Scientific News

Does no really mean no?

You ask someone to do you a favor and they decline; what do you do next?
According to two experiments carried out by Boster and other researchers, most people ask “why not?” and then try to deal with the objections (Boster et al., 2009). The trick is to transform the “no” of the refusal into an obstacle which can be overcome. By dealing with with this obstacle, your request is more likely to be granted.

Boster and his researchers tested this approach in comparison with three other methods which are known to improve the chances of obtaining a request. -Door-in-the-face: this involves making a significant request initially, which has a good chance of being refused. ...

You smile at me...nor do I

One might say smiling is unique to humans. And though smiling is most often a manifestation of our humanity and our sincerity, some smiles are decidedly "fake." Why? Probably because, as American and European scientific teams have demonstrated, we can now make miniature replicates of a person’s smile. Invisibly tiny muscle contractions in our face attest to the authenticity of our smile.

During a discussion, we are often compelled to smile or to acknowledge the smile of our interlocutor. Our smiles may reveal sincerity, betray boredom, or in the worst case, may even convey ridicule. A smile can thus relate a wide range of different expressions. Researchers at the University of ...

Sound-sensitive plants: can they hear us?

Scientists at the University of Missouri have made a surprising discovery: the plant Arabidopsis thaliana, well-known in pharmaceutical laboratories, is actually capable of hearing sounds. Indeed, this plant can detect the acoustic vibrations of caterpillars chewing nearby leaves, and as a result it emits a chemical product that deters the caterpillar. Let’s take a closer look at this discovery.

Arabidopsis thaliana is, in the world of laboratory science, the botanical equivalent of a rat. Researchers came to realize that the plant could perceive the acoustic signals produced by caterpillars chewing its leaves. These vibrations reverberate at the heart of the plant via stems ...

Master Yoda, are you really so wise?

Everyone knows “Star Wars,” the space-age saga originally produced by George Lucas. And there’s hardly any need to introduce Master Yoda, the small green guru who teaches Luke Skywalker to become a Jedi Knight. In each opus of the saga, Yoda wisely gives his philosophy of life including his theory on emotions and self-control. But how true are these theories? Dr. Nakia Gordon, a professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin, has analyzed selected clips from the films.

“Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi craves not these things. You are reckless.”
Humans are made to “search.” Our nervous system incites our need to explore, and exploration ...

Eating with your eyes

From the earliest age, young children are naturally drawn to things that they find attractive, and food is no exception. Indeed, we often choose a dessert or a meal which is well presented or has appealing colors, but does this have an impact on the taste? Research has found the answer.

The study took place at Oxford University and was carried out by Charles Michel, a French-Columbian chef and trainee experimental psychologist and Charles Spence, a professor in experimental psychology. A sample group of 30 men and 30 women were given one of three different types of salad. All of the salads had the same ingredients but they were presented differently: the first was inspired by ...

What are the origins of human language?

Human language builds on birdsong and the language of primates. This is the hypothesis of a new academic study, according to which man learned the melody of birdsongs as well as the more pragmatic, content-carrying primate language. Roughly 100,000 years ago, these capacities fused into the form of human language we know today.

On the island of Java, the silvery gibbon is a unique example of a primate that sings: 14 different note types, which allow it to mark its territory and communicate with others in its group. This unusual animal could help us understand how language evolved. It’s clearly difficult to say how human language emerged. But we can nevertheless draw analogies ...

Does the moon really have an impact on our sleep?

There are many popular beliefs about the moon and its influence on us. You’ve probably heard that more babies are born during a full moon or that our hair grows faster. Many people also report having trouble sleeping when the moon is full. A team of researchers has focused on this phenomenon in an attempt to determine if the moon really does affect our sleep.

Until recently, studies in this field had only used a small group of approximately ten volunteers, which meant that the findings were difficult to confirm. In this new study, scientists from the Max Planck Institute analyzed the sleep patterns of 1,265 volunteers for over 2,097 nights, making it more likely to yield ...

The group effect: are you capable of evil?

According to a new study, being part of a group modifies the moral expectations and beliefs of each of the group’s members. Groups can initiate significant social changes that a single individual could never implement alone. But such alliances also have their downsides: belonging to a group can potentially make members more aggressive when faced with those who are viewed as outsiders.

While mankind generally shows strong preferences for fairness and morality and condemns violence under most circumstances, individual priorities may change depending on whether or not the individual belongs to a group. It’s a question of “us” vs. “them.” This is the essential message ...

Watch out! How does the brain stay focused?

While you are concentrating on your book, totally engrossed in the story, so much so that you could almost see the setting and the characters with your own eyes, somebody suddenly brings you back to reality: your children are fighting in the next room; your partner speaks to you and your telephones starts to vibrate in your pocket. You know what it is to be distracted, don't you?

And yet, your brain appears to have its own "anti-distraction" system as observed by John McDonald and John Gaspard, professor and doctoral student in psychology at the University of Vancouver. While previous studies showed that the ability not to be distracted by disturbances depended on the level of ...

The beats of your heart improve your sight!

Place your index finger and middle finger on your neck over the carotid artery and relax. Can you feel your pulse? Next time you have difficulty seeing something, because it's dark, because it's far away or for any other reason, take your pulse and concentrate on what you're looking at with every heart beat. Do you see the connection? Sight and heartbeats appear to be connected…

Since the brain receives signals from all the body's organs and in particular those signals from the heart, researchers at INSERM had the idea of testing the hypothesis that some signals may influence our sensory, cognitive or behavioral abilities. To be more precise, they measured the visual acuity of ...

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