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Showing posts from May, 2019

THE "FRIENDLY" AND "COCKY" SOCIAL BEHAVIOR OF CATS

Let's face it: cats have a reputation for being, well... catty. But, is this reputation based in fact? Or, do cats have the capacity to get along?

In the 1940s, Charles Nelson Winslow looked to answer this question in a unique way — by pitting cats against each other in a game of wits. He wanted to know whether the competition would make them more aggressive, or if cats would betray their reputation and err on the side of kindness. The experiment was performed at Brooklyn College and published in the Journal of Comparative Psychology in October 1944.

Dr. Winslow was incredibly fortunate to have his experimental method documented with stunning photographs. The photographs, taken by Nina Leen, appeared in a December 1941 issue of LIFE magazine. Here, they are presented again, giving us the opportunity to revisit Dr. Winslow’s experiment in all its categorical glory.

WHY STUDY CATS?
You may be wondering why Dr. Winslow wanted to study the behavior of cats. In the 1940s, much like today, …

THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE BOY WHO WAS BITTEN BY A DOG AND THEN STARTED TO ACT LIKE A DOG

On October 23, 1902, a twelve-year-old boy was bitten by a dog. Two weeks later, he was having convulsions, making peculiar noises, growing thicker hair, and running around on his hands and feet. His mother feared the worst—her son was becoming an animal.

A description of this unusual case appeared in The Journal of Abnormal Psychology in August 1910. Henry W. Miller, the author of the article, was one of the many doctors to examine the patient. It was a puzzling case with a most unexpected solution.

THE DOG BITE The patient, referred to as R.M.W., was born May 29, 1890. A “typical boy,” according to his mother, he liked to play and got along with other kids his age. He was healthy and bright. He showed no symptoms of neuroses before the incident.


The dog, described as a small terrier, had bitten R.M.W. on the calf of his right leg. His mother immediately began to worry. She knew that some dogs carried rabies, and there was a possibility her son was now infected.

R.M.W. was afraid, too. He…

SUBJECTS UNDER HYPNOSIS PERSUADED TO TOUCH RATTLESNAKE AND THROW ACID AT EXPERIMENTER

In the 1930s, Dr. Loyd W. Rowland hypnotized several people and convinced them to touch an angry rattlesnake. In another experiment, he had them throw sulphuric acid in his face. His findings warned of the dangers of hypnosis — that it could be used to persuade normal people into hurting themselves and others.

Hugh Davis, the curator of a local zoo, was the snake handler for the study.
The two experiments, which took place at the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma, appeared in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology in January 1939. The report drew criticism and kicked off a controversial series of experiments testing the limits of what a person can and cannot be made to do under hypnosis.


THE RATTLESNAKE EXPERIMENT Dr. Rowland borrowed a diamondback rattlesnake from a nearby zoo and placed it in a box with the help of Hugh Davis, a professional handler (learn more about Hugh Davis's extraordinary life here).



Dr. Rowland kept the box in a hot room for three days until the snake “becam…

NEW YORKERS SHOW HIGH RATES OF ANTISEMITISM... BUT NOT IF THE INTERVIEWER LOOKS JEWISH

In the 1940s, social scientists at Hunter College, Duane Robinson and Sylvia Rohde, carried out an ambitious survey of two-thousand New Yorkers. The survey had two questions:
Do you think there are too many Jews holding government offices and jobs?Do you think the Jews have too much power? The findings revealed widespread antisemitism in New York City. What's more, Robinson and Rohde found that the respondents in the survey concealed their antisemitic views, if the person asking the questions looked Jewish. The paper appeared in The Journal of Social and Abnormal Psychology in April 1946, less than a year after the end of World War II. 


Robinson and Rohde enlisted the help of students at Hunter College to serve as interviewers. The scientists briefly educated the group on “facial stereotypes of ‘Jewishness’” and held a vote to categorize each interviewer as Jewish or non-Jewish in appearance. For some of the interviews, the students were also told to introduce themselves with a ficti…