How Others’ (And Our Own) Attitudes About Race Affect Our Health

Can immune and endocrine markers of health risk be affected by the attitudes people hold about one's group?

When Dieting, Use Science-Based Strategies for Successful Willpower

“Willpower is often construed as a stoic self-denial in the service of a distant goal, a capacity to deliberately endure and suffer while 'biting the bullet.' But [there is] a less heroic approach." Research tells us what that is.
Human Origins and Africa

Human Origins and Africa

New research continues to suggest that modern humans originated in Africa, and spread to the rest of the planet from there. Frankly, I was hoping for different news, because, archaeology aside, this only makes the battle against modern prejudice steeper.

On Prejudice Against Fat People

Prejudice against fat people continues to be one of the deepest and most widely shared prejudices that the public holds. New science is helping to dispel the traditional "calories in-calories out" paradigm -- and the moral associations that come with it.

Which Sex Favors True Crime Stories?

The "True Crime" genre is often a staple of summer reading season. Gory, gruesome, and gut wrenching, the genre encompasses true stories of murder, rape, and other savagery. Take a guess: Are you more likely to see a man or a woman with a true crime book under that beach umbrella?

What Type of Learner Are You? (And Why It Doesn't Matter)

Parents and students alike love learning styles classifications-- active learners, observational learners, passive learners, visual learners, aural learners, assimilators, convergers.... There are a wealth of classification types out there, but these classifications may tell us more about our need to classify than about learning per se.
The Spotlight Effect

The Spotlight Effect

The "spotlight effect" refers to the fact that people considerably overestimate how much attention other people are paying to them. We simply do not loom quite as large in the eyes of others as we do in our own-- and knowing this can help us overcome embarrassment.

The Dependency Paradox: Why People Are Not Like Feet

According to what I call the "plantar theory of human nature," people are like feet. The foot that is always protected by cushioned sneakers will never develop a layer of hard skin. It will only lead to a need for more cushioning. How accurate is this intuitive theory?
The Precarious Couple Effect

The Precarious Couple Effect

Research shows that certain types of couples don’t work very well together. Precarious couples are the specific combination of a quiet, verbally inhibited man with a verbally disinhibited but highly critical woman. Part II of the series “When Not to Trust an Intuition of Compatibility”

The Unfair Self-Esteem Trap Faced by Minority Students

A 2005 documentary by Kiri Davis, A Girl Like Me, replicates a famous study showing young African American children preferring to play with White rather than Black dolls. What are the implications for minority self-esteem and education?

Cultural Stereotypes, or National Character?

Is there really something to the impression that the French are different from Americans, who are different from, say, the Thai? Or do these impressions only amount to so many caricatures?
Writers, and Parents: Show, Don't Tell

Writers, and Parents: Show, Don't Tell

One of the cardinal rules of writing is this: Show, Don't Tell. My 6-year old teaches me a valuable lesson in applying this rule not just to writing, but to parenting as well.
Sculpt Your Partner: Be Like Mike (Michaelangelo)

Sculpt Your Partner: Be Like Mike (Michaelangelo)

Researchers have described the Michaelangelo Phenomenon as one in which relationships grow by having one partner "sculpt" the other. But it's not about shaping your partner according to the vision of who you want them to be.

Star-Crossed Lovers: When NOT to Trust an Intuition of Compatibility

Think of how you might react to an online dating profile that said this: "I will treat you like you are God until you break my trust and then you are just another person…. warning ahead, I do have a very bad temper…. I do admit I will get jealous if you are always going over to one of your guy' friend's house…."

When Making Impressions, Mind Your (Other Party's) Manners

When we want to make a good impression, one of the most common mistakes we make is to forget the central role that the other party has in shaping our behavior. We become so preoccupied with what we should or should not do to that we easily forget the importance of the other—the job interviewer, our date, our partner's parents—in shaping their impression of us.
How Subtle Discrimination Affects Targets II: American as Apple Pie

How Subtle Discrimination Affects Targets II: American as Apple Pie

Prejudice and discrimination do not have to be blatant or extreme to affect people. In this post, I explore how subtle comments about whether one belongs can affect behavior in ways that wouldn't be obvious. Are American minorities more likely to choose the greasy burger and fries when people question whether they are "really" American?
Perfect for Me: How to Idealize Your Partner for Relationship Health

Perfect for Me: How to Idealize Your Partner for Relationship Health

Nobody's perfect, and conventional wisdom would hold that entering marriage starry-eyed and blind to your partner's weaknesses only foreshadows future disappointment and relationship trouble. Does our intuition match the research on partner idealization?

Does White Identity Predict Positive or Negative Attitudes Towards Diversity?

In recent years, research on White identity has gained traction in the psychological literature, as researchers and clinicians have grown to realize that this group also struggles with questions such as, "what does it mean to be White in my culture," and "what does being White mean to me?"

Would You Be Nice to a Chauvinist Pig?

Imagine you are in a meeting at school or at work, and someone blurts out a clearly chauvinist or bigoted remark. Ask yourself: how would you respond? Would you put them in their place, or would you be too nice to confront?

Jeremy Lin and Racism: How Subtle Discrimination Affects Targets

In last week's post, I compared Jeremy Lin to Jackie Robinson. One reader, Angela, astutely pointed out that the analogy is problematic: "There was an actual structure preventing such players from participating, a structure that doesn't exist for Asians or Asian-Americans today... Lin [is] not breaking a barrier." Does this make Lin's journey less significant?

Is Jeremy Lin Like Jackie Robinson?

As a student of stereotypes and intergroup relations, the Jeremy Lin phenomenon makes me wonder whether Lin has opened the door for Asian American athletes to finally stop being overlooked in American sports, much in the same way that Jackie Robinson did for African American athletes. There is reason for both gloom and hope.
How to Give Support Right

How to Give Support Right

Providing support to someone, while usually well-intentioned, can make the person getting the support feel incompetent and burdensome. Niall Bolger and his colleagues have investigated whether are there different types of support that are associated with positive vs. negative outcomes.

Is It Best to Be Greedy in Tough Economic Times?

There's a certain logic to the idea that greed is good when resources are scarce: when there's not a lot to go around, what could be better than hogging the goods for oneself to ensure one's survival? Researchers at Berkeley have an answer.

Got Goals? Maximize Your Success in Achieving Them

1) Watch less TV. 2) Eat your veggies. How many of us have New Year's resolutions posted on the mirror or the fridge that look like that? They seem like perfectly reasonable to-do lists, and at least they help us keep the goal in mind. But you can do better. Here's how.

After a Diet, Your Body Remains Addicted to Food

A recent news article about dieting was a revelation for me as to why I sometimes feel like I'm addicted to food. The article emphasizes what many of us chronic dieters already know – after you have lost weight on a diet, your body actively fights you, through both hormones and brain activity, to put that weight back on. Is there a way out?

What Bankruptcy and Racial Bias Mean for the Presidential Election

A new study shows that lawyers are more likely to steer black debtors filing for bankruptcy towards chapter 13, and others towards the more lenient chapter 7. But because we do not have a critical mass of black versus white U.S. Presidents, we cannot argue with certainty that negative behavior directed at the president is racially motivated.

Steve Jobs: "We're Just One World Now'

Along with half the world, it seems, I picked up Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs this winter break. I never expected him to talk about Turkey, where I happen to be stationed for the next seven months. An unexpected chance to think about his impressions of Istanbul, in Istanbul, emerged.

Stereotypes Are Tools That Can Shape Others' Outcomes

The simultaneous potential and danger of expectations lies in the fact they are about people, these expectations have the power to shape their outcomes.

A Vicarious Shame: The Resignation of Yale's Football Coach

The resignation of Yale's Head Football Coach Tom Williams grabbed my eye yesterday. Like many, I suspect, my assumption was that this would be a salacious sports coaching story, like the Penn State or Syracuse stories. But I was wrong.
Resolved: Find Yourself Some Trouble

Resolved: Find Yourself Some Trouble

I once heard that problems need to be understood in the context of development. Sometimes have to remind myself of this when my kids experience emotional extremes over small things. The other morning, I asked my son to put on his socks and shoes while I dressed his little brother. Five minutes later, he threw the socks across the room and started crying.