Of Bears and Babies

Associate Professor of Psychology Siu-Lan Tan writes a blog for the magazine Psychology Today under the topic heading “What Shapes Film? Elements of the Cinematic Experience.” That assignment keeps her eye on YouTube videos that go viral. For example, recently, some 4 million viewers have had the “cinematic experience” of watching a three-month old polar bear take his first wobbly steps at the Toronto Zoo. Where most of us may see a bear only, Tan sees human beings as well. Her recent blog post notes that both share a phenomenon of physical development known as the cephalocaudal principle, which means that bear and baby’s first movements tend to be in reverse. The blog is a fun, informative read with some pretty cute video illustrations. Part of the fun derives from the fact that both species are subject to a lot of individual variation when it comes to learning self-locomotion. Crawlers, rollers, and scooters, oh my!

Tan is a popular blogger on other academic topics.  One of her posts on singing and emotional contagion was named #4 of Oxford University Press Blog’s Top 10 Posts of the Year 2013.  That post was also selected as #22 of Psychology Today’s Top 25 Posts of the Year 2013, out of a total of about 14,000 annual posts.

In other news, Tan’s article titled “Visual Representations of Music in Three Cultures: UK, Japan, and Papua New Guinea” was published in December in the Empirical Musicology Review. Her blog is also posted at Oxford University Press.

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About Jim Van Sweden

Director, College Communications