The Lumber Room

"Consign them to dust and damp by way of preserving them"

Posts Tagged ‘psychology

Cold reading

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For those who haven’t seen a demonstration of cold reading before, here is an excellent one:

Thanks to “A Candle in the Dark”, a blog that turned up in my Google recommended feeds.

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Mon, 2008-02-18 at 21:52:48 +05:30

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Out-of-body experiences

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Cool.

Written by S

Fri, 2007-08-24 at 11:31:19 +05:30

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Conspiracy Theories

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Via Schneier on Security, this New Scientist article, a copy here.

So what kind of thought processes contribute to belief in conspiracy theories? A study I carried out in 2002 explored a way of thinking sometimes called “major event – major cause” reasoning. Essentially, people often assume that an event with substantial, significant or wide-ranging consequences is likely to have been caused by something substantial, significant or wide-ranging.

I gave volunteers variations of a newspaper story describing an assassination attempt on a fictitious president. Those who were given the version where the president died were significantly more likely to attribute the event to a conspiracy than those who read the one where the president survived, even though all other aspects of the story were equivalent.

(Update: The “copy” is down, but you should be able to access the New Scientist. If not, here’s a sentence from the article you can Google for: “How can we account for the link between race, income level and conspiracy theories?”)

Written by S

Wed, 2007-08-15 at 20:34:48 +05:30

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Getting rid of stuff, and feeling rich

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A bunch of related things that I have been (coincidentally) encountering:

Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book Fooled by Randomness, which I was reading, mentions in passing that the relative performance (how much more did I earn this month than last month) and relative wealth (how richer my neighbours are) matter more to people’s happiness than their absolute counterparts do. Also that the pleasure of “having” things wears away quickly.

Anne Truitt Zelenka says similar stuff in her blog post, and also says “spend your money on experiences. Focus on doing things rather than having things”.

Paul Graham recently wrote an essay saying we overvalue stuff, and that clutter is exhaustive, get rid of it.

And 43Folders ran a series of posts on getting rid of clutter.

Hmm… getting rid of clutter. Maybe I should start with this “blog”.

[And I really mean coincidentally/accidentally: The book I picked up because I was bored, the blog I found while looking at something about a Python module, Paul Graham is on my feed list, and the last one I found while looking at some other random blog.]

Written by S

Wed, 2007-08-08 at 10:33:48 +05:30

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Freud

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Seen on Slashdot:

psychology – the study of mind and behavior in relation to a particular field of knowledge or activity

Just because it’s not about you wanting to have sex with your mom doesn’t mean it’s not psychology.

Wow.

And Uncyclopedia makes a similar insightful critique:
MetroFreud

Written by S

Sun, 2007-07-29 at 03:20:40 +05:30

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Risk

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Written by S

Sat, 2007-03-17 at 22:41:41 +05:30

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Internet addiction

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Written by S

Thu, 2007-03-08 at 12:55:18 +05:30

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You can get smart. You’re not smart.

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Thanks to Larry:

  • Believing You Can Get Smarter Makes You Smarter

    [Social psychologists] taught African American and European American college students to think of intelligence as changeable, rather than fixed — a lesson that many psychological studies suggests is true. Students in a control group did not receive this message. Those students who learned about IQ’s malleability improved their grades more than did students who did not receive this message, and also saw academics as more important than did students in the control group. Even more exciting was the finding that Black students benefited more from learning about the malleable nature of intelligence than did White students, showing that this intervention may successfully counteract stereotype threat.

  • Being told you are smart makes you stupid:

    Of those praised for their effort, 90 percent chose the harder set of puzzles. Of those praised for their intelligence, a majority chose the easy test. The “smart” kids took the cop-out. [...] “When we praise children for their intelligence,” Dweck wrote in her study summary, “we tell them that this is the name of the game: Look smart, don’t risk making mistakes.” And that’s what the fifth-graders had done: They’d chosen to look smart and avoid the risk of being embarrassed.
    [...]
    The only difference between the control group and the test group were two lessons, a total of 50 minutes spent teaching not math but a single idea: that the brain is a muscle. Giving it a harder workout makes you smarter. That alone improved their math scores.
    [...]
    I am smart, the kids’ reasoning goes; I don’t need to put out effort. Expending effort becomes stigmatized—it’s public proof that you can’t cut it on your natural gifts.
    [...]
    So in 2003 the Association for Psychological Science asked Dr. Roy Baumeister, then a leading proponent of self-esteem, to review this literature. His team concluded that self-esteem was polluted with flawed science. [...] Baumeister concluded that having high self-esteem didn’t improve grades or career achievement. It didn’t even reduce alcohol usage. And it especially did not lower violence of any sort. (Highly aggressive, violent people happen to think very highly of themselves, debunking the theory that people are aggressive to make up for low self-esteem.) [Also see another blog.]
    [...]
    A person who grows up getting too frequent rewards will not have persistence, because they’ll quit when the rewards disappear.”

    There’s more in that article, read it.

Unrelated point: Malcolm Gladwell on IQ tests

Written by S

Wed, 2007-02-14 at 10:19:34 +05:30

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Civility, Netiquette

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David Pogue posts about it here, and a followup here.

Written by S

Sun, 2007-01-21 at 00:52:41 +05:30

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Materialism and “affluenza”

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There is an article in the Guardian on “affluenza”.
And I also recall Philip Greenspun’s quote:

Not being a materialist in the U.S. is kind of like not appreciating opera if you live in Milan or art if you live in Paris. We support materialism better than any other culture…

Written by S

Fri, 2007-01-19 at 02:07:50 +05:30

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Too much choice?

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Originally from Joel Spolsky’s article about the Shutdown menu, to a Slashdot article, and then these links:
Sheena Iyengar studies choice. This paper was suggested (by the poster) as a good place to start. Barry Schwartz has done some work too, and also written articles like this. A short article is here.
Update: There is a video here.
Some people (sensibly) disagree.

(BTW, Joel has also written about it before. And later?)

Written by S

Mon, 2006-11-27 at 12:51:05 +05:30

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Is it just American high schools?

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Linked-to from a post on this Slashdot article, is an article called The Six-Lesson Schoolteacher. This ties in with what I read in Paul Graham’s essay (some reactions).
Although it is nowhere as bad as that here, they’re still interesting to read. I doubt there is any actual conspiracy going on, but those are probably the “lessons learned”, intended or not.

Written by S

Wed, 2006-11-22 at 14:07:21 +05:30

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Queue psychology

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Three days ago, when I went to the Railways reservation centre for cancelling a ticket, going there early (about 25 minutes before the place opened—it usually takes 1.5 hours; it took only 40 minutes this time), I began to think “I must find out what the optimal time to arrive here is”. Arriving too early (two hours early, say) is obviously stupid, and so is arriving at peak hour. Again, apparently many people had similar thoughts (“If I’m there before the place opens, it will be empty-ish and I can be done soon”), but were awfully inefficient in their implementation: the place was practically full by the time it opened. It rapidly grew after the last 15–20 minutes; so if I’d arrived 10 minutes later, I’d have left considerably more than 10 minutes later. The matter clearly allows for much thought.
I’d almost forgotten about the thought, until I saw this post at the Tasty Research blog.
It is disturbing to see so many people post enthusiastically about queue-butting.
Anyway, it appears that “Queue Psychology” or “Queuing Theory” is quite established:
* Karl Kruszelnicki has some very interesting things to say in Part 1 and Part 2.
* This BBC article takes a look at “evolutionary psychology” in general, and talks about queues in passing.
There are also allusions to a “You are how you wait” article, but I can’t find it on the net….

Written by S

Sun, 2006-09-24 at 15:53:35 +05:30

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