Staving Off Boredom by Focusing On It

You probably have a complex relationship with new things. The first time you hear a new song, it is unfamiliar, and you are not sure whether you like it. After that first listen, the song begins to grow on you. Eventually, though, you get bored with it. Can you slow this process down?

Knowing More About a Charity Is Not Always Better

The idea behind mailings is that the more we learn about a particular charity, the more likely we might be to give money to it—but sometimes the more we think we know about a cause the less generous we are.

Shooter Bias and Stereotypes

Police called to the scene of a crime often face a difficult situation. There may be one or more potential perpetrators. In this situation, the police are asked to make split-second decisions about how to proceed. Failing to shoot an armed suspect could lead a police officer to get shot. Shooting an unarmed or potentially innocent person can lead to tragedy.

What Kinds of People Take Care of Themselves?

There are two kinds of questions that you can ask people to assess their concern for the future. One focuses on how much people care about what is going to happen to them in the future. The other is the degree to which they are focused on the benefit they will get from an action right now.

Can You Be Unconsciously Creative?

In the movies, creativity often involves moments of insight. A character struggles with an idea. There is a montage of pained faces and crumpled sheets of paper. Then, suddenly, the light comes on. A choir sings. A new creative moment has happened.

Kids Learn About Ownership Early On

Ownership is an interesting concept. Unlike many other aspects of objects, ownership depends on the history of the object rather than its features. What do young kids know about ownership?

What Is Boredom?

We have all experienced boredom. Sitting in a class where the teacher is droning on about a topic you don’t care about, you may find yourself daydreaming or staring at a clock that doesn’t seem to be moving. Waiting for a delayed flight to take off at the airport, you may search in vain for something to distract you. So, how does it work?

Why Did You Know It All Along?

The world is full of uncertainty.

Disgust, Morality, and Attention

Our sense of morality helps us to do the right thing even in situations where there is a temptation to do something wrong. An interesting observation from this research is that people’s moral judgments are also related to disgust.

Those Pesky Unconscious Goals

Have you ever had one of those days where you just find it hard to get anything done? You sit at your desk trying to work, and your mind keeps wandering off. Eventually, you may just give up and do something else for a while.

Becoming Bi-Cultural Makes You More Creative

Because of the key role of innovation in generating new business, companies are on the lookout for people who are likely to bring a creative spirit to their work. New work suggests why living abroad can make people more creative.

How Can We Get Students Interested in Math and Science?

High school is interesting, because it is the first time that students have the chance to start picking their own classes. They have the change to determine the difficulty of the classes they want to take and they have some flexibility in the number of classes that they take in different subject areas.

Treating Yourself with Compassion Helps You Change for the Better

Self-compassion is the degree to which people treat themselves with warmth and understanding. How can that help you to overcome failure?

Social Drinking Helps People Get Along

On Sunday nights, I play saxophone in the backing band for a blues jam that is held at a local club. Most of the people who come are musicians or other folks from the neighborhood who wandered in for a drink. As I look around the room, most people have a drink in front of them. They are talking and laughing. Everybody seems to be having a good time.

How Can We Get You to Save for Retirement?

Perhaps the biggest source of human misery is the tradeoff between short-term and long-term goals. We are wired to do what seems best to us right now, even if those actions conflict with what is best for us in the long-term. That is why we eat that piece of cake instead of dieting. It is also why we spend our money now rather than saving for retirement.

Thinking Style and Belief In God

There is no doubt that the human mind is prepared to believe in the divine. All over the world, cultures have created belief in one or many gods. These beliefs are common in societies regardless of levels of technological advancement and scientific achievement.

Happy People Succeed

Quite a bit of research has examined influences of positive affect on thinking. We know that positive feelings are good for you in the short-term, but what about the long-term? Maybe unhappy people are the ones motivated to make the most of their lives.

Guilt and Leadership

Are good leaders born or made? To some degree, of course, that is a false question. A person’s characteristics may predispose them to want to be a leader and even to have some potential to lead effectively, but there is still a lot of learning that has to be done to become a good leader.

Why Do Americans Accept Wealth Inequality?

Over the past two years, there has been a significant political debate in the United States about the distribution of wealth. Why do Americans accept extreme inequality in wealth distribution?

Your Initial Choices Often Get Stronger

There is a tendency for us to try to keep our beliefs consistent. This tendency has a big influence on the way that we interpret new evidence when making decisions.

Not All Happiness Is the Same

If you were to stop people randomly on the street and ask them if they were happy, chances are most of them would say, “Yes.” Most of us are happy most of the time. What exactly does it mean to be happy, though?

Getting Stuck in Trivial Choices

If you watch people shopping, you'll find that they often spend a lot of time on decisions that don't really matter. What causes us to get sucked into trivial choices?

Persuasion Is Local

How can an advertisement reach a diverse mix of people? Perhaps an ad needs to be tailored to the personality characteristics of the viewer.

The Value of Experiencing Through Someone Else’s Eyes

Here at the University of Texas, we have started a new program called the Human Dimensions of Organizations that uses the humanities and the social and behavioral sciences to teach people in business how to think like leaders. Why would a business leader need any training in literature? A new set of studies suggests an answer.

To Take People’s Advice, Take Their Perspective Too

You may have noticed that there are two kinds of advice-giving situations. Sometimes, people come to you for advice, because they really don’t know what to do, and they are asking for your opinion or expertise. Other times, though, people already have an opinion. How you can get people to pay more attention to the advice they receive?

How Do You Decide Who Owns Something?

Ownership is an important part of our daily lives, but most of us do not spend much time thinking about how we make decisions about who owns things. We care about ownership, because the owner of an object gets to decide what is done with it. Owners also benefit from the value of the object.

Specific Plans Do Not Always Help

A lot of research over the last several years has focused on how to help people to achieve their goals. One of the results that has emerged from this work is that it is useful to form specific plans. Are these specific plans always helpful?

Young Kids Know Who to Learn From

Much of what we know is learned from other people. As young children, our parents and caregivers teach us about the world by talking with us, playing with us, and letting us watch what they do. As we get older, we learn from teachers in school settings, and our peers as well.

You Are What You Have Done—Not What You Own

The experiences you have and the things you own both influence your sense of self. Which plays a larger role?

Why Is Advice so Rarely Followed?

It is fascinating that the advice people are most prone to give is different from the actions that people typically take. Why is that?

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