Which one is the “I love you, man”?

Binge_BSPThere are certainly different types of drunks. “Sober Dave is boring, you should hang out with Drunk Dave, he’s wild!” or “She is usually a sweetheart, but watch out, she’s a mean drunk.”

Having documented the transition to our drunk alter-egos for 100s of years, we are no strangers to the concept of drunk personality types. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that alcohol can change our personalities from a sober type to a drunk type.


Today, research pioneered by University of Missouri graduate student, Rachel Winograd, supports the existence of at least four categories of drunk personalities. Importantly, she reveals if one’s type of drunk personality puts them at greater risk of alcohol-related harms (e.g. regrettable sexual encounters or drunken injuries), as well as alcohol addiction.

A group of 187 pairs of undergraduate drinking buddies answered questions linking their drunk personality to the “big five” personality traits (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism). Cluster analysis of these answers led to the description of four main drunk personality types as outlined below.

Not only is it a bit of fun to ask, “What kind of drunk are you?”, the drunk personality research field holds promise for the development of novel interventions to help problem drinkers.

Drunk Personality Type 1: The Ernest Hemingway

As Ernest Hemingway wrote, he ‘‘can drink hells any amount of whiskey without getting drunk.” Thankfully, this is the most common drunk personality type shared by 42% of the undergrads, who reported behaving roughly the same and only slightly changing when intoxicated.

Compared to the other personality types, the personality factors that tend to change the most when drunk — i.e. conscientiousness (being prepared, organized, prompt) and intellect ( understanding abstract ideas, being imaginative) — do not change drastically. It is no surprise then that this drunk personality type was not linked with experiencing more negative consequences or alcoholism symptoms.

Drunk Personality Type 2: The Mr. Hyde

Unfortunately, the second most common drunk personality type (23% of the sample) is the monster of a drunk named after the twisted alter-ego of Dr. Jeckyll, Mr. Hyde. They are characterized by being less conscientious, less intellectual and less agreeable than their sober selves or other drunk personality types.

Their drunk personality being the perfect recipe for increased hostility when under the influence, they are statistically more likely to have alcohol use disorder symptoms (i.e. have a higher risk of alcohol addiction). They also suffer a whole range of negative consequences from drinking, from blacking out to being arrested for drunken behavior.

Drunk Personality Type 3: The Nutty Professor

This type of drunk, comprising 20% of the study participants, does a personality 360 [1] when they get drunk. They are particularly quiet and introverted when sober, but their drunken persona has a large increase in extraversion and decrease in conscientiousness (compared to the other drunk types and their sober self). This is likened to the the Disney character, Shermen Clump, when he transforms from taking his secret chemical formula in The Nutty Professor.

Despite having the most drastic personality change, Nutty Professors were not associated with experiencing more negative alcohol-related consequences from drinking.

Drunk Personality Type 4: The Mary Poppins

The least common drunk personality type in the study, found in 15% of the participants, was ‘The Mary Poppins. They are not only particularly agreeable (i.e. embodying traits of friendliness) when sober, they are also agreeable and friendly when drunk. Like Hemmingways, they also decrease less than average in conscientiousness and intellect when getting drunk.

Their drunken sweetness sets them apart from less agreeable Hemmingways. They are essentially the opposite of the Mr Hyde drunk type of drunk, resulting in significantly less negative consequences from getting drunk.

[1] Perhaps Dr. Clark meant to write 180, as 360 degrees is a full circle that brings you back to your original orientation. Or she was making a joke that I am too obtuse to get. Either way, I’ve left the original phrasing.


Hemingway, E., & Baker, C. (1981). Ernest Hemingway, selected letters, 1917-1961. New York: Macmillan Pub Co.

Winograd, R. P., Littlefield, A. K., Martinez, J., & Sher, K. J. (2012). The drunken self: The Five-Factor model as an organizational framework for characterizing perceptions of One’s own drunkenness. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 36(10), 1787–1793. doi:10.1111/j.1530-0277.2012.01796.x

Winograd, R. P., Steinley, D., & Sher, K. (2015). Searching for Mr. Hyde: A five-factor approach to characterizing “types of drunks.” Addiction Research & Theory, 24(1), 1–8. doi:10.3109/16066359.2015.1029920

This guest article originally appeared on the award-winning health and science blog and brain-themed community, BrainBlogger: What’s Your Drunk Personality Type – Nutty, Naughty or Nice?

from World of Psychology http://bit.ly/2paelfh

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Tropical Fish, Opioid Delivery System, or Nightmare Fuel?

D) All of the Above. Sounds like a promising murder weapon…

With their large lower canines, fang blennies deliver opioid-laced venom that seems to cause a sudden drop in their predators’ blood pressure.

from NYT Science

This fish-themed post is posted in honor of the French April 1 tradition, poissons d’avril. It involves exchanging humorous fish-themed cards and stealthily attaching paper fish to unsuspecting acquaintances.

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Swiss Restaurant Offers Insect Cooking Class, Forces Uncomfortable Comparison to Crustaceans

Insects are a sustainable and healthy food source, Bern’s Löscher restaurant explains.

A Swiss eatery has bugs on the brain, and they’re hoping that patrons will bite. As Travel + Leisure reports, The Löscher restaurant in Switzerland’s capital city, Bern, is now offering classes to instruct people how to cook with insects.

Aside from the initial “ick” factor, insects are a sustainable, protein-packed food source, and cultures around the world—from Central Africa to Asia and Latin America—eat the tiny critters. To enjoy the taste of bugs, we need to rethink our relationship with them, Löscher’s manager, Andrea Staudacher, told Swiss news outlet 20 Minuten, according to The Local. “We associate prawns with food but not grasshoppers. However the two animals are very similar,” Staudacher said.

Read the rest at Mental Floss 

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New Tea Shop Mystery: Pekoe Most Poison by Laura Childs

>>>Enter to Win a Print Copy of Pekoe Most Poison<<<

In the latest Tea Shop Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Laura Childs, Theodosia Browning attends a “Rat Tea,” where the mice will play…at murder.

When Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning is invited by Doreen Briggs, one of Charleston’s most prominent hostesses, to a “Rat Tea,” she is understandably intrigued. As servers dressed in rodent costumes and wearing white gloves offer elegant finger sandwiches and fine teas, Theo learns these parties date back to early twentieth-century Charleston, where the cream of society would sponsor so-called rat teas to promote city rodent control and better public health.

But this party goes from odd to chaotic when a fire starts at one of the tables and Doreen’s entrepreneur husband suddenly goes into convulsions and drops dead. Has his favorite orange pekoe tea been poisoned? Theo smells a rat.

The distraught Doreen soon engages Theo to pursue a discreet inquiry into who might have murdered her husband. As Theo and her tea sommelier review the guest list for suspects, they soon find themselves drawn into a dangerous game of cat and mouse…


About the Author


Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. In her previous life she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, rides horses, enjoys fund raising for various non-profits, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.

Laura specializes in cozy mysteries that have the pace of a thriller (a thrillzy!) Her three series are:

The Tea Shop Mysteries – set in the historic district of Charleston and featuring Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop. Theodosia is a savvy entrepreneur, and pet mom to service dog Earl Grey. She’s also an intelligent, focused amateur sleuth who doesn’t rely on coincidences or inept police work to solve crimes. This charming series is highly atmospheric and rife with the history and mystery that is Charleston.

The Scrapbooking Mysteries – a slightly edgier series that take place in New Orleans. The main character, Carmela, owns Memory Mine scrapbooking shop in the French Quarter and is forever getting into trouble with her friend, Ava, who owns the Juju Voodoo shop. New Orleans’ spooky above-ground cemeteries, jazz clubs, bayous, and Mardi Gras madness make their presence known here!

The Cackleberry Club Mysteries – set in Kindred, a fictional town in the Midwest. In a rehabbed Spur station, Suzanne, Toni, and Petra, three semi-desperate, forty-plus women have launched the Cackleberry Club. Eggs are the morning specialty here and this cozy cafe even offers a book nook and yarn shop. Business is good but murder could lead to the cafe’s undoing! This series offers recipes, knitting, cake decorating, and a dash of spirituality.

Visit Laura’s webpage or find her on Facebook.

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Bet you didn’t know this about Pi

Happy Pi Day (3/14)!

Pi shows up everywhere. Here’s one place: Did you know that Buffon’s Needle Problem, one of the oldest problems in Geometric probability, was posed by Count Buffon, who was inspired by a popular game of chance of his time? In that game, you would toss coins onto a tiled floor and bet on whether the coin would land entirely inside one tile. Count Buffon modified the problem to look at the probability that a needle (or stick) dropped on a grid of parallel lines would cross a line. Counting the number of stick crossings using multiple tosses, you can approximate Pi:

See the Science Friday article (where this image is from) for more: https://www.sciencefriday.com/articles/estimate-pi-by-dropping-sticks/
Try simulating stick-dropping yourself here, and see how close you can get to Pi:
Bonus: we know that random number generators aren’t perfect (and are not really “random”). Some generators are not that good, but others do a pretty good job.  If you write your own Buffon’s Needle simulator, you could use it to test how good different underlying random number simulators are. (More on randomness here: https://www.random.org/analysis/ )
Find some history of Pi here:
Enjoy Pi Day!
(Source: L. de Pillis, chair of the mathematics department at Harvey Mudd)

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Is It Possible to Be Allergic to Exercise?

Jessi K. asks: Joking aside, is it possible to be literally allergic to exercise?

DeadliftMost couch-potatoes have probably at some point in their lives said, “I can’t run a mile without feeling like I’m going to die!” They might also sarcastically proclaim they must be allergic to exercise. And, amazingly enough, it turns out there is a rare disorder in which someone can be deathly allergic to exercise, a condition known as Exercise Induced Anaphylaxis (EIA).
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How to avoid tripping over your confirmation bias

How do you persuade somebody of the facts? Asking them to be fair, impartial and unbiased is not enough. To explain why, psychologist Tom Stafford analyses a classic scientific study.

One of the tricks our mind plays is to highlight evidence which confirms what we already believe. If we hear gossip about a rival we tend to think “I knew he was a nasty piece of work”; if we hear the same about our best friend we’re more likely to say “that’s just a rumour”. If you don’t trust the government then a change of policy is evidence of their weakness; if you do trust them the same change of policy can be evidence of their inherent reasonableness.

Once you learn about this mental habit – called confirmation bias – you start seeing it everywhere.

This matters when we want to make better decisions. Confirmation bias is OK as long as we’re right, but all too often we’re wrong, and we only pay attention to the deciding evidence when it’s too late.

How we should to protect our decisions from confirmation bias depends on why, psychologically, confirmation bias happens. There are, broadly, two possible accounts and a classic experiment from researchers at Princeton University pits the two against each other, revealing in the process a method for overcoming bias.

The first theory of confirmation bias is the most common. It’s the one you can detect in expressions like “You just believe what you want to believe”, or “He would say that, wouldn’t he?” or when the someone is accused of seeing things a particular way because of who they are, what their job is or which friends they have. Let’s call this the motivational theory of confirmation bias. It has a clear prescription for correcting the bias: change people’s motivations and they’ll stop being biased.

The alternative theory of confirmation bias is more subtle. The bias doesn’t exist because we only believe what we want to believe, but instead because we fail to ask the correct questions about new information and our own beliefs. This is a less neat theory, because there could be one hundred reasons why we reason incorrectly – everything from limitations of memory to inherent faults of logic. One possibility is that we simply have a blindspot in our imagination for the ways the world could be different from how we first assume it is. Under this account the way to correct confirmation bias is to give people a strategy to adjust their thinking. We assume people are already motivated to find out the truth, they just need a better method. Let’s call this the cognition theory of confirmation bias.

Thirty years ago, Charles Lord and colleagues published a classic experiment which pitted these two methods against each other. Their study used a persuasion experiment which previously had shown a kind of confirmation bias they called ‘biased assimilation’. Here, participants were recruited who had strong pro- or anti-death penalty views and were presented with evidence that seemed to support the continuation or abolition of the death penalty. Obviously, depending on what you already believe, this evidence is either confirmatory or disconfirmatory. Their original finding showed that the nature of the evidence didn’t matter as much as what people started out believing. Confirmatory evidence strengthened people’s views, as you’d expect, but so did disconfirmatory evidence. That’s right, anti-death penalty people became more anti-death penalty when shown pro-death penalty evidence (and vice versa). A clear example of biased reasoning.

For their follow-up study, Lord and colleagues re-ran the biased assimilation experiment, but testing two types of instructions for assimilating evidence about the effectiveness of the death penalty as a deterrent for murder. The motivational instructions told participants to be “as objective and unbiased as possible”, to consider themselves “as a judge or juror asked to weigh all of the evidence in a fair and impartial manner”. The alternative, cognition-focused, instructions were silent on the desired outcome of the participants’ consideration, instead focusing only on the strategy to employ: “Ask yourself at each step whether you would have made the same high or low evaluations had exactly the same study produced results on the other side of the issue.” So, for example, if presented with a piece of research that suggested the death penalty lowered murder rates, the participants were asked to analyse the study’s methodology and imagine the results pointed the opposite way.

They called this the “consider the opposite” strategy, and the results were striking. Instructed to be fair and impartial, participants showed the exact same biases when weighing the evidence as in the original experiment. Pro-death penalty participants thought the evidence supported the death penalty. Anti-death penalty participants thought it supported abolition. Wanting to make unbiased decisions wasn’t enough. The “consider the opposite” participants, on the other hand, completely overcame the biased assimilation effect – they weren’t driven to rate the studies which agreed with their preconceptions as better than the ones that disagreed, and didn’t become more extreme in their views regardless of which evidence they read.

The finding is good news for our faith in human nature. It isn’t that we don’t want to discover the truth, at least in the microcosm of reasoning tested in the experiment. All people needed was a strategy which helped them overcome the natural human short-sightedness to alternatives.

The moral for making better decisions is clear: wanting to be fair and objective alone isn’t enough. What’s needed are practical methods for correcting our limited reasoning – and a major limitation is our imagination for how else things might be. If we’re lucky, someone else will point out these alternatives, but if we’re on our own we can still take advantage of crutches for the mind like the “consider the opposite” strategy.

This is my BBC Future column from last week. You can read the original here. My ebook For argument’s sake: Evidence that reason can change minds is out now.

from Mind Hacks http://bit.ly/2kgqGeO

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Can brain activity predict chocolate sales? In search of the buy button

Brain icon with a shopping cart
Have researchers really found the holy grail of neuromarketing?

By guest blogger Julia Gottwald

Coming up with the perfect recipe for crisps or the ideal marketing strategy for a soft drink used to depend on explicit measures. In focus groups and surveys, consumers were asked which product tasted best or which commercial was most appealing. But these measures are imperfect: consumers may choose to hide their true opinions or they might not be fully aware of their own preferences. Food and drinks companies need more objective measures. Currently their best hope is functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

The idea is that somewhere in the brain, a “buy button” is hidden away: a region (or combination of regions) that influence your purchase decision. The promise of neuromarketing is that one day, we will be able to find this region, record its activity when you watch an ad or sample a product, and then predict how well this product will sell. So far, the success has been limited. But in a recent study in NeuroImage, Simone Kühn from the University Clinic Hamburg-Eppendorf and her colleagues claim to have found “multiple ‘buy buttons’ in the brain”.

The researchers showed six different ads for the chocolate bar “Duplo” to 18 healthy women while they underwent fMRI. In these ads, the chocolate bar was presented either next to the face of a woman; a couple; a group of people; in two hands; in two hands and with an additional slogan; or next to a toothbrush (the toothbrush was meant to serve as a control condition).

The researchers measured brain activity during the adverts in eight brain regions thought to be involved in making purchase decisions. Then they entered these measures into a formula that weighed key areas such as the nucleus accumbens and medial orbitofrontal cortex more strongly than others, which were expected to have less influence. Some areas, such as dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, were even weighed negatively, assuming that higher activity in these regions would make a purchase less likely. The team then used this “fMRI sales forecast value” to predict the sales of the chocolate bar. After the scan, the women were also asked which ad they liked most.

Next, the researchers ranked the six ads in different ways: according to the fMRI forecast; according to the women’s explicit preferences; and according to actual sales in a real German supermarket where the chocolate bar was sold in a display showing one of the six different ads, with a different advert used each week. In total, more than 63,000 customers were recorded, of whom 317 bought the chocolate bars. The six weeks were not consecutive and were carefully chosen to be uninfluenced by holidays and promotional periods.

The fMRI-based forecast was a surprisingly accurate predictor of sales, while self-reports performed poorly. The two ads which did best in the supermarket (chocolate bar in front of a group and next to a woman) were also predicted to be most successful by the fMRI sales forecast value. In contrast, the two most-liked ads from the self-reports (hands without text and, somewhat surprisingly, the toothbrush) were actually the least and third to least successful ones.

These seem like impressive results for the field of neuromarketing, but I had a number of reservations. For instance, while the authors tried to justify their selection of brain areas, arguing that these regions had previously been implicated in neuromarketing research, it is not entirely clear how they came up with their specific formula to calculate the “fMRI sales forecast value”. A clearer rationale would have been helpful.

The new results also contradict earlier studies, which found that asking people directly about their preferences was far superior over modern measures such as fMRI. Note though that in this study, people were asked which ad they liked best. But liking does not equal wanting. You might not like an ad very much, but it could still increase your desire for a product. A more useful question for the self-report part of this study would have been: “How much does this ad make you want to buy the chocolate?”

Also, there was a potential effect of the order in which the ads were displayed in the shops. The most successful ad, which was also predicted to be most successful by the fMRI based forecast, was the one that was used first in the German supermarket. The authors argue that most customers would have bought and eaten Duplo before, since it is a very popular sweet in Germany. However, it is easy to see how a new display in your local supermarket could encourage you to buy this product, regardless of the ad attached to it. Future studies should take this effect into account and maybe start with a shop display without any ads in the first week.

But perhaps most concerning is that one of the study authors, Enrique Strelow, is only listed in the paper as a member of the Justus-Liebig University of Gießen, even though he is also Head of Shopper Communication at Ferrero, the company that makes the chocolate bar Duplo. This is a clear conflict of interest, which was not disclosed in the paper. From reading the article, it is clear that the authors had cooperated with Ferrero, since they had early access to the advertisements which would later be placed in the supermarket. However, one of the authors being an employee of this company is a different thing altogether. Since these conflicts of interests can implicitly or explicitly influence study design, analysis, and result presentation, it is common practice to disclose any links to industry. Why this information was not made publicly available for this paper is unclear.

Nonetheless, the study highlights how neuroimaging-based market research in relatively small groups could one day reliably predict product sales on a large scale. Giving companies access to such sensitive data holds the potential for abuse and should therefore be carefully regulated. While there are strict regulations for fMRI based research in academic settings, such rules are lacking for industry applications. A public debate about the merits and dangers of neuromarketing is therefore more and more pressing.

Multiple “buy buttons” in the brain: Forecasting chocolate sales at point-of-sale based on functional brain activation using fMRI

Post written by Julia Gottwald for the BPS Research Digest. Julia is a PhD student in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge. Her book, Sex, Lies, & Brain Scans: How fMRI reveals what really goes on in our minds, is out now. Follow her on Twitter: @julia_gottwald.

from BPS Research Digest http://bit.ly/2kl5TqA

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Believe in yourself? Sure. Believe yourself? Maybe not.

try again give up keep going and trying self belief never stop bHow much do you trust your own opinions? Do you feel that your beliefs and worldviews are based upon an “evidence file” of real facts? Most people do — and if asked to justify their position on big issues like politics, religion and life they would be able to hit you with a list of supporting facts and arguments. It’s the same for the smaller things too; people are usually very good at justifying their actions based on a reasonable-sounding chain of logic.

But are our opinions really as solid as we think they are? Here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t always “believe yourself” without giving your opinions a second look.

Illusory Patterns

The human mind loves patterns. We love it when things fit together nicely and we’re innately primed to spot and recognize recurring patterns and ideas in the world around us. We’re so good at it that we can identify patterns even when there aren’t any.

Research has time and again shown that people will extract meaning from “noise” or meaningless sets of data. People see patterns and pictures in TV static. We see trends and themes in randomly drawn lottery numbers. We draw connections between unrelated images and call it fortune-telling. We see the face Jesus on a slice of toast.

This becomes an issue when we apply this same principle to our important life experiences. If the human brain is naturally good at finding patterns where none exist, it can link pieces of information which on their own are perfectly true but do not logically follow on from each other. This leads to forming conclusions which do not reflect reality.

This fallacy of over-generalization and forming beliefs on isolated facts is the basis of stereotyping. Maybe you’ve had a bad experience when visiting a certain town, or with someone of a certain ethnicity. Maybe you know someone who has had a similar experience to you. In your mind these small, isolated incidents paint a much broader picture that leads you to conclude that everyone from that town, or everyone of that ethnicity are just as bad as the one you came into contact with.

Making Facts Match Belief

Once a belief is formed in your mind, it’s very hard to shake. People like information that matches their pre-existing beliefs. This confirmation bias leads us to pay particular attention to information that confirms what we already know, while ignoring or discounting info which would conflict with our previously held views. Not only that but we will bend over backwards to make new information fit within our existing concepts.

Imagine a town where two politicians are running for mayor. At one end of town the existing mayor is holding a rally. He proudly states that during his last term he cut unemployment in the town by 10 percent, thereby proving that his policies are working and that he is the only man for the job. The room erupts in applause and cheering.

On the other side of town his rival is holding a rally. He says, “In his entire term my opponent only managed to cut unemployment by a minuscule ten percent! If a moron like him can achieve that much, think how much a genuinely hard working, forward thinking politician like myself could achieve!” The assembled crowd roars in agreement.

When preaching to people who have already made their minds up two people can take the exact same bit of information and use it to draw entirely opposite conclusions. And most people listening will be totally unaware they’ve done anything illogical in believing them. So all those facts and figures you have in your mental evidence folder might need a second look — you could have mentally shoehorned them in there so as to protect your established view of the world.

Mental Illness and Believing Yourself

All of this becomes a much bigger problem when you throw mental illnesses like anxiety and depression into the mix. These conditions bias your thinking towards the negative- they make you far more likely to interpret events in a negative way. If a friend doesn’t respond to your text, most people would think they were just busy, but someone with depression would take that as evidence that they aren’t really your friend and hate spending time with you. They then might start to form illusory patterns based on a few unrelated incidents- thinking that everyone they know secretly hates spending time with them.

Depression causes you to believe negative things about yourself and your value as a person. When “I am worthless” or “everyone hates me” is your starting point, confirmation bias becomes highly damaging because it makes you interpret every situation as validating your negative view of yourself. If people do choose to hang out with you- they’re only pretending to like you. And if they don’t- then you were right all along. With the filter of mental illness over your perception it doesn’t matter what happens, it all looks and feels the same.


You don’t have to suffer from mental illness to fall foul of the occasional faulty assumption or over generalization. From time to time everyone makes this kind of mistake and ends up believing negative things about themselves or the world around them. Learning to take a second look at your opinions rather than seeing them as infallible can free you from all kinds of damaging beliefs.

from World of Psychology http://bit.ly/2kItdPT

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