Can Therapy Save Lives? Yes!

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?

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The Test Results Are In: Testing Works!

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.

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How Much Inequality is Ideal?

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? 

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The Greatest-Ever Study of Human Development?

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.”  

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New in the APS Observer: Nathan on Self-Control and Grit, David on The Psychology of Extremism

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. . .

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‘You’re So Cute, I Could Just Eat You Up.’ Say What?

Have you ever seen a baby so cute you wanted to snuggle it and take a bite out of it at the same time? Ever said to a new niece or nephew, “You’re so cute, I could just eat you up?”

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Why Failure is the Best Teacher

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.

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From Beijing: Academic Enthusiasm!

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).

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Who are the 100 Extremely Eminent Modern Psychologists?

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 psychologists 

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Why Might Pacifiers Get in the Way of Understanding Your Child?

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.

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The Power of a High Five

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. 

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Psychology’s Most Controversial Studies

What would you consider psychology’s ten most provocative and controversial studies?  Christian Jarrett, a great communicator of psychological science via the British Psychological Society’s free Research Digest, offers his top ten list here.  A quick recap:

1)     The Stanford Prison Experiment (aka the Stanford Prison Simulation)

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Can Electricity Improve Your Memory? A Shocking Finding

Have you ever just met someone, learned his name, and immediately forgotten it? This happens all of the time. People try all sorts of tricks to remember names, driving routes, or the location of your favorite Hong Kong noodle house. But we might be looking in the wrong spot. All we need is a healthy dose of electricity.

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New in the APS Observer: Nathan on the Stability of Psychopathy, David on the Stability of Intelligence

The October APS Observer is out with an essay by Nathan, “Once a Psychopath, Always a Psychopath?” on people who “commit horrific crimes, experience little guilt or remorse, and then commit similar crimes again.” What is their potential for change, and how can we teach students about them?

In the same issue, I offer “The Story of My Life and Yours: Stability and Change.” It’s a celebration 

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Do Look-Alikes Act Alike?

Behavior geneticists have gifted us with two stunning findings—discoveries that overturned what I used to believe about the environment’s power to shape personality.  One, dramatically illustrated by the studies of identical twins separated near birth, is the heritability of personality and intelligence.  

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