Simple Life Hacks to Lose Weight and Improve Your Health

Much of the self-improvement industry is focused on ways to cattle prod our willpower into healthier habits. Behavioral psychologists, on the other hand, have conducted a wealth of research showing that skillful hacks to our homes and offices can produce results that tweaks to willpower, however forceful, rarely make stick.

Why Stress Can Make You Do Some Unusual Things

Researchers have shown that not only does stress predispose us to wanting pleasure, it makes our desire for it drastically out of proportion to our enjoyment. The reward never reaches the level of our want.

Why Happy People Often Seem Tone Deaf To Negative Emotions

A new study finds that feeling positive doesn’t make you any better at empathy than others, and in some ways it’s a handicap.

Neuroscience Explains Why the Grinch Stole Christmas

If Cacioppo could persuade the Grinch to step into his fMRI, he'd likely observe a result consistent with those of a brain imaging study he conducted to identify differences in the neural mechanisms of lonely and nonlonely people.

Are You Vulnerable to the Hipster Effect?

There is a group-sense inherent in human nature that lines us up favorably with birds and bees and ants and fish, though with us the dynamic is less reactive. Rather than reacting to an immediate cause, our patterns emerge in the form of social conformity. The irony is that we (particularly in Western cultures) pride ourselves on our alleged individuality.

How Your Eyes Give You Away

If you’ve ever wondered how skilled sales professionals seem to know exactly when to turn on the turbo boosters to get you to make the deal – take a good long look in the mirror. Those two orbs staring back at you show your cards.

The Surprising, Infuriating Power of Overconfidence

Belief sells, whether it’s true or not. In the case of overconfidence, the belief in one’s ability—however out of proportion to reality—generates its own infectious energy. Self-deception is a potent means of convincing the world to see things your way.

Gut Feeling: How Bacteria Manipulates Your Brain

The next time you can’t figure out why you’re suddenly craving a huge slab of ultra-decadent chocolate cake—consider the possibility that it’s not just you doing the craving. New research suggests that the armies of bacteria living in our guts can pull the strings in our brains to get what they want.

The Happiness Equation

I can’t pretend to understand how the researchers developed the equation, but one word in their lengthy explanation resonates with my math-addled brain: expectations. After all the complex analyses, it really all comes down to what we expect and how strongly we expect it.

Why Is Being Alone With Our Thoughts So Hard?

Have we become so enraptured with gadgets, social media and the dull roar of crowds that we can’t stomach facing ourselves?

Why Profile Photos Are Liars

Psychology researchers want us to know something about our profile photo-centrism – it’s a lie, and it’s leading us to draw conclusions that likely have zero basis in reality.

Can Money Really Buy Happiness? Well, Maybe

"Everyone has been told if you spend your money on life experiences, it will make you happier, but we found that isn't always the case," said Ryan Howell, an associate professor of psychology at SF State and co-author of the study. But "extremely material buyers, who represent about a third of the overall population, are sort of stuck." They aren't happy either way.

You're Not Yourself When You're Hungry, and That's a Problem

We’ve all known people who should have to wear a flashing red DANGER! sign if they miss lunch, though even without the warning we instinctively know to steer clear if someone is running on empty. A grumbling stomach means dropping blood sugar, and most of us know that means trouble -- but could the glucose crash be crashing our relationships far more than we realize?

Which of Us Are the Most Trusting?

A new study is giving the mistrustful among us something to consider: intelligence strongly correlates with generalized trust. “Generalized trust” in this case refers to a belief that most people can be trusted—that, on average, your fellow man or woman is probably a good egg.

How Video Games Can Help Us Achieve Mindfulness

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers see the new genre of video games as just the beginning of a focus-enhancing revolution in digital tech. Through an initiative called Games+Learning+Society (GLS), they are pioneering efforts that marry entertainment with enrichment, and building it all on a platform of solid science.

When the Market Gets Risky, Risk Takers Get Hormonal

A new study suggests that the massive stress of ongoing market volatility, triggering a deluge of cortisol, could be the reason why stock traders become ultra-conservative at the very points at which a heartier appetite for risk could help a shaky market recover more quickly.

Balancing Our Brain's Self-Control Seesaw

Self-control and desire sit on opposite sides of a cerebral seesaw—and as we all know, it's frequently unbalanced. New research reveals why.

What Neuroscience Tells Us About Being in Love

Einstein was correct—science will never clinically sterilize the wonderment of love (first or otherwise). But I think he’d also agree that it’s a mistake to confuse increased understanding with diminished meaning. No matter what we learn about love, it will continue to be one of the most meaningful and powerful forces on the planet, as it should be.

"American Hustle" and the Irresistible Chaos of Desire

"American Hustle" is going to win several awards, and if one were given for skillfully illustrating the dynamics that motivate us, director David O. Russell’s clever creation would run away with it as well. The movie is proof that entertainment can still teach profound lessons about the complicated business of thinking, so stealthily that you never see them coming.

To The Human Brain, Me Is We

A recent study from University of Virginia researchers supports a finding that’s been gaining science-fueled momentum in recent years: the human brain is wired to connect with others so strongly that it experiences what they experience as if it’s happening to us.

19 Reasons Why Willpower Fails You, And What To Do About It

Willpower is an essential ingredient in achieving, overcoming, and becoming -- so why does it so often fail us? Here are 19 science-based reasons why will and will alone isn't enough, with suggestions peppered in along the way about what we can do about it.

Eye Contact May Not Be Such A Great Way To Persuade

Few popular beliefs are as unshakable as, “If you want to influence someone, always make direct eye contact.” But new research suggests that this bit of sturdy pop lore is hardly gospel—in fact, in many circumstances a direct gaze may result in the exact opposite effect.

Getting In Touch With Your Inner Sexual Deviant

Science writer Jesse Bering has been called "fearless," "witty," "madly provocative," "smart" and "deeply compassionate." Yale professor and author Paul Bloom has gone so far as to call him the "Hunter S. Thompson of science writing." In his latest book, Perv: The Sexual Deviant In All Of Us, Bering uses the tools of science to crack open more than a few taboos.

How Exercise Makes Your Brain Grow

Research into “neurogenesis”—the ability of certain brain areas to grow new brain cells—has recently taken an exciting turn. Not only has research discovered that we can foster new brain cell growth through exercise, but it may eventually be possible to “bottle” that benefit in prescription medication.

10 Things You Should Know About Goals

Setting and reaching goals is a mainstay topic in research across a range of disciplines, including psychology, neuroscience, marketing, and communications. Here's a survey of 10 recent findings about goals, chosen from these and other topic areas, that throw some light on the ups and downs of goal achievement.

Will Coffee Each Day Keep The Blues Away?

In one of the latest major studies on caffeine’s effects, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found a correlation between drinking 2-4 cups of caffeinated coffee each day and lower suicide risk among adults.

Unattractive People Are Targets For Cruelty At Work

A recent study reveals that when it comes to how attractive and unattractive people are treated, your office and your high school aren’t so far removed.

Breathing And Your Brain: Five Reasons To Grab The Controls

The advice to “just breathe” when you’re stressed may be a cliché of Godzilla-sized proportions, but that doesn't make it untrue. The substance behind the saying is research-tested—and not only to manage stress.

Stress Kills The Mind, One Day At A Time

Stress is hard on the mind -- this much we intuitively know. But what we may not realize is how much our daily reactions to stress take a cumulative toll on our minds.

How Uncertainty Overpowers Evidence in Matters of Health

Few of us are comfortable with uncertainty in any form, least of all when the status of our health is branded with the scarlet question mark. A new study in the journal JAMA suggests that fear of uncertainty is fueling a psychological dynamic that's leading to more and more invasive procedures--whether or not we need them.