CLOSE
iStock
iStock

People Aren’t Just Afraid of the Dark, They’re Afraid of Nighttime

iStock
iStock

There’s a reason people are afraid of things that go bump in the night. Once the sun goes down, people are more sensitive to scary stimuli. That jumpiness may have more to do with the time of day than the darkness, a new study in the International Journal of Psychophysiology explains. 

A group of Chinese researchers tested the links between fear, darkness, and nighttime by splitting a group of women into four groups and exposing them to scary sights and sounds; the women were monitored for spikes in heart rate and perspiration. Some participants looked at scary pictures and listened to scary sounds during the day with all the lights on, while others looked at the pictures during the day, but in darkness. Some viewed them at night with a dim light, and others at night in complete darkness except for the computer screen. 

Those who undertook the task at night found the pictures and sounds scarier than did the women who had to examine them during the day, regardless of the light condition. By contrast, their reaction to neutral pictures and sounds didn’t vary based on the time of day. 

The study only tested young female participants in China (the average age was 22), so it's far from definitive. Fear could affect men and women and people of different ages and cultures differently. But this does suggest that there could be a circadian rhythm to fear, and that biologically, we’re more inclined to be afraid of things at nighttime. As humans aren’t nocturnal animals, but plenty of predators are, it makes sense that we would learn to be a little more sensitive to threatening sights and sounds in the night. 

[h/t BPS Research Digest]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
science
What Pop Culture Gets Wrong About Dissociative Identity Disorder
iStock
iStock

From the characters in Fight Club to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, popular culture is filled with "split" personalities. These dramatic figures might be entertaining, but they're rarely (if ever) scientifically accurate, SciShow Psych's Hank Green explains in the channel's latest video. Most representations contribute to a collective misunderstanding of dissociative identity disorder, or DID, which was once known as multiple personality disorder.

Experts often disagree about DID's diagnostic criteria, what causes it, and in some cases, whether it exists at all. Many, however, agree that people with DID don't have multiple figures living inside their heads, all clamoring to take over their body at a moment's notice. Those with DID do have fragmented personalities, which can cause lapses of memory, psychological distress, and impaired daily function, among other side effects.

Learn more about DID (and what the media gets wrong about mental illness) by watching the video below.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
science
Humblebraggarts Are the Worst (Science Says So)
iStock
iStock

Humblebraggarts. We all know (at least) one: that person who takes a woe-is-me tack to ostensibly "complain" about something when the real intent is to boast.

"It's noon, I haven't had a cup of coffee, and the espresso machine at this Mercedes dealer is broken. FML!"

"Have been sitting on the runway for 30 minutes. Next time I'm flying commercial instead of private."

In many ways, it's another version of #FirstWorldProblems, and social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have only made the practice more pervasive. As TIME reports, a new study has concluded that people see right through this fake humility—and like people less for doing it.

Researchers at Harvard and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill conducted a series of nine experiments, including a week-long diary study and a field experiment, to both identify the ubiquity of the behavior and then determine its effectiveness as a form of self-presentation. Their findings, which were published in the January Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, determined that if you're going to brag, people would rather you just be transparent about it.

"It's such a common phenomenon," Ovul Sezer, study co-author and an assistant professor of organizational behavior at UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School, told TIME. "All of us know some people in our lives, whether in social media or in the workplace, who do this annoying thing. You think, as the humblebragger, that it's the best of both worlds, but what we show is that sincerity is actually the key ingredient."

Of the 646 participants, 70 percent of them could recall a recent humblebrag they'd heard—the majority of which (about 60 percent) were complaint-based. But the study showed, overwhelmingly, that any statements that could be perceived as humblebragging (whether complaint- or humility-based) "are less effective than straightforward bragging, as they reduce liking, perceived competence, compliance with requests, and financial generosity," according to the study's authors.

"Despite the belief that combining bragging with complaining or humility confers the benefits of each strategy," the study concluded, "we find that humblebragging confers the benefits of neither, instead backfiring because it is seen as insincere.”

In other words: they're not fooling anyone.

"If you want to announce something, go with the brag and at least own your self-promotion and reap the rewards of being sincere, rather than losing in all dimensions," Sezer said—though she suggested that an even more effective tactic is to find someone else to boast on your behalf. "If someone brags for you, that's the best thing that can happen to you, because then you don't seem like you're bragging," she told TIME.

However, Sezer's final piece of advice was not to be too hasty in your dismissal of humblebraggarts as a whole. "We all do it, to some extent," she said. "I hope I don't sound like I'm humblebragging when I talk about this research."

[h/t: TIME]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios