Why do you hold the door for others?

You probably hold the door open for people entering a building behind you. What makes you do that?

Video games, violence, and dehumanization

A periodic theme in this blog has been the influence of video games on behavior. I have catalogued both positive and negative influences of video game play on behavior. Today, I have another negative one. Video games may cause you to dehumanize other people, and that can lead to aggression.

A few words on subliminal advertising

Thinking about summer movies and theater snacks often gets people thinking about subliminal advertising. Does subliminal advertising really work?

How Long Will It Take to Get Home?

We often have to make estimates of how long it will take to go somewhere. The funny thing is, it sometimes feels like it takes longer to go somewhere away from home than it takes to return home. Why is that?

Being specific affects whether you think something will happen

When you do things like buy insurance, you have to make judgments about how likely it is that something will happen in the future. Those judgments about the future are affected by whether you think about the future abstractly or specifically.

Why is the belief in global warming affected by temperature?

Last week, I wrote about a strange finding. People are more likely to believe in global warming when the weather is warmer than usual for that time of year. As luck would have it, a fascinating paper was just published exploring why this happens.

On a diet? Leave the credit card at home

After getting home from the grocery store, you often discover purchases you did not intend to make. Your method of payment may affect how likely you are to make these impulse purchases.

Global warming, like politics, is local

Climate change takes place over a period of years and reflects small changes in global temperature. But the temperatures in any location may change by 40 degrees from one day to the next. These daily temperature changes affect people's belief in global warming.

After all these years, I know less about you than I thought

The stereotype of an old married couple is one where the partners are constantly finishing each other's sentences. But how well do older couples really know each other?

Artists and Depth Perception

To see depth in a painting, artists use lots of cues to show the distance of objects. What makes them so good at using these cues?

You can talk yourself into anything with time

Amazing stories of heroism often rest on people's choices in real-world moral dilemmas. Why do people do things in the moment that may seem so amazing when reading about them later?

Batter see, batter do

You may understand the actions you see by thinking about the movements that would be required to do that action yourself. That can affect your own actions later. This issue was explored in a fascinating set of studies using experienced baseball players.

When relying on significant others backfires

Your reliance on a romantic partner to help you achieve your goals can sometimes backfire. If you come to rely on your romantic partner for support, you may sometimes exert less of your own self-control.

Pain reduces feelings of guilt

Physical pain can reduce your feelings of guilt. Why does that happen?

Your beliefs about intelligence affect your beliefs about learning

If you believe intelligence is a talent, you treat hard learning differently than when you believe that it is a skill.

Building during brainstorming

Brainstorming in a group may not always be effective. When do groups come up with good ideas? They can be particularly effective when combining ideas.

The costs of changing your mindset

People have lots of broad strategies for solving problems. Switching between those mindsets may affect your self-control.

How does physical experience affect mental movement?

We use mental images to help us plan lots of actions like moving a couch. Does the ease of performing the actions in the world affect the ease of transforming these mental images?

Speed and confidence

Sometimes thinking fast makes people confident.  Sometimes thinking slow makes people confident.  In what situations are fast and slow thinking most prized?

Cheating, thinking, and memory

There are mechanisms at work that keep people from feeling too guilty about cheating.  How do they work?

Incompetent doesn’t mean clueless

The poorest performers often over-predict their performance. But that doesn't mean that they are overconfident.

Your beliefs affect the strength of the placebo effect

How do your beliefs about a placebo influence the way it affects you?

Optimism Persists in the Face of Experience

Optimism can help get you motivated. But how is your tendency to be optimistic affected by experience?

Political and financial bubbles

What are some of the psychological factors underlying political and financial bubbles?

Watson Is So Cool, Part II: Relevance

Watson, the computer that won the Jeopardy tournament, is amazing because of its ability to figure out what information is most relevant for answering questions.

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.