Studies Find ‘Easy’ Material May Not Be Easy to Learn

first_imgEDUCATION WEEK:Emerging research suggests that, contrary to what students may think, material that’s easy to understand is not always easy to learn—and working harder can help them hold on to what they’ve learned.It’s a typical school scenario: A student strolls into class on test day, telling classmates how he crammed the night before and certain he will ace the exam, only to be confounded by how little he actually remembers from hours of studying.Read the whole story: EDUCATION WEEK More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

The Greater Your Fear, the Larger the Spider

first_imgLiveScience:Fear can distort our perceptions, psychological research indicates, and creepy-crawly spiders are no different. People who are afraid of spiders see the arachnids as bigger than they actually are, recent experiments have shown.Researchers asked people who had undergone therapy to address their fear of spiders to draw a line representing the length of a tarantula they had just encountered in a lab setting.“On average, the most fearful were drawing lines about 50 percent longer than the least fearful,” said Michael Vasey, lead study researcher and professor of psychology at Ohio State University. “We have seen participants draw lines that are at least three times as long as the actual spider.”Read the whole story: LiveScience More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

Matig alcoholgebruik stimulans voor het groepsgevoel

first_imgExpress Belgium: Een matig gebruik van alcohol in een sociale omgeving kan een stimulans betekenen voor positieve emoties en groepsvorming en bovendien negatieve emoties helpen afzwakken. Dat is de conclusie van een onderzoek van wetenschappers aan de University of Pittsburgh. Eerdere research had weliswaar aangevoerd dat alcohol kan leiden tot negatieve gevoelens en stress, maar daarbij is volgens de onderzoekers in Pittsburgh vooral gekeken naar individuele consumptie. Er wordt aan toegevoegd dat de conclusies opgaan voor zowel mannen als vrouwen.“Er wordt vaak aangenomen dat mensen drinken om de stress te verlagen en positieve gevoelens op te wekken, maar een matige alcoholconsumptie in groepsverband blijkt ook een stimulans te betekenen voor het versterken van de sociale banden,” merkt onderzoeksleider Michael Sayette, professor psychologie aan de University of Pittsburgh, op. “Het onderzoek toonde onder meer aan dat er bij de proefpersonen bij het alcoholgebruik vaker een oprechte lach kon worden geregistreerd.”Read the whole story: Express Belgium More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

Zazes, Flurps and the Moral World of Kids

first_imgThe Wall Street Journal: Here’s a question. There are two groups, Zazes and Flurps. A Zaz hits somebody. Who do you think it was, another Zaz or a Flurp?It’s depressing, but you have to admit that it’s more likely that the Zaz hit the Flurp. That’s an understandable reaction for an experienced, world-weary reader of The Wall Street Journal. But here’s something even more depressing—4-year-olds give the same answer.In my last column, I talked about some disturbing new research showing that preschoolers are already unconsciously biased against other racial groups. Where does this bias come from?Marjorie Rhodes at New York University argues that children are “intuitive sociologists” trying to make sense of the social world. We already know that very young children make up theories about everyday physics, psychology and biology. Dr. Rhodes thinks that they have theories about social groups, too.Read the whole story: The Wall Street Journal More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

Actually, Practice Doesn’t Always Make Perfect — New Study

first_imgThe Washington Post:We’ve long been eager to believe that mastery of a skill is primarily the result of how much effort one has put in. Extensive practice “is probably the most reasonable explanation we have today not only for success in any line, but even for genius,” said the ur-behaviorist John B. Watson almost a century ago.In the 1990s K. Anders Ericsson and a colleague at Florida State University reported data that seemed to confirm this view: What separates the expert from the amateur, a first-rate musician or chess player from a wannabe, isn’t talent; it’s thousands of hours of work. (Malcolm Gladwell, drawing from but misrepresenting Ericsson’s research — much to the latter’s dismay — announced the magic number was ten thousand hours.)Read the whole story: The Washington Post More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding?

first_imgSlate: Hero means everything and nothing. It encompasses the firefighters who rushed into the burning twin towers, long-distance runners who compete through chronic disease, and the wag on Twitter who makes a point you agree with. The highly specific, armor-bright figure of classical myth has grown a thousand faces. We still want him around (DC Comics recently announced 10 new superhero films to unspool over the next six years, including one about a her: Wonder Woman), but his omnipresence makes him easy to mock. Part of our ambivalence may also stem from the suspicion that his noble deeds are not as selfless as they seem, motivated instead by a thirst for attention, rational egotism, or even masochism.…The volunteers—and a computer algorithm, for safesies—analyzed the medal winners’ statements for evidence of careful thought, or of unpremeditated action. Overwhelmingly, they found that day-savers rescue first and reflect second. As Christine Marty, a 21-year-old student who wrested a trapped senior citizen from her car during a flash flood, said, “I’m thankful I was able to act and not think about it.” Study author David Rand noted that people playing economic games are similarly less likely to share resources when they ruminate about their moves, but more generous when they don’t take time to consider strategy. Perhaps human nature is reflexively pure and kind (and corrupted by our hyper-rational, transactional society)—or perhaps, as Rand speculated, cooperation becomes an intuitive habit only after we see it paying off. (Quoth Zazu: Cheetahs never prosper.)…One study, by researchers at Georgetown University, implies that the world’s givers and helpers simply possess more empathy. Psychologist Abigail Marsh and her team recruited 19 people who had donated their kidneys to total strangers, and 20 people who had not. They flashed images of fearful, upset, or angry human faces at the volunteers while recording their brain activity with an fMRI machine. The donors and the control group generated similar scans, except for two details: In donors, the right amygdala, which governs emotional response, was 8 percent larger, and it showed enhanced activity. Previous tests had already revealed the opposite finding for psychopaths. These empathy-impaired subjects had amygdalae that fired less when distressed faces were presented. Though fMRI studies are in their infancy, this one implied that altruists just give more shits than do the rest of us.Read the whole story: Slate More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

People Who Weigh Themselves More Lose More Weight

first_imgNew York Magazine:Within the general category “trying to lose weight,” there is a huge range of behaviors. Some people take this quest very seriously, diligently tracking seemingly every category down to the bite. Others see it as a more general long-term goal, but one that doesn’t end up hugely affecting their day-to-day life. It’s not surprising that this latter group tends to be less successful in their efforts, and anew study in PLOS ONE led by Elina Helander from Tempere Univeristy of Technology in Finland (and co-authored by friend of Science of Us Brian Wansink) makes the case for a vigilant approach to weight loss, at least when it comes to weigh-ins.Read the whole story: New York Magazine More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

Streets with no game

first_imgAeon: In 2007, the Whole Foods supermarket chain built one of their largest stores on New York City’s storied Lower East Side, occupying an entire block of East Houston Street from the Bowery to Chrystie Street. For the well-off, the abundant availability of high-quality organic foods was a welcome addition, but for the majority of locals, many of whom had roots going back generations to New York’s immigrant beginnings, the scale of the new store, selling wares that few of them could easily afford, was a symbolic affront to the traditions of this part of the city.…Behavioural effects of city street design have been reported before. In 2006, the Danish urbanist Jan Gehl observed that people walk more quickly in front of blank façades; compared with an open, active façade, people are less likely to pause or even turn their heads in such locations. They simply bear down and try to get through the unpleasant monotony of the street until they emerge on the other side, hopefully to find something more interesting.For planners concerned with making city streets more amenable and pedestrian-friendly, findings such as these have enormous implications: by simply changing the appearance and physical structure of a building’s bottom three metres, they can exert a dramatic impact on the manner in which a city is used. Not only are people more likely to walk around in cityscapes with open and lively façades, but the kinds of things that they do in such places actually changeRead the whole story: Aeon More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

Basic scientists still feel pinch of new NIH clinical trial policy

first_imgBasic researchers who study the brain and human behavior thought lawmakers had come to their rescue in March by blocking the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, from redefining their studies as clinical trials. But NIH officials are still pushing ahead with new requirements that scientists say make no sense and will cripple their research.What some see as NIH’s narrow interpretation of a directive from lawmakers has researchers up in arms as they navigate confusing new rules and paperwork. The clinical trial policies “are not appropriate for fundamental research,” a group of societies wrote in an email to NIH this week.The issue goes back almost a year, when researchers became aware that a new NIH definition of clinical trials would encompass many basic studies involving human subjects. Since January 2018, these projects must now go through a new submission and review process and will need to be registered and have results reported on, a public database, among other requirements aimed at improving rigor and transparency in clinical research.Last summer, several scientific and university groups, individual scientists, and more than 3500 petition signers protested that filing studies that aren’t testing drugs or other treatments on would confuse the public. They were also worried that redefining their studies as clinical trials would make it harder to get funding. In response, NIH spent months tweaking a set of “case studies” that exempt some basic work, such as certain brain imaging studies, but still sweep up much fundamental research, says Sarah Brookhart, executive director for the Association for Psychological Science (APS) in Washington, D.C. Read the whole story: Science More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

Good Habits, Bad Habits: A Conversation with Wendy Wood

first_imgEarly in her academic career, psychologist Wendy Wood noticed a trend: many of her fellow graduate students and professors struggled to get things done in the highly demanding but unstructured academic environment. Intelligence, talent, and motivation didn’t seem to matter—some of those who were struggling to stick to project plans or meet deadlines were among the brightest of the group. Why, she wondered, was it so easy to make the initial decision to change but so hard to persist in the long term? Willpower didn’t seem to be the issue—her colleagues wanted to and were trying to change—so what was? Over the past three decades, Wood has sought the answers to these questions. She recently wrote a book, Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes that Stick, which details the most important, practical insights from her research. We had the chance to talk about how better understanding how habits form and drive our behavior can help us change—and enjoy—our lives. Read the whole story: Behavioral Scientist More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more