Story Update

featherI am filming today so this will be brief.  I thought the ‘one sentence at a time’ project worked really well, and I am convinced that there is something that could be developed here as a great research tool.  So, two questions.  First, are you on for doing it again now that we have learned a few lessons from the pilot?  Second, it would be great to have some really good opening lines – any ideas?  Feel free to post some ideas and comment on others.

Can you identify someone’s personality from their face?

halffaceA few weeks ago, Rob Jenkins (University of Glasgow) and I asked New Scientist readers to send in a portrait photograph and rate themselves on various personality dimensions. We had over 1000 images, and we would now like to see if you can identify certain personality traits from composite photographs. Click here to take part in the study. The results will be announced in a few weeks.

Once you are done, you might like to discover how the same type of work has helped discover what the offspring of a human and a baboon would look like. Click here (or look at the picture of Milgram in the post above).

World’s Worst Jokes

Interesting piece in The Daily Mail this morning on why people laugh at bad jokes, and my LaughLab list of the world’s worst jokes.  The ‘one line at a time’ stories are looking great.  I will delete any REALLY strange entries, and it is neck and neck at the moment in terms of number of comments.  Encourage your friends to contribute and we could get them finished by the end of the day.  Feel free to write your comments about the stories here, rather than in the stories themselves.

Ruby Wax on psychology

fmsdownloadcfmJust been confirmed that I will be speaking alongside comedian Ruby Wax at the ‘Psychology For All‘ event in London on 14 March. There is an interesting article here about how Ruby became interested in psychotherapy after suffering from depression. She is not the first comedian to suffer from it (for example, Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, Spike Milligan, and Roseanne Barr all admitted publicly that they struggled with the illness). Research into the link between performing comedy and mental illness yields a mixed picture. Making strangers laugh night after night must be a stressful way of making a living, but perhaps any apparent link is simply due to us taking more notice when funny people get depressed.

Who are the familiar strangers in your life?

milgramI am a big fan of Stanley Milgram’s work, and in Quirkology described his wonderful studies into social networking and letter dropping. One of his lesser-known projects examined the ‘familiar stranger phenomenon’. Familiar strangers are people that you see most days of your life, but never interact with: people that you might have seen for years at the train station, whilst out walking your dog, or at the gym, but have never even said hello to. Do you have familiar strangers in your life?