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

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

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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Social Relationships and Your Health

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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What’s the Latest from the World of Social and Health Psychology? Reporting from the Social Personality and Health Network Conference

What do Facebook, biological assays, virtual reality, recording devices, and civic engagement programs have in common? They’re all being used to study personality and social psychological processes related to health, as reported by some of the leading researchers in the field at last week’s Social Personality and Health Network annual conference. Here are just a few examples of the exciting areas of research happening at the intersection of social and health psychology: Did you know we…

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Why It’s Important to Continue Being Grateful Even After Thanksgiving

Aside from eating copious amounts of turkey and pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving also represents a time of reflection and gratitude for many of us. Even though November and the Thanksgiving season are winding down, we may want to consider extending our gratitude into December and beyond. The idea of being grateful for what we have not only sounds like a good sanity check in the midst of a crazy holiday season, but research has also shown…

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5 Reasons You Should Make Time to Read Fiction (Especially Harry Potter)

In true Hermione Granger bookworm fashion, I grew up reading as many books as I could get my hands on. I didn’t consider a summer complete unless I had checked off a long list of “to read” books. But, as schedules got busier and lazy summer days became nonexistent, I watched reading for pleasure take a backseat in my life. If you’ve also found this to be the case, here are some reasons to reconsider…

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The Power of Social Belonging

In his final novel, Kurt Vonnegut wrote: “Many people need desperately to receive this message: ‘I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about…You are not alone.’” Vonnegut’s thoughts nicely tap into a psychological theory called “the need to belong,” which proposes that people’s sense of social belonging, or their sense that they have good relationships with others, is a fundamental human need. That is, having solid…

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Benefitting Ourselves While Benefitting Others: The Importance of Generativity

  “How to Talk About Dying” was the name of one of the “Most Emailed” articles on The New York Times website in early July. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, written by bestselling author and MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient Dr. Atul Gawande, has an average of 5 out of 5 stars with nearly 3,000 reviews on Amazon.com. What used to be a very unsexy topic in our culture – having a…

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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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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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Surrendering to Creativity: The Psychology of Remembering to Breathe (Part 3 of 3)

Up until graduate school, I often indulged the myth that good writing was a sacred thing to be done under the most precise conditions.  Akin to knowing without a timer when the soufflee has finished (sorry, I have holidays sweets on the mind), the creativity dedicated to a well-written piece had to be carefully cultured and perfected.  My patterns were always the same, although the specific details evolved with time.  In high school I had…

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I’ll take one Lassie, no wait…make that an Air Bud

While those of us who own pets may like to think we picked our own special Fido because he was the friendliest dog at the shelter, recent research shows there may be some subliminal media forces at play.

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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…

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The Significance of Impression Formation: Reinterpreting Early Social Psychology Findings Using Modern Stats

Solomon Asch may be best known in social psychology for his 1951 Conformity Studies in which he brought participants into a room with seven confederates—actors pretending to be other participants—and had them recount the length of a line.  Before demonstrating that normative pressure can lead people to lie, Asch was one of the foremost researchers on impression formation.  He was interested in how we judge others and their personality based off small bits of information. 

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East and West: Two Faces of Depression

“This post is co-written by Michael Sun and guest writer Rachel McCrystal, both authors contributed equally.” Sam Davis* is a 20 year old sophomore at UCLA. He attends class every day, and by and large, Sam lives a relatively normal college student life. But lately, he has been weighed down by something

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