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
When your friend tells you about her terrific first date, you will eventually ask the question. You might stall by inquiring about the food she ate, the jokes he told, and the outfit she wore. Eventually, you’ll ask: Is he cute?Read More
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
One of social psychology’s intriguing and oft-replicated findings is variously known as the “own-race bias,” the “other-race effect,” and the “cross-race effect”—all of which describe the human tendency to recall faces of one’s own race more accurately than faces of other races.Read More
One of the many delights from the Stanford’s recent conference on teaching introductory psychology was being with and hearing Boise State professor Eric Landrum. The exuberant Landrum is a longtime teaching-of-psychology leader, researcher, and author—and the 2014 president of the Society of the Teaching of Psychology.Read More
Some recent naturalistic observations illustrated for me the results of longitudinal studies of human development—studies that follow lives across time, noting our capacities for both stability and change.
My procedure, though time-consuming, was simple:Read More
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
Lloyd Cosgrove was his town’s city manager, butcher, and Presbyterian minister. He had a shiny head, bushy eyebrows, and a whooping laugh. If you want Lloyd to remain unique, try not to think about him too much.Read More
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
Why don’t people vote? This question puzzles pollsters, political candidates, and people who cherish the right to choose their elected officials. To predict voter turnout, all you might need is a test tube, a willing participant, and a little saliva.Read More
In all of recent psychological science, there has been, to my mind, no more provocative studies those by Benjamin Libet. His experiments have seemingly shown that when we move our wrist at will, we consciously experience the decision to move it about 0.2 seconds before the actual movement. No surprise there. But what startled me was his reportingRead More
We’ve all experienced the pleasure and subsequent pain of mindless eating. Just sit in front of the TV, open a bag of chips, and watch your favorite show. Now do the same thing with the TV off. In which situation did you eat more?Read More
Is religion toxic to human flourishing . . . or is it supportive of human happiness, health, and helpfulness? Let’s make this empirical: Is religious engagement associated with humans living well, or with misery, ill-health, premature death, crime, divorce, teen pregnancy, and the like?
The answer differs dramatically by whether we compareRead More