Posts Tagged: Psychology


13
May 10

Measuring Creativity

How do you measure creativity?! Is there something like IQ for creativity?! Perhaps a set of measurements, and not just one.

Here’s an except from an article on the New York Times that talks about some of Rex E. Jung‘s research….

[N]o single measure for creativity exists. While I.Q. tests, though controversial, are still considered a reliable test of at least a certain kind of intelligence, there is no equivalent when it comes to creativity — no Creativity Quotient, or C.Q.

Dr. Jung’s lab uses a combination of measures as proxies for creativity. One is the Creativity Achievement Questionnaire, which asks people to report their own aptitude in 10 fields, including the visual arts, music, creative writing, architecture, humor and scientific discovery.

Another is a test for “divergent thinking,” a classic measure developed by the pioneering psychologist J. P. Guilford. Here a person is asked to come up with “new and useful” functions for a familiar object, like a brick, a pencil or a sheet of paper.

Dr. Jung’s team also presents subjects with weird situations. Imagine people could instantly change their sex, or imagine clouds had strings; what would be the implications?

In another assessment, a subject is asked to draw the taste of chocolate or write a caption for a humorous cartoon, as is done in The New Yorker magazine’s weekly contest. “Humor is an important part of creativity,” Dr. Jung said.

The responses are used to generate what Dr. Jung calls a “Composite Creativity Index.”


12
May 10

Light Physical Touch From Female Can Increase Financial Risk Taking

This doesn’t seem to be a sexual thing that only affects men. But seems to be something similar to the affect of a mother’s touch, that affects both men and women.

From ScienceDaily

A woman’s touch is all it takes for people to throw caution to the wind. [...] If a female experimenter patted a participant on the back, they’d risk more money than if she just talked to them, or if a man did the patting. The researchers think this comes from the way that mothers use touch to make their babies feel secure.
[...]
The researchers found that participants who were touched felt more secure and took bigger risks than those who weren’t — but only if they were touched by a woman. The effect was stronger for a touch on the back than for a handshake, but went away entirely for participants who were touched by a man.

The results suggest that a woman’s touch works the same on adults as it does on infants: making them feel more secure and more willing to take risks.

From the actual paper…

Physical Contact and Financial Risk Taking

Jonathan Levav and Jennifer J. Argo
[...]

Abstract

We show that minimal physical contact can increase people’s sense of security and consequently lead them to increased risk-taking behavior. In three experiments, with both hypothetical and real payoffs, a female experimenter’s light, comforting pat on the shoulder led participants to greater financial risk taking. Further, this effect was both mediated and moderated by feelings of security in both male and female participants. Finally, we established the boundary conditions for the impact of physical contact on risk-taking behaviors by demonstrating that the effect does not occur when the touching is performed by a male and is attenuated when the touch consists of a handshake. The results suggest that subtle physical contact can be strongly influential in decision making and the willingness to accept risk.

(Link)


12
May 10

Psychology of Betrayal

Betrayal: A psychological analysis

Stanley Jack Rachman
[...]

Abstract

Betrayal is the sense of being harmed by the intentional actions or omissions of a trusted person. The most common forms of betrayal are harmful disclosures of confidential information, disloyalty, infidelity, dishonesty. They can be traumatic and cause considerable distress. The effects of betrayal include shock, loss and grief, morbid pre-occupation, damaged self-esteem, self-doubting, anger. Not infrequently they produce life-altering changes. The effects of a catastrophic betrayal are most relevant for anxiety disorders, and OCD and PTSD in particular.

Betrayal can cause mental contamination, and the betrayer commonly becomes a source of contamination. In a series of experiments it was demonstrated that feelings of mental contamination can be aroused by imagining unacceptable non-consensual acts. The magnitude of the mental contamination was boosted by the introduction of betrayal themes. Feelings of mental contamination can also be aroused in some ‘perpetrators’ of non-consensual acts involving betrayal. The psychological significance of acts of betrayal is discussed.

(Link)


11
May 10

Optimism Boosts The Immune System

Seems like this is likely related to the placebo effect.

Optimistic Expectancies and Cell-Mediated Immunity

The Role of Positive Affect

Suzanne C. Segerstrom and Sandra E. Sephton
[...]

Abstract

Optimistic expectancies affect many psychosocial outcomes and may also predict immune system changes and health, but the nature and mechanisms of any such physiological effects have not been identified. The present study related law-school expectancies to cell-mediated immunity (CMI), examining the within- and between-person components of this relationship and affective mediators. First-year law students (N = 124) completed questionnaire measures of expectancies and affect and received delayed-type hypersensitivity skin tests at five time points. A positive relationship between optimistic expectancies and CMI occurred: Changes in optimism correlated with changes in CMI. Likewise, changes in optimism predicted changes in positive and, to a lesser degree, negative affect, but the relationship between optimism and immunity was partially accounted for only by positive affect. This dynamic relationship between expectancies and immunity has positive implications for psychological interventions to improve health, particularly those that increase positive affect.

(Link)


11
May 10

Stress Makes Men Less Picky

The conclusion they are claiming…. Men usually like women that are “similar” to them, but when the men are stressed. they aren’t so picky in this respect.

Effects of stress on human mating preferences: stressed individuals prefer dissimilar mates

Johanna Lass-Hennemann, Christian E. Deuter, Linn K. Kuehl, André Schulz, Terry D. Blumenthal and Hartmut Schachinger
[...]

Abstract

Although humans usually prefer mates that resemble themselves, mating preferences can vary with context. Stress has been shown to alter mating preferences in animals, but the effects of stress on human mating preferences are unknown. Here, we investigated whether stress alters men’s preference for self-resembling mates. Participants first underwent a cold-pressor test (stress induction) or a control procedure. Then, participants viewed either neutral pictures or pictures of erotic female nudes whose facial characteristics were computer-modified to resemble either the participant or another participant, or were not modified, while startle eyeblink responses were elicited by noise probes. Erotic pictures were rated as being pleasant, and reduced startle magnitude compared with neutral pictures. In the control group, startle magnitude was smaller during foreground presentation of photographs of self-resembling female nudes compared with other-resembling female nudes and non-manipulated female nudes, indicating a higher approach motivation to self-resembling mates. In the stress group, startle magnitude was larger during foreground presentation of self-resembling female nudes compared with other-resembling female nudes and non-manipulated female nudes, indicating a higher approach motivation to dissimilar mates. Our findings show that stress affects human mating preferences: unstressed individuals showed the expected preference for similar mates, but stressed individuals seem to prefer dissimilar mates.

(Emphasis mine.)

(Link)


9
May 10

How To Score Eleven More IQ Points in Ten Minutes

The conclusion they came to: think out load.

How to Gain Eleven IQ Points in Ten Minutes: Thinking Aloud Improves Raven’s Matrices Performance in Older Adults

Mark C. Fox, Neil Charness
[...]

Abstract

Few studies have examined the impact of age on reactivity to concurrent think-aloud (TA) verbal reports. An initial study with 30 younger and 31 older adults revealed that thinking aloud improves older adult performance on a short form of the Raven’s Matrices (Bors & Stokes, 1998, Educational and Psychological Measurement, 58, p. 382) but did not affect other tasks. In the replication experiment, 30 older adults (mean age = 73.0) performed the Raven’s Matrices and three other tasks to replicate and extend the findings of the initial study. Once again older adults performed significantly better only on the Raven’s Matrices while thinking aloud. Performance gains on this task were substantial (d = 0.73 and 0.92 in Experiments 1 and 2, respectively), corresponding to a fluid intelligence increase of nearly one standard deviation.

(Link)


9
May 10

Seeing Sick People Can Make Your Immune System Stronger

Mere Visual Perception of Other People’s Disease Symptoms Facilitates a More Aggressive Immune Response

Mark Schaller, Gregory E. Miller, Will M. Gervais, Sarah Yager and Edith Chen

Abstract

An experiment (N = 28) tested the hypothesis that the mere visual perception of disease-connoting cues promotes a more aggressive immune response. Participants were exposed either to photographs depicting symptoms of infectious disease or to photographs depicting guns. After incubation with a model bacterial stimulus, participants’ white blood cells produced higher levels of the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) in the infectious-disease condition, compared with the control (guns) condition. These results provide the first empirical evidence that visual perception of other people’s symptoms may cause the immune system to respond more aggressively to infection. Adaptive origins and functional implications are discussed.

(Link)


8
May 10

Aspie Genotype?

AFAIK, no one currently knows what the Aspie genotype is. But it seems some people may have gotten closer to finding it.

From ScienceDaily: "Asperger Syndrome, Autism, And Empathy: Study Links 27 Genes"…

Scientists from the University of Cambridge have identified 27 genes that are associated with either Asperger Syndrome (AS) and/or autistic traits and/or empathy. The research will be published July 16 in the journal Autism Research. This is the first candidate gene study of its kind.

The research was led by Dr Bhismadev Chakrabarti and Professor Simon Baron-Cohen from the Autism Research Centre in Cambridge. 68 genes were chosen either because they were known to play a role in neural growth, social behaviour, or sex steroid hormones (e.g. testosterone and estrogen). The latter group of genes was included because AS occurs far more often in males than females, and because previous research from the Cambridge team has shown that foetal testosterone levels are associated with autistic traits and empathy in typically developing children.
[...]
The research found that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 27 out of the 68 genes were nominally associated with either AS and/or with autistic traits/empathy. 10 of these genes (such as CYP11B1) were involved with sex steroid function, providing support for the role of this class of genes in autism and autistic traits. 8 of these genes (such as NTRK1) were involved in neural growth, providing further support to the idea that autism and autistic traits could result from aberrant patterns of connectivity in the developing brain. The other 9 genes (such as OXTR) were involved in social behaviour, shedding light on the biology of social and emotional sensitivity.

From the paper: "Genes related to sex-steroids, neural growth and social-emotional behaviour are associated with autistic traits, empathy and Asperger Syndrome"…

Genes related to sex steroids, neural growth, and social-emotional behavior are associated with autistic traits, empathy, and Asperger syndrome

B. Chakrabarti, F. Dudbridge, L. Kent, S. Wheelwright, G. Hill-Cawthorne, C. Allison, S. Banerjee-Basu, S. Baron-Cohen
[...]

Abstract

Genetic studies of autism spectrum conditions (ASC) have mostly focused on the low functioning severe clinical subgroup, treating it as a rare disorder. However, ASC is now thought to be relatively common (1%), and representing one end of a quasi-normal distribution of autistic traits in the general population. Here we report a study of common genetic variation in candidate genes associated with autistic traits and Asperger syndrome (AS). We tested single nucleotide polymorphisms in 68 candidate genes in three functional groups (sex steroid synthesis/transport, neural connectivity, and social-emotional responsivity) in two experiments. These were (a) an association study of relevant behavioral traits (the Empathy Quotient (EQ), the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ)) in a population sample (n=349); and (b) a case-control association study on a sample of people with AS, a high-functioning subgroup of ASC (n=174). 27 genes showed a nominally significant association with autistic traits and/or ASC diagnosis. Of these, 19 genes showed nominally significant association with AQ/EQ. In the sex steroid group, this included ESR2 and CYP11B1. In the neural connectivity group, this included HOXA1, NTRK1, and NLGN4X. In the socio-responsivity behavior group, this included MAOB, AVPR1B, and WFS1. Fourteen genes showed nominally significant association with AS. In the sex steroid group, this included CYP17A1 and CYP19A1. In the socio-emotional behavior group, this included OXT. Six genes were nominally associated in both experiments, providing a partial replication. Eleven genes survived family wise error rate (FWER) correction using permutations across both experiments, which is greater than would be expected by chance. CYP11B1 and NTRK1 emerged as significantly associated genes in both experiments, after FWER correction (P<0.05). This is the first candidate-gene association study of AS and of autistic traits. The most promising candidate genes require independent replication and fine mapping.


6
May 10

Cognitive Bias song

A catchy tune to help you learn some cognitive biases.

(Link)

H/T Tyler Cowen , Cory Doctorow.


4
May 10

Oxytocin and a Woman’s Love

Ron Guhname (not his real name) a.k.a. the Inductivist (not his real name either) pointed out a interesting passage from the book “Why Women Have Sex”, by Cindy M. Meston and David M. Buss….

Diane Witt, a researcher at Binghamton University, proposes that the release of oxytocin can be classically conditioned to the sight of certain people. Recall the Nobel Prize-winning Russian scientist Pavlov and his dogs. Dogs salivate when they are exposed to food–it plays an important role in the digestive process. Pavlov began ringing the bell every time he fed his dogs, and after a while the sound of the bell alone caused the dogs to salivate. The dogs had been classically conditioned to salivate at the sound of a bell. Witt believes that, in a similar way, oxytocin can be classically conditioned to be released by the brain with exposure to certain partners.

For example, a woman meets someone and on the first date she decides he doesn’t match up to her ideal–Clint Eastwood–but he’s still acceptable enough to date a few more times. Eventually she decides to have sex with him–and oxytocin is released, so she experiences that “oohhh so good” feeling. After having repeated sex, and oxytocin releases, with the same man, she forms a conditioned association. Pretty soon, just seeing the guy can cause her brain to release oxytocin–without even having sex. Suddenly “Mr. Acceptable Enough” becomes “Mr. Can’t Live Without.” Some researchers believe that prolonged attachment with a given person actually causes chronically high levels of oxytocin and its close hormonal relative vasopressin, which could feasibly help maintain long-term relationship bonds between women and men.

Of course, as Ron Guhname points out, she has to be “into you” in the first place.