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Seeing Red Messes with IQ

Avoid the color red when you want to be the best you can be.

Want to do your best? Then avoid the color red when taking exams, such as the IQ test. Psychologists at the University of Rochester studied the impact of showing subjects a brief “perception” of the color red before they took a test. The appearance of this color–associated with danger, blood, stop signs, and error marks on school papers–apparently causes faster heartbeat and breathing, and causes performance to plummet.

“The findings suggest that care must be taken in how red is used in achievement contexts and illustrate how color can act as a subtle environmental cue that has important influences on behavior,” reports the study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.

This is, of course, shocking news: a study that tells us something that we could probably surmise on our own. The same goes for the fact that the antidote to red–the color green–soothes us and makes us calm and want to “go.”

Next thing you know, a study will tell us that blue makes us feel serene, and black signals mystery and the unknown.

Study: Elliot, A.J.; Maier, M.A.; Moller, A.C.; Friedman, R. & Meinhardt, J. (2007) The Effect of Red on Performance Attainment. Journal of Experimental Psychology, Vol 136(1): 154-168.

Deep Dive

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Five poems about the mind

DREAM VENDING MACHINE I feed it coins and watch the spring coil back,the clunk of a vacuum-packed, foil-wrappeddream dropping into the tray. It dispenses all kinds of dreams—bad dreams, good dreams,short nightmares to stave off worse ones, recurring dreams with a teacake marshmallow center.Hardboiled caramel dreams to tuck in your cheek,a bag of orange dreams…

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I taught myself to lucid dream. You can too.

We still don’t know much about the experience of being aware that you’re dreaming—but a few researchers think it could help us find out more about how the brain works.

panpsychism concept
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The idea that consciousness is widespread is attractive to many for intellectual and, perhaps, also emotional
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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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