In brain evolution, size matters – most of the time

ITHACA, N.Y. – Which came first, overall bigger brains or larger brain regions that control specialized behaviors? Neuroscientists have debated this question for decades, but a new Cornell University study settles the score. The study reports that though vertebrate brains differ in size, composition and abilities, evolution of overall brain size accounts for most of […]

Brain changes make some older adults more vulnerable to scams

ITHACA, N.Y. – Older adults who have been scammed by friends, relatives or strangers seem to behave just like elders who have avoided rip-offs. They are able to balance their checkbooks. They can remember and evaluate information. Their personalities are normal, and their arithmetic is fine. But their brains are different. For the first time, […]

When judging other people, first impressions last

 ITHACA, N.Y. – A well-known saying urges people to “not judge a book by its cover.” But people tend to do just that – even after they’ve skimmed a chapter or two, according to Cornell University research. Vivian Zayas, professor of psychology at Cornell University, and her colleagues found that people continue to be influenced […]

Buying experiences makes you more grateful, generous

Media note: Please find a copy of Jesse Walker, Amit Kumar, and Thomas Gilovich’s paper “Cultivating Gratitude and Giving Through Experiential Consumption” here. ITHACA, N.Y. – On Thanksgiving, many of us take a moment to reflect on what we’re grateful for — and we get notable rewards for doing so. Feeling gratitude leads to important […]

Eureka! Gender affects how we judge competence, genius

ITHACA, N.Y. – Think of the word “genius,” and a few images undoubtedly come to mind – perhaps a picture of Albert Einstein, of a scientist in a lab shouting “Eureka!” or of present-day theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. Whatever mental picture is conjured up, chances are they all have one thing in common: The person […]

‘Likes’ less likely to affect self-esteem of people with purpose

ITHACA, N.Y. – How many likes did I get? The rush of self-esteem that comes with the ubiquitous thumbs-up of a ‘like’ has more people asking that question, as Facebook and other social media sites offer more ways for friends to endorse photos and posts. But one group seems immune to that rush: people with […]

At work, hierarchies draw narcissist job hunters

ITHACA, N.Y. – People who have narcissistic tendencies are more likely to support hierarchies, according to research by Emily M. Zitek, assistant professor at Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Two hundred to 400 people answered questions in five separate studies, which collected information through online surveys. People with narcissistic traits tended to support […]

‘Now-or-never bottleneck’ explains language acquisition

ITHACA, N.Y. – We are constantly bombarded with linguistic input, but our brains are unable to remember long strings of linguistic information. How does the brain make sense of this ongoing deluge of sound? In a new paper in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, “The Now-or-Never Bottleneck: A Fundamental Constraint on Language,” Cornell psychology professor Morten Christiansen and […]

Moral sticklers seen as more trustworthy, new study finds

ITHACA, N.Y. – Would you kill an innocent person to save five others? If, like most people, you said no, it may be because following moral rules such as “don’t kill innocent people” sends a powerful social signal that you are trustworthy. New research suggests people perceive those who hold fast to these moral rules […]

New book explains the creation and evolution of language

ITHACA, N.Y. – Is language innate? How did we get language? A new book offers a revolutionary, unifying framework to understand the processing, acquisition and evolution of language. “Creating Language: Integrating Evolution, Acquisition, and Processing” by Morten H. Christiansen, Cornell professor of psychology, and Nick Chater (University of Warwick, U.K.), integrates recent findings across numerous […]