Early Career Speaker: Katherine Allen

We are pleased to announce that Katherine Allen, an independent scholar who earned her PhD from the University of East Anglia in 2013, will be the early career speaker in our next workshop: Narratives and Social Cognition! Katherine will give a talk entitled “Sweet Influence: Defending a Cautious Aesthetic Cognitivism” on Thursday, June 19th, 2014, along with invited speakers Raymond Mar and Stacie Friend.

You can find the abstract for each talk at the workshop page. Please register to help our event planning.

For more information on how to apply to be an early career speaker at our other upcoming workshops, please see this call for abstracts.

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Public Event: Can Stories Change the Way You Think?

Can Stories Change the Way You Think?

Can stories change the way you think? Since the times of Plato and Aristotle, many scholars in the humanities have contended that reading stories can change the way one thinks, for better or for worse. In recent years, there has also been increasing scientific attention to this question. For example, an article recently published in the journal Science controversially claims that reading high-brow fictions — but not low-brow ones — can improve one’s ability to understand other minds.

This interdisciplinary roundtable brings together a psychologist, a philosopher, and a literary theorist to discuss whether stories can change the way one thinks. Each scholar will give a brief presentation, drawing from his or her field of expertise. An open Q&A session will follow the presentations.

The roundtable discussion will take place on Wednesday, 18th June, 2014, 6:00pm-7:30pm at Leeds Art Gallery. Attendance is free and all are welcome!

(See also the workshop on the following day!)


Roundtable Participants:
Raymond Mar (Department of Psychology, York University)
Diana Holmes (Department of French, University of Leeds)
Peter Lamarque (Department of Philosophy, University of York)


This event is a part of the Experimental Philosophical Aesthetics and Human Nature project, supported by Marie Curie Action Grant PIIF-GA-2012-328977. The event poster is designed by the highly- and multi-talented Nils-Hennes Stear.

Psychology Paper of the Day

… in Frontiers in Psychology. And it comes with an incredible title:

Weight lifting can facilitate appreciative comprehension for museum exhibits

Given the recent perceived intellectual crisis in psychology, my pessimistic self thought that the paper would be describing another one of those studies with counterintuitive conclusions that cannot be replicated. However, to my surprise, behind the seemingly outrageous title is a neat little idea about better structuring visitors’ museum experiences.

In its most basic form, the neat little idea is that exhibit surrogates, even extremely simple ones, can allow visitors to have richer, multimodal experiences of exhibits. In this case, the researchers used simple weights to approximate the haptic dimension of the animal skeletons on display. The animal skeletons are, of course, locked behind glass and otherwise untouchable. The simple weights give museum visitors a way to “touch” them. Through this richer, multimodal experience, visitors found greater enjoyment in the exhibit.