Archive for March, 2016

March 14, 2016

Impulse Buy

buyers remorse

An impulse purchase is an unplanned decision to buy a product or service, made just before a completing an unrelated transaction. Research findings suggest that emotions and feelings play a decisive role in purchasing, triggered by seeing the product or upon exposure to a well crafted promotional message.

Impulse buying disrupts the normal decision making models in consumers’ brains. The logical sequence of the consumers’ actions is replaced with an irrational moment of self gratification. Impulse items appeal to the emotional side of consumers. Items bought on impulse are not usually considered functional or necessary in their lives. Preventing impulse buying involves techniques such as setting budgets before shopping and taking time out before the purchase is made.

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March 13, 2016

How to Photograph an Atomic Bomb

National Atomic Testing Museum

How to Photograph an Atomic Bomb is a book written by Peter Kuran and published in 2006 by VCE. It documents the stories of the men who photographed US nuclear weapons tests between 1945–1963 and the techniques they used to capture nuclear blasts on film. The book contains 250 photos and 12 technical diagrams, some of which were previously classified.

Research on the book began while Kuran was working as an animator for ‘Star Wars.’ He was able to interview and collect material from photographers who witnessed the blasts, whom he calls unrecognized patriots. A traveling exhibit based on the book was purchased by the Atomic Testing Museum and put on display in 2007. In 2010, the ‘New York Times’ featured a 23-image slideshow on its website with photos taken from the book accompanied by an audio recording of George Yoshitake, then one of the few surviving cameramen.

March 11, 2016

Liar’s Poker


Liar’s Poker is a non-fiction, semi-autobiographical book by Michael Lewis describing the author’s experiences as a bond salesman on Wall Street during the late 1980s. Two important figures in that history feature prominently in the text, the head of Salomon Brothers’ mortgage department Lewis Ranieri and the firm’s CEO John Gutfreund. The book’s name is taken from a high-stakes gambling game popular with bond traders.

First published in 1989, it is considered one of the books that defined Wall Street in that era, along with Bryan Burrough and John Helyar’s ‘Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco,’ and the fictional ‘The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe.’ The book captures an important period in the history of New York’s financial markets.

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March 10, 2016

Shoe-throwing Incidents

Bush Shoeing by Dmitry Borshch

Shoe-throwing (also called shoeing) and showing the sole of one’s shoe as an insult are forms of protest in many parts of the world. Posters of George W. Bush’s face have long appeared through the Middle East with shoes attached to them, and some people have called former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ‘kundara,’ meaning ‘shoe.’ Shoeing received widespread attention after Muntadhar al-Zaidi threw his shoes at then President George W. Bush during a 2008 press conference in Baghdad.

‘This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog!’ yelled al-Zaidi in Arabic as he threw his first shoe towards the president. ‘This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq!’ he shouted as he threw his second shoe. President Bush ducked twice, avoiding being hit by the shoes. Since the al-Zaidi incident, copycat incidents in Europe, North America, India, China, Hong Kong, Iran, Turkey, and Australia have been reported. Shoes are considered unclean in the Arab World, but Matthew Cassel of ‘The Electronic Intifada’ has expressed the opinion that the Western media overplayed the phenomenon as being ‘Arab’ in particular.’

March 9, 2016


beer pong formations

Pregaming (called prefunking in Europe and preloading or prinking in the UK), is the process of getting drunk prior to going out socializing in a manner as cost-efficient as possible. Although typically done before a night out, pregaming can also precede other activities, like attending a college football game, large party, social function, or another activity where possession of alcohol may be limited or prohibited. The name ‘pregaming’ spread from the drinking that took place during tailgate parties before football games to encompass similar drinking periods.

Pregaming first became popular in the US in the 1990s, becoming a common practice after MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) pressured the federal government to coerce states into increasing the legal drinking age to 21 nationwide. It is also an unintended consequence of alcohol laws that prohibit happy hours and other discounts on alcohol, as well as rising tuition and other costs for students. Pregaming minimizes the cost of purchasing alcohol at local bars and clubs and can reduce the problems associated with obtaining and using fake identification listing an age permitting legal consumption of alcohol.

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March 8, 2016

Chip on Shoulder

dirt off your shoulder by ali graham

To have a chip on one’s shoulder refers to the act of holding a grudge or grievance that readily provokes disputation. The expression comes from the ancient right of shipwrights within the Royal Navy Dockyards to take home a daily allowance of offcuts of timber, even if good wood had to be cut up for this purpose. The privilege was instated as a prescriptive right from 1634. By 1756, the privilege was costing taxpayers too much in lost timber for warship repair and construction, and a decision was then made by the Navy Board to limit the quantity a shipwright could carry home. A warrant was issued to the Royal Dockyards to reduce the quantity of chips by ordering shipwrights to carry their bundles under their arms instead of on their shoulders, as one could not carry as much timber in this fashion.

There was an incident on the very first day the law was enforced: ‘Then came John Miller, shipwright, about thirty feet before the main body of the people, on which the Master Shipwright ordered him to lower his chips. He answered he would not, with that the Master Shipwright took hold of him, and said he should. He, the said Miller replied, ‘Are not the chips mine? I will not lower them.’ Immediately the main body pushed on with their chips on their shoulders, crowded and forced the Master Shipwright and the First Assistant through the gateway, and when out of the yard give three huzzas.’

March 5, 2016

Kindness Priming


pay it forward

Kindness priming is an affect-dependent cognitive effect in which subjects will display a positive affect following exposure to kindness. Individuals who are exposed to an act of kindness – the priming – subsequently notice more of the positive features of the world than they would otherwise. A person receiving a free voucher from a stranger, for example, may become more inclined to perceive the intentions of others around them as good.

It is hypothesized that kindness priming involves the same cognitive circuitry that enables memory priming. By activating neural representations of positive affect, an act of kindness stimulates increased activity in related associative networks. It is therefore more likely that subsequent stimuli will activate these related, positive networks, and so the positive affect continues to be carried forward in a feed forward manner. Additionally, kindness priming has also been shown to inoculate against negative stimuli in the short term, thus temporarily improving an individual’s resilience.

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March 4, 2016

Affective Forecasting

stumbling on happiness

hedonic treadmill

Affective forecasting (also known as the ‘hedonic forecasting mechanism’) is the prediction of one’s affect (emotional state) in the future. As a process that influences preferences, decisions, and behavior, affective forecasting is studied by both psychologists and economists, with broad applications.

Psychologist Daniel Kahneman and business school professor Jackie Snell began research on hedonic forecasts in the early 1990s, examining its impact on decision making. The term ‘affective forecasting’ was later coined by psychologists Timothy Wilson and Daniel Gilbert. Early research focused solely on measuring emotional forecasts, while subsequent studies examined accuracy, revealing that people are surprisingly poor judges of their future emotional states. For example, in predicting how events like winning the lottery might affect their happiness, people are likely to overestimate future positive feelings, ignoring the numerous other factors that might contribute to their emotional state outside of the single lottery event.

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March 3, 2016



Drapetomania [drah-pay-too-mey-nee-uh] was a supposed mental illness described by American physician Samuel A. Cartwright in 1851 that caused black slaves to flee captivity. Today, drapetomania is considered an example of pseudoscience and part of the edifice of scientific racism. The term derives from the Greek ‘drapetes’ (‘runaway [slave]’) and ‘mania’ (‘madness, frenzy’). In ‘Diseases and Peculiarities of the Negro Race,’ Cartwright points out that the Bible calls for a slave to be submissive to his master, and by doing so, the slave will have no desire to run away.

Cartwright described the disorder – which, he said, was ‘unknown to our medical authorities, although its diagnostic symptom, the absconding from service, is well known to our planters and overseers’– in a paper delivered before the Medical Association of Louisiana that was widely reprinted. He stated that the malady was a consequence of masters who ‘made themselves too familiar with [slaves], treating them as equals.’

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March 2, 2016


just for kicks

A sneakerhead is a person who collects, trades or admires sneakers as a hobby. The birth of sneakerhead culture in the United States came in the 1980s and can be attributed to two major sources: basketball, specifically the emergence of Michael Jordan and his eponymous Air Jordan line of shoes released in 1985, and the growth of hip hop music. The boom of signature basketball shoes during this era provided the sheer variety necessary for a collecting subculture, while the Hip-Hop movement gave the sneakers their street credibility as status symbols.

Several popular brands and styles of sneakers have emerged as collectors items in the sneakerhead subculture, including Air Jordans, Air Force Ones, Nike Dunks, Nike Skateboarding (SB), Nike Foamposites, Nike Air Max, and in the past few years, the Nike Air Yeezy. Shoes that have the most value are usually exclusive or limited editions. Also certain color schemes may be rarer relative to others in the same sneaker, inflating desirability and value. Recently, sneaker customs, or one-of-a-kind sneakers that have been hand-painted, have become popular as well.


March 1, 2016

Bandwagon Effect

Lemmings by Kyle Fewell

snowball effect

The bandwagon effect is a phenomenon whereby the rate of uptake of beliefs, ideas, fads and trends increases the more that they have already been adopted by others. As more people come to believe in something, others also ‘hop on the bandwagon’ regardless of the underlying evidence.

The tendency to follow the actions or beliefs of others can occur because individuals directly prefer to conform to social pressure, or because individuals derive information from others. The former has been used to explain Asch’s conformity experiments, a series of studies directed by Polish American social psychologist Solomon Asch studying if and how individuals yield to or defy a majority group and the effect of such influences on beliefs and opinions.

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