In many high-tech parts of the world, iPhones are what people turn to when their minds wander from what they were supposed to be doing. For a study in this week’s Science, however, researchers turned the tables on these people, using the iPhone as a tool to study the wandering mind. Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert found that the minds wanders a lot (no surprise there), but also that daydreaming could make people unhappier.
Their app, called Track Your Happiness, takes advantage of the iPhone’s unparalleled ability to butt into its owner’s life.
iPhone users, aged 18 to 88, signed up for a Web application that contacted study them at random times during their days to ask a simple set of questions: How happy were they at the moment? What were they doing? Were they thinking about something other than what the task at hand, and if so, were they thinking of something pleasant, neutral, or negative? [Boston Globe]
Spotting mistakes is a crucial part of typing (and indeed, life) and according to Gordon Logan and Matthew Crump, it’s a more complicated business than it might first appear. Using some clever digital trickery, the duo from Vanderbilt University found that the brain has two different ways of detecting typos. One is based on the characters that appear on the screen, and the other depends on the strokes of our fingers, as they tap away at the keys.
Logan and Crump asked 22 good typists to type 600 words presented on a screen, one at a time. Their efforts appeared below the target word, but all was not as it seemed. Throughout the experiment, Logan and Crump occasionally took control to the display. Sometimes, they put up the correct word, regardless of what the recruits actually typed so that their mistakes never appeared. On other trials, they deliberately introduced mistakes, which the typists hadn’t actually made.
To see whether the typists realized they were being toyed with, check out the full post at DISCOVER blog Not Exactly Rocket Science.
DISCOVER: Stop Paying Attention: Zoning Out Is a Crucial Mental State
DISCOVER: Wrong By Design: Why Our Brains Are Fooled by Illusions (photos)
DISCOVER: What Were We Thinking? The genius of the unconscious mind