The way our brain responds to others' good fortune is linked to how empathetic people report themselves to be, according to a paper in the Journal of Neuroscience which suggests that a part of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) seems particularly attuned to other people's good news, but how it responds varies substantially depending on our levels of empathy.

For people who rated themselves as highly empathetic, the ACC responded only when another person had good news coming, but for people who gave themselves lower empathy scores, the ACC also responded when bad news was predicted for themselves.

In pop culture, conspiracy believers like FBI agent Fox Mulder on The X Files or professor Robert Langdon in The Da Vinci Code tend to reject the notion of coincidence or chance; even the most random-seeming events are thought to result from some sort of intention or design. 

Psychologists have suggested that such a bias against randomness may explain real-world conspiracy beliefs but new research from psychologists at the University of Fribourg and the University of Paris-Saint-Denis shows no evidence for a link between conspiracist thinking and perceptions of order, design, or intent.

Proponents of climate change tend to use more conservative, tentative language to report on the science behind it, while skeptics use more emotional and assertive language when reinterpreting scientific studies, says research from the University of Waterloo.

Tentative language would include words such as "possible," "probable" or "might." The terms "alarmist" and "wrong" are examples of emotional language.

If you have walked into a hotel room in Hawaii where you are paying $400 a night and been met with a card telling you they aren't going to give you towels and sheets because they are "conserving' water, and you snorted derisively, you would be about the 10 millionth person to do so. Hawaii has no water issues, you know, and this is just a way to boost the profit line of the company at your expense.

Such "greenwashing," a corporation's practice of promoting environmentally friendly programs while hiding ulterior motives, is commonplace under the guise of "sustainability" and "corporate responsibility." 

Strategic voting is an important factor in Canadian electoral campaigns. "People vote strategically when they think neither their first nor their second choice has any chance of winning in their electorate. They vote for their third choice party in the hopes of blocking an outcome that would be even worse," said Jean-François Daoust, a researcher at the University of Montreal's Department of Political Science who studied the phenomenon as part of his doctoral work. He was directed by André Blais, who holds the university's Research Chair for Electoral Studies, and his findings, which drew on Quebec's 2012 provincial elections, were recently published in Politiques et sociétés.

Why do babies smile when they interact with their parents? Could their smiles have a purpose? A team of computer scientists, roboticists and psychologists say they can confirm what most parents already suspect: when babies smile, they do so with a purpose--to make the person they interact with smile in return. 

In addition, babies reach that goal by using sophisticated timing, much like comedians who time their jokes to maximize audience response. But there is a twist: babies seem to be doing this while smiling as little as possible.

It’s been 60 years since the first TV ad was broadcast in the UK. In that time, we’ve moved from the innocent grainy black-and-white “Tingle of Health” of Gibbs SR toothpaste, to the sophisticated hyper-reality of 4K TV and beyond, in lock-step with developing communications technologies.

The next 60 years will certainly see an even faster pace of change. So what can we look forward to (or not) in the realm of advertising?

“If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are.” Hsin Hsin Ming

Almost every person who walks through my practice doorway is anxious in some way. And so they should be. While their anxiety might be blasting messages at an overly high volume, the messages themselves are worth paying attention to: abusive relationships, significant losses and workplaces that have squeezed their personal, physical and spiritual lives into a corner too small for a hamster to burrow in.

Are black voters more likely to vote for black candidates, regardless of political party affiliation? Not according to a paper by a scholar from the University of Cincinnati.

News that Sydney Swans star Lance “Buddy” Franklin, arguably the biggest name in the Australian Football League (AFL), is experiencing a mental health condition has garnered a lot of media attention. His story highlights not only the persistent stigma surrounding mental illness, but the potential of sport to help tackle it.