Archive for 'News about research'

Hitchcockian Fear-of-Heights Gaze Research

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

In the tradition of film director Alfred Hitchcock, these researchers watched the way fearful people watched their surroundings whilst walking in fear:

BrandtVisual Exploration during Locomotion Limited by Fear of Heights,” Günter Kugler, Doreen Huppert, Maria Eckl, Erich Schneider, Thomas Brandt [pictured here], PLoS ONE, 9(8), 2014, e105906. The authors, at the University of Munich and Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus – Senftenberg, report:

“Visual exploration of the surroundings during locomotion at heights has not yet been investigated in subjects suffering from fear of heights…. Eye and head movements were recorded separately in 16 subjects susceptible to fear of heights and in 16 non-susceptible controls while walking on an emergency escape balcony 20 meters above ground level…. During locomotion, anisotropy of gaze-in-space shows a preference for the vertical as opposed to the horizontal direction during stance. Avoiding looking into the abyss may reduce anxiety in both conditions; exploration of the ‘vertical strip’ in the heading direction is beneficial for visual control of balance and avoidance of obstacles during locomotion.”

This detail from the study shows the experimental setup:


BONUS: A clip from Hitchcock’s film “Vertigo”:

Dishonesty and creativity can spur each other, says study

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

A little dishonesty can, maybe, in the right hands, used judiciously, be a tool that brings creativity to your business, suggests a study by Professor Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School and Scott S. Wiltermuth of the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business.

(The video you see here shows Duke University [and former MIT] professor Dan Ariely, who has conducted much related research with Gino. One of their joint papers is a corker called “The dark side of creativity: original thinkers can be more dishonest.” In this video, Ariely pokes into the happy troika of lies, cheating, and creativity.)

Gino and Wiltermuth did some little experiments…

—so begins another Improbable Innovation nugget, which appears in its entirety on BetaBoston.

If your theory abut hurricane names stirs up a tempest, then…

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Here’s the newest effusion from the hurricane-names authors whose paper stirred up a tempest:

Reply to Christensen and Christensen and to Malter: Pitfalls of erroneous analyses of hurricanes names,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 111 no. 34, 2014,  E3499–E3500. They write:

“We are grateful for this opportunity to provide additional support for our conclusions about the role of name femininity in responses to storms.”

BONUS (possibly related, form 2005): Ig Nobel and Hurricane Katrina

A medical study the entire family can enjoy

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

This is a medical study the entire family can enjoy, one way and another:

Factor-LitvakEffect of maternal coffee, smoking and drinking behavior on adult son’s semen quality,” P.M. Cirillo, B.A. Cohn, N.Y. Krigbaum, M. Lee, C. Brazil, and Pam Factor-Litvak [pictured here], Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, vol. 2, no. 6, 2011, pp.  375-386.

The authors are at the Public Health Institute, Berkeley, CA, the University of California, Davis, and Columbia University, New York.

Breakthroughs in boredom

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

People who design apps — or, for that matter, design startup companies — want their creations to elicit excitement. They (usually) design to avoid creating boredom. A fairly recent Canadian study offers exciting insights into the nature of boredom.

Designers take heed!

The study is “The Unengaged Mind: Defining Boredom in Terms of Attention,” John D. Eastwood, Alexandra Frischen, Mark J. Fenske and Daniel SmilekPerspectives on Psychological Science, 2012….

—so begins another Improbable Innovation nugget, which appears in its entirety on BetaBoston.