Watson is so cool I: Why you’re not impressed

You may be unimpressed with Watson's performance on Jeopardy.  Here's why you're not impressed, though you should be.

The past hurts worse when it will return

It is common to say that time heals all wounds.  And generally, it does. But not when you are going to experience the event again.

Gestures help you imagine movements of objects

Does this ability to move objects around also help you to think about the movements of objects that aren't physically present? 

What is an apology worth to you?

What is the value of an apology after a violation of trust?  It may be less than you think.

Focusing on differences lets me understand you better

There are many situations where our success depends on whether we can take someone else's perspective.  New research explores how to let you do that more effectively.

Comparison and choice: When something is better than nothing

When you make choices, you focus on the information that matches up between the options.  Research suggests that can lead you to make bad decisions.

Understanding what we learn from not doing by looking at the brain.

When you think about thinking, you probably focus most often on your ability to make decisions or solve complex problems.  An important part of your thinking abilities, though, is the ability to predict what is going to happen in the future

Priming National Identity: Small Things Can Have a Big Impact

For a little while after the tragic shooting of 19 people in Tucson in early January including Rep. Gabriele Giffords there was increased sense of national unity. In this context, I was reminded of a 2007 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

What you do affects what you learn

Part of learning about anything new involves learning about the objects and individuals in that arena. This issue is particularly important in classroom settings.  So, what is the best way to teach people about objects?

Using the conflict between doing and not doing

There are many activities in your life where you might choose between doing an action and not doing that action. A new study explores the contribution of these kinds of goals for people's choices of what seem to be contradictory actions.

Uplifting lyrics can reduce aggression

There is power in uplifting lyrics to cool aggressive behavior.  In light of recent events, that matters a lot.

Using awareness to increase willpower

Self-awareness can improve your ability to overcome obstacles even after having to exert a lot of self-control in another situation.

Two modes for dealing with conflicts between goals

Our goals often conflict.  Research suggests that we have two modes for dealing with these conflicts--an active mode and a passive mode.  Which one is active matters a lot for how likely you are to achieve your goals.

A good mood enhances some kinds of learning

When you're in a good mood, it often feels like you can do anything.  Can a good mood actually help you learn, or does it just make you feel better about your performance?

Language makes you smart by naming roles

Having words that refer to roles is something that helps make people smart. These labels help us to recognize when we see some new object that also plays the same role in a situation.

It matters whether you believe in willpower

The idea that willpower is a resource that can be used up is called ego-depletion. One factor that affects whether you show ego-depletion effects is whether you believe that willpower is a limited resource.

Why do parents think the DVDs work, then?

Do DVDs that aim to teach babies new words really work?  A new study examines this question.

How language affects whether you think something is true

When a piece of information is relatively unfamiliar, how do you know whether it is true?

The Psychology of Time Pressured Sales

Retailers are enticing people into stores with the promise of great deals on products. But that still doesn't explain the shopping frenzy that happens the day after Thanksgiving. The research of Arie Kruglanski and his colleagues offers a clue to what might be going on here. 

You are either with us or against us: People and politics

Democrats and Republicans seem like perfect opposites. Is that something special about politics, or is it true of the way people think about opposing categories in general?

Your Future Happiness Depends Less On the Present Than You Might Think

You make a lot of decisions based on how you think they will make you feel in the future. The evidence is pretty clear, though, that big positive and negative events don't have an enormous impact on people's happiness. Why do these errors persist?

Using magic (tricks) to study autism

To say that the brain is a complex organ is a tremendous understatement. It is so complex, that it is often hard to believe that it works so well for most people. At times, though, something goes wrong. We can get a lot of insight into the way that brains function by studying both normal brains and abnormal ones.

The structure of our goals affects how we plan for the future

Lots of the things we hope to do in life-our goals-can be accomplished in many ways. The plans you create to achieve your goals are an important determinant in whether you succeed. So, it is useful to know something about how you generate plans.

Why cell phones are so annoying

Sometimes when I'm thinking having trouble deciding what to write about for my next blog entry, fate steps in.  There was a guy standing behind me with a Bluetooth receiver in his ear jabbering away to someone in his office.

That package made me overeat

Snacking can be hard to control. It is common for people to sit down with a box of crackers or a box of pretzels and eat mindlessly until they discover that they have finished them all. Overeating is a huge part of the problem that people have losing weight. It is hard to exercise enough to overcome a food binge.