Teutonic Plight

Self-stereotyping is an intriguing but fickle phenomenon. When we see similarities between ourselves and a group, it is usually because we project from us to them, and not because we stereotype ourselves.

Mindfulness: Think About It

Mindfulness is a zen thing. It is associated with good feelings and tranquility. What, however, can mindfulness do for your engagement with the world?

Cheer Up and Create!

Don’t worry – be creative. Research shows that positive moods pave the road to creative accomplishment. The question is then how to get into a good mood and stay in it. Reading the blogs at Psychology Today might be just the thing.

Creativity From the Deep

Freud speculated that we might turn anxiety into creativity. Now there’s evidence that this works. You have to be a pious Calvinist, though.


Some people try to construct an identity by identifying with a group—and thereby sacrificing their personal identity. If this sounds paradoxical, it does because it is.

The Statistics of Impossible Results

When empirically working scientists tell you what’s what, they usually hold a bag of data. What if the data are too weird for their theories? Can clever statistical analyses help?

The Quest for Replicable Results in Psychology

No wonder that many of you are getting impatient with the field of psychology as the head-banging and hand-wringing of what we may presume to know continues. In order to enjoy this post, you need to remember your notes from intro stats.

Fight Bad Style

Bad style confuses and bores. If you write, write lively.

A General Power Game

Human interdependence often involves a power differential. This requires strategic thinking. Are you up for it?

The Pursuit of Creativity

Happiness is great. Creativity is awesome. Punch through the conflicts and paradoxes and make it happen. Or take a random walk and stumble into it. There’s more than one way to skin a cat. [Mixed metaphors are creative—if awkward.]

How Robinson Crusoe Managed His Man Friday

Robinson Crusoe and Friday formed a stable relationship. Game theory can shed light on how they did it.

Creation Science! No Thanks

Nice Science Guy Bill Nye debated Creationism’s Ken Ham. It did not go well. Ham demonstrated the flexibility of the wishfully thinking mind.

Robinson Crusoe, Psychologist

Defoe’s Crusoe is the great English novel and nutshell psychology. Read it and ask yourself: What would you do?

Big Five Admitted

Docs with personalities? Check out the good people at Scrubs. Though they are fictional, their personalities emerge on the Big Five trait taxonomy.

Return of the Donnerbalken

Don’t read this post if you’re delicate. Today’s topic is the social psychology of defecation. And you thought there was no such thing.

My Collapsing Universe

Below the equator and over dinner, we discussed astrophysics, metaphysics, and theory of mind. Hence this post.

Game of Life

Unfettered population growth is the imminent threat to humanity and the planet that supports it. Game theory provides models of how humans strategize about procreation.

Homo Normaticus

‘Tis the season for taking a look at social norms and why we – blindly – follow them.


The interpretation of text is the enterprise of the humanities. Psychology rests on experiment and observation. Can the two meet? Here’s a modest proposal.

Creativity Between Chaos and Constraint

Creativity is born of the conflict between mastery of the old (the box) and the desire for the new (outside). Much as you can’t have a rebel without a cause, you can’t have creativity without convention.


Why draw if you can take photos?

Flatus Interruptus

Everyone enjoys a good laugh but some of us are embarrassed by some of the things that make them laugh. Consider the psychology of the funny fart.

Meta Prezzo

Returning from the Low Country, I brought memories of art and tortured academic reasoning.

Dutch Design

Creative design can be found at every turn in the Netherlands. There’s variation, originality, beauty, and functionality. I give a few examples to whet your appetite for a trip. Alas, even the Dutch struggle in the quest for the perfect shower design.

Tutto a Posto

This is the last post (for a while) with an Italian title. There is no handy translation for Tutto a Posto. Everything’s fine, a-ok, no worries. But bloggers and other intellectuals worry. I am periodically worried about a page in Kierkegaard that I first read when I was in college. Here’s an update.

The Spirit of Giving

Volunteering is typically seen as morally good, and that is a fair perception under most circumstances. But there are some difficulties. Volunteering can undercut one’s peers and it can be hard to hide your intentions when you don’t want to be exploited.

Gravitas in Space

Gravity, the movie, takes humanity out of its element to reveal its deepest hopes and fears. Technically brilliant, the movie reconnects with old themes. And then there’s Mr. Clooney of course.

Psychology For Peace

Psychology can contribute to a more peaceful world. A special issue in the American Psychologist shows how.

Caveman Rationality

In their new book “The Rational Animal,” Doug Kenrick and Vlad Griskevicius argue that the ancient mammalian mind is smarter than the cortically educated. A bold claim, convincingly made. And then there’s Bishop Tebartz-van Elst.

Letter From Delhi

In the interest of intellectual hygiene, I propose a thought experiment for those who have balked at my criticism of the Dalai Lama. Let us consider a text that we might all find troubling. Or will we?