Social Change Via Graphic Design

Little changes can make a big difference. This is the principle underlying many a tweak to public policy or organizational procedure designed to nudge people to alter their behavior.

Why Do the Boston Marathon Bombings Make Me Feel Guilty?

Today marks the one-week anniversary of the start of a heartwrenchingly sad series of events here in Boston. Each in our own way, those of us who live in and around the city have bounced from sadness to fear to anger and back again. And as the one-week marks hits today, I’ve also found myself confronting a more surprising emotion: guilt.

Point. Click. Save this Woman's Life - Update

Nalini Ambady is an award-winning psychologist. And she desperately needs your assistance. You can help save her life by simply watching and re-posting this video.

Point. Click. Save this Woman's Life.

Nalini Ambady is an award-winning psychologist. She also needs your help, desperately and quickly. And all it takes you for you to provide it is a couple of simple clicks of your mouse.

Mass Emails and Mass Apathy

I’m not a bad person, I swear. I’m just busy, like most people. And like most people, give me an easy way out of adding to my to-do list, and I’ll take it...

Highlight this Blog Post at Your Own Risk

"How did you study?" It’s question I often find myself asking college students during office hours when they come by to talk about a disappointing exam score or ask for suggestions for improving future performance. In thinking about this question, it's worth considering what psychological science has to say on the matter...

On Newtown and the End of the World

It seemed like this would be a great week to write about the psychology of the end of the world, but that was before the horrific elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday. And then it dawned on me. Perhaps the two stories have more in common than first meets the eye, at least when it comes to the insights they offer regarding human nature.

What a Pretty Face Can’t Tell You

Just what, exactly, can we learn from a pretty face? Because despite warnings to the contrary, when we meet others we spend an awful lot of time judging books by their covers. Encounter someone attractive, and it’s hard for us to look away. But it’s even more difficult to refrain from drawing bigger-picture conclusions about what type of person we think we're dealing with.

To Regift or Not to Regift, That Is the Question

It was more than 15 years ago that an episode of Seinfeld popularized the phrase "regifting," used to describe the taboo of turning an unwanted present into a gift for someone else. Now, almost two decades later, there's also published psychological research on the perceptions and emotions underlying the controversial act of the regift...

Sex, Drugs, and Raising Kids

Anything in moderation, the saying goes. But does this wisdom apply to the decisions we make as parents?

Just How Independent Are Independent Voters?

The American electorate is more divided today than ever, cable news pundit wisdom informs us. So who, then, are these Independents who loom ever more important as a target demographic? How have they managed to remain above the fray and maintain objectivity? And just how independent are they, anyway?

What's in a Name?

Names matter. Whether we admit it or not, whenever we hear one, we draw a wide range of assumptions about the characteristics of the individual person (or item) in question...

The LeBron Narrative and the Psychology of Sports Fans

As sports fans, as in so many other walks of life, we gravitate toward the simple narrative in thinking about other people. I can't help but think of this as I watch LeBron James put the finishing touches on his first NBA title this evening...

When Good People Behave Badly

Our default way of thinking about unethical behavior is to blame it on a handful of bad apples. But the real story behind fraud and other problematic behaviors is far more complex, not to mention rooted in many fairly "normal" psychological processes...

The Native American Mascot: Tribute or Stereotype?

In yet another chapter of a continuing debate, the State of Oregon announced last week that its public schools must discontinue the use of Native American nicknames and mascots. For many people the debate comes down to one question: tribute or stereotype? Well, psychological research has something to say on the matter...

Sex Objects in a World Turned Upside-Down

Just how often do people objectify women? According to recent research, we're so used to treating women as sex objects that we can do it even when standing on our heads.

Is the Man Who Killed Trayvon Martin a Racist? Who Cares?

The story of the tragic death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin continues to unfold. A great deal of attention is being devoted to debating whether George Zimmerman–the neighborhood watch captain who shot and killed the African-American 17-year-old–is a racist. But does the answer to this question really matter?

Getting the Most Out of Life, One Chocolate at a Time

One of the many reasons why studying human nature makes for such an intriguing pastime (or career, for that matter) is the frequency with which there's divergence between the factors that we *think* influence our decisions and those that actually shape how we see the world around us...

The Power of Hello

Little things make a big difference in social interaction. Data indicate, for example, that smiling is contagious. That employees who smile more have customers who are more satisfied. And even that holding a pen in your teeth so that the ends of your lips curl upward—forcing your mouth into a smile you aren't even aware of—leads you to enjoy what you're doing more.

Looking for Love in all the Web Places

With Valentine's Day upon us, there are some interesting conclusions to note from soon-to-be-published research regarding that most 21st Century of romantic developments: the dating website.

Mars and Venus in the … Parking Garage?

In research just conducted in the United Kingdom, surreptitious surveillance of parking garages was used to compare the performance of men and women on a wide range of car-parking dimensions. What did the study find? And what do the findings tell us more generally regarding how we tend to think about sex differences?

The Context Dependence of Hot Guys (and Girls)

What makes someone attractive to you? Specific physical features? A particular personality type? A certain indefinable quality of character or depth of soul? All reasonable answers, sure, but there's an additional response you should at least consider. Another critical influence on who you're attracted to is context.

When Professional Wrestling Meets Presidential Debate

There's an old tongue-in-cheek line about going to see a fight and a hockey game broke out. Well, last night TV viewers tuned in to see a Republican presidential debate and an episode of Maury broke out. What impact does this have on those of us watching from home?

Self-Help Is for Suckers

Why can it be so hard to make the life changes we seek? Because we think about the idea of self-help in all the wrong ways, and it comes back to haunt us when the going gets tough.

Going with Your Gut in the Voting Booth

Political pundits, campaign consultants, and exit pollsters can ask all the questions they want regarding how voters are making up their minds this election cycle. But when you get right down to it, our impressions of the candidates are also driven by forces we're not aware of. Like what the candidates look like.

Santorum: Slip of the Tongue or Stutter?

Reality's rarely as cut-and-dried as we assume it to be. It's not only beauty that's subject to the eye of the beholder. Just ask Rick Santorum.

Context, Gender, and Why Riley’s Right to Be Pissed Off About Toys

By now millions have watched and shared the Youtube video of Riley, the spirited 4-year-old who's sick of pink and wants toy companies everywhere to know that girls can like superheroes too. Why do we like Riley? Because she's right.

Want to Kick a Bad Habit? Change Your Scenery

As we turn our calendars to 2012 and our attention to New Year's resolutions, it's worth taking a moment to remember a critical, yet too-often overlooked ingredient in the recipe for self-improvement: context.

What You Don’t Know About People

You've been lied to. Or, at the very least, misled. Because it's simply not true that everything you need to know about life you learned in Kindergarten. And you don't know people as well as you think you do...

The Magic Spell of a Pretty Face

Attractive people grab our attention. Even babies spend more time gazing at attractive faces, suggesting to some that hardwiring in our brains automatically diverts attention to the good-looking others around us, much in the way moths are helplessly drawn to light...