Psychology

Marketing experts have long wanted a reliable method of forecasting responses to products and messages.

A study that analyzed the brain responses of 16 individuals says even a few people can be a remarkably strong predictor of the preferences of large TV audiences, up to 90 percent in the case of Super Bowl commercials.

This is far superior to the wobbly claims made by psychology surveys. 


There are websites that encourage anorexia, there are websites that glorify stepping on animals with high heels and killing them, so it is no surprise that there are websites that glorify suicide. There are also websites that can talk people down from the ledge. In a free Internet, they can both be found rather easily.

An upcoming paper looked for information on suicides using popular search engines (Google, Bing) in Austria and the USA and found that protective information is significantly more plentiful than harmful information, about 2:1. 
Marketing is something of a game; retailers want you to spend the most money, but not none at all, and cash flow is important, so sometimes they have sales, even at a loss to get you in the door in the belief that you will spend more money. But is that the optimal strategy for a retailer?

A new paper in the Journal of Consumer Research says consumers instead choose retailers they believe offer the lowest prices the majority of the time.  

To simulate 100 weekly purchases from a retail store, participants were asked to purchase products from one of two competing retailers 100 different times. Participants were given a monetary incentive to minimize their total spending and were instructed to base their selections strictly on price.

Why do women prefer bad boys? Why do men prefer nice women? Why do social psychologists love to conduct surveys about sweeping stereotypes and call it science?

These are complex questions without simple answers. Responsiveness may be one of those initial "sparks" necessary to fuel sexual desire and land a second date - the same thing in many flavors of psychology - but it may not be a desirable trait for both men and women on a first date, according to a new paper in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin which wants to discuss if responsiveness increases sexual desire in the other person. Do men perceive responsive women as more attractive, and does the same hold true for women's perceptions of men?    


It's no surprise when obese preschoolers have obese parents. It's actually expected. So it's not a surprise when obesity treatment is more effective when it targets both parent and child compared to when only the child is targeted.

Children enrolled in this study were overweight or obese and had one parent who participated in the study who also was overweight or obese, according to body mass index (BMI) measurements, calculated based on height and weight.


A new paper finds that asthmatics who believe that an odor is potentially have increased airway inflammation for at least 24 hours following exposure, which highlights the role that expectations and psychology can play in health-related outcomes.

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the lungs. According to the National Institutes of Health, over 25 million Americans have the disease, which can interfere with quality of life. The airways of asthmatics are sensitive to 'triggers' that further inflame and constrict the airways, making it difficult to breathe. There are many different types of triggers, including pollen, dust, irritating chemicals, and allergens. Strong emotions and stress also can act to trigger asthma symptoms.


A few days ago I started thinking about abstractions whilst reading Surfaces and Essences, a recent book by Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander. I suspect efforts like Surfaces and Essences, which traverse vast and twisted terrains across cognitive science, are probably underrated as scientific contributions.

They say money can't buy happiness. Can genetics?

Some people seem to be happy no matter what. If you visit many places in Africa, even when the existence may seem hard to Europeans or Americans, a lot of people are quite happy.

The key could be genetics say....economists.

Why not economists? We let sociologists and anthropologists make all kinds of claims and they don't understand statistics anywhere near as well as the economists from the University of Warwick Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy.


It's a common trope among Hollywood celebrities; media is alarmed at weight gain, celebrity says they are proud of their body, they feel better than ever, people clap, celebrity appears two months later and lost 25 lbs. and is on magazine covers with diet tips and talking about how much better they feel.

Celebrities are externally driven and they add external motivations to boost their willpower, what about people who can't afford personal chefs and trainers? What about regular people who are already demoralized? An intervention program aimed at helping obese women maintain their weight also had the benefit of significantly reducing depression in nearly half the participants, according to a new study.


Cigarette smokers are more likely to commit suicide than people who don't smoke. People with psychiatric disorders have higher suicide rates and tend to smoke, so the connection is so simple an epidemiologist could make it.

But psychiatrists now say that smoking itself may increase suicide risk and that bans and higher taxes on smoking cause suicide rates to drop. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that in 2010, nearly 40,000 people killed themselves in the US and every death that occurs in the United States is recorded in a database managed by the National Center for Health Statistics. The authors classified each suicide death based on the state where the victim had lived, as well as how aggressive that state's tobacco policies were.