Archive for February, 2012

February 28, 2012

Cognitive Inertia

kodak by ingram pinn

Cognitive inertia refers the tendency for beliefs or sets of beliefs to endure once formed. In particular, it describes the human inclination to rely on familiar assumptions and exhibit a reluctance and/or inability to revise them, even when supporting evidence no longer exists. The term is employed in the managerial and organizational sciences to describe the commonly observed phenomenon whereby managers fail to update and revise their understanding of a situation when that situation changes, a phenomenon that acts as a psychological barrier to organizational change.

However, not all instances of cognitive inertia result in negative outcomes. It is a key component of love, trust, and friendship. For instance, if evidence showed that a friend was dishonest, the cognitive inertia of the friendship would demand much more evidence to form an opinion than that required to form an opinion of a stranger.

February 28, 2012

Effort Justification


Effort Justification refers to the tendency to attribute greater value to outcomes that one put effort into achieving. It is an idea in social psychology stemming from psychologist Leon Festinger’s theory of ‘Cognitive Dissonance,’ which explains changes in people’s attitudes or beliefs as the result of an attempt to reduce a dissonance (discrepancy) between contradicting ideas or cognitions. In the case of effort justification, there is a dissonance between the amount of effort exerted into achieving a goal or completing a task (high effort – high ‘cost’) and the subjective reward for that effort (lower than was expected for such an effort). By adjusting and increasing one’s attitude or subjective value of the goal, this dissonance is resolved.

This theory is clearly implicated in the effect of rites of passage and hazing rituals on group solidarity and loyalty. The hazing rituals, prevalent in military units, sports teams and Academic fraternities and sororities, often include demanding and/or humiliating tasks which lead (according to dissonance theory) the new member to increase the subjective value of the group. This contributes to his/her loyalty and to the solidarity of the entire group.

February 28, 2012

When Prophecy Fails

the seekers

When Prophecy Fails is a 1956 classic book in social psychology by Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schachter about a UFO religion that believes the end of the world is at hand. Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance (holding conflicting thoughts or feelings at the same time causes distress) can account for the psychological consequences of disconfirmed expectations.

Festinger and his associates read an interesting item in their local newspaper headlined ‘Prophecy from planet Clarion call to city: flee that flood.’ A housewife given the name ‘Marian Keech’ (real name Dorothy Martin, later known as Sister Thedra), had mysteriously been given messages in her house in the form of ‘automatic writing’ from alien beings. These messages revealed that the world would end in a great flood before dawn on December 21, 1954.

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February 28, 2012

Cognitive Dissonance

sour grapes

Cognitive dissonance [dis-uh-nuhs] is a discomfort caused by holding conflicting thoughts or feelings at the same time. In this state, people may feel surprise, dread, guilt, anger, or embarrassment. An example is the conflict between wanting to smoke and knowing that smoking is unhealthy. Reacting to this unpleasant state, people often change their feelings, thoughts or memories so they are less in conflict. For instance, a smoker might change their belief about the likelihood that smoking will make them ill, or they might introduce the idea that there are other benefits that make smoking worth it.

The phrase was coined by American psychologist Leon Festinger in his 1956 book ‘When Prophecy Fails,’ which chronicled the followers of a UFO cult as reality clashed with their fervent belief in an impending apocalypse. The believers met at a predetermined place and time, believing they alone would survive the Earth’s destruction. The appointed time came and passed without incident. They faced acute cognitive dissonance: had they been the victim of a hoax? Had they donated their worldly possessions in vain? Most members chose to believe something less dissonant: the aliens had given earth a second chance, and the group was now empowered to spread the word: earth-spoiling must stop. The group dramatically increased their proselytism despite the failed prophecy.

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February 28, 2012

Vocal Fry

vocal fry by Noma Bar

Vocal fry (creak, glottal scrape, or strohbass), is the lowest vocal register, voice is next, then falsetto, and finally whistle is the highest vocal register. It is produced through a loose glottal closure which will permit air to bubble through slowly with a popping or rattling sound of a very low frequency. Some authorities consider the use of vocal fry in speech a dysphonia, while others consider it so only if it is used excessively. However, the register is more widely used in singing than might at first seem apparent.

Within the bass part of gospel quartet singing the practice is quite common. The croaking sound produced by male singers at the start of phrases in American country music are produced by moving from this mode to the normal voice. Additionally some Russian Anthems contain bass lines within the vocal-fry register. Within choral music, when true basses are not available, choirs often rely on singers who can ‘fry’ the low bass notes. Vocal fry is also used in metal music, usually in combination with air from the diaphragm, in order to create a ‘growl’ or ‘scream’ which sounds aggressive and harsh.

February 27, 2012

Generation Gap

The generational gap is a term popularized in Western countries during the 1960s referring to differences between people of a younger generation and their elders, especially between children and parents. Although some generational differences have existed throughout history, modern generational gaps have often been attributed to rapid cultural change in the postmodern period, particularly with respect to such matters as musical tastes, fashion, culture and politics.

These changes are assumed to have been magnified by the unprecedented size of the young generation during the 1960s, which gave it the power and inclination to rebel against societal norms, as reflected in songs such as the 1965 hit ‘My Generation’ by The Who and ‘The Times They Are a-Changin” by Bob Dylan.

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February 27, 2012

Cycle Polo

cycle polo

Cycle polo is a team sport invented in Ireland in 1891 by retired cyclist Richard J. Mecredy. It is similar to traditional polo, except that bicycles are used instead of horses. In recent years, an alternate form of the game known as ‘Hardcourt Bike Polo’ or ‘Urban Bike Polo’ has grown in popularity. In this variation, teams composed of three to five players compete on tennis courts, street hockey rinks, or whatever other surfaces are available.

The rules vary slightly by city. In the case of a ‘foot down’ or ‘dab’ (touching the ground with one’s foot) the player must ‘tap out’ by riding to mid-court and hitting a designated area with their mallet. There is usually a tap-out located on either side of the court. In order to score, the offensive player must hit the ball across the goal line using the narrow end of the mallet – this is called a ‘shot’ or ‘hit’ – hitting the ball across the goal line with the wide end of the mallet is called a ‘shuffle.’

February 27, 2012

The Terrorists Have Won

patriot act by clay bennett


‘…the terrorists have won‘ is a rhetorical phrase which was widely used in the United States in the wake of the September 11 attacks. The phrase takes the form of ‘if we pursue some particular course of action, then, the terrorists have won.’ One of the most famous instances was on November 4, 2001 by Ellen DeGeneres, who was hosting the Emmy Awards, which had been postponed twice that year for worries that a showy celebration would seem inappropriate in the wake of the attacks. To lighten the mood, she quipped: ‘We’re told to go on living our lives as usual, because to do otherwise is to let the terrorists win, and really, what would upset the Taliban more than a gay woman wearing a suit in front of a room full of Jews?’

In December 2001, humorist Steve Symanovich commented on the overuse of the expression, writing in the ‘Washington Business Journal’: ‘In recent months I had heard about any number of things that would allow the terrorists to win. Early on, I learned that if America plays fast and loose with the Bill of Rights, the terrorists will have won. I couldn’t agree more, but that was just the start. Later, I found out that if we stop working/shopping/eating out, the terrorists will have won. I took the message to heart. I’m not opposed to work; I don’t mind shopping; and, although I’m on a diet, I can still eat out and order light. But there was more. Finally, I ran into this headline: ‘If you don’t read this article, the terrorists will have won.”

February 27, 2012

Mean World Syndrome

if it bleeds it leads by timoh meyer

Deviancy amplification spiral

Mean world syndrome‘ is a term coined by professor of communications George Gerbner to describe a phenomenon whereby violence-related content of mass media makes viewers believe that the world is more dangerous than it actually is. Mean world syndrome is one of the main conclusions of cultivation theory (which states that those who spend more time watching TV are more likely to perceive the real world in ways that reflect the most common messages of the TV world). Gerbner, a pioneer researcher on the effects of television on society, argued that people who watched a large amount of television tended to think of the world as an intimidating and unforgiving place.

The number of opinions, images, and attitudes that viewers tend to make when watching television will have a direct influence on what the viewer perceives the real world as. They will reflect and refer to the most common images or recurrent messages thought to impact on their own real life. Gerbner once said ‘You know, who tells the stories of a culture really governs human behavior,’ he said. ‘It used to be the parent, the school, the church, the community. Now it’s a handful of global conglomerates that have nothing to tell, but a great deal to sell.’ Individuals who watch television infrequently and adolescents who talk to their parents about reality are claimed to have a more accurate view of the real world than those who do not, and they may be able to more accurately assess their vulnerability to violence.

February 27, 2012

Cultivation Theory

tv violence by carlos latuff

Cultivation theory is a social theory which examines the long-term effects of television. Developed by George Gerbner and Larry Gross of the University of Pennsylvania. They were ‘concerned with the effects of television programming (particularly violent programming) on the attitudes and behaviors of the American public.’

Gerbner asserts that the overall concern about the effects of television on audiences stemmed from the unprecedented centrality of television in American culture. He posited that television as a mass medium of communication had formed into a common symbolic environment that bound diverse communities together, socializing people in to standardized roles and behaviors. He compared the power of television to the power of religion, saying that television was to modern society what religion once was in earlier times.

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February 27, 2012

Flynn Effect

raven matrix


The Flynn effect is the name given to the observed rise in average IQ scores since the beginning of measurements. The rise in most industrialized countries is about three IQ points per decade. In 1984, based political scientist James R. Flynn described the phenomenon, which is named after him.

The rise is mostly due to the test scores of those who scored an IQ below 100. The number of those who are classified as mentally handicapped diminishes from year to year. In contrast, the test scores of those who scored more than 100, does not seem to be affected.

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February 27, 2012


Carlo Cipolla

Stupidity is a lack of intelligence, understanding, reason, wit, or sense. It may be innate, assumed, or reactive – ‘being ‘stupid with grief’ as a defence against trauma,’ a state marked with ‘grief and despair…making even simple daily tasks a hardship.’ The root word ‘stupid,’ which can serve as an adjective or noun, comes from the Latin verb ‘stupere,’ for ‘being numb’ or ‘astonished,’ and is related to ‘stupor’ (in Roman culture ”the stupidus of the mimes’ was a sort of professional buffoon – the ‘fall-man,’ the eternal he-who-gets-kicked.’ The word entered the English language in the 16th century; since then, stupidity has become a pejorative appellation for human misdeeds, whether purposeful or accidental, due to absence of mental capacity.

The modern English word ‘stupid’ has a broad range of application, from being slow of mind (indicating a lack of intelligence, care or reason), dullness of feeling or sensation (torpidity, senseless, insensitivity), or lacking interest or point (vexing, exasperating). It can either infer a congenital lack of capacity for reasoning, or a temporary state of daze or slow-mindedness.

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