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 Challenge Accepted GIF from Barney GIFs While we can attribute holding onto beliefs (even if they are false or outdated) to obstinance, the implications are slightly different for…

Continue reading

The benefits of multilingual education

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…

Continue reading

“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…

Continue reading

A New Direction in Autism Research: Google Cloud

Autism is everywhere and it is great! I’m not referring to the recent CDC estimate that 1 in 68 children in the U. S. are diagnosed with the disorder. Instead, I’m talking about its presence in the news. Most recently, I’ve read that the Vatican is holding an inaugural conference on autism, “The Person with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Animating Hope” this week. This is part of Pope Francis’ initiative to rethink social issues and the…

Continue reading

New research: From Screen to Green: What happens to kids social skills when they go cold turkey on all media?

The fact is we all stare at screens more than we would like and many of us rely on these tools to communicate with others, even during times when we should be spending quality time with our families and friends. So does all this time staring at screens, which may take time away from looking at faces, change the nature of what we learn about the social world? Our study, at the Children’s Digital Media…

Continue reading

“Criminally Minded: The Psychology and Law of Culpability” Symposium – May 16, 4pm

Psychology in Action is proud to announce the third annual Psychology Interdisciplinary Events symposium, Criminally Minded: The Psychology and Law of Culpability, to be held Friday, May 16th, 2014, from 4 to 6pm in UCLA’s CNSI Auditorium.  The discussion will focus on legal and psychological issues regarding mens rea.  The event is completely FREE and open to the general public!  We hope to see you there!

Continue reading

How to Change the World

If you enter the world of research psychology, there will come a time when you’re talking about your studies at a party and you suddenly realize that no one cares. If you’re lucky, this will happen before you’ve been in academia for 10 years and published 30 papers that 5 of your closest friends have read. Or skimmed. Let’s be honest, they read the title. So how can you take the leap from academia to real…

Continue reading

Biased About Biases: The Origins and Growth of Human Conflict

————————— “We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.”                                                                – George Orwell, 1946  —————————…

Continue reading

Everything You Need to Know about RDoC: Answers to 5 Commonly Asked Questions

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a frequently referenced manual of clinical diagnosis published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), has been called the “Bible” for the field of clinical psychology. Consistent with its prominent role in diagnosis and treatment considerations, research on mental health has traditionally focused on the DSM’s classification system with a focus on categories of disorders. However, following the publication of DSM-5, the National Institute of Mental Health…

Continue reading

Scientific Support for Same-Sex Parents

An article was published today in the Huffington Post, titled “Romney: ‘Some Gays Are Actually Having Children. It’s Not Right on Paper. It’s Not Right in Fact.’” The article reviews a Boston Globe piece from yesterday in which some of Romney’s actions as governor of Massachusetts indicate his antipathy towards gay marriage. In particular, the article criticizes the fact that Romney refused to allow the Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics to revise birth…

Continue reading

Bayes’ Rule and Bomb Threats

Earlier today, I read an article published on Washington’s Blog titled “Fear of Terror Makes People Stupid.”  The central claim of the post was that the government purposefully induces fear of a terrorist attack in order to get Americans to relinquish more of their civil liberties (see: Patriot Act), but this fear is silly (so the post claims) because we are so much more likely to die from things like heart disease, car accidents, and…

Continue reading

An argument for the end of political ads?

With election season coming up, the presidential candidates have invested heavily—recruiting top ad executives, media researchers, producers, etc.—in creating the perfect ads to highlight their own strengths and their opponents’ shortcomings. But how much does this effort really sway voters?

Continue reading

The Politics of Eating and Exercising: Are We Getting It Right?

Eat healthier. Exercise. Our culture is currently full of messages telling us to change our habits, to turn us into a leaner, healthier society. While these messages are easier said than done, they’re perfectly warranted: The Centers for Disease Control reports that childhood obesity has tripled since the 1970s. So what can we do to fight childhood obesity? According to Kristen Harrison and other researchers in the Division of Nutrition Sciences at the University of…

Continue reading

A Nation Divided: Partisanship and Morality

It seems that the divide between conservatives and liberals grows sharper every day, especially during election season.  But what is the source of this bitter partisanship? Research by Jonathan Haidt and Jesse Graham may begin to provide an answer.  Their research suggests that people of different political affiliations are not merely divided over the specific values they hold, but are divided on the very foundations of their values.  Using evolutionary theory and anthropological evidence as…

Continue reading

Swing state neurons?

In a tight election, attention immediately turns to swing voters. Poll analysts swarm them with a barrage of questions to predict which candidate may garner more of their crucial votes. In anticipation of the 2008 election, analysts went one step further and looked not only at swing voters’ survey responses but also their neural responses.

Continue reading

Quick Tips for Becoming Poll-Literate

If you’re a political junkie like me, or just a casual election-follower, you’ve probably read a few polls that made your jaw drop.  Here are some things a skeptical poll consumer should look for before letting their jaw fully drop.   Selection Bias One of the first questions you should ask yourself when you read a poll is “What kinds of people did they ask?”  What we want in a poll is to get an…

Continue reading