SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Communication

262

The increasing prevalence of social media means that we often encounter written language characterized by both stylistic variation and outright errors. How does the personality of the reader modulate reactions to non-standard text? Experimental participants read ‘email responses’ to an ad for a housemate that either contained no errors or had been altered to include either typos (e.g., teh) or homophonous grammar errors (grammos, e.g., to/too, it’s/its). Participants completed a 10-item evaluation scale for each message, which measured their impressions of the writer. In addition participants completed a Big Five personality assessment and answered demographic and language attitude questions. Both typos and grammos had a negative impact on the evaluation scale. This negative impact was not modulated by age, education, electronic communication frequency, or pleasure reading time. In contrast, personality traits did modulate assessments, and did so in distinct ways for grammos and typos.

Concepts: Evaluation, Personality psychology, Assessment, Educational psychology, Writing, Modulation, Communication, Big Five personality traits

235

What determines how languages categorize colors? We analyzed results of the World Color Survey (WCS) of 110 languages to show that despite gross differences across languages, communication of chromatic chips is always better for warm colors (yellows/reds) than cool colors (blues/greens). We present an analysis of color statistics in a large databank of natural images curated by human observers for salient objects and show that objects tend to have warm rather than cool colors. These results suggest that the cross-linguistic similarity in color-naming efficiency reflects colors of universal usefulness and provide an account of a principle (color use) that governs how color categories come about. We show that potential methodological issues with the WCS do not corrupt information-theoretic analyses, by collecting original data using two extreme versions of the color-naming task, in three groups: the Tsimane', a remote Amazonian hunter-gatherer isolate; Bolivian-Spanish speakers; and English speakers. These data also enabled us to test another prediction of the color-usefulness hypothesis: that differences in color categorization between languages are caused by differences in overall usefulness of color to a culture. In support, we found that color naming among Tsimane' had relatively low communicative efficiency, and the Tsimane' were less likely to use color terms when describing familiar objects. Color-naming among Tsimane' was boosted when naming artificially colored objects compared with natural objects, suggesting that industrialization promotes color usefulness.

Concepts: Scientific method, Color, Categorization, Communication, Color theory, Names, Basic Color Terms: Their Universality and Evolution, Linguistic relativity and the color naming debate

229

Human body odors have important communicative functions regarding genetic identity, immune fitness and general health, but an expanding body of research suggests they can also communicate information about an individual’s emotional state. In the current study, we tested whether axillary odors obtained from women experiencing psychosocial stress could negatively influence personality judgments of warmth and competence made about other women depicted in video scenarios. 44 female donors provided three types of sweat samples: untreated exercise sweat, untreated stress sweat and treated stress sweat. After a ‘washout’ period, a commercial unscented anti-perspirant product was applied to the left axilla only to evaluate whether ‘blocking’ the stress signal would improve the social evaluations. A separate group of male and female evaluators (nā€Š=ā€Š120) rated the women in the videos while smelling one of the three types of sweat samples. Women in the video scenes were rated as being more stressed by both men and women when smelling the untreated vs. treated stress sweat. For men only, the women in the videos were rated as less confident, trustworthy and competent when smelling both the untreated stress and exercise sweat in contrast to the treated stress sweat. Women’s social judgments were unaffected by sniffing the pads. The results have implications for influencing multiple types of professional and personal social interactions and impression management and extend our understanding of the social communicative function of body odors.

Concepts: Male, Female, Gender, Sociology, Emotion, Communication, Body odor, Impression management

204

Misinformation can undermine a well-functioning democracy. For example, public misconceptions about climate change can lead to lowered acceptance of the reality of climate change and lowered support for mitigation policies. This study experimentally explored the impact of misinformation about climate change and tested several pre-emptive interventions designed to reduce the influence of misinformation. We found that false-balance media coverage (giving contrarian views equal voice with climate scientists) lowered perceived consensus overall, although the effect was greater among free-market supporters. Likewise, misinformation that confuses people about the level of scientific agreement regarding anthropogenic global warming (AGW) had a polarizing effect, with free-market supporters reducing their acceptance of AGW and those with low free-market support increasing their acceptance of AGW. However, we found that inoculating messages that (1) explain the flawed argumentation technique used in the misinformation or that (2) highlight the scientific consensus on climate change were effective in neutralizing those adverse effects of misinformation. We recommend that climate communication messages should take into account ways in which scientific content can be distorted, and include pre-emptive inoculation messages.

Concepts: Carbon dioxide, Effectiveness, Climate change, Theory, Communication, Solar variation, Global warming, Scientific opinion on climate change

204

What are you working on? You have certainly been asked that question many times, whether it be at a Saturday night party, during a discussion with your neighbors, or at a family gathering. Communicating with a lay audience about scientific subjects and making them attractive is a difficult task. But difficult or not, you will have to do it for many years, not only with your family and friends, but also with your colleagues and collaborators. So, better learn now! Although not usually taught, the ability to explain your work to others is an essential skill in science, where communication plays a key role. Using some examples of the French Regional Student Group activities, we discuss here (i) why it is important to have such communication skills, (ii) how you can get involved in these activities by using existing resources or working with people who have previous experience, and (iii) what you get out of this amazing experience. We aim to motivate you and provide you with tips and ideas to get involved in promoting scientific activities while getting all the benefits.

Concepts: Skill, Communication, Graphic communication

189

Dogs are particularly skilful during communicative interactions with humans. Dogs' abilities to use human communicative cues in cooperative contexts outcompete those of other species, and might be the result of selection pressures during domestication. Dogs also produce signals to direct the attention of humans towards outside entities, a behaviour often referred to as showing behaviour. This showing behaviour in dogs is thought to be something dogs use intentionally and referentially. However, there is currently no evidence that dogs communicate helpfully, i.e. to inform an ignorant human about a target that is of interest to the human but not to the dog. Communicating with a helpful motive is particularly interesting because it might suggest that dogs understand the human’s goals and need for information. In study 1, we assessed whether dogs would abandon an object that they find interesting in favour of an object useful for their human partner, a random novel distractor, or an empty container. Results showed that it was mainly self-interest that was driving the dogs' behaviour. The dogs mainly directed their behaviour towards the object they had an interest in, but dogs were more persistent when showing the object relevant to the human, suggesting that to some extent they took the humans interest into account. Another possibility is that dogs' behaviour was driven by an egocentric motivation to interact with novel targets and that the dogs' neophila might have masked their helpful tendencies. Therefore, in study 2 the dogs had initial access to both objects, and were expected to indicate only one (relevant or distractor). The human partner interacted with the dog using vocal communication in half of the trials, and remaining silent in the other half. Dogs from both experimental groups, i.e. indicating the relevant object or indicating the distractor, established joint attention with the human. However, the human’s vocal communication and the presence of the object relevant to the human increased the persistency of showing, supporting the hypothesis that the dogs understood the objects' relevance to the human. We propose two non-exclusive explanations. These results might suggest that informative motives could possibly underlie dogs' showing. It is also possible that dogs might have indicated the location of the hidden object because they recognised it as the target of the human’s search. This would be consistent with taking into account the objects' relevance, without necessarily implying that the dogs understood the human’s state of knowledge.

Concepts: Psychology, Human, Natural selection, Thought, Motivation, Object, Communication, Apex predator

178

The effects of selectively different experience of eye contact and gaze behaviour on the early development of five sighted infants of blind parents were investigated. Infants were assessed longitudinally at 6-10, 12-15 and 24-47 months. Face scanning and gaze following were assessed using eye tracking. In addition, established measures of autistic-like behaviours and standardized tests of cognitive, motor and linguistic development, as well as observations of naturalistic parent-child interaction were collected. These data were compared with those obtained from a larger group of sighted infants of sighted parents. Infants with blind parents did not show an overall decrease in eye contact or gaze following when they observed sighted adults on video or in live interactions, nor did they show any autistic-like behaviours. However, they directed their own eye gaze somewhat less frequently towards their blind mothers and also showed improved performance in visual memory and attention at younger ages. Being reared with significantly reduced experience of eye contact and gaze behaviour does not preclude sighted infants from developing typical gaze processing and other social-communication skills. Indeed, the need to switch between different types of communication strategy may actually enhance other skills during development.

Concepts: Psychology, Memory, Eye, Visual perception, Grammar, Communication, Nonverbal communication, Nonviolent Communication

176

Connectivity is the key process that characterizes the structural and functional properties of social networks. However, the bursty activity of dyadic interactions may hinder the discrimination of inactive ties from large interevent times in active ones. We develop a principled method to detect tie de-activation and apply it to a large longitudinal, cross-sectional communication dataset (ā‰ˆ19 months, ā‰ˆ20 million people). Contrary to the perception of ever-growing connectivity, we observe that individuals exhibit a finite communication capacity, which limits the number of ties they can maintain active in time. On average men display higher capacity than women, and this capacity decreases for both genders over their lifespan. Separating communication capacity from activity reveals a diverse range of tie activation strategies, from stable to exploratory. This allows us to draw novel relationships between individual strategies for human interaction and the evolution of social networks at global scale.

Concepts: Interaction, Sociology, The Key, Communication, Individual, Global, TiE, Draw

173

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An increasing number of patients from diverse demographic groups share and search for health-related information on Web-based social media. However, little is known about the content of the posted information with respect to the users' demographics.

Concepts: Demography, Sociology, Demographics, Communication, Demographic profile, Demographic economics