posts about or somewhat related to ‘psychology’

Bullets or Words: Mission, Aims and Techniques of Psychological Warfare

Your old-timey, US Air Force manual of the day.

Images: Via Abrams ComicArtsSelect to embiggen.

Too Many, Probably Way Too Many
An app that does a simple thing: tells you how often and where you check your phone. The results could be discouraging.
Via The Oracle:

A recent study released by Baylor University, published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, examined 24 cellphone related activities from 164 college students and found that women spend an average of 10 hours a day on their cellphones while men spend about eight. Of the activities measured, applications such as Pinterest and Instagram were significantly associated with an addiction to cellphone use. 
The idea of cellphone addiction might seem melodramatic but evidence suggests it’s real and here to stay. Fitness magazine reports a recent survey found 84 percent of the world’s population said they couldn’t go a day without using their cellphone and two thirds of teens and adults checked their phones every 15 minutes. 

Interested in the Baylor study? It’s available here (PDF).
Filed under: Things we’re not sure we want to know.
Image: Partial screenshot, CheckyApp.

Too Many, Probably Way Too Many

An app that does a simple thing: tells you how often and where you check your phone. The results could be discouraging.

Via The Oracle:

A recent study released by Baylor University, published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, examined 24 cellphone related activities from 164 college students and found that women spend an average of 10 hours a day on their cellphones while men spend about eight. Of the activities measured, applications such as Pinterest and Instagram were significantly associated with an addiction to cellphone use. 

The idea of cellphone addiction might seem melodramatic but evidence suggests it’s real and here to stay. Fitness magazine reports a recent survey found 84 percent of the world’s population said they couldn’t go a day without using their cellphone and two thirds of teens and adults checked their phones every 15 minutes. 

Interested in the Baylor study? It’s available here (PDF).

Filed under: Things we’re not sure we want to know.

Image: Partial screenshot, CheckyApp.

My Handwriting’s Crap, How ‘Bout Yours
Ever since personal computers made their way into the classroom, handwriting’s been on the way out. Many schools teach kindergartners and first graders how to print but don’t move on to cursive. Consider handwriting an increasingly obsolete art.
But research shows that writing by hand actually improves brain development. For example, Nancy Darling, psychology professor at Oberlin:

Using our hands requires the development of particular areas of the brain. That’s true when we are learning to use a tool, like our ancestors wielding an axe. It’s true when we learn to play the piano. It’s true when we learn to write. It’s true when we learn to sew or play with blocks. One of the advantages of moving away from the keyboard and doing something that requires greater flexibility in how we use our hands is that it also requires greater flexibility in how we use our brains. This, in turn, requires our brains to develop in new ways.

In Pacific Standard, Ted Scheinman explains, “The benefits of writing by hand, and doing so from a young age, are fundamental: improved and sustained development in social skills, hand-eye coordination, long-term memory. And when one considers “fluency” in its literal sense, it makes sense that cursive especially can energize a more fluid and coherent process of thought.”
He then goes into this doozy of an anecdote from Valerie Hotchkiss at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign:

Recently, an undergraduate asked me for help with a manuscript she was studying. I assumed it was something along the lines of a medieval Latin text or perhaps even a particularly difficult Marcel Proust letter (our library holds the largest collection of Proust letters in the world), but when I bent over the letter to help, I saw that it was in English and in the very neat, clear hand of John Ruskin. “What’s the problem?” I asked.
“Oh, I don’t do cursive,” answered the undergraduate.

Takeaway: Practice your chickenscratch. — Michael
Image: Some words, written using the Dakota font.

My Handwriting’s Crap, How ‘Bout Yours

Ever since personal computers made their way into the classroom, handwriting’s been on the way out. Many schools teach kindergartners and first graders how to print but don’t move on to cursive. Consider handwriting an increasingly obsolete art.

But research shows that writing by hand actually improves brain development. For example, Nancy Darling, psychology professor at Oberlin:

Using our hands requires the development of particular areas of the brain. That’s true when we are learning to use a tool, like our ancestors wielding an axe. It’s true when we learn to play the piano. It’s true when we learn to write. It’s true when we learn to sew or play with blocks. One of the advantages of moving away from the keyboard and doing something that requires greater flexibility in how we use our hands is that it also requires greater flexibility in how we use our brains. This, in turn, requires our brains to develop in new ways.

In Pacific Standard, Ted Scheinman explains, “The benefits of writing by hand, and doing so from a young age, are fundamental: improved and sustained development in social skills, hand-eye coordination, long-term memory. And when one considers “fluency” in its literal sense, it makes sense that cursive especially can energize a more fluid and coherent process of thought.”

He then goes into this doozy of an anecdote from Valerie Hotchkiss at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign:

Recently, an undergraduate asked me for help with a manuscript she was studying. I assumed it was something along the lines of a medieval Latin text or perhaps even a particularly difficult Marcel Proust letter (our library holds the largest collection of Proust letters in the world), but when I bent over the letter to help, I saw that it was in English and in the very neat, clear hand of John Ruskin. “What’s the problem?” I asked.

“Oh, I don’t do cursive,” answered the undergraduate.

Takeaway: Practice your chickenscratch. — Michael

Image: Some words, written using the Dakota font.

Liberal Bloggers Dig Nuance, Conservative Ones Not So Much →

Via Pacific Standard:

Writing in the journal Political Psychology, a research team led byJennifer Brundidge of the University of Texas at Austin reports left- and right-wing bloggers communicate with their readers in very different ways.

In short, it finds liberals use more complex arguments, acknowledging different points of view before asserting the (alleged) superiority of their own. Conservatives, in contrast, use simpler arguments and are less likely to concede there are any other reasonable viewpoints…

…[Blogs] were analyzed in several ways, including for their use of emotional language and, most importantly, their “integrative complexity.” That term refers to the extent to which they consider events and issues from multiple perspectives.

Blogs analyzed included those such as Breitbart, Red State, and The Blaze (conservative); and Crooks and Liars, Talking Points Memo, and Daily Kos (liberal).

As Pacific Standard notes: “A large amount of psychological research has found conservatives are less tolerant of ambiguity than liberals, so it makes sense that their blogs are less willing to acknowledge gray areas.”

The Psychology of Selfies & A Handmade Pinhole Camera
We learned this week that the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is selfie, the informal noun defined as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.” It was added to the Oxford Dictionary Online (not the Oxford English Dictionary), which bases its entries on current and practical word usage, meaning they can be removed when they are out of use. 
Blog posts about the psychology of the selfie abound. It’s a cheap fad. It’s a an evaluator of social reach. It’s a modern iteration of the self-portrait fueled by a hunger for social feedback. It’s a reflection of our loneliness and desire for image control. And on and on.
And then there is this.
Photographer Tatiano Altberg teaches children in a Rio de Janeiro favela how to make pinhole cameras out of recycled cans. There is no viewfinder and no button. They learn to create narratives through their photos, and to take self-portraits.
Lens Blog:

But unlike the countless “selfies” they were already used to seeing on social networks, these forced them to be more introspective, considering both their mood and environment.
“The challenge of working with pinhole photography is to make the self-portrait a process of reflection about one’s self — a product of an intention,” she said. “The idea is not to take photos in an automatic way, with poses and gestures that are seen in the pictures teenagers take with their cellphones and digital cameras. It’s necessary to pay attention to the surroundings and think before making an image. Pinhole is a slow process of creation that demands a lot of thought.”
The payoff has come with students who have become excited about the possibilities of self-expression. Jailton Nunes was a skeptical 12-year-old when he started the workshop, deflecting any compliment with jokes. But over time, he came to embrace the project, and a self-portrait of his was used on the cover of “Everyday My Thoughts Are Different,” which was published this year.
“Another photo taken by him that is very significant is the one where he appears beside a miniature sofa,” Ms. Altberg said. “He looks like a giant. The image has special symbolic meaning since he was explicitly self-conscious about his height, something that diminished throughout the year as he gained confidence.”


FJP: Here’s a thought. For young teens who live busy lives in crowded spaces (Rio or elsewhere) that are then compounded by an abundance of digital imagery in online social worlds, it’s difficult to find the space to know yourself, to construct an image of yourself for yourself and to capture that image. In a sense, the digital selfie is a way to try to create and preserve a controllable record of who you are in an otherwise uncontrollable world of too many records. It’s a very human need. If we look at it that way, the potential for teaching projects like Altberg’s is enormous.—Jihii
Image: Yasmin Lopez, via Brazilian Stories and Selfies Through a Pinhole, NY Times.

The Psychology of Selfies & A Handmade Pinhole Camera

We learned this week that the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is selfie, the informal noun defined as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.” It was added to the Oxford Dictionary Online (not the Oxford English Dictionary), which bases its entries on current and practical word usage, meaning they can be removed when they are out of use. 

Blog posts about the psychology of the selfie abound. It’s a cheap fad. It’s a an evaluator of social reach. It’s a modern iteration of the self-portrait fueled by a hunger for social feedback. It’s a reflection of our loneliness and desire for image control. And on and on.

And then there is this.

Photographer Tatiano Altberg teaches children in a Rio de Janeiro favela how to make pinhole cameras out of recycled cans. There is no viewfinder and no button. They learn to create narratives through their photos, and to take self-portraits.

Lens Blog:

But unlike the countless “selfies” they were already used to seeing on social networks, these forced them to be more introspective, considering both their mood and environment.

“The challenge of working with pinhole photography is to make the self-portrait a process of reflection about one’s self — a product of an intention,” she said. “The idea is not to take photos in an automatic way, with poses and gestures that are seen in the pictures teenagers take with their cellphones and digital cameras. It’s necessary to pay attention to the surroundings and think before making an image. Pinhole is a slow process of creation that demands a lot of thought.”

The payoff has come with students who have become excited about the possibilities of self-expression. Jailton Nunes was a skeptical 12-year-old when he started the workshop, deflecting any compliment with jokes. But over time, he came to embrace the project, and a self-portrait of his was used on the cover of “Everyday My Thoughts Are Different,” which was published this year.

“Another photo taken by him that is very significant is the one where he appears beside a miniature sofa,” Ms. Altberg said. “He looks like a giant. The image has special symbolic meaning since he was explicitly self-conscious about his height, something that diminished throughout the year as he gained confidence.”

FJP: Here’s a thought. For young teens who live busy lives in crowded spaces (Rio or elsewhere) that are then compounded by an abundance of digital imagery in online social worlds, it’s difficult to find the space to know yourself, to construct an image of yourself for yourself and to capture that image. In a sense, the digital selfie is a way to try to create and preserve a controllable record of who you are in an otherwise uncontrollable world of too many records. It’s a very human need. If we look at it that way, the potential for teaching projects like Altberg’s is enormous.—Jihii

Image: Yasmin Lopez, via Brazilian Stories and Selfies Through a Pinhole, NY Times.

The United States by Mood →

Time Magazine reports on a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that took 13 years to survey 1.6 million people 48 US states (Alaska and Hawaii didn’t have enough respondents) about their personality:

As its name implies, the survey measures personality along five different spectra, with the Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism labels forming a handy acronym: OCEAN.

Each of those categories is defined by more-specific personality descriptors, such as curiosity and a preference for novelty (openness); self-discipline and dependability (conscientiousness); sociability and gregariousness (extroversion); compassion and cooperativeness (agreeableness); and anxiety and anger (neuroticism). The inventory gets at the precise mix of those qualities in any one person by asking subjects to respond on a 1-to-5 scale, from strongly disagree to strongly agree, with 44 statements including, “I see myself as someone who can be tense,” or “can be reserved,” or “has an active imagination,” or “is talkative.” There turned out to be a whole lot of Americans willing to sit still for that kind of in-depth prying, from a low of 3,166 in Wyoming (a huge sample group for a small state) to a high of 177,085 in California.

Researchers then broke the country down into three macro regions based on the results, which were categorized into “temperamental and uninhibited” (New England and the Mid-Atlantic), “friendly and conventional” (the South and Midwest) and “relaxed and creative” (the West Coast, Rocky Mountains and Sun Belt).

Read more about it here, see the map and take a ten question quiz that’ll tell you where you fit in the best. 

But now that the shared TV experience is declining, many thinkers want it back. Only now can they appreciate its value and see what it gave us: The communal bonding that occurs when people sit down and watch the same thing.

Ryan Tate in an article for WIRED, “The Personal Television Revolution is Horrifying—and Brilliant”. 

Via WIRED

I thought — hoped, really — that I was worrying too much about new technology, so I called Patricia Greenfield, Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles. I asked: Do tech-savvy people in healthy relationships (like, say, me) really need to worry that customized media and mobile devices will undermine our connections with others?

“I think you should worry,” Greenfield told me.

Oh. Damn.

A referee beheaded during a football match in Brazil, endless images of death in the ongoing war in Syria and the lifeless body of Trayvon Martin — all went viral on social media. With every click of our mouse we are bombarded with photos of violence, death and destruction on a daily basis. What are the long term mental consequences of repeated exposure to such graphic content?
Luckily, now, truthinews is here to usher in a new standard of broadcasting. First, we ask you what you think the news is, then, report that news you told us back to you, then take an insta-twitter poll to see if you feel informed by yourself, which we will read on the air until we reach that golden day when we are so responsive to our viewers, that cable news is nothing but a mirror, a logo and a news crawl.

Stephen Colbert, The Word, June 24, 2013.

FJP: Colbert essentially speaks of cognitive dissonance—the distressing state we experience when we’re faced with opinions that don’t fit with what we already believe. If interested in what this has to do with news consumption, we recommend reading Dean Miller’s chapter (entitled Literacy after the Front Page) in Page One, the companion book to the (somewhat glorifying) documentary about the NY Times. Miller is the director of the Center for News Literacy at Stony Brook University. Here’s an excerpt:

Merely teaching people how to find reliable information is inadequate if they can’t open their minds to new information. Advances in neuroscience have documented the fragility of memory, the suggestibility of perception and the extent to which our own biases can prevent us from hearing or remembering discomfiting facts, much less seeking them out. The more we learn about these reactions to cognitive dissonance, the clearer it becomes that if we don’t challenge Americans about what they believe—and how they reach conclusions—they’ll never know what they don’t know.

This is a Brain
This describes the brain and what’s happening. 
Although real-time corrections are modestly more effective than delayed corrections overall, closer inspection reveals that this is only true among individuals predisposed to reject the false claim. In contrast, individuals whose attitudes are supported by the inaccurate information distrust the source more when corrections are presented in real time, yielding beliefs comparable to those never exposed to a correction.

R. Kelly Garrett and Brian E. Weeks, The Promise and Peril of Real-Time Corrections to Political Misperceptions (PDF).

Yesterday I published an article, Can Robots Tell the Truth?, that explores the Washington Post’s attempt to harness an algorithm that could conduct real-time fact checking on political speeches.

Today, Kelly and Brian forwarded this paper of theirs. It’s part of a larger project out of Ohio State University’s School of Communications called “Misperceptions in an Internet Era”. Their Twitter handle is @FalseBeliefNews.

So, if you take their findings and rewrite my headline, you’d end up with something along the lines of, “Who Cares if Robots Can Tell the Truth Because it’s not Going to Change Anyone’s Mind Anyway”.

Which is discouraging. — Michael.

If advertising is meant to be aspirational, these ads [in men’s magazines] are presenting a pretty sad version of what American men can aspire to be. And advertisers aren’t selling this hyper-masculine ideal to just any man: They’re specifically targeting the younger, poorer, less-educated guys in the supermarket aisle. In the latest issue of the journal Sex Roles, a trio of psychologists at the University of Manitoba analyzed the advertising images in a slate of magazines targeted at men, from Fortune to Field and Stream. They counted up the ads that depict men as violent, calloused, tough, dangerous, and sexually aggressive—what the researchers call “hyper-masculine”—then indexed them with the magazine’s target demographics. Hyper-masculine images, the researchers found, are more likely to be sold to adolescents, who find higher “peer group support” for manly-man behaviors. They’re also sold to working-class men, who are “embedded in enduring social and economic structures in which they experience powerlessness and lack of access to resources” like political power, social respect, and wealth, and so turn to more widely accessible measures of masculine worth—like “physical strength and aggression.”
What can you say about someone who rewrites his sentences in his dreams? It has probably already been said. And it wasn’t every night that he, my third-person self, rewrote sentences in his sleep. Perhaps once a week or once every other week or once every three weeks—sometimes in fact two days in a row —whenever the subconscious compulsion took him…

…It usually happened on the road when he was sleeping in strange beds, and came about more often than not when he hadn’t had sex in a while not even with himself. So what he did, was doing perhaps, was masturbate his sentences. Was that what he was doing? Jerk them around to best advantage. Too often when he woke after hours of sleep-ridden revision, exhausted from prolonged creative effort, only the worst versions of the sentences awoke with him. His memory, he had to remind himself, traveled poorly in the night.

— Jonathan Baumbach, The New York Times. The Night Writer.

Misinformation is even more likely to travel and be amplified by the ongoing diversification of news sources and the rapid news cycle. Today, publishing news is as simple as clicking “send.” This, combined with people’s tendency to seek out information that confirms their beliefs, tends to magnify the effects of misinformation. Nyhan says that although a good dose of skepticism doesn’t hurt while reading news stories, the onus to prevent misinformation should be on political pundits and journalists rather than readers. “If we all had to research every factual claim we were exposed to, we’d do nothing else,” Nyhan says. “We have to address the supply side of misinformation, not just the demand side.”

Correcting misinformation, however, isn’t as simple as presenting people with true facts. When someone reads views from the other side, they will create counterarguments that support their initial viewpoint, bolstering their belief of the misinformation. Retracting information does not appear to be very effective either. Lewandowsky and colleagues published two papers in 2011 that showed a retraction, at best, halved the number of individuals who believed misinformation.