Hostility and humor in 45 psychiatric patients in 1956

August 30th, 2014

Donn Byrne probed the delicate psyches of 45 men, in 1956. This study reports what he found:

The relationship between humor and the expression of hostility,” Donn Byrne [pictured here], Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, vol 53(1), July 1956, pp. 84-89. The author explains:

byrne“This study explored the relationships among the expression of hostility in behavior, the extent to which hostile cartoons are judged funny, and the ability to recognize hostility in cartoons. 3 groups of 15 male psychiatric patients each were rated as expressing hostility overtly, covertly, or not at all. They were asked to judge the funniness of 32 cartoons and also to indicate which of the cartoons expressed hostility and which did not. Relationships were found between the expression of hostility and the tendency to judge hostile cartoons as funny, between estimated IQ and the ability to differentiate hostile and non-hostile cartoons, between the expression of hostility and the differentiation of hostile and non-hostile cartoons, and between the tendency to judge hostile cartoons as funny and the ability to differentiate hostile and non-hostile cartoons.”


mini-AIR August issue: Screws, bolts, and so forth

August 30th, 2014

The August issue of mini-AIR (our monthly e-mail newsletter just went out. (mini-AIR is a wee little supplement to the magazine). Topics include:

  • News about the coming Ig Nobel Prize ceremony & webcast
  • The BG Bang Limerick Competition
  • Arm-Wrestling: A Humerus Twist
  • Screw When Where Limerick Competition
  • and more
It also has info about upcoming events.

Mel [pictured here] says, “It’s swell.”

mini-AIR is the simplest way to keep informed about Improbable and Ig Nobel news and events.

Want to have mini-AIR e-mailed to you every month? Just add yourself to the mini-AIR list.

Their machine will tell if you’re friend or foe, they say

August 29th, 2014

Veritas Scientific Corporation is — well, it must be — the rare company with technology that surpasses the limitations of what scientists understand.

Veritas is all about deception. In the promotional video here, Veritas Scientific’s founder and CEO Eric Fenn Elbot says that he “started reading incredible research about how to detect brain waves to detect deception, and how to use brain waves to go beyond that, to even, perhaps, be able to identify friend from foe.” Therefore, he went into business….

—so begins another Improbable Innovation nugget, which appears in its entirety on BetaBoston.

The motorcycle urinal (new patent)

August 29th, 2014

If you sometimes make use of a urinal, and yearn for the sound of revving motorbikes whilst doing so, a new US patent might be aimed at you. Californian inventor Anthony Moley has just received a patent for his “Urinal with operation controlled via a replica of a motorcycle handlebar” The new invention, which provides rearview mirrors, a throttle and a horn is summed up like this :

US08789808-20140729-D00000The urinal with operation controlled via a replica of a motorcycle handlebar is a wall-mounted fixture configured to control the use of the flush valve of said urinal, or toilet, or other plumbing fixture. The replica motorcycle handlebar includes a linkage that runs from the throttle portion of the motorcycle handlebar to the flush valve of said urinal such that upon simulation of a throttling gesture shall pull said flush valve upwardly in order to flush the respective urinal or plumbing fixture. The replica motorcycle handlebar includes a motion sensor that upon detection of a person shall communicate an audio recording of a motorcycle noise. The replica motorcycle handlebar includes mirrors, turn signals, and a horn switch. Throttling motion of the throttle portion may also prompt an additional audio recording of a motorcycle engine being revved.

Hitchcockian Fear-of-Heights Gaze Research

August 28th, 2014

In the tradition of film director Alfred Hitchcock, these researchers watched the way fearful people watched their surroundings whilst walking in fear:

BrandtVisual Exploration during Locomotion Limited by Fear of Heights,” Günter Kugler, Doreen Huppert, Maria Eckl, Erich Schneider, Thomas Brandt [pictured here], PLoS ONE, 9(8), 2014, e105906. The authors, at the University of Munich and Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus – Senftenberg, report:

“Visual exploration of the surroundings during locomotion at heights has not yet been investigated in subjects suffering from fear of heights…. Eye and head movements were recorded separately in 16 subjects susceptible to fear of heights and in 16 non-susceptible controls while walking on an emergency escape balcony 20 meters above ground level…. During locomotion, anisotropy of gaze-in-space shows a preference for the vertical as opposed to the horizontal direction during stance. Avoiding looking into the abyss may reduce anxiety in both conditions; exploration of the ‘vertical strip’ in the heading direction is beneficial for visual control of balance and avoidance of obstacles during locomotion.”

This detail from the study shows the experimental setup:


BONUS: A clip from Hitchcock’s film “Vertigo”: