Who Was Psychology's First True Genius?

The first great experimental psychologist did not define himself as a psychologist. But his brilliant ideas and findings remain important in psychology to this day.

Trivia Quiz: How Well Do You Know Psychology’s Pioneers?

When he delivered his now classic book to his publisher, which author apologized that it was a "loathsome, distended, tumefied, bloated, dropsical mass?"

Why Hillary Won The Popular Vote: Part 2

In a 3 minute video, Mark Van Vugt describes his research on the male warrior hypothesis. I also respond to some amusingly hostile comments on the earlier post.

Why Hillary Clinton Won the Popular Vote

There were two surprises in the 2016 election. Some little known but important social psychological research can help us explain both.

Would You Wear a “Great/Together” T-shirt?

Would you wear a t-shirt emblazoned with “Great” in red and “Together” in blue, combining the messages of both opposing candidates in the recent election? Here’s why you should.

Does Trump’s Election Disprove the Existence of God?

Trump's handy win among Christians, who value traits such as kindness, humility, and non-violence, raises interesting questions about the psychological functions of religion.

What is Psychology’s Single Most Brilliant Discovery?

What is the most profoundly important thing we've learned from 150 years of scientific psychology? Here is one nomination.

Supernatural Stimuli: Why Women Love Vampires

Women should be repulsed by those blood-sucking shadow-dwelling vampires. Is there a natural explanation for why women are instead unnaturally attracted to these villains?

Pre-Suasion: Before You Try to Persuade Someone…

In Pre-Suasion, Robert Cialdini asks: What is most important if you want to persuade? Hint: it’s not so much what’s IN your message, as in what happens in the moment just BEFORE.

Do Racial Stereotypes Have Nothing to Do with Race? Part II

Some readers objected to my coverage of research suggesting race stereotypes are often ecology stereotypes. Steve Neuberg, an author of that research, responds thoughtfully.

Are Racial Stereotypes NOT Really About Race?

New research, published in the prestigious journal PNAS, suggests that stereotypes about race are, mostly, not about race at all. How can that be?

Is Donald Trump an Alpha Male?

Do we need to be more precise in applying terms such as “personality disorder” and “alpha male” to political candidates?

Who Are Psychology's Geniuses? Part 2

I offer a few more nominations for psychologists whose contributions deserve to be called ingenious, and some analysis of what makes them stand out. See if you agree.

Are There Any Geniuses in the Field of Psychology?

Does psychology have any geniuses comparable to the geniuses of computer science (such as Alan Turing or Jack Kilby - who won a Nobel prize for inventing the silicon chip)?

A Link Between a Prostitute's Age and Her Income

A new study links a prostitute's age with her income. Although a seemingly narrow salacious topic, these findings address a broader scientific question that concerns us all.

7 Tricks for Turning Mega-Threats into Micro-Triumphs

How do you convert big fat ominous threats into bite-sized micro-triumphs? Here are a few suggestions, based on some of the best applications of psychological research.


I expected last Friday to be one of those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. Instead, I had a series of micro-triumphs. Here’s what I learned, Alexander.

The Most Inspiring Book I've Read

Want to be blown away by a tale you should already know but likely don't, about brilliant characters who should be as famous as Einstein, but aren't well-known? Read this book.

What Kind of a Leader Are You?

Dominant leaders use force to keep subordinates in line. Prestige-oriented leaders base their status on skills and information, using very different tactics. Which is better?

Is there any way to save the world?

Do our big comfort-seeking brains doom us to destroy our world? A self-sustaining community called Earthship raises hope, but psychology is needed to change our choices.

Rate Yourself on the New Motivational Pyramid

How do you differ from your friends, and coworkers in the motives behind your everyday decisions? A new scale measures individual differences in Fundamental Social Motives.

Does Anxiety Help You Survive in the Modern World?

Might the worrisome symptoms of anxiety have a useful function? Our ancestors needed to worry about lions, tigers, bears, and the headhunters over the next hill. But is anxiety still useful in the modern world? There are some scientific findings on this question.

Science and the Online Dating Profile

Online dating is the new singles bar, one in which your words won't be drowned out by the music. But which words should you use? There is some scientific evidence about relatively more effective ways to turn an online contact into a real huggable moment.

Dead Kennedys, Testosterone-Crazed Skateboarders, and You

Can observing testosterone crazed skateboarders, or delving into the risky decisions made by Joe Kennedy's descendants who died tragic early deaths, inform us about the fundamental bases of our everyday decisions?

The Four “Dark Personality” Traits

Psychopaths, narcissists, and sadists, oh my! Personality psychologist Del Paulhus has bucked the positive psychology trend, with a series of rigorous studies delving into the "Dark Side" of human personality. He has shown that four dark traits have distinct but often unexpected consequences in the workplace and in relationships.
Steven Pinker superimposed on photo of Chipotle's bag

Finding Wisdom, and Optimism, in the Most Unlikely Places

Can one find wisdom on a burrito bag? My wife discovered a long quote from psychologist Steven Pinker on her Chipotle’s lunch sack. Right there, wrapped around a bowl full of carnitas and guacamole, Pinker offered a two-minute summary of scientific data addressing the question: Is the world becoming a better or worse place to live?

Want to Go Far? Make This Your Goal

If you were on your deathbed and had to offer a single bit of wisdom to your child, what would it be? I asked several sage psychologists, book authors, and old friends to share 2 or 3 kernels of wisdom I could pass on to my son. Maybe you can guess what one bit of advice came up most frequently. Though it sounds simple, it can be surprisingly difficult to follow.
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How to survive as a hominid, part II

If there were a few kernels of wisdom you think a parent should pass on to his kid, what would they be? Here is my original list of ten gems of wisdom for my young son, but I think they apply to you and me, as well. Let me know if I've missed something.

What are the 3 Most Useful Bits of Wisdom for Life? Part 1

If there were 2 or 3 kernels of wisdom you think a parent should pass on to his kid, what would they be? I would actually like to hear from you, and from some sage older person you regard as having lived a fulfilling life.
Why Are THEIR Political Views So Blatantly Self-Interested?

Why Are THEIR Political Views So Blatantly Self-Interested?

Should abortion be freely available? Should millionaires and billionaires pay higher taxes? My answers to those questions, like yours, are driven by higher principles. Or are they? Here's a look at a brilliant and thought-provoking new book by Jason Weeden and Robert Kurzban.