Monday, April 14, 2014

Toddler's Speech Interpretation is based on Native Language

Before toddlers even have a lexicon, new studies say that they are already interpreting and incorporating sounds of their native language. Although in the past, research had shown that toddlers didn't learn language habits till later - recent information has demonstrated that they are disregarding and taking notice of particular language-specific vowels or word combinations. This awareness of language have a "a rudimentary understanding of the 'sound system' of their language and that knowledge guides their interpretation of the sounds they encounter." (Daniel Swingley, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology) Eventually, their natural disregard for certain sounds and subtle speech patterns that their language doesn't leads to the formation of their native language. Which, in turn, contributes to why Japanese toddlers cannot distinguish the R sound from the L (i.e. might accidentally say lice rather than rice) - and why French is such a difficult language for English speakers.

Called the Penn study, research also indicated that children know when to take a difference in word sound seriously or to consider it a random variation based on their native language. Therefore, their entire process and method of encountering language in the bigger picture. This can be especially attributed from how at birth infants can distinguish most "phonetic contrasts by all the world's languages and then, after a year, shifts to a specific language in which they "retain or improve categorization of sounds and cannot discriminate many non-native sounds." Through this, it can be assumed that children become more attuned to a single language after their first year of encountering a language. For example, "kitty" and "kiiiiitty" - children need to figure out what each one means. To English speakers, it's the same word. However, for languages like Japanese or Finnish - it can be completely different. The example being in Japanese language where kami and kami can mean both god or paper depending on the sound pronunciation.

In Kitty vs Kiiiiity, there were three experiments that compared Dutch and English-learning 18 month olds. The children were shown two toys while researchers called one "tam" multiple times and then "taaam" for the other. The study showed that dutch children, through their language that includes that words are different by how long the vowel is pronounced, interpreted the variations as meaningful and associated the words (tam and taaam) to their respective toys. Meanwhile, English speakers ignored the elongation of the vowel sounds altogether. This displays the profound difference of language encounters for children as they grow up and what an important role language plays in shaping not only language but their interpretation of what goes on around them.


Happy reading!
J'aime Merkel

Body Language 101: Lie Detection

Lie detection occurs largely in the court room, or within the enforcement department. The problem with this, Joe Navarro states, is that very often "lie detection masters" are still no better than chance. He offers that good "lie detectors" are 60% right and 40% wrong. However, the reason why this is so important to note is: jurors. Often time people remark that they saw somewhere that "touching your nose means you're lying"and then that influences their choice/decisions. Even judges are subject to making the mistake of saying "I know that you're lying" just by seeing or listening to what the person is saying (without any actual prior knowledge and etc as proof). Body language or not, lie detection is not humanely possible. In fact, there is "no single behavior indicative of deception" (Ekman 1985, infra.)

But how does one use lie detection as a means of finding out the truth? Navarro states that a huge disciplinary study of multiple subjects (and possibly taking what they learnt with a grain of salt) could help. This is based on the fact that lie detection is not only body language but also verbal and requires expertise in the following subjects: psychology, anthropology, sociology, criminology, jurisprudence, sociobiology, neurobiology, psychiatry, anatomy, physiology, communications, zoology, ethnography, primatology, linguistics, language, and grammar (to name a few). Just to understand the depth of lie detection. This instance would be important especially in the Friedman case, and understanding why loaded or leading questions would especially not be helpful in witness questioning. As well as to figure out whether or not the children were "lying" so to speak.

None really have undergone such a disciplined curriculum of subjects, though.

In the future, it would be more beneficial if enforcement careers - and even the judicial department, with their judicial privileges (that allow them to say things without being sued for slander, Navarro states) was taught multiple facets of the human nature. Especially in cases where witness testimonies are flawed with flashbulb memories or even loaded questions and leads to innocent people being put into prison. The idea that human nature is so one dimensional is the fault of lack of education and understanding. Roles that are given power and even the ability to aid the general population should then undergo more than just learning how to apprehend but how to assess.


J'aime Merkel

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Reasons Why We Should Not Correlate Speech Ability and Intelligence

In the field of psychology, speech ability has often been assumed as an indicator of intelligence. In an essay written by Savannah Sims, she proves through three examples of language disorders that there is a weak correlation, if not one at all between speech ability and intelligence. In recent years, with the improvement of technology, this hypothesis has become easier to prove. Scientists can detect an individual's brain activity when processing language that has been read by them or spoken to them by an EEG. The CAT, MRI, and fMRI, are also all technologies that have served as a huge help to scientists trying to better understand the relationship brains have with language and its acquisition.

Sims first explains the notion of localization. This theory, that is used and accepted today by scientists, states that there are specific parts of the brain that function for specific purposes. In other words, our brains are compartmentalized. It's also affected by lateralization because our left hemisphere of our brain and our right hemisphere function primarily for different purposes, although there are exceptions. Moreover, another insight that's significant to Sims study is the gene FOXP2. This gene helps with language development and abilities. It's discovery allows scientists to have a better understanding that language may not be a "learned" skill, but rather something biological to the human. Chomsky considers language a "mental-organ."

In sight of these theories and discoveries, Sims uses the information when she began to examine studies performed with individuals suffering fro aphasia, specific language impairment (SLI), and William's Syndrome. Sims synthesized the data collected and found that although aphasia (a disorder caused by brain injury that impairs an individual's ability to find the "right" words to express themselves) hinders an individual's ability to find words to verbally communicate their emotions and ideas it does not effect their non-verbal communication skills and their ability to comprehend what is being said to them. This separation of language and intelligence provides and interesting opportunity to research the two components seperately. Sims says, "If speech ability were linked directly to a person's intelligence, damage could not be done to the brain that would affect one component without affecting the other," (p. 19).

Sims also looked at individuals with SLI and William's Syndrome. Unlike, aphasia and SLI, William's Syndrome was used as a contrast to show that even with a disorder that is highly recognized for having sufferers with low IQ scores, their language development and grammatical abilities were unaffected and scored as "normal." This proves further than intelligence and speech ability is not correlated. The study used in the essay to further illustrate this compared William's Syndrome and Down's Syndrome sufferers (who are know for having similar IQ levels) in their ability to use language to construct a narrative of a picture that was shown to them. Individuals with William's Syndrome were far more capable of constructing complex and "full" narratives while those participants with Down's Syndrome often provided simpler narratives. This further proved Sims hypothesis.

In conclusion, Sims said that intelligence and speech ability should not be correlated even though at times there seems to be a "connection" or a "link" between the two.

Alexa Trembly

Saturday, April 12, 2014

How Language is Acquired in an Infant

The amazing factor in this whole TED talk was the incredible amounts of data that was collected to capture the birth of a single word from an infant human.  Deb Roy, an associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Chief Media Scientist of Twitter, conducts his research at MIT Media Lab on language, games and social dynamics that corresponds the interactions between artificial intelligence and cognitive psychology.  When his son was born, Roy installed cameras in every room of his house to capture such moments.  In the end, he collected two years of continuous data to capture his son learning the word 'water'. 

This data represented above is an isolation of a person moving within a room through time, hence the horizontal-ness of the data.  To capture his son forming the word 'water', Roy and his team, just like this image, isolated words concerning water and placed them on a horizontal timeline. From the first time he said 'gaga' (phrase that represented water) to the actual adult phrase 'water' was detailed over a 24 month period.  On top of the audio data, they went even further to place the movements of the caretakers (mother, father, nanny) and the infant and pinpointed locations in the house that the phrase water was said.  The result of a mountainous terrain of data where location and phrase met.  

What I got from the TED talk that pertained to psycholinguistics was how both the infant and the environment adapted to each other to meet half way.  Roy was able to conclude that both he, his wife and the nanny changed their behavior and speech to meet their son to help him ease into a word.  This was represented in a bell curve, the difficulty was high from the start and once at the middle (the bell curve swooped downward) the caretakers would help the son then gradually move up the curve again. It appears that both context, location, and adaptability have tremendous factors in the creation of new words in the mind.  

Sara Mazdzer


TED Talk: Birth of a Word

Deb Roy: Cognitive Machines

When A Reality TV Show Turns into a Psychologist's Scientific Study of Body Language

French TV reality show: Secret Story (Big Brother)

After watching Amy Cuddy's TED talk on how your "Body Language Shapes Who You Are" through what she calls 'fake it till you become it' attitude, posed a larger discussion on the interactions this may cause on other individuals after one internalizes this mind set.  This led me to Geoff Beattie's book Visible Thought, The New Psychology of Body Language, where interestingly enough, a whole TV show franchise, Big Brother; a reality show that confined individuals in a house for weeks at a time, was the main apparatus for this new study of body language by studying the contestants actions with one another. 

I had to look up Big Brother after the eighth time the author referred to it and didn't realize that I have already watched the French Series back in 2006 when I visited French pen pals for four weeks in Bordeaux.  I'm frankly bad at French but the only show that I could stood to watch and actually understand the premise of the show was Big Brother.  After researching body language and cognitive psychology, I now know why I could understand it.  Body language is universal. 

Geoff Beattie is an internationally acclaimed social psychologist who was the resident psychologist for the show Big Brother.  He is a professor of Psychology at Edge Hill University and University of Cambridge.  Through the show, he was able to compile a hypothesis of body language based on the extensive information collected through the 24hour camera system.  Body language, facial expressions, micro expressions, silent signals of the eyes, head nods, postural changes, mirroring posture, hand movements, interpersonal distance, winks, fidgeting and eyebrow raising led the psychologist and the audience to glimpse into the actual emotions and opinions of the contestants.  Geoff Beattie explains in an interview that the contestants repeatedly talked about one thing and through one of the listed actions above shows that they actually feel quite opposite from their words.  

Sara Mazdzer


Visible Thought, The New Psychology of Body Language

Amy Cuddy: TED Talk

Geoff Beattie: Bg Brother UK 2006 Interview

Friday, April 11, 2014

Cognitive Advantages of Second Language Immersion Education--François Grosjean, Ph.D

In a recent article written by Francois Grosjean, the cognitive skills of children who attend second language immersion programs were tested to see whether they were more apt in metalinguistic awareness. This awareness is the knowledge of different facets of language such as the sound of the particular word. This cognitive awareness is thought to increase abilities in literacy as well as attention and ability to plan, select, etc. It was found that those who were learning a second language had better cognitive language skills than those who were monolingual.

A study conducted by professors Ellen Bialystok, Kathleen Peets and Sylvain Moreno at NYU studied the development of metalinguistics in children who were in the bilingual programs. They compared their task results against those who were solely studying English rather than English and French. The tasks essentially tested their grammar, and "verbal fluency." They discovered that the children in the immersion programs were showing similar results to early bilingual children, and their ability to understand the facets of language was more accurate than those who were monolingual. This is because when one learns a first language it is about communication, and is essentially innate, but learning another language requires you to take note of the dynamics of a language, i.e. conjugation, masculine and feminine in romance languages, etc. This particular study was fascinating because the students had only been studying French for three years.

Jillian Billard

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Body Language & Cognitive Psychology

In the Ted talk by Amy Cuddy body language is analyzed through a cognitive lens as she talks about snap judgements (similar to Gladwell, but with different intentions) and how they are affected by an individuals body language. She explained that her focus on non-verbal communication (body language) is about power dynamics. The basic principle is that humans, along with other mammals, make themselves larger when they feel powerful and make themselves smaller when they feel powerless. This type of body language is universal, however Cuddy continued to ask the question: since our minds can change our bodies, can our bodies change our minds? This question reflects on how strong of a connection there is between body and mind (focusing on the cognitive function of perception in power dynamics).

Cuddy conducted an experiment where participants were instructed to hold either a high-power pose (such as hands on the hips) or a low-power pose (such as slouching the shoulders) for two minutes. After the two minutes ended the participants were then rigorously interview. The interviewers had not been told which participants were the high or low-power pose holders. The intention of the interview was to increase the stress hormones in the participants' bodies because high-stress individuals are more likely to be low-power posers. The results of the experiment showed that the individuals who held the high-power pose for the two minutes before the interview had decreased stress hormones and the interviewers highly favored them. The low-power posers had increased stress hormones after the interview and were less favored by the interviewing committee.

The conclusion Cuddy inferred from her data was that as humans our minds do not only have the power to change our bodies, but our bodies also have the power to change our minds. The body language that the participants "rehearsed" for the two minute period before the interview was a sort of role-play that can help change the mindset of an individual. In other words, fake it until you make it, or Cuddy prefers the saying "fake it until you become it." She says that as individuals we have the agency to change our cognitive tendencies by way of changing our body language.

Alexa Trembly  

Southern Comfort

This article starts by speculating on the difference in the levels of politeness in the south and the north. The author states that the level of politeness was astonishing and unexpected. Those who were in service jobs had genuine smiles, not the fake kind. Even coupons are polite in the south. Psycholinguist Steven Pinker says that politeness is a human universal thing.

When the author asked a friend why Southerners are so polite, he mentioned that it may have had something to do with the fact that they were not so industrialized early on, so they had to rely on one another in a small-town kind of way, thus fostering politeness.

Social psychologists Dov Cohen and Richard Nisbett say that the South is a culture of honor, a culture in which people are concerned about their reputation for toughness and readiness to avenge insults and slurs. These concerns about reputation give rise to rules regarding politeness because being polite is a way to avoid slighting others. In an experiment, Cohen and Nisbett insulted male students at the University of Michigan, which some of whom are Southerners and some of them are Northeners. Northerners usually shrugged off the slight, but Southerners usually showed a flash of anger. Tests show that Southerners had testosterone levels twice as high as Northerners. Southerners may tend to be especially polite because an unintended insult may escalate into a fight or a feud. Honor-related killings are far more common in the South than in the North.

Christina Perla

Politicians' Body Language

With the recent headlines about the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, deciding to send thousands of Russian troops into a neighboring country, two experts decided to analyze Putin's body language and what that communicates aside from the just the words. Astoundingly, some even say that less than 10% of actual communication comes from the words actually spoken. Most communication actually comes through body language and tone of voice. Two experts, Dr. Erik Bucy and Dr. Patrick Stewart answered a few questions about nonverbal communication for this article.

The two experts summed up "body language" as the umbrella of nonverbal communication. It is the way that human and non-human animals attempt to influence others to do things they want them to do through social signals. This includes facials, haptics (touching), proxemics (how close you are to someone), vocalics (what comes out of your mouth that isn't specifically language), and even odors. Humans tend to have a preference for the interpretation of social status emotions in body posture, intimate-relationship emotions with touch, and survival-based emotions in the face. In terms of politics, what is remembered about a political figure is mostly their visual image rather than the specifics of any particular statement or policy pronouncement.

When asked about a few of the key non-verbal behaviors noticed when evaluating a leader or political situation, Erik and Patrick discuss the visibility of teeth. Which part of a person's teeth are showing while smiling are an indicator of whether a smile is truly felt, or false and insincere. Patrick goes into detail about how the political figure looks when being asked a question. He says it gives insight into how the target is reacting to the social situation, how they respond to their environment. They also talk about "micro-expressions," the subtle facial displays that are often controlled very quickly by the communicator when slipped out.

Christina Perla

Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are--A TED talk by Amy Cuddy

In her TED talk on body language, cognitive psychologist Amy Cuddy speaks of her own personal struggles and how she overcame them with body language, and explains how body language can change not only how others see you, but your entire personal disposition or self-confidence. She begins by talking about "power poses," and speaks of the natural human inclination to declare one's feelings of triumph or power subconsciously (not learned by sight). She calls this "non-verbal language." Interestingly, she mentions that "when people watch 30 second clips of doctor patient interactions, people can judge based on the doctor's niceness whether they will be sued." Similarly, emoticons in online agreements can have sweeping effects on the decisions that people make. Expressions of pride are universal (raising one's arms) and closing up the body is natural to people who are uncomfortable. We tend to do the opposite of the other's body language. If one is being powerful and taking up space, the other shrinks in space. She also speaks of the way that women tend to close up in their mannerisms while men open up. Those who are more closed are less likely to succeed in a classroom environment because of their unwillingness to participate. She claims that if one "fakes it till they make it" i.e. is forced to participate, they do better and act more powerfully. When one pretends to be powerful, they are more likely to actually feel powerful. Thus the body changes the mind, whereas the commonly perceived notion is that the mind affects the body. Physiologically, testosterone (high-power dominance related) and cortisol (anxiety-related) are produced by postures. There is evidence that role-changes (the stance of a particular person) can change the affect that a person has. In a conducted test by Cuddy and her colleagues, she asked people to sit in certain open and closed poses for two minutes. They then took an oxygen sample and asked the participants to gamble. Those who were in open poses increased in testosterone and a decrease in cortisol, and the opposite was true. Thus non-verbals govern how we feel about ourselves, not solely how people see us. She suggests that rather than hunching over before a job interview, they should do high-power stretches in the bathroom. Job interviews are trained not to respond positively or negatively through body language. In a test, it was shown that the presence of the high-power posers was so effective that they were hired, as opposed to the low-power posers who were not as dominant because they felt like a fraud. Cuddy tells of her own struggles where her IQ was negatively affected by a head injury. She was told that she would not be able to complete college. However her confidence was positively effected by her confidence that spurred from her own body language and she learned to fake it until it became real, rather than fake it til you make it. She now teaches at a prestigious IV league school and teaches her students to do the same in class participation, as she believes that it will positively effect the way that they perform.

Jillian Billard

Friday, April 04, 2014

3 Successful Memorials


The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum is a celebrated example to honor those who were killed, those who survived and those that changed forever by the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995. The Memorial & Museum are dedicated to educating visitors about the impact of violence, informing about events surrounding the bombing, and inspiring hope and healing through lessons learned by those affected.


Located right behind the apse of Notre Dame Cathedral, the Memorial of the Martyrs of the Deportation is an evocation of the suffering of those who were deported from France between 1941 and 1944. In this timeless space, captive eye perceives a corner of the sky and the water of the Seine flowing across iron bars and a sharp harrow. The memorial is covered with white concrete cement which are aggregated stones extracted symbolically main mountains of France.


Located on the National Mall near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, the Korean War Veterans Memorial is a reminder of the Korean War (1950-53) and the sacrifices and hardships of those who fought and returned, as well as those who fought and paid the ultimate price. This memorial ensures those veterans that they will not be forgotten. The Korean War Veterans Memorial consists of a platoon of stainless steel soldiers in the "Field of Service". All four branches of the military (army, navy, Marine Corps, and air force) are depicted by the statues. To the left of the soldiers extends a black granite wall. Over two thousand photographs sandblasted into the wall honor the supporting services who provided supply, medical, spiritual, and fire support to the frontline units.

-Alice Yang

Monday, March 31, 2014

Blink, Think, Sleep on it.

According to Gladwell’s research, we think without thinking, we thin-slice whenever we “meet a new person or have to make sense of something quickly or encounter a novel situation.” He says, “Snap judgments are, first of all, enormously quick: they rely on the thinnest slices of experience … they are also unconscious.”(p. 50) (Source)
In other words, Malcolm Gladwell's research and hypothesis in "Blink" surrounds the idea that people make snap decisions and judgments from the moment they come into contact with something, or someone (i.e. in the cases of students with teachers). These snap judgments are instinctive and impulsive "first impressions" that impress upon individuals certain ideas, conclusions and lasting opinions within the first 2-seconds of meeting.

It's a very popular idea that has been impressing and exciting many newspapers and magazines. In ways, "blink" poses new threats for the human mind that keeps people from making sound decisions and judgments... that they cannot help. Basically, the first thought and idea that a person has is essentially how they view something--or the lens they view that particular subject from. An average person has a lot of information that they need to sort through, including our own beliefs, attitudes, and experiences. Therefore, the Gladwell "blink" comes into play.

However, in a study that is to be published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology-- they have found that between blink, think and sleeping on it.. There is a definitive difference. In the study, scientists ran four experiments in which participants were presented with complex decisions and asked to choose the best option immediately ("blink"), after a period of conscious deliberation ("think"), or after a period of distraction ("sleep on it"), which is claimed to encourage "unconscious thought processes" (Source)

The conclusion? Conscious deliberation was shown to lead to better choices, and there wasn't much for the "superiority of unconscious choices" (i.e. the kind of snap judgments that Gladwell was mentioning). As in, there wasn't anything to prove the supposed superiority or "long-lasting" (as well as irreversible) effect of unconscious thought for complex decisions, or decisions in general, that Gladwell claims. Furthermore, this unconscious or "blink"-type of thought is more susceptible  to more irrelevant factors. Also, when faced with decisions like choosing a rental apartment or buying a car, those who were in the study made choices that were correlated with their preferences for certain attributes (ie. safety, security, color, price) regardless of what type of thinking it was.

Meaning, "think" might still more important and more influential than just "blink."


J'aime Merkel

Thinking, Not Blinking: Critiques of Gladwell

Most of the critiques I read of Malcolm Gladwell, notably Andrew Orlaski's in The Guardian, seemed to knock Gladwell for being a "pop" writer. The simplicity of his prose results in a simplicity of thought. I noticed in the excerpt from Blink that we read, Gladwell's argument boils down to "don't trust first impressions." This is an extremely common line of thinking, even if Gladwell's use anecdotes seems to be trying to present it as a mind-blowing piece of counterintuitive wisdom.
Gladwell's work seems to be far more relevant to the worlds of marketing, business, and sales than to cognitive psychology. His talent is in storytelling, rather than interpreting science for the masses. However, the thin veneer of scientific credibility makes him seem more authoritative. However, the marketing of mustard is not paradigm-shifting or the result of genius, no matter how thrilling Gladwell tries to present it as in his TED talk. -- Hannah Holden

First Impression and Schizophrenia

     In this article, it mentions how important the first 30 seconds of social encounter is for people with symptoms of schizophrenia for establishing contact with people.

     Scientists at the Queen Mary University of London did a test using motion capture technology, commonly found in the film industry.  (This technology is used in many CG work in film; in Avatar, actors wore clothing with 27 reflective markers, which were tracked in 3D by an array of infrared cameras. ) Using this technique, the researchers studied social interaction of patients in a group and analyzed the patterns of verbal and non-verbal communication.  

     On  PLOS ONE journal, researchers found people with schizophrenia are sidelined in conversation even when other participants are unaware of their illness. This was the first time motion capture technique have been applied to clinical populations to analyze how people relate to each other, and the complex social barriers faced by some people with mental health problems. 

     Nonverbal communication, such as gestures, nodding and posture are a key part of face-to face communication. The motion capture equipment allowed researchers to study this non-verbal choreography in live interactions in an unprecedented level of detail.  Dr Mary Lavelle, said: "This research demonstrates the impact of first impressions on interpersonal success for people with schizophrenia. Understanding why this happens could be key in tackling the social difficulties experienced by patients."

     This research demonstrated the impact of first impressions on interpersonal success for people with schizophrenia.

Joy Woojin Chung

Elizabeth Loftus and Memory Work

The most horrifying idea is that what we believe with all our hearts is not necessarily the truth.(Loftus, 1996, AU:Neimark)

     Elizabeth F Loftus is an American cognitive psychologist and expert on Human memory. She conducted extensive research on the malleability of human memory.  She is best know for her work on the misinformation effect and eyewitness memory and the creation and nature of false memory. She investigates the circumstances under which information received subsequent to an accident or crime may cause predictable changes in witness' recollections of the event. 

     In Loftus' Lost in the Shopping Mall study, teenagers and children were programmed to remember when they were lost in a mall as a child. Though the incidents never actually occurred, simply by being questioned about it, the subjects had increasing vibrant memories. This pattern is similar to the process of traumatically repressed memories unearthed through therapy. Her research shows how false events can become reality in a person's mind and how subjects can confuse or combine dreaming and waking events (Neimark,1996). Her research suggests that people's earliest memories cannot date back to before the age of three. Memories before the age of three are probably a result of educated guesses about what most likely occurred.
     Loftus does not deny child sexual abuse occurs or that it might be possible for the mind to repress a trauma, but she questions the accuracy of those memories and the techniques used to resurface such memories. This model mainly concerns a particular class of memories; those that emerge in adulthood after "memory work". "Memory work" is the means or process of retrieving the repressed memory through invasive therapeutic techniques such as regression, dream work, hypnosis, visualization, group therapy, and suggestion by a therapist. In a case reviewed by Loftus and Ketcham (1994) she gives evidence of how a therapist's use of "memory work" and suggestions played a role in a woman's development of false sexual abuse memories that led her to later accuse her parents of abuse and neglect. After extensive investigation, no evidence was found showing that any abuse had ever taken place. Therefore, the memories most likely never existed but were created and truly believed by the victim.

Elizabeth Loftus on Ted Talk
Joy Woojin Chung

Three Successful Memorials

The Lion of Lucerne, is a sculpture in LucerneSwitzerland, designed byBertel Thorvaldsen and hewn in 1820–21 by Lukas Ahorn. It commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution, when revolutionaries stormed the Tuileries Palace in ParisFranceMark Twain praised the sculpture of a mortally-wounded lion as "the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world." The dying lion is portrayed impaled by a spear, covering a shield bearing the fleur-de-lis of the French monarchy; beside him is another shield bearing the coat of arms of Switzerland. The inscription below the sculpture lists the names of the officers and gives the approximate numbers of soldiers who died and survived. The sculptor's intention of peaceful and quiet mourning is carried on well in this monument. 

Unknown soldier memorial cairo
The monument is made of concrete and resembles a hollow pyramid.  At the center of the base is a solid basalt cube representing the soldier's tomb. The memorial is open to visitors at all times. It was designed by the artist Sami Rafi.This Modern day pyramid symbolizes the eternal spirit of the Egyptian people and their long, complex history.The sides of the pyramid are carved with 71 common egyptian names, meant to represent the everyday man who served and died in the war. The memorial does a good job in showing the eternal symbol of reverence for the deceased and his ascension to the afterlife, which the pyramid symbolized. 

Padrão dos Descobrimentos is a monument on the northern bank of the Tagus River estuary, in the civil parish of Santa Maria de BelémLisbon. Located along the river where ships departed to explore and trade with India and Orient, the monument celebrates the PortugueseAge of Discovery in the 15th century. Infront of the the monument, on the floor, are a huge map of the world with years discovered. It has sculptures of not only the sailors but also poets and artists. The sculptor thought it wasn't just sailors who discovered but with the help of the country and people there. 

Joy Woojin Chung

Evidence Against Gladwell's Preference for Snap Decisions

The claim in Malcolm Gladwell's novel, "Blink" that states: "rapid intuitions often outperform rational analyses" has been challenged many times since the novel's debut in 2005. In an experiment set out by a group of researches from Florida State and University Leuven, this statement by Gladwell was investigated further. The researchers began to test expert chess players on how quickly they decide their next move. To do this, the researches asked the chess players to think aloud. Recordings of their thought process were taken, comparing how often the first intuition of the chess player was the "best" choice, or whether after analysis the chess players made better and more informed decisions as to where to move their pieces. This was the data:  

It can be seen that the light grey bars represent the moves chosen other than the "first mentioned" or "intuitive" choice of the chess players. The decisions that took the chess players longer to deliberate show a higher likelihood that they were more productive and "better" choices compared to the players first intuitive choice. This data refutes Gladwell's thesis for his novel. The same data evidence was found in less expert chess players, but this data didn't surprise anyone. The reason why the experiment used "experts" was because intuition, researchers say, is a form of expertise. Moreover, to evaluate the moves the chess players made in terms of "best choice" or productivity, a computer was used. The researchers final conclusions on intuition and flash decisions was that expertise is a combination of thoughtful cognitive decision-making as well as pattern recognition.

Alexa Trembly