Fake Watchful Eyes Discourage Naughty Behavior

January 15th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

According to a study at Newcastle University in the UK, a photograph of staring eyes on a sign or poster along with a command can promote behaving, compliance with orders,  and “doing the right thing”.

Psychology researchers at Newcastle University hung two different posters at a restaurant, to see how customers would react. They both featured text asking patrons to bin their rubbish, but one had a picture of flowers on it and the other had a pair of staring eyes.

The number of people who paid attention to the sign, and cleaned up after their meal, doubled when confronted with a pair of gazing peepers. The research team, lead by Dr. Melissa Bateson and Dr. Daniel Nettle of the Centre for Behaviour and Evolution found that twice as many customers followed the orders when met with eyes, compared to figures for the flower poster from the day before.

The study is based on the theory of “nudge psychology,” which suggests people behave better if the best option is highlighted, but not forced upon them. Linking that with the eyes grabs peoples’ attention, and makes that nudge even more effective.

Fake Watchful Eyes Discourage Naughty Behavior

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The Mythical Tricks of Magic Meet Psychology

November 27th, 2010 § 3 comments § permalink

Scientific American Mind recently came out with a wonderful article on the use of magic in psychology. In it, they break down some tricks magicians and con artists use to manipulate your mind.

One of my favorite things learned was something I’ll coin TTTNTTSBT. Or, the thing that’s not there that should be there. Basically, the TTTNTTSBT illusion plays with your nerve endings and your touch feedback. A magician in the video (at the end of this post) pushes a coin against the subject’s forehead, then quickly pulls the coin away without her observation. The implant of the nerves on the forehead, tricked by the pressure, still believe that the coin is there, and thus the subject believes the coin is there as well.

The TTTNTTSBT also works for pickpocketing watches: putting casual pressure on the skin above the watch will give the sensation that the watch is still there even after one takes it. But one simply can’t take a watch without distraction first. And that’s the next thing the video explains.

The video explains how as humans, we use what are called mirror neurons to watch what others are paying attention to and pay attention to that instead of what we should be paying attention to. This is classic misdirection, and magicians constantly do this, pretending to pay careful attention to things that they want the audience to pay attention to.

Humor is also used as a distraction, as well as banter, or a constant stream of speech intended to draw the subject’s attention to what you are saying. But the most helpful distraction tip was simply throwing as many things as possible as the subject, to overwhelm their senses. In the clip, the pickpocket is constantly touching the subject in different places, firing up the nerves to get used to this attention grabber, and eventually taking away the attention from the slight brush in the wallet pocket.

Buy the book, Slights of Mind, referenced to in the video and support Lone Iguana.

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Get Your Wallet Returned [Lost and Found]

June 18th, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

Interesting tidbit of information for people who lose their wallet constantly. Apparently, the key is to actually keep cute baby photos in your wallet.

The baby photograph wallets had the highest return rate, with 88 per cent of the 40 being sent back. Next came the puppy, the family and the elderly couple, with 53 per cent, 48 and 28 respectively. At 20 per cent and 15, the charity card and control wallets had the lowest return rates.

via TimesOnline

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Be Smarter: Believe [Brain Screwers]

February 1st, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

According to a Lifehacker article, believing you can be smarter makes you smarter. This is a helpful pointer for screwing with your brain and others.

Despite a lot of evidence to the contrary, many people believe that intelligence is fixed, and, moreover, that some racial and social groups are inherently smarter than others. Merely evoking these stereotypes about the intellectual inferiority of these groups (such as women and Blacks) is enough to harm the academic [performance] of members of these groups. Social psychologist Claude Steele and his collaborators (2002) have called this phenomenon “stereotype threat.”

Yet social psychologists Aronson, Fried, and Good (2001) have developed a possible antidote to stereotype threat. They taught African American and European American college students to think of intelligence as changeable, rather than fixed – a lesson that many psychological studies suggests is true. Students in a control group did not receive this message. Those students who learned about IQ’s malleability improved their grades more than did students who did not receive this message, and also saw academics as more important than did students in the control group.

Believing You Can Be Smarter Actually Makes You Smarter

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How to Get Someone to Order A Dish [Screw With People’s Minds]

January 3rd, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

Book CoverAt one point in life, you realize that people are not doing what you want them to do. Let’s take, for example, a cook, who slaves over a hot stove for hours, creating dishes that would astound most. But every day, customers order the cheapest meal, perhaps the pasta. This is problem might be solved with a few changes to the menu. Don’t believe it? A recent article featuring William Poundstone discussed what goes into effective menus.

5. Columns Are Killers
According to Brandon O’Dell, one of the consultants Poundstone quotes in Priceless, it’s a big mistake to list prices in a straight column. “Customers will go down and choose from the cheapest items,” he says. At least the Balthazar menu doesn’t use leader dots to connect the dish to the price; that draws the diner’s gaze right to the numbers. Consultant Gregg Rapp tells clients to “omit dollar signs, decimal points, and cents … It’s not that customers can’t check prices, but most will follow whatever subtle cues are provided.”

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Read This: Predictably Irrational [Screw With People’s Minds]

January 2nd, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

Have you ever wanted to know how to sell more of something? Perhaps push a particular product? Well, look no further. Dan Ariely’s book, Predictably Irrational gives you an idea of why people do things. While I am sure the intention of the book was not to exploit people, you can use this knowledge to your advantage. Below is my review of Predictably Irrational for the upcoming blog, Cultureist.

You probably don’t realize it, but your mind is flawed. Very flawed. Here’s a simple example:

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In our minds, it seems to show three different sized lines. Now instead of doing a fancy animation on how the lines are all actually the same size, I am going to let you take a good old fashioned piece of paper, and measure each line only to discover- they are all the same length!

This is just one of the hundreds of flaws contained in your mind. But why on earth would you want to learn how your mind is flawed?

It is depressing and seems unhelpful. Wrong. While it can be sad to realize this fact, we can learn. We can learn about the flaws in our minds so we can realize how we make decisions and in the future, be aware of bad decision making. This rationality of thinking is talked about a great deal in Dan Ariely’s book, Predictably Irrational.

One of my favorite things about the book is that it does not ramble on about brain waves and years of careful study, as what you would expect from a psychological book. Instead, it talks about down to earth experiments with interesting conclusions and how it relates to you.

Still not sure if you want to get the book? Take a look at Dan Ariely’s TED talk:

Ready to buy? Get Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely here.

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