Universities often offer support programs to assist first-year students with the transition from school to university. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of different mentoring styles on mentee academic performance after one year and two years of study. Participants consisted of 828 psychology students who started their course of study in winter term 2006/07 or 2007/08 at the University of Vienna. 328 students from winter term 2007/08 participated in the peer mentoring program Cascaded Blended Mentoring (Leidenfrost …), in which they were supported by 48 student mentors (advanced students) in small groups. The mentoring groups were classified according to one of three mentoring styles described by Leidenfrost, Strassnig, Schabmann, Carbon, and Spiel (2011): motivating master mentoring, informatory standard mentoring, and negative minimalist mentoring. Our data suggest that participants in the mentoring program performed better in their studies. Mentees from winter term 2007/08 achieved better average grades than non-mentees from winter term 2007/08. They passed a higher number of courses than non-mentees from winter term 2007/08 and students from winter term 2006/07. There was, however, no specific impact of the different mentoring styles on mentee academic performance.
What’s wrong with art fakes? We tested effects of art “forgery” on aesthetic appreciation and the quality of paintings in a multidimensional manner comprising cognitive and emotional variables: When naïve participants were exposed to replicas of works by renowned artists, information about the alleged authenticity status had a major effect on the perceived quality of the painting, and even on artist-associated values such as artist talent. All these variables were negatively influenced when depictions were labeled as copies compared to identical ones labeled as originals. Our findings show the importance of symbolic and personal values as modulators in art appreciation.
Research on visual attention triggered by face gender is still relatively sparse. In the present study, three experiments are reported in which male and female participants were required to estimate the midpoint of a line (i.e., the “line bisection task”): at each end of the line a face was presented. Depending on the experimental condition, faces could be of the same gender (i.e., two males or two females) or the opposite gender. Experiment 1 and 2 findings converged in showing that when a male face was presented at the right and a female face at the left endpoint of the line, a clear rightward bias emerged compared to the other experimental conditions, indicating that male faces captured attention more than female faces. Importantly, male faces used across Experiment 1 and 2 were rated as more threatening than female faces, suggesting that perceived level of threat may have been responsible for the observed bias toward the male face. Experiment 3 corroborated this hypothesis by finding an attentional bias toward the male face with high threat (angry) faces but not with low threat (smiling) faces.
In cubist paintings by Picasso, Braque and Gris it is possible to detect everyday objects like guitars, bottles or jugs, although they are often difficult to decipher. In this art-science collaborative study we found that participants without expertise in cubism appreciated cubist artworks more if they were able to detect concealed objects in them. The finding of this strong correlation between detectability and preference offers wide implications for art history and human cognition as it points to a mechanism that allows us to derive pleasure from searching for and finding meaningful patterns.
Reptile prime ministers and flying Nazi saucers—extreme and sometimes off-wall conclusion are typical ingredients of conspiracy theories. While individual differences are a common research topic concerning conspiracy theories, the role of extreme statements in the process of acquiring and passing on conspiratorial stories has not been regarded in an experimental design so far. We identified six morphological components of conspiracy theories empirically. On the basis of these content categories a set of narrative elements for a 9/11 story was compiled. These elements varied systematically in terms of conspiratorial allegation, i.e., they contained official statements concerning the events of 9/11, statements alleging to a conspiracy limited in time and space as well as extreme statements indicating an all-encompassing cover-up. Using the method of narrative construction, 30 people were given a set of cards with these statements and asked to construct the course of events of 9/11 they deem most plausible. When extreme statements were present in the set, the resulting stories were more conspiratorial; the number of official statements included in the narrative dropped significantly, whereas the self-assessment of the story's plausibility did not differ between conditions. This indicates that blatant statements in a pool of information foster the synthesis of conspiracy theories on an individual level. By relating these findings to one of Germany's most successful (and controversial) non-fiction books, we refer to the real-world dangers of this effect.
Recent studies on conspiracy theories employ standardized questionnaires, thus neglecting their narrative qualities by reducing them to mere statements. Recipients are considered as consumers only. Two empirical studies—a conventional survey (n = 63) and a study using the method of narrative construction (n = 30)—which were recently conducted by the authors of this paper—suggest that the truth about conspiracy theories is more complex. Given a set of statements about a dramatic historic event (in our case 9/11) that includes official testimonies, allegations to a conspiracy and extremely conspiratorial statements, the majority of participants created a narrative of 9/11 they deemed plausible that might be considered a conspiracy theory. The resulting 30 idiosyncratic stories imply that no clear distinction between official story and conspiratorial narrative is possible any more when the common approach of questionnaires is abandoned. Based on these findings, we present a new theoretical and methodological approach which acknowledges conspiracy theories as a means of constructing and communicating a set of personal values. While broadening the view upon such theories, we stay compatible with other approaches that have focused on extreme theory types. In our view, accepting conspiracy theories as a common, regulative and possibly benign phenomenon, we will be better able to understand why some people cling to immunized, racist and off-wall stories—and others do not.
Abstract. Medieval times were neither dark nor grey; natural light illuminated colourful scenes
depicted in paintings through coloured windows and via artificial beeswax candlelight. When we
enter, for example, a church to inspect its historic treasures ranging from mosaics to depictions of
saints, we do this under quite unfavourable conditions; particularly as we mainly depend on artificial
halogen, LED or fluorescent light for illuminating the desired object. As these light spectrums
are different from the natural light conditions under which the old masterpieces were previously
developed and perceived, the perceptual effects may dramatically differ, leading to significantly
altered affective and cognitive processing. Different qualities of processing might particularly be
triggered when perceiving artworks which deal with specific material prone to strong interaction with
idiosyncratic light conditions, for instance gold-leafed surfaces that literally start to glow when lit
by candles. We tested the perceptual experiences of a figurative piece of art which we created in
3 (foreground) by 3 (background) versions, illuminated under three different light conditions (daylight,
coloured light and beeswax candlelight). Results demonstrated very different perceptual experiences
with stunning effects for the interaction of the specific painting depicted on a gold-leafed background
lit by candlelight.
For several of Leonardo da Vinci's paintings, such as The Virgin and Child with St. Anne or the Mona Lisa, there exist copies produced by his own studio. In case of the Mona Lisa a quite exceptional, re-discovered studio copy was presented to the public in 2012 by the Prado Museum in Madrid. Not only does it mirror its famous counterpart superficially, it also features the very same corrections to the lower layers, which indicates that da Vinci and the "copyist" must have elaborated their panels simultaneously. On the basis of subjective (N=32 participants estimated painter-model constellations) as well as objective data (analysis of trajectories between landmarks of both paintings), we revealed that both versions differ slightly in perspective. We reconstructed the original studio setting and found evidence that the disparity between both paintings mimics human binocular disparity. This points to the possibility that the two Giocondas together might represent the first stereoscopic image in world history.