Tag: psychology

The Psychology Of Roller Coasters Thrills

Where else in the world can you scream at the top of your lungs and throw your arms in the air?” Frank Farley asks.

If you did that in most other places, they’d take you to your parents and probably put you through a psychological evaluation.” Farley is a psychologist at Temple University in Philadelphia.

The freedom to act wildly is one reason why millions of people flock to amusement parks every year.

Roller coasters are a major part of this attraction, and the people who run the parks keep looking for ways to make coasters taller, faster, and scarier.

The new Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, for example, rises 420 feet into the air and travels at speeds up to 120 miles per hour.

It’s the tallest and fastest coaster in the world. And there’s no shortage of people willing and eager to ride it.

Coaster appeal

For many people, there’s only one good reason to go to an amusement park: the roller coaster. Other people, however, would rather hide behind the closest candy stand than go near a coaster.

What separates these two types of people—those who seek thrills and those who prefer the quiet life?

Roller coasters often appeal to kids whose lives are stressful, structured, or controlled, Farley says.

“The summers of yore where kids could be kids and float down a river in an inner tube are over,” he says. “Roller coasters are a way of breaking out of the humdrum and expectations of everyday life. You can let it all go and scream and shout or do whatever you want.”

Attendance at amusement parks shows that many adults feel the same way.

Compared with skateboarding, extreme mountain biking, and other adventure sports, riding roller coasters is safe. Parents usually don’t mind when kids go on coasters.

Roller coasters also have a way of bringing people together. Riders share the thrill and adventure of surviving what feels like an extreme experience.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Why ‘Intelligence’ Is A Stupid Concept

Have you ever thought that you’re not intelligent enough to do something? That you’re not as smart as another person so you can’t succeed like they have?

Research is showing us that our attitude towards intelligence is an important factor in being able to achieve our goals.

One of the greatest myths is that the most successful people are the most intelligent.

I believe this is one of the most damaging myths people have.

It’s a myth that many people fall back on when they encounter a failure of some sort — i.e. that this failure is evidence that we aren’t the smartest person in the room.

For some reason we forget that the stereotypical image of an ‘intelligent person’ — perhaps a physicist or a surgeon, are in reality defined by pushing past constant failures as they slave away trying to solve a problem.

These people choose to learn from their failures until they find the solution they were seeking for.

Perhaps an argument can be made that true intelligence requires a particular attitude toward failure — namely that failure is a useful opportunity to pause, reflect, learn and re-tackle a problem.

One of my biggest issues with the modern day education system is the arbitrary delineation it creates between ‘intelligent’ and ‘non-intelligent’ students.

From an early age, we’re told that the students who perform the best are the ones who are ‘naturally gifted’ — that they are simply born more intelligent than the rest of us.

In reality, top performers either put in more work (i.e. hours of study) or have more efficient ways of studying (i.e. are more productive).

A 2013 study of 3,520 students found that the two biggest factors in achieving long-term academic success were motivation and study strategies — not ‘intelligence’.

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According To Psychologist, Love At First Sight Doesn’t Actually Exist

We’ve all seen that movie moment when two strangers meet and feel an instant romantic connection.

In fact, “love at first sight” has been a mainstay of literature for thousands of years, and people in real life often claim to experience a similar spark.

But is that feeling actually love? Not quite, according to the authors of a new study.

In the study, researchers investigated whether people feel love at first sight — LAFS — or whether they believe retroactively that they felt that way, once they’ve already formed an attachment to a romantic partner.

The scientists also questioned whether what people call: “love” at a first encounter is truly representative of the complex emotions that make up love — or just a powerful physical attraction.

Prior studies have shown that being in love activates certain brain regions, and the location of the activity can vary depending on what type of love the person is feeling, such as emotional, maternal or passionate love.

Intense, passionate love activates the same networks in the brain as addiction does, and more long-term love sparked responses in brain regions associated with attachment and reward.

Researchers have also previously reported that as many as 1 in 3 people in Western countries claim to have experienced LAFS.

And that the feeling is associated with more passion and stronger bonds within the relationship, the scientists wrote in the new study.

But there was little evidence indicating if LAFS occurred when people thought it did — at the moment of their first meeting ― or if they merely remembered it happening that way through the lens of their current romantic feelings, the study authors explained.

The scientists collected data from about 500 encounters between nearly 400 participants, mostly heterosexual Dutch and German students in their mid-20s.

Using three stages of data collection — an online survey, a laboratory study and three dating events lasting up to 90 minutes each.

The researchers gathered information from their subjects about meeting prospective romantic partners.

They noted whether participants said that they felt something akin to LAFS upon a first meeting, and how physically attractive they ranked the person who inspired those feelings.

To define what qualified as “love,” subjects submitted self-analysis of several key components: “eros”,”intimacy,” “passion” and “commitment.”

During the tests, 32 different individuals reported experiencing LAFS a total of 49 times — and that observation wasn’t typically accompanied with high ratings for love components such as intimacy and commitment.

However, reports of LAFS did correspond with a potential partner scoring higher as physically attractive, the researchers discovered.

About 60 percent of the study participants were women, but men were more likely to report feeling LAFS “on the spot,” the study authors reported.

And in every case, their experience of LAFS was unreciprocated, suggesting that mutual, instantaneous LAFS “might generally be rare,” according to the study.

The authors determined that LAFS was, in fact, merely “a strong initial attraction” that people identified as love, either at the moment they felt it, or in retrospect.

And though some study subjects who were already involved with someone reported that they fell in love at first glance, it’s hard to say for sure if that happened the way they remembered.

Answering this question would require further investigation into romantic relationships, to see how those initial, powerful feelings of instantaneous love play out over time, the scientists wrote.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

Why Do People Believe In Weird Things?

Psychologists, sociologists, and anthropologists have all come forward with theories to explain, as Michael Shermer expressed it as the title of a book, “why people believe weird things.”

Shermer, a leading non-believer of the supernatural, takes the traditional skeptical view grounded in psychology.

Filled with uncertainty, life can often be frightening, leading many to gravitate to what he considered “pseudoscience, superstition, and other confusions of our time.

Belief in an afterlife or some kind of “grand design” is comforting and assuring, providing order to the universe.

Mythologies, religions, and the occult all have roots in the pre-scientific age, Shermer pointed out, these kinds of beliefs forged before reason and rationalism dominated intellectual discourse.

The faith in some kind of god or spiritual plane of existence laid the foundation for today’s popularity of ESP, UFOs, and ghosts, he argued, any phenomena outside the rigid boundaries of science an alluring and perhaps irresistible proposition.

Anthropologists also have good reasons “why we believe.” Evolution has conditioned us to believe things are alive when we are not quite sure, some suggest, it being a far better survival strategy to assume that that big brown formation over yonder is a hungry bear than just a rock.

Thinking that the thing that just went bump in the night is a ghost instead of rusty pipes could thus very well be instinctual, one more reason it should not be surprising that the supernatural is often accepted as truth.

Control too, or more accurately the lack of it, is responsible for much of our supernatural ways, anthropologists argue.

“In the absence of perceived control, people become susceptible to detecting patterns in an effort to regain some sense of organization,” wrote Bruce Hood, a fancy way of saying that the mind actively looks for explanations.

Anxiety or economic distress make people that much more interested in feeling a sense of control, this perfectly in synch with the consistent spike in paranormalism experienced during tough times or social/political turmoil.

Perceptually, the world is chronically ambiguous and requires an interpretation,” summed up Stewart Guthrie, professor emeritus of anthropology at Fordham University and author of Faces in the Clouds, this accounting for everything from the Virgin-Mary-in-the-burrito phenomenon to the “peak experience” Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell reported while in space in 1971.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

A New Study Suggests Gaming Addiction Isn’t A Real Disorder

There are those that take their gaming time too far, to the extent that it negatively impacts their lives, their careers, and their relationships with friends and family.

But according to a new study from Cardiff University, gaming addiction might not be a real condition – at least, not as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders describes it.

There are currently nine criteria for “internet gaming disorder,” an area of interest for the American Psychiatric Association that has not yet properly been classified as a mental disorder.

The study reports that almost nobody fits the five of nine criteria necessary for diagnosis.

Of more than 2,000 regular online game players surveyed, only nine met the criteria for the disorder. When the participants were questioned again six months later, none still met the requirements for diagnosis.

The study suggests that rather than game addiction itself being a problem, those who struggle with too much game time are instead filling a hole caused by sources of unhappiness in other areas of their life.

Symptoms of gaming disorder had been reduced in participants who had found greater satisfaction in other areas of their life.

It seems none of this is to say that spending too much time in-game, but rather that gaming addiction serves as a symptom of more general unhappiness.

Nonetheless, psychological organizations and game developers alike have taken steps to mitigate gaming’s role in those problems.

The British National Health Service began treating game addiction in 2015 alongside porn and online shopping habits, Valve even began adding healthy gaming timers in Dota 2 last year.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

Experts Explain Why People Are Disgusted By Mayonnaise

Barack Obama doesn’t care for it. Jimmy Fallon despises it. And chances are you have a friend in your life who can’t stand the stuff, or you yourself won’t countenance it.

We’re talking about mayonnaise, the simple egg-and-oil condiment that fires up complicated feelings in people.

It’s clear that mayonnaise has its share of haters, but as people who actually eat the stuff, we wanted to find out why.

We reached out to two experts on the topic of disgust to shine some light: William Ian Miller, professor of law at the University of Michigan and author of the 1997 book The Anatomy of Disgust, and Rachel Herz, an adjunct assistant professor at Brown University and author of 2012′s That’s Disgusting: Unraveling the Mysteries of Repulsion.

Mayonnaise wiggles, jiggles and moves.

t’s possible some people find mayonnaise off-putting because it’s just a bit too… excitable.

Its texture is what makes it most repulsive,” Herz said. “It has the ability to wobble and does not sit inert, even though it is not animate

The inert taking on qualities of an animate object can create feelings of disgust. Its moving implies a living thing, and living things can contaminate you.

One of the main functions that disgust serves for us is to help us avoid contamination.

If something moves when you don’t expect it to, or in a way you don’t expect it to, your mind can generate a feeling of aversion as a way to protect you from whatever this weird thing is.

Even if you’re eating mayonnaise in a sandwich, where you won’t see it move, your mind might still associate mayo with unnatural behavior, which can render it inedible to you.

Mayonnaise reminds people of bodily fluids.

I suppose people are disgusted with mayo because it has the consistency of pus,” Miller said. “Some things are more likely to generate disgust than others, and bodily fluids and rot are two of those things.

Semen, pus, fat: Mayonnaise doesn’t not resemble these substances, and that might not be what you want to be thinking of at mealtime. Some people are disgusted by bodily fluids subconsciously as a result of the fear of contamination.

Mayonnaise is the wrong temperature.

As a general rule of thumb, Miller said, “unless [a substance is] ice cold or in flames… the potential for disgust is greater.

Vanilla ice cream, for example, is white and viscous, like mayonnaise. But it doesn’t provoke the same reaction, because it’s frozen.

Anything that’s close to room temperature is also close to the temperature of the human body, Miller explained. Sure, mayonnaise isn’t served at 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, but it isn’t served frozen or fried, either.

Anything non-human that reminds people of human life has the potential to induce disgust ― that’s why the uncanny valley is a thing. “Is there anything more revolting than the science of human life?” Miller said.

A hate for mayonnaise is learned.

There’s often a cultural component to disgust, which can help explain why mayo is regarded dubiously in some countries (like the U.S.) and beloved in others (like Belgium).

Our response to disgust is actually learned,” Herz said.

There’s no innate understanding that mayo is like a bodily fluid or that we should have an aversion to bodily fluids, but once we do have that association, it does really elicit a real emotion of disgust.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Scientists Discover How The Brain Sends Signals To Make Us Freeze When We Faced Danger

Fear is primitive. In the wild, it instinctively protects animals from predators – but for humans, the emotion can be far more complex.

Fear can trigger the ‘fight or flight’ response to raise the heart rate, sharpen the senses and provide access to huge amounts of energy in order to cope with threats to survival.

At times, the threat is so intense it can cause a ‘freeze‘ response. This could be interpreted as the brain being overwhelmed, or it may have evolved as a way of keeping still to hide from predators.

Now neuroscientists have discovered exactly how the brain links its survival circuits to the spinal cord, causing the body to freeze in the face of danger.

The discovery could help develop effective treatments for emotional disorders such as anxiety, panic attacks and phobias.

Scientists know that memories are learned and stored in a small structure in the brain known as the amygdala.

Any disturbing event activates neurons in the lateral and then central portions of the amygdala.

The signals are then communicated internally, passing from one group of neurons to the next. From there, they reach neurons in the brainstem, the action centre for fear responses.

Researchers believe something known as the periaqueductal gray (PAG) can trigger responses such as freezing, a high heart rate, increase in blood pressure and the desire for flight or fight.

The study by Bristol University has discovered a brain pathway leading from the PAG to a part of the cerebellum – a region of the brain that controls motion – named the pyramis.

The research went on to show that the pyramis is involved in generating freezing behaviour when someone faces danger.

There is a growing consensus that understanding the neural circuits underlying fear behaviour is a fundamental step towards developing effective treatments for behavioural changes associated with emotional disorders,” said Dr Stella Koutsikou at the University of Bristol.

Professor Bridget Lumb, Professor of Systems Neuroscience, added: “Our work introduces the novel concept that the cerebellum is a promising target for therapeutic strategies to manage dysregulation of emotional states such as panic disorders and phobias.”

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Pass it on: Popular Science