weird psychology studies

the end of the year is list time. so here’s a list, filched from jeremy over at PsyBlog – the 10 weirdest psychology studies. if you go to his blog, you can also vote for the weirdest study. guess which one i found the weirdest!

1. don’t stand so close to me – how the speed and flow of men’s urination in a public lavatory was affected by invasions of personal space.

2. empathy causes facial similarity between couples to increase over time people who live with each other for 25 years actually develop similar facial features

3. neuroscientist studies his own stroke on february 2, 2001 distinguished sleep and dream researcher professor j. allan hobson had a stroke in his brain stem. for 10 days hobson could neither sleep nor dream. then he realised the stroke was localised to the exact part of the brain he had been studying experimentally in his sleep research with cats. call it poetic justice, or just sheer bad luck, either way hobson approached the experience like a scientist and decided to document it, just as he had with the cats, but this time from the inside.

4. superstitious pigeon-guided missiles during WWII, in the days before cheap computing, guiding a bomb to its target was a more miss than hit affair. read all about skinner’s pigeon-guided missiles

5. a psychic dog? back in 1994 a television company claimed a dog called ‘jaytee’ could psychically sense when its owner returned home. and they had some evidence to back up their claim.

6. are we programmed to laugh when tickled? do we learn to laugh when tickled or is it an innate response?

7. invasion from mars: the anatomy of panic. on october 28, 1938 many americans believed they were being invaded by martians. this was the result of a halloween stunt orchestrated by orson wells in which he adapted h. g. wells’ ‘war of the worlds’ to the radio and broadcast the play as though it was actually happening. for professor howard cantril of princeton university and colleagues, this provided the perfect opportunity to investigate the anatomy of panic.

8. does semen have antidepressant properties? this study tests the idea that prostaglandins, a component of semen, may actually be useful in treating depression.

9. stop staring at me! here are a couple of studies you can replicate yourself – if you’ve got the nerve. in the first you could be risking bodily harm from enraged motorists, while the second has a twist in the tail. they both show the power of staring at other people and they’re both fantastically simple social psychology experiments.

10. human-dog psychology. cat or dog? jeremy says that he’d choose dog. it seems, if pushed, most academic research psychologists choose dog as well. (well, i’d choose cat!)

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