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Psychological Science

Is Postpartum Depression a Disease of Modern Civilization?

Wray Herbert | Posted 07.24.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

Working with UCLA's Martie Haselton, Chapman University psychological scientist Jennifer Hahn-Holbrook has been exploring the evidence from diverse sources to argue that postpartum depression is linked to early weaning, deficient diet, inactivity, not enough sunshine, and lack of family support.

The Handiest Tool in the World

Wray Herbert | Posted 07.22.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

Psychological scientists decided to see if hand size is more reliable than other possible rulers. They wanted to see if indeed the perceptual system treats hand size as more constant than the sizes of other objects in the world, including other body parts.

Anticipation: The Psychology of Waiting in Line

Wray Herbert | Posted 07.15.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

We all spend a lot of time waiting in lines -- way more than we'd like. But what if we're waiting for something new and exciting? Doesn't waiting for new purchases become a positive experience, where we actually savor the anticipation so much that it trumps our impatience? Well, yes and no.

The Hidden Rules of Bigotry

Wray Herbert | Posted 07.02.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

Do people, regardless of their own race and religion and age, have favored (and disfavored) groups that they do not publicly -- or consciously -- proclaim?

Insecurity at the Borderline

Wray Herbert | Posted 06.26.2014 | College
Wray Herbert

Psychological scientist wondered if the language we use to label ourselves also reflects how secure, or insecure, we feel about our status.

Virtuous Cycles: Night Owls and Early Birds

Wray Herbert | Posted 06.19.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

Psychological scientists are very interested in "chronotypes" -- a jargony label for early birds and night owls. Now, it appears, our sleep and waking habits may actually shape our character, influencing our very judgments of right and wrong.

Redskin Psychology: The Origins of Cruel Caricatures

Wray Herbert | Posted 06.12.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

My hometown football team has been under fire for many years for using the derogatory term "redskin" as its team mascot. As it should. Indeed, the stereotype existed long before the football team -- even before football. But where and how do such mean-spirited and distorted caricatures get started?

This Simple Trick May Solve All Your Relationship Problems

The Huffington Post | Taryn Hillin | Posted 06.10.2014 | Divorce

Are you someone who gives stellar relationship advice to your best friends, but can never seem to fix your own love life? You're not alone. Resear...

Wrapping a Present for the Future

Wray Herbert | Posted 06.10.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

Maybe there is some risk in overzealously documenting our lives. There are certainly times to put that camera away and join in the fun. But these findings suggest that there may also be risk in failing to create mementos. The seemingly dull and quotidian details of our everyday lives may be the emotional treasures of the future.

Blacks In Prison: Perception And Punishment

Wray Herbert | Posted 06.06.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

One would expect such patently unfair statistics to cause outrage, and calls for more leniency in penal laws, but is it possible that the opposite occurs? Might the blackness of the prisons lead to more, not less, punitive attitudes and policies?

For The Healthy, Wealthy and Wise, The Future Is Long

Wray Herbert | Posted 06.04.2014 | Healthy Living
Wray Herbert

Psychological scientists are very interested in the dynamics of future planning, in part because people are so bad at it. There is circumstantial evidence that people who are financially irresponsible also take poor care of themselves. Is it possible that a single underlying trait is shaping behaviors that promote both health and wealth?

Doing This and That: Are You a 'Precrastinator'?

Wray Herbert | Posted 07.06.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

Scientists at Penn State have been studying effort -- when and why we either spend or conserve our energy. They set out to confirm the intuitive notion that we don't use any more effort than we must in our routine daily actions.

Chopping the Cherry Tree: How Kids Learn Honesty

Wray Herbert | Posted 06.30.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

In the '90s, in the midst of the so-called culture wars, dueling miscellanies represented a fundamental and acrimonious division over how to raise the next generation of American citizens. Lost in the bickering was a much more basic question: Can we really transmit a moral code to our children through the use of stories?

Diagnosis, Decisions, and Disorders of the Mind

Wray Herbert | Posted 06.25.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

One line of criticism holds that the DSM focuses too much on superficial symptoms of mental disorders, ignoring underlying dynamics. Instead of focusing on and naming clinical syndromes, critics say, the manual (and the field) ought to target the specific, disordered cognitive processes that underlie labels.

Not Enough Basketballs? The Too-Much-Talent Effect

Wray Herbert | Posted 06.22.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

Is there such a thing as having too much talent? This is the perennial question facing the owners of big-time sports franchises -- not to mention the managers and coaches and players and fans. Does adding more and more talent add up to ever better team performance?

The Psychology of a Memorable Lunch

Wray Herbert | Posted 06.16.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

Our choices have implications, not only for how much we enjoy lunch today, but also for longer term goals like fitness and health. But how do we choose? What are the basic cognitive processes that lead from initial hunger pang to this soup or that sandwich?

Fathers, Daughters and the Second Shift

Wray Herbert | Posted 06.12.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

Wives still report doing about twice as much housework and childcare as their husbands. One difference is that today's couples, even if they unconsciously embrace traditional gender stereotypes and live less-than-egalitarian lives, may publicly proclaim more egalitarian values.

The Psychology of Forgiving and Forgetting

Wray Herbert | Posted 06.08.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

Does forgiving help us to put aside disturbing thoughts -- to forget -- or does forgetting empower us to forgive? Or both?

It Was The Best of Times, The Most Indulgent of Times

Wray Herbert | Posted 06.02.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

Young Americans have gotten a fair share of criticism in recent decades. For the harshest critics, it's a generation of narcissistic brats. Have they been spoiled by indulgent, overprotective parents, who lavished their kids with unearned praise? Or perhaps it's something else entirely.

The Purposeful Life (Hint: Don't Wait for Retirement)

Wray Herbert | Posted 05.31.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

I have several close friends who are contemplating retirement, and a few have been teetering on that decision for a while. They are not hesitating over financial worries, but more over quality of life issues. They want to be sure that the next stage of life is at least as rich and purposeful as their working years have been.

Read This Blog Post in Less Than a Minute!

Wray Herbert | Posted 05.25.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

University of California, San Diego, psychologists doubted the very premise of such speed reading -- that eliminating eye movements is a worthy goal. Instead, they contend, this is the "fatal flaw" in speed-reading apps -- and the reason they will never be useful for reading any text that is not easy or short.

The Brooding Mind: Making the Worst of Ambiguity

Wray Herbert | Posted 05.17.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

Brooders see their own problems as debilitating, and this self-focus sabotages any real effort to make things better. It leads to all sorts of negative feelings, which in turn lead to more ruminative thinking, creating a perilous cycle of thought and emotion.

Under the Skin: How Childhood Adversity Takes Its Toll

Wray Herbert | Posted 05.12.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

These findings highlight an important and previously unreported link between early misfortune, unhealthy living and serious health risks in early adulthood. It's not to suggest that this is the only mechanism at work, but these hopeful findings identify actual behavioral targets.

Is Gratitude a Tool for Patience?

Wray Herbert | Posted 05.11.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

In AA and other recovery programs, willpower is an unreliable tool for abstinence. Effortful self-regulation can and does fail us, and such failures can leave us vulnerable to impatient decision making. A better alternative can be seen in another practice well known in the rooms of recovery -- the gratitude list.

Shortstop Psychology: The Mystery of the Yips

Wray Herbert | Posted 05.05.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

What's going on that a highly skilled athlete can suddenly and inexplicably lose the fundamentals of fielding? The usual explanation is that these players start to "overthink" their automatic, highly tuned visual and motor skills, and sabotage them in the process. But this has never been proven, nor is it clear just what this means on a basic cognitive level.