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Heuristics and Biases

Little Authoritarians: The Closing of Young Minds

Wray Herbert | Posted 04.07.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

The scientists predicted that children of parents high in authoritarianism would be more sensitive to cues of conventionality -- that is, that they would be more trusting of unfamiliar adults who appeared to respect conventions. And that's just what they found.

Tiny Foragers: How Do We Know What's Safe to Eat?

Wray Herbert | Posted 02.09.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

It's the holiday season, and we'll soon be decorating our home with greenery -- holly sprigs, poinsettia, maybe a mistletoe, and of course the tree, probably some kind of spruce. What we are doing in effect is creating a treacherous world for our youngest revelers to explore.

'I Shall Wear The Bottoms of My Trousers Rolled'

Wray Herbert | Posted 11.06.2013 | Science
Wray Herbert

In a classic 1996 study, psychological scientists demonstrated that "priming" people with aging-related words actually led them to walk more slowly afterward. Today the idea of unconscious priming is under intense scrutiny.

Mindfulness And Loss: The Past Is Just the Past

Wray Herbert | Posted 10.22.2013 | Science
Wray Herbert

The sunk-cost bias is the tendency to persist with an endeavor once we've made an investment of money or time or effort. A team of psychological scientists has been exploring the possibility that mindfulness meditation might help people overcome this particular kind of irrational thinking.

Heat Wave Psychology: Long Past, Green Future?

Wray Herbert | Posted 09.23.2013 | Science
Wray Herbert

Countries vary dramatically in their records of environmental responsibility. Clearly there are economic and political reasons for these stark differences, but is it also possible that human psychology plays a role in creating collective pro-environmental mindsets?

Cognitive Earthquake: Who's Really in Need?

Wray Herbert | Posted 06.30.2013 | Science
Wray Herbert

As described in a forthcoming article in Psychological Science, across all scenarios volunteers felt that they should give much more generously when a disaster had a high death toll. That is, donors were highly sensitive to fatalities, and unfazed by the actual numbers of needy.

A Salvo in the Soda Wars

Wray Herbert | Posted 05.12.2013 | Science
Wray Herbert

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg's controversial ban on large, sugary drinks was slated to go into effect today. The regulations were intended to help curb runaway obesity rates. This is based on sound psychological science.

Is Religion Just an Assortment of Gut Feelings?

Wray Herbert | Posted 04.10.2013 | Science
Wray Herbert

The vast majority of the planet's seven billion people ascribe to some kind of religious belief -- that is, a faith in things that cannot be proven. This makes no sense from a scientific and psychological point of view.

When Patients Do Nothing: Illness and Inertia

Wray Herbert | Posted 04.08.2013 | Science
Wray Herbert

One of the most daunting public health challenges is getting people to take care of themselves in the most basic ways.

Hot Hands and Hoops: Irrational Belief in the NBA

Wray Herbert | Posted 12.22.2012 | Science
Wray Herbert

Does our powerful belief in hot streaks, even if it's a false belief, still affect games? That is, do players play differently when they believe they are hot? Or if they believe a teammate is on a roll?

The Retirement Game

Wray Herbert | Posted 11.07.2012 | Science
Wray Herbert

Why do people keep toiling long beyond when they have to? Of course, the lucky ones do it because they love their work, and others want to bequeath something to their kids or hedge against misfortune. But what about those who lack these motivations but earn too much money anyway?

Character and Cognition on Cornfield Creek

Wray Herbert | Posted 11.04.2012 | Healthy Living
Wray Herbert

Studies have documented the mind's deep, powerful, evolved attachment to nature, and shown convincingly that even brief exposure to nature can refuel us mentally -- focusing our attention and replenishing the cognitive resources needed for everyday challenges.

Thinking, Fast and Slow... About Staying Alive -- What's Missing From Kahneman's Classic

David Ropeik | Posted 02.14.2012 | Books
David Ropeik

If you want to know what goes on in your brain as you "think", and you can only read one of the flood of recent books on the subject, you can not do better than Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow.

Balancing Money & Happiness: A Discussion With Daniel Kahneman (VIDEO)

Laura Rowley | Posted 12.12.2011 | Fifty

Daniel Kahneman is one of the most important thinkers on human decision making. The Princeton psychologist won the Nobel Prize in economics in 2002 fo...