Essential Reads

Why Financial Incentives Don’t Improve Performance

By Ray Williams on November 28, 2015 Wired for Success
Performance bonuses for individuals, particularly CEOs, has been the norm across all industries for decades. Yet, increasing evidence indicates this is not a smart practice, that may actually detract from individual and team productivity and motivation.

Holiday Bullies: The Dangers of Overindulging Your Kids

Buying too many gifts for your kids during the holiday? Here's why you want to stop.

How to Put Yourself in Someone Else’s Shoes

By Paul Thagard Ph.D. on November 27, 2015 Hot Thought
You can empathize with people in three ways: recognizing their situations as analogous to your own, perceiving their pain or emotions using mirror neurons, or simulating their experiences using unconscious embodied rules.

8 Secret Body Language Cues That Can Control Your Behavior

Subtle body language in others can trigger emotional, cognitive, and behavioral reactions in us -- and we may be completely unaware of them.

Humankind's Current Growing Pains Are Right On Schedule

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on November 26, 2015 Ambigamy
Taking stock is a good use of the holiday season, hard this year what with the calamities all around us. Still, from a broad vista humankind is doing fine, just what we'd expect to be doing now given evolutionary and human history.

Waiting for the Haiku in Mindfulness

By Thomas Hills Ph.D. on November 26, 2015 Statistical Life
Mindfulness can be about a personal and experimental exploration of reality that is not about saving yourself, but rather experiencing your self. Realizing that the "explanation for you" is not only the finger your mind constantly points at itself, but something undefinably larger and more personal at the same time.

When Adults Struggle With Their Relationships

By Geoffrey Greif Ph.D. on November 25, 2015 Buddy System
Are sibling relationships getting you down this time of year?

The Syrian Refugee Issue: Why Does Fear Turn Us Into Bigots?

By David Ropeik on November 25, 2015 How Risky Is It, Really?
Humans have historically become tribal and bigoted towards others during times of peril. As much as we lament how ugly we behaved in hindsight, we are doing it again toward Syrian refugees. The psychology of risk perception explains why this behavior is so instinctive.

Causes of Students’ Emotional Fragility: Five Perspectives

By Peter Gray Ph.D. on November 25, 2015 Freedom to Learn
The high and apparently increasing rates of emotional disorders and problems of everyday living among college students have generated great concern on campuses throughout the nation. Here I present a sample of views expressed by K–12 teachers, professors, employers, parents, and students about the sources of students’ emotional and coping difficulties.

Why Are So Many Indian Arranged Marriages Successful?

Relinquishing difficult aspects of choice, deciding quickly, and starting the relationship with lower expectations may have upsides for longer-term marital outcomes.

"Mail Order Brides" Still Exist

The mail order bride business as it now operates may be in the perverse position of attempting to match independent, nontraditional women with very traditional Western men, a situation which frequently leads to dissatisfaction for both parties.

20 Questions to Ask This Holiday Season

Our friends and family know what to expect when they come to our house for a meal: Jeffersonian conversations. Thomas Jefferson seated all his guests at one table for dinner, where he asked each guest a single question for all to hear…no side conversations or small-talk allowed. Sounds rigid, but these sorts of dinners are FUN over the holidays.

Save Me From the Fact-Checkers

By Ira Hyman Ph.D. on November 24, 2015 Mental Mishaps
Politicians lie. They also exaggerate and misremember. Each creates an autobiographical past that makes a great story but which probably isn’t completely true. But we are just like the lying politicians except for one critical difference.

What’s the Best Way to React to an Insult?

Insults live at the bottom of the scale of socially appropriate behavior. Because our first tendency is to be polite, especially with people we don’t know very well, it’s not always clear whether to respond in kind or turn the other cheek. Here’s some guidance for how to handle these confusing situations.

Will an Optimist Win the Election?

Studies have shown that optimistic leaders are perceived to be more effective, and happier people are even judged to be more likely to go to Heaven. But wouldn’t it be nice if psychological scientists could analyze the positivity of presidential candidates and relate it to the outcomes of actual elections? As luck would have it, two U Penn researchers already have.

Could New Facebook Features Help You Get Over Your Ex?

Facebook may soon be helping you manage your relationship with your ex by allowing you to limit how much of them you see in your news feed without unfriending or blocking them. Research on coping with break-ups suggests that Facebook has the right idea about how to deal with your ex.

Jane Austen Understood Deception and Discovery in Love

Jane Austen knew a secret or two about the problems with ambiguity in romance and love. Her most beloved novels hinge on a female character's misunderstandings on which man is the best for her, until time and circumstances reveal the truth.

The Qualities of Leaders

By Mark van Vugt Ph.D. on November 23, 2015 Naturally Selected
What makes a good leader? The way leaders are chosen and how they lead may not be so different between humans and others in the animal world. This is important to consider when we make decisions about our political leaders.

Playfulness Is a Spiritual Practice

By Bernard L. De Koven on November 23, 2015 On Having Fun
Being playful, the very understanding of the purpose of games is redefined. Games are no longer about winning or even about cooperating. They are all and only about celebrating our capacity for having fun together.

The Big Lie Professors Are Telling Their Students

The big lie is this: That a college education is ....