Social Life Essential Reads

Think You Can't Get Drunk on Soda Water? Think Again.

Don't blame it on the alcohol! Blame it on your expectations about drinking.

8 Negative Attitudes of Chronically Unhappy People

All of us experience negative thoughts from time to time. How we manage our negative attitudes can make the difference between confidence versus fear, hope versus despair, mastery versus victimhood, and victory versus defeat. Here are eight negative attitudes of chronically unhappy people...

Three Dead Grannies, or the Psychology of Deadlines

By Joachim I Krueger Ph.D. on February 21, 2015 in One Among Many
A deadline is a blunt cudgel to beat students (and others) into submission. Can we do without them? [this is a rhetorical question]

“Islamic Extremism” vs “Violent Extremism”

Some refuse to use the term "Islamic Extremists" to describe the terrorist group, ISIS, calling them "Violent Extremists." By attributing cause and accountability, we are better able to define who they are, delineate their mission and goals, and derive solutions to stop them. Naming them DOES NOT blame, or indict non-violent Muslims - not guilt by religious association.

Flow and Happiness

By Joachim I Krueger Ph.D. on February 16, 2015 in One Among Many
What is the relationship between the state of ‘flow’ and happiness? I suggest here that flow is beneficial but limited in scope because it is bound up with work and expertise.

The Way We Were?

By Phil Zuckerman Ph.D. on February 11, 2015 in The Secular Life
Life was not better when religion was stronger

What's in a Name? More Than You Think.

By Geoff Haddock Ph.D. on February 11, 2015 in Attitude Check
Is Darren more likely to be persuaded by Derek or Stuart?

Why are There More Homo Sapiens than Neandertals These Days?

Neandertals were smart - but they now only exist in small amounts in our own DNA. What led to the large-scale success of Homo Sapiens relative to the Neandertals? The answer lies in the human (or Homo Sapien) tendency to create "ingroups" beyond kin lines. And such "ingroup" reasoning can help explain both the best and the worst of what it means to be human.

Can Other People Make You Less Creative?

By Liane Gabora Ph.D. on February 06, 2015 in Mindbloggling
Do you sometimes feel more creative when you are alone? Though it is widely believed that stimulating environments enhance creativity this is not always the case. People may send out social signals to each other to conform, thereby ensuring that creativity--the process that fuels cultural novelty--is balanced by conformity--the process that perpetuates successful novelty.

Staying Home

By Joachim I Krueger Ph.D. on February 04, 2015 in One Among Many
There are two psychologies of religion. One shows that religion is a poor way of ‘knowing.’ The other shows that religion is a stubborn social phenomenon.

Revelation vs. Science

By Joachim I Krueger Ph.D. on February 02, 2015 in One Among Many
Does theistic religion offer transcendence or a psychological straightjacket?

Millennials and Social Media: It May Not Be What You Think

By Frank T McAndrew Ph.D. on February 02, 2015 in Out of the Ooze
We may be worrying too much that our smart phones, Twitter feeds, and Facebook pages are making us less capable of dealing with real people in real physical space. The actual problem is that this technology is making it impossible for us to be WITHOUT other people, even for short periods of time.

Rats and Responsibility (And a Bit of Camus)

By David P. Barash Ph.D. on January 30, 2015 in Pura Vida
People can get motivated to deal with serious immediate problems, but then, soon enough (often, too soon), they decide the problem is solved and move on. But problems, like rats, have a nasty habit of coming back. Cases in point: Ebola and nuclear weapons. In such cases, we can all learn a lesson from Albert Camus.

It’s Not What You Say, But How You Say It

By David Ludden Ph.D. on January 30, 2015 in Talking Apes
Most of our daily conversations are about building and maintaining social relationships, and the actual content of those conversations is usually unimportant.

Are 36 Questions All It Takes to Fall in Love?

When love follows a 36-question exercise, people pay attention. But is this method a reliable one for transitioning strangers into long-term romantic partners?

Normative Happiness

By Joachim I Krueger Ph.D. on January 24, 2015 in One Among Many
Is happiness a subjective, inner, feeling, or is it subject to analytical examination? If so, can your life and your happiness be objectively evaluated? Many philosophers but few psychologists believe so.

Amazing Website Predicts All Your Political Opinions!*

I've posted an interactive tool that shows how various features (race, religion, gender, education, etc.) relate to a range of political opinions (abortion, same-sex marriage, immigration, healthcare, etc.). Don't let a focus on your own views get in the way of learning about fascinating patterns in the data.

What Makes a Good Pun?

By Richard Smith Ph.D. on January 16, 2015 in Joy and Pain
Punsters often insert puns into serious situations, thereby disrupting the hearer's goals. This produces groans of anger and frustration even if the puns are clever. The best puns are both clever and also succeed in furthering rather than disrupting the hearer's goals and in enhancing meaning.

Everyday Bipolar Disorder and Order

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on January 15, 2015 in Ambigamy
We're all a little bipolar, motivated in opposite directions. Healthier, more trustworthy people own their ambivalences. Here are some tips on how to do it.

10 Tips for Reducing Anger

By Steven Laurent on January 15, 2015 in Chill Pill
I think some readers may take exception to tip no. 4. And many will struggle with no. 7 (myself included); but it's no reason not to strive for it...

All Is Lost!

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on January 14, 2015 in The Human Beast
If a tsunami washes away your home, family and friends, you are entitled to feel that all is lost. Most people bounce back from disasters sooner or later. Yet many people feel catastrophic anxiety in their everyday lives without any catastrophe. Why?

The Truth About Lies

By Glenn C. Altschuler Ph.D. on January 14, 2015 in This Is America
In The Devil Wins, Dallas Denery provides an informative and thought-provoking account of the efforts of theologians and philosophers from the early Christian era to the Enlightenment to define lies and understand their ethical, social, and political implications. In the "fallen world" of early modern Europe, he argues, lying became natural and naturally useful qualities.

Penis Size Matters

By Robert D. Martin Ph.D. on January 13, 2015 in How We Do It
Myths regarding human penis size have acquired a life of their own but are easily debunked by analyses of reliable data from available quantitative studies. Men do not have the longest penis found among primates. There are no conspicuous differences in average penis size between human populations. And shoe size is not a reliable guide to male endowment.

Sex Doesn’t Have to Make Sense

Trying to pigeonhole sex into one or two “real” explanations is fruitless and damaging.

Why You Need to Feed Your Hunger for Contact

Scientists prove what humans knew all along, hugs heal.

Why You and Your Siblings May Still Be Rivals

No matter how much siblings love each other, they’re bound to have their share of conflict, often over the attention of their parents. Whether you’re a sibling, or a parent of one, you know that sibling rivalry is real. Here are some insights to help you understand where it comes from and what the effects of parental favoritism can be over time.

Why We Take Risks

By Romeo Vitelli Ph.D. on December 29, 2014 in Media Spotlight
Research into risky decision-making suggests we are more impartial when asked to evaluate risk for other people than we are when we do these risky behaviours ourselves. Not only are we less likely to be swayed by cognitive biases in weighing risks for others, but we are less likely to let our emotions get in the way. What are some of the cognitive biases linked to risk?

Why Don't We Confide in the People Closest to Us?

By Bella DePaulo Ph.D. on December 28, 2014 in Living Single
Researchers have long assumed that we discuss our most intimate matters only with the most important people in our lives. A sociologist just tested that assumption, and discovered just how wrong we have been.

The Plague of Modern, Mechanized, Multi-cultural Life

Plagues, like mechanization, modernization, and multi-culturalism, isolate individuals in ways comparable to autism.

A Defense of Jealousy

By Glenn C. Altschuler Ph.D. on December 23, 2014 in This Is America
In Jealousy, Peter Toohey provides a charming and instructive survey of a much maligned emotion. He examines jealousy in many of its guises, including sexual jealousy, the Oedipus Complex, and sibling rivalry. Aware that it can be an ugly emotion, he argues that jealousy is an evolutionary adaptation that "can be a beautiful thing."