Psychology

Look at a waterfall for 30 seconds. Now look at something stationary. The stationary object will appear to drift upwards. The same phantom movement is true after stepping off an airport walkway: if you close your eyes and stand still, you should continue to feel yourself moving.

Ever heard of the idea that for some illnesses and disorders to develop, you need to have an inherited risk factor plus environmental stress? It’s known commonly as the diathesis-stress model (diathesis basically meaning predisposition), and it’s a common explanation for a large range of phenomena, from schizophrenia to serial murder.  In this model, both diathesis and stress need to be present for the illness to arise.

This has been the prevailing view for some time, but a few researchers, such as Jay Belsky and Michael Pluess of Birkbeck University, are now making a slightly different case (1).

Despite being one of psychology's most memorable concepts and a genuinely good idea, Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs, immortalized in his 1943 paper "A Theory of Human Motivation" and later Motivation and Personality, needs a makeover, say some researchers.  

Maslow's hierarchy says humans will fulfill basic needs before moving on to higher level ones.    If you're unemployed and losing your house because fuzzy 'jobs saved or created' statistics have no real value to you, for example, global warming will not be your biggest concern.   

There are many definitions out there, but they all point towards roughly the same thing:

Semantic: "of, pertaining to, or arising from the different meanings of words or other symbols: semantic change; semantic confusion."

Pedantic: "overly concerned with minute details or formalisms, esp. in teaching."

Does money make you happy?  Economists think so - the concept of 'utility' assumes that economic activity represents people consuming in ways that best supports their happiness.  And yet, high sales of Backstreet Boys CDs prove that this cannot be true.  What's going on here?


Happiness is a difficult thing to study scientifically

Belief: Girls tend to hang out in smaller, more intimate groups than boys.

Not really.   At least not by the time children reach the eighth grade, says a new Journal of Social and Personal Relationships article.

Jennifer Watling Neal, assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University, says her study is one of the first to look at how girls' and boys' peer networks develop across grades.   Because children's peer-group structure can promote or mitigate negative behaviors like bullying and positive behaviors like helping others, Neal said it's important for researchers to have a better picture of what these groups look like.

Every noticed how when something is vaguely Eastern and mystical, it sort of gets a special kind of regard from people?  Maybe it's the way almost every old Asian character in film and TV is incredibly wise and insightful, or something.

Not long ago, many scientists had the belief that after the age of about three, the brain was pretty much fixed in function. You could imprint new memories and learn new skills, but that was about it.  There was an opposing belief too, that said the brain was a 'blank slate' upon which the various human parameters were written almost ad lib as life went on - an idea, of course, that Steven Pinker refuted in his famous book of the same name (Pinker, 2002).

Propaganda - An Application Of The Forgetting Curve

Learning curves,  forgetting curves, adjacency and the scientific roots of the black art of propaganda.