Feature Post, Psychology

How Oculus Rift could revolutionise Social Psychology

oculus rift

Upon acquiring virtual technology company Oculus, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg predicted that virtual reality technology would one day permeate areas of life further than just the world of gaming, and we would ‘someday [use virtual reality] to enjoy a courtside seat at a basketball game, study in a classroom, consult with a doctor face-to-face or shop in a virtual store’. It’s true – the creation of immersive, virtual environments does indeed have masses of potential for industries which beforehand, were seemingly incongruous with such technology. Social psychology, the study of human experience and behaviour, is one of them.

News, Psychology

Fear of punishment and conformity might explain how traditions are created and mantained

Ceremony Dance

The threat of punishment and humans’ seemingly innate tendency to copy other behaviors form the basis of a psychological model that explains how traditions or entrenched ideals are formed and maintained in society.


The speed of emergency evacuations depends on… your relationships?

The main lobby in New York's Grand Central Station

You’re standing in a crowded space when suddenly the fire alarm goes off. Do you a) immediately proceed to the exit, or b) wait for other people and head out as part of a group? The answer probably depends on who you’re with at the time, and according to a paper published recently in the journal PLOS ONE, the distinction may be crucial during emergency evacuations.

Genetics, News, Psychology

Kid doesn’t like going to school? Your ‘bad’ genes might have a say in all this

school kids

Some kids seem to enjoy school activities more than others, but while efforts seem to be concentrated on improving teaching, a new research suggests that genes play a major role as well – sometimes they’re more important than the environment, as far as motivation and doing well in school are concerned. The findings were reported by a team led Yulia Kovas of Goldsmiths, University of London that aggregated a swath of studies which included 13,000 twins aged nine to 16 from six countries, including the UK, Canada, Japan, Germany, Russia and the US.

News, Psychology

Ignoring the dress code can actually enhance status, but only if other people think you’re elite

Mark Zuckerberg clothes

There’s a fine line between being seen as a non-conformist (higher status) and sloppy dresser (lower status). But what sets apart people like Zuckerberg from regular people like you or me (apart from money, of course…)? Well, to get to the root of this silver line, the Harvard researchers studied the observers themselves to understand what are the boundary conditions and signals that make people confer higher status to nonconforming individuals over conforming ones.

Feature Post, Psychology

Breaking the Backlash – A take on the social psychology of discrimination

AFP Photo/Guillaume Souvant

On January 7th 2015, the world looked on in horror as news of the Charlie Hebdo shootings broke. The story of two brothers, identifying as members of the militant Islamist group Al-Qaeda, who forced their way into the satirical magazine’s Paris offices and killed 11 people is one that is now sadly well-known to people across the globe. A story that might be less well known, however, is that of the ramifications that the brothers actions had for members of the very faith that they were claiming to represent.

News, Psychology

Metaphors help us read other people’s minds

power of metaphors

Friends use metaphors more often when speaking to one another, and this helps them gauge each other’s emotional state according to a study published in the journal Memory & Cognition. The Canadian researchers who performed the study conclude that metaphors facilitate social interactions, comprehension and empathy.

Genetics, News, Psychology

Autism genes predict higher intelligence – if you’re not autistic in the first place

autism intelligence

A link between heightened intelligence and autism has been suspected by scientists based on empirical evidence, and now genetic screening seems to confirm this assumption. It seems people carrying genes that put people at risk of developing autism scored higher on intelligence scores than those who lacked the genes. This held true, however, for people carrying the genes but who didn’t develop autism.

News, Psychology

Your smartphone might be making you stupid

smartphone dumb people

People who excessively rely on their smartphones scored lower on tests which gauged cognitive abilities like analytical thinking than those who use their smartphones less frequently. The results reported by psychologists at University of Waterloo suggest that using smartphones to find answers to questions – difficult or not – via search engines makes you lazy and less apt at solving problems.

News, Psychology

Finger ratios predict how rude or kind men are towards women


Can you judge a person by his fingers? If that person’s a men, yes you can, some scientists would agree. Researchers at McGill University found that men with short index fingers and long ring fingers are on average nicer to women. Not entirely a correlative study, the findings seem to have weight as previously a link was found between high levels of testosterone in the womb and shorter index finger relative to the ring finger. You can stop watching your fingers now.