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

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In 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 … [Read more...]

Ep 218: Good News for Older Folks

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 … [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. … [Read more...]

Ep 213: Leveraging Our Natural Curiosity for Learning (and for Blog and Video Clicks)

The Motivation to Learn

We 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 … [Read more...]

Ep 212: The Psychology of The Matrix Movie

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What 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 … [Read more...]

Ep 203: Psychology of Dance & the Growth Mindset

What are psychologists doing watching dancers? They're trying to get a better understanding of how a dancer's emotions affect the way they move. These researchers used some sophisticated equipment - including a motion capture apparatus - to analyze exactly how people moved while they were experiencing different emotional states. I think you'll find what they did and what they found to be quite interesting. If you're interested in dance and psychology you'll get a glimpse of how these two fields can be combined. That's one of the things about psychology: you can apply it to so many areas … [Read more...]

Ep 199: Depth Perception – How Your Brain Sees What’s Not There

Depth Perception Before & After

How do you create a sense of depth in a flat image? In this video I'll show you how to use 5 cues of depth perception to turn a flat image into one that looks like it has depth. I'll be drawing from terms you would learn about in a chapter from a psychology text on Sensation and Perception. We'll have a little fun exploring how we can use what your brain expects to see to trick it into seeing what we want it to see. … [Read more...]

Ep 197: Using the Word Guys for Women, Robots Helping the Elderly and Supernormal Foods

Should we stop using "Guys" to refer to groups of women and mixed sex groups? Why do we (particularly men) refer to many objects - like cars and boats - as "she"? Are everyday foods actually "SuperNormal" foods - created to be absolutely irresistible and therefore causing us to be overweight? Is it okay to employ robots to care for our elderly? And finally, how come the ending of a movie can "ruin the whole thing" if it's not a good ending? After all, you enjoyed most of the movie. In this episode I try to address these questions. We'll talk about all these things in this episode of The … [Read more...]

Ep 195: How To Memorize Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development

Memorize Piaget's Stages

Do you need to memorize Piaget's stages for a test? You've found what you're looking for. I'll use some familiar mnemonics ("1 is a bun", etc.) and some wacky images to get those stages - and what happens during them - into your mind. You'll be able to remember when object permanence occurs, when children are capable of assimilation and accommodation, abstract and logical thinking, conservation of energy - it's all here. Take the time to watch this video, learn about mnemonics and memorize Piaget's stages of cognitive development once and for all! … [Read more...]

Ep 193: Mindfulness Benefits on the GRE and at Work

There is a lot of talk about mindfulness among psychologists today. Find out what mindfulness is and how it differs from meditation in this episode of The Psych Files. What might you use mindfulness for? Well, in addition to what you might expect - reducing stress - mindfulness training is also being used to improve job satisfaction and productivity. Interested in increasing your score on the GRE? Being more mindful might also help out there as well. … [Read more...]