Tuesday, July 22, 2008


A departmental colleague comments on an article in the Times about research on how mirrors can manipulate the mind.
Researchers have determined that mirrors can subtly affect human behavior, often in surprisingly positive ways. Subjects tested in a room with a mirror have been found to work harder, to be more helpful and to be less inclined to cheat, compared with control groups performing the same exercises in nonmirrored settings. Reporting in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, C. Neil Macrae, Galen V. Bodenhausen and Alan B. Milne found that people in a room with a mirror were comparatively less likely to judge others based on social stereotypes about, for example, sex, race or religion.

He suggests that perhaps we could apply this insight to classroom design: would a few carefully placed mirrors curb some undesirable behaviors? I like the idea that it could create more fair and inclusive classrooms. At the very least, a mirror behind the back row of seats could help me keep track of who's using his laptop to view porn rather than take notes!

Thanks, Wade!


Sharon Crasnow said...

Did you see the fascinating article in the June 30th New Yorker which describes the use of mirrors to retrain the brain? It's called "The Itch" and is by Atul Gawande. So mirrors can play a role in therapy as well.(http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/06/30/080630fa_fact_gawande)

Michelle said...
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