The reverse inference effect


Your brain on celebrity gossip

Whether it’s Justin Beiber crashing his car or Kanye having another Grammys tantrum, celebrity gossip is always in the news. We love it and the media serves it up. But these days, such truisms aren’t enough. You have to measure an aspect of human behavior in the brain scanner to show it’s the case scientifically. That’s what a group of Chinese researchers have done for a paper just published in the journal Social Neuroscience. I’m usually skeptical about this kind of study, but this one is pretty interesting because the brain activity patterns were inconsistent with the behavioral data. The set up was simple: the students, 17 of them, each lay in a brain scanner and listened to a woman read sentences of gossip about either the student him or herself; about one of their best friends; or about a celebrity (one of two Chinese film stars for whom the participants said they had no special interest). …[READ]


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