busy day of psychology at the NYT…

September 21, 2010

Much of what I post here comes from articles that catch my eye as I browse the news. Obviously, the New York Times takes it’s science reporting seriously (they have a science section in both their print edition and on-line), and they pay attention to the emerging ideas in psychology and neuroscience. Just this morning, I read two very different, and both interesting, articles related to psychology on the NYT website. Not too much to say about them, but I thought they were worth sharing:

A Perk of Our Evolution: Pleasure in Pain of Chilies: Two things. First, I spent five years in New Mexico in the mid 90s and I developed a love for roasted chilies – just thinking of them seems to bring back the pleasure that accompanied the burn. Second, the author of the article interviews Dr. Paul Rozin who visited Denison in the spring of 2010 as our Kantor lecturer. The article does little to articulate exactly why (some) people enjoy spicy foods, but it does address some interesting issues about the relationship of pain and pleasure (and even what it means to be human…).

Just Me and My Pessimism in the ‘Race of Truth’: Ok, this one is from the health section as opposed to the science section. However, it deals with issues related to motivation, particularly motivation to compete in sports. No real science here, but they did get some ideas from a couple of sports psychologists. The story made me think about a study done by Norman Triplett in 1898* – his study involved bicyclists attempting a bicycle time trial individually or in groups and examined a phenomenon Triplett described as social facilitation. It is recognized as one of the first experiments in social psychology.

* Triplett, N. (1898). The dynamogenic factors in pacemaking and competition. American Journal of Psychology, 9, 507-533.

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