University of Colorado psychologist Geoffrey Cohen has done a couple of studies showing an easy way to help black students perform better on standardized tests. Simply having them spend 15 minutes writing about a value they held dear (family, music, sports, politics, friends, art), either right before the exam or just several times a semester, led to a jump in test scores compared to peers (majority culture students did not experience a similar boost).
Meanwhile, a study from Radbound University Nijmegen showed that students playing a computerized word game performed better if they took a step backward before each round than if they took a step to the side or no step at all. The physicality of adding distance to widen one’s view apparently triggers a mental analogue.
:: via VSL:Science, 27 and 28 May 2009
Finally, a joint Canadian–American study suggests the ways that exposure to brands can elicit certain types of improved performance: “Participants primed with Apple logos behave more creatively than IBM-primed and controls; Disney-primed participants behave more honestly than E!-primed and controls.”