SciCombinator

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Concept: Popular culture

182

Twitter is an increasingly popular means of research dissemination. I sought to examine the relation between scientific merit and mainstream popularity of general medical journals.

Concepts: Scientific method, Ecology, Sociology, Mass media, Twitter, Popular culture

60

Geek culture is a subculture of enthusiasts that is traditionally associated with obscure media (Japanese animation, science fiction, video games, etc.). However, geek culture is becoming increasingly mainstream; for example, in the past year alone, Dragon*Con, a major Geek convention in Atlanta, Georgia, attracted an attendance of over 57,000 members. The present article uses an individual differences approach to examine three theoretical accounts of geek culture. Seven studies (N = 2354) develop the Geek Culture Engagement Scale (GCES) to quantify geek engagement and assess its relationships to theoretically relevant personality and individual differences variables. These studies present evidence that individuals may engage in geek culture in order to maintain narcissistic self-views (the great fantasy migration hypothesis), to fulfill belongingness needs (the belongingness hypothesis), and to satisfy needs for creative expression (the need for engagement hypothesis). Geek engagement is found to be associated with elevated grandiose narcissism, extraversion, openness to experience, depression, and subjective well-being across multiple samples. These data lay the groundwork for further exploration of geek culture as well as provide a foundation for examining other forms of subculture participation.

Concepts: Personality psychology, Cultural studies, Individualism, Openness to experience, Popular culture

31

When it comes to the pursuit of happiness, popular culture encourages a focus on oneself. By contrast, substantial evidence suggests that what consistently makes people happy is focusing prosocially on others. In the current study, we contrasted the mood- and well-being-boosting effects of prosocial behavior (i.e., doing acts of kindness for others or for the world) and self-oriented behavior (i.e., doing acts of kindness for oneself) in a 6-week longitudinal experiment. Across a diverse sample of participants (N = 473), we found that the 2 types of prosocial behavior led to greater increases in psychological flourishing than did self-focused and neutral behavior. In addition, we provide evidence for mechanisms explaining the relative improvements in flourishing among those prompted to do acts of kindness-namely, increases in positive emotions and decreases in negative emotions. Those assigned to engage in self-focused behavior did not report improved psychological flourishing, positive emotions, or negative emotions relative to controls. The results of this study contribute to a growing literature supporting the benefits of prosocial behavior and challenge the popular perception that focusing on oneself is an optimal strategy to boost one’s mood. People striving for happiness may be tempted to treat themselves. Our results, however, suggest that they may be more successful if they opt to treat someone else instead. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Psychology, Culture, Positive psychology, Human behavior, Emotion, Happiness, Popular culture, Random act of kindness

28

During the First World War, anthrax cases in the United States and England increased greatly and seemed to be associated with use of new shaving brushes. Further investigation revealed that the source material and origin of shaving brushes had changed during the war. Cheap brushes of imported horsehair were being made to look like the preferred badger-hair brushes. Unfortunately, some of these brushes were not effectively disinfected and brought with them a nasty stowaway: Bacillus anthracis. A review of outbreak summaries, surveillance data, and case reports indicated that these cases originated from the use of ineffectively disinfected animal-hair shaving brushes. This historical information is relevant to current public health practice because renewed interest in vintage and animal-hair shaving brushes has been seen in popular culture. This information should help healthcare providers and public health officials answer questions on this topic.

Concepts: Public health, United States, Culture, Bacillus, World War II, Bacillus anthracis, World War I, Popular culture

28

Lavandula species are some of the most popular ornamental and medicinal plants with great economic values. These species are vegetative propagated by stem cuttings. However, the poor rooting ability and vulnerability of plantlets to contamination are major limiting factors for propagation. In vitro culture methods are suitable to overcome these limitations. This chapter describes protocols for in vitro propagation of Lavandula viridis L'Hér and Lavandula vera DC. Nodal shoot proliferation of L. viridis and plant regeneration from leaf-derived callus of L. vera by an “open culture system” are highlighted.

Concepts: Plant, Culture, Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia, Perennial plant, Plant propagation, Popular culture, Lavandula

23

It is a common belief that smiling makes people appear younger. Empirical findings, however, suggest that smiling faces are actually perceived as older than neutral faces. Here we show that these two apparently contradictory phenomena can co-exist in the same person. In the first experiment, participants were first asked to estimate the ages of a series of smiling or neutral faces. After that, they were asked to estimate the average age of the set of neutral and smiling faces they had just evaluated. Finally, they were asked what effect smiling has on one’s perceived age. In the experimental session, smiling faces were perceived as older than neutral faces. Nevertheless, after the experiment, consistent with their retrospective evaluations, participants recalled smiling faces as being younger than the neutral faces. Experiment 2 replicated and extended these results to a set of emotional expressions that also included surprised faces. Smiling faces were again perceived as older than neutral faces, which were in turn perceived as older than surprised faces. Again, retrospective evaluations were consistent with the belief that smiling makes people look younger. The findings show that this belief, well-rooted in popular media, is a complete misconception.

Concepts: Statistics, Age, Effect, Economics, Science, Empiricism, Experiment, Popular culture

16

Suicide is one of the greatest concerns in psychiatric practice, with considerable efforts devoted to prevention. The psychiatric view of suicide tends to equate it with depression or other forms of mental illness. However, some forms of suicide occur independently of mental illness and within a framework of cultural sanctioning such that they aren’t regarded as suicide at all. Despite persistent taboos against suicide, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in the context of terminal illness is increasingly accepted as a way to preserve autonomy and dignity in the West. Seppuku, the ancient samurai ritual of suicide by self-stabbing, was long considered an honorable act of self-resolve such that despite the removal of cultural sanctioning, the rate of suicide in Japan remains high with suicide masquerading as seppuku still carried out both there and abroad. Suicide as an act of murder and terrorism is a practice currently popular with Islamic militants who regard it as martyrdom in the context of war. The absence of mental illness and the presence of cultural sanctioning do not mean that suicide should not be prevented. Culturally sanctioned suicide must be understood in terms of the specific motivations that underlie the choice of death over life. Efforts to prevent culturally sanctioned suicide must focus on alternatives to achieve similar ends and must ultimately be implemented within cultures to remove the sanctioning of self-destructive acts.

Concepts: Death, Sociology, Culture, Mental disorder, The Culture, Cultural anthropology, Terrorism, Popular culture

16

Fashions and fads are important phenomena that influence many individual choices. They are ubiquitous in human societies, and have recently been used as a source of data to test models of cultural dynamics. Although a few statistical regularities have been observed in fashion cycles, their empirical characterization is still incomplete. Here we consider the impact of mass media on popular culture, showing that the release of movies featuring dogs is often associated with an increase in the popularity of featured breeds, for up to 10 years after movie release. We also find that a movie’s impact on breed popularity correlates with the estimated number of viewers during the movie’s opening weekend-a proxy of the movie’s reach among the general public. Movies' influence on breed popularity was strongest in the early 20th century, and has declined since. We reach these conclusions through a new, widely applicable method to measure the cultural impact of events, capable of disentangling the event’s effect from ongoing cultural trends.

Concepts: Scientific method, Sociology, Culture, 20th century, Film, Dog breed, Mass media, Popular culture

13

Listening habits are strongly influenced by two opposing aspects, the desire for variety and the demand for uniformity in music. In this work we quantify these two notions in terms of instrumentation and production technologies that are typically involved in crafting popular music. We assign an ‘instrumentational complexity value’ to each music style. Styles of low instrumentational complexity tend to have generic instrumentations that can also be found in many other styles. Styles of high complexity, on the other hand, are characterized by a large variety of instruments that can only be found in a small number of other styles. To model these results we propose a simple stochastic model that explicitly takes the capabilities of artists into account. We find empirical evidence that individual styles show dramatic changes in their instrumentational complexity over the last fifty years. ‘New wave’ or ‘disco’ quickly climbed towards higher complexity in the 70s and fell back to low complexity levels shortly afterwards, whereas styles like ‘folk rock’ remained at constant high instrumentational complexity levels. We show that changes in the instrumentational complexity of a style are related to its number of sales and to the number of artists contributing to that style. As a style attracts a growing number of artists, its instrumentational variety usually increases. At the same time the instrumentational uniformity of a style decreases, i.e. a unique stylistic and increasingly complex expression pattern emerges. In contrast, album sales of a given style typically increase with decreasing instrumentational complexity. This can be interpreted as music becoming increasingly formulaic in terms of instrumentation once commercial or mainstream success sets in.

Concepts: Emergence, Complexity, Computational complexity theory, Rock music, Simplicity, Popular culture, Music genre, Jazz

11

Do insecurely attached individuals perceive greater rejection from their heritage culture? Few studies have examined the antecedents and outcomes of this perceived rejection - termed intragroup marginalization - in spite of its implications for the adjustment of cultural migrants to the mainstream culture. This study investigated whether anxious and avoidant attachment orientations among cultural migrants were associated with greater intragroup marginalization and, in turn, with lower subjective well-being and flourishing and higher acculturative stress. Anxious attachment was associated with heightened intragroup marginalization from friends and, in turn, with increased acculturative stress; anxious attachment was also associated with increased intragroup marginalization from family. Avoidant attachment was linked with increased intragroup marginalization from family and, in turn, with decreased subjective well-being.

Concepts: Psychology, Sociology, Perception, Mind, Interpersonal relationship, Cultural studies, Attachment in adults, Popular culture