Author Archives: tomstafford

Why the stupid think they’re smart

Psychologists have shown humans are poor judges of their own abilities, from sense of humour to grammar. Those worst at it are the worst judges of all. You’re pretty smart right? Clever, and funny too. Of course you are, just like me. But wouldn’t it be terrible if we were mistaken? Psychologists have shown that […]

Do violent video games make teens ‘eat and cheat’ more?

By Tom Stafford, University of Sheffield The Headlines Business Standard: Violent video games make teens eat more, cheat more Scienceblog.com: Teens ‘Eat more, cheat more’ after playing violent video games The Times of India: Violent video games make teens cheat more The story Playing the violent video game Grand Theft Auto made teenagers more aggressive, […]

How muggers size up your walk

The way people move can influence the likelihood of an attack by a stranger. The good news, though, is that altering this can reduce the chances of being targeted. How you move gives a lot away. Maybe too much, if the wrong person is watching. We think, for instance, that the way people walk can […]

Does studying economics make you more selfish?

When economics students learn about what makes fellow humans tick it affects the way they treat others. Not necessarily in a good way, as Tom Stafford explains. Studying human behaviour can be like a dog trying to catch its own tail. As we learn more about ourselves, our new beliefs change how we behave. Research […]

The effect of diminished belief in free will

Studies have shown that people who believe things happen randomly and not through our own choice often behave much worse than those who believe the opposite. Are you reading this because you chose to? Or are you doing so as a result of forces beyond your control? After thousands of years of philosophy, theology, argument […]

It is mind control but not as we know it

The Headlines The Independent: First ever human brain-to-brain interface successfully tested BBC News: Are we close to making human ‘mind control’ a reality? Visual News: Mind Control is Now a Reality: UW Researcher Controls Friend Via an Internet Connection The story Using the internet, one researcher remotely controls the finger of another, using it to […]

Drug addiction: The complex truth

We’re told studies have proven that drugs like heroin and cocaine instantly hook a user. But it isn’t that simple – little-known experiments over 30 years ago tell a very different tale. Drugs are scary. The words “heroin” and “cocaine” make people flinch. It’s not just the associations with crime and harmful health effects, but […]

Why the other queue always seem to move faster than yours

Whether it is supermarkets or traffic, there are two possible explanations for why you feel the world is against you, explains Tom Stafford. Sometimes I feel like the whole world is against me. The other lanes of traffic always move faster than mine. The same goes for the supermarket queues. While I’m at it, why […]

Are classical music competitions judged on looks?

Looking at the evidence behind a recent news story The headlines The Los Angeles Times: People trust eyes – not ears – when judging musicians Classic FM: Classical singers judged by actions not voice Nature: Musicians’ appearances matter more than their sound The story If you wanted to pick out the musician who won a […]

The deafening silence

All silences are not equal, some seem quieter than others. Why? It’s all to do with the way our brains adapt to the world around us, as Tom Stafford explains A “deafening silence” is a striking absence of noise, so profound that it seems to have its own quality. Objectively it is impossible for one […]

What makes the ouija board move

The mystery isn’t a connection to the spirit world, but why we can make movements and yet not realise that we’re making them. Ouija board cups and dowsing wands – just two examples of mystical items that seem to move of their own accord, when they are really being moved by the people holding them. […]

What makes an extravert?

Why do some people prefer adventure and the company of others, while others favour being alone? It’s all to do with how the brain processes rewards. Will you spend Saturday night in a crowded bar, or curled up with a good book? Is your ideal holiday adventure sports with a large group of mates and, […]

Why you think your phone is vibrating when it is not

Most of us experience false alarms with phones, and as Tom Stafford explains this happens because it is a common and unavoidable part of healthy brain function. Sensing phantom phone vibrations is a strangely common experience. Around 80% of us have imagined a phone vibrating in our pockets when it’s actually completely still. Almost 30% […]

‘digital dementia’ lowdown – from The Conversation

The Headlines The Telegraph: Surge in ‘digital dementia’ The Daily Mail: ‘Digital dementia’ on the rise as young people increasingly rely on technology instead of their brain Fox News: Is ‘digital dementia’ plaguing teenagers? The Story South Korea has the highest proportion of people with smartphones, 67%. Nearly 1 in 5 use their phone for […]

The Connected Brain: Edinburgh

I’m giving at talk at the Edinburgh festival on August 9th, called The Connected Brain. It will be at Summerhall (Fringe Venue 26 during the festival), cost £3, and here is the blurb: Headlines often ask if facebook is making us shallow, or google eroding our memories. In this talk we will look “under the […]

Workout music and your supplementary motor cortex

Why do we like to listen to tunes when we exercise? Psychologist Tom Stafford searches for answers within our brains, not the muscles we are exercising. Perhaps you have a favourite playlist for going to the gym or the park. Even if you haven’t, you’re certain to have seen joggers running along with headphones in […]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 24,103 other followers