Life, Love, and Tebow

We're all amateur psychologists. We spend countless hours pondering those profound yet ethereal mysteries of human nature. Like happiness. Love. The meaning of life. And Tebow.

The Science of Seinfeld: Top 7 Life Lessons

I've long believed that those of us who make a living studying human nature should be as well-versed in popular culture as we are well-read in the scientific literature. So in that vein, I hereby present to you my Top 7 List of Lessons about Human Nature offered by Seinfeld...

What the Face of Love Looks Like

Ever wonder what the face of love looks like? Just look in the mirror. We literally make very different faces when we interact with those we love...

‘Tis the Season to Notice Situations

We have unambiguously crossed the starting line of the holiday season, a time of year that predictably brings with it a variety of familiar visitors. But there's one recurring aspect of the holidays that we don't always take note of, namely that they provide the perfect opportunity to stop and appreciate the power of situations.

Aging: Is It All in Your Head?

EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it: New study finds 70-year-olds have worse memory than 20-year-olds! The next time critics try to tell you that psychology is merely the commonsense study of that which we already know, tell them to look more closely.

On Paterno and Sports Fan Myopia

There's no shortage of disturbing aspects to the Joe Paterno story. Take yesterday's impromptu rally in which Penn State students camped on the coach's lawn, cheering. How on earth, you might ask, could people support a man who, at the very least, failed to do more than pass the buck to university administrators upon learning that his assistant had assaulted a child?

Unmasking Halloween and the Power of Anonymity

For anyone with school-aged kids, one of the biggest days of the year is upon us. And as with so many of life's daily experiences, Halloween has interesting lessons to teach regarding human nature...

Why Crowds Make Us Callous

It happens, it would seem, with the regularity of the new moon. Unfortunately, every month or so a news story captures local, national, or even global attention because of the apparent indifference of a crowd of people. This week it's the very sad story of a toddler at a market in China who was gravely injured by a hit-and-run driver...

The Dirty Truth About Sex, Power, and Extramarital Affairs

When we think about extramarital affairs, we think about men. Powerful men. Rich, famous, powerful men. Why would men of status be more likely to step out on a spouse? The answers we give to this question usually have to do with biology or evolution...

Novak Djokovic and the Crowd Whisperer of the U.S. Open

A video making the internet rounds shows tennis star Novak Djokovic dancing himself silly at the U.S. Open. The clip's backstory involves Cameron Hughes, the so-called "SuperFan," a professional riler-up of crowds at sporting venues across the globe. I recently spoke with Hughes to explore his skill for manipulating situations to shape group behavior...

Can I Get an Eyewitness?

Few moments in a courtroom are as persuasive to a jury as seeing a confident witness point at a defendant and say, "that's the man I saw at the crime scene." That's what makes the fallibility of eyewitness memory so surprising to most people when they learn about it...

Pain? What Pain?

Even the experience of physical pain depends on context. I went for a morning run today and it was clear from the start that it was going to be a struggle. Almost immediately, that pesky ache in my left foot announced its off-and-on presence with authority, and I knew it would be a battle of mind over matter to get through my usual distance...

When Being Beautiful Backfires

It pays to be pretty. Or so we've been told by life experience as well as research finding. Better looking people get the benefit of the doubt, get away with bad behavior, and make more money. But sometimes being beautiful can backfire...

On Dads, Daughters, and Raising a Sports Fan

Make sure to plop your kids in front of the TV for a good 2 hours straight this Sunday. It's important. You see, over the past few years, it's become increasingly important to me to give my daughters the chance to become sports fans...

Who Do You Love?

There are some human experiences that we fancy as too ethereal to study. Like falling in love. But in the past several decades, behavioral scientists have had a lot to tell us about attraction and love...

The Big Deal About Breasts

They say the most important word to include in a book title is "you" because it draws the reader in and makes the topic seem relevant and accessible. Well, allow me to offer a web-based caveat to this axiom: the most important word to include in a blog post title is "breasts"...

A Weiner By Any Other Name

We keep falling for it, don't we? As today's disillusioned Facebook and Twitter posts spell out, once again plenty of people have been let down and even shocked by the embarrassing missteps of a public figure they thought they knew. Today it's Anthony Weiner...

Jockeying for Stigma

A new study I co-authored with Michael Norton of Harvard Business School finds that Americans think significant progress has been made in the fight against racial discrimination targeted against Blacks. But many White Americans perceive that this progress has come at their own expense, and now believe that anti-White bias has become an even bigger problem facing society...

Race, Attractiveness, and the Psychology Today Firestorm

I'm late to the game on this. When the controversy erupted over the "Why Are Black Women Less Attractive" blog post, I was traveling. By the time I caught up, the cavalry had already taken to the blogwaves to point out the myriad deficiencies in the so-called scientific reasoning of he-who-shall-not-be-named-or-given-additional-publicity...

Bin Laden and the Psychology of Closure

It's been just an hour since the news broke of the death of Osama bin Laden. Too soon to know all the details of how he was killed, to grasp the full scope of how the world will react, to find out how long it will be before Donald Trump takes credit. But one thing's certain: it sure *feels* like a momentous occasion...

Why It's Never About Race

Last month, Brigham Young University suspended from its nationally ranked men's basketball team starting forward Brandon Davies. That a major college team would have cause to discipline one of its own was hardly shocking. But the nature of Davies' honor code violation: Reportedly, he was dismissed for having consensual sex with his girlfriend.

Keeping Up, and Down, with the Joneses

I got a letter this week from my utility company. It included a colorful graph comparing my electricity use to that of my average neighbor. Turns out I use 3 percent less energy than the norm. This got me to thinking about the strategy behind sending out the information, and whether it could, under some circumstances, backfire...

Dented Pride

I gave in this week. I made an appointment at the auto body shop. It’s been a few months now that I’ve been driving around with a big dent in my front bumper cover, courtesy of an unknown stranger who apparently got a bit overambitious in a small parking lot. In the end, I decided to have the work done for reasons more psychological than automotive...

Do What You Wanna Do, See What You Wanna See

According to a report today from the Associated Press, Iran's National Olympic Committee is threatening to boycott the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Why, you ask? Because of disagreement over the development of Iran's nuclear program? In protest of British policy in the Middle East? Nope. Because of a logo...

A Bias to Call Our Own

Last week, the New York Times ran a provocative story detailing evidence of a potential bias within our very own field of psychology.  The story focused on a lack of ideological diversity; it cited data indicating that among psychologists, Democrats outnumber Republicans by a ratio of nearly 12 to 1...

Punxsutawney Phil is an @$$h%le

Several months ago, I read an interesting post by a fellow blogger who pondered the ethics of psychologists who comment publicly on the lives of public figures. For the most part, my thoughts on the matter echo those of my colleague. That's why I admit I'm breaking with my own ethical code in writing this post...

Dispatches from the Elementary School Pick-Up Line

The school my kids attend has an afternoon nicety known as rolling pick-up. It allows parents willing to wait in line for a few minutes to pick up their children right at the front door, providing more than ample time for a bit of self-reflection...

Don't Ask, Don't Know

A few posts ago, I blogged on the psychology of the lie that spins out of control, exploring how longstanding frauds often evolve slowly over time. Well, we might also consider how these lies, ruses, and exaggerations are perceived by the rest of us. Because, really, if a fraud case falls in a forest with no one around to be duped by it, does it make a sound?

Consequential Conversations, Epilogue

Almost two years ago, I wrote a series of blog posts detailing my experiences as an expert witness on Cape Cod in the post-trial hearing of convicted murderer Christopher McCowen. The series of posts attracted a relatively large number of hits, and some readers commented to suggest that it was "a really gripping series of posts." Well, the story just keeps on going...

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