1. You're dressing for a first date. What colour dress or shirt should you choose? A) Blue B) Red C) Green D) It wouldn’t make any difference
B) Red. According to a recent study reported in the European Journal of Social Psychology, red would be the best choice for both men and women. The researchers found that men wanted to sit closer to a woman dressed in red and were likely to ask more intimate questions. The women in the study considered men in red to be more attractive and of higher status. (A red shirt for guys? This is psychology, not fashion advice.)
2. How true is the belief that people who do well in IT struggle with relationships and emotions? A) Untrue B) A rare case of an accurate stereotype
A) Untrue. A summary of 19 studies showed that people who make good programmers do tend to be introverted, but there was nothing to suggest that they were generally unfriendly or neurotic. The strongest link between programming skill and personality was ‘openness’ – meaning openness to new ideas. (It’s a measure of creativity and imagination.)
3. You are about to interview a suspect. Should you choose an office with art on the wall and photos on the desk, or a bare room with only a table and two chairs?
Choose the office. It’s not what you see on the telly, but a recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology showed that people were more likely to lie in a bare room. Why? It’s hard to say. Like much of the research in psychology, it’s simply a correlation – and strong enough to be useful. The explanation may come later.
4. Your friend keeps singing the wrong words from songs – with great confidence. What is the name given to your friend’s mistakes?
Mondegreen. Why such an odd name? Long story. We misinterpret words from songs when they don't match our expectations, especially when the original words are run together. As Taylor Swift sings ‘…a long list of ex-lovers’ your friend may sing‘…lonely Starbucks lovers’. Another mondegreen is born.
If you're a generation older: Have you ever heard Neil Diamond’s ‘I’m a believer’ reinterpreted as, ‘I’m going to leave her’? Another mondegreen. Even if it bugs you, at least you have a name for it.
5. Your team has an important meeting. You know there’ll be plenty of debate and you have to make some complex decisions. What time should you start? A) After morning tea and scones, so everyone is refreshed. B) Just before lunch, so there’s an incentive to reach an agreement C) At the end of the day, so that there are no distractions?
B) After morning tea and scones. You’ll all be well supplied with brain fuel – glucose. (Glucose doesn’t just come from sugar.) With it, you’ll be more focused, more likely to debate than argue and more logical. Without it, your effective IQs will drop substantially.
6. You have a new friend on Facebook. You’d really like to get to know this person well. Should you upload a photo of you in a group, or just you?
In a group. A recent study reported in Psychological Science showed that both men and women find people more attractive when they are surrounded by others. It suggests you have friends, right? This where it gets strange. The people in the group need not be people you know. Even appearing in a collage makes us more attractive. Who said humans were logical?