A look behind a changing mind

Successfully changing someone’s mind is incredibly challenging, especially because in some cases providing evidence that contradicts someone’s firmly-held beliefs may actually strengthen their confidence in their original stance. Picture yourself, for instance, convincing someone who is pro-life to be pro-choice, or vice versa. Challenging, but not impossible. Challenge Accepted GIF from Barney GIFs While we can attribute holding onto beliefs (even if they are false or outdated) to obstinance, the implications are slightly different for…

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Outreach Event: Explore Your Universe 2016!

What if you saw something, but it wasn’t really there? What if a still image suddenly started moving? Or, if a yellow box was actually brown? Kids and their families were fascinated by the display of visual illusions from the Psychology in Action (PIA) outreach team at UCLA’s 8th annual Explore Your Universe (EYU) science festival last week. With exciting science demos, fun activities and interesting talks, the event brought science to life for people…

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Polyvagal Theory Part 1: The Wandering Nerve

The polyvagal theory is a neurobiological theory relating social engagement, physiology, and developmental outcomes. When I was first learning the theory, I struggled to understand some of the theory’s basic terms and could not find a resource that simplified it. Therefore, this three–part series of articles is intended to serve as an introduction to the theory. In this article I will introduce the physiology behind stress. In the second I’ll discuss specific stress responses, and…

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

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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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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Can I become more inspired?

  “Do one thing every day that scares you.” —Eleanor Roosevelt     Happy new year! (It still counts as the new year, right?) How are you doing on your New Year’s resolutions? If you’re like a lot of people, you might be beginning to lose sight of them. Research has found that a little over a third of us fail at our resolutions within a month.1 Luckily it is not too late to hit…

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Parenting in the Digital Age: Q&A with Yalda Uhls

About this Q&A Interview We are proud to secure an exclusive interview with Yalda T. Uhls, MBA, PhD — a child psychologist researcher and leading expert in how media affects children. She is a former Psychology in Action president and our most prolific blogger. Yalda continues to research with UCLA while serving as as director of Creative Community Partnerships at Common Sense Media, a national non-profit. Most importantly, Yalda is a mom of two digital teens (a boy and a girl), which is also the topic of…

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Me, Myselfie, and I: The Psychological Impact of Social Media Activity

Not too long ago, I relentlessly teased my 21-year-old sister when she revealed her strategies for achieving maximal positive feedback on Facebook photos. There were timing basics—don’t post on Friday or Saturday nights because no one is checking. She also recommended sensitivity to time zones so as to avoid an entire coast being asleep when your picture is posted. There was even attention to Facebook’s sharing algorithms. Rather than posting and tagging other people in…

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Bewonderment: Awe and other stupefying things

“The atoms of our bodies are traceable to stars that manufactured them in their cores and exploded these enriched ingredients across our galaxy, billions of years ago. For this reason, we are biologically connected to every other living thing in the world. We are chemically connected to all molecules on Earth. And we are atomically connected to all atoms in the universe. We are not figuratively, but literally stardust.” -Neil DeGrasse Tyson I distrust wonder…

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Highlights of “Building Minds”

  For those who missed “Building Minds: Microchips & Molecules”, here is a taste

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My Graduate School Survival Guide

Disclaimer: Technically, I have not yet ‘survived’ grad school. But, with three out of five years under my belt, I like to think I’ve acquired some useful wisdom. Although there is no one-size-fits-all model for successfully navigating grad school, here I’ll outline some strategies that I find particularly effective for maximizing efficiency and maintaining solid work-life balance. Stay organized (and give your brain a break) Although I pride myself on having strong memory skills, grad…

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The Neuroscience of Altruism

At times, it is tempting to take a rather cynical view of human nature. After the latest revelation of political corruption, exposure of fraud, or swiping of the last space in the crowded supermarket parking lot that you had been waiting 10 minutes for, we may want to conclude that people are fundamentally selfish. A great deal of research has investigated the neural mechanisms that may support anti-social behaviors, such as aggression or the absence…

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Signal Detection: Decision Making in Uncertainty

We all experience uncertainty: How did I do on that test? What do they think of me? Where did I leave my keys? Is my phone ringing? In these and other uncertain situations,

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Mind the Explanatory Gap

Dualism is dead – it’s been dead for a while now, actually, and is beginning to smell a bit. Somebody ought to take it out. Ask any scientist, philosopher, or academic involved in the study of the mind and you will discover this in no uncertain terms for yourself. The notion that the mind and body are separate is an antiquated one heavily influenced by religious ideas about the separation of the soul and the…

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Love Me Tinder: A Psychological Perspective on Swiping

Several months ago, I wrote a post about how online dating has shifted the way people search for and establish romantic relationships in the modern era. Notably absent from that article was any mention of what has become the fastest growing, and arguably the most popular, dating app of the past several years: Tinder. Why didn’t Tinder make it into my discussion of the potential benefits and drawbacks of online dating? To put it simply,…

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