All posts filed under: Anthropology

The study of humans, past and present.

Is it just me, or is it the Barnum Effect?

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Anthropology / Myths / Psychology

Let me tell you about yourself: You pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept others’ statements without satisfactory proof. While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them. You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage. Neither they, nor I, can really read your mind. Photo by Scott Rodgerson on Unsplash.   Did you read the above statements and […]

The reality of the Uncanny Valley

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Anthropology / Evolution / Myths / Psychology

Technology has made making extremely human-like robots a reality. But is this a good thing? Tara Bautista delves into the unease that many people experience with things that are almost – but not quite – human. Welcome to the ‘Uncanny Valley’. When realistic isn’t pleasantly real enough Last weekend I started watching a new fantasy show on Netflix called The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. You could say it’s a cross between Game of Thrones […]

The who, why and how of Stonehenge

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Anthropology / History / Myths

Legend has it Stonehenge was created by the wizard Merlin with the help of giants. Meanwhile, scientists have been studying the monument for centuries. What do we know about who built Stonehenge, and why? Giants and aliens Stonehenge, located on Salisbury Plain, is the best-known prehistoric monument in Europe.  It was built around 5,000 years ago by people who left no written record. As a result, it’s become one of our favourite mysteries: there are […]

The truth about early birds

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Anthropology / Biology / Evolution / Genetics / Health / Myths / Psychology

We all know the saying ‘The early bird catches the worm’. But are there any real benefits to being a morning person? What determines whether you’re an early bird or a night owl anyway? And can night owls become early risers if they want to? Tick tock Your body has an internal clock. It’s located in the base of your brain, in the hypothalamus. You’ve probably heard the term circadian rhythm: this is the natural […]

Nature as medicine

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Anthropology / Medicine / Myths / Psychology

For years, people have flocked to cities for greater job prospects and convenience. Tara Bautista explores why something in our psyche still yearns to escape the urban jungle and is soothed by the great outdoors. A few years ago, when I was struggling with some mental health issues, I realised that the cramped city apartment I was living in was not doing me any favours. The walls were painted a calming pale green that was […]

What if practice doesn’t make perfect?

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Anthropology / Myths / Psychology

You know the saying: practice makes perfect. But how much practice? If you believe the ‘10,000-hour rule’, you can become an expert at most things with 10,000 hours of practice. What’s the catch? Grand Masters Think about a skill you’d love to master: maybe chess, soccer, cello or speaking Spanish. What would it take for you to be truly exceptional at your chosen activity? Is raw talent essential? Perhaps early nurturing of natural talent makes […]

Counting friends

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Anthropology / Evolution / Myths / Psychology

First: check how many friends you have on Facebook. Next: ask yourself how many of them you consider to be ‘real’ friends? According to Dunbar’s number, we can only maintain about 150 meaningful relationships at one time. And you can probably count your closest friends on one hand. Your social brain Robin Dunbar has spent nearly 50 years studying primates. Back in the 90s, he looked at the relationship between group size and brain size […]

Oldest, youngest, middle or only?

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Anthropology / Myths / Psychology

Are you a rebellious youngest child, a responsible first-born, or perhaps a people-pleasing middle child? Much has been said about how birth order affects personality and intelligence. Is there any truth to the stereotypes? Neurotic, spoiled or independent? Personalities are interesting things. We like to understand our own personalities and wonder how hard it might be to change our personality. We want to know if it’s possible to predict personality, for example on the basis […]

Watch my space

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Anthropology / Myths / Psychology

We all have a bubble around us, a sense of personal space we don’t like to have invaded. How close are you happy to stand next to a friend? A stranger? And how is your comfort zone influenced by your nationality? Invisible bubbles Remember Elaine’s ‘close talker’ boyfriend on Seinfeld, who stood too close? So close that Kramer fell over trying to get away? Most of us have experienced meeting someone who just doesn’t seem […]

A measure of creativity

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Anthropology / Myths / Psychology

Are you creative? Many people believe everyone is creative. But how do we define creativity and how can we measure it? What’s creativity? Creativity is a fascinating thing. We all have an idea of what it means to be creative – perhaps you’re thinking of Leonardo Da Vinci or Steve Jobs. But coming up with a solid definition of creativity has proven challenging. Most researchers use the words ‘new’ and ‘useful’ to describe creative thoughts, […]