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  • May 30, 2017
  • 08:29 PM
  • 203 views

International students and language: opportunity or threat?

by Agnes Bodis in Language on the Move

With recent news on the number of international students in Australia reaching a new high and the 19.4 billion-dollar revenue...... Read more »

  • May 28, 2017
  • 10:36 AM
  • 245 views

Unattractive People Are Seen As Better Scientists

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Good looking, sociable people don't make good scientists, according to popular stereotypes.

This is one of the findings of an interesting new study of how scientists are perceived, from British researchers Ana I. Gheorghiu and colleagues.


Gheorghiu et al. took 616 pictures of scientists, which they downloaded from the faculty pages at various universities. They gave the portraits to two sets of raters. The first group were asked to rate the attractiveness of the portraits and to say whet... Read more »

Gheorghiu AI, Callan MJ, & Skylark WJ. (2017) Facial appearance affects science communication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 28533389  

  • May 26, 2017
  • 12:34 PM
  • 290 views

The Ugliness Penalty: Does It Literally Pay to Be Pretty?

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

There are economic studies that show that attractive people earn more money and, conversely, unattractive earn less money. I’m pretty sure that I’ve heard something along those lines before, but I had no idea they were called the “beauty premium” and the “ugliness penalty.” How wonderful and sad at the same time. But while these seem like pretty commonplace ideas, there is no real evidence as to why they exist. A new paper published in the Journal of Business and Psychology tested three of the leading explanations of the existence or the beauty premium and ugliness penalty: discrimination, self-election, and individual differences. To do this, the researchers used data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health. This is a nationally representative sample that includes measurements of physical attractiveness (5-point scale) at four time points to the age of 29. People were placed into 5 categories based on physical attractiveness, from very attractive to very unattractive. They statistically compared every combination they could think of and came up with many tables full of tiny numbers, as well as some interesting results.DiscriminationIt is what it sounds like: ugly people are discriminated against and paid less. And it isn’t just from employers, it can also be from co-workers, customers, or clients that prefer to work with or do business with pretty people. Or it could be a combination, like an employer that hires someone pretty because they know that others will respond to them better. Because there is a monotonically positive association between attractiveness and earnings (an overly academic way of saying that one is linked to the other), it can be tested.The results painted a somewhat different picture than you might expect. There was some evidence of a beauty premium in that pretty people earned more than average looking people. However, the researchers found that attractiveness and earnings were not at all monotonic. In fact, ugly people earned more than both average and attractive people, with “very unattractive” people winning out in most cases. So no ugliness penalty and no discrimination there. Good, we don’t like discrimination. Rather, the underlying productivity of workers as measured by their intelligence and education accounted for the associations observed. Basically, ugly people were smarter (and yes, IQ was a variable).Self-ElectionThis occurs in the absence of discrimination. A person self-sorts themselves into an attractiveness group based on how attractive they perceive themselves to be and may choose their occupation accordingly. If a pretty person chooses an occupation that has higher earnings (or vice versa), then there is a positive association between attractiveness and earnings both across and within occupations.Once again, the results were unexpected. The self-selection hypothesis was refuted. Ugly people earned more than pretty people. In fact, very unattractive people earned more than both regular unattractive and average looking people. This is where the researchers start calling this effect “the ugliness premium.” Good term. Individual DifferencesThis one posits that a pretty and ugly people are genuinely different. Try looking at it in the context of evolutionary biology. Physical attractiveness is based on facial symmetry, averageness, and secondary sexual characteristics, which all signal genetic and developmental health. Many traits can be quantified very accurately with today’s computers. There are standards of beauty both within a single culture and across all cultures. Studies have also shown that attractive children receive more positive feedback from interpersonal interactions, making them more likely to develop an extraverted personality. If health, intelligence, and personality, along with other measures of productivity, are statistically controlled then attractiveness should be able to be compared to earnings.Again, there was absolutely no evidence for either the beauty premium or the ugliness penalty. Rather, there was some support for the ugliness premium. Now keep in mind, this was not as much a this-higher-than-that, but more of a this-different-from-that type of hypothesis. So there actually is strong support that there are differences. There was a significantly positive effect of health and intelligence on earnings. Also, the “Big Five” personality factors – Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism (or OCEAN…cute) – were significantly correlated with physical attractiveness. Pretty people were more OCEA and less N. This may be why looks appear to have an effect on earnings.Overall, not what you thought it would be, huh? Me either. The importance of intelligence and education as it correlates with attractiveness would be an interesting next step. I wonder if it reflects the time at which these data were taken. We are seeing the Rise of the Nerds, where intelligence is outpacing beauty in terms of success. Had they analyzed data from another decade, would the ugliness penalty find support?Kanazawa, S., & Still, M. (2017). Is There Really a Beauty Premium or an Ugliness Penalty on Earnings? Journal of Business and Psychology DOI: 10.1007/s10869-017-9489-6image via Linked4Success... Read more »

  • May 23, 2017
  • 01:38 PM
  • 182 views

Dismantle the Poverty Trap by Nurturing Community Trust

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

Understanding the precise reasons for why people living in poverty often make decisions that seem short-sighted, such as foregoing more education or taking on high-interest short-term loans, is the first step to help them escape poverty. The obvious common-sense fix is to ensure that the basic needs of all citizens – food, shelter, clothing, health and personal safety – are met, so that they no longer have to use all new funds for survival. This is obviously easier in the developed world, but it is not a trivial matter considering that the USA – supposedly the richest country in the world – has an alarmingly high poverty rate. It is estimated that more than 40 million people in the US live in poverty, fearing hunger and eviction from their homes. But just taking care of these basic needs may not be enough to help citizens escape poverty. A recent research study by Jon Jachimowicz at Columbia University and his colleagues investigated “myopic” (short-sighted) decision-making of people with lower income and identified an important new factor: community trust.... Read more »

Jachimowicz, J., Chafik, S., Munrat, S., Prabhu, J., & Weber, E. (2017) Community trust reduces myopic decisions of low-income individuals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201617395. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1617395114  

  • May 21, 2017
  • 11:50 AM
  • 169 views

Predictive Processing: the role of confidence and precision

by Sergio Graziosi in Writing my own user manual - Sergio Graziosi's Blog

This is the second post in a series inspired by Andy Clark’s book “Surfing Uncertainty“. In the previous post I’ve mentioned that an important concept in the Predictive Processing (PP) framework is the role of confidence. Confidence (in a prediction)…Read more ›... Read more »

Kanai R, Komura Y, Shipp S, & Friston K. (2015) Cerebral hierarchies: predictive processing, precision and the pulvinar. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 370(1668). PMID: 25823866  

  • May 21, 2017
  • 08:55 AM
  • 189 views

A Survey of Our Secret Lives

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

What kinds of secrets does the average person keep? In a new paper, Columbia University researchers Michael L. Slepian and colleagues carried out a survey of secrets.



Slepian et al. developed a 'Common Secrets Questionnaire' (CSQ) and gave it to 600 participants recruited anonymously online. Participants were asked whether they'd ever had various secrets, at any point in their lives. The results are a monument to all our sins:

It turns out that extra-relational thoughts - meaning "thou... Read more »

Slepian, M., Chun, J., & Mason, M. (2017) The Experience of Secrecy. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. DOI: 10.1037/pspa0000085  

  • May 11, 2017
  • 10:42 PM
  • 250 views

The banal nationalism of intercultural communication advice

by Ingrid Piller in Language on the Move

Intercultural communication advice is a strange genre. Filling shelves and shelves in bookshops and libraries and now with a well-established...... Read more »

Piller, I. (2017) Intercultural Communication: A Critical Introduction (2nd ed.). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. info:/

  • May 6, 2017
  • 02:04 PM
  • 248 views

Partisan Review: “Surfing Uncertainty”, by Andy Clark.

by Sergio Graziosi in Writing my own user manual - Sergio Graziosi's Blog

Sometimes it happens that reading a book ignites a seemingly unstoppable whirlpool of ideas. The book in question is “Surfing Uncertainty: Prediction, Action, and the Embodied Mind” by Andy Clark. Why is this a partisan review? Because Clark himself had…Read more ›... Read more »

  • May 1, 2017
  • 07:30 PM
  • 296 views

Sharing the Future with Artificial Intelligence

by Aurametrix team in Aurametrix Blog

Artificial intelligence has reached a buzzword utopia as it seems everyone is talking about self-driving cars, delivery drones and virtual assistants with human-like "intelligence." Some believe this new era of AI will make the American Dream universally accessible, enabling early retirement in bucolic settings. Others are concerned about a greater inequality created by a jobless future.... Read more »

  • April 29, 2017
  • 08:55 AM
  • 215 views

New Human Rights for the Age of Neuroscience?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Do we have a human right to the privacy of our brain activity? Is "cognitive liberty" the foundation of all freedom?



An interesting new paper by Swiss researchers Marcello Ienca and Roberto Andorno explores such questions: Towards new human rights in the age of neuroscience and neurotechnology

Ienca and Andorno begin by noting that it has long been held that the mind is "a kind of last refuge of personal freedom and self-determination". In other words, no matter what restrictions might... Read more »

  • April 25, 2017
  • 03:16 AM
  • 315 views

Will technology make language rights obsolete?

by Dave Sayers in Language on the Move

Something has been nagging at me recently. I read a lot of tech news, and it seems automated translation is...... Read more »

  • April 23, 2017
  • 12:30 AM
  • 350 views

Intrinsic Motivation Is Caused by Achievement

by Joshua Fisher in Text Savvy

Education interventions (specifically those dealing with mathematics education) designed to increase achievement may be better uses of time than those designed to increase intrinsic motivation.... Read more »

  • April 17, 2017
  • 02:00 PM
  • 127 views

The emergence of the alternative metric that can make the measurement of world academic production more fair and egalitarian

by SciELO in SciELO in Perspective | Press Releases

The growing use of social networks for various purposes, including the dissemination of scientific communication, has required the creation of a new method of measuring and analyzing the flow of information in these environments. Altmetria emerged as a subarea of Metrics Information Studies to meet this need, and can complement traditional methods of evaluation, thus making it more fair and egalitarian. … Read More →... Read more »

  • April 15, 2017
  • 05:12 PM
  • 388 views

Perspectives…

by Sergio Graziosi in Writing my own user manual - Sergio Graziosi's Blog

In the past few months I’ve spent some time looking for trouble on Twitter. I’ve found some (mild and polite), which translated into plenty food for thought, and eventually allowed me to put some order in my thoughts. The matter…Read more ›... Read more »

Kahneman, D. (2011) Thinking, Fast and Slow. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. info:other/978-0374275631

  • April 9, 2017
  • 11:51 PM
  • 350 views

Fighting for ‘pure’ Mongolian

by Gegentuul Baioud in Language on the Move

On New Year’s Eve, when many people around the world were excited about firework shows, a group of Mongols in...... Read more »

Sachirengui. (2013) Mongol nüüdel hüühediin niigemchileltiin tuhai sudalal [A Study on the Socialization Process of Mongol Migrant Children in Hohhot]. Masters thesis, University of Inner Mongolia, Hohhot. . info:/

  • April 7, 2017
  • 04:02 PM
  • 115 views

Outsourcing and precariousness of work in the social assistance policy

by SciELO in SciELO in Perspective | Press Releases

This paper presents the work conditions of psychologists hired by private organizations to work at the Sistema Único de Assistência Social (Unified System for Social Assistance). Among other things, it concludes that this “outsourcing” process has been allowing temporary contracts, high turnover rates, late payment of salaries, dismissal of large groups of employees and lack of continuing education, which impacts the health of the workers and the quality of the services offered. … Read More →... Read more »

  • April 4, 2017
  • 12:00 PM
  • 375 views

Researchers Finally Ask: Does Your Cat Even Like To Be Around You?

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

This cat has had enough and is running away from home. Photo by Danielle Menuey.While dogs happily and obliviously boast the reputation of being “man’s best friend”, cats have a reputation of being antisocial, independent, and downright grumpy. But do cats really deserve that? Scientists finally decided to find out.Kristin Vitale Shreve and Monique Udell from Oregon State University and Lindsay Mehrkam from Monmouth University asked 25 pet cats and 25 shelter cats their preferences. How do you ask a cat what it prefers, you ask? You run a preference test, of course! A preference test is an experiment in which you place two or more things at equal distances from a subject and then test which of those things the subject spends the most time with.Researchers suggest that these are some happy cats. Photo by Courtney Magnuson.The researchers wanted to know if cats preferred: (1) food, (2) toys, (3) social interactions with humans, or (4) interesting odors. The trouble with that, however, is that there are many different foods, toys, interactions, and odors to choose from. So first, the researchers tested each cats' preferences within each category.Will work for food. Photo by Charity Juang.For food, the researchers put a soft chicken-flavored treat, actual chicken, and tuna into and around three puzzle boxes (so the cats would have easy access to taste some of each food, but couldn’t quickly gobble it up) and measured where the cats spent their time over a 3-minute period. Most of the cats liked the tuna most, next followed by the chicken, and they liked the soft treat the least.For toys, the researchers made a movement toy by attaching a Dancer 101 Cat Dancer Interactive Cat Toy to a board and placing a GoCat Da Bird Feather Toy on the end with clear fishing line that was moved by an experimenter who was hidden outside the room. They then offered the movement toy, a still GoCat Da Bird Feather Toy on a board and a fuzzy shaker-mouse and they measured which toys the cats interacted with over a 3-minute period. Most of the cats liked the movement toy most, and they didn’t have much of a preference between the other two toys.To test for cat preferences for types of human interactions, the cat’s owner (if it was a pet cat) or a researcher (if it was a shelter cat) spent one minute talking to the cat, another minute petting the cat (or holding their hand out to offer petting), and another minute playing with the cat with the feather toy (or holding out the toy). Researchers measured what proportion of each minute the cat spent interacting with the human. The cats interacted most with the humans during the play condition, next followed by petting, and least of all talking.To see what odors cats preferred, the researchers put out cloths embedded with the scent of a gerbil (a potential prey), another cat, or catnip. The cats overwhelmingly preferred the catnip.The preference test. Image from Vitale Shreve et al. 2017.Once the researchers figured out what each cat preferred in each category, they set up a four-way grid with their favorite food, toy, social interaction, and odor and let them spend the next three minutes any way they liked. Although there was a lot of variation among cats, 50% of the cats most preferred the social interaction with the human... even over food! Interestingly, the pet cats (who interacted with their owners) were no different in this regard than the shelter cats (who interacted with a researcher). But 37% of the cats most preferred food (maybe you have one of these cats). 11% preferred toys over all else. Only 1 cat (a pet named Hallie) preferred odor… the catnip fiend!So although cats all have their own personalities, most of them really do like people. And they especially like to play with people. And, it turns out, they even do better at this than dogs (most of whom prefer food over people, when it really comes down to it). So go play with your kitty and give her some tuna… she’ll love you for it. And, yes. This means that even cats can be trained with human interaction and food: ...But maybe not this one:Some cats need more work than others. Photo by Jen Bray. Want to know more? Check this out:Vitale Shreve, K., Mehrkam, L., &... Read more »

  • April 3, 2017
  • 02:00 PM
  • 117 views

Medical practice precariousness at the Unified Health System — SUS

by SciELO in SciELO in Perspective | Press Releases

The medical practice in the Unified Health System is a study topic published in the journal Estudos de Psicologia (Campinas), which reveals the working conditions of these professionals and the impacts on personal health, analyzed through interviews and self-confidence. … Read More →... Read more »

  • April 2, 2017
  • 07:17 AM
  • 321 views

The perfect multilingual

by Madalena Cruz-Ferreira in Being Multilingual

P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } In case you’re wondering, let me reassure you straight away that yes, the title of this post is meant to be sarcastic. Perfect multilinguals do exist, of course, though only in the minds of those of us who mistake ideals of perfection for reality. Multilingual perfection awardees must satisfy a number of criteria. If you are, or were, a language learner as an adult, forget it: not having acquired all of your languages as a young child automatically makes you a non-multilingual. Either your accent, or your choice of words, your delivery, proficiency, fluency, grammar, conversational skills, in one or more of your languages, or your physical appearance, or all of the above, won’t pass the perfection litmus test, which is a match to native(-like) standards. This is an intriguing criterion, because it assumes that we know what native users are, look like, and do with their languages. I recently came across a very entertaining report in Nature, about the woes of having articles submitted to journals anonymously peer reviewed in order to assess their scholarly quality, where I found this gem: “Another reviewer suggested that the [article] authors should find ‘someone who speaks English as a first language to proofread the paper’, even though all four authors – including two tenured professors – were native English speakers.”If, on the other hand, you’re a child acquiring your languages from birth, you may stand slightly higher up the qualifying ladder. But only slightly, because even though you might technically qualify as a native multilingual, there have been studies on such children reporting on their foreign accent in one or more of their languages, numbering their languages L1, L2, Ln to suggest sequential language learning, or arguing that one of their languages is dominant across an often unspecified board. As a young child, you are also bound to fail the LSRW condition, stipulating that being multilingual means proficiency in Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing all of your languages. This acronymic criterion does two things: first, it disregards all of us for whom language use involves neither listening nor speaking; and second, it adds the ‘RW’ twist, drawing on the well-attested confusion between languages and their printed counterparts. If I read and write Latin, but don’t speak it, am I multilingual with Latin? If I’m a native user of Singlish, but never wrote anything in it, am I multilingual with Singlish? Fascinating questions, and fascinating criterion, because it means that young multilinguals, as well as multilinguals who are illiterate, or happen to use one or more of the vast majority of the world’s languages which lack printed versions, aren’t perfect multilinguals either. So who is? The issue is not so much that defining multilinguals looks pretty much like an exercise in shooting at a moving target: every time you think you’ve answered a question, about yourself or others (Am I multilingual? Are you?), you find that the question has changed. The issue is that the perfect multilingual matches the mythical being that I’ve called multi-monolingual and that can be represented like this:Cover of Cruz-Ferreira, M., Multilinguals are ...? Image © Dinusha Uthpala UpasenaPerfect multi-monolinguals, in short, have complete, unmixed, and parallel command of all of their languages. If taken seriously, this means, for example, that they must be dominant in all their languages which, if taken seriously, makes one wonder about the seriousness of the paradoxical claim that multilinguals must develop a single dominant language. Instead of taking seriously claims about multilingualism which make no sense at all, let’s leave the sarcastic mood and take a serious look at what these criteria imply: they say that there are perfect, and therefore imperfect, uses of language, which means that those uses are best judged rather than observed. They say that living up to language standards is what steers our language uses, which means that languages exist independently of their users. And they compound the myth that being multilingual means being lesser lingual. There is one good reason why questions about the perfect (real, proper, true, etc.) monolingual aren’t ever asked: they would just make us laugh. Which monolingual has perfect command of their single language, according to the criteria that should define a perfect multilingual? Real-life multilinguals are as linguistically perfect as their monolingual counterparts. All of us draw on all of the linguistic resources at our disposal in space and time, whether we label these resources mono- or multi-. And all of us are fair game for judgement and deprecation according to someone else’s and, not least, our own ideals of perfection. ... Read more »

  • April 1, 2017
  • 03:30 PM
  • 349 views

Educational Achievement and Religiosity

by Joshua Fisher in Text Savvy

Religiosity may be correlated with lower educational achievement because people have a finite amount of time and attention, and spending time learning about religion or engaging in religious activities necessarily takes time away from learning math and science.... Read more »

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