I've long believed that those of us who make a living studying human nature should be as well-versed in popular culture as we are well-read in the scientific literature. So in that vein, I hereby present to you my Top 7 List of Lessons about Human Nature offered by Seinfeld... Read More
We have unambiguously crossed the starting line of the holiday season, a time of year that predictably brings with it a variety of familiar visitors. But there's one recurring aspect of the holidays that we don't always take note of, namely that they provide the perfect opportunity to stop and appreciate the power of situations. Read More
EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it: New study finds 70-year-olds have worse memory than 20-year-olds!
The next time critics try to tell you that psychology is merely the commonsense study of that which we already know, tell them to look more closely. Read More
There's no shortage of disturbing aspects to the Joe Paterno story. Take yesterday's impromptu rally in which Penn State students camped on the coach's lawn, cheering. How on earth, you might ask, could people support a man who, at the very least, failed to do more than pass the buck to university administrators upon learning that his assistant had assaulted a child? Read More
For anyone with school-aged kids, one of the biggest days of the year is upon us. And as with so many of life's daily experiences, Halloween has interesting lessons to teach regarding human nature... Read More
It happens, it would seem, with the regularity of the new moon. Unfortunately, every month or so a news story captures local, national, or even global attention because of the apparent indifference of a crowd of people. This week it's the very sad story of a toddler at a market in China who was gravely injured by a hit-and-run driver... Read More
Consider the following scenario: Just hours before his scheduled execution by lethal injection, a prisoner on death row gets a call that the Board of Pardons and Parole has commuted his sentence to life in prison. Read More
When we think about extramarital affairs, we think about men. Powerful men. Rich, famous, powerful men. Why would men of status be more likely to step out on a spouse? The answers we give to this question usually have to do with biology or evolution... Read More
A video making the internet rounds shows tennis star Novak Djokovic dancing himself silly at the U.S. Open. The clip's backstory involves Cameron Hughes, the so-called "SuperFan," a professional riler-up of crowds at sporting venues across the globe. I recently spoke with Hughes to explore his skill for manipulating situations to shape group behavior... Read More
Few moments in a courtroom are as persuasive to a jury as seeing a confident witness point at a defendant and say, "that's the man I saw at the crime scene." That's what makes the fallibility of eyewitness memory so surprising to most people when they learn about it... Read More
Even the experience of physical pain depends on context. I went for a morning run today and it was clear from the start that it was going to be a struggle. Almost immediately, that pesky ache in my left foot announced its off-and-on presence with authority, and I knew it would be a battle of mind over matter to get through my usual distance... Read More
It pays to be pretty.
Or so we've been told by life experience as well as research finding. Better looking people get the benefit of the doubt, get away with bad behavior, and make more money. But sometimes being beautiful can backfire... Read More
Make sure to plop your kids in front of the TV for a good 2 hours straight this Sunday. It's important. You see, over the past few years, it's become increasingly important to me to give my daughters the chance to become sports fans...
There are some human experiences that we fancy as too ethereal to study. Like falling in love. But in the past several decades, behavioral scientists have had a lot to tell us about attraction and love... Read More
They say the most important word to include in a book title is "you" because it draws the reader in and makes the topic seem relevant and accessible. Well, allow me to offer a web-based caveat to this axiom: the most important word to include in a blog post title is "breasts"... Read More
We keep falling for it, don't we? As today's disillusioned Facebook and Twitter posts spell out, once again plenty of people have been let down and even shocked by the embarrassing missteps of a public figure they thought they knew. Today it's Anthony Weiner... Read More
A new study I co-authored with Michael Norton of Harvard Business School finds that Americans think significant progress has been made in the fight against racial discrimination targeted against Blacks. But many White Americans perceive that this progress has come at their own expense, and now believe that anti-White bias has become an even bigger problem facing society... Read More
I'm late to the game on this. When the controversy erupted over the "Why Are Black Women Less Attractive" blog post, I was traveling. By the time I caught up, the cavalry had already taken to the blogwaves to point out the myriad deficiencies in the so-called scientific reasoning of he-who-shall-not-be-named-or-given-additional-publicity... Read More
It's been just an hour since the news broke of the death of Osama bin Laden. Too soon to know all the details of how he was killed, to grasp the full scope of how the world will react, to find out how long it will be before Donald Trump takes credit. But one thing's certain: it sure *feels* like a momentous occasion... Read More
Last month, Brigham Young University suspended from its nationally ranked men's basketball team starting forward Brandon Davies. That a major college team would have cause to discipline one of its own was hardly shocking. But the nature of Davies' honor code violation: Reportedly, he was dismissed for having consensual sex with his girlfriend. Read More
I got a letter this week from my utility company. It included a colorful graph comparing my electricity use to that of my average neighbor. Turns out I use 3 percent less energy than the norm. This got me to thinking about the strategy behind sending out the information, and whether it could, under some circumstances, backfire... Read More
I gave in this week. I made an appointment at the auto body shop. It’s been a few months now that I’ve been driving around with a big dent in my front bumper cover, courtesy of an unknown stranger who apparently got a bit overambitious in a small parking lot. In the end, I decided to have the work done for reasons more psychological than automotive...
According to a report today from the Associated Press, Iran's National Olympic Committee is threatening to boycott the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Why, you ask? Because of disagreement over the development of Iran's nuclear program? In protest of British policy in the Middle East? Nope. Because of a logo... Read More
Last week, the New York Times ran a provocative story detailing evidence of a potential bias within our very own field of psychology. The story focused on a lack of ideological diversity; it cited data indicating that among psychologists, Democrats outnumber Republicans by a ratio of nearly 12 to 1... Read More
Several months ago, I read an interesting post by a fellow blogger who pondered the ethics of psychologists who comment publicly on the lives of public figures. For the most part, my thoughts on the matter echo those of my colleague. That's why I admit I'm breaking with my own ethical code in writing this post... Read More
The school my kids attend has an afternoon nicety known as rolling pick-up. It allows parents willing to wait in line for a few minutes to pick up their children right at the front door, providing more than ample time for a bit of self-reflection... Read More
A few posts ago, I blogged on the psychology of the lie that spins out of control, exploring how longstanding frauds often evolve slowly over time. Well, we might also consider how these lies, ruses, and exaggerations are perceived by the rest of us. Because, really, if a fraud case falls in a forest with no one around to be duped by it, does it make a sound? Read More
Almost two years ago, I wrote a series of blog posts detailing my experiences as an expert witness on Cape Cod in the post-trial hearing of convicted murderer Christopher McCowen. The series of posts attracted a relatively large number of hits, and some readers commented to suggest that it was "a really gripping series of posts." Well, the story just keeps on going... Read More