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Humour Goes Viral

Humour Turns E-Mail Viral

A study by Sharpe Partners, an interactive marketing agency, revealed that 89% of adult Internet users in America share content with others via e-mail. This is excellent news for those companies who use self-propelling word-of-mouse” e-mail techniques to sell their products.

The study generated some interesting results regarding the type of content that is most often forwarded, as well. The most popular content is humorous material.

The second most popular category is news, followed by healthcare and medical information, religious and spiritual material, games, business and personal finance information and sports/hobbies. in that order. So it is easy to see that humour is the best content for your viral e-mail campaign.

Cartoons, jokes and funny video clips are among the things that can be added to an e-mail to insure that it will go viral. People will want to pass along something that makes them laugh.

They are a lot more likely to hit the forward button and send your email to their friends and relatives if it is an “advertainment” rather than an advertisement.

Not long ago, about 35 million people got an e-mail containing a picture taken in Disneyland. It took a minute to see it but there was Donald Duck lying prone in front of the famous Cinderella Castle. The title of the picture was “Bird Flu has hit Disneyland”. It was a viral e-mail advertising Disneyland and used the edgy strategy of making light of what’s serious. and it works.

I’d guess that most people who own a computer have seen that picture. and thus the advertisement for Disneyland. The bird flu epidemic is newsworthy and has the potential to attract an enormous amount of attention to any brand that might, for whatever reason, associate itself with it.

Remember Humour Goes Viral

Xmas special: gift psychology and psychology gifts

Psychology-themed gifts:

Inception DVD – Jungian symbolism, action adventure and Leonardo DiCaprio!

A subscription to Scientific American Mind magazine.

“I’m statistically significant” and other stats-themed t-shirts.

Memento DVD – the best amnesia movie that we can remember.

The Force Trainer – Become a Jedi: wireless headset interprets your brainwaves and moves an object.

“Connect it” brain/usb t-shirt.

Mindflex brainwave game – go head to head with a friend.

A subscription to The Psychologist magazine.

Serotonin necklace.

Freudian slippers.

Dopamine t-shirt.

Inflatable brain.

Ramon y Cajal t-shirt.

Make a donation to Mind – the UK’s leading mental health charity.

The best psychology books of 2011 (and there’s always the new Rough Guide to Psychology by the editor of the Research Digest!)

Gift-giving research

If in doubt, give them what they want. A study published this year suggested people prefer receiving what they asked for, rather than a surprise gift.

Don’t bundle your gifts. Gift receivers rate a single high-value gift more positively than a big gift bundled with a stocking filler.

This study, from 2002, found that money was a poor gift because it doesn’t convey meaningful information about intimacy and can send the wrong message about the relative status between gift giver and receiver.

Be careful when buying a gift for your man. A study from 2008 found that men responded to dud gifts more negatively than women.

Given the choice, people seem to prefer receiving gifts of plenty and practicality over exclusivity.

Finally, don’t forget to say thank you, even if you don’t like the gift you’ve been given.

Merry Christmas! —Post compiled by Christian Jarrett for the BPS Research Digest. Many of the gift Xmas special: gift psychology and psychology gifts

Christmas Spirit alive and well in East Grinstead

It’s that time of year again when itinerant panhandlers (i.e. carol singers) appear on my door-step attempting to sing a few strangled verses of some long forgotten carol before being sent away with a flea in their ear and a recommendation for a few singing lessons by yours truly. Last year some group of lads came around and made a vague attempt at Silent Night (oh I wish it was when they started). Christmas Spirit alive and well in East Grinstead

Mention of the word "loving" doubles charitable donations

“Love begets love.” Proverb French researchers say that adding the text “donating=loving” to a charitable collection box almost doubled the amount of money they raised.

Nicolas Guéguen and Lubomir Lamy placed opaque collection boxes in 14 bakeries in Brittany for two weeks. All the boxes featured the following text in French: “Women students in business trying to organise a humanitarian action in Togo. We are relying on your support”, together with a picture of a young African woman with an infant in her arms. Some boxes had this additional text in French just below the money slot: “DONATING=LOVING”; others had the text “DONATING=HELPING”; whilst others had no further text below the slot. Different box types were placed in different bakeries on different days and the amount of money collected each day was recorded.

The text on the donation boxes made a profound difference. On average, almost twice as much money was raised daily in boxes with the “donating=loving” text, as compared with the “donating=helping” boxes and the boxes with no additional text (€1.04 per day vs. €0.62 and €0.54; the effect size was d=2.09). “Given the high effect-size … we can conclude that evoking love is a powerful technique to enhance people’s altruistic behaviour,” the researchers said. In contrast, the difference in the amount of money left in “donating=helping” boxes and boxes without additional text was not statistically significant.

Guéguen and Lamy think that the word “loving” acts as a prime, activating related concepts such as compassion, support and solidarity, and thereby encourages behaviour consistent with those ideas. Such an explanation would fit the wider literature showing how our motivations and attitudes can be influenced by words and objects without us realising it. For example, one previous study showed how exposure to ageing-related words like “retired” Mention of the word "loving" doubles charitable donations

A Guide to Synthetic Phonics

When I was a boy we learned to read and write by the old fashioned method chalk and talk. You talk or you get the chalk! When old Mrs Meredith (now sadly passed away to the rejoicing of countless generations of her former pupils – I just thought I can now slander her name with impunity) asked you to spell a word she followed it up within at most a second or two with a piece of chalk fired at your head . I used to marvel at the unnerving accuracy that this slight women managed to find the target (mostly Lyn Davies head as it happens) across a crowded classroom with rarely a off target projection. Strong in arm the chalk made its parabolic flight with ICBM accuracy to find the offending dim wits ear – there to explode in a satisfying plume of chalk dust. Such was the skill I often thought she should have made the first eleven she clearly had cricket in her blood – she must have been related to WC Fields – mainly because of the beard come to think of it. A Guide to Synthetic Phonics

What your choice of best ever footballer says about human memory

Cruijff – the best ever player?Ask a friend to name the best ever footballer and they’re likely to pick someone who was mid-career when they (your friend) was aged around 17. That’s according to a new investigation into the “reminiscence bump”. This term describes the fact that when you ask people to name the most memorable events in their lives, they tend to refer to things that happened to them in their teens and early twenties. Recently it’s been shown that a similar effect occurs when you ask people to name their favourite music, books and films, with them tending to pick out content from their youth. Now David Rubin and his colleagues have extended this line of research to people’s judgement of the best footballers of all time.

Six hundred and nineteen people (aged 16 to 80) took part in the study online, conducted in Dutch and hosted on the website of the University of Amsterdam. Participants were presented with the names of 190 all-time leading football players and asked to name their judgement of the five best players of all time. They could either select from the list or choose their own.

The researchers calculated the mid-career point of the 172 players named by the participants and compared this against the participants’ age at that time. Participants overwhelming tended to name players whose career mid-point coincided with participants’ teens and early twenties. The modal age (i.e. the most common) of the participants at their chosen players’ mid-career was 17 years. The researchers said this was the most appropriate statistic to use because the average (22 years) and median (20 years) stats are more susceptible to the bias to name currently active players.

Another way of reporting the results is to say that participants recalled more What your choice of best ever footballer says about human memory

Should Sharia Law be included as part of Common Law?

A bit of controversy last week over the Very Reverend Sheik Rowan Atkinson (yes the ecclesiastical comedian) the mad Mullah of Lambeth (AKA the Archbishop of Canterbury or ABC as he is know to his dwindling flock) and his pronouncements about the incorporation of Sharia law into UK society – he didn’t really say this but its good to ham it up. Should Sharia Law be included as part of Common Law?

Hearing about scentists' struggles helps inspire students and boosts their learning

Newton worked hard and had an inquisitive natureScience suffers from an image problem. Many students see the subject as too difficult and they think scientists are aloof boffins with big brains. A new study out of Taiwan tests the benefits of teaching high-school physics pupils about the struggles of eminent physicists – Galileo, Newton and Einstein.

Over the course of three computer-based lessons during one week, 88 low-achieving students were taught not just about the relevant theories developed by these characters but also about their frustrations and perseverance. For instance, they heard about Newton’s hard work and inquisitive nature (including his comment “I keep the subject constantly before me, till the first dawnings open slowly, by little and little, into the full and clear light.”), and they heard about Einstein’s efforts, but ultimate failure, in seeking to develop a unified field theory – an endeavour that he spent the last 25 years of his life working on.

For comparison, a further 93 students completed the three computer-based lessons on the relevant theories but without any background information on the scientists, and 90 more completed a version in which they heard achievement-based background information on the scientists, including their key discoveries and dates.

Learning about scientists’ struggles had several important benefits versus the other two conditions. Students in the struggles condition developed more rounded, less stereotypical images of the scientists, seeing them as people who worked hard. For students who had no initial interest in science, the information about struggles boosted their interest in the subject. Struggles-based background info also improved students’ delayed (a week later) recall of the theoretical material, and it increased their success at complex open-ended problem solving tasks based on the lesson material.

Huang-Yao Hong and Xiadong Lin-Siegler, who made these findings, Hearing about scentists' struggles helps inspire students and boosts their learning

Hearing about scentists’ struggles helps inspire students and boosts their learning

Newton worked hard and had an inquisitive natureScience suffers from an image problem. Many students see the subject as too difficult and they think scientists are aloof boffins with big brains. A new study out of Taiwan tests the benefits of teaching high-school physics pupils about the struggles of eminent physicists – Galileo, Newton and Einstein.

Over the course of three computer-based lessons during one week, 88 low-achieving students were taught not just about the relevant theories developed by these characters but also about their frustrations and perseverance. For instance, they heard about Newton’s hard work and inquisitive nature (including his comment “I keep the subject constantly before me, till the first dawnings open slowly, by little and little, into the full and clear light.”), and they heard about Einstein’s efforts, but ultimate failure, in seeking to develop a unified field theory – an endeavour that he spent the last 25 years of his life working on.

For comparison, a further 93 students completed the three computer-based lessons on the relevant theories but without any background information on the scientists, and 90 more completed a version in which they heard achievement-based background information on the scientists, including their key discoveries and dates.

Learning about scientists’ struggles had several important benefits versus the other two conditions. Students in the struggles condition developed more rounded, less stereotypical images of the scientists, seeing them as people who worked hard. For students who had no initial interest in science, the information about struggles boosted their interest in the subject. Struggles-based background info also improved students’ delayed (a week later) recall of the theoretical material, and it increased their success at complex open-ended problem solving tasks based on the lesson material.

Huang-Yao Hong and Xiadong Lin-Siegler, who made these findings, Hearing about scentists’ struggles helps inspire students and boosts their learning

The Five Steps to Outsourcing – Part Three

In negotiation avoid shortcuts and set specific goals – and ensure they are delivered. Evaluate, clarify and frame negotiations to keep competition alive. Document all discussions and carry out frequent self-assessment and use a term sheet, this helps drive and track the discussion and allows apples to apples comparison -over time the term sheet can evolve into a contract. Good note taking then transference to the final document of the substantive requirement and agreements made during the discussion is important. Do not leave anything out of the agreement that important to you that was discussed and agreed elsewhere – if it is not in the agreement it does not count. The Five Steps to Outsourcing – Part Three