How to Be Productive: Preserve Your Energy for What Matters

My wife loves me, despite smirking that I am “boringly predictable.”  Every day, I go to bed at pretty much the same time, rise at the same time, pull on my khaki pants and brown shoes, frequent the same coffee shops, ride the same old bicycle, and exercise every weekday noon hour.  As I walk into my Monday-Wednesday-Friday breakfast spot, the staff order up my oatmeal and tea.  I’ll admit to boring.  But there is an upside to mindless predictability.  

Read More

Another Big Round Number: Did Masters and Johnson Really Observe 10,000 Sexual Cycles?

Every once in a while I reread something that I’ve reported across editions of my texts, scratch my head, and ask myself: Is this really true?

Such was the case as I reread my reporting that “With the help of 382 female and 312 male volunteers. . . Masters and Johnson monitored or filmed more than 10,000 ‘sexual cycles.’”

Really?  

Read More

How Do We Know Ourselves? If You Said One Thing and Heard Yourself Saying Another, What Would You Think You Said?

How do we know ourselves?  It’s partly by observing our own actions, proposed Daryl Bem’s self-perception theory.  Hearing ourselves talk can give us clues to our own attitudes.  Witnessing our actions gives us insight into the strength of our convictions (much as we observe others’ behavior and make inferences).  Our behavior is often self-revealing.

Read More

Senior Citizen Discounts: Would Young Adult Discounts Make More Sense?

Skimming Paul Taylor’s, The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown, a 2014 report of Pew Research Center data on U.S. social trends, brought to mind one of my pet peeves: the favoritism shown to seniors over today’s more economically challenged Millennials and their children. 

Read More

Does My Dog Really Get Jealous?

Graduation brings few guarantees. Jobs are scarce, job security is even more difficult to find, and many people earn less and receive fewer employee benefits than they anticipated. But graduation often brings at least two things: pomp and presents. When I finished graduate school, my parents bought me a dog. I knew he had basic emotions, such as happiness and fear. Now I know he also gets jealous.

Read More

Why Do We Fear the Wrong Things?

One of psychology’s big discoveries is our almost irresistible tendency to judge the likelihood of events by how mentally available they are—a mental shortcut that Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky identified as “the availability heuristic.”  Thus anything that makes information pop into mind—its vividness, recency, or distinc­tiveness—can make it seem common­place. 

Read More

How Not to Cheer Up a Person With Low Self-Esteem

Social support can take many forms. A helpful tweet, the annual Facebook birthday barrage of well wishes, and long conversations with friends and family can put things in perspective and reduce our stress. But, according to recent research from Renison University, Wilfrid Laurier University, and the University of Waterloo, these acts of kindness backfire when interacting with people who have low self-esteem.

Read More

Questioning Big Round Numbers: The Brain has How Many Neurons?

Most of us have read over and again that the human brain has 100 billion neurons.  With no source but legend for that big round number—and not wanting merely to echo an undocumented estimate from other books—I set off in search of a more precise estimate.  Surely someone must have sampled brain tissue, counted neurons, and extrapolated a nerve cell estimate for the whole brain.  

Read More