How to Protect Yourself Online From Cameron Diaz
Recall a couple weeks ago, when we told you how most Americans spent their time online?
Well, in case your “other” time consists of googling your favorite celebrities, make sure you read this entire article.
It’s almost a Public Service Announcement really.
Thanks For The Heads Up, McAfee
Every year, McAfee, one of the internet’s most popular anti-virus programs, posts a list of ‘dangerous celebrities.’
In case you haven’t heard of this before, we do not mean Paris Hilton’s rap sheet, (Three drug related charges in one month? Impressive!) we mean those whose search results are laced with malware and viruses that can damage your computer.
This year, the most dangerous celeb to search for is…Cameron Diaz. Unlike usual articles, where we link you off to a site with more information, this time we will refrain!
Searches for her have increased because of her debatably successful movies released this year, like Knight and Day. Vicious scammers hide the content in links, especially now in social media-friendly shortened links.
If you search for ‘Cameron Diaz’ there is a 10% chance you may click on a malicious link, and if you search ‘Cameron Diaz downloads,’ in the hopes of a sexy downloadable screensaver, you have a 20% chance of clicking into a dangerous site.
Last year’s winner, Jessica Biel, known more for dating Justin Timberlake and being attractive than any acting roles, received the number three spot this year, with an overall 9% chance of landing on a site with virus laden downloads.
Julia Roberts took the second spot, with a 9% risk of searching for her. Searching for Julia Roberts Downloads, however, has a 20% of a dangerous site. Eat, Pray, update your virus software?
Here is a complete list of the top ten most dangerous celebs, FYI. We figure that we mention celebs enough here to add this list for you all. Thanks, McAfee.
2010 Top 10 Dangerous Celebs to Search For On The Web
1. Cameron Diaz
2. Julia Roberts
3. Jessica Biel
4. Gisele Bundchen
5. Brad Pitt
6. Adriana Lima
7. Jennifer Love Hewitt, Nicole Kidman
8. Tom Cruise
9. Heidi Klum, Penelope Cruz
10. Anna Paquin
If you need to know who some of these people are, use a reputable site, and don’t download anything!
If you have yet to check out any of the TED Talks we have featured, start with this one!
You may know Mike Rowe from many things – Dirty Jobs, the show on the Discovery Channel, Ford commercials, and as the voice of many things, including many of the last Shark Week shows.
What you may not already know is the respect and reverence with which he treats all those he comes in contact with because of his show, and the adoration he has for each job he has done.
If you are cursing your cubicle walls (and swearing that they are closing in on you) than take a look at this and you will appreciate where you are – all while listening to an amazing adventure by Mike. Enjoy!
Ladies, have you ever had a moment when you just felt like dressing sexier than usual?
You know you’re heading into the office, but for some reason, that little black dress in your closet is the exact item you want to put on.
And when you put on that dress, you know that you look good – damn good. In fact, you know you will look better than every other woman that you pass today.
Want To Know The Science Behind The Sexy?
There is a reason why you may unconsciously choose to dress sexier – you may be ovulating.
While ovulating, once per month the female brain kicks into competition mode. You want to look better than other females in your local vicinity – those who may compete with you to attract the attention of the perfect man.
In this quest to look sexy and stand out, you may reach for the hottest little number in your closet.
While you may not wake up consciously thinking ‘Look Out World!’ your body’s processes (ovulation) send those sassy feeling signals to your brain for you.
Frankly, it is out of your control!
In the next issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management explains the connection between competition, ovulation, and a sexy dress.
This experiment was basically two in one. The goal was to see, as the researchers predicted beforehand, if “competition for a suitable partner would be influenced by a woman’s fertility status.”
The first question that Kristina Durante and others sought to answer was this: would an ovulating woman choose sexier clothing to wear than a non-ovulating woman, simply because her body was in that process?
To test this, researchers showed a group of women (in various stages of the body’s ovulation, including some women not ovulating at all as the control) color photographs of other women wearing different outfits – some staunchly conservative and others scandalously sexy – and then asked the women which of the clothing they desired.
If you’d like to read more on their methods and results before the article is published next month, check it out at the school’s website.
Spoiler Alert! The researchers were right and the ovulating women chose sexier items of clothing.
The second question that the researchers wanted to answer was about distance: does the sense of competing for a male’s attention only exist on a local scale (as in, competing against that other hussy who works in your office for the attention of the new male intern) or is the range bigger (as in, you live in LA and want to compete with women in NYC)?
Spoiler Alert 2! The sense of competition is only local. The participants were shown pictures of women who lived locally and of women who lived over 1,000 miles away. They were then given the sexy clothing test again.
This test showed that: “The majority of participants chose sexier products [when viewing the pictures of local women] than those who had seen pictures of women who lived over 1000 miles away.”
The results continued: “This change in consumer choice is not a conscious decision and non-ovulating women are not subject to this effect.”
Who Does This Study Really Benefit?
If you didn’t notice before, take a look back up in the body of this article…this study was sponsored by a business school, not a science/neuroscience related institution.
The findings of this study do not only benefit the world of science, they give consumer marketers a whole new weapon. The effects of ovulation on a woman’s shopping habits may have huge implications for consumer marketers for years to come. By targeting ovulating women, marketers may begin to feature more sexy clothing and products at times when women are most likely to buy:
“For about 5 to 6 days every month, normally ovulating women – constituting over a billion consumers – may be especially likely to purchase products and services that enhance the physical appearance,” said Durante.
What do you all think? Ladies, do you have a tendency to purchase sexier clothing and other items that make you look and feel better at certain times every month?
More so, and this question is open to everyone, how would you feel if you consciously knew that marketing advertisements and promotions were taking advantage of a monthly bodily issue? Would knowing that fact alone alter your shopping habits even further?
Let us know what you think!
Durante, Kristina M. “Ovulation, Female Competition, and Product Choice: Hormonal Influences on Consumer Behavior.” Journal of Consumer Research, issue to be released late 2010.
You’ve seen them all over the place. Advertisements with nothing but a celebrity and a product, like Tiger Woods for Tag Heuer watches (a few months ago, anyway) or Jennifer Aniston for Smartwater.
There is no point to the ads, no overwhelming themes we are supposed to come away with, and yet, advertising companies are convinced that by simply pairing a celebrity with a product, we will want it.
Are they right?
Yes, according to a joint study conducted by the Rotterdam School of Management and Donders Institute for the Brain, both in the Netherlands.
Past research had already shown that simply by pairing a well known celeb with a product, people will be more likely to recall the advertisement, even if it was around years and years before.
Example: “Better eat your Wheaties” – tell me you don’t remember who said that.
The present study sought to find the neurological underpinnings of our attraction to celeb-endorsed products.
To test our brain’s reaction to celebrity associations, 24 women were given fMRI scans as they were told to look at 40 color photographs of women wearing high-end shoes.
In the set of test photos, some of the women were famous and some were unknowns.
After testing all of the women and dissecting the scans, the team discovered that there was a difference in the reaction of the brain when exposed to the celebrity versus the non-celebrity.
It turns out the medial oribitofrontal cortex lit up more when exposed to a celebrity than to the plain Jane.
This is the section of the brain responsible for feeling affection.
The Affection Transfer
Does this feeling of affection transfer to an endorsed product?
The folks behind this research project say yes!
They believe that because the brain showed more activity in the parts related to semantic and episodic retrieval tasks, that: “the perception of a celebrity face results in the retrieval of explicit memories.”
Let’s continue with Jennifer Aniston as an example.
Jennifer Aniston was in Friends, and odds are that at some point, you watched Friends with some of your own friends, and happy memories were created at that time.
Your love of that memory is now connected to your memory of Jennifer Aniston. If you like the memories, you like the celebrity, and therefore you like the product.
Friends àJennifer AnistonàSmartwater.
This study is very encouraging for advertisers using celebrities. However, they still do not establish a real link between the transfers of all these positive recollections to the products in question. I would like to see them test the shoes worn by celebrities versus the shoes worn by non celebrities – then we would have something a little more direct!
Interesting note – some people are even interested in the concept of the celeb endorsement itself. When we were researching this article, we came across thousands of sites about ‘odd celebrity endorsements’ or ‘bad celebrity endorsements’ of embarrassing products.
Even the concept of celebs plugging goods is enough to garner an entire blog, can you believe it? Looks like our obsession is here to stay.
Check out this site, http://www.oddee.com/item_96843.aspx, which offers the 10 Strangest Celeb Endorsements – OJ Simpson and Hertz? Joe Namath and pantyhose? If that site does not fufill your celebrity desiring needs, just google it, there are thousands more…
Stallen, M. et al. “Celebrities and Shoes on The Female Brain: The Nueral Correlates of Product Evaluation in The Context of Fame.” Journal of Economic Psychology. Spring 2010, p 2-9.
If you are not familiar with Dunbar’s Number, let me explain it before we get going here.
Dunbar’s Number, also referred to as the Cortex Ratio, is the brainchild concept coined by Robin Dunbar in 1992. Dunbar is currently the professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford University. He claims that human’s brains are only capable of managing a network of 150 people.
This does not mean people you know (obviously most of us come in contact/meet way more than 150 people throughout a lifetime) but the people you maintain genuine relationships with on a regular basis.
By studying the social formation and group cohesion of primates, Dunbar determined that the neocortex, the part of the brain used for conscious thought and language, could only manage a social circle of 148.7, or in whole person numbers, 150 friends.
Enter: Social Media
More recently, Dunbar’s Number has come under criticism from some who believe that social media and networking online makes Dunbar’s Number irrelevant.
Multiple works, including Collaboration by Morten Hansen, discuss the fact that weak relationships are not only important but necessary, because those weak relationships are what enable us to extend our current circles, and because we can keep more than 150 ‘weak’ ties very easily.
“Strong ties…tend to be worlds we already know; a good friend often knows many of the same people and things we know…Weak ties are also good because they take less time. It’s less time consuming to talk to someone once a month (weak ties) than twice per week (strong ties). People can keep up quite a few weak ties without them being a burden.”
To a certain extent, I agree here – social media does allow us to maintain a huge number of weak ties, like how Facebook announces birthdays and anniversaries, and you can follow what your friends are doing by looking at their Twitter or Facebook posts, without actually having to speak to them.
Honestly, for some ‘weak-tie’ friends, the only way I contact them is through social media – I don’t even have a few people’s phone numbers. How is that for weak?!
Other social media gurus also challenge the relevancy of Dunbar’s Number in today’s social media world.
Check out rebuttals from Jacob Morgan of Social Media Today here. Also, Chris Brogan’s “Beating Dunbar’s Number” article, seen here, discusses how not to deal with Dunbar’s Number, but how to organize your contacts to keep ‘strong’ ties with way more than 150, which Chris has to do in his profession. In addition to these, there are countless other articles that dispute Dunbar’s Number.
Questions, Comments, and Your Opinion, Please!
Obviously there are so many questions left unanswered here. Dunbar himself has expanded his investigations to include the phenomenon of social media and its effect on his earlier theories.
A few questions I have included:
-Do social networks only allow us to build weak ties with other people? Or do they allow you to have such a deep understanding of that individual that we don’t need to ‘check in’ with them more than once a month (Morten’s definition of how often we check in with a ‘weak’ tie friend).
-What does gender have to do with maintaining relationships? Are women better at this than men? Why?
-Since people tend to exaggerate about themselves on the internet, can you ever move from a ‘weak’ to a strong tie with someone only using social media? Or do you have to actually meet that person to increase your bond with them?
The questions are endless, so I found a couple videos that should help us to try to figure this all out. First, for a brief (5 minutes, really) introduction on the concept of Dunbar’s Number, delivered by Professor Dunbar, click the Play button below.
After you watch the video, tell us what you think!
For More Information:
If you’re looking for a longer explanation on the concept of Dunbar’s Number, click here. This 23 minute long video is excellent as Professor Dunbar explains his theory in relation to social media. Check that out, here.
And lastly, in case you’re interested at the background of the Dunbar Number, you can check out Dunbar’s past research, with many live links to articles, on his faculty page at Oxford University – Click here.
When trying to impress a woman, past advice has included bringing her flowers, holding open doors, or perhaps an invitation to a romantic dinner.
The latest, scientifically proven advice to win a woman in 2010, you ask?
Wear a red t-shirt. No, we are not kidding.
The Ultimate Power Color
Red, like purple, has long been used to signify power, like on a monarch’s crown or even the dashing red cape of a bullfighter, to signify his dominance.
This continues today – celebrities walk down “red carpets” at premiers of movies and theater all the time, a royal space reserved for them only.
In more modern times, a sexy red dress on a woman has been proven time and time again to be the ultimate kryptonite against any man’s will. A “lady in red” (thank you, Chris de Burgh, for getting that song stuck in my head) is instantly thought to be provocative, powerful, and undeniably sexy.
Scientists at the University of Rochester in New York have revealed that there is a neuro-attraction to the color red in the human brain. There is no resisting temptation!
Back in 2008, researchers determined why men loved to see red on women. More recently, in the August 2010 issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology, they have also discovered that this primal attraction to the color red exists in the brains of both males and females.
The fascinating field of color psychology dissects the connection between viewing a certain color and the messages that your brain instantly emits.
Daniela N. Kayer and her team found 288 female and 25 male University of Rochester undergraduates and showed them color photos of men in different color t-shirts (red, green, gray or blue).
The students (who identified as heterosexual or bi-sexual) were then asked a series of questions about the attractiveness of the man in the photo.
The questions ranged from, “How attractive is this person?” to their level of desire to kiss, date, or engage in sexual activity with the individual in the photo.
Non-sexual questions included were how kind the person in the photo looked, how successful he looked, and how friendly or outgoing he looked.
The non-surprising part of these results was that, just like men being attracted to women in red, the members of this group (mostly women) were similarly more attracted to men in red shirts than in any other color.
The surprising part is that the photos of men in red were not rated as being more likely to be successful or more sociable, two things I tend to think of as associations with red (celebs on a red carpet is the image that keeps popping into my mind).
The attraction of the red color was limited to a sexual viewpoint, not as a measure of success. Interesting, right?
Wearing the color red also seems to give athletes an advantage because it intimidates referees and the opponent. In multiple studies, it has been demonstrated that the “red” team gets more favorable calls than the “blue team”.
And a recent study just demonstrated that students who look at the color red before an exam actually end up doing worse! So even though red is sexy, don’t look at it – it might just make you feel inferior. When you wear it, you force other people to see it – giving you the dominant position.
Not Just for Humans…
It seems as if even non-human species hold red things in high regard, too, like the baboon with its fleshy, bright red behinds, which signify power and status. Like a human male with a red shirt, a baboon with a bright red behind is sure to capture the attention of a lovely lady.
So, our advice in 2010 for catching a new mate, whether you desire a male, female, or baboon – wear something red and wear it proudly, and you’ll be sure to attract some quality attention. Just don’t look at it before taking a test.
Elliot, Andrew J., and Daniela N. Kayser. “Red, Rank, and Romance in Women Viewing Men.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Volume 139, Number 3. Aug 2010, 399-417.
For so many of us, it is too easy to get caught up surfing the web for hours at a time.
It seems as if you can do pretty much anything over the internet – settle your bank account, check your email, follow friends on social networking sites, send an instant message, order a meal to carryout, shop for good deals, and so much more.
Have you ever wondered what other people are doing online?
Well, ponder no more, because the fine folks at the Nielsen Company (the people who rank and rate everything under the sun) have gone ahead and charted American internet usage, trying to determine just why it seems that everyone can waste spend hours and hours of time online, and what the heck it is that keeps us all so occupied.
My immediate reaction to this chart is to wonder exactly what ‘other’ is, and I have a sneaking suspicion I know exactly what that section of the pie is meant to denote!
What is most interesting about these results is that people seem to be using the internet mainly to communicate with other people (social media sites and gaming).
Again, instead of getting out and socializing – we are doing it through terminals! Weird, strange and true!
Check out the full story on the Nielsen Company blog for the full rundown.
How do you spend your time on the internet?
The truth is, the human brain is somewhat limited when it comes to processing visual images.
Not everything we see with our eyes actually registers with our brains. There is simply too much visual information to completely process every second; therefore, our brain processes just a fraction of what we see.
However, if something changes, flashes, or skirts across our vision, we automatically give it our full attention. It is this hypersensitivity to movement that has led many people to be overconfident in their ability to observe things.
In reality, people are often surprised at how blind they can actually be in a given situation.
By definition, change blindness is the failure to notice a visual change in our field of vision.
Two Views – Same Phenomenon
Previous research has uncovered two theories to suggest how humans view things. One is called the top down approach; the other is the bottom up approach. The top down theory suggests that our brain puts things into context as we see them.
For example, if you are told to look to find a computer in an office, you would automatically look at the desk, since that is where your brain expects a computer to sit. You would not immediately look at a window or the ceiling of the office – your brain has already learned that the computer would most likely not be on the ceiling.
The bottom up theory focuses on the things in the field of vision that stand out. These two theories are perhaps the more basic elements of how our brain deals with the visual images that it is bombarded with every day.
A Little Bit of Truth in Each
Both of these theories are used at different times in different settings. Depending on the desired outcome, the top down process is used to look through the scene to see if there is anything of interest. Then our bottom up way of thinking takes over to notice the thing that suddenly stands out.
When your brain uses one process, the other has to be set aside.
This simple fact that it is difficult to do two things at once means that details can be missed, or changes overlooked, regardless of how acute you think your attention to detail has been developed.
The human brain allocates our resources as needed to different tasks, but we can’t do it all, all the time.
We also cannot explain everything all of the time, and that is why we wanted to share an awesome related video on the concept of change blindness and a test you can take to determine your own cognitive abilities.
This video is great – from the observer’s point of view (us watching the video) it seems so shocking that the people giving directions don’t notice the switch!
And here is a really great test for you to take as well, and make sure to leave a comment and tell us how you did…this is a test on your ability to notice changes in a series of photos – I definitely did not do as well as I thought I would have… Once again, writing these articles demonstrates we all have a lot to learn and a lot of brain power to continue to harness and develop.
Verma, Milan, and Peter W. McOwen. “A Semi-automated Approach to Balancing of Bottom-up Salience for Predicting Change Detection Performance.” Journal of Vision. June 4, 2010. Volume 10, number 6, article 3. Full text: http://www.journalofvision.org/content/10/6/3.full
Yes, you read that correctly. A recent press release from Northeastern University in Boston revealed a project to chart how happy Americans are based on their twitter posts.
We had to share this; it is such an excellent result of mixing social media and neuroscience.
Like the press release mentions, using Twitter as a way to capture the feeling of a moment in time is raw, real, and possible. It is a researcher’s goldmine, and it can help answer a lot of different questions, including the happiness quotient of Americans.
(Shameless plug: you should follow us on twitter: exploringmind. And while you’re at it, like us on facebook, too. We will be posting exclusive content, as well as contests, news, and general science research, etc.)
Researchers compiled a pool of 300 million tweets that were captured from 2006-2009. They did not include posts from outside the US or from tweeters who did not post their exact city on their profiles. All of these tweets were posted publicly.
The team, from Northeastern and Harvard, rated each tweet by looking for key words to determine the mood of the posts.
Some of the keywords included ‘funeral’ and ‘death’ for unhappy words, and ‘love’ and paradise’ for happy key words, among others.
The results are awesome – and you can read about them on a colored map or check out a time lapse video that shows how tweeters represent happiness in a 24 hour period. Good stuff!
Check it out in full: http://www.ccs.neu.edu/news/mood_maps.html
As always, comment below and let us know what you think. Check out your own twitter posts, too. Do your posts reflect how you feel at any given moment?
Pretty much everyone has heard about the Butterfly Effect. (We do not mean that Ashton Kutcher movie! You can go to IMDB for that, but first, stay here and read this.)
In sum: the butterfly effect states that a butterfly flapping its wings somewhere in the jungles of Asia can eventually start a tornado in Texas.
It’s a concept that has been used by people willing others to realize the unforeseen consequences of their actions. (Smoky the Bear may have summarized it best – if you leave a smoldering match near a campsite, you can start a forest fire.)
Did you stop to ever think that it could have a material effect on in the inner workings of your brain? (Butterfly effect, not a forest fire.)
According to recent research at University College in London, published in the June 2010 issue of Nature, there may be evidence of a butterfly effect happening within the brain.
The scientists at UCL decided to test this. They asked: would the firing of a single neuron quickly peter out, or would it have a material effect on the surrounding brain circuitry?
The researchers decided to present a single (artificial) synaptic spike into the neuron of a rat’s brain. To do this, the animals were first anaesthetized, then a single neuron was artificially “excited” with a current lasting either 100 or 200 milliseconds.
The surrounding area of the brain was closely monitored to check for any resultant synaptic spikes.
The researchers had expected that the single spike would extinguish itself and no continuing motions or actions would be found.
What they found was that this single spike did not extinguish, but instead, the single jolt produced at least twenty-eight separate synaptic spikes.
This would be like setting off a small firecracker near a pile of dynamite and having twenty-eight subsequent explosions!
And just in case you thought it ended there, it didn’t – each subsequent synaptic spike was shown to create more and more ripples of activity.
The researchers found that that single spike could potentially create over 1,500 new synaptic spikes within the brain.
Obviously, this avalanche of synaptic firings makes the brain a very busy place. The next question here, then, is: How does the brain deal with all the extra noise and still be able to function on a daily basis?
Within this same experiment, the researchers uncovered information about the brain’s rate code, which makes sure that computation in the brain is accurate.
A rate code essentially means that the more intense the stimulus is for a given action, the higher the frequency of firings and synaptic spikes for that particular action.
In other words, if the need and desire for the task is great enough, the concept of the task will “drown out” the added noise created within the brain.
The concept of the rate code sounds cool, but it is confusing… If there are any rate code experts reading this, please comment at the end of this article!
After reading this research, a couple of questions popped into my mind.
From the mental health conditions I have studied, it seems like noise might be too much for some brains to handle.
It would be interesting to know if there actually was a limit to how much noise a person could stand to have in their mind, but could still be able to function and perform necessary activities also.
Is there such a thing as too much noise? If so, what happens to someone’s mind? I am imagining a big, messy brain explosion with a loud sonic boom-type noise accompanying it, like a building imploding.
If your brain explodes, is it Ashton Kutcher’s fault?
London, Michael. “Sensitivity to perturbations in vivo implies high noise and suggests rate coding in cortex.” Nature. Volume 466, number 1: 123-128.
Image: Credit to http://www.celsias.com/article/group-declares-planetary-ecological-emergency/