Behavioural Science Blog

The Science of Human Behaviour

Preface to “Change! – Use habits to effortless improve your life.” (Version 0.1)

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I am writing a book (together with Behavioral Change Specialist Judith Martens from behavior-change.net) about how to change effortless, using habits to shape your behaviour without the need of (an enourmous amount of) motivation.

I was writing some chapters, when I realized that I needed to see the preface to really set my focus on how I was going to fill the different steps.

The final preface might look very different – but this piece will give me inner focus. It’s not to the point yet – but you still might enjoy reading it. I am happy if you leave your questions and ideas in the comment section below.

Read the preface to the book “Change! – Use habits to effortless improve your life.”

The Behavioural Science Blog in 2010

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The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 10,000 times in 2010. That’s about 24 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 8 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 58 posts. There were 9 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 868kb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was January 5th with 131 views. The most popular post that day was Unconscious perceptual processes.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, digg.com, itp.nyu.edu, search.conduit.com, and google.co.in.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for behavioural science, heterotypic continuity, behavioral science, behaviour science, and behavioural sciences.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Unconscious perceptual processes February 2009
3 comments

2

Heterotypic Continuity & Comorbidity October 2008

3

How do biases affect decision making in mental health? October 2009

4

Can People who lack Self-Regulation Skills still have Satisfying and Well-functioning Relationships? June 2008

5

Ego Depletion & Executive Functioning October 2007
1 comment

Written by Martin Glanert

January 2, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Forget the Cinderella effect: stepparents are just as likely to kill their biological children as their stepchildren

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By Tim O’Mahony Operations Manager at Kexue Communications, www.kexuecommunications.com
Researchers have known since the early 1970s that children in stepfamilies are at greater risk of child abuse and murder (Fergusson, Fleming & O’Neill, 1972). A team of Swedish researchers has found that parents in stepfamilies are equally likely to kill their biological children as they are to kill their stepchildren. Their findings are published in the journal Current Zoology (Online First).

Evolutionary reasons such as a lack of genetic relatedness and kin selection have previously been used to explain the higher rates of child abuse and homicide observed in stepfamilies (Daly & Wilson, 1988). The research team from Stockholm University and Mid Sweden University investigated whether an evolutionary explanation sufficiently explained this higher prevalence.

The research team analyzed Statistics Sweden records of parental child homicides in Sweden for the period 1965–2009. They included data from two biparental family types in their study: families with two genetic parents and stepfamilies. The group also analyzed the proportion of stepfamilies and families with two genetic parents in the general population for 1987, the midpoint of the study, to determine whether children in stepfamilies were statistically more likely to be murdered.

Dr. Temrin’s team used contingency tables to compare the observed frequencies of parents from the two family types committing child homicide with the frequencies of parents in the two family types in the general population. They found that on average there are 3.2 perpetrators per million parents for stepfamilies, and 1.9 per million parents for families with two genetic parents.

The team also investigated perpetrators in stepfamilies specifically, by finding the ratio of biological parent and stepparent child homicide perpetrators in stepfamilies and comparing it to an expected 1:1 ratio using a Chi-square test.

There were 152 perpetrators of parental child homicide in the two family groups used over the 45 year study period: 125 perpetrators were in families with two genetic parents and 27 were in stepfamilies. Of the 27 stepfamily murderers, 13 killed their genetic children, 13 murdered their stepchildren, and 1 perpetrator killed both. This means that the risk of a stepparent or a genetic parent in a stepfamily murdering a child is not significantly different from a 1:1 ratio (Chi-square = 0, p > 0.99).

“Our study suggests that the risk of being killed is not associated primarily with the non-genetic relation stepparent and stepchild but rather by living in a stepfamily,” said the paper’s lead author, Dr. Hans Temrin from Stockholm University.

Data on the criminal record of all Swedish parents in both genetic parent families and stepfamiles was also taken from the The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention dataset for the midpoint of the study, 1987.

Dr. Temrin’s team found that rates of crime across Sweden were higher for adults in stepfamilies than in biparental families, with general crime 1.5 times higher (28.2% vs. 17.8%), and violent crime twice is high (4.4% vs. 1.9%). These findings agree with previous studies that found that there is a higher incidence of unemployment, psychiatric problems and anti-social behaviors for parents in stepfamilies than parents in families with both genetic parents (Belsky, 1993; Turner, Finkelhor & Ormrod, 2007).

“The Cinderella effect – the observation that adults are more likely to kill their stepchildren than their biological children – has long been a staple of evolutionary psychology-informed homicide research, and this study suggests that this explanation is likely too simple,” said Dr Damon Muller from the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University.

Dr. Temrin explains that “most parental child homicides are not caused by conflicts with the child but rather by problems that parents have.”

“Giving help to people with psychiatric problems and to families with problems in my opinion is the only way to decrease child maltreatment and the risk of children being killed.”

The research team hopes to replicate their study in other countries to investigate whether their observations hold.

References

Belsky J, 1993. Etiology of child maltreatment: A developmental-ecological analysis. Psychological Bulletin 114: 413-434.

Daly M, Wilson M, 1988. Homicide. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

Fergusson DM, Fleming J, O’Neill DP, 1972. Child abuse in New Zealand. Wellington, New Zealand: A. R. Shearer, Government Printer.

Turner HA, Finkelhor D, Ormrod R, 2007. Family structure variations in patterns and
predictors of child victimization. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 77: 282-295.

Dan Ariely: It’s OK to cheat and steal (sometimes)

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Dan Ariely is a behavioural economist. He studies irrationality and tries to understand why humans act as they do act. In this video he focuses on the role of morality. In some clever studies he looks at why we think that it’s OK to cheat and steal (sometimes).

Written by Martin Glanert

April 5, 2010 at 10:22 am

The Secret: Force of the universe or unconscious goal priming?

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The Secret is an outstanding motivational movie, that uses visualization to bring you closer to your goals. However there is a much more simpler explanation for this effect: unconscious goal priming. In this video I explain why I think that you do not need a universal force to explain how people can align themselves with their goals and act upon it.

Written by Martin Glanert

March 28, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Gigerenzer: The Intelligence of the Unconscious

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Video about the intelligence of the unconscious mind by Gigerenzer

The Intelligence of the Unconscious

Gerd Gigerenzer is one of the stars in the realm of decision-making. He has written many articles about decision-making that has been cited many times. In this video he gives a lecture at the University of California about the intelligence of the unconscious.

Be aware: This is an enormously inspiring video, that might change the way you look at decision-making – not only in a scientific way, but also in daily life. this might shake your foundation of what you believe is true, so don’t watch this if you’d like to hang on to “usual logic thinking”.

Dan Fitzgerald about fMRI – Video interview

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This is a Behavioural Science Video Interview with Daniel Fitzgerald about fMRI

fMRI Video Interview #1

  • Introduction
  • What is fMRI?
  • fMRI Research
  • fMRI Method
  • fMRI Signal
  • The Salmon
  • Corrections & Thresholds
  • The Black Box
  • The Press

fMRI Video Interview #2

  • fMRI & Behaviour
  • Understanding Behaviour
  • Getting Started
  • Use of fMRI
  • Future of fMRI
  • Brain Pacemakers

Written by Martin Glanert

February 6, 2010 at 11:59 pm

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