I’m so glad we live in an age where people are doing large scale psychology studies, trying to discern the facts about our behaviour which our perceptions mask.

This has fed into the mainstream thanks to books like Nudge and Freakonomics, and is being used politically to great effect (viz Obama). (There are fears that it just means that those in power have more opportunity to exploit us, but that has always been the way. Now we are more aware of the collective effects of our cognitive fallacies, and availability of knowledge and information is never a bad thing.)

It’s a shame it’s not being used more by the green lobby, but .. well I digress.

The point is that some great psychology and neuroscience studies were published in 2009. Here are a two from a recent list which I hope you’ll find interesting:

If you have to choose between buying something or spending the money on a memorable experience, go with the experience. According to a study conducted at San Francisco State University, the things you own can’t make you as happy as the things you do. One reason is adaptation: we adapt to all things material in our lives in a matter of weeks, no matter how infatuated we were with the coveted possession the day we got it. Another reason is that experience, unlike possession, generally involves other people, and fosters or strengthens relationships that are more edifying over time than owning something.

Playing video games could be an unlikely cure for psychological trauma. Researchers at Oxford University hypothesized that playing Tetris after witnessing violence would sap some of the cognitive resources the brain would normally rely on to form memories.  A well-structured study in the journal PLoS One confirmed the finding–Tetris acted like a ‘cognitive vaccine’ against traumatic memory. Memory research suggests that there’s about a 6-hour window immediately after witnessing trauma during which memory formation can be disrupted.  The results of this study indicate that if you happen to have Tetris or a game like it handy during those six hours, it’s the cure for what ails you.

Source: Ten Psychology Studies from 2009 Worth Knowing About on BrainSpin

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