January 28, 2015

9:50 AM | A face that could get away with anything
First impressions lead to a multitude of assumptions, and trustworthiness is one of them: faces with v-shaped eyebrows and frowning mouths are consistently judged as less trustworthy than others with ^-shaped brows and mouths with upturned corners (this may be related to the former betraying a hidden anger and the latter having positive undertones). Now a study by Brian Holtz suggests that a person's looks can colour perceptions, not only of how trustworthy their character […]

January 26, 2015

9:46 AM | We're more likely to cheat when we're anxious
When we’re stressed out and feeling threatened, our priority becomes self-preservation. According to new research, this defensive mode even affects our morality, making us more likely to cheat and excuse our own unethical behaviour.Maryam Kouchaki and Sreedhari Desai demonstrated this through six experiments. In the clearest example, 63 student participants spent three minutes listening to either calm music, or in the anxiety condition, to Bernard Herrmann's Psycho score. Those freaked […]

Kouchaki, M. & Desai, S. (2014). Anxious, Threatened, and Also Unethical: How Anxiety Makes Individuals Feel Threatened and Commit Unethical Acts., Journal of Applied Psychology, DOI: 10.1037/a0037796

2:43 AM | Boundary value conditions, domain applicability and "American Sniper"
Actor Bradley Cooper in "American Sniper"General relativity is a generalization of Newtonian mechanics which applies to large objects moving at high speeds that curve spacetime. Similarity, quantum mechanics is a generalization of classical mechanics which applies to very small objects like electrons and photons. Newtonian mechanics thus has a domain of applicability within which it works perfectly well even if it fails to work under the larger rubric of Einsteinian general relativity. […]

January 20, 2015

8:46 PM | When Facts Threaten Our Beliefs, We Resort To Bullshit Rationalizations
Facts are great, except when they undermine our worldview. As a new study shows, when confronted with factual challenges, we often retreat by presenting weak explanations that are difficult — if not impossible — to disprove. More proof that you just can't win .Read more...
10:08 AM | When our beliefs are threatened by facts, we turn to unfalsifiable justifications
On being told physics could underminereligious claims, believers said faithwas more about living a moral lifeIt's great to have facts on your side. The fundamentalist is delighted by the archaeological find that tallies with scripture, just as the atheist seizes on the evidence that contradicts it. But when the evidence goes against us, we're less likely to change a belief than to criticise the validity or provenance of the evidence. Now, research suggests that the mere prospect of a […]
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January 08, 2015

9:55 AM | Cheating bosses stain the reputation of their organisations and their junior staff
Former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling (left) and his attorney leave the courthouse in 2006When high-ranking members of an organisation break the rules, it's not just their own reputation on the line. New research from Stanford University shows that the stain of transgression sends its fingers out to every organisational member.In a series of online studies, Takuya Sawaoka and Benoît Monin presented participants with information about a hypothetical company employee involved in unethical activity […]

Sawaoka, T. & Monin, B. (2014). Moral Suspicion Trickles Down, Social Psychological and Personality Science, DOI: 10.1177/1948550614555027


January 06, 2015

10:05 AM | Could violent video games make players more moral in the real world?
Video games allow players to indulge in simulated behaviours that in the real world would be highly antisocial or unethical, and many people are concerned how this might spill over from the screen to the street. A new study, however, suggests that such activities can elicit a moral response in players, reinforcing the potential of the medium as a means of civic development.In the study developed by Matthew Grizzard and colleagues, players of a first-person shooter game reported higher levels of […]

Grizzard, M., Tamborini, R., Lewis, R., Wang, L. & Prabhu, S. (2014). Being Bad in a Video Game Can Make Us Morally Sensitive, Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 17 (8) 499-504. DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2013.0658

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