You can’t have failed to notice the recent meteoric rise of Wordle. From November 2021, when its creator Josh Wardle first shared it on Twitter and it had 90 players, to 2 million players in the second week of January 2022, it has certainly caught the public consciousness. But why is that? And what makes a good Wordle player? Philip Fine investigates.Continue reading
Kathryn Friedlander takes a look at an alternative way of studying expertise, the Grounded Expertise Components Approach, suggesting that this might address some pitfalls of previous research.
We’ve all seen the long-running arguments over ‘expertise’ … Are the world’s greatest performers endowed at birth with a lucky genetic advantage? Or are they trained to excel through 10,000 hours of gruelling practice? Or perhaps a blend of both?
Kathryn Friedlander explores the ‘kick’ we get from cracking a really good cryptic crossword clue.
A number of stories in the press earlier this year reported work carried out in Vienna and London on solving puzzles in a brain scanner. The study suggested that solving a clue to a puzzle can trigger a highly rewarding ‘Aha!’ (or ‘Eureka!’) insight moment, which releases dopamine into the brain. This is the reward chemical associated with daily activities such as eating, winning money … and having sex. This led to headlines promising that cryptic crosswords were ‘better than sex’… but what’s the reality behind the hype?
Gill Hill explains why investigating creative problem solving is sometimes – quite literally – child’s play.
People might be surprised to hear that the games they played as children can help scientists to explain how people think. For example, researchers have recently used rock, paper scissors as a model for decision making. Furthermore, chess is seen as a pursuit for ‘thinkers’ around the world, and we have consequently seen lots of research exploring psychological processes whilst people play.
With a theme of Puzzles, Pain & Positivity, our research hubs (CREATE, Psychology of Educational Development, Centre for Health and Relationships and Emotion and Lifespan Relationships) were out and about with lots of interactive activities to engage the public with our work. Continue reading
Gillian Hill reports on preparations to help celebrate the 50th birthday of Milton Keynes at a festival to celebrate Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in Middleton Hall, Milton Keynes Shopping Centre (7th/8th July)
Final preparations are underway for our Pop-up Lab. showcasing the University of Buckingham’s Psychology Research Hubs which – of course – includes CREATE.
The challenge was set by MK Innovates to provide exciting and interactive activities that engage young people – and especially girls – from Milton Keynes and the surrounding area with science. As always, the CREATE team were keen to get in on the act and we’ve identified some core aspects of our research to showcase at the event.
‘Here’s a question: ‘Why do we spend our childhood in fear of exams, then quite willingly put ourselves through pretty much the same tests as adults?’ … The short answer is: fun. The joy of quiz is in making a gratifying game out of all that knowledge sploshing around in our heads – fascinating information, but information for which our jobs and our personal lives stubbornly refuse to find any use’.
So begins this engaging romp through the world of quizzing: an engrossing compendium of trivia and analysis drawn from social history, psychology and real-life ‘behind-the-scenes’ knowledge, based on Alan Connor‘s own experiences as a quiz editor for the BBC2 quiz Only Connect.
Soapbox Science may be just the platform you need to launch your academic career. Gill Hill looks back over her personal successes of the past year, since her appearance at Milton Keynes, and urges all female scientists to take the plunge.
About this time last year I noticed an announcement on the University of Buckingham‘s round-up email. It was a call for female scientists to take part in our local Soapbox Science event, to be held in Milton Keynes shopping centre in the summer of 2016. Although initially hesitant, I talked myself into applying, thinking it would be good for me to have to talk about my PhD research to a public audience.
One year on I thought I’d reflect on my Soapbox experience, in the hope of encouraging other female scientists to apply.