220: PsycExplorer Roundup: More Evidence That Animals Think and Feel

Chicken webIn episode 217 I asked you to be frank with yourself: Does your animal really think? It’s easy to believe they do, but if you’re going to study this issue scientifically you have to eliminate our human tendency to anthropomorphize – to want to believe that animal actions are motivated by internal states.

Here’s a roundup of a few articles I found in my PsycExplorer app (PsycExplorerHD for iPad) which show exactly what psychologists are doing to find out what exactly is going on (if anything…) in the minds of dogs, cats, rats, chickens and yes fruit flies. Are they really thinking in there? Well, maybe so. These examples certainly convinced me, although it might all depend on what you mean by “thinking” and “feeling”.
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Ep 218: Good News for Older Folks

Rena and Roy on their wedding day
Guess what? There are a good number of positives to growing older. Let’s put aside all the negative stereotypes of older folks and realize that they can demonstrate a surprising level of “coolness” about life. There’s a certain perspective you get when you’re older that’s enviable. Older folks have passed many of life’s challenges and they can look back with satisfaction. But they also can have a surprising nonchalance about the challenges they face which we – as younger people – often think would make us terribly unhappy. Let’s take another look at aging and see it from a different light. [Read more...]

Ep 217: Let’s Be Honest: Is Your Dog Really Intelligent?

Are Dogs (or Cats) Really Smart?It’s easy to find videos on the web of animals showing what appears to be some pretty smart behavior. But is it really “smarts”? How can you tell? In this episode I’ll point out examples that look like intelligence but probably aren’t – as well as an example of animal behavior that is really hard to dismiss as anything but “smarts”. In doing so we’ll talk about the behavioral principle of “chaining” – the method by which you can get animals – and humans – to display some pretty sophisticated and complex behavior as the result of reinforcement, prompts and cues.
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Ep 213: Leveraging Our Natural Curiosity for Learning (and for Blog and Video Clicks)

The Motivation to LearnWe don’t have to pay you to get you to do things (extrinsic motivation) – you’re already a curious person. We also don’t necessarily have to find things you’re already interested in (intrinsic motivation) we just have to find things are naturally interesting to all of us in order to get you excited about learning or interested in clicking on a link. How does our attraction to puzzles, questions, and unsolved mysteries get used to get us to click on videos or blog posts? And how can it be used to get students to want to learn (motivation to learn)? You’ll find out that there are ways to get students excited about learning without having to pay them and there are ways to attract people to your content by tapping into their natural curiosity. Just don’t overuse it (watch out UpWorthy) and don’t fail to deliver! Hopefully this episode will deliver on introducing you to some new ideas to help you motivate others. [Read more...]

Ep 212: The Psychology of The Matrix Movie

MatrixWhat are the psychological themes in the movie The Matrix? In this episode I talk about connections between The Matrix and Jung‘s idea of the Collective Unconscious, Joseph Campbell‘s notion of the Hero’s Journey and some recent research that explains why you experience Déjà vu. Also, can you change your whole world by thinking differently about it? Let’s find out what psychologists (well at least me) think about this fascinating movie.

A wonderful company called Rev transcribed this episode for me. They did a great job and I highly recommend them. You can view or download the transcription of this episode here.
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