People with schizophrenia have a hard time integrating information about a reward -- the size of the reward and the probability of receiving it -- when assessing its value, according to a study in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging.
When an advocate for one side of an issue announces that he or she now believes the opposite, can that message affect others' views? Research from the Annenberg Public Policy Center shows that such a conversion message can influence public attitudes. Using video of environmentalist Mark Lynas speaking about his change from an opponent of genetically modified crops to an advocate, researchers found that message had a greater impact than his direct advocacy message.
Nudging, the concept of influencing people's behavior without imposing rules, bans or coercion, is an idea that government officials and marketing specialists alike are keen to harness, and itis often viewed as a one-size-fits-all solution. Now, a study by researchers from the University of Zurich puts things into perspective: Whether a nudge really does improve decisions depends on a person's underlying decision-making process.
Scientists have identified 124 genetic variants associated with someone's willingness to take risks. They found evidence of shared genetic influences across a general measure of risk tolerance and many specific risky behaviors, such as speeding, drinking alcohol, tobacco and cannabis consumption, and sexual behavior. No variant on its own meaningfully affects risk tolerance or making risky decisions. Yet, taken together, they shed light on some of the biological mechanisms that influence such behavior.
Bad decision-making is a trait oftentimes associated with drug addicts and pathological gamblers, but what about people who excessively use social media? New research from Michigan State University shows a connection between social media use and impaired risky decision-making, which is commonly deficient in substance addiction.
The emotional underpinnings of political ideology motivated how the electorate sought and processed information about the 2016 presidential election and the major issue of climate change. "This has important implications for how political dialogue is shaped," said Janet Yang, an expert in the communication of risk information related to science, health and the environment. "It's not just what the candidates are saying; it's also how we communicate with one another."
Pop quiz: Given a choice between indulgent and healthy foods, what will most people pick? The answer may depend on what foods sit nearby on the grocery shelf, suggests new Duke University research. Paradoxically, the nearby presence of an indulgent treat such as Snickers or Oreos can cause more people to opt for a healthy food, such as salmon or grapefruit, said study co-author Scott Huettel. Context, in other words, affects food choices.
Everyday objects and people have an emotional meaning. A wool sock might have an emotional value if it was the last thing grandmother knitted before her death. The same applies to words. A stranger's name has no emotional value, but if a loving relationship develops, the name suddenly has positive connotations. Researchers at the University of Göttingen investigated how the brain processes such stimuli -- positive or negative. Results were published in the journal Neuropsychologia.
New research shows for the first time that adults with autism can recognise complex emotions such as regret and relief in others as easily as those without the condition.
Researchers at the George Washington University gained important insights into how the human brain processes information and allocates attention. Their study, "Attention Scales According to Inferred Real-World Object Size," shows people pay attention to objects based on their real-world size, rather than how they are perceived by the eye.