admin posted this in Psychology on October 31st, 2013

When orgasm triggers a light show

For people with synaesthesia, stimulation of one sense – or in some cases just thinking of a particular concept – triggers another kind of sensory experience. The most common form of the condition is for letters to trigger colour perceptions, but there are some truly strange variants, such as people for whom various swimming strokes trigger colours, and others who experience emotional sensations at the touch of different fabrics.

Although there are first-hand accounts in sex research that sound a lot like synaesthesia (e.g. a woman interviewed for a 1970 paper said that orgasm was accompanied by “fuzzy blackness with red and white muted bursts”), before now psychology has failed to investigate the possibility that, for some people, sexual feelings might be the trigger for synaesthetic sensations, and to ask what the implications are for their sex lives.

For a new study, a team led by Janina Nielsen surveyed 19 synaesthetes

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admin posted this in Psychology on October 27th, 2013

What can employers learn from a job candidate's Facebook postings?

Organisations know that job candidates are presenting an idealised version of themselves in their CV and at interview. According to reports, many recruiters are therefore taking to social media to find an uncensored version of their applicants. Is this fair and what can they learn? A new study, led by William Stoughton and his colleagues at North Carolina State University, suggests that employers should beware jumping to conclusions based on what they find about applicants on Facebook.

Stoughton’s team invited hundreds of undergrads to apply for a real temporary research assistant position. Of those who were also on Facebook and who agreed to a follow-up survey, this left 175 undergrads, average age 19, with 63 per cent female. The survey included measures of the Big Five personality traits (extraversion, conscientiousness etc) and questions about the students’ activity on Facebook. In particular, they were asked how much they tended to engage in “bad mouthing”

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admin posted this in Business on August 20th, 2013

HM Treasury kick-starts the end of the government outsourcing mega-deal


HM Treasury has become one of the first Whitehall departments to formally signal its intent to break up its existing single-supplier outsourcing mega-deal. The department is inviting suppliers to provide feedback on its proposed new approach for sourcing IT – a model that is likely to be repeated for many of the major outsourcing deals that are due to expire in the next two years.

The new model is designed to make it easier for smaller IT suppliers to win government business, thereby reducing the hold of the “oligopoly” of large system integrators that dominate Whitehall IT. The Treasury is one of the smaller departments in IT terms, with just 1,235 users, but the principles of its proposed ICT 2015 programme reflect much of the thinking of the new digital strategy laid out by the Government Digital Service (GDS) and government chief technology officer (CTO) Liam Maxwell. “To ensure alignment with

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admin posted this in Psychology on August 20th, 2013

The supposed benefits of open-plan offices do not outweigh the costs

The worlds of business, office design and psychology really need to get their heads together. Large open-plan offices have become the norm across modern cities despite a sizeable literature documenting the disadvantages, including increased distraction and diminished worker satisfaction.

Open-plan offices are favoured by companies largely because of economic factors – more employees can be housed in a smaller space. But there are also supposed communication benefits. The idea is that open spaces foster more communication between staff and boost community spirit. A new study based on a survey of over 42,000 US office workers in 303 office buildings finds no evidence to support this supposition whatever.

Jungsoo Kim and Richard de Dear analysed the workers’ answers to the industry standard “Post-occupancy Evaluation” that asks them to rate their satisfaction with seven aspects of their office environment including: temperature, lighting, privacy and ease of interaction, plus it asks about their overall satisfaction

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admin posted this in outsourcing on August 13th, 2013

How to handle forced change in Outsourcing

Change Managers in an Outsource often assume that if the rationale for change is made clear to the people affected then change management is unproblematic and resistance negligible. People assume that if we rationally explain to the employees affected they will ‘buy-in’ to the process and thereafter work actively to realise the change or at least moderate their resistance to it. There is a assumption behind all this that changes are negotiated and developed over time and that the change agent’s task is but to make clear the imperatives and the people fall into place – communication mechanisms (usually Slide-Ware) are the main carriers of this type of

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admin posted this in Psychology on July 12th, 2013

How weak arguments can make a more effective call to arms than strong arguments

We often think of persuasion in terms of converting people to our side of an argument. Just as important in many contexts is the need to inspire supporters to do more to help a cause they already believe in. In a new paper, Omair Akhtar and his colleagues provide evidence here for a counter-intuitive principle – they say that presenting people with weak arguments for a cause they already believe makes for a more powerful call to arms than presenting them with strong arguments.

In an initial study, 165 US citizens were presented with either weak or strong arguments made by other voters in favour of Barack Obama’s re-election as President. Among the participants who were already supportive of Obama, exposure to the weak rather than strong arguments led them to say they had more intention to persuade other people to vote for Obama. This association was mediated by their feeling

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admin posted this in outsourcing on June 21st, 2013

SERVQUAL test for Outsourcing

When determining whether service delivery is meeting service expectations, it is useful to seek the views of the actual service users. One tool that we are making available on this site to assess outsource service quality is the OUTSOURCE SERVQUAL (or OUTSERVQUAL). This is a new approach available exclusively from this site as a service to the community. OUTSERVQUAL (Service Quality) is a self-administered questionnaire designed to measure how customers view/judge the service quality of suppliers and is based on the SERVQUAL approach by Parasuraman. Parasuraman et al (1994) defined service quality as the degree of discrepancy between customers’ normative expectations for the service and their perceptions of the actual service

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admin posted this in politics on June 20th, 2013

Let's ban reckless politicians as well as reckless bankers

Some years ago I was sitting in the accountancy module B212 ‘window dressing and off balance sheet techniques’ during my Masters course when the lecturer at the time piped up that one of the biggest fears in finance was the fact that mortgages were lent long whilst money was saved or acquired from the market short. In principle short money can be called for very quickly whilst paying back a mortgage on demand is impossible. A interesting discussion took place as we considered the possibilities of savers suddenly loosing confidence and withdrawing funds to stuff under the mattress or inter-bank lending suddenly drying up. And the fact that as mortgagees we would be unable to pay our loans on demand loans so all chaos could result. We also in passing have a quaint notion that the money in the bank is actually ours to call on on demand – look to how Cyprus handled their

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admin posted this in Psychology on June 7th, 2013

Reading comprehension just as good using a Kindle as with paper

A significant milestone was passed last August when Amazon announced that sales of books on its Kindle e-reader platform outstripped print sales for the first time. There’s no question that e-readers are convenient – you can load a single device with thousands of titles. But some commentators have started to question whether digital reading has adverse effects on memory and comprehension compared with reading from print.

In 2010, a reassuring study in fact found no difference in recall after reading material electronically versus paper. Now Sara Margolin and her colleagues have looked at reading comprehension and again found no deficits in understanding of material consumed on a Kindle or a computer versus paper.

Margolin’s team invited 90 student participants (average age 19 years) to read ten short passages of text.  One third of them read on paper (A4 size, Times New Roman font), 30 of them read on a second gen. Kindle

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admin posted this in outsourcing on May 21st, 2013

The Death of Traditional IT Outsourcing - Welcome to the Transputec Blogs. | Transputec

The traditional model of outsourcing was typically based on writing long-term contracts for a fully-configured managed service following a competitive bidding process, with the provider’s expectation that they would bid low to occupy the territory and then make real money on variations and locked-in

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