iOS app Android app

Situations Matter

Highlight this Blog Post at Your Own Risk

Sam Sommers | Posted 04.02.2013 | Education
Sam Sommers

Where do your study strategies come from? Maybe a teacher gave you specific instruction on how best to learn material? Simple trial-and-error? All reasonable possibilities. However, here's some food for thought: it's also worth considering what psychological science has to say on the matter.

On Our Perceptions Of Physical Beauty

Sam Sommers | Posted 01.28.2013 | Healthy Living
Sam Sommers

Just what, exactly, can we learn from a pretty face? Because despite axiomatic warnings to the contrary, when we meet other people we spend an awful lot of time judging books by their covers.

Are You A Regifter?

Sam Sommers | Posted 12.21.2012 | Healthy Living
Sam Sommers

There are few things in life that give me more pleasure than finding a new home for an item that's just taking up space in my house. So one of my kids gets a birthday present she already has? She may see disappointment, but I see opportunity.

Hey, CNN: I'll Analyze My Own Debate Perceptions, Thank You

Sam Sommers | Posted 12.03.2012 | TV
Sam Sommers

Sure, debate spin has always been ridiculous, but now we don't even have to wait until the debate's over to have other people tell us what to think. If having ratings on the screen during the debate sounds like a psychological experiment on conformity, that's because it basically is.

Sex, Drugs and Raising Kids

Sam Sommers | Posted 11.21.2012 | Parents
Sam Sommers

Does a taste of champagne at a family wedding consign your son to a life of AA meetings? Will the mere mention of sex at home ensure your daughter of a future reality show appearance as a teen mom?

Just How Independent Are Independent Voters?

Sam Sommers | Posted 10.15.2012 | Politics
Sam Sommers

How might these unaffiliated and presumably more objective voters react to the nominee, controversy, statement, or gaffe? But who are these Independents? And just how independent are they anyway?

What's in a Name?

Sam Sommers | Posted 09.15.2012 | Home
Sam Sommers

Names matter. Whenever we hear one, we draw a wide range of assumptions about the individual person (or item) in question. Just ask the fish merchant whose stroke of naming genius turned the undesirable Patagonian toothfish into the haute cuisine Chilean sea bass.

The LeBron Narrative and the Psychology of Sports Fans

Sam Sommers | Posted 08.25.2012 | Sports
Sam Sommers

However, take a more careful look at the past few seasons of LeBron. On paper, at least, he has actually done a lot of the things we claim we want our sports heroes to do.

Getting The Most Out Of Life, One Chocolate At A Time

Sam Sommers | Posted 05.19.2012 | Healthy Living
Sam Sommers

In the smorgasbord-like taste test that is your daily social existence, remember to consume each proverbial chocolate as if it's the last one you'll ever experience. Doing so just makes life all that much sweeter.

Looking for Love in All the Web Places

Sam Sommers | Posted 04.15.2012 | Healthy Living
Sam Sommers

This Valentine's Day, go ahead and make use of the latest technology when looking for love. But do so with the realistic expectation that finding that special someone doesn't magically (or scientifically) get easier simply because you're online.

Mars and Venus in the... Parking Garage?

Sam Sommers | Posted 04.07.2012 | Healthy Living
Sam Sommers

It's one of the perils of theorizing about sex differences: Our own expectations and intuitions get in the way. We hear about a study that reveals a significant sex gap and we immediately jump to conclusions.

When It Comes To Attraction, Context Matters

Sam Sommers | Posted 04.04.2012 | Healthy Living
Sam Sommers

What makes someone attractive to you? Specific physical features? A particular personality type? A certain indefinable quality of character or depth of soul? All reasonable answers, sure, but there's another critical influence on who you're attracted to: context.

Why Is It So hard To Make The Life Changes We Seek?

Sam Sommers | Posted 03.30.2012 | Healthy Living
Sam Sommers

Are you looking to be a happier, more productive, more successful person? Are you in the market for self-help? Then the better advice is stop putting so much effort into finding your "authentic" self. Learn to embrace the self as flexible.

Going With Your Gut in the Voting Booth

Sam Sommers | Posted 03.12.2012 | Politics
Sam Sommers

No, this is not another blog post about the benefits (or costs) to being beautiful, though attractiveness certainly is a characteristic that can impact an election. Just ask Richard Nixon. But I'm not talking about physical attractiveness per se.

Context, Gender, and Why Riley's Right to Be Pissed Off About Toys

Sam Sommers | Posted 03.06.2012 | Parents
Sam Sommers

Behavioral science has now shown us that many of the gender differences we habitually chalk up to biology or evolution aren't as set in stone as we assume.

The Magic Spell of a Pretty Face

Sam Sommers | Posted 03.05.2012 | Science
Sam Sommers

We love to look at good-looking people. Hardly an earth-shattering conclusion, I know. But it's a well-documented one: Attractive people grab our attention.

What You Don't Know About People

Sam Sommers | Posted 02.29.2012 | Home
Sam Sommers

You've been lied to. Or, at the very least, misled. It's simply not true that everything you need to know about life you learned in Kindergarten.

The Science of Seinfeld

Sam Sommers | Posted 02.11.2012 | Entertainment
Sam Sommers

Far from a "show about nothing," Seinfeld was actually an analysis of the ins and outs of daily human interaction-of the mundane social experiences previously not deemed worthy of exploration in front of a mass audience.

'Tis the Season to Notice Situations

Sam Sommers | Posted 01.30.2012 | Books
Sam Sommers

While we tend to view ourselves and others around us in terms of predictably consistent personality types, time and time again behavioral science demonstrates that how we think and what we do varies dramatically by simple situational considerations like where we are.

Why Being In A Crowd Make Us Callous

Sam Sommers | Posted 12.21.2011 | Healthy Living
Sam Sommers

When we understand how crowds can make us callous, we know too much to rest comfortably in our own inaction.

Novak Djokovic and the Crowd Whisperer of the U.S. Open

Sam Sommers | Posted 11.07.2011 | Sports
Sam Sommers

A video has been making the internet rounds showing tennis star Novak Djokovic dancing himself silly after a victory at the U.S. Open, but Djokovic's impromptu dance performance wasn't actually impromptu.

The Most Important Item on Your Kids' Back-to-School List

Sam Sommers | Posted 10.22.2011 | Parents
Sam Sommers

When you start your own back-to-school shopping this month -- for your kids or for yourself -- don't forget the most important item on that list: the right mentality.

Pain? What Pain?

Sam Sommers | Posted 10.08.2011 | Sports
Sam Sommers

The idea that there's a mental component to pain is hardly an unfamiliar one. But the more you learn about it, the full extent to which our experience with pain depends on situations is surprising.

A Weiner By Any Other Name

Sam Sommers | Posted 08.07.2011 | Politics
Sam Sommers

We keep falling for it, don't we? As a spate of disillusioned facebook and twitter posts from the past 24 hours spells out, once again plenty of peop...