Monday, 17 June, 2013
British psychologist and author Claudia Hammond advances some thoughts on why we perceive time as passing more quickly once we turn 25 (or would that be when we leave high school…), it seems that’s about the time we clear the “reminiscence bump”:
She starts with conventional wisdom, i.e. “A year feels faster at the age of 40 because it’s only one fortieth of your life, whereas at the age of eight a year forms a far more significant proportion.” Too simple, she says; as William James once wrote, “the days, the months, and the years [seem shorter]; whether the hours do so is doubtful, and the minutes and seconds to all appearance remain about the same.” It turns out that we form a “preponderance of memories” of life between age 15 and age 25: “first sexual relationships, first jobs, first travel without parents, first experience of living away from home.” This psychological phenomenon has a wonderful name: the Reminiscence Bump.
memory, psychology, time
Friday, 14 June, 2013
There are a couple of ways to look at the “where do you see yourself in five years” question that can crop up in job interviews, on first dates, and the like.
One is to see it as a trick question of sorts, after all, who knows what’s going to happen next week, let alone in five years time, while another is to see it as a red flag… are people so lacking in imagination they still pose such a question? Consider yourself, therefore, warned.
Since no one can see the future, I will answer by presenting twenty possible scenarios, which, admittedly, vary in their likelihood. Nevertheless, I feel it is best to try to be thorough so that at least one of the scenarios may prove true in five years. Most of the scenarios are positive, but a few negative scenarios are included for balance. Please note that during previous performance reviews I have been repeatedly told that I need to “think outside the box.”
career, humour, psychology
Monday, 3 June, 2013
Contrary to common – but not, I don’t think, popular – perception, it looks we’re not necessarily doomed to end up as cranky old-aged people in our later years… this even if we’ve experienced severe hardship when younger:
The researchers found, after controlling for variables such as health, wealth, gender, ethnicity and education, that well-being increases over everyone’s lifetime. But people who have lived through extreme hardship, such as the Great Depression, start off much less happy than those who have had more comfortable lives.
ageing, psychology, temperament
Monday, 3 June, 2013
The perennial question, how can one people love, say, pickles, while someone else can loathe them? Loathe, as it happens though, is a strong word, if that is, I’m reading this article on the subject correctly.
In the phenomenon known as “sensory specific satiety,” the body in essence sends signals when it has had enough of a certain food. In one study, subjects who’d rated the appeal of several foods were asked about them again after eating one for lunch; this time they rated the food’s pleasantness lower. They were not simply “full,” but their bodies were striving for balance, for novelty. If you have ever had carb-heavy, syrup-drenched pancakes for breakfast, you are not likely to want them again at lunch. It’s why we break meals up into courses: Once you had the mixed greens, you are not going to like or want more mixed greens. But dessert is a different story.
So, we don’t hate a particular foodstuff per se, it seems we simply choose to limit our intake of certain fare – sometimes quite drastically – instead. So for some people a serving of pickle the size of a pinhead is quite sufficient, while others prefer a little more.
I don’t know, as a child, do you think your parents would have bought that sort of argument, while they were serving you broccoli for dinner?
eating, food, psychology
Wednesday, 22 May, 2013
Ok, so maybe there is something in adhering to a ritual of some sort – say following a special routine prior to a job interview – in the lead up to a significant event:
Recent research suggests that rituals may be more rational than they appear. Why? Because even simple rituals can be extremely effective. Rituals performed after experiencing losses – from loved ones to lotteries – do alleviate grief, and rituals performed before high-pressure tasks – like singing in public – do in fact reduce anxiety and increase people’s confidence. What’s more, rituals appear to benefit even people who claim not to believe that rituals work.
belief, psychology, rituals
Wednesday, 15 May, 2013
The fact that we often visualise, in our minds, a flying pig when we hear the term, even though no such creature exists, says a lot about the way we understand a language.
That’s not much of a stretch when it comes to words for things like throwing a baseball or seeing a duck. But what about words for things we’ve probably never seen? Like a flying pig. “A flying pig isn’t something that actually exists in the real world,” Bergen says. Yet when we read those words we see one in our mind’s eye. Most people see a pig with wings above its shoulders, Bergen says. But some people imagine a pig with a cape, flying like Superman.
language, psychology, words
Thursday, 9 May, 2013
Something I’ve often wondered about, how it is that sometimes a single glass of beer/wine/whatever can barely touch the sides, yet on other occasions leave you feeling distinctly… unsteady. While there are a number of possibilities, context can often have a lot to do with it:
Beyond the cues provided by a drink and its vessel, the physical environment in which a substance is consumed may also be important. See, for example, the study that found that subjects who were given alcohol in an office setting suffered more from its “deleterious effects” (meaning motor and cognitive impairment) than people who drank the same amount in a bar.
alcohol, health, psychology
Wednesday, 8 May, 2013
Ever notice how when you’re out with a group of people, who are trying to choose somewhere to eat, that no one seems able to make a suggestion? Yes, it’s sure frustrating, but a little reverse psychology may be the solution, advance a bad idea, say dining at a certain fast food restaurant, and that might see other ideas come forward:
I use a trick with co-workers when we’re trying to decide where to eat for lunch and no one has any ideas. I recommend McDonald’s. An interesting thing happens. Everyone unanimously agrees that we can’t possibly go to McDonald’s, and better lunch suggestions emerge. Magic!
The idea need not be limited to selecting places to eat, but any situation where a problem needs to be solved… put out a bad idea to open proceedings, and hopefully better alternatives will manifest themselves. Then later on, to save face, tell the group your “bad idea” was only a joke…
ideas, innovation, psychology
Thursday, 2 May, 2013
The way a person sneezes can be matched to their personality. Exceptions apply of course. I once knew someone who had a “loud explosive sneeze” yet was quite reserved. Maybe their sneezing “style” was a way of somehow compensating for this?
A person who’s demonstrative and outgoing, for instance, would most likely have a loud explosive sneeze, whereas someone who’s shy might try to withhold their sneezes, resulting in more of a Minnie Mouse-type expulsion.
health, personality, psychology
Monday, 29 April, 2013
Nine hours sleep a night seems to becoming the norm, in the US at least, and while the prospect may seem like bliss, especially on a Monday morning, and after what, for some, may have been a long weekend, oversleeping, as with too little sleep, likewise poses health risks:
Although there’s been lots of talk about society sleeping too little, not much attention has been paid to the problem of too much sleep. However, studies show that sleeping more than nine hours a night is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, thinking problems and premature death.
health, psychology, sleep