Obscurantism: Lame explanations to the lame questions

“Indeed, the quantum theory implies that consciousness must exist, and that the content of the mind is the ultimate reality.” Your intuition can fail you on what is genius and what is asinine. Good thinking strives, almost as its prime directive, to clarify. It doesn’t mean a discussion you have with someone else on a topic is going to be brief or simple, but it will strive to clarify by focusing on identifying common robust…

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Surrendering to Creativity: The Psychology of Remembering To Breathe (Part 2 of 3)

“Anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity.” – T.S. Eliot What does it mean, for anxiety to be the handmaiden to creativity?  Reading this quote from T.S. Eliot, my mind wandered to think about Shae and Sansa.  For those less obsessed with George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones than me, Shae is Sansa Stark’s handmaiden in the imaginary kingdom of Westeros.  While seemingly removed from our conversation on the psychology of creativity, indulge my mid-quarter wracked brain for…

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Surrendering to Creativity; the Psychology of Remembering to Breathe (Part 1 of 3)

“Work done with anxiety about results is far inferior to work done without such anxiety, in the calm of self-surrender…” ~ The Bhagavad-Gita, p. 41             I stumbled upon this quote earlier this week, as I prepared data for analysis and fretted about whether I should submit a poster for a Graduate Student award.  The words of the Bhagavad-Gita echoed over the underlying buzz I had picked up from my undergraduates;…

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Hook, Line, and Thinker

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“What is the grandmother statement?” My undergraduate thesis advisor used to ask this a lot during lab meetings. He emphasized that psychological research should be presented in a way such that anyone could effectively understand your research goals and findings without a great deal of scientific knowledge (i.e. the nonacademic community). I bring this up because psychological research found in the presses is often sensationalized. It is being communicated on a variety of media sources…

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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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Memory in the Mountains: How Cognitive Psychology Can Improve Rock Climbing

  “You can never climb the same mountain twice, not even in memory. Memory rebuilds the mountain, changes the weather, retells the jokes, remakes all the moves.” – Lito Tejada-Flores, Extreme Skiier, Climber and Author             As Lito Tejada-Flores alludes, rock climbing and mountaineering depend as much on human memory as the physical environment in which one climbs.  Rock climbing is a high-risk sport where life and death hang in the balance.  Forgetting to tie…

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Rapid Reaction – The Suicide of Robin Williams

  “This post is co-written by Michael Sun and guest writer Jordan Coello, M.A., both authors contributed equally.”       “O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done, The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won, The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring; But O heart! heart! heart! O the bleeding drops of…

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E. coli, food, and mood: How toxins in food could affect not only your belly, but also your brain

It’s well-known that toxin-producing bacteria in food, such as E. coli, can affect your belly — often not for the better — but research by UCLA’s Naomi Eisenberger, Michael Irwin, and others now indicates that food toxins may influence your mood, as well. In a study in which I am glad I was not a participant, Eisenberger, Inagaki, Marshal, and Irwin (2010) used random assignment to inject 39 healthy participants with an endotoxin derived from Escherichia coli…

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Snapshot of Symposium 2014: Criminally Minded – the Psychology and Law of Culpability

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Here’s a walk down memory lane for those who made it to our 2014 annual interdisciplinary symposium in May, and a taste of it for those who didn’t make it. Enjoy! If you want to know more about the topic and the speakers, check out this post!

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Awe: Why It’s Important, and How to Feel It

Have you ever gazed up at the starry sky and felt amazed by its vastness? Or have you looked over the abyss of the Grand Canyon and found your breath catch in your throat? If so, you probably felt awe, a “feeling of wonder and astonishment experienced in the presence of something novel and difficult to grasp” (Griskevicius, Shiota, & Neufeld, 2010, p. 193). The findings of several studies now indicate that awe is not merely a…

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