Protecting Children. Is DCFS Allowed to Strike?

The Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS), the official name of child protective services/social services here in Los Angeles County, was on a week-long strike over horrendous caseloads, low pay, and terrible schedules. To put this in context, Los Angeles County received almost 17,000 reports of threats to children’s safety (abuse, neglect, etc.) in …

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Social Facilitation and Food: Your Friends are Bigger than Your Stomach

Eating is fundamental aspect of human life, but what are the factors that influence our eating behavior?

Scientists have explored this question for over a century, and early studies focused solely on physiological influences on food intake. For example, in 1912 Walter Cannon and his student Washburn discovered that stomach contractions accompanied feelings of hunger. …

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How to Change the World

Photo from PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE (Flickr)

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 …

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Why are attitudes so hard to change?

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 …

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Angela Duckworth and Long Term Goals

I love that Angela Duckworth is expanding the conversation about success in education and other arenas beyond IQ. In doing so she follows other great thinkers like Howard Gardner who brought us the concept of multiple intelligences. Or Daniel Goleman who talked about emotional intelligence. And as a researcher …

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Biased About Biases: The Origins and Growth of Human Conflict

Fibonacci Spiral

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“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 …

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Celine Dion: “The Power of Love” or the Power of Dopamine?

I’m not sure about you, but when I hear Celine Dion belting out the last chorus of “My Heart Will Go On”, I seem to disconnect from reality and become totally immersed in a wave of emotion (one might even say that it’s a wave strong enough to sink a …

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The Neuroscience of Meditation

His Holiness the Dalai Lama giving a talk at UCSB

In 1992, the Dalai Lama invited an up-and-coming neuroscientist, Richie Davidson, out to Dharamsala, India to discuss the future of neuroscience research. Why, wondered the Dalai Lama, don’t scientists devote more effort to the study of positives like happiness or compassion?

Since that pivotal conversation the field has accepted the Dalai Lama’s challenge, …

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Why won’t my baby stop clinging to me? The waxing and waning of stranger anxiety

Does your 6-to-12-month-old infant follow you around the room like a shadow, cry in the presence of unfamiliar people, and refuse to be comforted or held by anyone but you?  No worries!  This is a normal part of development.  As exhausting as this phase may be for you, it will pass, and your baby will …

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