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

Jeffrey K. Bye

Jeffrey K. Bye

Ph.D. Candidate at Reasoning Lab, UCLA
Jeff is a sixth-year Ph.D. Candidate at UCLA Psychology majoring in Computational Cognition in the Cognitive Area. He received his B.A. in Cognitive Science from Pomona College, with a subconcentration in Computer Science and minor in Philosophy. At UCLA, he works with Dr. Patricia Cheng in the Reasoning Lab. His primary research focus is to use both experimental and computational techniques to study causal inference, reasoning, and math education. He hopes to apply his findings to designing new teaching methods and games for math and other conceptual subjects.He has written for Psychology in Action since January 2011, served as President of Psychology in Action from 2012-2014, and now sits on the Advisory Board.
Jeffrey K. Bye

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

Jeffrey K. Bye

Jeffrey K. Bye

Ph.D. Candidate at Reasoning Lab, UCLA
Jeff is a sixth-year Ph.D. Candidate at UCLA Psychology majoring in Computational Cognition in the Cognitive Area. He received his B.A. in Cognitive Science from Pomona College, with a subconcentration in Computer Science and minor in Philosophy. At UCLA, he works with Dr. Patricia Cheng in the Reasoning Lab. His primary research focus is to use both experimental and computational techniques to study causal inference, reasoning, and math education. He hopes to apply his findings to designing new teaching methods and games for math and other conceptual subjects.He has written for Psychology in Action since January 2011, served as President of Psychology in Action from 2012-2014, and now sits on the Advisory Board.
Jeffrey K. Bye

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!

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Interview Tips for Students Applying to PhD Programs in Psychology

Timothy Williamson

Timothy Williamson

Timothy is a PhD student in Clinical Health Psychology, studying how psychosocial factors help and hinder adjustment to chronic medical stressors. He received his BA in psychology from Pitzer College and his Master of Public Health degree from Claremont Graduate University. In his spare time, Timothy can be found hiking the canyons of Malibu and baking delicious treats for his classmates.
Timothy Williamson

Preparing for interviews for a PhD program in psychology can be very stressful as well as very exciting. This is likely the first time that you will be interacting face to face with multiple professors and graduate students from the program you are applying for, and it is important to make a good impression. It can be difficult to find the ideal balance between self-praise and humility; you want to sell yourself as a dedicated…

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Why are attitudes so hard to change?

Latest posts by Ben Shulman (see all)

I once attended a debate between a professor of philosophy and a spokesman for a religious organization, on whether abortion ought to be made illegal. Perhaps a hundred men and women had gathered in the university lecture hall, some college-aged, some in middle age and older. Before beginning his arguments, the professor asked those in attendance a question: who expected to change their opinion? Not a single person raised their hand. Why are attitudes apparently…

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Biased About Biases: The Origins and Growth of Human Conflict

Evan Kelso

Evan is a current graduate student in the Clinical area at UCLA.

Latest posts by Evan Kelso (see all)

————————— “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  —————————…

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Scientific Support for Same-Sex Parents

Emma H. Geller

Emma grew up in eastern Massachusetts, and received her B.A. in psychology from The George Washington University in DC.At UCLA, she worked with Jim Stigler in the Teaching and Learning Lab (TALL), studying aspects of learning and measurement in the context of math and science education. Outside of academics, she loves to dance and is part of a contemporary dance company on campus. She also volunteers with UCLA Unicamp as a summer camp counselor for underprivileged youth in Los Angeles County. Emma graduated with her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology in 2016.

Latest posts by Emma H. Geller (see all)

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…

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Bayes’ Rule and Bomb Threats

Emma H. Geller

Emma grew up in eastern Massachusetts, and received her B.A. in psychology from The George Washington University in DC.At UCLA, she worked with Jim Stigler in the Teaching and Learning Lab (TALL), studying aspects of learning and measurement in the context of math and science education. Outside of academics, she loves to dance and is part of a contemporary dance company on campus. She also volunteers with UCLA Unicamp as a summer camp counselor for underprivileged youth in Los Angeles County. Emma graduated with her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology in 2016.

Latest posts by Emma H. Geller (see all)

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…

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An argument for the end of political ads?

Stephanie Vezich

Stephanie Vezich

Stephanie is a psychology doctoral student in the social area. Born and raised in southern California, she moved north to attend college at Stanford, where she earned her BA and MA in psychology. Currently she is working with Professor Matt Lieberman in the Social Cognitive Neuroscience (SCN) lab and Professor Noah Goldstein at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. Her primary research interests lie in the neural correlates of persuasion, particularly with regard to pro-environmental persuasive messages, but she is interested in a variety of social psychological phenomena more broadly.
Stephanie Vezich

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?

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

Natsuki Atagi

Natsuki is a 5th year doctoral student in Developmental Psychology at UCLA. She received her B.A. in Psychology and Gender Studies at Indiana University and her M.A. in Developmental Psychology at UCLA. Her research examines how children's language experiences affect cognitive development. Natsuki is particularly interested in understanding how experience with one versus two (or more!) languages during childhood affects learning and conceptual development.

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…

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A Nation Divided: Partisanship and Morality

Derek Powell

Derek Powell is a 5th year graduate student studying under Keith Holyoak in the UCLA Reasoning Lab. Using experimental and computational methods, his research examines higher-order cognition, with a focus on relational and abstract thought. His dissertation investigates the cognitive processes involved in moral reasoning. His other projects examine people’s understanding of their own knowledge and how they revise their beliefs.

Latest posts by Derek Powell (see all)

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…

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Swing state neurons?

Stephanie Vezich

Stephanie Vezich

Stephanie is a psychology doctoral student in the social area. Born and raised in southern California, she moved north to attend college at Stanford, where she earned her BA and MA in psychology. Currently she is working with Professor Matt Lieberman in the Social Cognitive Neuroscience (SCN) lab and Professor Noah Goldstein at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. Her primary research interests lie in the neural correlates of persuasion, particularly with regard to pro-environmental persuasive messages, but she is interested in a variety of social psychological phenomena more broadly.
Stephanie Vezich

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.

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Quick Tips for Becoming Poll-Literate

Jeffrey K. Bye

Jeffrey K. Bye

Ph.D. Candidate at Reasoning Lab, UCLA
Jeff is a sixth-year Ph.D. Candidate at UCLA Psychology majoring in Computational Cognition in the Cognitive Area. He received his B.A. in Cognitive Science from Pomona College, with a subconcentration in Computer Science and minor in Philosophy. At UCLA, he works with Dr. Patricia Cheng in the Reasoning Lab. His primary research focus is to use both experimental and computational techniques to study causal inference, reasoning, and math education. He hopes to apply his findings to designing new teaching methods and games for math and other conceptual subjects.He has written for Psychology in Action since January 2011, served as President of Psychology in Action from 2012-2014, and now sits on the Advisory Board.
Jeffrey K. Bye

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…

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Troy Davis: Victim of Eyewitness Testimony

Emma H. Geller

Emma grew up in eastern Massachusetts, and received her B.A. in psychology from The George Washington University in DC.At UCLA, she worked with Jim Stigler in the Teaching and Learning Lab (TALL), studying aspects of learning and measurement in the context of math and science education. Outside of academics, she loves to dance and is part of a contemporary dance company on campus. She also volunteers with UCLA Unicamp as a summer camp counselor for underprivileged youth in Los Angeles County. Emma graduated with her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology in 2016.

Latest posts by Emma H. Geller (see all)

Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed today, charged with murdering a Savannah police officer in 1989. Davis’ execution has been scheduled 4 times, and appealed again and again. The most recent appeal to halt the lethal injection was rejected yesterday and it seems Davis’ attorneys are out of options. The death penalty is a controversial issue in and of itself, but some of you may wonder why people are up in arms over the…

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How effective are political campaign advertisements?

Colleen Carpinella

Colleen is interested in social identity and politics.Her research primarily focuses on how social perceptions of politicians are formed and how attitudes about gender and race can influence electoral outcomes.She joined Psychology in Action because she believes it is important to communicate scientific findings outside of the academic community.Colleen graduated from UCLA with her Ph.D. in Social Psychology in 2014. Apart from her time focused on research she enjoys running, playing tennis, and biking.

While the media buzz surrounding the 2012 Presidential Election is just starting up, now is as good a time as any to think about how effective political advertisements really are at influencing our candidate choices.  Every election season, political candidates shell out thousands and even millions of dollars on televised campaign advertisements.  But how persuasive are these advertisements really?  Previous scientific research in this area has only been able to look at how well individual’s…

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Science Versus Religion – Mortal enemies or hopeful friends?

Adi Jaffe

Adi Jaffe is the founder of Psychology in Action, and graduated with his Ph.D. in Health Psychology in 2014.

The feud between religion and science can be compared to the Montague and Capulet relationship – hateful at times, dismissive often, and bridged rarely, often with tragic results for those who try. A recent article in the journal Science (see Can Science and Religion Get Along?) discussed a controversial panel that aimed to bring together players from both sides in the hopes of starting some sort of dialog. There were cries of foul from both…

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