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Jim Davies: Hypotheses from Riveted

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The Book Riveted makes a number of novel hypotheses based on the compellingness foundations theory. To my knowledge, none of these have been tested. If you wish to test one, or have heard of evidence for or against one, please contact me at jim@jimdavies.org

  1. We should expect physical things to be visible (e.g., germs), but not supernatural things (e.g., souls)

  2. High autism spectrum quotient (AQ) individuals should have a relatively higher preference for stories that focus less on character and more on plot and world-building. Low AQ individuals should show a relative preference for character-driven drama.

  3. Popular films should have around eight main characters (the maximum number for a conversation) and no more than 150 overall.

  4. The second person point of view should make audiences more sensitive to sensory aspects of the narrative, be it in literature, computer games, film, or tabletop role-playing games.

  5. The relative social status theory predicts that we will feel subservience to people with a relative social status that is much higher, aggression to those slightly higher, high interest in those with roughly equal, wary acceptance of those with slightly lower, and care for those of much lower.

  6. People should have the hot hand fallacy when predicting random outcomes involving people, and the gambler’s fallacy (which makes opposite predictions) otherwise.

  7. People more prone to thinking socially (including low AQ individuals) should be more likely than others to see animacy, whether or not there really is any in a stimulus.

  8. People more prone to thinking socially (including low AQ individuals) should have a higher religiosity.

  9. Worldwide, stories with happy endings should be more common than stories without.

  10. Dyslexics should find symmetrical art even more compelling than others.

  11. People who believe in religion and the paranormal should be more likely to get schizophrenia or schizotypal disorder, and skeptics should be more likely to get Parkinson’s disease, based on their base dopamine levels being different.

  12. People who end up being really smart should be less competent than others before age eight, because they are more built to learn than to know.

  13. Mental exhaustion (for example, after ego or willpower depletion) should make people prefer simpler art works.

  14. The dopamine-incongruity hypothesis predicts that low dopamine individuals should predict a preference for clear explanation. High dopamine individuals should prefer relatively obtuse explanations.

  15. People should not be satisfied with explanations for large, catastrophic events that involve single, otherwise unimportant people.

  16. Idea effort justification theory predicts that explanations that people come up with themselves will be more convincing than those same explanations simply told to them.

  17. People reading poetry aloud will appreciation surface level features more (e.g., word choice, rhyme, literal meaning) than those reading it silently and taking time with it.

  18. The increasing religious unfalsifiability hypothesis predicts that as time goes on, religions will promote more unfalsifiable beliefs.  

  19. Compared to relaxed people, stressed people should like more emotional art such as Beethoven (as compared to more intellectual art such as Bach.)

  20. The amount of superstition-like beliefs in a religion will positively correlate with the amount of environmental chaos in the area.

  21. The relative social status hypothesis makes predictions about what pictures people will have on the walls of their home: much lower status people will not be on walls unless they are people we take care of (e.g., children.) Slightly lower status people will not be on walls because they are stressful to us. Equal status people will only be on the walls if they are allies (e.g., friends) rather than rivals. Slightly higher status people will not be on walls because it causes unpleasant feelings of aggression. Much higher status people will be on walls for the many reasons we love celebrity. People will not have pictures of other people they don’t know on their walls unless they find those pictures aesthetically or physically attractive. People will only have images of family members of people they care for (e.g., children, old parents or grandparents).

  22. People would find the idea of an intelligent alien that had small eyes, small heads, hugh mouths, big noses, fat fingers, and hairy bodies relatively implausible.

  23. Images of the grey alien should prime images of babies more than images of other monsters, as predicted by the neoteny theory of perceptions of aliens.

  24. Laypeople should like art using the same categories as experts, but get into less depth.

  25. Anyone who has more to learn (e.g., the young) should have more celebrity worship than others.

  26. We should like and find more attractive those who have a higher genetic overlap.

  27. The most popular religions should have fewer tenats involving species and location-specific things.

  28. The wilder and less commonsensical are the teachings of a religion, the more likely the religion will have special strategies for maintaining itself (e.g., not to talk to people outside the religion).

  29. Fans of popping should like butoh more than fans of ballet.

  30. Men should prefer sports with teams (with more than two people) more than women.