Social

Cognitive Daily

Category archives for Social

One of my favorite cartoons as a child was “Speed Racer.” It featured an all-American boy (first name, “Speed,” last name, “Racer”) engaging in that most American of pastimes: driving fast cars. Except that “Speed Racer” wasn’t really American; it was made in Japan, and the original Japanese voices were crudely overdubbed in English. Perhaps…

Product placements in movies and TV shows are becoming so commonplace that my kids now cynically take note of them whenever they appear. It wasn’t always that way. In 1982 when I first saw E.T. I had no idea that Elliott’s use of Reeses’ Pieces to lure E.T. into his home was part of a…

Imagine you learned your romantic partner was unfaithful to you. Would you be more upset if he or she had sex with someone else, or if they had fallen in love with someone else? Several studies have found that the answer to that question depends on the your gender. Women say they would be more…

As an undergraduate, at my school it was practically a requirement to steal silverware from the campus cafeteria. There were students who’d commandeered full sets of china. The desk clerk at my dorm used to say that the only thing we were learning from our college education was “how to steal.” Somehow it didn’t seem…

Does rewarding altruism squelch it?

Imagine your neighbor has a dog that regularly escapes her yard. One day you see the dog escape and return it to her. She thanks you by giving you a piece of delicious home-made apple pie. This happens several days in a row. Then one day when you return the dog, there’s no pie, no…

Jim and Nora each attended summer camps that they enjoyed tremendously this past summer. When we picked up Nora from her camp, she was completely exhausted. Why? She and her new friends had only gotten 30 minutes of pretend sleep the night before. This was to fool their counselors before sneaking into a pre-determined room…

Implicit attitudes and associations can tell us a lot about a person. It’s a way to find out if they might have a racial or gender bias, and recently there has even been some work suggesting that an implicit association test can tell us whether someone is lying — it’s called the autobiographical Implicit Association…

[Originally posted in November 2006] The recent controversial shooting of an unarmed black man in New York has generated terrible grief and perhaps justifiable anger. But if officers honestly believed the man was armed and intended to harm them, weren’t they justified in shooting? Perhaps, but an important additional question is this: were they predisposed…

[Originally posted in December, 2007] Do smells have an impact on how we judge people? Certainly if someone smells bad, we may have a negative impression of the person. But what if the smell is so subtle we don’t consciously notice it? Research results have been mixed, with some studies actually reporting that we like…

Take a group of 18- and 19-year-old women, college freshmen and sophomores. Then test them to find out who has the most social anxiety: who’s most nervous about dealing with other people, particularly in public situations. What would be the most difficult thing you could ask these high-social-anxiety women to do? How about this: I…