Uncommon Knowledge: The influence of theater

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Kids, lend me your ears

School groups who were randomly assigned to go see a live play reported greater social tolerance and a greater ability to see a situation from different people’s perspectives, even when surveyed weeks later. There was no such effect for students who left school on the same bus at the same time but were diverted to see a movie version of the play.

Greene, J. et al., “The Play’s the Thing: Experimentally Examining the Social and Cognitive Effects of School Field Trips to Live Theater Performances,” University of Arkansas (August 2017).

Love at first sight

Researchers asked heterosexual English university students to rate photos of opposite-sex white faces for trustworthiness, status, and attractiveness. Ratings that were provided after subjects saw a photo for only a 10th of a second were remarkably similar to ratings provided when there was no time constraint.

South Palomares, J. & Young, A., “Facial First Impressions of Partner Preference Traits: Trustworthiness, Status, and Attractiveness,” Social Psychological and Personality Science (forthcoming).

You are what you stand up for

In two experiments, researchers gave white college students information about another student (“Will”), who had identified himself as either black or both black and white (i.e., multiracial) and had written about an acquaintance making a racist comment that Will either confronted or didn’t confront. Mixed-race Will was perceived to identify more strongly as black, to have experienced more racial discrimination, to have more stereotypically black preferences, a blacker face, and more black ancestry if he had confronted his acquaintance than if he hadn’t. Confrontation didn’t make a difference for the version of Will who had already identified himself as black.

Wilton, L. et al., “White’s Perceptions of Biracial Individuals’ Race Shift When Biracials Speak Out Against Bias,” Social Psychological and Personality Science (forthcoming).

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‘Moneyball’ somewhere else


General managers take note: A new analysis finds that Major League Baseball players with declining batting performance who then changed teams did significantly better in the following seasons, even controlling for age, career batting average, and team winning percentage, and even compared with players with declining performance who didn’t change teams. On the other hand, players with improving performance who then changed teams did significantly worse in the following seasons.

Rogers, B. et al., “Turning up by Turning Over: The Change of Scenery Effect in Major League Baseball,” Journal of Business and Psychology (October 2017).

Take my advice

Americans, Europeans, and Indians were asked to consider a scenario where they had rendered a decision but were offered advice to change their decision. All three groups said they expected to feel greater regret from following advice and having it turn out poorly than if they chose not to follow advice and then their own decisions had turned out poorly.

Tzini, K. & Jain, K., “The Role of Anticipated Regret in Advice Taking,” Journal of Behavioral Decision Making (forthcoming).

Kevin Lewis is an Ideas columnist. He can be reached at