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Thu, 06 May 2021
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The Illusion of Truth

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© Thomas Hawk
Repetition is used everywhere—advertising, politics and the media—but does it really persuade us? Psychology studies reveal all...
We see ads for the same products over and over again. Politicians repeat the same messages endlessly (even when it has nothing to do with the question they've been asked). Journalists repeat the same opinions day after day.

Can all this repetition really be persuasive?

It seems too simplistic that just repeating a persuasive message should increase its effect, but that's exactly what psychological research finds (again and again). Repetition is one of the easiest and most widespread methods of persuasion. In fact it's so obvious that we sometimes forget how powerful it is.

People rate statements that have been repeated just once as more valid or true than things they've heard for the first time. They even rate statements as truer when the person saying them has been repeatedly lying (Begg et al., 1992).

And when we think something is more true, we also tend to be more persuaded by it. Several studies have shown that people are more swayed when they hear statements of opinion and persuasive messages more than once.

Phoenix

Shamanism As Evolutionary Medicine

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Although it appears that our paleo ancestors inhabiting temperate and tropical ecosystems had no modern diet-related diseases, they did suffer dis-eases, and universally had "medicine men," also known among anthropologists as "shamans." As a medical system, shamanism maintains that many apparently physical dis-eases have spiritual causes. Indigenous/shamanic tribal cultures "believe" that spirits exist and play roles in individual, tribal, and ecological health. Shamanic interventions address traumas affecting the soul/spirit through direct interaction with the spiritual realm, achieved through altered states of consciousness that provide entrance to a non-ordinary reality.

All this talk of spirits certainly makes anxiety for modern "scientific" atheists and Judeo-Christian religionists alike. The former will dismiss such talk as mumbo-jumbo without empirical basis, a threat to rationality and logic. They will tend to dismiss shamanism as dealing with non-existent "supernatural" entities. The latter believe that for some odd reason the One True God chose to reveal himself and the Rules for the Right Way of Life only to the members of several middle Eastern desert tribes, leaving everyone else in the dark. They also believe that this God gave these chosen people not only the right but the duty to convert all other tribes to their faith and way of life, if not by persuasion then by force. These people call non-believers by various names like heretic, infidel, heathen, pagan, and so on, and have called shamanic culture "demonic."

In either case, shamanism directly competes with the "authorities." Atheists may consider shamans a threat to the authority of "reason," science, and scientists, and religionists certainly consider shamans a threat to the authority of their faith, dogma, and priests. Shamanism comes from non-hierarchical tribal culture in which no one has ultimate authority over another, and thus it conflicts with civilization and all types of authority.

To illustrate the modern discomfort with shamanism, in 1892, in a speech at the Smithsonian Institution, John Bourke called shamans "an influence antagonistic to the rapid absorption of new customs" and said "only after we have thoroughly routed the medicine men from their entrenchments and made them an object of ridicule can we [whites] hope to bend and train the minds of our Indian wards in the direction of civilization."

Comment: Psychologist John Schumaker points out in his book The Corruption of Reality that human beings seem to come hardwired with a need to dissociate. This brain's capacity to dissociate could represent a means of shutting down the physical and connecting with the spiritual.

It also seems clear from the evidence that Schumaker presents, that it is a hard-wired function that is just waiting to be taken advantage of by any "snake-oil salesman" that comes along. It is also abundantly evident that those who do not utilize this ability of the brain - those who suppress it - suffer from other disorders.

For more information on this topic and how to heal your body, mind and spirit, see the Éiriu Eolas website.


Heart - Black

Antagonistic people may increase heart attack, stroke risk

American Heart Association rapid access journal report

Antagonistic people, particularly those who are competitive and aggressive, may be increasing their risk of heart attack or stroke, researchers report in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers for the U.S. National Institute on Aging (NIA), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), studied 5,614 Italians in four villages and found that those who scored high for antagonistic traits on a standard personality test had greater thickening of the neck (carotid) arteries compared to people who were more agreeable. Thickness of neck artery walls is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

Three years later, those who scored higher on antagonism or low agreeableness - especially those who were manipulative and quick to express anger - continued to have thickening of their artery walls. These traits also predicted greater progression of arterial thickening.

Heart

Women are better at forgiving

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© SINC.
Women have a greater empathetic capacity than males.
A study by the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) has carried out the first Spanish study into the emotional differences between the sexes and generations in terms of forgiveness. According to the study, parents forgive more than children, while women are better at forgiving than men.

"This study has great application for teaching values, because it shows us what reasons people have for forgiving men and women, and the popular conception of forgiveness", Maite Garaigordobil, co-author of the study and a senior professor at the Psychology Faculty of the UPV, tells SINC.

This study, which has been published in the Revista Latinoamericana de Psicología, is the first to have been carried out in Spain. It shows that parents find it easier to forgive than their children, and that women are better at forgiving than men.

Bulb

Juggling languages can build better brains

Once likened to a confusing tower of Babel, speaking more than one language can actually bolster brain function by serving as a mental gymnasium, according to researchers.

Recent research indicates that bilingual speakers can outperform monolinguals--people who speak only one language--in certain mental abilities, such as editing out irrelevant information and focusing on important information, said Judith Kroll, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Penn State. These skills make bilinguals better at prioritizing tasks and working on multiple projects at one time.

"We would probably refer to most of these cognitive advantages as multi-tasking," said Kroll, director of the Center for Language Science. "Bilinguals seem to be better at this type of perspective taking."

Kroll said that these findings counter previous conclusions that bilingualism hindered cognitive development.

Handcuffs

Iowa State study examines why innocent suspects may confess to a crime

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© Bob Elbert, News Service
Iowa State psychologists Stephanie Madon (far right) and Max Guyll (middle right) have been overseeing experiments -- like this one by ISU students Shelby Wuebker and Lee Casavant -- on the consequences that drive a person's confession decisions.
Why would anyone falsely confess to a crime they didn't commit? It seems illogical, but according to The Innocence Project, there have been 266 post-conviction DNA exonerations since 1989 -- 25 percent of which involved a false confession.

A new Iowa State University study may shed light on one reason for those false confessions. In two experiments simulating choices suspects face in police interrogations, undergraduate subjects altered their behavior to confess to illegal activities in order to relieve short-term distress (the proximal consequence) while discounting potential long-term (distal) consequences.

"The thing about these exoneration cases is that they all pertained to heinous crimes; that's why there was DNA evidence available. And so we wanted to determine why someone may be willing to falsely confess to one of those crimes," said Stephanie Madon, an ISU associate professor of psychology and the study's lead author. "We thought it might have to do with the pay-off structure of police interrogations. Some interrogation methods -- like physical isolation and the presentation of false evidence -- have immediate consequences for suspects that encourage them to confess. Though they also face consequences that encourage them to deny guilt -- such as the possibility of conviction and incarceration -- these consequences are more distal.

People

How Couples Recover After an Argument Stems From Their Infant Relationships

argument
© Unknown
When studying relationships, psychological scientists have often focused on how couples fight. But how they recover from a fight is important, too. According to a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, couples' abilities to bounce back from conflict may depend on what both partners were like as infants.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have been following a cohort of people since before they were born, in the mid-1970s. When the subjects were about 20 years old, they visited the lab with their romantic partners for testing. This included a conflict discussion, when they were asked to talk about an issue they disagreed on, followed by a "cool-down" period, when the couples spent a few minutes talking about something they saw eye to eye about.

Although the cool-down period was included just to make sure the researchers weren't sending the couples away angry, Jessica E. Salvatore, a Ph.D. student at the University of Minnesota, noticed some interesting things about the couples' communication styles during this recovery time. "As part of another project where we looked at how couples fight, I would often catch a few minutes of this cool-down period," she says. Salvatore noticed that some couples had intense conflicts, but made a perfectly clean transition to chatting about something they agreed on. In other couples, one or both partners seemed "stuck" on the conflict discussion and couldn't move on.

Binoculars

The man who can 'taste' words: 'Gordon Brown tastes revolting, while Tony Blair tastes of desiccated coconut'

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© Unknown
Taste of life: James Wannerton suffers from gustatory auditory synaesthesia.
James Wannerton, 50, is one of an estimated two-and-a-half million people who suffer from gustatory auditory synaesthesia, a cross-sensory neurological condition, which means he can literally taste words. A systems analyst, he lives in Blackpool, Lancashire, with his partner, Jeanette. Here, he talks about how it has affected his life.

One of my earliest memories was when I was about four or five and chanting The Lord's Prayer in school assembly.

But it's not the words, the school hall or the teachers I remember most. It's the flavours, because The Lord's Prayer tasted unmistakably of bacon.

It was the first time I'd experienced tasting words, and most of my early memories are dominated by taste more than any other sense.

At school, I was always one of the dreamy kids - staring out of the window and tasting stuff. Blue was lovely, like a very soft Opal Fruit sweet. My family holidays in Devon tasted strongly of brick dust. Other trips tasted of chocolates and wine gums.


People

Lie Detection: Misconceptions, Pitfalls, and Opportunities for Improvement

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© Unknown
Unlike Pinocchio, liars do not usually give telltale signs that they are being dishonest. In lieu of a growing nose, is there a way to distinguish people who are telling the truth from those who aren't? A new report in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, discusses some of the common misconceptions about those proficient in the art of deception, reviews the shortcomings of commonly used lie-detection techniques, and presents new empirically supported methods for telling liars from truth-tellers with greater accuracy.

Trapping a liar is not always easy. Lies are often embedded in truths and behavioral differences between liars and truth-tellers are usually very small. In addition, some people are just very good at lying. Lie detectors routinely make the common mistakes of overemphasizing nonverbal cues, neglecting intrapersonal variations (i.e., how a person acts when they are telling the truth versus when they are lying), and being overly confident in their lie-detection skills.

Family

Dependency, the Dark Side of Support: A Helpful Partner Isn't Always Helpful

dependency
© Unknown
You might think that a loving partner helps keep you on track - say, when you want to stick to your jogging or concentrate on your studies. But a new study in Psychological Science, a publication of the Association of Psychological Science, reports the opposite: Thinking about the support a significant other offers in pursuing goals can undermine the motivation to work toward those goals - and can increase procrastination before getting down to work.

The study's authors, psychological scientists Gráinne M. Fitzsimons of Duke University and Eli J. Finkel of Northwestern University, call this phenomenon "self-regulatory outsourcing" - the unconscious reliance on someone else to move your goals forward, coupled by a relaxation of your own effort. It happens with friends and family, too.

Does this mean love doesn't bring out the best in us? Yes and no, says Fitzsimons. "If you look just at one goal" in isolation - as the study does - "there can be a negative effect. But relying on another person also lets you spread your energy across many goals, which can be effective if your partner is helpful."