My column on Seedmagazine.com today explores citizen science: serious, peer-reviewed research that relies on the contributions of ordinary individuals. While the projects range from cosmology to zoology, there are plenty of psychology projects too:
Project Implicit is an ongoing series of experiments into the nature of human bias, hosted by Harvard University but incorporating research from around the world. The idea behind these studies is that people won’t always overtly express their biases. For example, in most communities in the US it is socially unacceptable to be overtly racist. Even so, people often make negative assumptions about people based solely on perceived race. The implicit attitude test measures your reaction time as you categorize words, faces, or other stimuli. If you’re faster to categorize a certain-race face with negative words, then it stands to reason that you may be implicitly–even unconsciously–biased against that race, though you might never admit or realize it.
The experiment I tried concerned hypothetical races, “Niffian” and “Laapian,” and was conducted by Anna Newheiser of Yale University. I was immediately able to learn that I had a strong preference for one of these imaginary races. According to the website, this experiment may reveal more about how people respond to real races. Project Implicit has been responsible for dozens of research papers about bias, including this one discussed on my blog, about how children develop racial stereotypes.
Also, in case you missed it, here are my weekly picks of psychology/neuroscience posts from ResearchBlogging.org:
- Mothers experience chronic pain long after their babies are delivered. The Healthskills blog discusses the shockingly high incidence of pain after caesareans and other delivery room procedures.
- Acidity means anxiety … acidity in the brain, that is. Neuroskeptic discusses research suggesting that acid levels in the amygdala have an impact on anxiety.
- The relationship between height and jealosy. Your partner’s height has a dramatic effect on how jealous you are, says the eHarmony Labs blog.
- People are really bad at exercising self-control. I’ve always heard that you should never go to the grocery store hungry. This study suggests that going to the store full could also be a bad idea.