Blame. What is it good for?

Blame. What is it good for?

Is blame for retribution and revenge ? Or is blame for managing others’ behavior? I argue that while the former answer is dominant in social psychology, it predicts a dysfunctional system of blame that explains only a small portion of why people blame. Instead, I suggest that blame is better understood as a tool for changing the way people behave. / more

Foul-weather friends: Social psychology and school aggression

Foul-weather friends: Social psychology and school aggression

In my last post, I discussed a striking observational study why peer only help infrequently, but I focused my discussion on the point of view of those who are bullying. In this post, I'll look at the perspective of the bullied victims. When it comes to the social psychology of aggression in schools, it seems that groups can both be a part of the problem and the solution, and I will discuss ways on how to attain this. / more

Why Are We Still Spanking Our Kids?

Why Are We Still Spanking Our Kids?

In this blog post we discuss legal, attitudinal and motivational factors that explain why we use physical punishment with children, specifically: (1) the United States, unlike most other countries, does not legislate against it, (2) attitudes condoning corporal punishment remain strong, particularly in some U.S. regions and cultures, (3) situational precipitating factors, impulsive appraisal, and cognitive scripts for aggressive punishment can interact to result in a spanking episode. / more

From candidate genes to genome-wide association studies

From candidate genes to genome-wide association studies

In my last post I asked where the genes for psychological traits are, and argued that over the last two decades candidate gene studies have failed to identify genes that are reliably associated with complex behavioral phenotypes. In this post, I will discuss more recent whole genome methods, such as genome -wide association studies, and what we have learned from these. / more

Now I ain’t sayin she’s a gold digger, but will she get with someone who makes less than her, either?

Now I ain’t sayin she’s a gold digger, but will she get with someone who makes less than her, either?

In this post I review research showing that women do not care about partner’s income as much as people may think. In fact, the research suggests that both men and women overestimate the degree to which the other gender cares about money in relationships. These findings are particularly relevant given that some opponents of the 2014 U.S. Paycheck Fairness Act have stated that women prefer to make less money than their romantic partners. / more

Learning from our dreams

Learning from our dreams

In this post, I describe how dreams are associated with people’s behavior after waking up, especially in the context of their close relationships. Have you ever felt upset at someone after what they did in your dream? There are several theories to explain how and why this happens, along with some references to Friends and The Matrix. / 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