One of the pleasures of writing psychological science is learning something new nearly every day, from the continual stream of information that flows across my desk or up my screen. Some quick examples from the last few days...Read More
My nominee for psychology’s most misunderstood concept is negative reinforcement (which is not punishment, but actually a rewarding event—withdrawing or reducing something aversive, as when taking aspirin is followed by the alleviation of a headache).
In second place on my list of oft-misunderstood concepts is heritability.Read More
From across the room, both dogs seem to suspect when we’re angry or happy. All they need is a peek at our body language and facial expressions. If you have a dog, you’ve likely noticed the same thing. But did you know that dogs also can tell the difference between happy and angry faces in photographs?Read More
This morning my wife, our one-month-old daughter, and I went to a local diner. It was a snow day, my workplace was closed, and we were enjoying a rare morning together. Before our food arrived, I took a sip of coffee, looked outside, and said, “I’m so happy.” The story should end there, with our tiny family devouring pancakes and running errands. But then I returned to my house, opened my email, and received some bad news. I was supposed to be miserable.
Or so suggested the latest Gallup Report, “The State of American Well-Being: 2014 State Well-Being Rankings.”Read More
A half century ago, I noted, it made good sense to give often-impoverished seniors discounts at restaurants, at movie theaters, and on trains. Today, the percent in poverty has flipped—with under-35 adults now experiencing twice the poverty of their over-65 parents.Read More
Did you watch all five seasons of “Breaking Bad” over a long weekend? Have you ever longed for the weekend so that you can watch episode after episode of your new favorite television show? Are you counting down until Netflix releases Season 3 of “House of Cards” later this month? You’re not alone.
Binge-watching seems harmless—I’ve been known to veg out occasionally after a long week, watching hours of “The Wire”—but is it really? New research says maybe not.Read More
After falsely reporting being grounded by rocket fire while on a military helicopter in Iraq, and subsequently having his reported experiences during Hurricane Katrina challenged, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams has been grounded by pundit fire.Read More
Northeastern University history professor Benjamin Schmidt is making waves, after harvesting 14 million student reviews from “Rate My Professor.” He offers a simple interactive tool that can allow you—perhaps as an in-class demonstration—to compare words that students use to describe male and female professors.
You can give it a try, here. I entered some intelligence-related words (“smart,” “brilliant,” “genius”) and some emotion-related words (“sweet,” “nasty”). Even as one who writes about gender stereotypes, I was stunned by the gender effect.
Carroll made two end-of-half decisions in Sunday’s Super Bowl, both questioned by the NBC announcers. Their differing outcomes, and the resulting pundit and fan reactions, offer potent examples of a mental pitfall that has been the subject of 800 psychological science publications.Read More
Even though the smartphone has only been around for the past seven or eight years, it’s sometimes difficult to remember what life was like before we had so much information at our fingertips. You could argue with a friend about what year “Back to the Future, Part 2” came out, or in what year the “future” was set. (It was released in 1989. The future, filled with flying cars and floating skateboards, was set in 2015.)Read More
Friday my focus was hearing research and care—at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, where I sit on the Advisory Council (assessing federal support for hearing research and hearing health). Days later, I was cheering on my ill-fated hometown Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl.Read More
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