Archive for 'News about research'

Terrier’s new door-in-the-face technique

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

Every once in a long while, someone devises a new door-in-the-face technique. It has happened again:

TERRIERDoor-in-the-Face: Is It Really Necessary That Both Requests Be Made by the Same Requester?Lohyd Terrier [pictured here], Bénédicte Marfaing, and Marc-Olivier Boldi, Psychological Reports, Volume 113, 2013, pp. 675-682. The authrs, at Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne and Université de Fribourg, Switzerland, explain:

“The door-in-the-face technique increases the likelihood of individuals accepting a target request by confronting them, beforehand, with an extreme request. The present research tests a new door-in-the-face technique in which the two requests are formulated by two different requesters during the same interaction. 160 participants were asked to help a charity organization following a door-in-the-face procedure. According to the experimental conditions, requests were formulated by one or two requesters during the same or a different interaction. As predicted, the door-in-the-face effect was observed even if two requests are formulated by two requesters, but only if both are present during the interaction.”

Professor Terrier earlier published other studies about door-in-the-face theory and practice:

Sénémeaud, C., Somat, A., Terrier, L., & Noel, Y. (2008). Porte-au-nez et préférence pour la consistance : Quand les sujets à forte préférence pour la consistance ne reproduisent pas les effets de l’influence sociale. L’Année Psychologique, 108, 51-78.

Terrier, L. & Joule, R.V. (2008). La procédure de porte-au-nez : vers une interprétation motivationnelle. Cahiers Internationaux de Psychologie Sociale, 77, 5-14.

Terrier, L., Joule, R.V. & Marfaing, B. (2011). Requester’s acceptance and non-acceptance of the refusal of the initial request: how to improve the door-in-the-face effects?. Current Research in Social Psychology, 17 (1), 1-9.

Study: Top (male) comedians die earlier?

Friday, December 12th, 2014

A new study from professors Simon Stewart and David Thompson of the Centre for the Heart and Mind and the Mary MacKillop Institute of Health Research (MMIHR) at the Australian Catholic University (ACU) has found that :

“Elite comedians are at increased risk of premature death compared to their less funny counterparts.”

The team examined a study cohort of 53 (exclusively male) comedians from the UK and Ireland – both living (23) and not (30) – and analysed the data using IBM SPPS Statistics version 22.0. The data were weighted according to the ‘funniness’ of the man in question, running from ‘relatively funny’ to ‘hilariously funny’.


“On an adjusted basis, there was no correlation between the decade of birth (HR 0.94, 95% 0.65 to 1.38 per incremental decade; p =0.763) and comedy team status (HR 1.13, 95% 0.51 to 2.48 versus independent comedian; p = 0.761) with longevity. However, an increasingly funny comedy score was associated with increased mortality (HR 1.24, 95% CI 1.06 to 1.44 per unit funny score; p = 0.006). Of the 23 comedians adjudged to be very funny (score 8–10), 18 (78%) had died versus 12 (40%) of the rest; mean age at death 63.3 ± 12.2 versus 72.3 ± 14.7 (p = 0.079). Within comedy teams, those identified as the funnier member(s) of the partnership were, on an adjusted basis, more than three times more likely to die prematurely when compared to their more serious comedy partners (HR 3.52, 95% CI 1.22, 10.1; p = 0.020).”

The hypothesis was further bolstered with the finding that in the case of double-acts, the ‘stooges’ (or straight men) were more than 3 times less likely to die on an adjusted basis before those designated as the funny man.

See: ‘Does comedy kill? A retrospective, longitudinal cohort, nested case–control study of humour and longevity in 53 British comedians’ in: The International Journal of Cardiology, 180 (2015), pp. 258–261.

Notes [1] : The paper cites this study from the British Journal of Psychiatry, 204 (2014), pp. 341–345, by Victoria Ando, Gordon Claridge and Ken Clark Psychotic traits in comedians. The researchers asked more than 500 comedians to complete an online form based on the Oxford-Liverpool Inventory of Feelings and Experiences (O-LIFE), with scales measuring four dimensions of psychotic traits, finding that : “Comedians scored significantly above O-LIFE norms on all four scales.”

[2]: Sadly, both the comedians in the clip above – Peter Cook (comedy rating 9 in the ACU study) and Dudley Moore (comedy rating 5 in the ACU study) are no longer metabolically extant. They are deceased. They are ex-comedians. They do, however, in a sense, live on, in YouTubeLand

Rod constraints for simplified ragdolls

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Programmers sometimes love rag dolls. This study is the fruit of one such love:

Rod constraints for simplified ragdolls,” Chris Lewin, Matt Thorman, Tom Waterson, Chris Williams, and Phil Willis, Proceedings of the 12th ACM SIGGRAPH/Eurographics Symposium on Computer Animation, pp. 79-84. ACM, 2013. The authors, at the University of Bath, UK, and Electronic Arts, explain:

“Physics-based animation has become a standard feature in modern games. Typically, the bones in a character’s animation rig are each associated with a simulated rigid body, leading to a jointed assembly commonly called a ragdoll. The high density of animation bones in the spine area can cause instability and performance issues, so we are motivated to find a simplified physical representation for this region. We approximate the spine region of a ragdoll as an inextensible elastic curve, building a circular arc constraint based on the Kirchhoff rod model. Our simplified spine shows improved performance and stability over the standard group of socket joints, and proves to be more controllable.”

Here’s more detail from the study:


Frequency of Suboptimal Effort of Some Students

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Some students sometimes don’t “give it their all“, suggests this paper:

jorgensen-randallI Just Want My Research Credit: Frequency of Suboptimal Effort in a Non-Clinical Healthy Undergraduate Sample,” Jonathan DeRight and Randall S. Jorgensen [pictured here], The Clinical Neuropsychologist, epub December 10, 2014. (Thanks to Vaughan Bell for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at Syracuse University, explain:

“The current study utilized an embedded measure of effort… to determine the frequency of poor effort in non-clinical healthy undergraduate students participating in a research study for course credit. Results indicate that more than 1 in 10 college students participating in a cognitive test battery for research showed test scores consistent with inadequate effort, which was associated with poor performance on testing across many domains. This conclusion was supported by poor performance on many other subtests. Healthy college students with suboptimal effort (n = 11) had an overall score in the 15th percentile on average compared to the 48th percentile in the rest of the students (n = 66). Those who failed validity indicators on the baseline administration were more likely to fail validity indicators on the repeat administration. Those who were tested in the morning were also more likely to fail validity indicators.”

Some students sometimes do, suggests this October 26, 2014 news report, also from Syracuse, New York:

5,000 students give it their all in Carrier Dome to find out who are the best marching bands in New York

More than 5,000 high school students, along with an estimated 10,000 fans, packed the Carrier Dome for the New York State Field Band Conference championships Sunday.

Fifty marching bands came to town to compete and determine who is the best. For each band, months of practice all came down to a 7- to 10-minute performance. A panel of 10 judges evaluated each band on its musical and visual presentation.

PR headline: “Young bar patrons more likely to smoke”

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Today’s PR Headline of the Week is from a press release issued by the American Public Health Association:

Young bar patrons more likely to smoke and use multiple tobacco products

New Orleans – Smoking prevalence among young adults who frequent bars is at least twice the rate of smoking found among young adults in the general population, according to new research presented today at APHA’s 142nd Annual Meeting….

“These findings are important…,” authors of the study explain.


(Thanks to investigator Bruce Rolfsen for bringing this to our attention.)