By validating emotions and checking facts, we can avoid the cognitive traps for which we’re wired Source: Unsplash As a psychologist, I’ve been thinking a lot about the pain my fellow Americans are in—and about how psychology can help us to heal—and I keep coming back to the theme of validating emotions while also checking the facts. To start, let’s establish some facts: Americans on both sides of the political aisle are struggling. We may be struggling with different things and we don’t have to agree about what we’re feeling, but it’s important to acknowledge that the pain on all sides is very real as a first step in taking each other seriously. A good next step might be to recognize how hard recent events have been for so many of us. It is not partisan to agree that 2020 was hard, and agree that we’re off to a rocky start with 2021. We’re facing real, painful issues of identity and justice—like racism, sexism , environmental destruction, and loss of human life and … [Read more...] about How Psychology Can Help Heal a Divided Country
Creativity Coaches on Creativity Source: Eric Maisel A lot of Americans fear clowns—a full 7%. A fear of flying comes in at 15%, a fear of drowning comes in at 22%, a fear of snakes at 23%, a fear of heights at 24%. And what tops the list of American phobias? At 25%, the winner is: a fear of public speaking . It’s America’s number one phobia. That the subject of today’s post. In today’s post called “4 Essential Tips to Boost Your Confidence in Front of an Audience,” creativity coach Coleen Chandler describes how you can reduce your anxiety when you have to—or want to—perform. Coleen explains: When I started singing in front of an audience, I had no idea what I was doing. I thought all I had to do was to walk on stage and the rest would take care of itself. In fact, performing was a sink-or-swim affair, and I sank many times. It was a terrifying experience. Over the years, I learned that knowing your way around performing is in itself an art form. In this post, I … [Read more...] about 4 Top Tips to Boost Your Confidence in Front of an Audience
Source: Photo by Александр Ермолаев /123RF I was once accused of picking up unwanted kittens from my local animal shelter and feeding them to my son’s baby boa constrictor. The charge, of course, was preposterous. But as I wrote in a commentary in The American Psychologist , it got me thinking about ethical implications of what we feed our pets . Take, for example, the relative moral calculus of having a pet cat versus a pet snake. Most authorities agree that cats are “obligate carnivores” that need to consume some animal flesh to thrive. Even dried cat food contains processed meat. If my cat Tilly eats only three ounces of meat a day, she will consume 70 pounds of flesh over the course of a year. By comparison, Sam, my son’s boa constrictor ate only one mouse a week. As the average mouse weighs only half an ounce, this translates into slightly less than two pounds of mouse meat a year. Hence the moral burden of owning a cat is roughly 30 times greater than that of … [Read more...] about What Should Vegetarians and Vegans Feed Their Pets?
Have you ever wondered why certain brands seem to add attractive models, for what appears no good reason? Well, here’s why. When you are exposed to erotic stimuli, a region deep within your brain—the nucleus accumbens—becomes activated. This is the part of our brain that is "turned on" when we experience positive emotions. So, how do we know that this region of the brain will make you take more financial risks? A study by Knutson and colleagues provides evidence for the link between nucleus accumbens activation and financial risk-taking . In their study, participants were randomly presented with pictures of couples in erotic positions (highly arousing and positive), snakes and spiders (highly arousing and negative), or household appliances (neutral picture). They were then instructed to make an investment—their two choices were to invest $1.00 or $0.10 (the less risky investment). The researchers also used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) techniques to “see” what … [Read more...] about You Know That Sex Sells—Do You Know Why?
Evolutionary psychology is a powerful approach to understanding human behavior and mental processes – leading to advancements in such important domains as education (see Gray, 2011), physical health (see Kruger & Nesse, 2006), and mental health (see Montgomery, 2010). As a passionate researcher in the field of evolutionary psychology (for example, see my brief textbook Evolutionary Psychology 101 ; Geher, 2014 ), I think it’s important for anyone interested in the behavioral sciences to have at least a basic understanding of this approach to psychology. Below are five foundational concepts in the field of evolutionary psychology. 1. Natural Selection Applies to Behavior. Observable qualities of organisms with some heritable component are “naturally selected” if they lead to probabilistic increases in survival or reproductive success of the organism. Behavioral patterns in humans, which are often partly heritable, may be naturally selected. Evolutionary … [Read more...] about What Is Evolutionary Psychology?