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.
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!
The Times has a nice piece on the science of face recognition. They do a nice job discussing the neuroscience behind the tendency to see faces in things. (if you’re interested, see my earlier post on a similar topic.)
Researchers know that we’re predisposed to recognize facial patterns for some obvious reasons, but those faces can become so convincing that many of us interpret them as a miracle. We often see what we want to see, but more often, we see what our brain thinks we should see–it’s working overtime to make sense of meaningless patterns.
It’s a good read, and I think articles like this can go a long way to help people think critically. It’s not that it means people have to abandon their religious beliefs or faith, but they also need to know what the science says might explain such phenomena. Might even be liberating!
Here‘s another article about predictors of cognitive deficits. Seems more weight is linked to poorer mental acumen. The headline is better than most, in that it doesn’t plead causality, but it still doesn’t clarify theory underlying the phenomenon, although some suggestions come up, and the author mentions a couple covariates that didn’t seem to explain what’s going on. Interesting stuff!
In general, the researchers found, people with a high body mass index (BMI) garnered lower test scores than those with a lower BMI. They also tended to show greater cognitive decline between the two test periods.
Factors such as age, education and general health did not seem to explain the link.
- 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?