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Social Cognition

Dating and Romance: The Problem With Kindness

Wray Herbert | Posted 09.04.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

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

Attachment Style and Brain Activity in Adolescents

Pascal Vrticka | Posted 07.31.2014 | Science
Pascal Vrticka

Could a teenager's attachment orientation (or attachment style) -- which is established early in life through interactions between children and their primary caregiver(s) -- potentially explain individual differences in how adolescents' brains process social-emotional information?

Why Psychotherapy Appears to Work (Even When It Doesn't)

Wray Herbert | Posted 09.17.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

In his classic 1952 paper, Hans Eysenck did not attempt to explain why therapists' beliefs are so resistant to proof -- it was beyond the scope of his analysis. But now a group of psychological scientists are attempting to do just that.

The Hidden Rules of Bigotry

Wray Herbert | Posted 09.01.2014 | 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 08.26.2014 | 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.

Redskin Psychology: The Origins of Cruel Caricatures

Wray Herbert | Posted 08.11.2014 | 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?

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?

Genes and Values: The Dopamine Connection

Wray Herbert | Posted 04.02.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

All cultural generalizations are wrong when it comes to individuals. We all know Europeans and Americans who are self-effacing and communitarian in their world view, and Asians who are fiercely independent. So why do some individuals conform to cultural norms and others not?

No Fate! Or Maybe Fate. What's Your Choice?

Wray Herbert | Posted 02.17.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

Fatalism is a supernatural belief, and it can indeed have harmful consequences for the way we act in the world. But where does fatalism come from?

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.

The Face(s) of the GOP. Who Do You See?

Wray Herbert | Posted 12.08.2013 | Science
Wray Herbert

Can people be so biased by their political attitudes that they look out and see a different world, a world where up is down and black is white? I came across a new study this week that argues just that.

Oh, the Humanity. Putting Faces on Social Causes

Wray Herbert | Posted 08.21.2013 | Science
Wray Herbert

It's very difficult and expensive to get people to comply with social causes -- especially causes that may not benefit us directly. But humanizing issues may, by stirring up guilty feelings about hurting others, lead to selfless action.

Hunger and Hoarding in the Welfare State

Wray Herbert | Posted 08.11.2013 | Science
Wray Herbert

Our primitive human ancestors hunted and foraged for plants, and they also faced periods of debilitating hunger. But our ancient ancestors came up with a better solution to the problem of scarcity. They embraced communal values, in words if not in actions.

Revisiting the 'Hormone of Love'

Wray Herbert | Posted 07.25.2013 | Science
Wray Herbert

It's been more than a decade since oxytocin was first heralded as the "hormone of love" -- a distinction that came with optimistic predictions for future drug therapies. The question now is not whether oxytocin has beneficial effects, but under what circumstances and for whom does it have these effects?

The Two Faces of Attractiveness

Wray Herbert | Posted 06.16.2013 | Science
Wray Herbert

Attractiveness is the modern equivalent of what our ancient ancestors saw as trustworthy and safe, so we would expect any deviation in the faces we actually know to diminish attractiveness. Yet a huge amount of research says the opposite.

Calling a Bluff: Is It All in the Arms?

Wray Herbert | Posted 06.09.2013 | Science
Wray Herbert

We all know the expression "poker face" because the face is where we expect to find meaningful information. But what if poker players are looking in the wrong place?

Can Our Beliefs About Exercise Make Us Fat?

Wray Herbert | Posted 05.22.2013 | Science
Wray Herbert

University of Michigan psychologist Brent McFerran has come to believe that our naïve theories of weight control are not entirely harmless, and indeed that they could undermine our own efforts to achieve a healthy weight.

Budgets and Biases: Summing Up American Values

Wray Herbert | Posted 04.07.2013 | Science
Wray Herbert

Psychological scientists Daniel Ames and Susan Fiske are reporting evidence that our judgments of harm may be badly distorted by deeply-rooted cognitive biases that operate out of our awareness. Specifically, we may be prone to exaggerate damage when we perceive it as deliberate and blameworthy.

Policy and Prowess: Did Ancient Humans Diss the 47%?

Wray Herbert | Posted 12.12.2012 | Science
Wray Herbert

We may debate civilly and settle our differences in the voting booth, but is it possible that physical prowess still shapes our positions on this fundamental social issue?

Do Dogs Feel Guilty? 'Scolding' Studies Yield Surprising Answer

| Jason G. Goldman | Posted 06.01.2012 | Science

“I walked into the house, and he was acting strange. I could tell he had done something wrong,” she told me. I pressed for further details. “His...

How to Spot a Scoundrel: Fidgeting and Trust

Wray Herbert | Posted 06.26.2012 | Science
Wray Herbert

Since trust and cooperation are so essential to the smooth working of human society, it makes sense that people would have learned over eons both to send signals of trustworthiness and to interpret signs of malicious intent.

The Psychology of Whew!

Wray Herbert | Posted 06.10.2012 | Science
Wray Herbert

Despite its familiarity, we don't really know much about its nature or purpose. How does relief function in the human mind? What benefit could this pervasive emotion have in navigating life?

I Think, Therefore I Eat Junk Food: Philosophy and Health

Wray Herbert | Posted 06.03.2012 | Science
Wray Herbert

So are you a dualist? Most scientists reject the notion that the mind has an immaterial substance that's unlike the physical world. Instead, they argue that the mind somehow emerges from the squishy matter called the brain -- a philosophy called physicalism.