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Psychological Science

Hungry? Maybe Don't Go Shopping

Wray Herbert | Posted 02.19.2015 | Science
Wray Herbert

A team of psychological scientists wondered if hunger might spill over into other behavioral domains, sometimes in irrational ways. Is it possible, that is, that hunger triggers an acquisitive mindset generally, one that piques our desire even for non-food? The scientists explored this provocative idea in several experiments.

Hold the Phone! You Might Miss a Whale, or Even a Whale of a Bright Idea Like the Laser

Ben Hellwarth | Posted 02.13.2015 | Science
Ben Hellwarth

What if Dr. Townes, instead of taking that timeout, had sent a text or played Angry Birds? Might we be in the dark about the laser? As research and Townes' example suggest, the unpredictable sparks of our own mental machinations should be something we don't want to miss any more than the majestic sight of a passing whale.

Health and Marriage: The Cortisol Connection

Wray Herbert | Posted 02.12.2015 | Science
Wray Herbert

Bad marriages can be sickening. Most people don't have to be convinced of this, but for those who do, several decades of studies offer plenty of proof. Even so, very little is known about exactly how marriage quality affects health.

Itchy Trigger Finger? How About Itchy Brain?

Wray Herbert | Posted 02.10.2015 | Science
Wray Herbert

Response-inhibition training shows exciting potential as a training method for police and the military. The findings might also lead to more insights into cognition and firearms, insights with the potential to reduce society's death toll.

Sound of Intellect: The Psychology of the Elevator Pitch

Wray Herbert | Posted 02.05.2015 | Science
Wray Herbert

Scientists Nick Epley and Juliana Schroeder believe there is something about speech that conveys not just the content of a person's mind but the capacity for reasoning, thoughtfulness and intellect. If they are right, job seekers should appear more thoughtful and intelligent when given the opportunity to speak, rather than write, about themselves. That's what they set out to test.

Why Are People So Annoying?

Wray Herbert | Posted 01.29.2015 | Science
Wray Herbert

The fact is that modesty, or even self-effacement, can be more effective than bragging in creating a good first impression. Most of us know this from being on the receiving end, yet we still err on the side of self-aggrandizement. But why do we get it wrong so much of the time? Here's where some new research may be illuminating.

To Thine Own Self: The Psychology of Authenticity

Wray Herbert | Posted 01.23.2015 | Science
Wray Herbert

Some philosophers have argued that the desire to act in a way that is consistent with one's values and sense of self is linked to well-being. But others have argued that learning to express thoughts and feelings that obscure one's true inner state is an important adaptation for successful living. A team of psychological scientists has been working to resolve this issue empirically.

Hard Work, Hard Times: Self-control and Joblessness

Wray Herbert | Posted 01.21.2015 | Science
Wray Herbert

Does self-discipline today really pay off later in life -- in jobs, paychecks, promotions and bonuses, professional prestige and wealth? Surprisingly, given the importance of employment to well-being and the global economy, the link between self-control and job success has not been thoroughly studied. Until now.

Two Strikes and You're Out (But Only If You're Black)

Wray Herbert | Posted 01.14.2015 | Science
Wray Herbert

According to the U.S. Office for Civil Rights, black students are more than three times as likely as white students to be suspended or expelled from school. Surprisingly, there has been little scientific study of the psychological processes underlying this discipline gap.

Is Obesity a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

Wray Herbert | Posted 01.06.2015 | Science
Wray Herbert

Do some teens, because they embody the caricature of a fat person, literally grow into that caricature?

Revisiting the Land of Opportunity

Wray Herbert | Posted 02.03.2015 | Science
Wray Herbert

Fewer and fewer Americans, including many middle-class Americans, believe that they can even preserve their existing standard of living -- or that their children will do any better. But how accurate are these perceptions?

Mothers and Lovers: From Parenting to Romance

Wray Herbert | Posted 02.01.2015 | Science
Wray Herbert

Scientists wanted to see if children's experiences with their parents shape their nervous system responses much later on, when they are in romantic relationships. They wanted to see if children's experiences with their parents shape their nervous system responses much later on, when they are in romantic relationships.

Hard to Think Straight: Processing Prejudice

Wray Herbert | Posted 01.21.2015 | Science
Wray Herbert

It seems that when we perceive and process other people with ease, we judge them favorably. When we have difficulty -- for whatever reason -- we judge them negatively.

The National Sadness of Sandy Hook

Wray Herbert | Posted 01.13.2015 | Science
Wray Herbert

While thinking about the Sandy Hook shooting evokes more sadness than anxiety in general, focusing on explanations leads to a shift in emotional tone from sadness to anxiety. Importantly, it appears that this emotional shift -- especially the growing anxiety -- is tied to people's lingering worry that a similar tragedy might occur in the future.

Nervous Laughter, Tears of Joy

Wray Herbert | Posted 01.06.2015 | Science
Wray Herbert

Everyone has witnessed or experienced discordant expressions -- crying at a wedding, growling at the sight of a newborn baby, screaming in the presence of a teen idol. Are these inappropriate emotional expressions simply embarrassing aberrations? What psychological purpose could they serve?

Are You a Political Extremist?

Wray Herbert | Posted 01.04.2015 | Science
Wray Herbert

The results taken together are consistent with a view of the political extremist as thoughtful and confident, not unthinking. This does not mean of course that extreme political positions are necessarily sound or that they are not biased in other ways, but it does raise doubts about the mindless ideologue stereotype.

Holy Safety Net! Religion and Recklessness

Wray Herbert | Posted 12.30.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

Psychological scientists suggest that belief in God could actually increase the tendency to take certain risks -- specifically, risks with no moral overlay. Their reasoning is that God is for most believers a source of security and protection, and feeling safe in God's care could diminish fear and boost bravery and daring.

Is Powerlessness the Key to Successful Negotiation?

Wray Herbert | Posted 12.23.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

Leigh Steinberg, the inspiration for the title character in the film Jerry Maguire, is one of the most successful agents in the history of American sports. He is also a master negotiator. Psychological scientists believe they may have an explanation for Steinberg's seemingly irrational behavior and for its ironic success.

Troubled #hearts -- in 140 Characters

Wray Herbert | Posted 12.20.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

Is it possible that aggregate Twitter patterns might also be revealing in some useful way? Could Twitter offer snapshots of communities as well as individuals? A team of scientists has been exploring this possibility.

Remember Me: Personal Legacy and Global Warming

Wray Herbert | Posted 12.15.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

Many people have a need to be remembered well, even if that motivation is hidden, so sparking it can shift the focus to future others. Public policies that encourage futuristic contemplation might be one tool for stemming the ravages of climate change before it's too late.

Apple or Ice Cream? The Mechanics of a Healthy Choice

Wray Herbert | Posted 11.30.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

Why is dietary self-control so difficult, even when we know full well what's at stake and what's right? It's not helpful at all to say simply that some people have more willpower. What's going on, at the most fundamental cognitive level, that leads to good and bad dietary decisions?

Breaking the Rules -- And Feeling Good About It

Wray Herbert | Posted 11.25.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

Intriguingly, people don't lie and cheat indiscriminately -- simply because they can get away with it. Even when there is no chance of being found out, people show some level of aversion to acting unethically. They want it both ways: to profit by dishonesty, but also to preserve some sense of themselves as moral beings.

(Clinical) Fear and Loathing in America

Max Dorfman | Posted 11.09.2014 | Politics
Max Dorfman

Maybe as a nation--despite the depressed economy--we're not looking at ourselves clearly. We are still powerful--but no one, and no country, could possibly confront the mass amount of issues we believe we're responsible for in today's world. That is scary.

Labors Lost? Memories of Childbirth

Wray Herbert | Posted 11.05.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

Nobody questions the physical intensity of labor and childbirth, but how do we know how painful the experience really is? Does recall -- especially months and years later -- accurately reflect the experienced pain?

Dating and Romance: The Problem With Kindness

Wray Herbert | Posted 11.03.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

If choosing a partner is such an important life decision, why do so many of us get it wrong?