Why clowns are scary
Plus, how talking to Google changes your online search results.
“We all tell these tales of our lives to make sense of our beliefs.” – psychologist Jeremy Clifton
Send in the clowns…or not. Lots of people think clowns are creepy, but some folks have a genuine fear of clowns – what’s known as coulrophobia. Researchers wanted to explore what’s behind this fear, so they surveyed nearly a thousand adults around the world to analyze their fear of clowns. Part of the questionnaire related to the origins of this fear, which ranged from past experiences to negative portrayals of clowns in pop culture (thanks, Stephen King). But the strongest factor that led to coulrophobia was a psychological one: hidden emotional signals. For many people, a fear of clowns “stems from not being able to see their facial expressions due to their make-up,” the researchers write. “We cannot see their ‘true’ faces and therefore cannot understand their emotional intent.” For some of us, this feels uneasy and slightly creepy. For others, it’s downright frightening.
Hey, Alexa… When you search for something online, do you talk or text? Depending on your preferred medium, your search results may vary. In a series of experiments, researchers looked at how people dictate versus type their Google searches. They found that vocalizing a search made people more specific in their search terms, and this led to better search results. For example, when speaking a search term (Hey, Google…) people would mention the brand name or intended purpose of the thing they were searching for. When typing, they were vaguer about their queries. “Consumers tend to be more concerned about communicating clearly when engaging with voice technology,” the study concluded, “which prompts them to think more about how they want to convey their query before saying it out loud.”
On purpose. Having a sense of purpose can be a buffer against the challenges we all face at various stages of life. Purpose can also boost our health and longevity. But perhaps purpose isn’t something to be found — it’s something we can develop from within. Listen to learn more.
ON THE HIDDEN BRAIN PODCAST
March 13: The Implicit Association Test, created by researchers in the late 90s, measures our hidden biases. Tests like this have now been used by millions of people. They offer a window into the minds of Americans -- and not everyone likes what they see. This week, we launch a two-part mini-series on implicit bias. How is it that we can hold negative stereotypes about people without being aware of these biases?
ON THE MY UNSUNG HERO PODCAST
March 7: Before going to India, Sri warned her daughter to watch out for people trying to steal from them. But when they got there, the opposite happened.
Don’t forget to send us the story of your unsung hero! Record a voice memo on your phone and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A girl was ten on her last birthday. She will be twelve on her next birthday. How can this statement be true?
LAST WEEK’S PUZZLE
George, William, John, Abe, and Millard have their birthdays on consecutive days, all between Monday and Friday. George’s birthday is as many days before Millard’s and William’s is after Abe’s. John is two days older than Abe. Millard’s birthday is on Thursday. Can you figure out whose birthday is on each day?
The answer: John’s is on Monday, George’s on Tuesday, Abe’s on Wednesday, Millard’s on Thursday, and William’s on Friday. [source]
FROM THE TWITTERATI…
A MOMENT OF JOY
Speaking of phobias…
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