The Concept of a Cause Has Gotten More Important Over Time

Over the past 100 years, the world seems to have gotten more complicated. Does that affect people's interest in causal knowledge?

Need a Hand? Just Ask (Really)

We often underestimate how likely someone is to comply with a request. Why is this so—and why does it matter?

How Does Forgiving Someone Affect Their Behavior?

Forgiveness is a statement that the particular bad behavior will not affect the relationship going forward. How does this affect the behavior of the person forgiven?

There Are Cognitive Predictors of Longevity

Women live longer than men. Nonsmokers live longer than smokers. What other factors predict whether someone will live longer?

Do Changes in Income Affect Life Satisfaction?

When I was first starting my career, I used to daydream sometimes about making more money. Like many other people, I assumed that would make me happy.

Negotiators Are Motivated to Agree

Negotiations involve situations in which there are two (or more) parties with conflicting interests. Good negotiators don't always reach an agreement, though.

Can Psychology Explain Humor?

Humor is a pervasive part of human experience. If you watch people in social groups, they spend a lot of time laughing. But, what makes particular events funny?

Even Young Children Avoid Mean People

In order to enforce the norms and values of our culture, adults will give up resources to punish other people. How early does this develop?

Social Comparisons Can Make You Give Up

Competition can often be motivating. Yet, in ordinary life, social comparisons can also be de-motivating.

Positive Mood Makes People Gamble More

In order to take a risk, you have to feel as though that risk will pay off in some way.

What Kinds of People Think BS Is Profound?

There are a lot of people in the world who want to impress us with what they know and with their ability to provide deep and meaningful insights into life.

Emotion Dominates Fast Choices

There are many situations in which you have to make choices quickly. Walking through the grocery store, you are moving through the aisles and pulling items from the shelves.

Happy People Like Happy People

Your social environment has a big effect on your mood. Does your current level of happiness affect the kinds of people you want to hang around?

You Seek Control When You’re Stressed

Stress is a big part of many people’s daily lives. How does all of this stress affect people’s ability to stick with the tasks they are given?

Too Many Leaders Spoil the Group

Powerful people have trouble working together.

Learning and Social Distance

Does the distance between you and the person you are learning from affect what you learn from that person?

Man-Made Disasters Seem More Severe Than Natural Disasters

There are all kinds of large-scale disasters that get reported in the news. Some of them are the result of natural causes like earthquakes along an active fault line or volcanoes.

Severity Makes Events Feel Closer

Psychological distance has been the focus of a lot of research lately. How do we decide whether something is near or far from us?

Does Slowing Down Enhance Self Control?

People are often told to slow down in order to avoid impulsive behavior, but does that really work?

Hard Work Is Good, But It Is Better to Be Seen as a Natural

Most successful people acknowledge that their hard work has been a key contributor to their success. But, do we like people who we see as working hard?

Why Do You Pay So Much Attention to External Rewards?

People are often forced to make a tradeoff between the enjoyment of a task and the long-term reward for that task. Why do they manage that tradeoff badly?

This Is Why Narcissists Think They're Better Than You

A central aspect of narcissism is grandiosity. That is, narcissists tend to think highly of themselves. They tend to have a positive view of themselves compared to others.

Is Oxytocin the “Trust Molecule"?

People love simple stories about human psychology. They get touted in the news all the time. Play brain games and get smarter. Meditate and watch your stress melt away.

You Can Learn to Expect Pain, Even Without Experiencing Pain

One of my kids got allergy shots when he was younger. Each week, we would drive to a clinic, and sit in the waiting room. At first, he expected a lot of pain.

When Children Learn About Other's Minds, They Learn to Lie

Lying is a pretty sophisticated behavior. When you lie to someone else, you need to understand that when you tell them something that you know is not true, that they come to believe the false information. That means that you need to understand that their belief and your belief will differ.

Explanations and Our Place in Society

There is a funny paradox in politics. Many people who are successful or wealthy recognize the combination of talent and circumstances and plain luck that landed them where they are. Those who are unsuccessful or poor can recognize how things might have gone differently if their circumstances had been different.

Why Doesn’t Increased Wealth Always Make Countries Happier?

The United States seems to exist in a state of perpetual political campaign these days. Politicians play on people’s dissatisfaction and unhappiness as they talk about why they will be able to make things better. The hidden assumption of this work is that if the economy improves, people will be happier.

Does Mindfulness Meditation Affect Memory?

A key aspect of memory is your ability to distinguish things that actually happened to you from things you were just thinking about. When you witness an accident, your ability to recall it properly requires that you remember whether facts you believe about that event came from what you actually saw and heard or whether they reflect other factors.

Competing Against Another Group Makes Rivals Cooperate

An ancient proverb says, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” This proverb suggests that I may choose to cooperate with one of my rivals when I know that this cooperation will allow us to defeat a common enemy.

Is Perspective-Taking a Skill?

When we study psychology, there is a tendency to think about the tasks that we do as if there were built-in modules in the brain dedicated to those tasks. So, we talk about memory and assume that there is a particular thing in the brain that helps us remember information.