September 19, 2019
In this episode I talk about whether there really is a bible code, anti-vaccination beliefs and whether jellybeans cause acne. It's all part of how we humans love to find patterns in the world and the amount of wiggle room we're willing to give ourselves to find them. Too often we make the Look Elsewhere error. And not just of everyday folk do this - scientists can as well. We've got to be more careful in our thinking if we're going to find relationships that really do exist in the world - and then make important decisions based on our findings.
September 3, 2019
Most of us have heard of Anton Mesmer and Jean Charcot. They were some of the first to dabble in the "mind cure" using hypnosis and the power of suggestion. But what role did syphilis play in the development of psychology? You'd be surprised. Join me and authors Dr. Allan Ropper and Brian David Burrell as we discuss their new book called "How the Brain Lost Its Mind".
August 21, 2019
There are too many knee-jerk, brief (and incorrect) explanations for why the US is experiencing such a rise in hatred and violence. Claiming that violent perpetrators are "mentally ill" is wrong.  We have research and we understand the dangerous path that some young men get involved in and which ultimately leads them to violence. The right answers are more subtle, but we do know them and we do know what to do about them. We take another look at Significance Quest theory.
August 12, 2019
I talk about tech many times here on The Psych Files so where do I learn about Phone Addiction, Voice Assistants, Smart Watches and so forth? By listening to tech podcasts. There's a new one out I really like. It's called Waveform with MKBHD and I've got a clip from the show to listen to. I'm already learning a lot so check it out! Click here ( to subscribe to Waveform with MKBHD
August 6, 2019
I haven't talked about sleep problems yet here on the Psych Files so I brought in the perfect person to talk to us about sleep and insomnia. Dr. Shelby Harris has written the Woman's Guide to Overcoming Insomnia and I learned a lot about how Cognitive Behavioral therapy is applied to this specific problem. Dr. Harris also has some tips you'll want to hear to help you get a better night's sleep.
July 17, 2019
I'll bet you're like me and you enjoyed the Disney musical Beauty and the Beast. As wonderful a story it is, let's take a moment just to acknowledge that there are some themes in the show that are, well, not so nice. I’ll take a look at this show from an angle of toxic masculinity in the Gaston character and possibly co-dependency in the relationship between Belle and the Beast. I promise - it'll still be fun.
July 4, 2019
Have you ever wondered if you're really being true to some inner person of yours? Wondered if there isn't someone else inside that you that you're supposed to be actualizing? Guess what? Maybe not. What is authenticity anyway? That's what we'll explore in this episode, along with a discussion of some of the doubts being cast on the famous Stanford Prison Study by Philip Zimbardo. Maybe it's actually not time to updater the textbooks after all.
June 19, 2019
In the last episode I talked about the potential downside to having most of our digital assistants speak to us using a female voice. "Q" - will give us an option. Here's my interview with Emil Rasmussen, who will give you some of the background behind Q and his hopes for the future of Q.
June 5, 2019
Why do our digital assistants such as Alexa, Google Home, Siri and Cortana have "feminized" voices and what are the effects of this trend? That's what I explore in this episode. Are there negative effects of using female voices in the devices we talk to and who talk to us? Are there alternatives? Turns out there is an alternative - a "genderless" voice. What does that sound like? Tune in to find out as we explore gender roles, expectations and equality. I’d Blush If I Could ( We tested bots like Siri and Alexa to see who would stand up to sexual harassment ( Why Siri and Alexa Weren’t Built to Smack Down Harassment ( Hey Siri, stop perpetuating sexist stereotypes, UN says ( Is it time for Alexa and Siri to have a “MeToo moment”? ( Female voice assistants fuel damaging gender stereotypes, says a UN study ( My WIX site and online learning experience ( in which I re-create the experiment conducted by Loftus and Palmer on eyewitness testimony. The reason digital assistants acquiesce to harassment isn’t just sexism or gender inequality in the tech world, as disturbing and prevalent as those may be. No, the explanation lies elsewhere, I believe. These machines are meant to manipulate their users into staying connected to their devices, and that focus on manipulation must be laser-like. To clearly state that harassment toward digital assistants is unacceptable would mean having some standard, some line that can’t be crossed. And one line leads to another, and soon you’re distracted—the user is distracted—from selling/buying merchandise, collecting/sharing data, and allowing a device to become ensconced in their life. The moral standard most compatible with engagement is absolute freedom of expression, the standard of having no standards.  – Noam Cohen, “Why Siri and Alexa Weren’t Built to Smack Down Harassment”
May 13, 2019
It's ingrained in western society that people should find work they really enjoy - work that fulfills a passion. If you're lucky enough to have found work you're passionate about you ought to know that there is a dark side. People who know that you're doing the work because you love it might just take advantage of that. In this interview with researchers Troy Campbell and Steven Shepard discuss their research showing that when people know your work is your passion, there are a variety of ways they might take advantage of you. Let's find out how.
May 2, 2019
In this episode I cover a few interesting topics. First, have you ever "blanked out" in front of an audience? I recently did and I was determined to find out why this happened. I found some answers in a great book called Stop Talking, Start Influencing. Also I'll tell you about the memorization strategies I used in a recent play I was in, and we'll finish up with a snippet from an interview with Clive Thompson, author of Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World and he'll tell us how some coders tried to automate parts of their love life.
April 17, 2019
Do you have your own little “tricks”? That is, ways of doing things that are faster than how you used to do them? Well, congratulations, you’re something of an efficiency expert. And if you can picture an assembly line of people putting products together, then you’ve seen one way of increasing productivity. But some of us are really, really obsessed with efficiency and often those people are computer programmers. Some of them, as you’ll hear from Clive Thompson (author of “Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World”) have even developed ways to make their love lives more efficient! Sounds impossible but I think you’ll enjoy hearing what some coders are up to. Why are they obsessed with efficiency? Do they score highly on Conscientiousness in the Big Five personality score? Would Frederick Taylor - founder of scientific management - feel a kindred spirit in them? Let’s find out.
April 3, 2019
Why is it okay - in some cultures - to jaywalk, while in others you could get arrested for jaywalking? Why was marijuana was sold - legally - for years in the streets of Amsterdam when it is only now become legal in the US? The reason: some cultures are what author Michele Gelfand calls "loose" and others are "tight". Here's my first episode on cross-cultural psychology and I think you're going to really enjoy listening to professor Gelfand to find out how our culture's norms shape our attitudes and behavior.
March 18, 2019
Would you like to get into the mind of someone who not only has OCD, but who also wrote a novel in which the main character deals with it as well? That's the premise behind the book, Waiting For Fitz. In this episode I interview the author, Spencer Hyde. He talks about the novel, the other characters (one of whom suffers from schizophrenia) and his own experiences dealing with OCD.
March 5, 2019
Only a little while ago cannabis (marijuana) was approved for medical purposes. Now "recreational use" of the plant is legal in many states in the US. It is being prescribed to treat PTSD, schizophrenia and chronic pain among others.   But what is dispensary opens near you - can you trust the advice of the "budtender" (those who work at cannabis stores) who often provide advice to customers. Dr. Nancy Haug conducted a study to find out what kind of training these workers have and what they base their advice on. You'd be surprised. I talk with professor Haug about this topic and then I talk about what I've been doing to create online activities for students.
February 1, 2019
It seems like there’s no end to TV shows about criminals who have various psychiatric disorders. It’s understandable that we find them fascinating, but how accurate are they? What is it really like to work with individuals who are convicted of serious crimes but who are unquestionably suffering from a mental illness? If you’re interested in these questions or are thinking of going into the field of forensic psychology then you need to listen to Dr. Susan Lewis as she tells us about two of the many clients she came to know during her years in this field. You’ll hear about the case of “Jay” – a deeply troubled man who is stuck in a revolving door between in-patient psychiatric hospitals and the criminal justice system. You’ll also hear about “Kristen” – a deeply violent woman who can’t get the help she needs. Dr. Lewis is the author of a book called “From Deep Within: A Forensic and Clinical Psychologist's Journey” and in this honest and moving interview you’ll learn what it’s really like to work with individuals like “jay” and “Kristen”.
January 16, 2019
Recently we've learned that many students learn best not when things are well explained to them, but rather when they're just a little bit confused. Professor Jeremiah Sullins (interviewed in episode 267) talked about his work on Productive Confusion. Now he's on to a related topic: what if instead of being motivated by confusion, students who are prone to shame wind up feeling so frustrated that they feel ashamed of their confusion and lose the motivation to learn? That's what we'll address in this interview with Dr. Sullins and his work on academic shaming.
December 13, 2018
Have you ever seen something so cute you just want to squeeze it to death? Or a child so cute you want to pinch it's cheeks really hard? Why do we have these odd, powerful, opposite feelings? It's called "cute aggression" and we'll try to explain it in this episode.  We'll also look at the bullying in Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, sexual coercion in the song, "Baby, It's Cold Outside" and yet another nail in the coffin for our non-existent "learning styles".
November 30, 2018
Hopefully you've watched the TV show Columbo. Curious about what this character has to do with psychology? You'd be surprised.  In this episode I analyze Columbo along with the Jennifer Garner movie, "Peppermint". I also explain why you remember how to ride a bike but can't remember where you put your cell phone.
November 15, 2018
Did you see the movie A Quiet Place? How about Mission Impossible? It's always fun to analyze movies from a psychological perspective and that's what I do in this episode. A Quiet Place has a lot of family dynamics issues going on but Mission Impossible? You'd be surprised. We'll look at such things as family therapy, the identified patient, sexism and even correlational statistics.  Let's have some fun.
October 30, 2018
If you're suffering from the effects of a trauma in your life or know someone who is, then listen to Dr. Matt Jaremko talk about his new book with Beth Fehlbaum called Trauma Recovery: Sessions With Dr. Matt". Dr. Jaremko's approach to therapy with trauma victims is straightforward and respectful. It's about helping survivors get their confidence back and move forward. Students of psychology will also see how the ideas of Albert Bandura and Arnold Lazarus come together in a fascinating therapeutic technique.
October 22, 2018
This is part 2 of my interview with Michael Pipich, author of the book, Owning Bipolar. In this part of the interview MIchael discusses his therapeutic approach to trearting Bipolar Disorder.If you have been diagnosed with bipolar or know someone who has, this episode is for you. Michael Pipich brings his 30 years of experience together in his new book, Owning Bipolar.
October 16, 2018
Bipolar (previously known as "manic depression") is often a difficult disorder to diagnose, much less to live with.  If you have been diagnosed with bipolar or know someone who has, this episode is for you. Michael Pipich brings his 30 years of experience together in his new book, **Owning Bipolar**.  In part 1 of my interview with him, we discuss what exactly is bipolar and why it is difficult to diagnose.
October 3, 2018
How are men and women different - really? There's plenty of debate over this, but how this: examine the differences between males and females across a wide variety of species. What are the reliable differences we see again and again? That's exactly what author Steve Stewart-Williams has done in his latest book, The Ape That Understood the Universe.  If you're interested in evolutionary Psychology you've come to the right place.  Fascinating discussion.
September 18, 2018
Having a hard time **memorizing psychiatric medications** and which disorder they are used to treat?  These memory tricks will get them into your head in minutes - and they'll stick so you can get a better grade on your test.  I've got ways to remember 12 medications like **Zoloft, Prozac, Ritalin, Adderall, Lithium**, and more - and which diagnosis (**Depression, Anxiety, Psychosis**, etc.) the drug is used to treat.  Don't spend hours in rote memorization - use these memory tools instead.
September 7, 2018
College teaching needs to change. This doesn't mean using a new fad technique. It doesn't mean dumbing anything down to get "today's students". It does mean that professors need to adopt more of the approaches to teaching that Ken Bain identified in his must-read book, "What The Best College Teachers Do". In this episode I describe one of the key ideas from the book and I show how they could be applied in two specific examples.
August 9, 2018
How do you get someone is is conservative to support climate change? Or stricter controls on guns? There is a way. Research confirms that conservatives tend to be focused on how good the past was, while liberals are "future-focused". So what if you frame a statement about gun control by framing that statement around words and images that support a person's preferences for the past or the future? Let's see how your attitudes are being ever so slightly influenced by the way statements are "framed". You'll be a wiser consumer as a result.
July 10, 2018
Remember those "i-statements" you're supposed to use when you get mad at someone? "I feel ____ when you ____ because ____". Does that actually work? Does talking in this way resolve problems better and not get the other person defensive? We're going to find out. Also, Koko the gorilla died recently. But did she really master sign language? Or is there less to this story than first appears? In this episode we put on our critical thinking caps and take a look.
June 14, 2018
Alright, let's all admit it - we talk to our pets in that funny pet voice. Who's a good dog? Well, there's been a lot of research on your use of this voice to talk to dogs as well as babies. What exactly are you doing with your voice? And most importantly, does your dog know what the heck you're saying? Does it help to talk this way? Let's find out.  And here's something you never thought of if you've ever tried to train a parrot or parakeet to speak: how come you DON'T use your "pet voice" in this case?
May 31, 2018
What can we learn from an old, dusty book I found in the basement? Well, if that book is about gender role **stereotypes** then there's a lot of things to uncover that explain why boys and girls act the way they do.   In this episode we get an example of **qualitative research** by really diving into the book called "Those We Love". How do books shape who we think we are and how we act as adults?
May 5, 2018
Most of us assume one of the reasons men tend to act aggressively is that men have higher levels of testosterone. Let's take a look at this "testosterone myth" because this isn't always the case. In fact, in some cases, the higher levels of testosterone actually cause men to be MORE NICE than usual. Don't believe it? Let's take a look at what author Robert Sapolsky has to teach us about the true and subtle effects of testosterone. I think you'll be surprised.
April 19, 2018
So now that we know a lot about why individuals join extermist groups, what can we do about it? How do we bring them back to society and help them have meaningful lives again? This is the second of 2 episodes on this topic and what we learn here also applies to school shooters. Here are some concrete suggestions, supported by extensive research.
April 5, 2018
What draws people toward violent extremist groups? Psychologists have conducted a lot of research to find this out and in this episode I summarize the findings of key researchers in this area. Researchers Arie Kruglanski, Katarzyna Jasko, David Webber, Chernikova and Erica Molinario explain how their theory, called SQT or Significance Quest Theory explains what leads young men to join extremist groups.
March 16, 2018
You have probably heard a lot about football and CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), the brain degeneration that results from repeated head impacts. One of the worst cases so far of CTE was found in the brain of football player Aaron Hernandez. The Oxygen network produced a fascinating account of Hernandez's life entitled Aaron Hernandez Uncovered and I was asked to participate in a panel discussion with other podcasters in which I talk about CTE as well as Toxic Masculinity. Here's the recording of that Facebook Live stream event. I think you'll find it really interesting.
February 24, 2018
Ever wonder how the fingers of really experienced pianists who are improvising seem to fly across the keyboard? How do they know where their fingers are going? How can they think that fast? In this episode I'll tell you about some of what the brain is doing when pianists play the piano. Maybe you'll be inspired to start playing yourself....?
January 11, 2018
Fitness tracking devices are getting smarter. They’re going to have to get a lot smarter if they are going to be powerful tools in your quest to be fit. But how much more “smart” do we really want them to get? Today they keep track of your steps and heart rate, but if your fitness tracker “knew” how you were thinking and whether you were saying things to yourself that are de-motivating (“I’ll never get in shape anyway…”) it might be more effective in getting you off the couch. But do you want it to have this information?    What if your tracker had some of the same GPS-enabled information that many cars and apps (like Waze) have? What if it knew the conditions of the area sidewalks, which walking/jobbing routes were safer than others or which had better scenery? This knowledge sounds like it could be very helpful, but are okay with your device having that info? In this episode I look at some recent research on tracking devices (like those made by FitBit, Garmin, Samsung and others) and how they could be made even more effective by borrowing ideas from Facebook and Netflix.
December 13, 2017
How can psychologists get you to lead a healthier life? We all have "noble intentions" when it comes to eating well and exercising regularly, but those intentions often don't last too long and you're back to your old unhealthy ways. We can lecture you again about the benefits of healthy eating and exercise, or we can try to "nudge" you toward healthier eating. In this episode I talk about a articles that appeared in the journal Health Psychology about how subtle influences can be used to make big changes in our lives.
December 5, 2017
Have you seen the movie Coco? You should - it's a very moving story. But if you pay attention to the music you'll notice that the melody to the son "Remember Me" is played in several different ways - each with a very different effect on the psyche. In this episode I examine the psychology of this music. A;ong the way we'll see how minor chords and musical repetition affect, of all things, the release of dopamine in the brain.
November 2, 2017
What is the psychology and the research behind why many people are angry about athletes “taking a knee” during the playing of the national anthem? Part of the explanation lies in what’s called the “empathy deficit” that people in power can sometimes display. That is, those in higher social classes in societies are often not able to correctly interpret the facial expressions and gestures of people in lower social classes. Don’t believe it? In this episode I go through the research on how this “empathy deficit” was discovered. Judge for yourself. There’s also a little evolutionary psychology here so I think you’ll find this episode of interest. Check it out!
October 18, 2017
It's often asked: why don't we make heroes out of everyday people? Well, what makes some people's stories inspirational and other not? Let's say you want to inspire young people to make the most of their lives - how do you do that? What stories are the best to tell or what videos are likely to be shared the most? We'll tap into the latest psychological research to find out.
October 11, 2017
If you've watched even a few detective shows (like CSI) you may think you have a sense of what the field of Forensic Psychology is like, but my interviewee David Webb is here to talk about what it's really like to work in this field. David is the author of the All-About-Psychology website as well as the All-About-Forensic-Psychology website. Let's separate fact from fiction and find out how psychological findings are applied to the justice system. And if you're interested in this field, or in pursuing a graduate psychology degree in any other area, check out our sponsor's website: Let's learn about Forensic Psychology!
October 5, 2017
One of the hardest challenges as we grow up is to know how we feel and to understand how others feel. The next step after we're aware of our feelings is knowing how we're going to best act on them. That's the essence of Emotional Intelligence and in this episode, school psychologist and author Kyle Carlin talks about a book he has written called Bug and Boo. It's a charming story about a young girl and her imaginary friend, but it's also a tool to help parents, educators and therapists help youngsters recognize and deal with their own and others' feelings.
September 21, 2017
On this episode I talk about a several psych topics, including what computer programs look at when they try to guess your sexual orientation - and they are really accurate at doing so. Also: anxiety blankets and the musical Hairspray - what do we reveal about ourselves sometimes when we don't even know it!
September 7, 2017
What do you think of your name? Like it? Do you prefer a nickname or do you prefer when people call you by your full name? Why do you think people have these preferences? That's what we're looking at in this episode - research showing that other people (and yourself) might be shaping you to actually look like and act like your name. It's not a conspiracy - it's science. I also look at the latest research on exercise and how it is that one day's exerise might just make the next day a whole lot better. #exercise #psychology
August 24, 2017
If you've ever wondered what goes on in a typical psychology class, well, here ar e 4 class activities I do almost every semester that are my “sure fire hits” – they engage the students in the learning process while helping them really grasp what a key term in psychology means. So you’ll learn about how students memorize each other’s names in a matter of minutes (mnemonics), as well as how they use a piano to shape a fellow student’s behavior (reinforcement and shaping), how they deal with solving unsolvable anagrams (learned helplessness), and how their memories of a car crash are easily manipulated by the way they are asked to recall the experience (unreliability of eyewitness testimony). Sure fire class demonstrations.
August 9, 2017
In part 2 of my interview with Dr. Anna Vagin, she talks about some of the videos she uses to help kids and teens better understand the emotions and challenges of characters in the videos and how those characters dealt with their difficult situations. The videos are a launching point for discussion and insight into the clients' own lives.
July 26, 2017
In part 1 of my interview with Anna Vagin, Ph.D. we talk about how she uses games and videos as part of her work with children and adolescents. I think you'll be surprised how Dr. Vagin uses short videos she finds on YouTube in her sessions. These are not games or videos that were designed to be used in this way, but she has carefully scoured YouTube to find videos that help youngsters connect with their emotions and to better understand others. What's additionally interesting is that Dr. Vagin's Ph.D. is not in psychology but rather in Speech and Language Pathology. Ever thought of that as a career path - a way to help people in their lives? I think you'll find this episode very interesting. #psychology #psychotherapy #therapy
July 11, 2017
In part 2 of my interview with Gleb Tsipusky we talk more about why so many of us (including me) fall for fake news stories and why such stories can spread so rapidly. We also talk about what he's doing to address the problem: the Pro Truth Pledge. Find out more about how he's applying some psychology to solve a real world problem.
June 27, 2017
We're all aware of the problem of fake news, but why do we fall for it? When we read a post on Facebook that sounds a little questionable, why don't we check into it further? You better believe there's some psychology going on here. In this episode I interview Dr. Gleb Tsipursky of Ohio State university. He's been studying this in great depth. We'll apply theories from Daniel Kahenmann (Thinking Fast and Slow) as well as examine the "backfire effect", emotional reasoning and emotional contagion to better understand what's going on. In the upcoming second part of this interview we'll look at what Gleb is up to with his Pro Truth Pledge where more psychology is being applied to help us all stop spreading fake news.
June 12, 2017
What are psychologists talking about this week? Well, we're fighting back against the unbelievable claims made by the marketers of fidget spinners (does the toy really help people with ADHD, PTSD and anxiety?), we're astounded by the results of research on the intelligence of ravens (apparently the birds get resentful if you don't treat them fairly), the latest news on the use of the drug Ketamine, and finally, how we're more likely to believe what a scientist says if he/she is not that attractive and instead looks more like our stereotype of a "scientist".
June 6, 2017
Here's a new piece of weight-loss advice: eat on a crinkly plate! Um...sounds weird. It is kinda, but we'll explore why this might be a good bit of advice. We'll also take a minute and a half sound byte from the TV show Luther and wring all kinds of critical-thinking goodies from it. We'll discover why it might be a total waste of time for you to read about how other people became successful (or happy or have a better marriage or whatever else you might want). All those advice-giving books could be a waste of time. It has to do with our self-esteem and confirmation biases. We'll have some fun.
June 1, 2017
Guess what? Practice definitely does NOT always lead to perfection. When you practice an instrument are you doing it right? In this episode I explore the "10,000 hour" myth and how you can practice something - like an instrument or a language - in a way that is going to result in much faster learning. We'll see that the idea that you don't need to memorize anything because you can always look it up on Google doesn't hold water and we'll take a look at the evidence that Facebook might be rotting your brain (it isn't).
May 19, 2017
All of us have probably felt a little "down" every once in a while so we can empathize a little with someone who is depressed, but how about someone who is suffering from schizophrenia? What is it like? Games may hold one answer for helping all of us gain a small experience of what it is like to suffer from schizophrenia. In part two of my interview with Josue Cardona and Kelli Dunlap we continue our discussion of how games can make understanding psychology more impactful.
May 11, 2017
Interested in psychology? How about gaming? Did you know that these two fields actually go together quite well? Find out how two people with strong backgrounds in both of these fields are putting their experience to work creating games that educate and that provide players with experiences that really help us understand more about mental health. In part 1 of this two part episode we talk about games and their application to psychology. I think you're really going to enjoy it.
April 25, 2017
We live in a time when facts are being questioned, and when respect for each others' differences is on the decline. How often do we say to ourselves: "Yea, but what can I do about it?". Actually, with a little psychology maybe you can turn things around. In this episode I interview someone who's doing just that: Patrice Jones. He's a marketing VP and he recently created a video on his own time that he hopes will remind viewers - be they New England Patriot's fans or not - that we all share a commitment to basic human values like equality and dignity. If we are to keep those values alive we need to be vigilant. See how Patrice is combining a little psychology with his skills as a marketer to develop empathy and a shared sense of the larger group to which we all belong.
April 19, 2017
The involuntary removal of a passenger on a United Airlines flight has justifiably garnered a lot of attention. And as teachers we certainly want to capture students' attention. But how do we create a discussion among students that goes beyond the simple shock value of showing the video? In this episode I talk both about the connections to psychology and about a series of new books that describe ways - simple ways - that teachers can create powerful, critical thinking, discussions in their classrooms.
April 8, 2017
Have to memorize lines for a play or musical? There are a lot of techniques. Let me tell you about a few that are backed by science. I've been involved in the theatre for many years and I've done a lot of memorizing of both lines and song lyrics. Typically, actors and singers use repetition - and don't get me wrong - that works, but there are other ways to get those lines into your head. Ever heard of interleaving? How about using the Method of Loci (often called the Memory Palace) to memorize the sequence of an entire play? Impossible? Nope. Let's take a look.
March 23, 2017
It's hard to remember names - here's how to do it. You'll use your imagination and some weird imagery - but this works. Here's another great use of mnemonics. I'll give you a bunch of people's names and describe the images I created to help me remember them. Give your brain a little room to roam and put it to practical use. Also, I look at recent research that provides yet another reason why names are hard to remember. By the way, let me ask you a question: How many of each animal did Moses take on the ark? The answer: 0 (re-read the question...). I also take a look at that viral video called the "BBC Interrupted Interview". What's the psychology behind why many people thought the woman in the video was a nanny when she was the mother. We'll see how stereotypes develop. #psychology #memory #stereotypes
March 8, 2017
How many times when a parent is arguing with a teen has the parent either said - or wish they could say - "Do it because I said so!". As a parent myself, I've had more than a few of those times. But it just doesn't work - especially with teenagers. In this episode I explore the classic three parenting styles first described by Diana Baumrind in 1971. Then I share my reasons why "Because I Said So" won't work especially in the teen years when teens typically have a low self esteem and a strong desire to believe they are right in the way they interpret the world.
February 24, 2017
You probably know someone who is just plain...well, funny. They may not necessarily even tell that many jokes, but they know how to come up with funny interpretations for what's going on around you ("That guy looks like...."). They just know how to make you laugh. Researchers have studied this in great depth to find out What kind of personality makes for a good strong ability to just come up with funny stuff. And if you've ever watched the TV show, "Who's Line Is It Anyway", in which comedians have to come up with funny stuff on the spot, you've probably wondered how they do that. Let's take a look.
February 6, 2017
Complete strangers in New York City come together in a simple but moving act: they decide as a group to work together to remove offensive graffiti in a subway car. How did they overcome the social pressures to do nothing? In this episode I show how diffusion of responsibility, Modeling, the Big Five personality types and Social Identity theory were at play in this simple but wonderful few minutes on a subway car. 83rxtpfp
January 20, 2017
One reason stereotypes exist is because, sometimes, there's some truth in them. As an Italian-American I can say that, yes, a lot of the times I use my hands when I talk. And it appears to be true that men think about sex more often and are more easily sexually aroused (in general). So what do we do with these findings? Do we throw up our hands and say, "Boy will be boys"? Or do we decide that we're going to change ourselves - one little step at a time.
January 6, 2017
Have you used Siri, Hey Google, Aleza or Cortana? These voice-enabled digital assistants are pretty cool and getting smarter, but why do some of them sound more like a "person" than others? What is it about your voice that makes people believe that there is a thinking human being behind it? In this episode I take a look at a research study called "Mistaking Minds: How Speech Affects Dehumanization and Anthropomorphism" to uncover what it is about a voice that makes it more likely that you'll anthropomorphize it into a real human being?
December 23, 2016
There are a lot of mobile apps that include the term "psychology" but many of them are just for fun. Are there any really good apps for psychotherapists? Yes there are and one of them is called NovoPsych. In this episode I interview Dr. Ben Buchanan who is the creator of NovoPsych and he tells us how the app would be used in a clinical setting. The first in a series of interview highlighting solid, credible apps that people seriosly interesting in psychology will want to check out.
December 8, 2016
The US just had a very contentious election which showed us, if nothing else, that we are a divided nation. How did we become this way? In this episode I talk about group polarization - how it happens and what we can do about it. Along the way, I'll talk about Moral Reframing - and idea researched by Robb Willer and the idea of "emotional correctness" that Sally Kohn suggests is the way that she, a gay woman, is able to get along in a very conservative workplace. The wonderful You Are Not So Smart blog has a great article on how we can better argue when we know we're talking with someone who is on the "opposite side of the fence" politically. #psychology
November 29, 2016
Do "Blue Sky" brainstorming sessions actually produce anything creative? If you've ever sat around with a group of people and tried to "just come up with something creative" you probably found that it's pretty hard. We actually don't think that creatively when we're told to just "throw things out there" and "nothing will be judged". It's often more productive to give people a certain constraint on what they can say. See how research Catrinel Haupt-Tromp used as her inspiration the famous children's book "Green Eggs and Ham" to come up with a pretty neat research study on creativity.
November 15, 2016
The printed word has been around for a long time. Bet you thought there was nothing new in how we put words together in a book or website. Well, guess again. Researchers at Asymmetrica have drawn upon a tried and true memory strategy called "chunking" and applied it to - get this - the amount of white space between words. Would we be able to improve literacy if we ever so slightly adjusted the amount of space between words so that it better reflected our everyday speech patters? Psychologist Chris Nicolas has been tinkering with these word spaces and I think you'll be surprised at what he's doing.
October 20, 2016
We often like it when things are explained to us clearly, but would you believe that sometimes it's better if you're just down-right confused? You could actually learn more if at some point in the learning process you feel like you don't know what's going on. In part 2 of my interview with researcher and professor Jeremiah Sullins, we talk about much more you could learn if you spend a little time being absolutely perplexed at what's going on. You may have heard of this as "desirable difficulties", well here we dig in and find out when it's good for teachers (and students) when everything is not completely clear.
October 16, 2016
Why do you vote the way you do? Have you read through all the various candidates position statements, or do you just kinda go with your "gut"? Jeremiah Sullins, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Harding University has looked at this question in great depth and he's found some really interesting answers to this question. I think you'll really enjoy hearing about his research into your voting behavior.
October 1, 2016
In a previous episode I talked about the kinds of dynamics that can occur in groups (social loafing, diffusion of responsibility) that can make them ineffective learning experiences as well as just not fun. In this episode I interview Dr. Karen Christian who has watched how many study groups in action and she has uncovered quite a few things that study groups need to do differently so that everybody actually learns and gets ready for an upcoming test. She's got some very useful suggestions for teachers and students.
September 12, 2016
How do you "apply a little psychology" to tough jobs like building an online community and to creating a product that people will want to use frequently? In part 2 of my interview with author and Feverbee founder Richard Millington we talk about two key theories from psychology: self-determination theory and Robert Cialdini's persuasion techniques. I think you'll find these real world examples very practical.
September 6, 2016
What do you do with a background in psychology? A lot of things. How about running an online community? I found Richard Millington, founder of Feverbee, talking about how he applies psychology to his business of helping organizations build strong, active online communities. As you've probably seen in your travels about the web, there are a lot of communities (such as those on Facebook) and sometimes you join them because you're interested in the person or the product the company sells. Then what happens? A lot to times nothing because that "community" isn't really a community. It's just a Facebook page that an employee created because he/she felt they "had to" because everyone else is doing it, but there's no actual discussion going on. What's an online community supposed to do? It's supposed to be interesting and helpful to its members. A community is supposed to "connect like minded people" and maybe even get them excited about a product and perhaps even, in the best case scenario, communities get their members to be so excited about the cause or the product that some of them become "evangelists" - real fans who spread the word. But how do you make this happen? What can you do to make a community active? Let's hear how Richard Millington effectively uses a little psychology in his work as a community builder.
August 19, 2016
Is it possible that some people who we think are mentally ill are actually victims of demonic possession? One psychiatrist says yes. Another psychiatrist says no - believing this is true is a matter of not carefully thinking about what you see and hear from others. In this episode I break down the claims made by Richard Gallagher and a counterpoint to Gallagher which was written by Steven Novella. Along the way we'll learn about logical fallacies such as the "argument for incredulity" and the "argument of ignorance". I think you'll find this fascinating and I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.
July 11, 2016
Do you think you're using the words "control group" correctly? You're probably not. In fact, you're probably also getting these terms wrong as well: "truth serum", "lie detector", "bystander apathy", "personality type", Oxytocin, "closure" and even the "scientific method"? In this episode I review some of the points made by Scott Lilienfeld and his colleagues regarding scientific terms that you're probably using incorrectly.
June 22, 2016
Cell phones: they're here and they're not going away. So now it's time to "stop worrying and learn to love them". If you're upset about how much time teens spend on their phones I'll give you a few ideas that, hopefully, will make you feel better. After all, cellphones aren't going away. Quite the opposite. They're only going to get more powerful and more ubiquitous. The "pull" of the phone is irresistible. In this follow-up to episode 258 I want to talk about how adults and parents can feel less distressed by a teen's behavior. I hope the ideas in this episode help.
May 27, 2016
What is change blindness? How could you miss some of the most obvious things that change right in front of you? Millions of people watch a video of kids playing basketball and they miss the fact that a gorilla walks right through the scene. A gorilla? And people missed it? Yup. We often miss lots of things that happen right in front of us because our attention spans work in strange ways. And because what happened isn't what we expected to happen. Let's learn about change blindness.
April 27, 2016
Why do we find it so hard to put down our phones? I'll give you 5 reasons drawn directly from psychological theories on how we learn, how teenagers are strongly affected by reward and how we are all drawn in by mystery. There is of course no easy answer for how to get teens to put down their phones but I'll share what I'm doing with my teenagers.
April 14, 2016
I grew up eating baloney without ever giving a thought to where it came from. But psychology is all reflecting on who you are, why you think the way you do and why you do what you do. So let's explore our eating behavior: why do we think it's weird or wrong when we hear that in some cultures people eat cat meat or insects or bats. Is it really that different from eating cows and pigs? How are we influenced to think that some foods are okay while others aren't...?
April 4, 2016
What if you could study for your psychology test in 24 second sound bytes on your iPhone? Now you can. I recently contacted Parviv - the founder of an app called Clammr. Typically, people use Clammr to stay on top of the news, listen to podcasts or "top tweets" and other humorous audio clips. I thought it would make a great test prep tool. So check it out: download Clammr on your iPhone and search for Psych Fest Prep. You can choose from 7 major psychology topics and start studying!
February 12, 2016
London needs help and only a person trained in psychology can fix this. There are just too many Londoners using their subway (the "tube") and instead of standing side by side as they go up the escalator, people are doing what they always do - they stand single file on the right of the escalator so that people in a hurry can pass on the left. That's a fine social norm when there aren't that many people, but if London transport is going to be usable as the population grows they're going to have to get people to behave differently. How can we break such a strong norm? It's not just London's problem. When you go up the stairs which side do you stand on? The right of course, and you expect the people coming down the stairs to stay to their right. When someone doesn't follow the norm we can get pretty annoyed. So what can we do to create a wide scale change in behavior? We have to apply a little social psychology.
January 20, 2016
What comes to mind when you think "nursing home"? Not so good, right? Let's change that. Let's use what we learn from psychology to create exciting places for seniors to live. We've got the tools provided by Maslow's Hierarchy and by the Self Determination theory. Here's one way we could revolutionize the "senior years".
January 11, 2016
Passengers on an airplane spring to action when a stewardess needs help - but a neighborhood in New York City does very little when a woman is attacked. What's different? How can we take what we learn from the airplane and apply it to the attack? Lecturing the neighborhood residents probably won't help. Can we do anything to the way the neighborhood is laid out to encourage interaction among residents and a greater sense of interdependency among them? That's what we explore in this episode of The Psych Files.
December 29, 2015
How can we use a little psychology to get you to slow down when you're driving? You'd be surprised. Very often road signs like "Slow" or a posted speed limit of, say 20 mph does not work. Drivers go past these signs and nothing bad happens so after a while they're ignored. We try to make it more personal with signs say, "Drive as if your kids live here", but often that doesn't work. How about something trickier: what if we enlisted the help of those 3D sidewalk artists? What could they possibly do? You'll find out.
December 15, 2015
At the end of the year there are so many cues around us that tell us that we should be happy and that we should reflect on our lives. Humbug! Find out how not to fall prey to the holiday blues that are so common.
December 8, 2015
Snapchat got a pretty bad rap over the past few years, but did you know that you actually can use this video messaging app in ways that really do help students see the applications of what their teachers are learning in their everyday lives. In this episode I share my experiences using Snapchat with my psychology class. Yes it has it's limitations, but it also has some strengths that I think are worth looking at. Join me as I explore snapchat and give you samples of "snaps" I sent my students.
October 27, 2015
What is Dysrationalia? You've probably heard of a lot of intelligences - Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences, Sternberg's Triarchic theory of intelligence and Daniel Goldman's Emotional Intelligence. In this episode, my first guest host Bo Bennett steps in to tell us about the work of psychologist Keith Stanovich's work on "dysratinalia". Do you know someone who seems quite intelligent but they believe in something that is, well...completely irrational? Something that just has no scientific support at all?
September 14, 2015
What's the connection between life on Mars and the need to properly replicate scientific studies?
September 8, 2015
Have you heard that about 100 Psychology studies were replicated and only about 1/3 confirmed the original findings? Why did this happen? Well, one reason has to do with incentives that are out of whack. The "real world" of scientific research is far from the lone researcher looking for the truth. And the other reason has to do with, well, you and the internet. You see, you like to click on things that are surprising or weird (I like to do that too I admit) and that behavior encourages bad research. Let's find out how these things are all connected in this episode of The Psych Files.
August 9, 2015
If you have not seen the movie Analyze This with Robert Deniro and Billy Krystal, then you really should. It's not just a funny movie, bit also gets a lot of things about therapy right. So many movies portray psychotherapy so unrealistically but this movie, while it takes a lot of liberties with the therapeutic process, gets some things right and gives you a pretty good idea of how therapy progresses. Through sound bytes from the movie we'll see examples of catharsis, freudian defense mechanisms of denial and minimizing, the analysis of dreams, the breaking of therapeutic boundaries, and Rogerian techniques of reflection. A fascinating movie to take apart and that's just what I do in this episode of ThePsychFiles.
July 22, 2015
If you have been in therapy you want to believe it "worked". We all do. And hopefully it did have a positive effect on you. But how do you know? How do therapists know if what they're doing really has resulted in improvements in their clients? Yes, we have controlled studies for many treatments which give us confidence that these techniques really do help people, but we also have a lot of "therapeutic" techniques that have not been thoroughly tested. Nonetheless, lots of amazing claims are made for their effectiveness and no doubt the people who provide these therapies really do believe that they work.
June 25, 2015
One of the most popular topics in Psychology is attraction: why are we romantically attracted (or not) to each other? Whenever anyone asks me about this topic, or they ask me for other psychology podcasts in addition to The Psych Files. I send them over to the Psychology of Attractiveness podcast, hosted by Rob Burriss. Rob has been hosting this podcast for the past 6 years and he never fails to uncover the most interesting new research in this field.
June 13, 2015
How can technology be used to help people with Dementia and Alzheimer's? Here are a few examples. You may have heard of the "Internet of Things" - this is the idea that we can place small Internet-connected devices onto everyday household objects in order to get information from them about what you are doing - and not doing - throughout the day. A simple use of these devices would be to program these devices to turn the heat up (or down), turn your coffee on and feed the cat when the device senses that you just woke up. But how about using these devices with people who have memory problems? We can also detect when you are NOT doing something (and by a certain time) that you ought to be doing (like eating breakfast) and we can give you an automatic reminder or, if you have fallen, automatically send someone a text. In this episode of The Psych Files we apply technology and psychology to your daily life.
May 29, 2015
We all want to help others - especially those in the "helping professions" - but what's the best way to do that? Therapy? Medication? How about setting up an entire fake village set up to look like the '50s with helping professionals dressed up to look like grocers? Sound bizarre? Well, they're doing it in Amersterdam.
May 4, 2015
Why does conflict emerge as it did in Baltimore last week, among the police and the African-American community? Is it caused by poor parenting? Poverty? Joblessness? I provide a psychological perspective on the situation. I look at how stereotypes develop and conflict among groups develops. The solution is complex but the theories on these two issues give us some insight into what has to happen to resolve the problems.
April 10, 2015
Does it matter if a robot looks male or female? You might not think so, but are we perpetuating stereotypes if if we create a robot that looks "feminine" to help the elderly aren't we continuing the stereotype that these types of jobs are "women's" jobs? If we create "masculine" looking robots to work outside and do adventurous, heavy lifting jobs aren't we discouraging young women from entering such jobs? Something to think about. Also, have you ever said (like I have) "Like a girl"? What effect does that have on young girls? Isn't it, upon reflection, a derogatory thing to say - implying that girls are weak and uncoordinated? And how about "Be a man" - doesn't that encourage young boys to distance themselves from their feelings?
March 19, 2015
Does the sound of other people's mouth noises really drive you crazy? Honestly, it does to me. Things like lip smacking, swallowing, cracking and crunching really annoys me. If it annoys you too then you're not alone. Learn about misophonia in this episode. Also, a little more about my experiences playing Albin/Zaza in the musical La Cage Aux Folles, more on how we develop empathy for others and finally a new interpretation for what really was going on in the Stanley Milgram shock studies.
February 23, 2015
I was recently cast as "Albin" in the musical La Cage Aux Folles and it has given me the unique opportunity to have to learn how to act more effeminate and to cross dress. As a psychologist who obsesses about the "psychology of everyday life" you can imagine how I've been thinking about what there is to learn from this experience. The show goes up in less than a week but I wanted to share my experiences thus far and talk about issues such as gender roles and why I think the movie (La Cage Aux Folles or the American version which is called "The Birdcage") and the musical have been so popular.
January 28, 2015
What if you could swap bodies with someone else? What would it be like to be someone of the opposite sex? A different race? We're getting darn close to being able to do that with new techniques like the Rubber Hand Illusion, the Enfacement illusion, and now the Full body illusion. You can now virtually switch bodies with someone else and thanks to our mirror neurons and other brain systems, you can have a very different sense of body ownership. Come listen to me talk about the latest research on this topic and some potential intriguing applications to problems like bullying.
January 8, 2015
A small number of men cross dress and many movies and broadway shows feature cross dressers (transvestites), so obviously many people find it fascinating and those who cross dress typically enjoy it. Why? What does it mean about the people who do it? I was recently cast as Albin/ZaZa in the musical version of the movie "La Cage Aux Folles" so I've been doing a lot it recently. I decided to take a closer look at cross dressing and see what psychologists think about it. Along the way, I'll also look at some of the ways we determine how or if a behavior, thought or feeling is "abnormal"
December 18, 2014
In the US, we've experienced a number of recent incidences of white policemen shooting black men. What's going on? Are these more examples of prejudice and discrimination or unprovoked attacks on police? How do we know what really happened? In this episode of The Psych Files we look at how key social psychological theories are on display in these incidences: false memories, attribution biases, blaming the victim and social identity theory.
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