultural rules, without ever having to have them stated explicitly.
"children don’t need explicit teaching from adults to see an action as following a social norm; they only need to see that adults expect things to work a certain way."
This is how we teach our children to behave like everyone else -- not just in the good ways, but also in the bad ways - by enforcing sexism (clothes, interests, etc) and instilling prejudices and factionalistic affiliations.
"In another study, Schmidt, Rakoczy, and Tomasello found that children only enforce game norms on members of their own cultural in-group – for example, people who speak the same language. These results suggest that children understand that ‘our group’ falls within the scope of the norm and can be expected to respect it."
Too many people fail to understand that simply refraining from telling their children to do particular things, or instructing them to do others, is not enough to generate an effect, when those messages are contradicted by their behaviour.
Children are highly discerning, and will work out whether you do, and ergo they should, approve of Gays/Mexicans/chips/frocks/iPods... anything that culture covers.

People view women as a collection of body parts, rather than as a whole -- but it's not just men - women view each other that way too.
This process seems to be cultural - people can be trained out of thinking this way (reductionist - "objectivist" is fallacious terminology)
"the researchers found a clear difference between the way people of both genders view women. They found that the volunteers were better at recognizing body parts of women versus men when viewing both whole images, and images of just those body parts. When viewing pictures of men, they found things were reversed, most of the volunteers were much better at recognizing men if they saw the whole person.
Next, the researchers tried something else. They showed volunteers pictures of letters that were made up of other different tiny letters before showing them the pictures in the first experiments. Some were asked to identify the tiny letters inside the letters, others were asked to identify which letter the little ones formed as a whole. One forced local brain processing the other global. They found that those that were forced to think globally before viewing the photographs were much less likely to objectify the women in the pictures."

A survey study has found that parents of babies with trisomy 13 or 18 consider their baby to have a higher standard of life, than do the actual medical professionals, who have a wealth of experience by which to calibrate their appraisal.
This is an astounding peek into the practice of self-deception -- although not unprecedented - others have found that parents who incur more expense, as expected by the culture in which they live, are more effusive in reporting that children are a 'joy' to endure.
The study found that "over 97% of the parents interviewed considered that their child was happy and its presence enriched the life of their family and their life as a couple regardless of longevity".
In fact "their families rated their quality of life as being higher than caregivers did"
Babies born with trisomy 13 or 18 have very short life expectancies, and foetuses frequently miscarry, before reaching term.
"according to the parents interviewed, belonging to a support group helped them view their experience positively."
The power of self-deception is staggering, isn't it!
I bet this kind of survey will be claimed, gleefully, by the Right To Life brigade, who think that everything must live, regardless of whether they *actually* enjoy it or not!

How do people con themselves and each other into thinking that superstitions are efficacious? They do them over and over and over again.
This study has found that people have much more confidence that their rituals actually do something, the more they've done them in the past.
Religious rituals are classic for repetition - the weekly or even daily rituals that key people into the cult's activities, and convince them that what they're doing is worth the effort.
Of course, if you never stop doing them, you can't notice the difference. And the ritual inculcates a kind of OCD - a kind of 'out damn spot' to cure a problem that didn't exist, and conceals the fact that it is actually the real problem!

'Think you're a comic genius? Maybe you're just overconfident'
"because society trains us not to hurt others' feelings, we rarely hear the truth about ourselves — even when it's well deserved. And that can be a problem for overly self-confident people who carry around inaccurate, overly positive perceptions of how others view them."

Chimps are more likely to 'catch' yawns from males than they are from females.
The researchers infer that yawn-catching implies compliance to a social code, because makles tend to be 'higher ranked'.

[video] Bosses who experience anxiety, due to lack of self-esteem, and lower intelligence, attempt to compensate through arrogance.
They attempt to build themselves up, by putting everyone else down, which has a destructive effect on the morale of their colleagues.
“Does your boss demonstrate different behaviors with subordinates and supervisors?” Silverman asks. He says a “yes” answer could mean trouble.
Silverman warns that “yes” replies to these other questions raise red flags and signal arrogance.
• Does your boss put his/her personal agenda ahead of the organization’s agenda?
• Does the boss discredit others’ ideas during meetings and often make them look bad?
• Does your boss reject constructive feedback?
• Does the boss exaggerate his/her superiority and make others feel inferior?

In the last 30 years, the proportion of 17-19 year olds in the US with driving licences has fallen from 8 in 10 to 6 in 10.
In 1983, 87% of 19-year-olds had a driving licence; in 2010, only 70% did.
"While their findings show that the reduction in the percentage of teen drivers with a license continued in 2010, they also reveal a decline in the number of driver's licenses for people of most age groups—except for slight increases for those 25-29 and those over 70."
It's thought that this has occurred simply because fossil-fuelled personal transport is simply too expensive, and so people are looking for alternative arrangements.

77% of UK smokers started when they were teenagers, some as young as 13, and 85% of smokers admit they'd rather have never started smoking in the first place.
68% of British people support the current campaign to blank out the glamorous packaging of cigarette packets -- the deal-maker that caused smokers to buy their first packets.
“We have a unique opportunity to protect children from the marketing of this deadly product. This is about us as a society saying that it is wrong for tobacco – a product that kills half of all its long term users – to be marketed to children as though it were a bag of sweets. We know that standardised packs with large health warnings make cigarettes less attractive to young people and the dangers of smoking clearer. We urge the Government to introduce plain packaging as soon as possible.”

Children who grew up during the most recent bout of 'troubles', in Northern Ireland, are the most likely to commit suicide, due to the stress placed upon them by their experiences.

Homophobia is costly for Straight men as well. Due to the association between HIV and homosexual men, Straight men are falling through the gaps of health practices in Canada, which do not cater for them.

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