Sunday, March 25, 2012

Parents don't need to worry about TV dulling their kids' senses as Harry Potter movies make them MORE creative, say researchers

Another blow to the stupid "fears" of "Baroness" Greenfield

Watching Harry Potter films could make young children more creative, claims a study. Carried out by Lancaster University, it’s the first attempt to study whether there are any educational benefits in exposing children to magical content like witches and wizards, Santa Claus, the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy.

The study examined if there was a link between magical thinking and creativity in preschool children – and it found that there was.

The small-scale study involved 52 four to six-year-old children. The youngsters were split into two groups and shown two 15-minute clips from Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone.

The findings show that after watching the clips, the group who watched the magical scenes in general scored ‘significantly better’ in all three areas than their peers in the other group.

Researchers Dr Eugene Subbotsky, Claire Hysted and Nicola Jones from the Department of Psychology at Lancaster University concluded that: ‘Magical thinking enables children to create fantastic imaginary worlds, and in this way enhances children’s capacity to view the world and act upon it from multiple perspectives.

‘The results suggested that books and videos about magic might serve to expand children’s imagination and help them to think more creatively.’

Magical thinking involves believing in supernatural events like animals speaking human languages, or a witch flying on a broomstick.

This involves the ability to construct an alternative world and research has shown that most four to six-year-olds think magically in everyday life.

Some of the scenes include animals talking and witches and wizards performing spells and using wands, while other scenes featured the same characters but without any magical content.

The children were then tested for creativity which included being asked to pretend they were a rabbit or driving a car. They were also asked to think of different ways of putting plastic cups in a bin and for alternative uses for the cup.

The children who had watched the magical scenes performed significantly better on the creativity tests.

The researchers concluded that rather than just being used for entertainment, ‘magical thinking can be viewed as an additional source of development of imagination and divergent thinking in children.’


A sustained critical assault could not keep Maccas down

The fact that the second biggest profit centre for McDonalds (after the USA) is France is both amusing and thought provoking: Delivering tasty food at a low price is a major and very popular achievement

We started to get more worried about our waistlines. Maccas and the fast food industry got the blame. We became more sophisticated in our taste in food. And we’re a nation of caffeine addicts. So we weren’t lovin’ the shortage of short blacks.

But when confronted with every fear we’ve had that could’ve damaged their business, McDonalds have made sure that our Happy Meals still make us happy.

“Do you want fries with that?” became “do you want a fries or a salad with that?” As Masterchef altered our perceptions of good food and Wagyu steaks became popular, Ronald introduced us to the Angus burger. And many people love a good cafe, so Maccas became one. One that’s “a little bit fancy” at that. There’s a big but though.

Maccas have become a sophisticated brand. But the truth is their core business has barely changed. It’s still all about keeping us hooked on generally fatty fast foods. Case in point: Maccas are trialling selling six-packs of Krispy Kreme’s glazed donuts

Krispy Kreme’s signature donuts are notoriously addictive. It’s impossible to just have one. They consist of “a potent mix of sugar and fat that we know primes the brain to seek out more and more sweet and fatty food,” nutritionist Susie Burrell said yesterday.

But that’s only one ingredient in cooking up a successful fast food chain. Maccas have had enduring popularity for more than 40 years now.

When you think of Krispy Kreme donuts you think of big globs of fat. Especially when they’re covered in a mountain of sugary coating, covered in more sugar, with sugar on top. You think of Chief Wiggum from The Simpsons.

That’s not the only reason Maccas has survived though. McDonalds have tried to remain appealing to us at each stage of our lives.

I’d say a high percentage of us went to a Maccas birthday party when they were young. Probably with an ice cream cake. Kids have long been fascinated by their Happy Meals.

Maccas have sponsored a number of adolescent sports through the years. I remember receiving McDonalds vouchers as prizes for Little Athletics. Another Puncher remembers a Big Mac voucher being the prize for winning a teenage tennis comp in the 1980s.

An inordinate number of adolescents have been known to use Maccas play equipment. Many adults develop a Maccas habit for life. And when kids start growing up and drinking alcohol, they soon learn that a vat of grease from McDonalds is the best hangover prevention tool or hangover-easing solution.

And all along Maccas has adapted with the winds of change. When their competitors started telling us to Eat Fresh, Maccas brought out fresh products and fresh uniforms themselves.

The uniforms might be different, your burger might consist of a higher quantity of lettuce and the “restaurants” might just a little bit fancier than they used to.

But Ronald’s still laughing all the way to the bank for the same reasons he was a decade ago.


1 comment:

John A said...

while I agree with the researchers that thinking about "magic" is advantageous, I do not agree that this is the same as "magical thinking." Newton thought about the "magic" of why things fall down rather than up: this is not the same as believing that apples fall because of magic. The HP scenes of magic wre not just that, what I have read/seen of the series is the youngsters struggling with how to use what little [magic] they had to protect against or fight those with far more [magic].

Even as a five-year-old, I knew that a real coyote falling six hundred feet off a cliff was not going to get up and walk away, but it got me to think about what I would do in a chase - whether as the road runner or as the coyote. And about tolls, natural capabilities, etc., a way of thinking which is handy in life. The reaearchers seem not to have made the distinction that the "creative" methods used by the kids did not involve waving a crayon at the cups thinking the cups would then stack themselves, which would be "magical thinking," vs thinking about how to accomplish a task with what you have.

Now, I am not saying the kids analysed this way - but the researchers seem to give the kids a bit too little credit for having learned a lesson from what they saw. The "control" group kids had not seen how a bit of imagination could help with a problem, so were less likely to try to use it successfully.