From "Men in Black": The alien in place of a brain.

Would You Recognize a Mind When You See One?

This was one of my very first blog posts on Contemplating Cognition, originally published September 13, 2012. The Chinese Room continues to be one of my favorite philosophical puzzles. Human beings see minds everywhere. In one classic experiment, Heider and Simmel showed people simple animated shapes and asked people to describe the events afterward. Most…

Are we more likely to cheat and lie as the day wears on? Photo by Jo Christian Oterhals, used under creative commons license.

The murky waters of moral mornings

This is the final entry of a three-part series of blog entries based on a series of three articles in which two teams of researchers go back and forth on what they think is the influence of time on day on our decisions. You can refresh on the original study here, and the counterargument that…

Morning people are more dishonest in the afternoon, but evening people are more dishonest in the morning. Based on data from Gunia et al. (2014).

Mornings are only moral for morning people

This is Part II of a series of three blog entries, based on a series of three articles in which two teams of researchers go back and forth on what they think is the influence of time on day on our decisions. Part I was posted last Thursday, and Part III will be posted this…

Positive emotions may reduce racist perception

As tempting as it can be to dismiss the fanciful sounding ideas of “the power of a positive attitude”, every now and then a scientific study will show that positive emotions reach into unexpected corners of our brains to tweak our thoughts and actions in small yet significant ways. As one example, simply being joyful or…

Image from mattesperanza.com

“Ctrl+S” Gives You Permission to Forget

Pressing Ctrl-S is a reflex for me, born in the heyday of the Blue Screen of Death and activated every few sentences of text, or every few words in the case of some of my more laborious college term papers. Though it’s far less necessary with today’s more stable technology, I still consider it a…

Photo by Joana Coccarelli. Used under creative commons license.

Counting breaths to measure mindfulness

One of the greatest challenges to the scientific study of mindfulness is finding a way to objectively measure how mindful someone is. Only with a clear, unbiased measure we can we feel confident in when and why a person’s mindfulness changes, and what greater levels of mindfulness can mean for us. But mindfulness is a…

Photo by Ed Donahue; used under creative commons license.

For your new year’s resolution, get more grit

Once again, the thoughts of the nation are turning toward New Year’s resolutions: lose weight, quit smoking, eat healthy, save money. Statistically speaking, about a third of people are going to slip up on those resolutions before the end of the month (and anecdotally speaking, I will be one of them). So once again, the…