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

Facing Our Two-Facedness

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on May 26, 2015 in Ambigamy
We all want opposite things. Life goes better and gets more interesting when you admit that you do too.

Aging-in-Place May Be a Fountain of Youth Secret

One of the benefits of aging-in-place is good neighborhood gossip -- a reason to stay alive and well is so that you don’t miss out on the next installment.

Simple, Everyday Actions That Support Mental Health

Learn simple ways to support yourself and others for better mental health.

Make New Friends, Keep (Some of) the Old

By Wendy Paris on May 26, 2015 in Splitopia
Divorce can shake up friendships, but it also gives us a chance to connect with others, and recreate a social circle more supportive of our new lives. Sometimes ending a marriage enables us to see the value in others we've formerly dismissed.

More Than Words Can Say

By David Ludden Ph.D. on May 26, 2015 in Talking Apes
The meaning of a conversation lies not in the words that are spoken but rather in the minds of the speaker and listener.

Death by Selfie

By Laurie Essig Ph.D. on May 24, 2015 in Love, Inc
Death by selfie is not randomly distributed in the population. Like suicide, selficide is patterned and predictable, killing those most likely to depend on social media for their performance of self.

Remote Personality Profiling

Biographers, Business people, Investigative Journalists and Security Agencies are all interested in Profiling People for different purposes. There is certainly a great deal of information on the web but the question is what to look for and how to put it all together.

Empathy Vs Sympathy

By Neel Burton M.D. on May 22, 2015 in Hide and Seek
Empathy is often confused with pity, sympathy, and compassion, which are each reactions to the plight of others.

#rednoseday: Mental Health Is Social Equity!

By Ravi Chandra M.D. on May 20, 2015 in The Pacific Heart
Thursday, May 21 is the first Red Nose Day in the U.S. Here are some thoughts on what emotional problems are worsened with socio-economic inequity and why.

How Can We Get Relief With "Mad Men" Ending?

In Mad Men’s season six finale, Don Draper asks, “What is happiness?” He then answers, “It’s a moment before you need more happiness.” Substitute happiness for relief—or, perhaps, merely mistake relief for happiness, or satisfaction, or fulfillment—and you have yourself at the very eye of the hurricane of the whole irrelationship song-and-dance routine. Goodbye, Don.

Life Unfiltered: Do We Mask Depression Online?

Are there ways we can authentically share ourselves online? How can we show how life is a balance of good moments—the pretty pictures with the fun filters—along with harder, more complex times?

Water Games

Negotiations are especially difficult when you are responding to the other party’s assumed instead of actual preferences.

Irrelationship Is Not Codependency

Codependency may sometimes dovetail with irrelationship to the point that they’re not easily distinguishable. They may sometimes seem like kissing cousins, but at the level of purpose and of points of origin, they’re decidedly not identical twins.

Red Flags of Potentially Toxic Relationships

While most of us know at some level that a relationship has turned toxic, we may have a hard time admitting that we have made a poor choice in placing our trust in another.

On the Nature of Creepiness

Given how frequently creepiness gets discussed in everyday life, it is amazing that it has not yet been studied in a scientific way. What I found in an exploratory study suggests that creepiness is a response to the ambiguity of threat; it is not the clear presence of danger that creeps us out, but rather the uncertainty of whether danger is present or not.

4 Ways to Deal with Obnoxious People

Most of us can recall a situation in which someone behaved obnoxiously, offending you or the people with you in the room. Whether that target is you or someone else, these 5 strategies will help you smooth out an otherwise rough situation.

Game On

By Mark D. Griffiths Ph.D. on May 19, 2015 in In Excess
In January 2015, a 32-year old male gamer was found dead at a Taiwanese Internet café following a non-stop three-day gaming session. I have spent nearly three decades studying video game addiction — but what turns a hobby into a health risk? Find out more in this article on Internet Gaming Disorder.

Friendships Help Kids Cope With Divorce

By Wendy Paris on May 19, 2015 in Splitopia
Your children's friendships can be disrupted by divorce, either because you move or because everyone is too busy and preoccupied to help maintain them. Eileen Kennedy-Moore answers four questions on the impact of divorce on childhood friendships, and gives advice for how parents can foster strong community.

Impulsivity: Good or Bad?

There can be some serious advantages to reacting fast to things around one. But there can also be serious disadvantages to being unplanful and unprepared. What does it mean to be impulsive?

Are Teens Going Online to Form Romantic Relationships?

By Michele Ybarra MPH, Ph.D. on May 18, 2015 in Connected
Many teens use the Internet to make new friends, but are today's teenagers also going online to find romantic partners? Moreover, do lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) teens use the Internet in different ways than non-LGBTQ teens when it comes to finding romantic partners? These questions and more answered in our new infographic.

The Juggernaut of C.E.O. Compensation

By Ken Eisold Ph.D. on May 18, 2015 in Hidden Motives
All efforts to rein in CEO pay seem to have failed. One has to wonder why

How Technical Devices Influence Children's Brains

Guest blog by Dan Riseman, president of Riseman Educational Counseling, covers children's brain development. Here are some dos and don'ts regarding devices.

Singles in Finland – No Shrinking Violets!

By Bella DePaulo Ph.D. on May 17, 2015 in Living Single
Finland is a small country with a very big place for single people. An astonishing 42 percent of all households in Finland are comprised of single people living alone (and not all single people live alone). Here's what they say they need and deserve.

Psychology of Money

Are you sure you want to spend your money on THAT? Dan Ariely wants you to wait and think. Same for having children.

Speed: Scientific Self-Correction versus Plate Tectonics

By Lee Jussim Ph.D. on May 15, 2015 in Rabble Rouser
If psychological science is self-correcting, it is very very very hard to detect.

The One Graduation Message We All Need to Hear

The field of evolutionary psychology has enormous implications for how to guide the next generation of leaders. In particular, the field helps illuminate the nature of giving—a value that we expect all of our graduates to internalize.

Are Conformity Effects Necessarily Social?

By Art Markman Ph.D. on May 14, 2015 in Ulterior Motives
People tend to do what the people around them are doing. Walk onto an elevator, and most everyone stands facing forward. People talking to each other tend to match their speech rate and even the pitch of their voices. The judgments made by a group also tend to converge.

Iran is Very Big

If the attempt to negotiate and ratify a nuclear agreement with Iran fails, an escalation in our confrontation is likely, possibly leading to war. Before contemplating war with Iran, we need to get a sense of the size of the country.

Why Some Men Find It So Hard to Give In

We expect men to be dominant and women to be submissive, according to traditional gender roles. A man who submits to the authority of others, therefore, runs this risk of violating society’s norms. For some men, the shame of giving in hits particularly hard.

The Shadow and His Wanderer

Indulge me in 3 lines of thought: Nietzsche on free will. How to talk to strangers on a plane. Car key design.