When orgasm triggers a light show

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For people with synaesthesia, stimulation of one sense – or in some cases just thinking of a particular concept – triggers another kind of sensory experience. The most common form of the condition is for letters to trigger colour perceptions, but there are some truly strange variants, such as people for [...]

What can employers learn from a job candidate's Facebook postings?

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Organisations know that job candidates are presenting an idealised version of themselves in their CV and at interview. According to reports, many recruiters are therefore taking to social media to find an uncensored version of their applicants. Is this fair and what can they learn? A new study, led by William Stoughton [...]

Conspiracy theorists are more focused on discrediting official accounts than proposing their own

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We tend to think of conspiracy theorists as being fixated on far-fetched explanations. In fact they are not so much concerned with providing alternative accounts of historical events, rather they are driven by a mistrust of authority to discredit official narratives. That’s according to a new analysis of conspiracist and conventionalist [...]

The supposed benefits of open-plan offices do not outweigh the costs

The worlds of business, office design and psychology really need to get their heads together. Large open-plan offices have become the norm across modern cities despite a sizeable literature documenting the disadvantages, including increased distraction and diminished worker satisfaction.

Open-plan offices are favoured by companies largely because of economic factors – more employees can be housed [...]

How weak arguments can make a more effective call to arms than strong arguments

We often think of persuasion in terms of converting people to our side of an argument. Just as important in many contexts is the need to inspire supporters to do more to help a cause they already believe in. In a new paper, Omair Akhtar and his colleagues provide evidence here for a counter-intuitive principle [...]

Reading comprehension just as good using a Kindle as with paper

A significant milestone was passed last August when Amazon announced that sales of books on its Kindle e-reader platform outstripped print sales for the first time. There’s no question that e-readers are convenient – you can load a single device with thousands of titles. But some commentators have started to question whether digital reading has [...]

Why your friends on Twitter are (probably) more interesting than you, and what to do about it

Statistical logic means that your lover has probably had more sexual partners than you. Similarly, at the gym, most of the other users train more frequently than you. And your friends have more friends than you do - this last observation was labelled the “friendship paradox” by sociologist Scott Feld. It’s a fact because popular people get counted in [...]

Atheists as stressed as believers when daring God to do bad things

Why are most people in the world religious? Some say it is because we’re naturally predisposed to believe in a god or gods and that religion brought evolutionary advantages to our ancestors. But if that’s the case, how come there are over half a billion atheists in the world? One theory is that atheists consciously [...]

Working memory training does not live up to the hype

According to CogMed, one of the larger providers of computerised working memory training, the benefits of such training is “comprehensive” and includes “being able to stay focused, resist distractions, plan activities, complete tasks, and follow and contribute to complex discussions.” Similar claims are made by other providers such as Jungle Memory and Cognifit, which is [...]

The psychology of online reviews

We used to rely on word-of-mouth or expert critics to help us choose our purchases, be that a planned holiday or a movie rental. Today that’s all changed. A few mouse clicks and sites like Trip Advisor and Amazon offer us an abundance of reviews written by strangers. Yet, how they affect our judgements has [...]