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Moonwalking with Einstein: the art and science of remembering everything.

Moonwalking with Einstein: the art and science of remembering everything.

In an attempt to find “the world’s smartest person”, Foer ends up as a visitor at the USA Memory Championship whose contestants easily memorize 250 random digits in under five minutes and are able to learn the order of a shuffled card deck in less than two. However, when Foer asks some of the contestants about their “savant skills”, all of them point out that their memory is in fact “quite average” and that their superior performance is the product of “simple” memory training techniques – which can be learned by anyone. Fuelled by this, Foer starts his own Ebbinghausian self-experiment when he decides to become a “mental athlete” himself. Coached by one of the contestants, Foer begins to train his memory to take part in the oncoming USA Memory Championship. / more

Only searching for a plane? What the disappearance of Flight MH 370 reveals about the human need for meaning and certainty

Only searching for a plane? What the disappearance of Flight MH 370 reveals about the human need for meaning and certainty

In this post, I describe how two core motives of human social behavior—the need for understanding and the need for control—shape people’s responses to disaster. Using the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 as an example, I describe how people seek to maintain meaning (related to understanding) and to re-establish certainty (related to control) after unforeseen disasters. / more

Coping with being bullied

Coping with being bullied

In this blog post, I discuss recent research suggesting that being the victim of bullying can have a long-lasting impact on mental and physical health. But there’s a ray of hope in this literature as well: the lasting impact may depend on the ways that victims cope with being bullied. / more

Political ideology is more than just “liberal” and “conservative”

Political ideology is more than just “liberal” and “conservative”

In this blog post, I describe new evidence that thinking about political ideology on a single liberal/left to conservative/right spectrum masks important nuances in the origins of political ideologies and in the way that people apply those ideologies to important judgments, including those of other people (i.e., prejudice). / more

Would One Direction be as popular if we got to re-run the world?

Would One Direction be as popular if we got to re-run the world?

In this post I ask why do songs, movies and books become popular? If you love something, it is easy to think it must be its obvious qualities, but if you work in promotion, you know that these qualities are not easy to spot. Usually, we look to our peers to discover new things – what Psychologists call social proof. The work I present shows how important social proof is in determining what becomes popular, but also that appeal, to some degree, matters. / more

Manipulating the body, measuring the body, and tinkering in the name of Psychology

Manipulating the body, measuring the body, and tinkering in the name of Psychology

New scientific approaches often rise with the availability of new methods, and can stall when those methods do not evolve further. New methods can be particularly influential if they allow a wide range of application without demanding a lot of resources. In the hands of creative graduate students, such methods can quickly turn into productive tools. The field of embodiment, the topic of this special issue, is no difference. In this... / more

Can music create intercultural understanding? According to Madonna (and psychological research), it can!

Can music create intercultural understanding? According to Madonna (and psychological research), it can!

In my last blog, I argued that Madonna’s lyric of ‘music makes the people come together’ has a scientific basis. There are scientific studies that support the claim that music indeed increases cooperation and, thus, brings people together. But, as you might remember, the second line in the chorus of Madonna’s song is: ‘Music mix the bourgeoisie and the rebel’. In this blog, I will discuss whether she is citing the literature correctly or not. / more

Pre-registration watch part 1: Detecting deception

Pre-registration watch part 1: Detecting deception

In this blog post, I will report on the experiences of social psychologists, such as myself, with committing ourselves to detailed descriptions of the hypotheses and other specifics of experiments before we run them. In part 1, I briefly cover some basics about this so-called pre-registration and then I will discuss my own experience with a pre-registration in the online journal Frontiers about unconscious deception detection. / more

Free will without metaphysics

Free will without metaphysics

Despite the resurgence of interest in free will, there remains confusion and disagreement regarding free will’s role in social life, in particular, how people understand free will and whether free will guides blame and praise for others. In this blog post I argue that we need to pay closer attention to the folk concept of free will in order to resolve the confusion surrounding free will in everyday life. / more

Where are the genes for psychological traits?

Where are the genes for psychological traits?

In this blog post, I will discuss the methodologies available for identifying genetic influences on psychological traits, why it has proved so difficult to reliably identify specific genes, despite 20 years of effort, and what this tells us about the nature of these genetic influences. / more

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