MythBusters: Learning Styles

Mythbusters is a new series at PIA where we take on some of the most popular beliefs, myths, and ideas surrounding psychology and succinctly provide empirical evidence for or against such claims! Myth: We all have a learning style that helps us understand how we best learn information. For example, I am a visual learner, an auditory learner, a kinesthetic learner, etc. When my style is matched by a teacher’s teaching style (e.g. auditory to…

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The Overview Effect

“It’s hard to explain how amazing and magical this experience is. First of all, there’s the astounding beauty and diversity of the planet itself, scrolling across your view at what appears to be a smooth, stately pace… I’m happy to report that no amount of prior study or training can fully prepare anybody for the awe and wonder this inspires.” ~Kathryn D, NASA Astronaut (cited in Robinson et al., 2013, p.81) “If somebody’d said before…

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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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The Case For Reality: Because Apparently Someone Needs to Make One

This morning, I read an article on consciousness and physics (“The Case Against Reality” in The Atlantic). The beginning of the article starts off with a broad statement: That our senses aren’t completely accurate; that the world isn’t perfectly represented them. It’s a relative statement so it’s not worth disagreeing with. That is, given the scope of our space telescopes and quantum detectors — yeah, we do a crappy job of perceiving. But, compared to…

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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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If I told you I’d have to exclude you: Do online research participants have too much experience?

When I was an undergraduate Research Assistant, I worked with two- to six-year-old kids in a developmental psychology lab. Aside from my general incapacity to get small children to cooperate, the data collection process took an excruciatingly long time. It can be hard to find people to participate in studies, especially when many of the people you’re looking for are three years old. Recruiting enough participants for a single study took a team of about…

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Adele and the Margaret Thatcher Effect

Adele’s face is the latest victim of a viral illustration of perceptual illusions. During the past week, an image of Adele’s upside down-face has gone viral on the internet, with instructions that read “turn your phone upside down” or “look at the image upside down.” If you haven’t done the experiment yourself, it looks something like this. Both images are the same, but the message of the image is drastically different. In the left picture,…

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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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May the Force be with you–while you wait

It has been a long year since the teaser trailer for Star Wars: Episode VII was first released and the opening showing of the film prior to the film’s wide release has finally arrived. But the wait does not end there! Here is a picture of a group of moviegoers queuing to enter the theatre. Some enthusiastic fans have waited in line for over 5 hours to claim a good seat in the theatre. While…

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Presenting Psychology: 10 Ways to Polish Up Your Research Presentation

Gone are the days in which promising scholars could conduct brilliant scientific work, write compelling and cogent articles and books, and be forgiven by all for having no clarity or articulation when attempting to talk about it in person! …If those days existed at all. Scientific communication takes many forms, but virtually all graduate students, faculty, and other related roles must present about their research at some time. Psychological research (or any research for that matter!)…

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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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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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Internet and the teen brain: what do we know, and what should we be asking?

Teenagers—and more specifically, their brains—are having something of a moment in the psychological literature and popular press. Noninvasive imaging tools like fMRI allow us to peek at adolescents’ cognition in real time, and to build a better understanding of the brain’s developing structure. You may be familiar with research suggesting that the brain continues to mature well into the 20’s, and that some of the last regions to complete this maturation are involved in higher-order…

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How can we best predict how long someone will live?

If you had to guess how long a person will live, what would you want to know about them? In other words, what single piece of information best predicts longevity? This was a central question addressed by renowned demographer Noreen Goldman, from Princeton University, in a recent lecture at UCLA – and her answers were fascinating. In a large-scale study in Taiwan of aging adults (ages 54+), Dr. Goldman and her team interviewed and carried…

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