Social Life Essential Reads

Empathy Vs Sympathy

By Neel Burton M.D. on May 22, 2015 in Hide and Seek
Empathy is often confused with pity, sympathy, and compassion, which are each reactions to the plight of others.

Water Games

Negotiations are especially difficult when you are responding to the other party’s assumed instead of actual preferences.

On the Nature of Creepiness

Given how frequently creepiness gets discussed in everyday life, it is amazing that it has not yet been studied in a scientific way. What I found in an exploratory study suggests that creepiness is a response to the ambiguity of threat; it is not the clear presence of danger that creeps us out, but rather the uncertainty of whether danger is present or not.

How Technical Devices Influence Children's Brains

Guest blog by Dan Riseman, president of Riseman Educational Counseling, covers children's brain development. Here are some dos and don'ts regarding devices.

The One Graduation Message We All Need to Hear

The field of evolutionary psychology has enormous implications for how to guide the next generation of leaders. In particular, the field helps illuminate the nature of giving—a value that we expect all of our graduates to internalize.

Are Conformity Effects Necessarily Social?

By Art Markman Ph.D. on May 14, 2015 in Ulterior Motives
People tend to do what the people around them are doing. Walk onto an elevator, and most everyone stands facing forward. People talking to each other tend to match their speech rate and even the pitch of their voices. The judgments made by a group also tend to converge.

Why Some Men Find it So Hard to Give In

We expect men to be dominant and women to be submissive, according to traditional gender roles. A man who submits to the authority of others, therefore, runs this risk of violating society’s norms. For some men, the shame of giving in hits particularly hard.

Where Are You From? It's a Complicated Question

The question is ambiguous. Depending upon what the questioner wants to know, it can mean a number of different things, but where you are right now can only be understood in relation to where you came from and where you are going.

5 Reasons Fairy-Tale Romances Almost Always Go Wrong

The cultural roots of the warrior/hunter man and the feminine/passive-gatherer woman are reflected in the princess and knight in shining armor mentality promoted today. Although compelling, fairy tale expectations set many men and women up for eventual romantic defeat. Here are five reasons why fairy tale dreams often lead to misery in romance.

Why Your Old Friends Are Vital to Your Future

By Guy Winch Ph.D. on April 30, 2015 in The Squeaky Wheel
Can we predict who might be at risk for becoming lonely later in life?

Game of Zoë

By Joachim I Krueger Ph.D. on April 28, 2015 in One Among Many
Following simple rules, people move around in a group until interesting patterns emerge. One sees this more clearly, though, in a computer simulation.

Life in the Slow Lane

Modern middle American life is a blessed experience from an evolutionary perspective. If you're "in the middle," then you have the luxury of experience a "high k" life history strategy. Read on to see how lucky you are for this fact!

Gossip in Your Workplace Probably Does More Good Than Harm

By Frank T McAndrew Ph.D. on April 25, 2015 in Out of the Ooze
Campaigns to stamp out workplace gossip overlook the fact that gossip is part of who we are and an essential part of what makes work groups function as well as they do. It is more productive to think of gossip as a social skill rather than as a character flaw, because it is only when we do not do it well that we get into trouble.

5 Ways to Make Small Talk Worth the Trouble

By F. Diane Barth L.C.S.W. on April 24, 2015 in Off the Couch
Do you hate small talk? You’re not alone, of course. Maybe you’re shy, or introverted, or maybe you’re bored by it. Or do you get irritated by the apparently endless and meaningless chatter? Here are 5 reasons to change your mind. And 5 techniques for getting better at it.

How We Frame Emotions Through Facial Expressions

How our faces express emotions is a moving window into our minds.

I'm Having An Impossible Time With A Break-Up

Breaking Up in The Age of Social Media

When You Need Compassion, Who Can You Really Count On?

By Guy Winch Ph.D. on April 19, 2015 in The Squeaky Wheel
When you want to reach out after an emotionally distressing event, which person is more likely to be compassionate and supportive, someone who has been through a similar experience or someone who has not? Read on to find out...

Expanding the Self

We should reciprocate the gift of our own lives..... To be focused narrowly - worrying excessively about our personal skills and accomplishments and about the public's regards of these - is to remain forever a child.

The 4 Styles of Humor

What do you find funny, and what sort of humor appeals to you? Research has focused on different humor styles, and distinguishes four types.

10 Great Ways to Get to Know New People Without Awkwardness

Icebreakers are a traditional way to overcome the original awkwardness that many people feel when they first form a group. Whether it’s with a class, a set of co-workers, or a volunteer committee, a little psychology will go a long way toward building group cohesion and identity.

The Key To Diagnosing Narcissism Diagnosers

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on April 10, 2015 in Ambigamy
Psychology Today's most popular articles are about how to diagnose narcissists. What drives our interest? Here are some factors to consider.

Why Inappropriate Laughter Is Often Contagious

By Guy Winch Ph.D. on April 08, 2015 in The Squeaky Wheel
The worst case of inappropriate laughter I've ever seen—can you resist giggling when you see it?

Looking in the Cultural Mirror at 100, the Top 10

Five years ago, I began writing pieces for Looking in the Cultural Mirror. While psychology may define itself as the science of behavior, when it comes to people it often seems more like the science of American behavior than of human behavior everywhere. This, my 100th piece, discusses the blog’s background and aims. It offers links to the most popular 10.

Protective Parenting an Adolescent

With all the media attention devoted to adolescents getting in trouble, getting hurt, and getting killed, it's hard for parents not to worry about their teenager and to act restrictively in her or her defense. However, the best protection parents can provide is self-management preparation for safely functioning in a hazardous world.

March Madness

By Jeffrey Lieberman M.D. on March 24, 2015 in Shrink Speak
Students and parents rarely consider that they might need mental health services during college and often urgently. For this reason, they would be well advised to include the quality and availability of mental health services along with traditional considerations as they decide on the college of their choice.

Do You Feel Sexy on the Inside?

By Rick Miller LICSW on March 23, 2015 in Unwrapped
Expanding the ways in which we feel “sexy” is good for everyone (yup, except maybe for the beauty industry that sells just one way).

Want to Live Longer? Make Good Friends.

By Dawn C. Carr MGS, Ph.D. on March 15, 2015 in The Third Age
It may be surprising, but who you choose as a friend matters, and so does the quality of those friendships. Good relationships have a potent beneficial impact on your health.

Comforting Third Spaces

The best third spaces are green spaces.

Notes from an Older Dad

My journey to being a mostly full-time dad demonstrates how having a child can alter one’s personal identity and sense of masculinity, especially when one is older.

The Ambiguities of Progress

By Steven Mintz Ph.D. on March 11, 2015 in The Prime of Life
Rather than thinking about change in terms of progress or decline, it is better to focus on trade-offs.