Psychology News Round-Up (March 7th)
By Dave Nussbaum
- Juliana Schroeder explains how Scarlett Johansson’s disembodied voice in Spike Jonze’s Her can make an inanimate object seem human:
Among the many big questions that the movie Her tackles is that of humanness: What does it mean to be human? Why does Samantha seem as human – or even more human – than other characters in the movie despite being only a voice? In Her, Johansson’s voice brings Samantha’s character to life, and Theodore’s love for her feels not just believable, but entirely plausible. But how? How can a person fall in love with just a voice?
Recent psychological research conducted by Professor Nicholas Epley and I, at the University of Chicago, suggests an answer. According to our research, currently in preparation, voice may uniquely communicate presence of mind and , ultimately, fundamental aspects of being human.
- You can read an excerpt of Nick Epley‘s new book, Mindwise, at Salon. com
- At in-mind magazine Matt Motyl (@MattMotyl) writes about gut level political choices: “Are voters rational? Possibly. Are voters irrational? Not necessarily. What is clear, though, is that voters are emotional and that their attitudes are rooted in gut-level feelings of right and wrong.” Ellie Shockley also has a recent piece in the same series.
- Olga Khazan writes about Pete McGraw‘s (@PeterMcGraw) theory about what makes things funnyin the Atlantic Monthly — his book, The Humor Code, comes out next month.
“Humor is something people inherently enjoy,” he told me. “But there also needs to be something wrong, unsettling, and threatening in some way. We call those violations.”Our caveman ancestors lived in a world rife with physical threats. There was relief in discovering that a rustling in the darkness was a mouse rather than a saber-toothed tiger.“Before people could speak, laughter served as a signaling function,” McGraw explained. “As if to say, ‘this is a false alarm, this is a benign violation.’”
- Max Nesterak (@maxnesterak) of thepsychreport.com reports that a new journal is coming out soon with a focus on psychologically informed public policy: “The brainchild of UCLA’s Craig Fox and Duke’s Sim Sitkin, Behavioral Science & Policy is a peer-reviewed journal set to launch online this fall and in print early next year, whose mission is to influence policy and practice through promoting high-quality behavioral science research. Articles will be brief, well written, and will all provide straightforward, applicable policy recommendations that serve the public interest.”
- Melissa Tier (@mel_tier), also of thepsychreport.com, was in Austin for SPSP and reports on theimplications of social psychological research on climate change and sustainability.
- Several important pieces in the APS Observer this month address Psychological Science’s new game plan for producing reliable findings.
- The New Yorker’s Maria Konnikova (@mkonnikova) explains why certain songs get stuck in your head and how you may be able to get rid of them.
- This one’s from last week, but it’s worth it: Christian Jarrett(@Psych_Writer) pulls apart a story that tries to insert neuroscience into a story where it doesn’t really belong in an article aboutneuroscience and the Iranian nuclear negotiations:
The Atlantic article makes some excellent points about the Iranian negotiations, especially in terms of historical events and people’s perceptions of fairness, but it undermines its own credibility by labelling these insights as neuroscience or by gratuitously referencing the brain. It’s as if the authors drank brain soup before writing their article, and just as they’re making an interesting historical or political point, they hiccup out a nonsense neuro reference.
False consensus exacerbates perceived partisan divide. http://t.co/VlU4Cd01ym— Political Traps (@PoliticalTraps) March 6, 2014
How the research of Nurit Shnabel and Arie Nadler can explain rich men saying crazy things. http://t.co/akWEN6dQTH— Eric Horowitz (@EricHorow) March 6, 2014
excellent piece: "If academic writing is to become expansive again, academia will probably have to expand first" http://t.co/fRZnZ4ZjXb— Betsy Levy Paluck (@betsylevyp) March 4, 2014
The New Yorker has a review of a book re-examining the Kitty Genovese murder & the bystander effect. http://t.co/VRCC1vCgeu— Clare Delargy (@ClareDelargy) March 3, 2014
Tempting Yourself into Doing the Right Thing: How can you get yourself to indulge less in the things that you ... http://t.co/FRJdsFxEAh— New Paths to Purpose (@PathsToPurpose) March 3, 2014
Shortstop psychology: The mystery of the "yips" http://t.co/qNkYL9HrxU A lab demonstration of overthinking automatic performance— wray herbert (@wrayherbert) March 5, 2014