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Monday, April 23, 2007Why Do Men Ignore Nagging Wives?
A psychologist has found the answer to the age old question many women have about their husbands: " Why does her husband often seemed to ignore her requests for help around the house?"
New research findings now appearing online in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology show that that people do not necessarily oppose others' wishes intentionally, but even the slightest nonconscious exposure to the name of a significant person in their life is enough cause them to rebel against that person's wishes.
"My husband, while very charming in many ways, has an annoying tendency of doing exactly the opposite of what I would like him to do in many situations," said Tanya L. Chartrand, an associate professor of marketing and psychology at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.
When Chartrand envisioned a formal academic study of people's resistance to the wishes of their partners, parents or bosses, her husband, Gavan Fitzsimons, became not only her inspiration, but also her collaborator.
Fitzsimons is a professor of marketing and psychology at Duke who, like Chartrand, is an expert in the field of consumer psychology.
Working with Duke Ph.D. student Amy Dalton, Chartrand and Fitzsimons have demonstrated that some people will act in ways that are not to their own benefit simply because they wish to avoid doing what other people want them to.
Psychologists call this reactance: a person's tendency to resist social influences that they perceive as threats to their autonomy.
"Psychologists have known for some time that reactance can cause a person to work in opposition to another person's desires," Chartrand said. "We wanted to know whether reactance could occur even when exposure to a significant other, and their associated wishes for us, takes place at a nonconscious level."
The researchers undertook a set of experiments to determine whether reactance might occur unintentionally, completely outside of the reactant individual's conscious awareness.
In the first experiment, participants were asked to name a significant person in their lives whom they perceived to be controlling and who wanted them to work hard, and another significant and controlling person who wanted them to have fun. Participants then performed a computer-based activity during which the name of one or the other of these people was repeatedly, but subliminally, flashed on the screen. The name appeared too quickly for the participants to consciously realize they had seen it, but just long enough for the significant other to be activated in their nonconscious minds. The participants were then given a series of anagrams to solve, creating words from jumbled letters.
People who were exposed to the name of a person who wanted them to work hard performed significantly worse on the anagram task than did participants who were exposed to the name of a person who wanted them to have fun.
"Our participants were not even aware that they had been exposed to someone else's name, yet that nonconscious exposure was enough to cause them to act in defiance of what their significant other would want them to do," Fitzsimons said.
A second experiment used a similar approach and added an assessment of each participant's level of reactance. People who were more reactant responded more strongly to the subliminal cues and showed greater variation in their performance than people who were less reactant.
"The main finding of this research is that people with a tendency toward reactance may nonconsciously and quite unintentionally act in a counterproductive manner simply because they are trying to resist someone else's encroachment on their freedom," Chartrand said.
The researchers suggest that people who tend to experience reactance when their freedoms are threatened should try to be aware of situations and people who draw out their reactant tendencies. That way, they can be more mindful of their behaviors and avoid situations where they might adopt detrimental behaviors out of a sense of rebellion.
Steve Martin's apology:In 1992, I was interviewing one Ms. Anna Floyd for a secretarial position when my pants accidentally fell down around my ankles as I was saying, "Ever seen one of these before?" Even though I was referring to my new Pocket Tape Memo Taker, I would like to apologize to Ms. Floyd for any grief this misunderstanding might have caused her. I would also like to apologize to the Pocket Tape people and their affiliates, and to International Hardwood Designs, whose floor my pants fell upon. I would especially like to apologize to my wife Karen, whose great understanding fills me with humility.
Once, in Hawaii, I had sex with a hundred-and-two-year-old male turtle. It is hard to argue that it was consensual. I would like to apologize to the turtle, his family, the Kahala Hilton Hotel, and the hundred or so diners who were eating at the Hilton's outdoor café. I would also like to apologize to my loyal wife Karen, who had to endure the subsequent news item in the "Also Noted" section of the Santa Barbara Women's Club Weekly.
In 1987, I attended a bar mitzvah in Manhattan while wearing white gabardine pants, white patent-leather slippers, a blue blazer with gold buttons, and a yachting cap. I would like to apologize to the Jewish people, to the state of Israel, to my family, who have stood by me, and to my wife, Karen, who has also endured my seventeen affairs and three out-of-wedlock children. Further, I would like to apologize to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, for referring to its members as "colored people." My apology would not be complete if it didn't include my new wife, Nancy, who is of a pinkish tint, and our two children, who are white-colored.
Humans have long been fascinated by the concept of invisibility. From H.G. Wells' Invisible Man to Harry Potter's cloak of invisibility, purveyors of fiction have pondered what one would do if one could move about unseen. Invisibility is often portrayed as a perfect transparency– ala the Invisible Man– however this method is in conflict with the laws of nature as we understand them. Moreover, a transparent person would be plagued with a host of difficulties that seem quite insurmountable. Any consumed food or drink would be embarrassingly visible as it meanders through the digestive system, and these visible nutrients would immediately begin to integrate into the body. That's to say nothing of wardrobe problems and social difficulties.
The competing approach to invisibility involves some sort of cloaking device to route photons around an object. This method is somewhat more feasible, but of course it comes with its own unique set of complications. For instance, if all the outside light is diverted around something, no light is able to reach an observer inside, leaving them unable to see out.
These difficulties and others have long left all serious speculation about invisibility lodged safely in the distant future. But this is no longer so. In October of 2006, Professor Sir John Pendry of the Imperial College London announced the successful creation of a rudimentary cloaking device which nudges the idea a bit closer to reality. Perhaps most surprising of all, the whole concept rests on a fairly simple physical principle of light– one that requires no electricity to operate, and that every high-schooler learns in basic physics.
In essence, Sir John's invisibility cloak relies on refraction, the same property of light seen when a prism casts a rainbow. Refraction can also be seen by poking a pencil into a glass of water. The underwater portion will appear to be offset from the rest because of the bending of light as it moves from one medium to another– from water to air. A few years ago Sir John and his physicist friends reflected upon the idea of using refraction to bend light completely around an object. If this were possible, the light would emerge on the other side, unchanged, as if the object were not there at all.
Refraction through waterOf course this simple idea isn't quite so simple in application. The researchers' first obstacle was the precision light-bending this method requires. There simply weren't any materials with quite the right properties to bend light in the necessary semi-circle, nor were any naturally occurring materials good candidates for the position. So the scientists looked to metamaterials– substances whose electromagnetic properties are dependent upon tightly designed internal structures rather than on their chemical composition.
Guided by a theoretical design published in an earlier paper, and working in concert with researchers at Duke University, Sir John and his team created a five-inch round cloak using a metamaterial structured in two-dimensional concentric rings, specifically designed for this purpose. This unique configuration is thought to be one of the most complex metamaterial structures ever made. Their first goal was to make a material that was "invisible" to microwave radiation since microwaves are a longer wavelength than visible light– millimeters rather than nanometers– and therefore easier to manipulate.
BBC Radio 4 recently broadcast a documentary on the effects of the new generation of anti-sleep drugs on health and society.
Drugs, such as modafinil and adrafinil, seem to remove the need for sleep and promote alertness while having minimal side-effects in most users.
Unlike older drugs which prevent sleep, such as amphetamine, these drugs typically don't feel pleasurable and have few other effects, meaning they are less likely to be used recreationally or lead to compulsive use.
Originally used to treat sleep disorders, there is now a large grey market for these compounds, as people use them to extend their work or play time.
The BBC documentary tackles the possible effects on society of being able to easily manipulate and delete the need for sleep at will, as well as investigating the possible mind and brain consequences of not sleeping for long periods.