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.

Micro-Triumphs

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.

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.

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?

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.

When Statistics are Seriously Sexy

Maybe you don’t think of statistics as sexy. But Christian Rudder's new book "Dataclysm" might very well change your mind about that. He has mined the data from the clicks and messages of millions of online daters to reveal some surprising patterns of human choice, and he argues convincingly that Big Data can tell us things that traditional scientific methods can not.

Is "Gun Culture" a Danger to Your Children?

A 9-year-old girl accidentally shot a man with an Uzi, leading to media discussions of the gun culture in Arizona and other U.S. states. Here are some statistics comparing gun ownership, homicide and suicide rates, and each states’ gun-friendliness as judged by "Guns & Ammo" magazine. Warning: the numbers might not all fit your expectations.

A Great Way to Reduce Your Job Satisfaction!

This summer, I discovered a wonderful way to reduce the enjoyment you take from your job: Try to do as little as possible. And there’s research and theory to help us understand why!

Boyhood's Little Moments Raise Big Questions

Some movies take you to fantastic places you’ll never take yourself, where heroic figures tackle problems you'll never encounter. But some of the most masterful movies ever made, like Richard Linklater's "Boyhood," take you to a place that feels just exactly like your real life, and raise deep questions about things you ponder every day.

The Psychological Power of a Happy Face

Did you catch that guy’s smile? Probably. We are able to accurately recognize a smile in about 50 milliseconds (that’s a fleeting 1/20 of a second). Not only that, we can recognize a happy expression on someone who is standing half a football field away. A new paper explores research on the extraordinary vividness of happiness.

Do You Experience Love as a Positive or Negative Emotion?

Ah, love! Is the feeling of love all blissful for you, or is it more complicated? Some research suggests that the dialecticism emphasized by East Asians may inspire a different experience of love, one that incorporates more negative feelings alongside blissful harmonious affection.

7 Ways Facebook Is Bad for Your Mental Health

Facebook’s meteoric rise in popularity suggests that it offers us something we’ve always wanted. But like all benefits in life, Facebook comes with its psychological costs—many of them invisible. We review research suggesting 7 ways that Facebook may be hurting you. (coauthored by Jessica E. Bodford)

Violent Versus Nonviolent Revolutions: Which Way Wins?

You say you want a revolution? Political scientists have long assumed some amount of violence is a necessary evil if political reform is ever going to happen. But at a conference on the Origins of Violence, Erica Chenoweth presented some startling data on the relative effectiveness of nonviolent versus violent revolutions

How to Handle an Insecure Romantic Partner

Having a partner with an anxious or avoidant attachment style can make for an unhappy and unstable relationship. But a recent article in Current Directions in Psychological Science suggests that there may be hope, if you match your style of social support to your partner’s attachment style. And frequent sex might also help.

Can a digital photo erase your memories?

When you use your iPhone to record those precious moments, are you actually erasing them from your own memory? A new study examines the potential down side of the point-and-shoot phenomenon (coauthored by Jessica E. Bodford).

Should You Give Your Baby a Popular or an Exotic Name?

Sophie or Valentina? Liam or Zoroaster? There’s an immense amount of obsessing that goes into choosing a child’s name. One big issue is whether to stick junior with a popular or unique name. Cultural psychologists have discovered that your choice reflects whether you hail from a frontier state or a more settled area.

How Many Premarital Sex Partners Should You Have?

On one view, having a number of partners is good, making it easier to settle down into a long-term committed relationship without feeling that you’ve missed something. On another view, more partners is a bad thing, and it’s easier to settle down if you have taken a more restrained approach to sex. Which view do you think a recent study supported?

The psychology of tolerance tested

Yesterday morning I posted a blog discussing my newfound love of France. Just a few hours later, I was robbed on the street by a %#€£¥ Frenchman! The experience raises interesting psychological questions—about stereotypes, about the relative pain of some events over others, and about coping.

Ethnocentrism dies easily en France!

There’s a good psychological reason why you should start teaching your preschooler to speak French -- immediately! It has to do with (a different kind of) open-mindedness.

A casual chat with a champion of evolutionary psychology

Q: What’s the difference between a social constructivist and a mafia don? David Buss is a larger than life character, who has championed the integration of evolutionary biology and psychology. Besides being deeply thoughtful and influential, he is also funny.

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