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Author: Psycasm | Views: 4194 | Comments: 7
Last by Rasmus on Dec 08, 2011, 1:49pm

In 1994 Monk and friends investigated why people on mobile phones are annoying. You know what I'm talking about. When you're sitting on a train just minding your own business and you heard the dingle-dingle of someone's phone and you just know you're going to hear all about someone's baby / Saturday night / shopping list / job. FSM, that's annoying. Seriously, when my phone rings I keep it as quick and as quiet as possible, often returning the call as soon as I'm in a more appropriate setting. On a side note: I'm so glad we no longer have novelty ring tones. Did you ever hear the female orgasm one go off in a public space? Yeah, good one buddy. You and your mate might think that's cute on the work site, but on a bus it's another story...

Anyway, Monk and friends (1994) investigated why this was so damn annoying. Was it due to the volume of the speaker? Are mobile phones just more salient (attention capturing) than normal conversations? Do people have biases against people who publicly use mobile phones? Or was it something else?

By cleverly staging a conversation on a train (or at a bus stop), either with one person on a mobile phone, or with two people . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 567 | Comments: 0
I've just moved house, we have neither internet nor TV. I don't miss TV. However, I cannot function normally without the Internet. I'm afraid this is the cause of my lack of research blogging. I miss it too, 'cause my traffic is way down, and as I explained here and here this is bad for my high-functioning narcissism.

But like any good narcissist I can find my fix.

At any rate, I would like to thank anyone and everyone who has taken 35 minutes out of their life to listen to the Psychobabble podcast. Additionally, I would very much encourage people to suggest topics for discussion or questions on any given topic. My hope it to have a questions section at the end of each show where we answer emails from curious folk.

Additionally, if you have taken the time to give us a listen, I would appreciate any feedback. So far I've had a lot of chat with people of facebook who've given some really important insights, that are both short term and long term with regards to how to improve the show.

Topics we're going to cover soonish include:

Swearing, which may be expan . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 1151 | Comments: 7
Last by Psycasm on Feb 20, 2011, 7:08pm
So this is an exchange I had with a local business. They make the claim that the guy who runs the place specializes in 'Fertility, Gynaecology and Pregnancy'. Good for him, he cites his qualifications here. He credientials include being a Chef and having obtained a Bachelor's in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. You make the judgment which entitles him to be an expert with your vagina and reproductive system. He also is 'responsible for designing & formulating the ConceptShen range of clinically advanced Fertility and Gynaecological Formulas'.

He makes a number of bold claims, all without citation:

For instance:

Chinese Medicine is about treating the cause, not just the symptoms and relies on a series of treatments to balance the body and maintain health. The following statistics are a review of seven previous studies on acupuncture and fertility –

Acupuncture increases the chances of conceiving via IVF by 65%Acupuncture increases the chances of maintaining a pregnancy by 87%Acupuncture increases the rate of maintaining a pregnancy to . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 56137 | Comments: 16
Last by Sydney Talbot on Jun 11, 2013, 1:38am


Here's where I heard about this paper first... and a pretty weak treatment at that.


In a previous post I dared suggest* that women watched porn. Several people warned me of the imminent troll-storm, and true to their predictions, I was inundated with claims that I was a misogynist, supporting 'shoddy' science, and endorsing the male status-quo. All of which was rubbish, and based on the fact that 'women' and 'porn' appeared in the same sentence. Oh no, women are sexual beings? Think of the children!**. The lead author of the paper I cited showed up and made a few comments. The trolls fled. ...Then I won an award for the post.

And so here I am to make another inflammatory statement. Well, two, in fact. First, I think Evolutionary Psychology offers a valid paradigm to explore human behaviour and cognition. And so I am steeled for the exclamations of 'just so stories' and the accusations of 'quackery'. Second, apparently women have sex, some even enjoy it, so much so that they . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 1117 | Comments: 1
Last by Brian Krueger, PhD on Feb 06, 2011, 3:35pm
So I've been a bit snowed under lately. As I mentioned recently, we've had some pretty big floods in my part of the world, and as a result all my summer semester workload has backed-up into one ugly pile of responsibility.

And so my blogging has been a bit light on while I tackle these assignments and exams. Fear not, as soon as I get the chance I fully intend to look into what the literature says about Astrology. It has been to my great horror that I know a number of people who tacitly seem to accept its premise, and so I'd like to see how, and/or why, this might be the case.

On the upside, Psychobabble II is out, and it's all about the nature of human time perception. This was posted at the Psychobabble website:

Wherein Rohan, Morgan, Nerisa and James discuss the very nature of time perception. After a brief foray into physics and relativity the discussion finds it way to youtube, detours through the illusion of stationary second hands, and ultimately finishes with our physical passage through time. Is it more useful for us to consider ourselves as agents moving through time, or as stationary objects within the greater flow? And just how important are metaphors to our cognition…?
. . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 3648 | Comments: 4
Last by donna pink on May 23, 2011, 12:22pm

Magical thinking is a funny term for a strange phenomenon. Broadly put it is the belief or expectation that our thoughts and actions will influence the future, others, or ourselves. I can only imagine it seems ridiculous for anyone reading this blog to consider the possibility of actually cursing someone, or placing a hex on their family. But I do imagine a certain percentage pray to a bearded man in sky to bestow good luck or good health on themselves or the people they know. Yet the middle group - the non-hexers and the non-prayers - are not exempt. Chances are you know it in some other form - willing the phone not to ring at 4:45 on a friday afternoon, 'jinxing' your own (or someone else's) good luck by making it the subject of conversation, or suggestion one ought to 'wish you luck' prior to some big event, and engaging in any other kind of superstitious behaviour.

The crazy part is that magical thinking can work. Sometimes. If you're so persuaded by the arguments of religion knowing that folk are praying for you can actually work. Of course, the magical thinking is on the part of the thinker/prayer; and the benefits associated with the knowledge that you're being prayed for are in . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 4074 | Comments: 4
Last by Brian Krueger, PhD on Jan 26, 2011, 2:46pm

I bought my girlfriend a Wii some time ago and before playing any game we spent 2 hours making Mii's of ourselves and all the people we know. A Mii - for those not in the a know - is your Wii avatar. It is associated with your personal stats on games such as WiiFit and WiiSport. Now Mii's are downright cartoony, but we tried to make them as lifelike as possible. After you're done it asks for your weight and height (for WiiFit) and calculates your BMI. Now I had made my Mii a fairly fit looking character, but given I carry a bit of muscle, my BMI came out as 'overweight' and it updated my Mii accordingly, and blew the little guy out. I felt outraged! That is not me, what I created was me! And it wouldn't change me back without a judgmental message (yeah, WiiFit totally judges you).

I also created a second Mii. It was my stoner alter-ego. I used him exclusively when I was playing on the Wii after drinking. I created a dummy account because I didn't want to skew my 'real' stats.

I've also created some kind of weird cat-class avatar (who might have also been female, I can't remember) when I played Morrowind: Elder Scrolls (a game which I probably invested 150+ ho . . . More
Author: Thomas Joseph | Views: 1775 | Comments: 12
Last by Thomas Joseph on Jan 25, 2011, 9:20am
This article got my blood boiling.

Americans overwhelmingly say that in general they prefer cutting government spending to paying higher taxes.

A comforting thought, and a bit of a no-brainer. Problem is, as we will see, that these Americans, who more than likely belong to the Baby Boomer generation, haven't given much thought beyond this sentiment. So, when they're pressed with specifics, they back off.

Yet their preference for spending cuts, even in programs that benefit them, dissolves when they are presented with specific options related to Medicare and Social Security ...

This paragraph, if I read it correctly, is poorly written. What happens is that when specific cuts are proposed, to programs that will benefit them, people back off from the desire of wanting cuts. Who is them? Baby Boomers would be the logical guess. Medicare and Social Security are two programs that Baby Boomers have banked on ... yet they're also the ones who have elected politicians who have routinely expanded those programs which have dwindled their reserves. Of course, the Baby Boomers want to pass the buck and keep those programs intact.

Nearly two-thir . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 2025 | Comments: 10
Last by Psycasm on Feb 01, 2011, 5:01pm

The following video is horrendously graphic. It is not work safe. It is not, in my opinion, fit for anyone under 18. I personally question the motives and character of anyone who enjoys playing this particular scenario. Not because it's violent, but because I genuinly feel it is reprehensible.

But hey, I'm not a gamer. The pretext - if you didn't pick it up - is that you must pose as a terrorist in order to save many more from the terrorist. That is, it kind of taps into the morality and ethics questions posed in my last post. But it really takes it one step away from the hypothetical argument and into the realm of action - yes, it's virtual action - but I couldn't even watch that whole video. Honest to the FSM, my eyes water.

But are the actions of gamers in a virtual environment even subject to normal morality and ethics? Does it matter if one is acting against AI, or against other real players? In the video above only AI - mere representations - were killed. Ignoring the question of does this kind of thing make people violent, or, do violent people play these games, I ask the question are virtual a . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 1521 | Comments: 11
Last by Psycasm on Jan 20, 2011, 7:29pm
So for a while it's just been talk and ideas floating in the ether. But today Psychobabble goes live!

What is Psychobabble? It's a fortnightly podcast on the topic of experimental psychology. If you're interested in the way people think, the why's of behaviour, and the how's of the brain, then this is for you.

By and large a search on iTunes for 'Psychology' or related turns up a bit about clinical psychology, and then a bunch of assorted Lecture-series'. Psychobabble is not a lecture series, it's an informal, informed, referenced discussion on a given topic. Our opening episode relates to the science of First Impressions, but meanders amusingly (hopefully) through some tragic first dates, the age old debate of blue eyes vs. brown eyes, why your dolcet tones are an amazing asset, and if you rock socks-and-sandles and sport a beard... well, you need to listen to this.

If that seems like a little bit of a 'soft' topic then episode 2 (due in a fortnight's time) might be more up your alley. It'll be about the nature of time perception - how we (and our brains) perceive it, why its far from constant, and under what circumstances it varies. Th . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 2129 | Comments: 9
Last by Psycasm on Jan 17, 2011, 11:04pm

Who knows the trolley dilemma?

It's a simple little thought experiment in ethics. Here's a variation:

You are a station master at a railway and a runaway train is speeding through the station. Ahead of it is a split line, and the train is headed down Line A if you do not act. At the end of Line A is a single surveyor, inspecting the tracks, oblivious to the fact there is a train headed for him. At the end of Line B is a group of 4 or 5 workmen doing some maintenance.

You cannot stop the train, but you can redirect it down Line B. Do you?

Most people will answer No. It's a tragedy, but the loss of one life is better than the loss of 5.

You are a station master at a railway and a runaway train is speeding through the station. Ahead of it is a split line, and the train is headed down Line A if you do not act. At the end of Line A is a group of 4 or 5 workmen doing some maintenance, oblivious to the fact there is a train headed for them. At the end of Line B is a single surveyor, inspecting the tracks.

You cannot stop the train, but you can redirect it down Line B. Do you?

Many people will answer Yes for the same reason. The loss of one life is a tragedy, yet your a . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 488 | Comments: 0
Just wanted to vent a little, mostly because I've been a bit silent on the blogging front lately.

Between dealing with the floods in my part of the world, I've been focusing a lot of energy into getting my podcast - Psychobabble - up and running. But as should be expected, there will be a delay of about a week, as I find someone who can screw with coding for me to increase my upload limit on my wordpress backend. Why the frick don't wordpress just have an option to incease it? I don't know, but you have to do a whole bunch of loop-jumping to increase it. Alternatively I need to look into paid-hosting options for podcast, such as Blubrry (sic) or podbean. I tried podbean yesterday, but it was a mess and difficult to use. Anyone, any thoughts?

Anywho, this afternoon I will endevour to write a real post and have it up for tomorrow (my time, so, ETA of 12 hours).

On an unrelated note, next weekend I'm going to the hospital to be involved in a drug trial. They are going to pay me lots of money. I don't really know what to expect, except they'll be taking my blood a lot. I think I'll probably be live tweeting the whole event (it's 3-day lock-in) - so if you're interested in what goes in (on the human end) of drug trials, stay tuned.

. . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 948 | Comments: 7
Last by Evie on Jan 18, 2011, 12:28pm
I don't know how much the rest of the world know about my little home-town of Brisbane, but we've been experiencing our worst flooding since '74 (and perhaps earlier). As of 4am this morning (13/1/11) the Brisbane River peaked at 4.5 meters. It has been raining here for, literally, months. There are 12,000 homes underwater and 4000 streets closed (City wide), 15 recorded fatalities and 61 missing (state wide). There are a couple hundred thousand houses without power. My power restored a few hours ago, but the whole city is off.

This is a view from the Story Bridge that's only a few years old. If you ever visit Brisbane, take a walk across it during sunset - the views are spectacular and you can walk right into The Valley - one of the night club and restaurant districts of Brisbane.

This is the same view taken a few 12 hours before the peak-flood.

(Credit: Retell, 2011)

Here's the same angle, than includes the bridge itself:

This is a view of the William Jolly Bridge. You shouldn't do this, but you can climb right on top of the Arcs and look back on to the City and Southbank. I also don't recomend doing this drunk, late at night...

That boat is a CityCat - . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 1959 | Comments: 4
Last by yannisguerra on Jan 18, 2011, 2:44am

I have stumbled upon an interesting area of research. It seems that, like some other seemingly arbitrary measures (like digit ratios), that it has the capacity to have modest (if rough) predictive power. It also seems, at first glance, to border on the kooky side of science, and in parts reminds me of old arguments about racial intelligence and head-bumps, cranial capacity, and ol' fashioned racism.

It is the study of eye colour and its predictive power.

Eye colour is genetic (and follows Mendelian rules*), so the possibility exists that eye colour can reveal details about our genetic make-up. It's a rough-and-ready kind of measure, but like digit-ratio measures, it may serve a purpose. Data exists to suggest that blue-eyed children are more behaviourally inhibited than their brown-eyed counter-parts, blue-eyedness is correlated with infant timidity, and, may serve as a marker for social wariness (in children) (Kleisner et al, 2010). In an interesting study Kleisner et al (2010) took a bunch of photos of guys and girls, and asked subjects to rate them on a number of subjective measures. They found that brown-eyes in men were correlated with a higher . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 783 | Comments: 1
Last by Suzy on Jan 09, 2011, 6:39pm
[Wherein our Hero explores his daydreaming behaviour, and just how it might impact upon his marginally more objective reality.]

Someone once told me that a study concluded that students who daydream often in class actually do better than students who daydream less frequently. He argued that this is because those who daydream in class aren’t challenged by the material and disengage. It has a kind of twisted, believable logic, though it flies in the face of the accepted wisdom. It would be great if that were true, but I’ve never been able to find the reference.

A lecturer of mine told his class today that the ‘default’ setting of the brain is to daydream about social interactions. Of course I do his class and that particular topic no justice by that one, short sentence. It’s an exceedingly more complicated topic than expressed here. However, I will admit, my first reaction was to balk at it. I would swear I day dream more about goals and objectives, and problems I need to solve than people and interactions. He then asked for suggestions of non-social daydream content and proceeded to shoot down nearly all suggestions in one or two steps. An example might be – I was thinking of a t-shirt design; a . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 6417 | Comments: 30
Last by Kim Wallen on Jan 04, 2011, 10:33pm

And now for something completely different (or depending on your history folder, something exceedingly familiar)...

I'm going to begin this post with a copy of an Abstract from a paper entitled 'The pleasure is momentary…the expense damnable? The influence of pornography on rape and sexual assault' (Ferguson & Hartley, 2009) in Aggression and Violent behaviour.

The effects of pornography, whether violent or non-violent, on sexual aggression have been debated for decades. The current review examines evidence about the influence of pornography on sexual aggression in correlational and experimental studies and in real world violent crime data. Evidence for a causal relationship between exposure to pornography and sexual aggression is slim and may, at certain times, have been exaggerated by politicians, pressure groups and some social scientists. Some of the debate has focused on violent pornography, but evidence of any negative effects is inconsistent, and violent pornography is comparatively rare in the real world. Victimization rates for rape in the United States demonstrate an inverse relationship between pornography consumption and rape rates. Data from other nations have sug . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 11776 | Comments: 12
Last by Brian Krueger, PhD on Dec 23, 2010, 3:19pm
Last week I dropped the comment that I thought it was normal and healthy for a blogger to check their stats. I was quickly corrected by more experienced bloggers than myself, who made the comment that the discussion generated in their comment boards was a more important metric.

With this, I agree. If I didn't want dialogue I'd write a book. But it seems intuitive that the degree of discussion is necessarily going to be linked views.

So, on my third day of holidays, I've decided to engage in some Recreational Statistical Analysis. There's nothing too fancy here, because there's not much fancy stats could have told me about my blog - with one exception (to my mind), which I will cover at the end.

But first, some descriptives:

Since joining LabSpaces I have made 34 posts, 22 of which were ResearchBlogging posts. I have an average word count of 889.26 (SD=338.78). Across all posts my mean views (as of 21st of December) 394.62 (SD = 253.84), but if you exclude the three outliers (Music Testing Athletes and Psi I, and II) then it drops to 340.97 (SD = 189.60).

Across all posts, on average, I get 8.30 comments (SD = 11.70); but if you exclude the outliers that drop . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 609 | Comments: 9
Last by becca on Dec 23, 2010, 9:48am
This is not something I normally do, but by the very fact that I shy away from it, it seems appropriate now.

I can't understand why anyone cares about anyone else. Not in any pathological sense, but why you - some potato farmer in Kansas - care about me - some poor under-grad from Land of Oz. Furthermore, I'm probably right. As most bloggers (probably) do, I watch my stats*. My most popular posts are strike a balance between commentary and science, and are usually on something pop, like music, or video-games. My least popular posts are about my opinions and about me. Personally, I thought 'The Moon and Antarctica' was an excellent post, and expected to watch the stats counter climb. I was wrong. My most popular post, however, was 'We should be Music Testing Athletes', which I personally thought was a poorly constructed treatment of a topic that deserved more (and which I intend to revisit at some point in the future). By contrast, 'The Paper of Influence' (all about me) ties for one of the lowest scores with . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 522 | Comments: 2
Last by Psycasm on Dec 17, 2010, 4:09pm

[Wherein our Hero looks at what research has most influenced him. A story to be continued...]

As with most of these monthly themes, I'm at a loss. I'm still an undergrad, and am yet to be afforded the luxury of independent thought. I'm yet to commence honours, and further still from a PhD. I have a vague inkling of a preference towards a vast area of psychology, but what I would like to investigate specifically is still beyond me.

However, I can answer this question in a sense. The paper that has most influenced me is the paper (and the research topic) that I have found myself involved in. The paper is by Apfelbaum and Sommers, and is entitled 'Liberating Effects of Losing Executive Control' (2009).

It's an interesting paper and (as I understand it) one of very few in the area (at least in the way it treats the topic). It focuses on a thing called Executive Function, which is one's capacity to self-regulate and inhibit certain behaviours and impulses. For instance, we've all experienced one of those days where we're just drained, and despite our best efforts we snap at someone we shouldn't. It might be a co-worker, or a partner, or a stranger on a bus. What . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 1002 | Comments: 0

[Wherein our Hero whether sharing = caring, and what, exactly, do we get out of it?]

Sharing is caring, so they say (or at least 13 million hits on google says so). In my experience that phrase is used regarding the sharing of emotions and thoughts, rather than things and objects. And I've never really understood it. Why, if I share my feelings with you, does that show I care? Surely 'listening is caring' would be a more appropriate truism?

Maybe it's just me, maybe I'm a touch neurotic, but I vet what I'm going to say. I might have a story about myself, and in some way it seems important to me, but why would you care, why would anyone care? If it's a story that his a wider impact, it's funny, or generally interesting, or relevant to another party - sure - but if it's just me getting my thoughts and feelings out there, what's the point?(Internal Consistency Alert: this particular thought will segway into some science, so it falls under the category of 'generally interesting', bear with me).

Lots of things happen to me every day that I just don't share. Yet other people feel compelled to tell you just about anything, irrespective of it's . . . More