Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: The Target


People are exposed to persuasive communication across many different contexts: Governments, companies, and political parties use persuasive appeals to encourage people to eat healthier, purchase a particular product, or vote for a specific candidate. Laboratory studies show that such persuasive appeals are more effective in influencing behavior when they are tailored to individuals' unique psychological characteristics. However, the investigation of large-scale psychological persuasion in the real world has been hindered by the questionnaire-based nature of psychological assessment. Recent research, however, shows that people’s psychological characteristics can be accurately predicted from their digital footprints, such as their Facebook Likes or Tweets. Capitalizing on this form of psychological assessment from digital footprints, we test the effects of psychological persuasion on people’s actual behavior in an ecologically valid setting. In three field experiments that reached over 3.5 million individuals with psychologically tailored advertising, we find that matching the content of persuasive appeals to individuals' psychological characteristics significantly altered their behavior as measured by clicks and purchases. Persuasive appeals that were matched to people’s extraversion or openness-to-experience level resulted in up to 40% more clicks and up to 50% more purchases than their mismatching or unpersonalized counterparts. Our findings suggest that the application of psychological targeting makes it possible to influence the behavior of large groups of people by tailoring persuasive appeals to the psychological needs of the target audiences. We discuss both the potential benefits of this method for helping individuals make better decisions and the potential pitfalls related to manipulation and privacy.

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, The Target, Behavior, Social psychology, Social influence, Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Persuasion


Schizophrenia patients exhibit deficits on visual processing tasks, including visual backward masking, and these impairments are related to deficits in higher-level processes. In the current study we used electroencephalography techniques to examine successive stages and pathways of visual processing in a specialized masking paradigm, four-dot masking, which involves masking by object substitution. Seventy-six schizophrenia patients and 66 healthy controls had event-related potentials (ERPs) recorded during four-dot masking. Target visibility was manipulated by changing stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA) between the target and mask, such that performance decreased with increasing SOA. Three SOAs were used: 0, 50, and 100 ms. The P100 and N100 perceptual ERPs were examined. Additionally, the visual awareness negativity (VAN) to correct vs. incorrect responses, an index of reentrant processing, was examined for SOAs 50 and 100 ms. Results showed that patients performed worse than controls on the behavioral task across all SOAs. The ERP results revealed that patients had significantly smaller P100 and N100 amplitudes, though there was no effect of SOA on either component in either group. In healthy controls, but not patients, N100 amplitude correlated significantly with behavioral performance at SOAs where masking occurred, such that higher accuracy correlated with a larger N100. Healthy controls, but not patients, exhibited a larger VAN to correct vs. incorrect responses. The results indicate that the N100 appears to be related to attentional effort in the task in controls, but not patients. Considering that the VAN is thought to reflect reentrant processing, one interpretation of the findings is that patients' lack of VAN response and poorer performance may be related to dysfunctional reentrant processing.

Concepts: Neuroscience, Electroencephalography, Visual system, Evoked potential, The Target, Neurophysiology, Event-related potential, Backward masking


We document and interpret differences in life evaluation and in hedonic experience between those who live with children and those who do not; most previous literature has concluded that those with children have worse lives. For a sample of 1.8 million Americans of all ages, and without controls for other circumstances, we find little difference in subjective wellbeing between people with and without children. Among those most likely to be parents, life evaluation and all hedonic experiences except stress are markedly better among those living with a child. However, within this group, people who live with children are more likely to be married, richer, better educated, more religious, and healthier, all of which have well-documented positive associations with evaluative and hedonic wellbeing. With statistical controls for these background factors, the presence of a child has a small negative association with life evaluation, although it is associated with more of both positive and negative hedonics. These patterns are replicated in the English-speaking countries of the world, but not in other regions. We argue that the causal effect of children on parental wellbeing, which is the target for most of the literature, is not well defined. Instead, we interpret our rich-country results within a theory of children and wellbeing in which adults sort into parenthood according to their preferences. In poor, high-fertility countries, we find evidence that at least some people have children even when it diminishes their personal wellbeing.

Concepts: Causality, Evaluation, Parent, Evaluation methods, Addition, Child, Differences, The Target


The science of morality has drawn heavily on well-controlled but artificial laboratory settings. To study everyday morality, we repeatedly assessed moral or immoral acts and experiences in a large (N = 1252) sample using ecological momentary assessment. Moral experiences were surprisingly frequent and manifold. Liberals and conservatives emphasized somewhat different moral dimensions. Religious and nonreligious participants did not differ in the likelihood or quality of committed moral and immoral acts. Being the target of moral or immoral deeds had the strongest impact on happiness, whereas committing moral or immoral deeds had the strongest impact on sense of purpose. Analyses of daily dynamics revealed evidence for both moral contagion and moral licensing. In sum, morality science may benefit from a closer look at the antecedents, dynamics, and consequences of everyday moral experience.

Concepts: Human, Ethics, The Target, Religion, Personal life, Morality, Moral, Aesthetics


Uncertainty remains about whether personal financial incentives could achieve sustained changes in health-related behaviors that would reduce the fast-growing global non-communicable disease burden. This review aims to estimate whether: i. financial incentives achieve sustained changes in smoking, eating, alcohol consumption and physical activity; ii. effectiveness is modified by (a) the target behavior, (b) incentive value and attainment certainty, © recipients' deprivation level.

Concepts: Psychology, Alcohol, The Target, Behavior, Motivation, Incentive, Behavioural sciences, Microeconomics


The spread of social phenomena such as behaviors, ideas or products is an ubiquitous but remarkably complex phenomenon. A successful avenue to study the spread of social phenomena relies on epidemic models by establishing analogies between the transmission of social phenomena and infectious diseases. Such models typically assume simple social interactions restricted to pairs of individuals; effects of the context are often neglected. Here we show that local synergistic effects associated with acquaintances of pairs of individuals can have striking consequences on the spread of social phenomena at large scales. The most interesting predictions are found for a scenario in which the contagion ability of a spreader decreases with the number of ignorant individuals surrounding the target ignorant. This mechanism mimics ubiquitous situations in which the willingness of individuals to adopt a new product depends not only on the intrinsic value of the product but also on whether his acquaintances will adopt this product or not. In these situations, we show that the typically smooth (second order) transitions towards large social contagion become explosive (first order). The proposed synergistic mechanisms therefore explain why ideas, rumours or products can suddenly and sometimes unexpectedly catch on.

Concepts: Psychology, Epidemiology, Infectious disease, Infection, Sociology, The Target, Rate equation, Phenomenon


PKMζ is a persistently active PKC isoform proposed to maintain late-LTP and long-term memory. But late-LTP and memory are maintained without PKMζ in PKMζ-null mice. Two hypotheses can account for these findings. First, PKMζ is unimportant for LTP or memory. Second, PKMζ is essential for late-LTP and long-term memory in wild-type mice, and PKMζ-null mice recruit compensatory mechanisms. We find that whereas PKMζ persistently increases in LTP maintenance in wild-type mice, PKCι/λ, a gene-product closely related to PKMζ, persistently increases in LTP maintenance in PKMζ-null mice. Using a pharmacogenetic approach, we find PKMζ-antisense in hippocampus blocks late-LTP and spatial long-term memory in wild-type mice, but not in PKMζ-null mice without the target mRNA. Conversely, a PKCι/λ-antagonist disrupts late-LTP and spatial memory in PKMζ-null mice but not in wild-type mice. Thus, whereas PKMζ is essential for wild-type LTP and long-term memory, persistent PKCι/λ activation compensates for PKMζ loss in PKMζ-null mice.

Concepts: Amygdala, Gene, Memory, Hippocampus, The Target, Long-term potentiation, Long-term memory, Declarative memory


One of the major difficulties encountered by animals that select mates using acoustic signals is discriminating individual calls from the background noise generated by other conspecifics. Reducing the effects of conspecific masking could improve discrimination of individual calls from background noise. We used auditory evoked potentials to investigate the effects of forward masking on the responses to artificial calls in male and female treefrogs (Hyla cinerea), as well as whether hearing advertisement calls over several nights, as happens in natural frog choruses, could modify the effects of masking. We found that response amplitude decreased with decreasing interstimulus interval when the masker was equal in amplitude to the stimulus. We also found evidence of a priming effect, whereby response amplitude at lower masker amplitudes was greater than when the target stimulus was not preceded by a masker. Finally, we found that the effect of masking was diminished by 10 nights of chorus exposure (i.e. responses were stronger to target stimuli), while there was no change in response in the control group. Our results show that hearing dynamic social stimuli, like frog choruses, can alter the responses of the auditory periphery in a way that could enhance the detection of and response to conspecific acoustic communication signals.

Concepts: Effect, Perception, Evoked potential, Acoustics, Effects unit, The Target, Sound, Inequality


Effusin A (1), a spirobicyclic N,O-acetal derivative with an unprecedented 3',3a',5',6'-tetrahydrospiro[piperazine-2,2'-pyrano[2,3,4-de]chromene] ring system, and a spiro-polyketide-diketopiperazine hybrid dihydrocryptoechinulin D (2) were isolated from a mangrove rhizosphere soil derived fungus, Aspergillus effuses H1-1. Their structures were determined by detailed spectroscopic analysis. Effusin A (1) and dihydrocryptoechinulin D (2) occurred as racemates, the enantiomers of which were separated and characterized by online HPLC-ECD analysis and their absolute configurations were determined by the solution TDDFT ECD calculation approach. The cytotoxic effects of 1 and 2 were preliminarily evaluated and 2 showed potent activity on P388 cells with an IC(50) value of 1.83 μM. The target of racemic 2 was also investigated and the (12R,28S,31S)-2 enantiomer showed selectivity against topoisomerase I.

Concepts: Spectroscopy, Function, Stereochemistry, Enantiomer, Physical chemistry, The Target, Aspergillus fumigatus, Racemic mixture


A sensitive and reliable method was developed for the determination of volatile components emitted from cut tobacco processing using thermal desorption (TD) followed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). In the work, to obtain the optimal sorbent, three commercial sorbents were compared in terms of adsorption efficiency. The carbotrap 349 was found to have the best performance. The desorption conditions were also studied. Validation of the TD-GC-MS method showed good sensibility, linearity and precision. Limits of detection ranges were from 0.20 to 3.6ng. Calibration curves were obtained by plotting peak area versus concentration and the correlation coefficients relating to linearity were at least 0.9984. The analysis was reproducible, with relative standard deviation (n=8) within 6.5%. The target compound breakthrough examination showed no significant losses when about 1500ng standards were prepared. In order to evaluate the performance of the analytical method in the volatile constituents of cut tobacco, samples were taken in industrial areas of cut tobacco processing. Recoveries ranged from 85.1% to 110% for all the compounds and good precision had been reached (RSD<13.3). The results proved that TD-GC-MS was a simple, rapid and accurate method for the analysis of volatile compounds emitted from cut tobacco drying step.

Concepts: Scientific method, Mass spectrometry, Chemical compound, The Target, Standard deviation, Standard, Deviation, Volatile organic compound