Behavioral Research Blog

What emotions does an author inject into a book?

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Sep 20, 2016

“A book is beauty. A book is a shelf, a wall, a home.” states Simon Jenkins, the Guardian. He informs us that the digital book has had its peak. Paper books are instead just what he says: a shelf, a wall, a home. But how do you shove your shelf, wall, or home into a suitcase and fly off to Florida? I’d rather put my Kindle in my handbag and have all the books I’d ever want to read with me.

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Topics: emotion recognition, on-site research, FaceReader, facial expression analysis, physiology, EEG, emotions

A mathematical genius..? What parents can do

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Sep 16, 2014

In a recent study, Dr. Joanne Lee and colleagues from Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada, investigated early mathematics learning during the first 3 years of life. Because numerous studies already provide evidence of the importance of gesture use, Lee and her team specially focused on examining specific types of gestures produced by parents in math-related talk.

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Topics: The Observer XT, on-site research, video observation, parent-child interaction

Healthcare communication - dealing with emotions

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Mar 25, 2014


The importance of dealing with emotions in medical encounters

Unfortunately, sometimes doctors have to give bad news to their patients. Communication studies have shown that breaking bad news is best be done immediately and with clear wording. What is the best step forward? From previous research, we know that hearing bad news evokes physiological arousal. In an aroused condition, it can be hard to stay focused. The information density of a medical encounter can be quite overwhelming. Since doctors explain treatment options and implications in a medical encounter, it is important that the patient recalls the information given to be able to take a well-founded decision. In a recent study, researchers gave the following advice: Clinicians should deal with patients’ emotions before providing additional medical information (Sep et al., 2014).

Affective communication

Milou Sep and colleagues explain how behavioral research techniques can help us understand and improve doctor-patient interaction. According to Sep and colleagues, a doctor can influence the information recall by using affective communication. When reassuring the patient and focusing on continued support, the doctor can help decrease evoked physiological arousal. Decreased physiological arousal then improves the level of information recall.

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Topics: The Observer XT, on-site research, video observation, doctor patient interaction, medical encounter, coding schemes

Creativity – the creator and the interpreter

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Feb 28, 2014

Do you know what creativity is? Can you measure it? Last week the well-known neuroscientist Dr. Ysbrand van der Werf chose the setting of Utrecht University Hall (a former Chapter House from 1462) to give an inspiring lecture on the subject. As soon as he started, van der Werf grabbed the attention of everyone in the packed room by showing a live experiment with FaceReader. A FaceReader webcam was aimed at Ruud Abma, one of the coordinators of the Studium Generale lectures. The entire room filled with laughter when Dr. Abma enlarged several facial expressions, such as happiness, anger, and sadness. Van der Werf explained that measuring facial expressions is only one way to gain insight. By combining facial expression analysis with physiological measurements and brain activity measurements, scientists get a quite complete overview of responses to stimuli.

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Topics: emotion recognition, on-site research, FaceReader, facial expression analysis, living labs, brain waves, creativity, art of neuroscience

Observe police interrogations – research on adolescence

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Feb 12, 2014

Interrogation research crosses multiple disciplines. For example, researchers will look into demographics but also investigate the techniques of interrogation. Recently, Hayley Cleary and Sarah Vidal investigated interrogations in order to describe interrogation settings and its participants in a basic way. They explain that such information about the participants and the setting is still missing and that they are particularly interested in how adolescents act in interrogation settings.

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Topics: The Observer XT, on-site research, video observation, coding schemes, adolescent behavior

Nurse-child interaction - observing medical encounters

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Feb 5, 2014

Does reassuring help a child to settle down and be comforted?

In order to help health professionals and parents manage child distress more effectively, researchers started observations of interactions in healthcare. They were not observing simulated events, but real interactions in a community setting. In medical encounters, both the parents and the health professionals can play an important role in handling the stress level of children. Yuefang Zhou and Gerry Michael Humphris from the University of St Andrews, Scotland (2013) investigated the relationship between reassurance by dental staff and distress behavior of children receiving preventive procedures. Since this study concerned a preventive procedure where no pain was involved, this study aims to shed light on these specific interventions in healthcare. The researchers selected children aged 3 to 5 years and measured the level of anxiety to determine a base level. The knowledge gained from this study could be used to design more effective interventions for the improvement of child behavioral distress associated with mildly invasive clinical procedures.

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Topics: The Observer XT, on-site research, doctor patient interaction, medical encounter

Evaluating the effectiveness of simulation in healthcare

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Oct 17, 2013

Comparing real cases with simulated cases in healthcare communication
Effective teamwork is important in many occupations but it is crucial when working under the pressure of time in a crisis situation. Most of us can only imagine how stressful it could be when working as a fire fighter, squad team member, or operating room nurse. Understandably, researchers dive into these teamwork processes to see how effective and efficient they are and how they could be improved. In these cases, one minor change in the procedure could influence the stress level and the efficiency in teamwork and thus, the outcome of a crisis situation.

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Topics: The Observer XT, on-site research, doctor patient interaction, medical encounter

Making music and baking pancakes – invest in the mental health of our elderly!

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Oct 10, 2013

Alzheimer is global
Estimates vary, but experts suggest that as many as 5.1 million Americans may have Alzheimer’s disease [1].  In the World Alzheimer Report 2013 [released on September 20th 2013; 2], Marc Wortmann and Stuart Fletcher indicate dementia, including Alzheimer, as one of the biggest public health challenges facing our generation: “Today, over 35 million people worldwide currently live with the condition and this number is expected to double by 2030 and more than triple by 2050 to 115 million.”

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Topics: Alzheimer's disease, The Observer XT, emotion recognition, on-site research

Passengers are co-producers of effective security screening and effective airport processes

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Sep 30, 2013

Do you know this feeling? You are impatiently waiting in line for the security screening. While in line you have to take off your shoes and gather all small change from your pockets to put it in a container before walking through a metal detector hoping that it won’t detect any forgotten coins or other metal on you? There is a lot going on at an airport and the security screening is just one of the activities. A group of researchers looked into the security screening process at two airports. So how do people behave and what is their role in the process? What actions can be observed and is there a difference between domestic and international airports, and quiet and busy times?

Behavior at an airport
Passengers play an active role in making airport security screening work, according to Kraal and colleagues. Dr. Ben Kraal from the People and Systems Lab, Queensland University of Technology, Australia presented his work at the 5th International Congress of International Association of Societies of Design Research in Tokyo, Japan. He is one of the researchers in an international research project called Airport of the Future. The program aims to improve the safety, security, efficiency, and passenger experience within Australian airports by developing an integrated and adaptive complex systems approach for the design, management, and operation of airports.

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Topics: The Observer XT, on-site research, human factors

A bad influence: the association between parent substance use disorder and adverse child outcomes

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Sep 12, 2013

Like parent, like child. Children become who they are with the influence of all of their past experiences and often, the parents are a large part of that influence. When there is trouble at home, that can impact a child’s everyday life in their behaviors and performance. Prior studies have found associations between parent substance use disorder and negative child outcome (problem behaviors, performing poorly in school, and child substance use). Bailey and colleagues expanded on previous work with their study and took a developmental approach to the association between parental substance abuse and the behaviors children exhibited.

The purpose of this experiment
Bailey et al. were looking specifically at how parental substance abuse problems affect the parenting behavior and child behavior during key developmental transitions like the one from childhood to adulthood. They had three hypotheses that were possible. The first was that early adult substance abuse ends up disrupting the transition to adulthood, which ultimately results in poor functioning as an adult which has a negative effect on parenting. A second hypothesis for the link between early adult substance use disorder and later parenting practices  is that common individual personality or behavioral traits will lead to both of these outcomes. The final hypothesis is that poor parenting of a child may lead to early adult substance abuse and could be reflected in that child’s parenting practices when they grow up.

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Topics: The Observer XT, on-site research, video observation, parent-child interaction

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