Saturday, 28 March 2015

Link Feast

Our pick of this week's 10 best psychology and neuroscience links:

The Exciting Side of Boredom
Ella Rhodes at The Psychologist meets psychologists who think boredom has had a bad press.

How are Pilots Psychologically Screened?
Tom de Castella investigates for BBC News Magazine.

What Spending a Year in Space Does to Your Mind
"It's stressful, but transcendental too," says Francie Diep at Pacific Standard.

Brain Balance Centers: An Insider’s Perspective
Worrying revelations about a programme in the US that promises to rebalance kids' brain hemispheres (Neurobollocks Blog).

For an artist with amnesia, the world takes place through her pencil (profile by Daniel Zalewski in the New Yorker).

Does Student Motivation Even Matter?
Engagement isn't necessarily a recipe for academic gains, suggests a new report on global education (The Atlantic).

How Do You Make Other People Feel?
Melissa Dahl reports on a fascinating study that suggests a key unexplored aspect of personality is how we make others feel (NY Mag Science of Us).

Rethinking The Brain
The Human Brain Project's aim to simulate the entire human brain is unrealistic – one of the conclusions of a damning report (coverage from Nature).

"Dementia undermines all of our philosophical assumptions about the coherence of the self," writes Charles Leadbeater at Aeon. "But that might be a good thing."

Why Some People Have Trouble Telling Left From Right (and Why It’s So Important)
"A significant proportion of our population has difficulty in telling right from left," says Gerard Gormley, including, worryingly, medical students (The Conversation).
Post compiled by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.


Research Digest said...

What you're forgetting is that Asch's test was ridiculously easy – comparing lengths of lines. Given how easy it was, the fact that only 25% answered correctly every time is certainly notable. This was Asch's response: "That reasonably intelligent and well-meaning young people are willing to call white black is a matter of concern. It raises questions about our ways of education and about the values that guide our conduct."

Things got even more interesting when Asch conducted variations of his experiment, in which (unbeknown to the subject) he instructed one of the group of co-conspirators to answer truthfully. In this case, far fewer subjects conformed to the erroneous majority – error rates dropped by around 75%. Which shows that it's easier to offer a dissenting opinion when you're not the only one doing so.

But everyone tends to view the results of Asch's experiments (and Milgram's) through their own distorting lens!

Research Digest said...

Wow did hit the nail on the top of Amy head. I am in recovery and in this I desire to understand the scientific side of my disorder. You see I am a mentally disabled Medic Firefighter with PTSD as a result of the amount of physical and mental trauma I was exposed to in my career.
How my Alchoholism and PTSD are entertwined is very enteresting.
It seems as though one feeds off the other , sometimes in no specific order.
I feel as though the damage to my neurotransmitters and synapse (sorry if I botched the spelling) was caused by Both Alchoholism but also the chemicals release as a result of the Fight or Flight sequence of my Autotomic nervous system when I was exposed to great degrees of Trauma at work as similar to those seen by Combat Soldiers
I would love to participate in this research as a case study they may help others who suffer from these disorders
Jimmy W.

Research Digest said...

I am too dyslexic, and am a drummer. I started drumming when I was in first grade, I whent to School Of Rock. I started in 101 share evry beginner starts, but after only two shows with 101 my teacher saw I was board, and found drumming so naturaly. So I was moved up to profomace with kids twice my age and continued to excel, but the joke is I have truble reading sheet music because I'm dyslexic. What made so so good was that I could just listen to a song and play along not realizing that it was correct. By me not reading a lot of music I learned how to make up for it, I could hear someone play something and just copy it. I am now 13 and still play for School Of Rock, I hope to join show band (the highest stage in school of rock) when I turn 14, and to this day still have problems reading music

Research Digest said...

By the way, Asch originally conducted the experiment thinking he could prove that people are independent of group pressure - when the stimulus is unambiguous, like with his lines. On the other hand, the subjects who revolted against the group suffered from intense and sustained stress after passing judgement, in a way bolstering the conformity narrative. When the subject yields to the group, their anxiety was erased,

Research Digest said...

hi Rolf, thanks for sharing that really interesting editorial. I think the experiments certainly show the power of group pressure, but there is another side to the story which the textbooks neglect. As Asch wrote in 1955: "... anyone inclined to draw too pessimistic conclusions from this report would do well to remind himself that the capacities for independence are not to be underestimated."

Research Digest said...

Given that the results can be interpreted either way - i.e. 75% conformed at least once or 25% never did - you have to ask yourself which is the more surprising result. As per the comment by Michael above, the task is very easy and nobody really should have got it wrong at all, so it's not surprising that the influence of the group is seen as the headline finding, not the fact that some people didn't conform. However I'd agree that the reasons why those people maintained their independence (as did a much larger proportion in subsequent studies) have been neglected, so this is a good reminder not to present the results too simplistically.

Research Digest said...

Ironically, the textbooks are conforming to the way previous textbooks have reported the studies.

Research Digest said...

Your summary of Griggs’ article omits to mention that a control group of 37 uninstructed participants tested alone (without the confederate majority) made only three errors between them out of a total of 444 (0.7 percent). The essential comparison lies between the experimental participants and this control group and, quite frankly, it is Richard Griggs who appears to be biased.

To see why this matters, we have had in this country (UK) a succession of miscarriages of justice. In Asch’s experiments a majority of three (two police officers to interrogate, one to write down the suspect’s replies) was sufficient to exert the maximum influence (though this result—three—has not been replicated by other investigators).

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