Social Cognition

Mixing Memory

Category archives for Social Cognition

Perceiving the Mind

There’s been a ton of research over the last decade or two on what is often called folk psychology or theory of mind (the latter is a bit theoretically loaded). That research concerns who has the ability to reason about other minds — do young children? autistic children? chimpanzees? dolphins? elephants? — and what that…

If you’re a New Scientist reader, you may have come across this article titled “Beauty is in the eye of your friends.” The brief article (which I found via 3 Quarks Daily) describes research purporting to show that whether (heterosexual) women find a man attractive depends, in part, on whether other women find him attractive,…

Humans are strange animals. We have such a deep need for social order that, when that order is threatened, we’ll do irrelevant things in an effort to preserve it. For example, when people are told that the conviction rate for a particular crime is low, they’ll assign harsher punishments to individuals who commit that crime1.…

Fear Goggles

One of the more popular theories of emotion during the 60s and 70s was Schachter and Singer’s two-factor theory1. The theory is pretty simple. As the name suggests, it states that emotions have two components: arousal and a cognitive component that involves “labeling” the emotion based on context. Schacter and Singer’s famous study involved giving…

Nostalgia: What, When, and Why?

Anytime I hear songs from when I was in high school or college, I get very nostalgic. I remember people I knew, places I went, good times I had. It’s a powerful and complex feeling, with all sorts of interesting psychological aspects, but for some reason, I’d never really thought about studying it. Then I…

By now you’ve probably heard about the Dar-Nimrod and Heine study on stereotype threat and math performance in women. If you’re interested in learning more about that study, check out Hugo’s post at Alpha Psy. Since Hugo did such a nice job describing the study, and since I’m lazy, I’m not going to say anything…

Psychologists are now fairly confident that humans have an agency-detection mechanism, and an itchy agency-detection trigger finger. This is because the consequences of not detecting agency are often greater than those of agency-detection false positives. As Atran and Norenzayan put it: From an evolutionary perspective, it’s better to be safe than sorry regarding the detection…

Terror Management and Religious Fundamentalism

The other day, I talked about terror management theory (TMT) and modern art. That probably wasn’t the best way to introduce TMT, because it’s a bit of a stretch to turn TMT into an aesthetic theory. Instead, I should have started by looking at some studies on TMT and cultural values and beliefs, because that’s…

I’ve never really hung out in a social psychology laboratory, but here is how I picture a typical day in one. There are some social psychologists sitting around, drinking some sort of exotic tea, and free associating. One psychologist will say the name of a random social psychological theory, and another will then throw out…

A couple weeks ago, a couple Science Bloggers, sparked by Jessica of Feministing, discussed the potential dangers of discovering the biological causes of homosexuality. Jessica expressed a common attitude in her post, writing: And naturally the larger question with all these why-are-you-gay studies is why do we have to know? I’m terrified that once someone…