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‘Quirkology’ is a term coined by Prof Wiseman to refer to psychological research that is somewhat unusual.

The maverick Victorian scientist Sir Francis Galton might be considered the founding father of the discipline, and devoted much of his life to the study of offbeat topics, including, for example, work into prayer, boredom, and beauty.

Each generation of psychologists has produced a small number of researchers who have carried out quirkological research. Academics who have, for instance: examined how many people it takes to start a Mexican wave in a football stadium; examined the psychology of smiling by applying voltages to the face (see pic); identified the perceived personality characteristics of fruit; secretly counted the number of people wearing their baseball caps the right way round or back to front. Much of the work has revealed impressive insights into the secret psychology behind many aspects of everyday life, including group behaviour, compliance, anthropomorphism, and altruism.

For information on Quirkology, including interactive experiments and videos, visit the project website here.