Why Empathy Makes You More Helpful

Charities often tug at your heartstrings when looking for donations. Why is that strategy so effective?

Why We Create Moral Issues

When Barack Obama announced that he was supporting same-sex marriage, he cast the discussion in moral terms. Why are discussions of this issue usually cast in moral terms?

Creativity, Persistence and Working Memory

On Sunday nights, I play in the horn section of a blues band. Each week, musicians come from all over town to play with us. So, over the course of the night, I get many opportunities to hear people play solos on a variety of instruments. And sometimes, I am just blown away by the quality and creativity of people’s solos.

What Does Guilt Do?

If you do something wrong that hurts someone else, you feel guilty. Guilt is a valuable emotion, because it helps to maintain your ties to the people in your community. It provides a painful consequence for actions that would weaken the groups that you belong to.

Changing Your Own Mind

The old joke says that you only need one psychologist to change a light bulb, but the light bulb has to want to change. What can you do to change your mind about something?

Size Does Matter—When You’re Putting

It is tempting to think of our eyes as video cameras that take in information about the world and try to give us a reasonably accurate picture of what is going on in the outside world. The reality is that what we see relates to what we can do.

Thinking Fast Promotes Risky Behavior

We’re approaching the playoffs in hockey and basketball. An exciting win by a team creates a lot of excitement, and in that excitement people often engage in behaviors that carry some risk. What factors promote this kind of risky behavior?

Respect and Status Are Not the Same

In any group, some people emerge as the leaders. Those leaders have high status within the group, because others end up following what they decide. What factors determine whether people want leadership roles?

When Do You Practice What You Preach?

Philosophers and observers of human behavior have noticed that people often make moral claims that they cannot live up to. But, people's behavior often does not live up to these standards. These observations have spurred a number of lines of psychological research.

Why Are People More Forgiving When They Get Older?

Forgiveness can be difficult. When someone does something wrong to you, it often takes time and effort to get beyond what they did and to forgive. A common observation, though, is that older people (in their 70s and 80s) are much more forgiving than young and middle-aged adults.

You Can Overcome Fixations and Achieve Insight

There are many different roads to innovation. One of them requires overcoming functional fixedness. How can you learn to do that better?

Motivation Affects What You See, Which Affects What You Do

I’m sure that you have had the experience of hopping into the grocery store when you are hungry. As you walk through the aisles, all kinds of snacks and chips seem to leap from the shelves into your cart. Why does this happen?

White Lies Affect Your Behavior

Some social situations lead people to tell little white lies. How do those lies affect the way you treat the person you lied to in the future?

Credit Cards Make You Pay Attention to Benefits

Most people have had the experience that paying for something with a credit card seems less painful than paying for it with cash. New research sheds light on why this happens.

It Is Motivating to Belong to a Group

There are lots of benefits to being a member of a community. People feel more secure when they know that they have others around them who share their goals and care about their progress.

What Do You Enjoy Doing?

Often, I hear people repeat the phrase, “Life is a journey, you have to enjoy the ride.” If you want to set up your life so that you can enjoy as many of the moments as possible, though, are there particular experiences you ought to strive for?

Developing Good Study Habits Really Works

Knowledge is the essence of smart thinking. No matter how much raw intelligence you have, you are not going to succeed at solving complex problems without knowing a lot.

Even for Young Kids, Explanation Guides Exploration

It is generally a positive characteristic to be curious. When you are curious, you spend a lot of time trying to understand the way the world around you works.

Meat Eaters Downplay Animal Minds

The decision about whether to eat meat has a moral dimension to it. How do people make this choice?

Role Models and Beliefs About Leadership

It is hard to be a leader. Role models can be a great help in developing leadership skills. Under what circumstances do you benefit from role models?

Culture Affects Your Attention to Emotional Information

Culture has many influences on our daily behavior. Some of these effects are obvious. Other influences are less obvious, because they direct the kinds of information that we pay attention to.

What Makes You Feel Rich?

When you think about how rich you are, you should subtract what you owe from what you own. Is that what you actually do?

You Listen Most to the Experts Who Disagree With You

You might think that you are most inclined to be affected by experts who agree with you. New research suggests that might not be the case.

Why Isn’t Language Clearer?

Anyone who has spent any amount of time with me knows that I am addicted to puns. Wouldn't language be a whole lot better if it were clearer and didn't allow for all this word play?

Why Regret Makes Buying Experiences Better than Buying Stuff

Research suggests that people are happier when they buy experiences than when they buy objects. The kinds of regrets you experience after making a choice may explain why.

No More Senior Moments

As you get older, you may start to worry that your memory is getting worse. Chances are, that worry is having a bigger impact on your memory than any actual changes to your brain are having.

Even People Who Don’t Vote Would Vote Like I Do

In many first-world countries like the United States, only a fraction of the eligible voters actually vote. That means that we could speculate about what would happen if all of the available voters turned out for an election. How do voters think elections would change if everyone voted?

Why We Love Independence, Individuality, and Starbucks

American culture takes great pride in individuality. Yet at the same time, chain stores dominate our landscape. Could our incredible mobility be the culprit?

Comparison Creates Confidence

There are two broad strategies that people use to make choices. How do these strategies affect your accuracy and confidence in choices?

The Year in Review—2011

It is the end of the year. Time to look back at what has happened in psychology in 2011. There have been some great advances and some setbacks. Check it out.