Showing posts with label biology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label biology. Show all posts

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Americans Light on Scientific Facts but Open to More Information

A survey of 2,200 participants from the National Science Foundation found that 1 in 4 Americans still think the sun revolves around the earth and not the other way around. The average score on the 9 question quiz that focused on fundamental concepts of science was 6.5. Only 48% of people knew that humans evolved from previous species but that number increased when premised with, “According to Evolution”. 

Other interesting trends are that 4 out of 10 use the Internet as their primary source of data. Television usage dropped meaning that there is a transition occurring. Americans were also more trusting of those from the scientific and medical community than any other group. Four out of ten felt that the government was spending too little on research and would like to see improvements.

There is a silver lining. The vast majority of Americans (90%) believe that the advantages of science outweigh the costs.  They have also shown a greater interest in science and scientific discoveries than in the past.  Only a percentage of people follow science closely but most have interest in scientific discoveries. They are open to receiving more information about science.

The advantage of science is that it helps people make more accurate decisions. People who look for facts, use a level of analytic thinking, and weigh the options are more likely to be successful than those who do not have the ability to question basic ideas in their environment. The use of science to advance humanity is one of the most important modern inventions over the past few centuries. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Starfish Self Exploding by the Millions on the West Coast

Starfish on the West Coast are exploding and scientists don’t know why. Their arms and limbs are literally crawling away from the body and they are dying. What makes the situation unique is that it is happening on a wide scale. Normally, a starfish can lose a limb and regenerate them. In this case they are simply spilling their guts and dying within 24 hours.

The first cases were found within the sunflower star fish and have now moved onto other species. As this disease or issue grows it impacts more species and damaging the ecosystem. The total range of area includes Alaska all the way down to California. It is a large previously unseen phenomenon. 

It has been named the Star Fish Wasting Syndrome. The species develop spots and then their limbs contort and break off. Biologists have no idea where it is starting or why it is spreading. They encourage people to report sightings allowing for the public to get involved. You can report where you found dead starfish with the particular symptoms at the websites below. 

There are two possibilities here, as well as something in between. The first option is that the disease is something that has morphed into something stronger and overwhelms the starfish’s immune system. The other option is that the problem is based within the environment itself. Changes in terms of pollution, ecosystem adjustments, etc. can adjust the nature of the environment thereby helping some species to survive and killing off others. At present scientists are unsure of what is happening.

Sites to Report Starfish Dying

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Biology and Personality Influence Communication Styles

The authors Waldherr and Muck (2011) discuss how biology and personality contribute to communication behavior. They advocate embedding language into the Five-Factor Theory to better assess language as a characteristic adaptation to personality. The arguments put forward in their literary research lean more heavily on personality as a key factor that has two major running themes. 

Communication is a circular process as each of the actors is both the communicator and the recipient at various times during a discussion (Schramm, 1954).  Each person encodes, interprets and decodes messages differently making the communication process unique. Most of this process is internal to the individual and cannot be easily evaluated. Focusing on verbal, non-verbal and para-verbal language cues can help in evaluating communication patterns. 

Communication is seen as a reoccurring behavioral pattern that is personality based. It is expressed in varying ways in different situations to achieve directed goals. How one communicates in one situation or in a next will have similar deeply embedded goals and expressive styles even though the terms, words, and mannerisms may be situational. 

Communication behavior can be seen as “the way one verbally or para-verbally interacts to signal how literal meaning should be taken, interpreted, filtered, or understood” (Norton, 1978, p. 99). It is viewed as a stable pattern of behavior that stays relatively consistent across varying situations.  It is commonly believed that the two major themes of assertiveness and responsiveness exist across all communicative behavior (Burgoon and Hale, 1987)

Personality and communication can also be integrally tied together. Communication is personality driven and is based within a person’s biology (Beatty and McCroskey, 1998).  Individuals are predetermined to communicate in certain manners based upon their genetic makeup expressed within the environment. How a person communicates and whether or not a person communicates is rooted in their personality development.

Behavior and personality often mesh within the Five-Factor Theory of Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness (McCrae and Costa, 1996). The biology of a person predisposes them to certain types of traits that mix with their personality which are expressed in certain ways that are influenced by situational factors. These situational factors are dependent on culture, education, experience, and other life influences.

A person’s can also influence communication through a self-construct. This construct is dependent on how a person views themselves in terms of being independent or interrelated to others (Markus and Kitayama, 1991). Self-construct is how a person views themselves in relation to others based upon values, beliefs, manners, skills, and a whole host of other issues. When self-construct changes it creates natural changes in communicative patterns.

The authors believe that it is important to define communication as personality rooted in the Five-Factor Theory. They also believe that communication follows two general patters of assertiveness or responsiveness. Assertiveness is the desire to dominate others while responsiveness is more closely akin to love and interrelatedness. These two themes make their way throughout the varying learned communication skills people develop over time.

The implications of the study suggest that learned skills and experiences enhance an employee’s communication skills. The patterns of communication will remain relatively the same but the complexity by which they express themselves will grow and develop over time. Business students should learn proper communication skills in order to fully express themselves in appropriate ways to others within the workplace. The learned skills can influence everything from workplace conflict to customer service and could have an impact on the bottom line. This is why it is important to hire for personality and train for skills.

Beatty, M. J. & McCroskey, J. C. (1998). Interpersonal communication as temperamental expression: A communibiological paradigm. In J. C. McCroskey, J. A. Daly, M. A. Martin, & M. J. Beatty (Eds.), Communication and personality: Trait perspectives (pp. 41_67). Cresskill, NJ: Hampton.

Burgoon, J. K. & Hale, J. L. (1987). Validation and measurement of the fundamental themes of relational communication. Communication Monographs, 54, 19_41.

Markus, H. R. & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and the self: Implications for cognition, emotion, and motivation. Psychological Review, 98, 224_253.

McCrae, R. R. & Costa, P. T. (1996). Toward a new generation of personality theories: Theoretical contexts for the Five-Factor Model. In J. S. Wiggins (Ed.), The Five Factor Model of Personality: Theoretical perspectives (pp. 51_87). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Norton, R. (1978). Foundation of a communicator style construct. Human Communication Research, 4, 99_112.

Schramm, W. (Ed.). (1954). The process and effects of mass communication. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Waldherr, A. & Muck, P. (2011). Towards an integrative approach to communication styles: the interpersonal circumplex and the five-factor theory of personality as frames of reference. Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research, 36 (1).

Monday, June 24, 2013

Plants Make Complex Chemical Calculations

Plants do math. That is right…researchers have found that plants make calculations to determine the amount of food they will need to make it through the night. During the day they convert sun light into sugars and starch but at night they use 95% of that starch by the start of dawn. The rate is variable depending on the length of the evening. The research helps show chemical intelligence.

Using the Arabidopsis plant they found that they take an internal measurement of the amount of starch available and make a measurement of the time needed until day light. They release the starch throughout the evening to create growth. The plants are not doing human calculations but do use chemicals to make this determination of time and starch. Available starch(S) is divided by available Time (T) for maximum growth.

There is a type of chemical division going on that takes starch and separates by hours. The plants even showed the ability to adjust their calculations in the middle of the night. According to researchers at John Innes Centre in Norwich when night came unexpectedly early the plants made a new calculation. They were consistently efficient.

The purpose of this chemical process is to ensure that growth is maximized throughout the dark hours. When starch is low the plants will stop growing and will take a few hours before growing even after dawn has come. Likewise, when starch is not used up the energy they put into conversion is wasted. They seek homeostasis with their environment.

The advantage of such research is that it helps researchers understand better how plants grow. This can lead to better methods of growing crops and food. If the growth rate is variable and plants can adjust to certain conditions it may be possible to adjust conditions to create faster growing food sources in a natural way. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Channel Expansion Theory as an Online Biological Extension of Urges

Technology has huge impacts on our daily life and has encouraged new ways of communicating. Such technology is the natural extension of our biological capacities within the environment. Whether we are discussing education, government, social relationships, business development or international relations this technology now dominates our evolutionary developmental process as a powerful new tool. As this technological ability grows in society people will naturally start using this technology in new ways. According to channel expansion theory people will communicate using these new methodologies in order to expand their capabilities of reaching out in the environment.  This reaching out creates new influences on human behaviors through the process of imitation.

Most of human behavior is not within our awareness and we have a hard time reflecting on such behavior. Such behavior is below our level of conscious understandings (Barkow et. al., 1992). This means that most people act in manners and patterns without full awareness that such behavior is driven by a need to achieve certain results in the environment. Each person is driven by biological urges that manifest itself in the virtual world.

Our social behavior is learned by copying each other even when we are not aware we are doing so. Memes, or cultural transmission, are mimicked until they spread to a larger group of people (Henrich, 2004). This behavior grows and develops aspects of society through various communication mediums. In other words, technology creates expanding networks of people that form virtual communities which continue to collect new members.

Virtual communities use these same methodologies when spreading information to be emulated to other group members. Porra and Parks (2006) have used a broad model of sustainable virtual communities based on the properties of natural animal colonies. That such groups take on the form of animal colonies much like people with physical interaction taking on societal norms. The same patterns in natural are also seen online when the virtual world is an extension of the natural order. 

Such groups develop and grow in manners that help them overcome environmental challenges. Virtual groups progress in manners that copy the underlying logic of biological evolution (McElreath and Boyd, 2007). Therefore, whether groups are in virtual society or in physical society, they grow and evolve following the laws of nature. These same entities also communicate with each other, create societal norms, and adjust to new influences.

In order to foster this copying activity and societal structure the human mind has developed new methods to transferring information in human-to-human interactions. Such development is from the biological evolutionary push for survival (Kock, 2004). Even with such a push, it is possible that these same mechanisms are used in the development of virtual understandings inherent in digital information transference. In other words, our previous communication methods have adapted to an online environment.

According to channel expansion theory as people gain knowledge about particular technologies they are more able to use them for stronger communication tactics. As users become more accustomed to specific forms of communication like email, chat, video conference, etc… they also develop better methods of creating meta-language (embedded language) to communicate and receive subtle meanings (Carlson and Zmud, 1999). Thus new forms of communication methods result from the use of virtual technology that expand communicative effectiveness.

 This virtual technology has made its way into the school systems, our social affairs, and our businesses. As people become more accustomed to technology, they begin to use such tools in more efficient methods that expand the bandwidth of such mediums (Carlson & Zmud, 1994). Through this creation of expanding communication networks, higher levels of information are transferred to maintain and develop group members to certain social structures.

In modern times it is possible to develop entire societies in the virtual world that have certain orders maintained by group norms. These societies develop their own way of communicating that perpetuates their methodologies and lifestyles. Virtual colleges are testimony to the creation of rich information used in new and unique manners with multiple forms of media that can create higher forms of learning. Such communication tools become more effective over time developing new methods of satisfying biological needs and maintaining social rules that extend human capacities. As nations move into the virtual realms they may find that their societal influence grows by using existing communication channels in new ways that develop higher forms of communication methodology. The more people who become accustomed to this technology the more likely they will be attached to certain societies that resonate with their personal belief systems.

Barkow, J. H., Cosmides, L., and Tooby, J. (eds.). 1992. TheAdapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture, New York: Oxford University Press.

Carlson, J. & Zmund, R. (1994). Channel expansion theory: a dynamic view of medial and information richness. Academy of management best papers proceedings, pp. 280-284.

Carlson, J. and Zmud, R. (1999) Channel Expansion Theory and the Experiential Nature of Media Richness Perceptions. Academy of Management Journal, 42 (2) pp. 153-170.

Henrich, J. (2004). “Cultural Group Selection, Coevolutionary Processes and Large-Scale Cooperation,” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization (53:1), pp. 3-35.

Kock, N. (2004). “The Psychobiological Model: Towards a New Theory of Computer-Mediated Communication Based on Darwinian Evolution,” Organization Science (15:3), pp. 327-348.

Porra, J., and Parks, M. S. (2006). “Sustainable Virtual Communities: Suggestions from the Colonial Model,” Information Systems and e-Business Management (4:4), pp. 309-341.

McElreath, R., and Boyd, R. (2007). Mathematical Models of Social Evolution: A Guide for the Perplexed, Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.