The authors identify customers, termed “Harbingers of failure,” who systematically purchase new products that flop. Their early adoption of a new product is a strong signal that a product will fail—the more they buy, the less likely the product will succeed. Firms can identify these customers through past purchases of either new products that failed or existing products that few other customers purchase. The authors discuss how these insights can be readily incorporated into the new product development process. The findings challenge the conventional wisdom that positive customer feedback is always a signal of future success. [Journal of Marketing Research]
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is based on the theory that some depressions occur seasonally in response to reduced sunlight. SAD has attracted cultural and research attention for more than 30 years and influenced the DSM through inclusion of the seasonal variation modifier for the major depression diagnosis. This study was designed to determine if a seasonally related pattern of occurrence of major depression could be demonstrated in a population-based study. A cross-sectional U.S. survey of adults completed the Patient Health Questionnaire–8 Depression Scale. […] Depression was unrelated to latitude, season, or sunlight. Results do not support the validity of a seasonal modifier in major depression. The idea of seasonal depression may be strongly rooted in folk psychology, but it is not supported by objective data. [Clinical Psychological Science]
Researchers have created a digital audio platform that can modify the emotional tone of people’s voices while they are talking, to make them sound happier, sadder or more fearful. New results show that while listening to their altered voices, participants’ emotional state change in accordance with the new emotion. […] The study found that the participants were unaware that their voices were being manipulated, while their emotional state changed in accordance with the manipulated emotion portrayed. This indicates that people do not always control their own voice to meet a specific goal and that people listen to their own voice to learn how they are feeling. [eurekAlert]
The present research examined whether possessing multiple social identities (i.e., groups relevant to one’s sense of self) is associated with creativity. In Study 1, the more identities individuals reported having, the more names they generated for a new commercial product (i.e., greater idea fluency). […] Results suggest that possessing multiple social identities is associated with enhanced creativity via cognitive flexibility. [Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin]
The Countries Where People Are the Most Emotionally Complex (Cultures that value interdependence, like Japan, win at being deep)
Italian woman turned to firefighters for help after she lost the key to her chastity belt. She explained she wore the belt voluntarily to prevent herself from entering into sexual relationships.
Conventional wisdom and research seem to suggest that partners in dual career-couples have to decide whether they would rather risk their careers or their romantic relationship. There was no negative association between working time and relationship satisfaction.
Harvard psychologist says people judge you based on 2 criteria when they first meet you: Can I trust this person? Can I respect this person?
Scholars have assumed that trust is fragile: difficult to build and easily broken. We demonstrate, however, that in some cases trust is surprisingly robust.
Previous studies have found that facial appearance can predict both the selection and performance of leaders. Little is known about the specific facial features responsible for this relationship, however. One possible feature is mouth width, which correlates with the propensity for physical combat in primates and could therefore be linked to one’s perceived dominance and achievement of greater social rank. […] We observed that mouth width correlated with judgments of CEOs’ leadership ability and with a measure of their actual leadership success. Individuals with wider mouths were also more likely to have won U.S. senate, but not gubernatorial, races. Mouth width may therefore be a valid cue to leadership selection and success. [Journal of Experimental Social Psychology]
How do we know when we have seen enough information, and that we should stop any further input in order to avoid some form of information overload? [PDF]
When we talk we take turns, where the “right” to speak flips back and forth between partners. This conversational pitter-patter is so familiar and seemingly unremarkable that we rarely remark on it. But consider the timing: On average, each turn lasts for around 2 seconds, and the typical gap between them is just 200 milliseconds—barely enough time to utter a syllable. That figure is nigh-universal. It exists across cultures, with only slight variations. It’s even there in sign-language conversations. […] (Overlaps only happened in 17 percent of turns, typically lasted for just 100 milliseconds, and were mostly slight misfires where one speaker unexpectedly drew out their last syllable.) […] This means that we have to start planning our responses in the middle of a partner’s turn, using everything from grammatical cues to changes in pitch. We continuously predict what the rest of a sentence will contain, while similarly building our hypothetical rejoinder, all using largely overlapping neural circuits. [The Atlantic]
In an unusual new paper, a group of German neuroscientists report that they scanned the brain of a Catholic bishop: Does a bishop pray when he prays? And does his brain distinguish between different religions? […] Silveira et al. had the bishop perform some religious-themed tasks, but the most interesting result was that there was no detectable difference in brain activity when the bishop was praying, compared to when he was told to do nothing in particular. [Neuroskeptic]
Under ancient Jewish law, if a suspect on trial was unanimously found guilty by all judges, then the suspect was acquitted. This reasoning sounds counterintuitive, but the legislators of the time had noticed that unanimous agreement often indicates the presence of systemic error in the judicial process, even if the exact nature of the error is yet to be discovered. They intuitively reasoned that when something seems too good to be true, most likely a mistake was made. [A] team of researchers has further investigated this idea, which they call the “paradox of unanimity.” […] The researchers demonstrated the paradox in the case of a modern-day police line-up, in which witnesses try to identify the suspect out of a line-up of several people. The researchers showed that, as the group of unanimously agreeing witnesses increases, the chance of them being correct decreases until it is no better than a random guess. [Phys.org]
Many of our errors, the researchers found, stem from a basic mismatch between how we analyze ourselves and how we analyze others. When it comes to ourselves, we employ a fine-grained, highly contextualized level of detail. When we think about others, however, we operate at a much higher, more generalized and abstract level. For instance, when answering the same question about ourselves or others — how attractive are you? — we use very different cues. For our own appearance, we think about how our hair is looking that morning, whether we got enough sleep, how well that shirt matches our complexion. For that of others, we form a surface judgment based on overall gist. So, there are two mismatches: we aren’t quite sure how others are seeing us, and we are incorrectly judging how they see themselves. If, however, we can adjust our level of analysis, we suddenly appear much more intuitive and accurate. In one study, people became more accurate at discerning how others see them when they thought their photograph was going to be evaluated a few months later, as opposed to the same day, while in another, the same accuracy shift happened if they thought a recording they’d made describing themselves would be heard a few months later. Suddenly, they were using the same abstract lens that others are likely to use naturally. [Maria Konnikova, The Confidence Game]
After 2.5 millennia of philosophical deliberation and psychological experimentation, most scholars have concluded that humor arises from incongruity. We highlight 2 limitations of incongruity theories of humor. First, incongruity is not consistently defined. The literature describes incongruity in at least 4 ways: surprise, juxtaposition, atypicality, and a violation. Second, regardless of definition, incongruity alone does not adequately differentiate humorous from nonhumorous experiences. We suggest revising incongruity theory by proposing that humor arises from a benign violation: something that threatens a person’s well-being, identity, or normative belief structure but that simultaneously seems okay. Six studies, which use entertainment, consumer products, and social interaction as stimuli, reveal that the benign violation hypothesis better differentiates humorous from nonhumorous experiences than common conceptualizations of incongruity. A benign violation conceptualization of humor improves accuracy by reducing the likelihood that joyous, amazing, and tragic situations are inaccurately predicted to be humorous. [Journal of Personality and Social Psychology]
Lucid dreams are when you know you’re dreaming and you can consciously control events as they unfold: it’s like being the director and star of your own Hollywood movie. It’s estimated that about 20 per cent of people get to enjoy them fairly regularly (at least once a month). For the rest of us, a new study in the journal Dreaming suggests a really simple way to increase your odds of having lucid dreams – just start making more frequent use of the snooze function on your alarm clock. [BPS]
“Can I ask you why you’re buying fat-free half-and-half?” I said. “Because it’s fat-free?” she responded. “Do you know what they replace the fat with?” I asked. “Hmm,” she said, then lifted the carton and read the second ingredient on the label after skim milk: “Corn syrup.” […] The woman apparently hadn’t even thought to ask herself that question but had instead accepted the common belief that fat, an essential part of our diet, should be avoided whenever possible. Then again, why should she question it, given that we allow food companies, advertisers and food researchers to do our thinking for us? In the 1970s, no one questioned whether eggs really were the heart-attack risk nutritionists warned us about. Now, of course, eggs have become such a cherished food that many people raise their own laying hens. Such examples of food confusion and misinformation abound. […] Our beloved kale salads are not “healthy.” And we are confusing ourselves by believing that they are. They are not healthy; they are nutritious. […] If all you ate was kale, you would become sick. [Washington Post]
Everyone on Earth is actually your cousin (the most distant relative would be a 15th cousin)
In 2012, a genetic analysis confirmed that Concetta’s enhanced color vision can be explained by a genetic quirk that causes her eyes to produce four types of cone cells, instead of the regular three which underpin colour vision in most humans. Women with four cone types in their retinas are actually more common than we think. Researchers estimate that they represent as much as 12% of the female population. […] A woman has the potential to produce four cone types because she inherits two X-chromosomes. […] The three cone types that most of us have in our retinas allow us to see millions of colours. Each cone’s membrane is packed with molecules, called opsins, which absorb lights of some wavelengths and cause the cone to send electrical signals to the brain. […] Four cones don’t automatically grant you superior color vision. […] Only one of the seven women with four cones behaved as if she actually perceived differences between the colour mixtures that were invisible to everyone apart from her sons. [The Neurosphere]
After medicine in the 20th century focused on healing the sick, now it is more and more focused on upgrading the healthy, which is a completely different project. And it’s a fundamentally different project in social and political terms, because whereas healing the sick is an egalitarian project […] upgrading is by definition an elitist project. […] This opens the possibility of creating huge gaps between the rich and the poor […]Many people say no, it will not happen, because we have the experience of the 20th century, that we had many medical advances, beginning with the rich or with the most advanced countries, and gradually they trickled down to everybody, and now everybody enjoys antibiotics or vaccinations or whatever. […] There were peculiar reasons why medicine in the 20th century was egalitarian, why the discoveries trickled down to everybody. These unique conditions may not repeat themselves in the 21st century. […] When you look at the 20th century, it’s the era of the masses, mass politics, mass economics. Every human being has value, has political, economic, and military value. […] This goes back to the structures of the military and of the economy, where every human being is valuable as a soldier in the trenches and as a worker in the factory. But in the 21st century, there is a good chance that most humans will lose, they are losing, their military and economic value. This is true for the military, it’s done, it’s over. The age of the masses is over. We are no longer in the First World War, where you take millions of soldiers, give each one a rifle and have them run forward. And the same thing perhaps is happening in the economy. Maybe the biggest question of 21st century economics is what will be the need in the economy for most people in the year 2050. And once most people are no longer really necessary, for the military and for the economy, the idea that you will continue to have mass medicine is not so certain. Could be. It’s not a prophecy, but you should take very seriously the option that people will lose their military and economic value, and medicine will follow. [Edge]
Many people are keen on getting a skin tan despite being aware of warnings of health hazards. The present study investigates differences between women regularly using sunbeds and a control group of non-users in the areas of self-concept, narcissistic regulatory modalities, social assertiveness and generalized self-efficacy.
Thirty women users of suntan salons and 34 women who never used one were investigated with standardized psychological questionnaires. In addition, their knowledge about the hazards of using sunbeds and attitudes to tanning were recorded. Statistical evaluation shows that sunbed users demonstrate more object devaluation: that is, other persons are devalued so that they are not even considered worthy of affection. Furthermore, they also display greater anxiety in their feelings and relationships with others. The results of this pilot study support the hypothesis that a tanned skin, by helping sunbed users to achieve their ideal of beauty, enables them to devalue other people and thus possibly to protect themselves from close relationships. [British Journal of Dermatology]
Poor posture can have ill effects that radiate throughout the body, causing back and neck pain, muscle fatigue, breathing limitations, arthritic joints, digestive problems and mood disturbances. It can also create a bad impression when applying for a job, starting a relationship or making new friends. Poor posture can even leave you vulnerable to street crime. Many years ago, researchers showed that women who walked sluggishly with eyes on the ground, as if carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders, were much more likely to be mugged than those who walked briskly and purposely with head erect. […] In a study of 110 students at San Francisco State University, half of whom were told to walk in a slumped position and the other half to skip down a hall, the skippers had a lot more energy throughout the day. […] Leaning forward or slouching can also reduce lung capacity by as much as 30 percent, reducing the amount of oxygen that reaches body tissues, including the brain. [NY Times]
…the differences between “U” (Upper-class) and “non-U” (Middle Class) usages […] The genteel offer ale rather than beer; invite one to step (not come) this way; and assist (never help) one another to potatoes. […] When Prince William and Kate Middleton split up in 2007 the press blamed it on Kate’s mother’s linguistic gaffes at Buckingham Palace, where she reputedly responded to the Queen’s How do you do? with the decidedly non-U Pleased to meet you (the correct response being How do you do?), and proceeded to ask to use the toilet (instead of the U lavatory). [The Conversation]
They’re probably the most familiar interfaces on the planet: the numeric keypads on our mobile phones and calculators. Yet very few notice that the keypads’ design has remained unchanged for nearly half a century. […] Most users do not notice that the keypads of the calculator and phone are inversions of each other. [Smash]
The number of active contributors in Wikipedia has been declining steadily for years, and suggests that a sharp decline in the retention of newcomers is the cause. [PDF]
The tax sleuth who took down the mastermind behind the online drug bazaar known as Silk Road [NY Times]
In an update on an old story, an investment banker asks the client to pay by placing one penny on the first square of a chessboard, two pennies on the second square, four on the third, doubling the number on each square that follows. If the banker had asked for this on only the white squares, the initial penny would double thirty-one times to $21,474,836 on the last square. Using both the black and the white squares, the sum on the last square is $92,233,720,368,547,758. People are reasonably good at estimating how things add up, but for compounding, which involved repeated multiplication, we fail to appreciate how quickly things grow. As a result, we often lose sight of how important even small changes in the average rate of growth can be. For an investment banker, the choice between a payment that doubles with every square on the chessboard and one that doubles with every other square is more important than any other part of the contract. […] Growth rates for nations drive home the point that modest changes in growth rates are possible and that over time, these have big effects. […] If economic growth could be achieved only by doing more and more of the same kind of cooking, we would eventually run out of raw materials and suffer from unacceptable levels of pollution and nuisance. Human history teaches us, however, that economic growth springs from better recipes, not just from more cooking. [Paul Romer]
In 1971 the performance artist Chris Burden stood against the wall of a California art gallery and ordered a friend to shoot him through the arm. That .22 rifle shot was the opening salvo of a movement that came to be called “endurance art”—an unnerving species of performance art in which the performer deliberately subjects himself to pain, deprivation, or extreme tedium. How Art Became Irrelevant
Dole is the world’s largest producer of bananas. It operates the largest refrigerated fleet, or reeferships, in the world.
People forget that Walmart is a $3 billion trucking company; it’s just they only truck for themselves. Amazon China is now registered to deliver its own products to seaports for ocean shipping.
Redbird Reef is an artificial reef located in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Slaughter Beach, Delaware. The reef comprises 714 ‘Redbird’ New York City Subway cars, 86 retired tanks and armored personnel carriers, eight tugboats and barges, and 3,000 tons of ballasted truck tires. [Wikipedia]