It can seem like barely a week goes by without a new study linking the stage in a woman’s monthly cycle to her preferences in a sexual partner. Reportedly, when women are ovulating they are attracted to men who are healthier, more dominant, more masculine, have higher testosterone levels– the list goes on. But do women really exhibit such behavioural changes – and why are we so fascinated by the idea that they do?Twitter, Facebook, Google+, RSS, or join the mailing list.
Can we ever study ourselves without our expectations affecting our conclusions? A damning report suggests that bias on the part of researchers has made vast numbers of studies in social psychology unreliable. Social psychology is the study of how human behaviour is affected by other people, and it seems to be particularly vulnerable to unreliable findings and conflicting explanations….Twitter, Facebook, Google+, RSS, or join the mailing list.
Last month, the drinking water in a Colorado town was declared unsafe, because it had been contaminated by an ingredient from cannabis. It took two days to discover that this was not the case – a water test had turned up a false positive result. In fact, false positives are widespread in our everyday lives, and we seem to have an innate inability to get to grips with them…Twitter, Facebook, Google+, RSS, or join the mailing list.
Curiosity is often a positive thing: it is at the heart of scientific progress, for example. But it also has a negative side.
“Rubbernecking” – gawping at car crashes when we drive past – is one such example. A government-sponsored study of accidents on the M6 motorway attributed 29 per cent of them during the study period to drivers rubbernecking in the opposite carriageway. The issue was eventually tackled by the UK Highways Agency, who reduced accidents by erecting giant screens at crash sites.
The problem is we just can’t help ourselves. In a recent study, researchers have found that we’re still curious even if we know the outcome will be negative.
Christopher Hsee of the University of Chicago and colleagues dubbed the tendency to opt for an uncertain outcome even when we know it might have unpleasant consequences, the Pandora Effect.Twitter, Facebook, Google+, RSS, or join the mailing list.
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