At the beginning of each year, millions of people reflect on the previous year and find things they could have done better. Exercised more, eaten healthier, watched less television, drank less alcohol. They vow—most knowing they won’t keep their promise—to make more of the new year, to become their best selves.Read More
Last night’s national championship college football game, today’s New York Times article on America’s greatest small college rivalry (involving my own Hope College), and the upcoming Super Bowl all bring an interesting psychological question to mind: Why do we care who wins? What psychological dynamics energize rabid fans?Read More
Self-preservation is a core instinct, but sometimes people reach an emotional valley in their lives and the best way out seems to be self-harm. Unfortunately, a history of self-harm is one of the best predictors of future self-harm and death by suicide. Can psychotherapy weaken the cycle of self-harm and its relationship to death by suicide?Read More
The December APS Observer is out with an essay by Nathan on “The Neural Greenhouse: Teaching Students How to Grow Neurons and Keep Them Alive.”
In the same issue, I say, “Let’s Hear a Good Word for Self-Esteem.”Read More
Even the most pleasant activities have low spots. I enjoy teaching as much as anything, but there are certain parts I like more than others. Course planning ranks as one of my least favorite parts of teaching. There are numerous questions that lack clear answers.
But as I built my online course shell today, I felt more confident than ever about how often I should test my students. Quite a bit.Read More
Economic inequality is a fact of life. Moreover, most folks presume some inequality is inescapable and even desirable, assuming that achievement deserves financial reward and that the possibility of making more money motivates effort. But how much inequality is good?Read More
Walk down a sidewalk and someone will likely take notice. Just where do their eyes linger? You can tell a lot about whether they think you are Mr. Right—or Mr. Right Now—based on where their eyes gravitate.Read More
As I explain in a recent APS Observer essay (here), my short list of psychology’s greatest research programs includes the 250+ scientific publications that have followed Scottish lives from childhood to later life. The studies began with all Scottish 11-year-olds taking intelligence tests in 1932 and in 1947 (the results of which Ian Deary and his team discovered many years later). After meeting Deary at an Edinburgh conference in 2006 and hearing him describe his tracking these lives through time, I have followed his team’s reports of their cognitive and physical well-being with great fascination.
Last April, some 400 alums of the testing—now 93 or 78 years old (including those shown with Deary below)—gathered at the Church of Scotland’s Assembly Hall in Edinburgh, where Deary regaled them with the fruits of their participation. One of his conclusions, as reported by the October 31st Science, is that “participants’ scores at age 11 can predict about 50% of the variance in their IQs at age 77.”Read More
The November APS Observer is out with an essay by Nathan, “Why Self-Control and Grit matter—and Why It Pays to Know the Difference.” It describes Angela Duckworth’s and James Gross’s research on laser-focused achievement drive (grit) and on self-control over distracting temptations. . .Read More
Success is mystery. What is it? How do we achieve it? And why does it often fail to live up our expectations? Success puzzles us because we don’t appreciate failure.
In “What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars,” University of Kentucky alum and multimillionaire Jim Paul and Brendan Moynihan suggest that there are a million ways to succeed.Read More
A recent Beijing visit left me marveling at students’ academic enthusiasm. In explaining Asian students’ outperformance of North American students, researchers have documented cultural differences in conscientiousness. Asian students spend more time in school and much more time studying (and see here for one recent study of the academic diligence of Asian-Americans).Read More
Tis’ the season for professional recognition. The world is abuzz with announcements of who won this year’s Nobel Prizes. Psychology doesn’t have a Nobel Prize (though one of our own, Daniel Kahneman, won one in 2002). But psychologists like to make lists. Recently, three researchers compiled a list of the 100 most eminent psychologistsRead More
No matter how many babies I meet, I’m always left wondering what they want. Does a short squeak followed by a shrill squeal signal that the baby is hungry? That I left the dog outside by accident again? Or is the baby simply testing out her developing vocal chords? Driven by confusion and frustration, I might insert a pacifier into the baby’s mouth. The baby seems soothed, and I can take a breather.
But according to one recent study, pacifiers disrupt our ability to understand a baby’s emotional state.Read More
One of my earliest memories is my dad giving me a high five. He was training for a marathon and agreed to take me, his talkative four year-old, on a run. I ran an entire mile. When I finished, red-faced and smiling, he said, “Give me five, son.” It was my first high five. According to a new study, high fives go a long way in motivating children.Read More