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Tip: Understanding Rank

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

When you do a search, you can sort the results bibliographically alphabetical or by “rank”. What is Rank?

Rank refers to the search engine’s “best guess” as to the relevance of the result to the search you specified. The exact method of ranking used varies a bit depending on the search. In its most basic level, when you specify a single search term, rank looks at the density of the matches for the word in the document, and how close to the beginning of the document they appear as a measure of importance to the paper’s topic. The documents with the most matches and where the term is deemed to have the most importance, have the highest “relevance” and are ranked first (presented first).

When you specify more than one term to appear anywhere in the article, the method is similar, but the search engine looks at how many of those terms appear, and how close together they appear, how close to the beginning of the document, and can even take into account the relative rarity of the search terms and their density in the retrieved file, where infrequent terms count more heavily than common terms.

To see a simple example of this, search for the words (not the phrase, so no quotes):

unconscious communications

Look at the density of matches in each document on the first page of the hits. Then go to the last page of matched documents, and observe the density of matches within the documents.

A more complex search illustrates this nicely with a single page and only 15 matches:

counter*tr* w/25 “liv* out” w/25 enact*

There are a lot of word forms and variants of the words (due to the * wildcards) above that can match, but the proximity (w/25) clause limits the potential for matching. What’s interesting here though is how easily you can see the match density decrease as you view down the short list.

The end result of selecting order by rank is that the search engine’s best “guess” as to which articles are more relevant appear higher on the list than less relevant articles.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Biven, L. Panksepp, J. (2007). Commentary on “Toward a Neuroscience of Empathy: Integrating Affective and Cognitive Perspectives”. Neuropsychoanalysis, 9(2):141-146.

(2007). Neuropsychoanalysis, 9(2):141-146

Commentary on “Toward a Neuroscience of Empathy: Integrating Affective and Cognitive Perspectives” Related Papers

Lucy Biven and Jaak Panksepp

Emotion-Cognition Mind/Brain Interpenetration in Empathy

Douglas Watt is well aware of the difficulties inherent in the neuroscientific study of higher-order emotions, as he provides the most extensive integration, to date, for understanding brain substrates of empathy. He emphasizes that empathy, like all affective cognitions, lies at the intersection of consciousness and emotion. Just as there are different emotions and levels of individual emotional complexities (from primary to tertiary processes), there are different levels of empathic feelings and consciousness. Watt develops an argument hypothesizing that deep empathy is fundamentally an emotional function, based largely on a social-engagement and attachment cluster of emotions (LUST, PLAY, CARE/NURTURANCE, and PANIC/SEPARATION DISTRESS: here we will simply use the original designators CARE and PANIC for the nurturance and separation-distress systems respectively), secondarily honed by the defense cluster (FEAR, RAGE, and disgust), all elaborated by higher cognitive consider-ations.

Watt explains that empathy interdigitates with attachment systems for the following reasons:

1.   Empathy prevents us from hurting people we love, and this maintains the integrity of attachments.

2.   Empathy helps to protect us from the anguish of broken attachments: since humans are profoundly social creatures, we are vulnerable to the ravages of loss. Perhaps empathy evolved as a buffer against the misery of loss, providing a means of comfort.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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