OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Exploring empathy, stress and first impressions at Science Pub

01/06/2010

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Advances in science are providing researchers with ever more effective means to understand human behavior – why we do the things we do. Two Oregon State University psychology professors will discuss some of the most interesting insights in this dynamic field in a Science Pub Corvallis presentation Monday, Jan. 11, at the Old World Deli, 341 SW 2nd St. in downtown Corvallis.

“Getting Inside Your Head: Empathy, Stress & First Impressions” gets underway at 6 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Associate Professor Frank Bernieri and Assistant Professor Sarina Rodrigues will discuss their own fascinating research projects as well as other new and emerging developments in psychological studies.

Bernieri, the former chair of OSU’s psychology department, has been featured in network TV shows and other national media for his groundbreaking work on how quickly individuals form lasting impressions of others – typically within seconds of meeting them – and how difficult those perceptions are to change, even when shown to be unfair or wrong.

He worked with the NBC newsmagazine Dateline on a project several years ago that looked at an Ohio employment agency’s in-depth interviews with candidates for a technical position. The agency produced comprehensive personality profiles, questionnaires and reams of background on the candidates. Bernieri had several focus groups analyze just five seconds of video of the opening handshake and correctly pick the successful candidate, nearly every time.

Rodrigues has been prominent recently in such media as The New York Times, U.S. News & World Report, The Times of London and many others for a study she co-led that revealed a genetic variation that consistently helps explain how empathetic a person is toward others and how well they deal with stress.

Rodrigues, a neuropsychologist who specializes in emotional processing in the brain and body, says the findings add significantly to the growing body of knowledge about the importance of the hormone oxytocin and its link to conditions such as autism and unhealthy levels of stress.

Presented the second Monday of each month, Science Pub Corvallis stages science presentations in a fun, lively and informal atmosphere where attendees have the opportunity to interact with experts on a wide variety of subject matter. Science Pub Corvallis is co-produced by Oregon State University, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and the Downtown Corvallis Association.

For more information, call 541-737-4611 or visit Corvallis Science Pub on Facebook.