Why are so many people drawn to conspiracy theories in times of crisis?
Verified by Psychology Today
Using the past to make sense of perception today.
Carolyn Purnell Ph.D.
For over 200 years, Europeans participated in routine cannibalism. Why did they do it, and why wasn’t this practice taboo?
The mass production of color in the 19th century changed how people experienced the visual world. While color excited some, many others saw it as a threatening force to be tamed.
Today, we're surrounded by colorful art, objects, and fashion. But it took a 19th-century perceptual and cultural revolution to create our colorful world.
Color, as we know it, is a remarkably modern invention. For most of human history, an individual’s access to colors was remarkably limited, and access to color was a sign of power.
Some nineteenth-century psychologists argued that color perception could help resolve political and interpersonal conflict.
We hear a lot about the power of positive thinking. But what about negativity? Here’s what hostage negotiators and political marketers can teach us about the ability to say "no."
The constant stimulation of modern life has novel neurological and psychological effects. Here are some ways the intensity of modern life changes our perception of the world.
Every time you enter a space—no matter how bland or personal it may be—you inevitably get a “feeling.” Here are the five distinct components that go into your perception of a room.
Why were so many nineteenth-century British naturalists willing to eat crocodile, toucan, and panther? And why did they desperately want others to join them?
Price tags don’t strike us as revolutionary, but these little bits of paper dramatically altered economic psychology. Here’s how a few simple numbers changed life as we know it.
We think of memory, imagination, and judgment as “mental faculties,” but in the past, they were classified as “senses.” Why? And should we consider doing the same?
For centuries, a spate of educated men believed that their bodies were made of glass. Why was this delusion so prevalent, and why did it disappear?
Everyone has one stove burner they use more than others. Aside from ergonomics and convenience, why? What's the psychology behind that preference?
How cutting-edge medical knowledge revolutionized the way modern cities function.
The morgue was among the hottest 19th-century tourist attractions in Paris. Why? And how does seeing death on a daily basis alter one’s understanding of life?
At first glance, the cat piano seems cruel and ludicrous, but dig a little deeper, and you’ll find a rich world of meaning.
In an era where it’s easy to manipulate video and photographic evidence, how can we really tell that the things we’re seeing are true?
Ever wondered why there aren’t more fuchsia cars? The prejudice against bright colors runs deep and can be traced back to the age of Western colonialism.
Many 18th- and 19th-century philosophers described sex as a sixth sense. It’s worth asking why.
A brief history of race as a visual construct.
In Europe in the 1700s, people allegedly died from smelling flowers. Why? The answer might surprise you.
During COVID-19, face masks are the new norm. That’s positive for physical health, but what does it mean for us socially?
Nothing seems more constant than our senses. Yet over time, humans have put their senses to use in dramatically different ways.
Carolyn Purnell, Ph.D., is a historian and writer fascinated by the hidden assumptions that govern our lives. By contextualizing perception, she seeks to make the past relevant to modern readers.