"Only a few items
Reactance Theory in
Usually reactance shields us from
persuasion attempts. Because we do not want to be treated like marionettes, but we want to
decide on our own.
We hate it when our freedom gets threatened and as a result we
often counteract. Unfortunately, our counteraction is often
utilized by marketing experts...
Does Being Attractive
looks can be of
In almost all areas of life attractive people
In this episode we take a look at the (extremely rare) cases in which attractive people are
When our self-regulation
strategy is used against
In real life most of us usually have only one or two accounts at the bank.
According to the Nobel laureates Tversky and Kahnemann the situation in our mind is quite different:
They assume that we have mental accounts for all the different areas of life (vacation,
education, entertainment, etc.). On the one hand these mental accounts allow us to save money for longterm goals
(e.g. leave account). On the other hand mental accounting can also be exploited deliberately by
marketing experts and sales people ...
Predicting Elections - Child's
Can children predict the outcome of
In many situations we rely on our gut
When we see a person we sometimes decide within milliseconds whether we like him/her or
But how strong is the influence of first impressions on the outcome of political
In clever experiments researchers were able to show that even children rely on first impressions
and that their judgements could be used to predict elections.
Is Justice Really
How our Decisions can be influenced by radiant
In many depictions the goddess of justice (lady justice) is presented with a blindfold.
By that it shall be expressed that before the law all men are equal - regardless of their
position or their appearance.
But is this really true?
Mind Reading made
Mind Readers like Derren Brown do not really read your mind.
They mainly use magic tricks.
But sometimes they also use psychological knowledge to predict, what is going to be your next
How our Decisions can be influenced by radiant
In the 1920s Edward Thorndike discovered that when people were asked to rate another
person, their ratings were strongly influenced by single personality traits (e.g. appearance).
He called this phenomenon the "halo
How exact is the
Reliability is one of the most important quality aspects
of measurement instruments. It can be fatal if measurement instruments are not
reliable. But how can you determine the reliability of a psychological test
To estimate reliability several methods can be used, which have pros and cons:
a) test-retest reliability method
b) parallel-forms method
c) split-half method
d) Internal consistency
"Love is in the Air" - Does Music make you more helpful?
... and more compliant to a courtship
Music may not only be used to influence our
consumer behaviour. Fortunately music has another - much more valuable - effect:
Music can bring people together.
It can make people more helpful (Fried & Berkowitz, 1979) or even more
receptive to romantic courtship requests (Jacob, Guéguen & Boulbry, 2010).
But what kind of music is particularly effective? Is it sufficient to trigger a certain mood, or do the song
lyrics (the "message") play a role as
Rethinking Fear and
For a long time a high
stress level was associated wit negative health outcomes.
In recent years, however, emerging evidence suggests, that it is not only stress
itself that causes health problems but also our attitude towards stress.
Thus in new experiments (e.g. Beltzer, Nock, Peters & Jamieson, 2014) scientists tested,
how to restructure our dysfunctional thought patterns.
The results are promising ...
Influencing Consumers via Music? (Part
experts make use of the power of music extensively.
In almost all commercials music is one of the key design elements.
But what kind of music leads to skyrocketing sales rates?
Research suggests that it is especially important,
that the music fits the product.
But how big are the effects?
Is it sufficient to play French music to make customers buy more French
Influencing Consumers via Music? (Part 2)
Effects of Speed, Volume and Musical
Music can influence our emotions and our behavior.
But what happens when scientist play around with the controls?
Does it make any difference whether a song is played fast or slow, loud or
soft or in d major vs. d minor?
Researchers have been studying the influence of these variables on our behaviour for many years.
One interesting dependent variable - we all can relate to - is our drinking
via Music? (Part 1)
Good Music = Good Business?
Without doubt: Music is powerful.
It can inspire, it can be uplifting and exhilarating. But can music put us in a buying
In many shops or restaurants music is used to entice us to
stay longer. The idea behind this is clear:
Those who stay longer, will probably consume more.
But does it really pay off?
How large are the effects of music?
What kind of music seems to be particularly effective?
Subliminal Marketing Revealed: Influencing Consumer Behaviour
via Music, Scents, ... and Subliminal Messages?
Do Subliminal Messages Really Work?
Many manipulation techniques of the
advertising industry bypass our conscious mind.
Sometimes it is a quiet background music, a pleasant scent or even the behaviour of the people around us that
influence our behaviour in a subtle
However, if we are asked: "Why did you buy this?" We often
provide rational explanations. Certainly, this is a specialty of our brain: To make up rational
reasons for sometimes irrational behavior...
Sport Psychology: Does Mental Practice Really
It's all in the mind...
Thanks to brain research we know that it is sufficient to think of a
movement (e.g. the service in tennis) to activate almost the same areas of the brain
that are involved in the actual movement.
In addition, we also know that the repeated use of "information highways" in the brain (associated neurons) is a
central feature of many learning processes.
So one could conclude: Mental practice must be working.
But is it really that easy?
After all, an extremely important component is missing: Feedback from the environment. Was the imagined movement
So how effective is mental practice in comparison to physical practice?
Let's take a look at the
Physical Exercise for Depression
Running Away from Bad Mood?
Almost everyone knows
the satisfying feeling that sets in after a physical
exertion: Your body awareness intensifies and you get the
feeling that you made it.
But is physical
exercise also effective
against major depressive disorder
In recent times there is increasing evidence that physical exercise can have positive
effects for people with MDD.
For example, Blumenthal et al. (1999, 2007) observed no significant differences between
an antidepressant (sertraline) and an aerobic exercise
It seems that exercise is one of the
few antidepressants with positive side
The Elaboration Likelihood Model (Petty &
advertising, in politics or in everyday conversation with acquaintances or friends:
Persuasion is omnipresent.
Especially in advertising, persuasion
attempts are rarely based on substantial arguments.
Instead, marketers often introduce (supposed) experts,
celebrities or seducing
background music. Quite often even beautiful models are photoshopped and
speaker voices are
made even more enjoyable by
But are we really fooled by these superficial characteristics? And if so - under what
The Elaboration Likelihood
Model(ELM) by Petty &
Cacioppo yields reliable predictions.
Delayed Gratification - Influences of Culture and
Does American Culture make you less
The ability to delay short-term
rewards in favor of future achievements, can be beneficial in many situations. Therefore
it is important to find out whether this ability is a congenital or
learned characteristic. Although the influence of genes can not be
denied (e.g. Anokhin et al. 2011) particularly cross-cultural studies (e.g. East vs.
West) provide evidence for the importance of the environment.
Can the mere thought of American culture make you more impatient (Chen et al. 2011)?
And: Are Catholics less patient than Calvinists (Paglieri et al.
For a long time the famous
"marshmallow studies" by Walter Mischel were regarded as prototypical experiments to
measure self-control. However, in some studies only low correlations to other measures of self-control
were observed. Thus, in recent years alternative hypotheses were tested.
For example: If the delay of
gratification task is regarded as a problem
solving situation, longer waiting times could be explained by problem solving skills
Other scientists hypothesize, that the decision to wait might be linked to the amount
of trust in
the experimenter (Kidd et al. 2013).
But are these new research approaches adequate to explain the
amazing predictive power of the marshmallow
research, personality research and other research fields of psychology, factor analytic
models are used to structurize the variables' jungle.
For example: To simplify the variable structure of a personality questionnaire several questions (items), that are
supposed to measure the same construct are grouped to one (latent) factor (e.g. extraversion).
But does this group of items really measure extraversion? Maybe some of the items "load" on a different
factor. And maybe other aspects of the model have flaws as well...
How well a factor model fits the data can be examined by a confirmatory factor
experiments drew as much attention as the famous "marshmallow experiments"
by Walter Mischel. To test the ability of self-control, Mischel & Co. confronted hundreds of
children with a difficult decision:
"You can either eat a small amount of
sweets (e.g. one marshmallow) right now or you wait for a larger amount
of sweets (e.g. two marshmallows)."
Many years later the researchers observed
an amazing correlation (Mischel et al., 1988; Shoda et al., 1990): Those children who had been able to
delay the gratification, were rated higher in social
competence, frustration tolerance and academic
success. In addition, they even showed better performance
in the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). However, especially the calculated correlations with the SAT scores
were based on a very small
sample (N =
35). Therefore the recently published
replication by Duckworth, Tsukayama and Kirby (2013)
is highly important to back up the results of the original
A few years ago, many researchers were in
agreement: By far the most important requirement for education and vocational success is a high mental
capacity (intelligence). However, even the best intelligence tests can not explain all
variance in life success. Every once in a while a highly intelligent student gets dropped out of the
education system without finishing (underachiever), whereas another student who scored below
average in an intelligence test, ends up with a fantastic academic career (overachiever).
Recent studies (e.g. Duckworth & Seligman, 2005; Moffitt et al 2011) suggest that such "irregularities"
mainly come about due to the factor of self-control (also: self-discipline,
perseverance). Amazingly, in some studies self-discipline proved to be a better
predictor than intelligence...
Using bad measuring instruments can have disastrous
consequences. Therefore newly developed tests, questionaires, etc. have to meet the highest
standards. Along with reliability and objectivity validity is one of the most important
quality criteria. An instrument is regarded as valid, if it measures, what it is
supposed to measure. For example: A (supposed) intelligence test which measures creativity or sustained
attention may be reliable, but it is not valid.
In this episode we will discuss the different methods to validate a measuring instrument:
- face validtiy
- criterion validity
- construct validity
> discriminant construct validity
> concurrent construct
People living in poverty often show
counterproductive behaviors. On average, poor people use less preventive health care (Katz
& Hofer, 1994), are less attentive parents (McLoyd, 1998) and have trouble managing their finances (Barr,
While some people take these findings as an opportunity to express accusations ("No wonder, they are poor,
they are behaving silly!") recent studies suggest, that poverty itself can cause cognitive costs.
For instance, in a sample of Indian sugarcane farmers Mani et al. (2013)
observed, that one single person had different intelligence test scores in times of poverty
(pre-harvest) and times of wealth
"Tidy up your room!"
- "Not now ..."
"You will never make it." - "I
will prove it to you ..."
We do not like it when someone tells us what we can do and what we
cannot do. If we fear a restriction of our
freedom, we often respond with reactance.
But are there ways to avoid reactant behaviour? In the studies
of Gueguen & Pascual (2000, 2006) a "magic formula" yielded promising
"silk" ten times. Now, spell "silk." What do cows drink?
Answer: "Milk. No, wait...!"
Many people know about this game or at least similar ones, but only few know the psychological
effect that is responsible for our wrong answers: Priming.
During priming neural networks are preactivated without our knowing. Since some concepts in the brain are closely
associated with each other, the activation of one concept (such as "silk"), prepares the activation
of another one (such als "milk").
But how huge are priming effects really?
For example: Does thinking about a professor increase your intelligence?
effects can placebos have on our mental capacity?
In the hustle and bustle of everyday life our mind is rarely at
rest. In almost 50% of
the time our thoughts are wandering. We are
either living through past experiences or simulating future events.
Rarely this stream of thought is broken by becoming
aware of the here and now.
There's growing evidence that a wandering mind is an unhappy mind
(Killingsworth & Gilbert, 2010).
But is our mental performance suffering as
In fact Mrazek et al. (2012) observed a solid negative correlation (r = -.70) between mind wandering and
general aptitude. In addition, Mrazek et al. (2013) were able
to show that a reduction of mind wandering results in better mental performance:
After just two weeks of mindfulness
meditation participants not only reported less mind wandering, but they also showed
significantly better performance in a working memory task (OSPAN)
and the Graduate Record Examination.
exercise improve your Intelligence?
Effects of coordination training (Life Kinetik, dancing) and aerobic exercise on
training improve mental processing
Some of the first scientific analyses of an adaptive coordination training (Life-Kinetic) yielded promising results.
For instance, in a study conducted by Matthias
Grünke (2011), children with learning difficulties participated in 15 Life-Kinetic sessions
(lasting 25min.). In comparison to an active control group the coordination-training group significantly
improved their performance in an attention
task and a task of fluid
And who would have thought
that learning new dance steps might be an appropriate means to stimulate the grey cells (Kattenstroth et al.
2012.) - even in old age.
At the end of the episode, we will take a look at studies on the
effects of aerobic exercise (jogging, walking, Nordic walking, etc.). Are training programs effective in
reducing Alzheimer's and cognitive
Whenever a new instrument (e.g. questionnaire, test, etc.) is
developed to detect a psychological construct (e.g. intelligence, creativity, depression, etc.), the developer
has to prove that his new instrument actually measures what it is supposed to measure
In fact, if an (alleged) intelligence test does not measure intelligence but
creativity or test anxiety, one could jump to wrong conclusions. The consequences can be
The multitrait-multimethod analysis developed by Campbell and Fiske (1959) provides one way to
examine the construct validity of an instrument.
Sleep and Intelligence
How important is a healthy sleep for your mental
Although we are exposed to potential attackers in sleep, sleep is
one of evolution's winners.
But what is
happening during sleep?
Why does our brain need to sleep?
Recent studies (e.g. Ji and Wilson, 2007) support the hypothesis of a replay of experiences during sleep. By repeating experiences of the day
memory contents can be (re-)structured and solidified.
But not only our memory seems to benefit from excursions into the realm of dreams. In particular, the results of
some sleep deprivation experiments (e.g. Lo et al.,
2012), point to the importance of a healthy sleep on cognitive performance (continuous attention, working memory, etc.).
Furthermore: In particular, in light of the circadian
rhythm the following question arises: When should a
business day (or school day)