Understanding Social Life

Human beings are social animals, and the tenor of our social life is one of the most important influences on our mental health. Without positive, durable relationships, both our minds and our bodies fall apart. We begin life dependent for survival on the quality of relationship with our primary caregiver, usually Mom. And the nature of that relationship typically influences all others in our life.

Our survival as a species similarly hinges on our capacity for social living. Most of human history was spent in small groups in which each was dependent on the others for survival, and evidence suggests this is the condition to which we are best adapted.

Recent Posts on Social Life

Women in Science: What Explains Gaps? Part I

By Lee Jussim Ph.D. on October 09, 2015 Rabble Rouser
A guest post by a female physicist argues against discrimination as the sole factor producing a gender gap in STEM and for scientific work practices that are compatible with raising families.

Don't Cancel Your Dinner Plans

Nobody ever mentions the importance of an active social life.

Ghost Stories for Dogs

For Halloween, Ghosts of Gettysburg provides a unique socializing event for service pups in training.

Fun That Takes You By Surprise

By Bernard L. De Koven on October 09, 2015 On Having Fun
The wonder that arises from the most wonderful of all games has nothing to do with score or even excellence, but rather is about that moment of fun that takes us by surprise.

Could a Social Network Motivate You to Exercise More?

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School of Communication have identified a new way to use social networks to motivate people to adopt healthier behaviors and exercise more.

Why We Love to Be Scared

By Margee Kerr Ph.D. on October 07, 2015 Why We Scream
Wonder why chills run down your spine (in a good way) at the first sign of fall? Here's why.


Gossip can be entertaining. We often thirst for it and delight in its consumption. There is also a dark side, however. Please don’t go there.

The Human-Robot Interface

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on October 06, 2015 The Human Beast
The digital revolution is about to steal most people's jobs as artificial intelligence does our work ever more efficiently. What about caring for children and the elderly? If these tasks are soon to be taken on by robots, what will the interface look like? How will interacting with robots affect us?

Textual Relations

In Reclaiming Conversation, Sherry Turkle reprises her concerns about the downside of technology on family life, romantic relationships, friendships, education, work, and the public square. By "reclaiming conversation," she maintains that we can restore our capacity for self-reflection, empathy and genuine intimacy. But it won't be easy.

Phubbing: How our Cellphone Obsession Harms Relationships

The term “phubbing” has been used to describe the act of interrupting or ignoring an in person conversation in order to attend to one’s cell phone. New research suggests that phubbing your romantic partner could be a sign, or even a cause, of discontent in your relationship.

Are You Spiritual or Religious? Does it Matter?

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The Pain of Rejection (and How We Justify Dishing It Out)

By F. Diane Barth L.C.S.W. on October 04, 2015 Off the Couch
Researchers have provided evidence for what you and I already know – being ostracized, or ignored or excluded by a group to which we would like to belong or have already been part of is not good for our psyches or our souls. But what about the ostracizers? Do they get off scot free? Or does something happen to them as well.

What Trump Can Learn About Leadership From His Daughter

Leadership is in the news these days. The primaries race for the Presidential candidacy has really put the spotlight on this issue. For anyone in a leadership role self-awareness and reflection can make a big difference in your leadership success.

Hallucinated Happiness

If only imagination could sustain our happiness! Alas, we remain shackled to reality. Examples of continued attempts to psych ourselves into happiness – or others into unhappiness – range from the entertaining to the disturbing.

The Hidden Trait that Predicts Being Attractive

Finding love is a tricky game. New evidence suggests that others' interest in you might be tied to your dispositional mindfulness.

Why Women Don't Make the First Move

In the traditional world of dating, men ask and women wait to be asked. A new dating app is changing the rules, but what makes women wait in the first place?

Biggus Bangus

In the beginning was god and god made the big bang. But who make god? Five-year olds want to know, but seasoned christian cosmogonists have forgotten this question. They rather create god in their own image – projectively.

When Getting Close Equals Getting Hurt, Part Two

Six key questions to consider to help your clients begin to take healthy risks towards seeking and sustaining closeness.

Interview with 'The Martian'

By Guy P. Harrison on October 02, 2015 About Thinking
"The Martian" talks space and story telling.

10 Ways Coupling Has Changed Over the Past 75 Years

By Bella DePaulo Ph.D. on October 02, 2015 Living Single
In some significant ways, over the past three-quarters of a century, couples have been acting more like single people.

Five Reasons People Don't Like Atheists

By Clay Routledge Ph.D. on October 01, 2015 More Than Mortal
Atheists seem to really drive people nuts. Polls identify atheists as untrustworthy, unelectable for public office, and unworthy of marrying into one’s family.

Trumpism: Daily Examples of a Stunning Lack of Compassion

Is one-upmanship, or Trumpism, becoming more prevalent than empathic or compassionate responses in our day-to-day lives?

Is Marriage Worth It For Women?

By Noam Shpancer Ph.D. on October 01, 2015 Insight Therapy
Why are women more likely than men to initiate divorce?

13 Easy Ways to Jumpstart Your Boring Life

By Donna Barstow on October 01, 2015 Ink Blots Cartoons
Routines can be comforting, but when every day looks the same, that can be a danger signal.

How to Break Up with Someone Compassionately and Effectively

While it is always difficult to end an intimate relationship, research indicates that some ways of breaking up are better than others. In fact, it is possible to learn how to break up with someone compassionately and effectively. This approach helps minimize the pain and confusion for both partners, while sometimes even preserving a friendship.

The Secret to Keeping Your Cool When You’re Really Mad

By Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D. on September 30, 2015 Feeling It
Anger costs us a lot, but it's also helpful. Here's a science-based secret to reaping the good while avoiding the bad.

Why We Love to Hate Politicians

You may think politicians deserve the hate spewed at them because others seem to feel that way. It helps to know that the mammal brain bonds around common enemies. The mammal brain seeks safe ways to oppose power. The mammal brain mirrors others and relies on old pathways. Your inner mammal feels good when you hate politicians, which lures you to forget that it's hate.

7 Tips for Having Difficult Conversations

By Andrea Bonior Ph.D. on September 29, 2015 Friendship 2.0
The need to talk about something difficult can fill us with anxiety, whether at work or in our romantic, family, or friend relationships. Often we enter these conversations without being mindful of how to make them go the best they possibly can-- and we can make things far worse if we're not prepared. Here are important factors to consider when planning the interaction.

Why You Trust Your Friends Even When They're Ripping You Off

By David DiSalvo on September 29, 2015 Neuronarrative
Your brain wants to trust. We’re wired for social connection—not just casual meet and greets, but genuine connection—and trust is what makes it work. But that same drive to trust, essential though it is, also makes us natural born suckers.

The 7 Habits of Socially Connected People

By Kira Asatryan on September 29, 2015 The Art of Closeness
All socially successful people behave in basically the same way. What are their secrets? Find out now!