The benefits of multilingual education

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This November, California voters will vote on Prop 58 (also called Prop 58-LEARN [Language Education, Acquisition, and Readiness Now]; Senate Bill 1174). This bill, introduced by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), will bring back California parents’ option to choose multilingual education for their children. I will be upfront and disclose that—as a researcher of bilingual children’s language and cognitive development—I am fully in support of this bill. But my goal for writing this post is…

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What is a Sampling Distribution?

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The sampling distribution is one of the most important concepts in inferential statistics, and often times the most glossed over concept in elementary statistics for social science courses. This article will introduce the basic ideas of a sampling distribution of the sample mean, as well as a few common ways we use the sampling distribution in statistics. When we conduct a study in psychology, this almost always includes taking a sample and measuring some aspect…

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Early Emotion Understanding: When do Babies Learn about Emotions?

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As human beings, we are particularly adept at discerning the emotions of others. Whether it’s our angry boss, saddened family members, or happy friends, we usually succeed at identifying emotional expressions in other people. These judgments let us adjust our behavior accordingly in complex social situations. It has allowed our species to avoid people who would do us harm, embrace people who need support, provide empathy to others, and bond with one another. Overall, reading…

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What Science Says You Can Do to Help Reduce Your Cancer Risk

Millions of people are diagnosed with cancer each year, and while not all cases of cancer are preventable, between one third and one half of these cases could be prevented by changing some everyday behaviors. Knowing that your behavior can have a real impact on your health is helpful, but what specific things can you do? Here’s some advice backed by scientific evidence that may help prevent certain cancers: Don’t start or quit smoking. You…

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Outreach Event: Demystifying the Graduate School Application Process!

Navigating the graduate school application process can be a very overwhelming and stressful experience. Potential applicants are understandably faced with countless questions, such as: “How many schools should I apply to?” “When should I take the GREs?” “What should I include on my CV?” “How do I know if a professor is accepting students?” “When should I ask for letters of recommendation?” In order to alleviate some of the confusion associated application process, the PIA outreach team…

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Why Sharing Good News Matters For Your Relationships

  In the latest season of HBO’s comedy series Veep, the President, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, makes small talk with her White House Press Secretary by asking “When’s your baby coming?” Elated to share his good news, the Press Secretary launches into details of his adopted baby’s arrival. An impatient look from Dreyfus shuts down his story, and he mumbles, “Misunderstood your level of interest, sorry.” The fictional President’s staff on Veep are not the…

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“Ballot Behavior: Politics & Psychology” – May 23, 2016

Ballot Behavior: Politics & Psychology

Psychology in Action is proud to announce our fifth annual interdisciplinary symposium, Monday, May 23rd, 2016, from 4 to 6pm in UCLA’s CNSI Auditorium. The discussion will focus on factors that influence voters’ beliefs and behavior. The event is completely FREE and open to the general public! We hope to see you there!   During the first hour (4–5pm), each speaker will present a brief talk demonstrating their research on voting behavior.  The second hour (5–6pm) will feature an…

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Emotions and Health: Not Just a “First-World Problem”

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French writer and philosopher Voltaire said something along the lines of “I have decided to be happy because it is good for my health.” Is this just a vague philosophical aphorism or does it have any basis in science? In fact, decades of research point to the idea that emotions are indeed related to health in many ways. Negative emotions, such as feeling depressed, are related to numerous negative health outcomes (e.g., pain, disease, mortality).…

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The Case For Reality: Because Apparently Someone Needs to Make One

This morning, I read an article on consciousness and physics (“The Case Against Reality” in The Atlantic). The beginning of the article is understandable and not totally at odds with intuition: That our senses aren’t completely accurate; that the world isn’t perfectly represented them. It’s a relative statement so it’s not worth disagreeing with. That is, given the scope of our space telescopes and quantum detectors; yeah, we do a crappy job of perceiving. (But…

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The Role of Mind Wandering in Education

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It was a crisp spring morning in my high school English class as I took my seat near the window. At some point during class, I had noticed a flower blooming outside. My mind gently tracked away from the Grapes of Wrath discussion to the Biology lecture I had heard just hours before. Looking at that flower, I started thinking about the connection of water molecules in the plant, and then trailed off to think…

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Batman vs Superman: The One Where I Tie In Trump and Sanders for Maximum Clickbait

Many saw Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice this last week (420+ million box office), a story about Bruce Wayne, a single man backed by wealth, angry determination and personal fortitude, taking on Superman, a very non-figurative manifestation of limitless power. It’s a story about a man so brilliantly competent, so grimly prepared, so unrelentingly intense, that even extreme power ultimately breaks before him or steers clear of him. The American appeal of the single…

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Ideal Affect: How What You Want to Feel Can Impact Your Choices

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Think about how you feel right now. Nervous because of an upcoming deadline? Content because you spent the afternoon reading a satisfying book? Sad because you ran out of episodes of your favorite TV show? Whatever the answer may be, researchers who study emotion would call this your actual affect, or how you actually feel. Now think about how you want to feel. Do you wish you felt more happy? More excited? More relaxed? Your…

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If I told you I’d have to exclude you: Do online research participants have too much experience?

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When I was an undergraduate Research Assistant, I worked with two- to six-year-old kids in a developmental psychology lab. Aside from my general incapacity to get small children to cooperate, the data collection process took an excruciatingly long time. It can be hard to find people to participate in studies, especially when many of the people you’re looking for are three years old. Recruiting enough participants for a single study took a team of about…

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Outreach Event: Brain Awareness Week 2016

Sleep! Taste! Heart rate! Emotions! Memory! These were only a few of the winning performances by middle school students during Brain Charades, a Psychology in Action (PIA) led event during Brain Awareness Week. The PIA outreach team was on the frontlines, as middle school students battled it out in head-to-head competition – acting out various functions of the brain for their teammates to guess. Students played for the championship through several bonus rounds where they…

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Adele and the Margaret Thatcher Effect

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Adele’s face is the latest victim of a viral illustration of perceptual illusions. During the past week, an image of Adele’s upside down-face has gone viral on the internet, with instructions that read “turn your phone upside down” or “look at the image upside down.” If you haven’t done the experiment yourself, it looks something like this. Both images are the same, but the message of the image is drastically different. In the left picture,…

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Social Relationships and Your Health

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Whatever you may think of the Hallmark cards and heart-shaped chocolate clichés, Valentine’s Day and the accompanying “love is all you need” glow of February are great reminders that the relationships in our lives are worth being celebrated. Aside from just making us feel good, our relationships may also be helping to keep us healthy. For example, people who are more socially isolated or lonely are more likely to develop diseases like cardiovascular disease, visit…

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