… because you won’t ask a psychic on company time whether to get rid of your boss!
I was pleased to see this article in the NYTimes about the limits of multitasking. Psychologists have long known that the brain can handle only so much taxation at once before performance declines. Of course it depends on the nature of the task, but many people think certain things (e.g., driving, watching out for other people) are less effortful than they are.
Part of the problem is that we don’t see the problem until it’s too late. If I’m making a phone call while I’m driving, and other people are able to avoid an accident with me, I don’t realize that I’ve been a hazard, so I’m reinforced with the belief that I can multitask just fine. Wait until one of those other people is on the phone and hits me, and then I’ll blame his or her lack of ability!
Seems marketers have been examining the eye fixations of viewers to help them with their pitches. Psychologists have long used this technology to study, for example, babies’ interest in objects and people’s responses to novel stimuli, but I wasn’t familiar with the marketing research on this line.
Particularly interesting to many of us will be the finding that men tend to look at target crotches more than women. Might not be particularly surprising, but still interesting!
Although both men and women look at the image of George Brett when directed to find out information about his sport and position, men tend to focus on private anatomy as well as the face. For the women, the face is the only place they viewed.
Nice piece in Slate about the myth of the down low. For the unfamiliar, “on the down low” is a term used to describe an apparently heterosexual man (typically African American) who lives a secret second life as a gay man. He may have a family who doesn’t (or does) suspect, but, for various reasons, he does not reveal his orientation.
What I like about this article is that it exposes the often irrational ways in which people latch onto a relatively unusual event and turn it into a phenomenon. Illusory correlations come to mind here, where we see a relationship between two factors that are really pretty rarely linked.
The articles author,
It also helps that the Down Low is the sort of threat that white commentators of all political stripes like to condemn. Conservatives get to disparage black people’s inherent amorality (a band of men is endangering their families to have sex with other deceptive men), liberals can attack our inherent homophobia (the black community is so thuggish that the men can’t even admit to being gay), and everyone gets to agree that black America is, in a nutshell, a nuthouse. In short, shaking your head over the DL is the perfect way to shake your head over how awful it is to be black.
The NCAA tournament is my favorite sporting event. I love college basketball for a lot of reasons, and, between you and me, this Thursday and Friday will prove to be rather unproductive, as I watch the scores come across the wire and try to keep up with the chances of my Kansas Jayhawks!
Here’s a nice article in the NYTimes that reports some of the research behind the office pool picks.
“What people don’t realize is that a lot of times, if you bet on a No. 1 seed, you’re out of the pool after the first weekend,” said Andrew Metrick, a finance professor at the University of Pennsylvania who has studied pools. “Your team won, but you’re out” — because you missed a few other games that others with the same choice of national champion did not miss.
In order to be accurate in your picking, you need to pick some upsets, because they will happen. Problem is, you don’t know when or where they’re going to happen. This is a real example of the hindsight bias, as I often find myself saying, “Oh, I knew that would be an upset,” even though I somehow didn’t bother to predict it in my bracket!
I tend to follow my heart for Kansas and try to follow my head for the rest, but frankly, I’m pretty bad at it, and when I do well, it’s usually because of a few lucky picks.
Enjoy the tournament, and GO ‘HAWKS!
The scientists found the rats appeared capable of judging whether they had enough information to pass the test. The more difficult the test was, the more often rodents opted to decline the test.
We’d have to read the article to get the extent of statistical reliability from the results, but this sounds interesting:
The next day, the rose-scented sleepers remembered the locations of those cards better than people who didn’t get a whiff — they answered correctly 97 percent of the time compared with 86 percent.
We know that extensive and broad associations aid with memory, so are these smells serving as an additional memory cue?
The superb blog Cognitive Daily reports on a great study showing our ability to recognize faces from as few as 6 pixels across. This is pretty astounding stuff, and it demonstrates the incredible power of the mind to make sense of what may at first glance appear to be random stimuli. Yet another victory for Gestalt theorists!
- Back after a long hiatus
- Critical Thinking Can Save Your Job…
- Multitasking Limits in the Popular Press
- “Fixation” Has Different Meanings to Different People
- The Myth of the Down Low
- The Psychology of the NCAA Tournament Office Pool
- Metacognition in Rats
- Familiar Smells and Sleep Aid Memory
- Face Recognition from Minimal Pixelation
- College Students More Narcissistic
- Risk Assessment and the NFL Draft
- Whither Stigma?