The Social Psychology of Radicalization and Extremism

What causes young Muslims to radicalize and what should Western governments do to prevent it? Some relevant insights from social psychological theories of group polarization into radicalization and political extremism and some antidotes.

Why Our Brains Are Hardwired for Conspiracy Theories

Why do we believe in conspiracy theories, why are they so persuasive, and how can we resist them? An evolutionary perspective

ISIS and the Real Reason Why Young Muslim Men Join the Jihad

IS(IS) attracts many young Western Muslim men to go and fight a war far away from home. But why? The reasons are psychological, and lie deep in our evolutionary history. So too are the solutions to this crisis.

Age and Leadership: The Wisdom of Elders and Elephants

In an era of change and innovation do businesses and societies still need older leaders or should they go for the young and bright? Understanding the relation between age and leadership.

The Downing of Plane MH17: A Personal Perspective

A personal perspective from the Netherlands on the MH17 plane disaster in the Ukraine

Watching the World Cup: The Tribal Psychology of Football

Is the World Cup football in Brazil a ritualized form of primitive warfare? Is watching football good or bad for your physical and mental health? Why do football players attract so much sexual attention? Do the tribal colors the football teams wear at the World Cup predict their success? The World Cup in Brazil viewed through the lens of an evolutionary psychologist

Does Putin Suffer From the Napoleon Complex?

Is there such a thing as the Napoleon Complex ? And does it apply to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his need for power?

The Wisdom of Crowds and the Search for Flight MH370

Can the Wisdom of Crowds effect be used to solve the mystery of Flight MH370? Are the masses more intelligent than the experts?

Coping with Status Loss: The Hidden Cost of Unemployment

Being unemployed affects your social status. The consequences of status loss for your mental and physical health are real, but underappreciated by society. I refer to the status-health association as the Titanic effect. As Europe still faces massive unemployment, it is time for policy makers to consider these risks to avoid another Titanic disaster.

The Charismatic Appeal of Nelson Mandela

How do we explain the charismatic appeal of Nelson Mandela? His outstanding personal qualities made a difference. Yet his charismatic powers were primarily a reflection of the anxieties, needs and desires of his nation, South-Africa, and the world at large.

Does Green Improve Your Self-control?

Does nature improve self-control? Recent studies suggest that exposure to natural landscapes makes people less impulsive in their decision-making, whereas exposure to urban landscapes increases their impulsiveness. With the majority of the world now living in cities we must find creative ways to connect with nature, particularly for kids who struggle with self-control.

The Talent Myth in Sports (Football) and Business

The talent myth suggests that star players do not neccessarily raise team performances. When there are too many stars in a team conflicts emerge and natural hierarchies disappear, This has huge implications for the effectiveness of teams in business and sports like football (soccer) where record fees are being paid to bring in star players.

Being Helpful at Work Pays...Quite Literally!

Being a good, prosocial employee pays off in the end: Research shows that individuals with a good reputation are preferred as co-workers. They even get a higher starting salary i a new job. So nice guys and girls get a head start in their working career.

How the Myth of Self-interest Caused the Global Crisis

The global financial crisis and the collapse of banks and businesses could have been prevented if we designed our firms and nations based on a sound understanding of human nature. So make way Homo Economicus!

The Sound of a Leader: CEOs With Deep Voices Do Better

Why do we prefer John as manager over Mary? Why does CEO Peter earn more money than CEO Matthew? The surprising answer is that their voice may have something to do with it.

Are There Good and Bad Names for Boys and Girls?

What's in a baby name? Should we name our son Thomas or Henry and should we name our daughter Lily or Allison? Baby names may reflect a desire among parents to have more masculine sons and more feminine daughters, according to the latest research.

5 Insights Into Female Leadership from Watching Borgen

There are many important lessons about leadership in works of fiction. The cult Scandinavian politics TV series Borgen is no exception. The main character is a woman, Birgitte Nyborg, the Prime Minister of Denmark. The series offer some great insights into female versus male leadership, perhaps with a sad conclusion.

Why Only Humans Weep: The Science Behind Our Tears

We all cry, but what are the biological and evolutionary functions behind the tears that we shed? Why are humans the only animal capable of producing tears when experiencing joy or sorrow? Here are some clues based on the latest scientific findings and the book and movie "Life of Pi."

What Do Your Eyes Tell About Your Leadership and Status?

New research shows that your leadership and status is determined by whether people look in the direction of where you are looking. Gaze following is an underappreciated contributor to leadership and followership in humans. Our estimate is that about 90% of your influence as a leader is determined by nonverbal cues like gazes, faces, gestures, and sounds.

5 Best Stone Age Parenting Practices

As parents we often wonder what is the best way to raise our children. We should find out more about how families in traditional societies bring up their children because such societies may have evolved adaptive parenting styles. Here are some of the best practices of parenting the Stone Age way.

5 Reasons Why It Sucks to Have Power

There is much psychological evidence to suggest that having power makes you less effective as a person, colleague, or a leader in business or politics. Here are the key scientific facts about power. So why do people crave power? It makes little sense according to the data. There is a Great Power Myth in our society.

5 Big Ideas About The Origins of Homosexuality

New scientific insights show that homosexuality is a perfectly natural sexual orientation. Why homosexuality evolved in humans and what its functions are remains an open question. Here are some key biological hypotheses.

Why Facebook Does Not Get You More Friends

Facebook has not changed the way we interact with each other. We have no more true friendships in the Facebook era than we had before. This is because of the costs of maintaining friendships and the limits of our social brain.

The Fluctuating Female Vote

New research suggests that woman’s voting and political preferences may be influenced where she is in her ovulatory cycle.

Will Height Decide the 2012 Presidential Election?

If all one needs to win a US presidential election is to be taller than one’s opponent, it will be an easy victory for Mitt Romney. But does height matter in predicting the outcome of US presidential elections?

Laughter Really Is the Best Medicine

How does laughter affect your brain? A recent study suggests that laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the feel-good hormones, in the brain which makes you more resistant to pain.

Should Leaders Show Emotion?

Should leaders express their emotions in public? Psychological research suggests this is not a good idea because of the risk of being seen as emotionally unstable. But a positive emotion works better than a negative emotion provided the emotion is authentic.

What's Wrong with Social Psychology?

After the high profile case of social psychologist Diederik Stapel in August 2011, which I discussed in a previous blog, two further cases involving social psychologists were recently brought to light. What's wrong with our discipline and how can we repair it.

Nudging People to Go Green

A guide for more sustainable living. How policy makers can nudge people to go green.

Are We Hardwired to Damage the Environment?

This week's environmental summit in Rio should offer a roadmap towards a sustainable future for our planet. Research shows however that humans are not hardwired to be green. Only with a sound understanding of how the human mind works can we bring out enduring changes in our environmental behaviors.