When red is so red you don’t mind the blue: Attention as your guard against interference

Suppose you are asked to name a few pictures. You are shown the drawing of a tiger and you say “tiger”. Then a mouse appears and you say “mouse”, and so on. The experimenter avoids pictures of a gerenuk or babirusa, so you are cruising along nicely. And then this pops up:   The holiday is […]

Continue Reading

If it’s not moving it’ll hit you: Perceptual biases in 3D motion detection

Much of civil aviation ultimately relies on the human perceptual system: Pilots must avoid each other by scanning the airspace around them and identifying aircraft that are in potential conflict. This is a skill that can be taught—and during the 15 years that I spent teaching people how to fly, there were a few basic ideas […]

Continue Reading

Watching your brain wince: Empathic pain and psychopathic traits

Watching someone else feel pain is a painful experience. The ability to suffer not only your own pain but also that of others has “long been considered the distilled essence of our humanity” by some writers. Concern for the suffering of others has also been said to be central to moral decision making. Fortunately, this […]

Continue Reading

The road to intimacy is faster than a speeding bullet: Metaphors and social judgments

The clouds are pillows. Time is a thief. Life is a journey. According to Groucho Marx a hospital bed is a parked taxi with the meter running. And I wish I could write a Psychonomics post as fast as a speeding bullet—but because I can’t, all other commitments today will be delayed by virtue of the […]

Continue Reading

If you’re smart, you won’t stack the dishwasher while your partner is watching: Choking under pressure.

The ball is about 20 cm from the hole. The grass is smooth. There is no wind, it is not raining, and you have done this hundreds of times before. A gentle tap and you sink the ball. Just as you would expect from looking at the picture below. Now replay the scenario in your […]

Continue Reading

The full moon and my toddler: The role of unexpected events in causal learning

Do children misbehave during a full moon? Are Asians “pushy”? Are the members of minority group X particularly prone to alcoholism? People often fall prey to developing such associations even though they are entirely illusory—that is, the actual statistics of the environment warrant no such beliefs. In the laboratory, those illusory correlations are readily evoked […]

Continue Reading