Researchers Study the Hidden Danger of Confidence

A new study suggests that feeling prepared or confident, for example for a big meeting or a job interview, that this confidence and preparedness may trickle into other parts of your life where you are not nearly so prepared, thereby creating false confidence.

The Ohio State University and other researchers conducted three studies to examine this phenomenon. Researchers found that feeling prepared in one area of life made people more confident in their beliefs about things that were completely different—whether those thoughts were positive or negative.

The findings are unsettling. Knowing that any given person’s confidence in one regard to make them overly confident when thinking about other issues.

One example researchers gave of how these findings could have real life impacts, if a person had been preparing for a big presentation at work. As they come to perfect their presentation it is coming time to vote on a political candidate. The person preparing for the presentation may have been unsure about their support for a candidate, but the leak over from their presentation conference may assure them of their choice and they will stop researching that candidate.

 

New Research Questions the Correlation Between Facial Expressions and Emotions

When we interact with others it is typically a back and forth based and reading cues and responding back. Smiles mean happiness—we smile in return. We think a frown must mean the other person is sad, so we attempt to make them feel better.

We believe in facial expressions so much some businesses are developing tools to rate their customers’ satisfaction through these expressions.

However new research suggest that not only are facial expressions not a reliable indicator of inner emotion but that they are completely unreliable, and we should never trust a face to tell us what someone is feeling.

Their research question was ‘can we really detect emotion from facial articulation?’

The researchers’ conclusion? No. We cannot.

The researchers focused on creating computer programs that analyze facial expressions. This allowed them to analyze the kinetics of muscle movement in the human face and compared those movements with a person’s emotions. The researchers found that their attempts to detect or define emotions based on a subject’s facial articulations were almost always wrong.

Researchers drew further deductions. First, that context and cultural background make a huge difference when it comes to facial expressions. They deduced that not everyone who smiles is happy and likewise not everyone who is happy smiles. They even took the extreme opinion that most people who do not smile are experiencing an average level of happiness.

Researchers noted, no one walks around all day with a smile on their face even if they are having a great day and are experiencing happiness for the bulk of it.

 

Researchers Observe How Babies Learn About Music

Both researchers and lay people have long known that babies learn language by parroting the words they hear. However, a new study demonstrates that babies may also imitate singing they hear in songs.

In part of the study researchers analyzed audio recorded from 15 month old baby. The recording captured the child making sounds like the beginning of “Happy Birthday” a few hours after it heard the song played through a toy. The analysis showed that the baby was able to recreate the first six notes of the song, almost exactly. And in G major.

Researchers point out that in the first year of life children develop into very conscious music listeners. They are easily able to learn about the patterns and pitches and rhythms in the music they hear. However, researchers aren’t sure exactly how this happens.

The study is one of the first to follow an infant for a day and record its attempts at recreating music. And, at least in this one case, they found like when a baby mimics talking, this baby did the same for songs it heard.

This child wore a lightweight recording device and through a mixture of software that analyzed the data—the software is able to measure things like adult words a baby attempts to speak—and critical listening researchers were able to find patterns where it seemed the child was trying to mimic music happening around it.

 

OSU Researchers Find Evidence of London’s Industrial Revolution Over Six Thousand Miles Away in Himalayan Glacier

Scientists at the Ohio State University have found evidence that humanity left its mark on one of the tallest summits in the Himalayas hundreds of years before any person is known to have set foot there.

Their research demonstrates that the left overs from the coal burned in late 18th century London, the birth place of the Industrial Revolution, found their way to the ice of the Dasuopu glacier in the central Himalayas. This is a 6,400 mile journey, in a straight line, from Industrial Revolution London.

This research was part of a larger project that traveled to the glacier in the late 90’s to drill ice cores from Dasuopu. These ice cores provide data on everything from snowfall, atmospheric circulation and other environmental changes over time.

Dasuopu is 23,600 feet above sea level making it the highest site in the world where in researchers have been able to collect a climate record in the form of an ice core. The glacier is located on Shishapangma mountain which is one of the world’s fourteen tallest. All of these fourteen of them Himalayan mountains.

The research team analyzed the core collected in the 90s for 23 different trace metals. Ice cores are kind of like a timeline. Researchers can see where new layers of ice have formed in the glacier over time. Using environmental data researchers can even predict accurately down to the year when a new layer formed.

The team looked specifically at a layer formed between 1499 and 1992 finding traces of coal burning in that layer suggesting the effects of London’s Industrial Revolution reached the Himalayas by wind.

 

Do Our Own Minds Create the Worst Kind of Political Bias?

With all the sources of misinformation out there in the murky sea of information would it surprise you to learn one of the big sources might be your own mind? New research at the OSU has found that when people are given accurate statistics on hot button issues they tend to misremember those numbers in a way that reinforces their beliefs.

One example could be numbers of new Mexican immigrants into the US. This number has declined recently, however true it goes against what many people believe, and they tend to remember the opposite. The real problem begins as misinformation is passed from person to person—this is when it tends to stretch even further from the truth.

In one study the researchers at OSU gave 110 participants with four descriptions of social issues and all of them involved numeric information.

Researchers chose two issues where the factually accurate number relationship fit many people’s beliefs. Most Americans believe that their peers to generally be in favor of same-sex marriage rather than oppose it. This is consistent with public opinion polls.
With the other two issues, researchers chose in the opposite—where most people’s beliefs did not match the factually accurate data.

Most people think that the number of Mexican immigrants to the US increased between 2007-2014. The data tells us the numbers dropped between those years from 12.8 million Mexican immigrants to 11.7 million.

After reading four such descriptions the participants came across a task they were not warned about. The material instructed them to right down the numbers associated with the four issues.

When the factually accurate data met most people’s beliefs about the topic participants got the number relationship correct. Here meaning that most people wrote down that a larger percentage of people agreed than disagreed with same-sex marriage: and this is the factually accurate relationship.

When the factually accurate numbers did not support what most people believe, ss it is in the case of the number of Mexican immigrants having gone up or down, people’s minds ended to play with the numbers. They would remember them in a way that agreed with their probable biases rather than correctly. As an example some participants got the numbers exactly correct, 12.8 and 11.7, but they would reverse the numbers (up from 11.7 to 12.8, instead of the other way around which is factually accurate).