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  #61  
Old 20.10.2007, 09:21
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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Here's a social psychology question: how do people instinctively know when they are being looked at? Or is it a myth?
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More of a Perception question ;-)
Well, there is no proper explanation except that our perception is a marvellous tool that let our species survive for quite some time. Maybe it stems from the time where sabre tooth tigers rather than the pretty brunette across the room were giving you longing looks.

In other words, no scientifically founded idea.
Maybe I can elaborate on this a little. I agree, it is certainly perception rather than social psych', but boils down to how social living has affected our perceptual processes. Being social is extremely important to humans, and knowing who is looking at whom gives a lot of very useful information (you can reliably determine who is the leader of any group by measuring how often each person is looked at, and predicting that it is the one who is looked at most often). Knowing who is looking at oneself is even more important.

Therefore, we have a predisposition to pick faces out of even the most complex visual environments, and in particularly to infer where the eyes are looking. Our ability to do this is way beyond our ability to notice other visual cues that are objectively equally minor.

However, you may be talking about the experience of having a feeling that someone is looking at you even though they are behind you and you cannot see them. I doubt that there is much solid research on this, but I would conjecture that if you can do this at a greater-than-chance accuracy that you may be picking up on cues that are in your visual field, like the gaze of other people that you can see being directed towards the person who you cannot see, so that you may still be aware of where they are.

A couple of pieces of research to do with the innate predisposition to look for faces. (1) If a picture of a face is shown to even extremely young babies, they will look at it for much longer than they will for a similarly complex picture that is not of a face. (2) Research has been done to show that we can pick a smiling face out of a crowd of frowning faces almost "preattentively" - that is, without having to focus our attention on each face, the smiling face just "pops out" of the crowd. There was even evidence that it is even easier to pick out a frowning face from a group of smiling faces faster than a smiling face from a group of frowning faces, and the authors offered an evolutionary argument for this saying that we look out for more threatening expressions, and smiling faces are not as threatening as frowning ones. The stimuli they used were very simplistic 'smilies', so I'll try to recreate it here, although I can't use completely comparable faces, and you really need many trials and millisecond timing to study the effect. Anyway, just for illustrative purposes:


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Last edited by ChrisW; 20.10.2007 at 15:57.
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  #62  
Old 20.10.2007, 12:08
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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Another developmental question - why is the male of the species usually larger than the female? There's two angles on that as well...
1. It would help with childbirth if the mother is larger
2. Also with defence of their young, etc.

Then again maybe the male is bigger for combat and mating advantage bla bla bla...
This is what is called in Biology sexual dimorphism. It is defined as the existence of physical differences between the sexes, other than differences in the sex organs. It is an evolutionary trait, thas is a result of sexual selection.

As described by Darwin, species in which males and females are more similar are more often monogamous. Species with brightly colored, large, or dangerously armed males are more often fall into polygyny. I.e. several females mate with one male, and other males do not breed at all. The selective pressure on adaptations that enable males to gain access* to females is proportionally stronger. So bigger, or more coloured, or more armed gives the male a competive advantage.

In general, in a given species, the stronger dimorphism, the higher the chance of polygamy, and the less the caring for offspring is shared among the sexes.

Treating the sexual dimorphism as a consequence of sexual selection has been a matter of controversy and has left many loose ends. For example, certain sexual dimorphisms have obvious utility beyond mate attraction and there are characters that cannot be related to sexual selection. The same phenomena can have different physiological meanings. There is simply no general reason for it. Each species is a world of its own....

Hope this helps,

Lucy



*wheter by male competition or female choice

Last edited by lucy_sg; 20.10.2007 at 12:08. Reason: remove double quote
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  #63  
Old 20.10.2007, 12:11
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Re: Ask a Scientist

So brightly coloured shirts are a good thing ? I draw the line at packing-heat though...

dave


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Species with brightly colored, large, or dangerously armed males are more often fall into polygyny. I.e. several females mate with one male, and other males do not breed at all.
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  #64  
Old 20.10.2007, 12:19
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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So brightly coloured shirts are a good thing ? I draw the line at packing-heat though...

dave
Of course.
Combined with a mullet, you'll be beating off the totty with a shitty stick...
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  #65  
Old 20.10.2007, 12:22
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Re: Ask a Scientist

That answer has brightened up what otherwise promised to be a dull day chez dave, no end.

dave

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Of course.
Combined with a mullet, you'll be beating off the totty with a shitty stick...
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  #66  
Old 20.10.2007, 12:25
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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Of course.
Combined with a mullet, you'll be beating off the totty with a shitty stick...
.... and don't forget the golden medallion. Shirt best open untill the 3rd button.
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  #67  
Old 20.10.2007, 12:26
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Re: Ask a Scientist

It that part of the science too: shiny things attract ?

dave

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.... and don't forget the golden medallion. Shirt best open untill the 3rd button.
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  #68  
Old 20.10.2007, 12:34
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Re: Ask a Scientist

....... i can try to answer questions on atmospheric physics, other types of physics and the continued relevance of britpop nearly 20 years on........
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  #69  
Old 20.10.2007, 12:35
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Re: Ask a Scientist

Why is tidal movement only detectable on a large scale ?

dave

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....... i can try to answer questions on atmospheric physics, other types of physics and the continued relevance of britpop nearly 20 years on........
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Old 20.10.2007, 12:41
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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It that part of the science too: shiny things attract ?
There's a whole hair care industry devoted to shiny.
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  #71  
Old 20.10.2007, 12:46
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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Why is tidal movement only detectable on a large scale ?
Because the gravitational pull of the moon on the earth is so weak. Effects on the smaller scale are inconsequential, but there's a whole lot of water in them thar oceans.
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  #72  
Old 20.10.2007, 12:57
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Re: Ask a Scientist

mmm, that's a good one (and not a topic i know much about)

tides are caused by gravity. Gravity is a force which has a very small observable effect (compared with electric or magnetic fields) however on a large scale, when we consider the mass of say, the moon, it is quite noticeable. not sure whether that helps or not, but i'll think more on this today.


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Why is tidal movement only detectable on a large scale ?

dave
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  #73  
Old 20.10.2007, 13:03
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Re: Ask a Scientist

OK here is another one. I am not sure a scientist is the best person to ask, but give it your best shot (sic) : why does much (post cool) jazz sound like self indulgent musical masturbation ?


By contrast I currently listening to 1940s Reinhart/Grapelli, and I can almost hum along with it. Nice.

dave
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  #74  
Old 20.10.2007, 13:14
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Re: Ask a Scientist

OK, it's from leftfield for me, i do play guitar, kinda OK, but never got into new-jazz (can i call it that). most of it is indigestible. Modally speaking, i think the peeps into this stuff are on a mission to bring the abstract to the world; not something i'm all that interested in.

next......

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OK here is another one. I am not sure a scientist is the best person to ask, but give it your best shot (sic) : why does much (post cool) jazz sound like self indulgent musical masturbation ?


By contrast I currently listening to 1940s Reinhart/Grapelli, and I can almost hum along with it. Nice.

dave
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  #75  
Old 20.10.2007, 13:28
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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OK here is another one. I am not sure a scientist is the best person to ask, but give it your best shot (sic) : why does much (post cool) jazz sound like self indulgent musical masturbation ?


By contrast I currently listening to 1940s Reinhart/Grapelli, and I can almost hum along with it. Nice.

dave


This is something that all the money i have spent in University hasn't prepared me for....
Care to elaborate, Dave?
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  #76  
Old 20.10.2007, 13:41
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Re: Ask a Scientist

Learn all the rules: modes, chord following, leading, transposition, harmony then the best you can come up with is: a series of random notes that take the music nowhere, but because it labels itself "jazz" hails claim to some intellectual underpinning so people that substitute analysis for passion can try and talk authoritatively about the meaning behind it. Incidentally thats also my pet theory of why modern jazz is so popular in Switzerland....

dave


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This is something that all the money i have spent in University hasn't prepared me for....
Care to elaborate, Dave?
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  #77  
Old 20.10.2007, 13:47
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Re: Ask a Scientist

it's kinda off topic, but perhaps these people have little passion and appearing intellectual would be more to their liking then playing some dirty blues which weeps emotion? anyway, Dave, you sound more then qualified to answer your own questions from now on..........



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so people that substitute analysis for passion can try and talk authoritatively about the meaning behind it.
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  #78  
Old 20.10.2007, 13:49
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Re: Ask a Scientist

Wrong footed ? We could extend a similar argument to modern art but I guess the discussion would run and run....

dave

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it's kinda off topic, but perhaps these people have little passion and appearing intellectual would be more to their liking then playing some dirty blues which weeps emotion? anyway, Dave, you sound more then qualified to answer your own questions from now on..........
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  #79  
Old 20.10.2007, 13:51
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Re: Ask a Scientist

Can we try to keep this thread on topic somewhat? I intended this thread to be for people to ask questions about biology, chemistry, physics, engineering etc.

Please?

Thanks.
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  #80  
Old 20.10.2007, 13:54
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Re: Ask a Scientist

ooooops, sorry


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Can we try to keep this thread on topic somewhat? I intended this thread to be for people to ask questions about biology, chemistry, physics, engineering etc.

Please?

Thanks.
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