psychology

 

Does Reading ‘Moral’ Stories to Children Promote Honesty?

Posted 16 June 2014 by Jalees Rehman

  All over the world, young children are exposed to classic fairy tales, myths and other stories. Most kids love hearing the stories, but in addition to being a fun activity, story-telling is also thought of as an educational tool which can promote moral reasoning and honesty. Conventional wisdom suggests that hearing fairy tales in which dishonest protagonists are punished might help convince the listeners to become truth-tellers. There is surprisingly little scientific data to back up this conventional wisdom,... Read more

How Does Your Facebook News Feed Affect You?

Posted 3 June 2014 by Jalees Rehman

Researchers at Facebook, Inc., the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Cornell University teamed up to study whether manipulating the News Feeds of Facebook users would affect the emotional content of the users' status updates or postings. They recently published their findings in the PNAS paper "Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks"  and suggest that they have found evidence of an "emotional contagion", i.e. the idea that emotions can spread via Facebook. The size of the... Read more

Does Literary Fiction Challenge Racial Stereotypes?

Posted 7 May 2014 by Jalees Rehman

A book is a mirror: if a fool looks in, do not expect an apostle to look out. -- Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-1799) Reading literary fiction can be highly pleasurable, but does it also make you a better person? Conventional wisdom and intuition lead us to believe that reading can indeed improve us. However, as the philosopher Emrys Westacott has recently pointed out in his essay for 3Quarksdaily, we may overestimate the capacity of literary fiction to foster moral improvement. A... Read more

Lab Grown Organs and Artistic Computers in Fifty Years?

Posted 17 April 2014 by Jalees Rehman

The Pew Research Center released the 2014 survey of U.S. adults (1,001 participants, surveyed by land-line or cell phone interviews) regarding their views on technological advancements in the next 50 years. Over eighty percent of the participants said that "People in need of an organ transplant will have new organs custom made for them in a lab" and roughly half of the participants felt that "Computers will be as effective as people at creating important works of art such as... Read more

Learning Digital Photography Improves Cognitive Function in Older Adults

Posted 11 November 2013 by Jalees Rehman

In my latest 3Quarksdaily column, I discuss the issue of ageism (prejudice against the elderly) and a very well designed new study which compares different forms of cognitive training in older adults. There is a lot of misinformation floating about on how vitamin supplements or solving word puzzles may improve cognitive function, but there is little scientific data available to back it up. The biggest strength of this study is that it used appropriate controls: The enrolled adults were either... Read more

Should Doctors ‘Google’ Their Patients?

Posted 15 October 2013 by Jalees Rehman

Here is an excerpt from my latest post on the 3Quarksdaily blog:   Beware of what you share. Employers now routinely utilize internet search engines or social network searches to obtain information about job applicants. A survey of 2,184 hiring managers and human resource professionals conducted by the online employment website CareerBuilder.com revealed that 39% use social networking sites to research job candidates. Of the group who used social networks to evaluate job applicants, 43% found content on a social networking site that caused them to... Read more

The Metered Brain: Temporal Structure and Processing of Poetry

Posted 25 July 2013 by Jalees Rehman

I recently wrote a short essay for 3Quarksdaily on the three second rule of temporal perception and processing in the human brain. It is comparatively easy to measure the thresholds that our brain uses to create temporal structure, i.e. the minimum time interval required to correctly tell apart the sequence of brief sounds or images. It lies somewhere in the range of 30 milliseconds to 60 milliseconds. If healthy subjects hear two auditory clicks (one in the right ear and... Read more

Good Can Come From Bad: Genetic Testing For The BRCA Breast Cancer Genes

Posted 12 February 2013 by Jalees Rehman

Our ability to test for the presence of genetic mutations has become extremely cost-efficient and private companies, such as 23andMe now offer genetic testing for consumers who want to find out about their predisposition for genetic diseases. The results of such tests are sent directly to the consumers, without the involvement of genetic counselors or other healthcare providers. This has lead to a growing concern about how people will respond to finding out that they are carriers of mutations that... Read more

Dual Identity and Radicalism Among Immigrants

Posted 15 January 2013 by Jalees Rehman

The majority of my scientific colleagues with whom I work in the United States are either immigrants or children of immigrants. Most of them are American citizens, but they also retain strong cultural bonds with their ancestral homelands. This does not seem to constitute much of a problem for them. America is the land of immigrants where one is surrounded by people who are quite comfortable with their hyphenated dual identities. Irish-Americans or Chinese-Americans can be proud of their respective... Read more

Is Kindness Key to Happiness and Acceptance for Children?

Posted 28 December 2012 by Jalees Rehman

The study "Kindness Counts: Prompting Prosocial Behavior in Preadolescents Boosts Peer Acceptance and Well-Being" published by Layous and colleagues in the journal PLOS One on December 26, 2012 was cited by multiple websites as proof of how important it is to teach children to be kind. NPR commented on the study in the blog post "Random Acts Of Kindness Can Make Kids More Popular", and the study was also discussed in ScienceDaily in "Kindness Key to Happiness and Acceptance for... Read more