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One Professor’s Observations of the World of Psychology….   

October 6, 2013

readings in psychology for 6October 2013 @PsychScience

Do you remember? Princess Bride was released 26 years ago!

Do you remember? Princess Bride was released 26 years ago!

Here is what I am reading today:

“Tony Goldberg had been back from Uganda for only about a day when he felt a distressingly familiar itch in his nose. A veterinary epidemiologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, he had just spent a few weeks in Kibale National Park studying chimpanzees and how the diseases they carry might make the jump to humans. Now, he realized, he might have brought one of their parasites home with him.”

“New research from the University of Missouri indicates escapism, social interaction and rewards fuel problematic video-game use among “very casual” to “hardcore” adult gamers. Understanding individual motives that contribute to unhealthy game play could help counselors identify and treat individuals addicted to video games”

“A team of researchers from several research centers in Japan has together found what appears to be a connection between the hormone vasopressin and jet-lag. In their paper published in the journal Science, the team describes experiments they conducted with test mice that indicate that repressing neural connections that respond to vasopressin reduced the time it took for them to readjust their circadian clock.”

“It’s a question that has long fascinated and flummoxed those who study human behavior: From whence comes the impulse to dream? Are dreams generated from the brain’s “top” – the high-flying cortical structures that allow us to reason, perceive, act and remember? Or do they come from the brain’s “bottom” – the unheralded brainstem, which quietly oversees such basic bodily functions as respiration, heart rate, salivation and temperature control?”

“The left and right hemispheres of Albert Einstein’s brain were unusually well connected to each other and may have contributed to his brilliance, according to a new study conducted in part by Florida State University evolutionary anthropologist Dean Falk.”

“A trio of British researchers has conducted a study that has revealed that tests given to jailed psychopaths to predict the likelihood of engaging in future violence, are less accurate than chance. In their paper published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, Jeremy Coid, Simone Ullrich and Constantinos Kallis describe how they interviewed and gave tests to inmates in British prisons and then followed up later to see if they engaged in violent activities after release—they found that tests given to predict such behavior in psychopaths were no better than 50 percent accurate.”

“The study, authored by psychology researchers Elliot Tucker-Drob, Daniel Briley and Paige Harden, shows how genescan be stimulated or suppressed depending on the child’s environment and could help bridge the achievement gap between rich and poor students. The findings are published online in Current Directions in Psychological Science.

To investigate the underlying mechanisms at work, Tucker-Drob and his colleagues analyzed data from several studies tracking the cognitive ability and environmental circumstances of twin and sibling pairs. According to the findings, genetic factors account for 80 percent of cognition forchildren in economically advantaged households. Yet disadvantaged children – who rank lower in cognitive performance across the board – show almost no progress attributable to their genetic makeup.”

“”There is a lot of cultural lore about the power of eye contact as an influence tool,” says University of British Columbia Prof. Frances Chen, who conducted the research at the University of Freiburg in Germany. “But our findings show that direct eye contact makes skeptical listeners less likely to change their minds, not more, as previously believed.””

9 Responses to “readings in psychology for 6October 2013 @PsychScience”

  1. bcolli05 Says:

    In response to “how valuable is making eye contact”: I find it very interesting that making eye contact with someone will make them less likely to agree with you because eye contact in these situations only increases skepticism. I would have thought that if you are trying to persuade someone to agree with your point of view that you should look them in the eye. However, this article made me think about times in which someone was trying to persuade me. I then realized that the times i have been most persuaded by someone were the times when i’m doing things like sitting down eating while they’re talking to me from across the room. The article hints to the idea that this excessive eye contact may be unconsciously interpreted as a threat, which will make you less likely to agree. Interesting.

  2. Sarahvais Says:

    In response to “how valuable is making eye contact” i too found it interesting that this was proven true. I was always taught to look people right in the eye in every conversation. That this conveys interest and helps one another to convey emotion. Recently I have realized that as I do this many people act as if they are uncomfortable with the eye contact. I’m not sure if it is a generation thing either because I have noticed adults older than I pull their eyes away with sustained eye contact. I feel in this time making eye contact is beginning to change. it is no longer a convention but a rarity.

  3. melissamateyka Says:

    In response to “Dreams: meaning or reflex”, I thought that it was really interesting that the bottom-up theory was supported because I always thought that dreams had relatively important implications, but to find that they are produced in the area of the brain responsible for reflexive behaviors is really interesting. The study about the patients with damage to the lower parts of their brains was cool because they found that they had less vivid dreams, even though people who have damage to the top part of their brain that controls higher functioning can still have vivid dreams. Dreams have always intrigued me so I thought this article was really interesting.

  4. neirani Says:

    In response to “how valuable is making eye contact”. I found this article extremely interesting. From public speaking classes and general popular culture it seemed like the rule that eye contact conveys confidence, assurance, and a stronger emotional connection. It makes sense that this could be a culturally created norm, for example I know a lot of native american tribal cultures think that direct eye contact with your elders is a sign of disrespect. The really shocking part was that it increases how you already feel about an issue. However, I do wish they gave more information on specifically how much eye contact is your safe bet. For example maintained eye contact may have these negative effects but zero eye contact cant exactly be optimal either. I’m curious to how much eye contact is the right amount.

  5. agarman Says:

    I read the article “Moral in the morning but dishonest in the afternoon.” This was a very interesting article and one that most people would surely find interesting as well due to the findings of the researchers that suggest “…mere time of day can lead to a systematic failure of good people to act morally.” Now, I would consider myself a good person who chooses to act morally as well but I can also see that this study, which was tested in many ways, repeatedly found similar results in that participants who were tested earlier in the morning were in fact less likely to cheat. So do I consider myself to be exempt from the findings? I would like to say a definite ‘No’ but cannot really logically exclude my self from his norm. There are numerous studies and arguments about lying and how often the typical person tells a lie, whether its a bold faced lie, a little white lie, or a truth with pieces missing from it. Psychology Today posted an online article called ‘How often do people lie in their daily lives’ on Nov. 30, 2011 and the study illustrated in the article concludes that the “…average number of lies told per day was 1.65.” Well I guess its good to know that most of us may be more truthful in the morning vs. the afternoon.

  6. bcolli05 Says:

    The article morality/time of day article was very interesting to read. The article states that people are less likely to cheat or lie in the morning in comparison to the evening. A possible reason for this may be that people become more tired as the day goes on and therefore, more likely to lie or cheat. I’m not a perfect person. I’ve told a few lies in my day. As I read this and reflected upon my own behavior, i also realized that in the mornings i usually am more open/more descriptive about things/situations in my life. For example, on sunday mornings my roommate and i always talk about how our nights were on saturday. I have found that in the mornings i go into far more detail than i do when i have the same conversation with somebody else later on in the day. So in this case it’s not really that i lie, i just usually withhold more and more information as the day goes on. I think cheating/lieing more as the day goes on is partially due to getting tired but also due to the accumulated stress that builds up throughout the day.

  7. bcolli05 Says:

    In response to the article “einstein’s brain and connectivity”:
    I have heard before that the more connections you have in your brain, the smarter you will be. It was cool to read an article that claims that theory true. It makes me wonder if all of the people who have einstein’s level of brilliance have that same level of connectivity or if that was just a fluke thing. I also question what this idea of “better connectivity” really is. I wish the article would have gone into a little more detail of the physiology behind the claim, but nevertheless, it was an interesting article to read.

  8. Alina Parga Says:

    I really enjoyed reading the article “Making eye contact doesn’t always help your cause” because this claim has gone against everything I have learned in regards to interviews and public speaking. I can see how eye contact can signal different meanings in various situations. For example, in the article it states that “… eye contact may be a sign of connection or trust in friendly situations” and I feel like excessive eye contact can be very uncomfortable when speaking to someone that you are not close with. What I thought was really interesting was that eye contact can increase receptiveness on issues that you already agreed with but in some cases looking at the speaker’s mouth caused participants to be more convinced. I would like to read more studies about eye contact to see in what situations is it crucially needed.

  9. Alina Parga Says:

    In response to the article, “Researchers find tests meant to predict future violence by psychopaths is less accurate than chance” I feel like it will be difficult to ever predict human actions. It was interesting to learn that these tests can predict with 75% accuracy the behavior of a non-mentally ill person. I question whether there is a certain time period in which this behavior takes place, whether it is close after the release of the inmate or many years after. I am very interested in what these tests look like and how they can predict whether or not they would commit a crime again.

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