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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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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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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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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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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iLoveYou, iLoveYouNot: The Psychology of Online Dating & Romantic Relationships

When I first saw the movie “You’ve Got Mail” at the ripe old age of 8, the idea of developing a relationship through online chatrooms seemed novel, unconventional and even…creepy? Fast-forward 15 years later, where one in ten people are using an online dating website, and much of the stigma associated with this activity has declined. Since 2005, the proportion of Internet users agreeing that “online dating is a good way to meet people” has increased…

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Dating on TV and the Misattribution of Arousal

Summer is synonymous with long days, warm weather and reality shows on the TV screens of many households. One of the most popular reality television series is the Bachelor and Bachelorette franchise. Every season, a man or woman tries to find love by meeting 25 members of the opposite sex, going on thrilling, romantic dates and eventually whittling down the competition to one lucky finalist. As you can probably imagine, the show has a fairly…

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Weighing in on Weight Stigma: Obesity Stigma Symposium at UCLA

The prevalence of adult obesity in the United States has nearly doubled since 1980, and over two-thirds of American adults are currently overweight or obese. Weight bias (stereotyping or discrimination directed at an individual related to his/her weight) is prevalent in modern American society, and overweight individuals experience weight bias from a range of sources, including family members, classmates, educators, co-workers, employers, and health-care professionals. Findings presented last month at UCLA at a symposium titled,…

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Women in science: Yes we can!

The cover of my statistics text book features a diagram depicting the relation among sex, time since obtaining a doctorate degree, number of publications, and citations on salary. I haven’t formally learned about structural equation modeling just yet, but nonetheless found it rather discouraging for women. In hopes of being potentially proven wrong, I read the chapter on causal models. The example that Cohen, Cohen, West & Aiken, 2003 give as a working frame to…

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“Criminally Minded: The Psychology and Law of Culpability” Symposium – May 16, 4pm

Psychology in Action is proud to announce the third annual Psychology Interdisciplinary Events symposium, Criminally Minded: The Psychology and Law of Culpability, to be held Friday, May 16th, 2014, from 4 to 6pm in UCLA’s CNSI Auditorium.  The discussion will focus on legal and psychological issues regarding mens rea.  The event is completely FREE and open to the general public!  We hope to see you there!

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Feeling the Love [Hormone]: the Oxytocin Receptor

Oxytocin has gotten a lot of hype as the biological basis of our favorite human emotion, Love. Oxytocin is a hormone produced by the hypothalamus and released by the posterior pituitary gland. The oxytocin system is involved in HPA axis and autonomic nervous system functions as well as reproductive functions and social behaviors.  We are coming to understand how the structure of the the receptor for the hormone oxytocin influences oxytocin’s effects and social behavior, including love.

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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. In the 21st century, many people still attribute their eating behavior primarily to factors such as hunger and taste. However,…

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How to Change the World

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 read. Or skimmed. Let’s be honest, they read the title. So how can you take the leap from academia to real…

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Woody Allen’s Latest Film Explores the Intersection of Mental Illness and Social Status

Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine is a wrenching and thought-provoking film that finds the legendary auteur taking on very atypical material. Whereas his typical works burst with neurotic humor, whimsy, and exotic settings, his latest film emphasizes drama over comedy and focuses on the harsh realities of present day America. It is a bold divergence for the director and the risk pays off – Blue Jasmine is his best film in nearly 28 years. Allen’s later…

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