Let’s fight (the bad guys): Do superheroes teach kids good or evil?

Everyone loves a good superhero story. Superheroes have been a fixture in American pop culture for decades, but in the past 10-15 years we’ve witnessed a resurgence of superhero mania. Between movies, TV shows, toys, and even national conventions, the superhero fever is real. Given that superhero stories are characterized by themes of fighting against evil, defending others, and promoting justice, many parents encourage their children’s engagement in superhero media, even as early as preschool.…

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Polyvagal Theory Part 1: The Wandering Nerve

The polyvagal theory is a neurobiological theory relating social engagement, physiology, and developmental outcomes. When I was first learning the theory, I struggled to understand some of the theory’s basic terms and could not find a resource that simplified it. Therefore, this three–part series of articles is intended to serve as an introduction to the theory. In this article I will introduce the physiology behind stress. In the second I’ll discuss specific stress responses, and…

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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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On Essena O’Neill, #fitspo, and the “real-ness” of social media.

If you’ve been on social media in the past 48 hours, you may have seen one of several articles making the rounds about Essena O’Neill, the former teen Instagram model (yes, that’s a thing!) who gained popularity for her bikini-clad selfies and fitness tips. Essena made the decision to quit Instagram after growing disillusioned and unhappy with the staged nature of her social media presence. Before deleting her Instagram account, Essena recaptioned all of her…

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Parenting in the Digital Age: Q&A with Yalda Uhls

About this Q&A Interview We are proud to secure an exclusive interview with Yalda T. Uhls, MBA, PhD — a child psychologist researcher and leading expert in how media affects children. She is a former Psychology in Action president and our most prolific blogger. Yalda continues to research with UCLA while serving as as director of Creative Community Partnerships at Common Sense Media, a national non-profit. Most importantly, Yalda is a mom of two digital teens (a boy and a girl), which is also the topic of…

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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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Me, Myselfie, and I: The Psychological Impact of Social Media Activity

Not too long ago, I relentlessly teased my 21-year-old sister when she revealed her strategies for achieving maximal positive feedback on Facebook photos. There were timing basics—don’t post on Friday or Saturday nights because no one is checking. She also recommended sensitivity to time zones so as to avoid an entire coast being asleep when your picture is posted. There was even attention to Facebook’s sharing algorithms. Rather than posting and tagging other people in…

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Highlights of “Building Minds”

  For those who missed “Building Minds: Microchips & Molecules”, here is a taste

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My Graduate School Survival Guide

Disclaimer: Technically, I have not yet ‘survived’ grad school. But, with three out of five years under my belt, I like to think I’ve acquired some useful wisdom. Although there is no one-size-fits-all model for successfully navigating grad school, here I’ll outline some strategies that I find particularly effective for maximizing efficiency and maintaining solid work-life balance. Stay organized (and give your brain a break) Although I pride myself on having strong memory skills, grad…

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Signal Detection: Decision Making in Uncertainty

We all experience uncertainty: How did I do on that test? What do they think of me? Where did I leave my keys? Is my phone ringing? In these and other uncertain situations,

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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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The Top 5 Differences Between Undergraduate and Graduate School

When deciding whether or not to attend graduate school, a lot of prospective students ask how it is different that undergrad. Is it more difficult? Less fun? Stressful? Whether you are thinking of applying to grad school, have a friend/sibling/daughter/son/niece/nephew/etc. in grad school and still don’t quite understand what it means, or are a graduate student yourself, here you can read about (my opinion on) some of the ways in which these two experiences differ…

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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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