External perspective does not help memory

Photographs and Memories. Make memories, not photographs Stop taking pictures. Please. We must be living in the most thoroughly documented time ever. We take pictures and videos of everything we do. We take selfies of ourselves in front of cool things and in the mirror (selfie was the word of the year for 2013). We then post our pictures on Facebook and send pictures through phone messages. But what if we’re ruining our memories by taking pictures. Many people document everything they do, constantly taking pictures. Cell phones are everywhere and people use them to record all events, everything small … Continue reading External perspective does not help memory

What drives preferences for a stroller

Conspicuous consumption: parent edition This post is not really related to taxes but more a recent observation of mine. I am mum to an 8th month old and observe a lot of things about parents I did not previously notice. This blog follows up on my twitter postings from Christmas Day.I am in the mighty megapolous of Toronto for Christmas. And I do mean Toronto and not the GTA, an important distinction for those that living in Toronto proper itself. I am visiting my in-laws for Christmas, who I like a great deal, and they live in a very affluent … Continue reading What drives preferences for a stroller

Disgust is not innate

Little Angels Is morality innate? In his new book, “Just Babies,” the psychologist Paul Bloom draws from his research at the Yale Infant Cognition Center to argue that “certain moral foundations are not acquired through learning. . . . They are instead the products of biological evolution.” Infants may be notoriously difficult to study (rats and pigeons “can at least run mazes or peck at levers”), but according to Bloom, they are, in fact, “moral creatures.” He describes a study in which 1-year-olds watched a puppet show where a ball is passed to a “nice” puppet (who passes it back) … Continue reading Disgust is not innate

Are gift-givers loss averse?

An economist’s guide to gift-giving In January 1993, Joel Waldfogel asked 86 undergraduate students whether they liked their Christmas gifts. But Waldfogel is an economist, so he phrased the question more precisely, asking them how much they would have paid to buy those items for themselves. The results were grim, at least for the gift-givers: The students estimated that their gifts had cost $438.20 — but they said the most they would have been willing to pay for them was $313.40. Two months later, Waldfogel rounded up 58 more students and asked them how much cash it would have taken … Continue reading Are gift-givers loss averse?

Humans who enjoyed food rituals had more offspring.

Why Christmas rituals make tasty food All of us carry out rituals in our daily lives, whether it is shaking hands or clinking glasses before we drink. At this time of year, the performance of customs and traditions is widespread – from sharing crackers, to pulling the wishbone on the turkey and lighting the Christmas pudding. These rituals might seem like light-hearted traditions, but I’m going to try and persuade you that they are echoes of our evolutionary history, something which can tell us about how humans came to relate to each other before we had language. And the story … Continue reading Humans who enjoyed food rituals had more offspring.

Biases in health care decision-making

New Health Law Frustrates Many in Middle Class Doug and Ginger Chapman with their son Charlie Galanes, 11. They are looking for new coverage after their plan was canceled. The cheapest insurance plan they can find through the new federal marketplace in New Hampshire will cost their family of four about $1,000 a month, 12 percent of their annual income of around $100,000 and more than they have ever paid before. Even more striking, for the Chapmans, is this fact: If they made just a few thousand dollars less a year — below $94,200 — their costs would be cut … Continue reading Biases in health care decision-making

Christmas is inside your mind

The 12 Psychology Studies of Christmas On the first day of Christmas PsyBlog sent to me…12 psychology studies about Christmas (and no partridges or pear trees). 1. How to have a happy Christmas. We all want a happy Christmas (or cultural equivalent), but how do we get it? This research into happiness and Christmas suggests that a focus on spending and consumption is associated with less happiness while family and religious experiences are associated with more happiness. Not exactly earth-shattering, but satisfying to quote to little Billy when he complains about his presents. 2. What’s the best type of chocolate? … Continue reading Christmas is inside your mind