Category Archives: APA

Blogging APA Division 21: You’re Looking Harmless Today

I‘m on a plane writing this post and I look harmless, or at least not threatening.

According to work presented by Poornima Madhavan from Old Dominion University, being a female in the screening line means I am less likely to be hassled by a false alarm of a screener seeing a threat in my bag.*

In work done with her graduate student Jeremy Brown, Dr. Madhavan found that participants in their studies consistently reported more false alarms (detecting a threat that was not there) when the passenger was male. Both genders showed this bias.

Because this bias affects a perceptual task (detecting a knife in a baggage x-ray) it is called a “Social Cognitive Bias.”

This project is a wonderful example of an applied experiment that gives us information on the effects social and cultural structures can have on cognitive ability.

Photo credit Wayan Vota under a Creative Commons license.

*No matter what gender you are, carrying climbing gear guarantees a search!

Blogging APA Division 21

I‘m just returning from APA 2010, where the Division of Applied Experimental & Engineering Psychology presented a number of cutting-edge human factors projects. I’m writing individual posts on many of these, so stay tuned!

Here is a teaser:

  • “How important is your HF work to the human race?”
  • “Get ready for the pat-down, males!”
  • “Too much help is a dangerous thing.”
  • “Our lack of compatibility makes me slow.”
  • “Why are you so stressed out? This is fun!”