What makes something funny? Philosophers have been tossing that question around since Plato. Now two psychological scientists think they’ve come up with the formula: humor comes from a violation or threat to the way the world ought to be that is, at the same time, benign.
President Obama’s campaign brought millions of new voters to polls during the 2008 elections, but the decisions of former Bush voters had a substantial effect on the outcome. A new University of Michigan analysis indicates that several million formerly Republican voters chose not to support party nominee John McCain, either staying home during the elections or opting for Barack Obama.
The language a person speaks may influence their thoughts, according to a new study on Israeli Arabs who speak both Arabic and Hebrew fluently. The study found that Israeli Arabs’ positive associations with their own people are weaker when they are tested in Hebrew than when they are tested in Arabic.
It’s nearly impossible to pay attention to one thing for a long time. A new study looks at whether Buddhist meditation can improve a person’s ability to be attentive and finds that meditation training helps people do better at focusing for a long time on a task that requires them to distinguish small differences between things they see.
Getting angry might help you get your way if you’re negotiating with European Americans, but watch out – in negotiations with East Asians, getting angry may actually hurt your cause. That’s the conclusion of a new study on how people from different cultures react to anger in negotiations.
Remembering events from our past that we know have never actually happened is actually a relatively common phenomenon, according to psychologists from the University of Hull.
Thinking about God may make you less upset about making errors, according to a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The researchers measured brain waves for a particular kind of distress-response while participants made mistakes on a test. Those who had been prepared with religious thoughts had a less prominent response to mistakes than those who hadn’t.
Effective reading requires recognizing words and also understanding what they mean. Between 7-10 percent of children have specific reading-comprehension difficulties. These children can read text aloud accurately but do not understand what they have just read. A new study in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, identifies a training program which may help children overcome reading-comprehension difficulties.
Stuttering may be the result of a glitch in the day-to-day process by which cellular components in key regions of the brain are broken down and recycled, says a study in the Feb. 10 Online First issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The study, led by researchers at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health, has identified three genes as a source of stuttering in volunteers in Pakistan, the United States, and England.
An experimental compound appears to improve metabolic abnormalities associated with obesity, according to a preliminary study led by researchers at the National Institutes of Health. A report of the study, which was conducted with obese mice, appears online today in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
In Greek mythology, the gods punished Sisyphus by condemning him to roll a rock up a steep hill for eternity. But he was probably better off than if they’d condemned him to sit and stare into space until the end of time, conclude the authors of a new study on keeping busy. They found that people who have something to do, even something pointless, are happier than people who sit idly.
Politicians’ gestures can reveal their thoughts, according to a new study published July 28, 2010, in the open-access journal PLoS ONE. “In laboratory tests, right- and left-handers associate positive ideas like honesty and intelligence with their dominant side of space and negative ideas with their non-dominant side,” says Daniel Casasanto of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics.