Outreach Event: Explore Your Universe 2015!

Imagine your watching your favorite sport, and a gorilla walks right through the game. Think you would notice it? Think again. This exemplar of our selective attention was just one of the many beliefs flipped on its head by members of the Psychology in Action (PIA) outreach team at last Sunday’s 7th annual UCLA Explore Your Universe (EYU) event. As one of the largest science outreach events in all of southern California, the event sought…

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Outwit, Outplay, Outlast: The Psychology of Survivor

I have been watching Survivor for more than half of my life.  In 7th grade, I decorated my 3-ring binder with a stalkerish collage of “Boston” Rob Mariano pictures, and several years later my parents indulged me with my first Survivor buff for Christmas. I still own two of my favorite seasons on DVD, as well as my precious Survivor hat and t-shirt. Some would call me a dedicated fan; others, insane.   I love Survivor. And…

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Dating on TV and the Misattribution of Arousal

Summer is synonymous with long days, warm weather and reality shows on the TV screens of many households. One of the most popular reality television series is the Bachelor and Bachelorette franchise. Every season, a man or woman tries to find love by meeting 25 members of the opposite sex, going on thrilling, romantic dates and eventually whittling down the competition to one lucky finalist. As you can probably imagine, the show has a fairly…

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Milgram’s Other Work

Stanley Milgram is one of the most famous people in the history of psychology, and also one of the most controversial. His experiments on obedience, in which an experimenter asked participants to administer higher and higher levels of shock to a protesting victim, gained national attention in the 1960’s. Many people attacked his work as brutal and immoral. After the public outcry over his research, Milgram never studied obedience again. However, he did continue to…

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Reinforcement vs Punishment: from Animal Training to Theology

Ever felt “positively punished” when your dog-trainer or psychologist inundate you with these lingo? Reinforcement and punishment are important components of social interactions. They are most often discussed in context of those wielding authority and their subjects (e.g., in childrearing and animal training); occasionally to interactions between equals. However, these concepts speak even to unexpected territories such as the intellectual and spiritual pursuit of theology.

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Psychology Classics: Wason Selection Task (Part II)

Cheng & Holyoak (1985) Experiment 1 Results

This post is the second in a series on the Wason selection task (Part I), and part of our ongoing series exploring classic experiments and theories in the history of psychological research. In Part I of my series of posts on the Wason selection task, I detailed the development of the task (Wason, 1966), the discovery of the content effect (Wason & Shapiro, 1971), and early explanations for the effect and its failed replications (Griggs & Cox,…

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Psychology Classics: Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development

This post is part of our ongoing series exploring classic experiments and theories in the history of psychological research. Jean Piaget (1896-1980) was a Swiss developmental psychologist. While he made many contributions to the field, his most notable is his systematic study of cognitive development. Early psychologists assumed that infants saw the world as a “blooming, buzzing confusion” (William James); Piaget theorized that even the youngest infants were learning how to make sense of their environments. According…

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Psychology Classics: Guns and Dolls –– The Bobo Studies

This post is part of our ongoing series exploring classic experiments and theories in the history of psychological research. Over the last few decades, an ongoing debate has emerged between parents, psychologists, and the media: Do violent video games and movies cause children to become more violent? This is a question that has gained more urgency with the advent of hyper-realistic violence in games and movies, and it is a question that gets revisited every time a…

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Psychology Classics: Claude Steele’s Stereotype Threat Paradigm

This post is part of our ongoing series exploring classic experiments and theories in the history of psychological research. In the late 1980s, a university committee at the University of Michigan called for psychology professor Dr. Claude Steele to tackle the problem of academic achievement among minority students at the university. His subsequent research resulted in the discovery and identification of one of the most far-reaching and influential phenomena in social psychology: stereotype threat, or the fear…

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Psychology Classics: James Pennebaker’s Expressive Writing Paradigm

This post is part of our ongoing series exploring classic experiments and theories in the history of psychological research. While research first conducted in the late 1980s may not seem like a “classic,” James Pennebaker’s writing paradigm was an important contribution to the young field of health psychology at the time and continues to be used today to explore connections between disclosure and physical and mental health and to generate hypotheses about other psychological phenomena. Pennebaker began…

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Psychology Classics: Wason Selection Task (Part I)

This post is the first of three on the Wason selection task (Part II), and part of our ongoing series exploring classic experiments and theories in the history of psychological research. In the 1960s, Peter Cathcart Wason introduced a test of logical reasoning that he termed the selection task (1966, 1968, 1969a, 1969b).  Almost fifty years later, the Wason selection task is still a source of much research and debate, albeit not quite in the…

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