Author Archives: Jackie Michelle Tremblay

People Biased Based on Appearance

I am going to be applying for internships very soon. This mean i am going to have to do interviews so I asked my mom to buy interview clothes. She said that I could just use clothes that I already had. I began to wonder how important it is that I actually look good at the interviews. I thought I would try to figure out if people are actually biased based on people’s physical appearance.


Unfortunately after doing research I found out that the look matters more than we may believe. A study done by Timothy Judge examined how something like height can affect how much you are paid as an employee. In his study he found a positive correlation between height and salary, meaning the taller you are the more you will be paid.


A similar study was done with obese people. They are likely to be paid less. More factors that can affect how you are paid include, hair color, amount of makeup, and level of attractiveness.


I wondered how appearance can have such an impact on people’s perception of another person. I then found about about the Halo effect. According to psychologist Edward Thorndike, people who have one good quality,  like being physically attractive, are seen to have more good qualities to. This effect can even cause a more attractive person to be less likely to be convicted of crime. In the end I concluded that the look matters, but it won’t get you far with out personality or character. Maybe, if I show my mother the research, she will get me clothes for interviews!








When Penn State beats Ohio State a few weeks ago, everyone in state college was excited beyond belief. I was one of the student who was downtown in the aftermath. I saw the horse cops. However, the day after it turns out the students had done considerable damage to downtown State College. I began to wonder why do people riot anyway? Are people really that susceptible to conforming to the majority?

A study don’t by psychologist Solomon Asch sought out to test this. The study was to see just how often people will do something just because those around them are also doing it. The hypothesis was that, people will more likely conform to a wrong answer given by the whole, than choose what they believe is the right answer. The null hypothesis would be if people didn’t change their answer based on the the groups answer.

The study was arranged so that participants were placed in a room with other people. Only the other people were not participants, but pretending to be. The whole room was shown a picture of three lines, labeled a, b, and c. The researchers told the room to look at the lines and decide which one of the longest. The actors were instructed to pick the answer he was not correct. The goal was to see that if everyone around the participant chose wrong, would he do so himself. Asch found that 75% of people chose the groups answer instead of their own answer. The study also determined that the higher the number of actors there were, the more likely the participant would be swayed.


This experiment may give an explanation to why people do things ever if they know it is wrong. Like with state college for example. Everyone and their mother went down to beaver canyon after the game. Some people who may  have not even wanted to go went, just because of the mass amount of people doing it.

Another experiment showed just how easy it is to mass hoards of large people.  The study showed that in a group of 200 people, five percent of people were able to change their direction. People were told where to try and direct they crowd just be looking like they knew where they were going. 95% of people followed them blindly.

So the power of group mentality and conformity is very strong. Maybe in order to prevent the destruction in the future the students could have a place to go where they can celebrate that is legal.





Short Term Memory

As everyone know exams are coming in a week and they are approaching quickly. If you are anything like most college students , then you will spend at least one night or day trying to cram the information into your head before you take the test. However, this may be even less reliable than you think. I decided to try and find out just how expansive is the memory in the short term.
A study done by Peterson and Peterson hypothesized about the duration of the short term memory, or how long you retain that information if it is not stored in long term memory.
They conducted an experiment where they had volunteers to to remember random groups of three letters. The independent variable was the amount of time between when the participants heard the letters and the time time they had to recite them. The independent variable was the accuracy of the volunteers. The researchers found that short term memory declines sharply within seconds if there is no rehearsal or repetition. With three seconds in between hearing the letters and saying them there was 80% accuracy of recall. However with 18 seconds between hearing the letters and saying them, only 10% of their answers were accurate. That’s less than half a minute!

If you are still not convinced you can’t rely on your short term memory for exams, you can actually test it for yourself. If you follow the example given by Kendra Cherry, a psycho-social rehabilitation specialist, you can look at a group of around 25-30 words for a minute. Then when you are done see how many of the words you can recall without looking. Kendra says that the words can’t be alike or be related because the brain uses grouping as a memorization skill. So the task would be harder if the words were “Bed, Dinner, Worm, etc” as opposed to “Baby, Bottle, Crib.”
My suggestion is that if you want to do well on your exams, give yourself enough time to repeat, rehearse, and practice the information.



Is Red Wine Good For You?

Red Wine

As my 21st birthday is fast approaching, i decided i want to learn a little bit more about alcohol and it’s affects. When doing some research I saw many articles that claimed that red wine is good for you. I have also heard this before, especially from my father who is a wine collector. I started to question what that means; how is it good for you? In what way? I wanted to learn more.

There are several articles I found claiming a few different things. Some of the claims are that red wine can improve heart health, prevent colon cancer, slow memory loss, prevent weight gain, and more.

However most of the articles did not really have sufficient evidence, claiming things like “studies show” and “scientists believe”. The problem is that they did not claim where they found that information.


One article in particular jumped out at me. It claimed that drinking wine is the equivalent to one hour of exercise. Surely this couldn’t be true. I clicked on the article and traced back where they found the information.

The claim came from a study that looked at the effects of Resveratrol, a compound that is found in wine, and certain fruits. The study was done in a lab with modules, and found that resveratrol was a natural performing enhancing compound. The dependent variable was the amount of resveratrol that is consumed and the independent variable is the effects on the human body. The hypothesis was that resveratrol enhance physical performance and the null hypothesis would be that resveratrol has no effect on physical performance.

The study was misinterpreted and twisted to come out with many different claims that resveratrol was a substitute for exercise. This simply isn’t true. While the compound can enhance performance it does not replace it and still requires exercise in order to see actual results.

In addition to other false claims, there were also articles that claimed that red wine increased the risk of certain cancers.

Studies on wine suffer from the file drawer problem; people tend to post the good findings only because many people like to drink wine. However there have been negative results found that are not often discussed by the media.

In conclusion I think it is safe to say the wine should be consumed like every other food or drink; in moderation. A moderate amount of wine most likely won’t kill you, but it is not wise to drink copious amounts instead of exercising.




Why Do Couples Look Alike?

Over thanksgiving, my family came over and I noticed something about my Uncle. As we ate dinner i thought to myself, “he and his wife look like they could be related.” This is the first time this thought ever occurred to me. I remembered reading somewhere that it is said that the longer couples are together the more they grow to look like each other. It was the first time I feel like I experienced it in real life.

It turns out that there has been research to study this very phenomenon. One study tested whether or not people actually begin to look more similar after being together for a long period of time.

The researchers hypothesized that after 25 years of being married, the two partners would appear to look more similar. The null hypothesis would be if this is just a myth and that couples do not appear more similar to each other after several years of marriage. The study was set up so that volunteers were asked to look at a picture of a man who had recently married. They then were asked to look at 6 women who had recently married (one of which was the man’s actual spouse) and rank how likely it was that each woman was married to the man. They then used pictures of the same people and repeated the process, only the people in the photos were 25 years old. There were two different groups of subjects and in one of them the order in which they saw the pictures (like the older ones or the younger ones first) was reversed.


The independent variable that they looked at would be the age of the people in the picture. The dependent variable was the accuracy of the ranking that the volunteers. There was also a control group in which the faces of the subjects were covered to make sure there was no other way to tell if who was married other than facial features.

In the end, they found that the accuracy in guessing who was married was better with the older pictures. So they concluded that the longer people are married they more they look like each other and look like they are married to the other person.

I think that the sample size could have been bigger. They used two group of 37 people plus a third control group with 36. It could be due to chance, but it is interesting that it was overall more accurate with the older pictures. I also think that this could be affected by reverse causation. Maybe people who look like each other are more likely to marry each other, instead of people who are married begin to look alike. It could even be both of those combined.

The study itself did not really test any causation for this however. There a several different potential reason this can occur. One idea is that couples who live together use the same facial expressions. For example, if one person likes to joke then both of the spouses are more likely to develop laugh lines. Another could be habits like eating, drinking, and smoking habits that people develop because of their partner.


After researching I believe that couples may start to look more like each other due to their similar environment. This however does not mean if you marry someone with a big nose, yours will grow to their size. Your own physical genes do not change, but things affect how they may appear.




Why does the body react to Peppers?

Have you ever had a chicken wing so hot that it put you in tears? I have. But my it turns out that sometimes the crying isn’t just melodrama. Apparently there is a pepper that is so hot that it can actually rip parts of your throat.

The ghost pepper is the world’s hottest pepper. It is so hot that if the wrong amount is eaten in too little time, it can kill you. It’s a pepper that is intense upon first eating it, but slowly causes more pain with time.

ghost picture source

Within the Ghost pepper is a high amount of what is called capsaicin. This substance does not react well with the body causes mucus glands to react quickly and intensely. This is why some spicy food help with a runny nose. The reason there is pain is because the brain can not differentiate well between heat (as in actual temperature) and then effects of capsaicin. So essentially your brain thinks that your mouth is on fire when really it’s just the capsaicin reacting with pain receptors. source

One case was so bad that a man ended up with a torn esophagus. In conclusion, it would be wise to avoid this pepper or at least have it in moderation. source

Could a Zombie Apocalypse Ever Happen?

The walking dead, zombie land, I am legend, world war z. These are all popular media with on thing in common zombies. Zombies are a cultural phenomenon in sci fi movie books and tv shows. Most people write off zombies as make believe. But is there a possibility that it could one day become reality?

The idea of a zombie apocalypse is certainly one that, if given enough scientific evidence, could set the world into a frantic frenzy trying to prevent it.

zom picture souce

As of right now there is no way humans can not come back from the dead. However there is a way we could see something like a zombie exist. It would be a virus similar to rabies, causing humans to behave like a zombie. Rabies causes death in the span of one week if not treated properly. However if the virus can change to avoid the body own natural immune system, then the way humans are affected could change as well.source

Also unlike all the movies I listed, rabies right now is not nearly as contagious. In order for a wide spread apocalypse, the virus would have to change to become airborne most likely.source

Another thing to think about is the fact that zombies already exist. Not like human zombies but zombie bugs and other creatures have this sort of thing in their species. New viruses are being formed constantly and there is no telling whether or not a zombie virus could pop up.source

So even though zombies could one day exist, it is very unlikely. However it’s still a good idea to stay away from rabid animals.


Have scientists discovered a solution to binge drinking?

Everyone has that one friend who never knows when to stop. Well now that friend may just have a solution to their drinking habits. Scientists have created a tattoo that can tell you when you have had too much to drink.

The way they do it is by measuring the alcohol level in your sweat. Once the device that is tattooed on you senses the alcohol content it sends a signal to you phone which tells you if you are too drunk. Source

alcotatt picture source

This could greatly impact things like drunk driving, alcoholism, and overdosing. Maybe it could no more effective than a friend telling you when to stop. Regardless there should always be a designated driver.

One problem is that even though the tattoo device can tell you when you have had too much, it can not force you to stop. It is ultimately your choice if you want to continue drinking. I think this type of thing would help people who are trying to watch their alcohol consumption, who know they have little self control. However, it could be really expensive to get the device and many people who would benefit from it are in a lower class and may not be able to afford it.

Should you refridgerate your tomatoes?

Growing up, my mother always kept her tomatoes on the window sill, but her ketchup in the fridge. I figured this was just because there was usually not enough room in the refrigerator to put the tomatoes. However it turns out that there may be an actual scientific reason for this than just hear-say.

tomatopicture source

Apparently, its be known for a while that putting tomatoes in the refrigerator takes away its flavor, even though technically they are kept fresher longer when refrigerated. Yet scientists did not know the mechanism behind it.

Basically if a tomatoes is kept under a certain temperature (68 degrees Fahrenheit) the genes that give the tomato its distinct flavor shut down. Once these genes are off they can not be turned back on. So unfortunately if you make the mistake of putting the tomatoes in the fridge, you can still eat them, but they won’t taste right. Source

According to The Post harvest Technology Center at US Davis, If a tomato is stored at under 50 degrees it wont only change the flavor but give it a mealy texture as well. Source
So basically, always keep your tomatoes at room temperature, unless you want a mushy tasteless fruit on your sandwich. If you do make the mistake of reinvigorating your tomatoes, use them for marinara sauce.


I am in this course for a few reasons. I am not really a science person. I never did well in chemistry, biology, or physics. I have a creative thinking type of mind and I always felt science was very much learning about things and memorizing them. However I do find a lot of things interesting like does a zombie virus exist or how deep is time(like thats crazy?? zombies??). I don’t plan on being a science major because I do not think i have the thought process of thinking of something no one has thought before.