Why Some People Are Drug Addicts

We know that addicts lose control over their lives and that they would as soon give up breathing as stop using their preferred substance/s. Yet, the critical question of why one member of an adolescent peer group becomes an addict and the others do not remains open.

Reasons for the Surge in Births to Single Women

Throughout Europe, births to single mothers more than doubled between 1990 and 2010 (from 17.4 to 38.3 percent). Imagine if it were to increase at the same rate for the next two decades! Such rapid changes are very unusual historically. They cry out for explanation from social scientists.

Atheism to Replace Religion by 2041: The Facts

This story was recently taken up by the Guardian Express and International Business Times who responded to a prediction from my book Why Atheism will Replace Religion. Unfortunately these writers made mistakes. I want to correct some of those errors and clarify the actual claim about whether religion will disappear.

Can One Tell the Difference Between Religion and a Con Game?

The human propensity to believe the improbable keeps church doors open. It is also the reason that confidence tricksters live well. Perhaps prophets are merely con men who specialize in the spiritual. There are two ways to test out this idea. First, are mainstream religions founded by con men? Second, if one were to set up a fake religion, would it get exposed?

Success Means Never Having to Say You Are Sorry

The psychology of successful people recently took a hit from researchers. From drivers of sports cars who break the lights to wealthy business people pigging out on the company dime, successful selfishness has an ugly face.

Work Habits Versus Creative Flow

Most of us are creatures of strong habits. They fill our day with customary activities and familiar faces. Habits help us to survive and thrive by reducing risks. The problem is that they might choke off spontaneity, or “flow.”

Can Creativity Be Boosted?

Most highly creative people are not crazy and they solve the practical problems of life much better than people who are mentally ill can. Yet, there is an overlap in sensibility between what English poet Alexander Pope called “great wits” and madness.

The Costs of Sexiness

The news that Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy got a lot of attention. Both beauty and cancer are produced by sex hormones. Perhaps there is a biological tradeoff between exceptional beauty and health.

Do Americans Eat More Than Hunter Gatherers?

In an era of super-size meals, and high-calorie foods, it might seem obvious that overweight Americans eat far more than scrawny hunter gatherers. The truth is surprising. Americans eat far less per pound body weight. Obesity may have little to do with diet.

Don't Blame the Weather for Your Moods

Short winter days depress some individuals and bad weather gives most of us cabin fever. Yet, the weather has little to do with happiness overall. The well-known pattern of summertime riots may have little to do with heat-related irritability. Like everyone else, rioters just like to be outdoors on fine days.

Can Young People Afford to Marry?

One of the main reasons for staying single may be that young adults cannot afford marriage.

Women Flock to Pornography

Survey data indicates that 30 percent of Internet pornography users are women. This is a problem for evolutionary psychologists who claim that women choose relationship-based romance literature over visual erotica.

Weight Loss: How to Turn Pain Into Pleasure

The epidemic of obesity and related diseases is caused by a sedentary lifestyle rather than over eating, as argued in my previous post. A healthy dose of physical activity is the cure. The problem is that activity has an undeserved reputation for causing pain.

Can Atheism Really Replace Religion?

My blogs on this topic generated millions of hits and plenty of skepticism. Resistance to overwhelming scientific evidence for the decline in religion is nothing new. Objections come from religious people and some atheists who argue there will always be weak people, unlike them, who need religion. Does either camp have a point?

Is Privacy Making a Comeback?

Large numbers of Millennials embrace social media and electronic devices exposing them to risks not faced by earlier generations. After decades of unwarranted suspicion of electronic technologies, researchers are detecting problems than include feeling over-exposed, overwhelmed, and poorly focused. Productivity and creativity likely suffer.

Religion and Happiness: Further Thoughts

In an earlier post, I challenged the generalization that religious people are happier. That claim is often made but the evidence is very mixed. Researchers find that religious rituals are calming. Yet, religious intensity is greatest in miserable places and unhappy situations.

Do Singles Have a Better Quality of Life Than Marrieds?

In children’s stories, princes and princesses had to get married to live happily ever after. Psychologists still debate whether marriage boosts happiness. Economists also wonder whether married people enjoy a better standard of living.

Marriage Obsession Gets Recharged

A century ago most women wanted to marry because they lacked career opportunities. Yet, women who are established in high-paying jobs, or careers sometimes give them up and go back to being homemakers. It happened in the 1950s and the marriage imperative may be getting a boost from new legislation in Germany.

Sexual Wiring of Women's Breasts

If men have sex on the brain, they are not alone. Recent research found that women’s sensory cortex has three distinct areas corresponding to stimulation of the clitoris, vagina, and cervix (1). To their surprise, researchers found that self stimulation of the nipples lights up the same areas. This sheds further light on the sexual importance of breasts.

Why Women Feel Bad About Their Appearance

Women underestimate their attractiveness whereas men are overly complacent about theirs. Why the difference? It is tempting to imagine that this is simply a reflection of continuing power imbalances favoring men. Yet, there is a simpler explanation. Women care more about their appearance because looks are more consequential for them.

Being Nice Doesn't Always Work Out

In an earlier post, I argued that nature is not really red in tooth and claw. Most animals spend far more time cooperating than they do tearing each other apart. Yet, there are settings in which being nice can be a losing proposition. A gangster who cares about other people’s feelings might as well shoot himself – before someone else does.

The Big Why of Boston Bombings

The big question on everyone’s mind is motive. Why would two accomplished young men launch horrifying sadistic attacks on civilians in a city that had provided them a safe haven from war? As athletes, why target an athletic event? Why attack the Boston Marathon, a symbol of international friendship in a city that had embraced, nurtured, encouraged, and educated them?

Is City Life Hostile to Children?

How important is the right to reproduce? We may soon find out. The most advanced cities, such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and New York are now so hostile to childbearing that many women have stopped getting married or having babies.

Keeping Up With the Joneses Makes Us Sad and Sick

Being at the bottom of the heap is stressful and depressing. It is bad for health. Poor people are about twice as likely to develop clinical depression and have substantially shorter life expectancy. Living in an unequal society is stressful because there is a pervasive insecurity and lack of social trust.

The Home For Man and Beast

Winning at home may seem a bit like a pupil who excels at lunch. Yet, there are real advantages to the sense of confidence and security accruing to time spent at home. The underlying psychology has deep roots in evolution.

Finally, a Cure for Writer's Block!

Writer’s block is another way of saying that the author prefers the ideal work still locked in the imagination than what they see coming from their keyboard. It is just one case of the more general malady of having great ambitions stand in the way of concrete achievements. Fortunately both can be cured.

What Do Porn Actors Want?

Pornography is a business and the actors are motivated primarily by money. As human beings, they are emotionally affected by what they do, however. Men react differently from women. These differences are essentially the opposite of gender stereotypes advanced by evolutionary psychologists.

Impact of Telecommuting on Family Life

Much of the controversy about telecommuting deals with how well people do their jobs, whether they are productive, collegial, or upwardly mobile. A slightly different topic is what telecommuting can, or can not, do for families. Telecommuters are better able to care for their children and they could benefit from cheaper housing and raise larger families.

Dieting Is Not the Path to Health

Mayor Bloomberg was in the news recently when his attempt to ban large sugary drinks got shot down in the courts. He feels obliged to do something to tackle the epidemic of obesity. He wants New Yorkers to go on a soda diet.

Do Lie Detectors Work?

Calling it a “lie-detector” suggests that a polygraph machine can detect lies. Commonly used in criminal investigations, this device actually measures nervous excitement. It operates on the premise that if a person is telling the truth they will remain calm.