I See Psychology… Everywhere

The Neuroscience of the Gestalt–More Face Science

face1902.jpgThe 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!


13 February 2007 Posted by | Cognitive, Evolutionary Psychology, Physiological, Sensation & Perception | Leave a comment

Wow, You Look Great! Are You Ovulating?

Interesting article here about some research suggesting that women look better–and put more effort into looking good–when they are ovulating.

A study of young college women showed they frequently wore more fashionable or flashier clothing and jewelery when they were ovulating, as assessed by a panel of men and women looking at their photographs.

Although the finding makes sense, it also says a lot about the continuing influence of evolutionary factors in human behavior, even though most of us aren’t consciously contemplating our reproductive viability when we get dressed in the morning!

10 October 2006 Posted by | Evolutionary Psychology, Physiological | Leave a comment

Finger Length Ratios & Athletic Ability

Here‘s an interesting correlational conclusion. It appears that the length of the ring finger is a solid predictor of women’s athletic ability. Perhaps men’s too, but it is somewhat tied to testosterone levels in the womb. Athletic ability is better when the ring finger is longer than the index finger, which is more likely in men than in women. Interestingly, the research seems to be based very little on finger-relevant sports (such as baseball) but running, suggesting that the testosterone link makes sense.

Note that the authors of the article say that finger length is largely inherited, thus effectively explaining why athletic parents have athletic kids. They don’t, however, point out that the socialization of sports is not necessarily inherited, so we could genetically produce particular finger lengths, but not an interest in sports.

Here‘s a more descriptive article on the study, although you can’t access the primary source without a username and password.

28 September 2006 Posted by | Evolutionary Psychology, Physiological, Social | 1 Comment

Paul Allen’s New 3-D Brain Map

This is pretty impressive. Paul Allen (the almost-richest-man-in-the-world Gates collaborator) has launched an amazing new 3-D brain map that can give you information about the brain based on a specific gene that you enter. It’s based on scans of a mouse brain, but the researchers are confident that we’ll enhance our understanding of the human brain through their work.

via BoingBoing

27 September 2006 Posted by | Comparative, Evolutionary Psychology, Physiological | Leave a comment

Evolutionary Psychology and Music

survival.jpgFascinating article in the Boston Globe about the debate over why music has endured for so long as an important part of culture. I don’t know enough about the issues to have a position, but there are some compelling arguments about just why music is so central to our species.

Hat tip: Edward Pollack

20 September 2006 Posted by | Comparative, Evolutionary Psychology, Social | Leave a comment