Ep 219: Mental Health Professionals: Why So Liberal?

Surveys find that psychologists tend to align themselves with a liberal political orientation. Why is that? Are liberal-minded people drawn to human service professions or is there something about working in human services that causes people to become more liberal in their political views? In this episode I propose a few ideas that I think explains why mental health professionals tend to be on the liberal side of the political spectrum. I invite your constructive feedback on these suggestions. … [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 192: An Example of How Psychoanalysts Really Interpret Dreams

What Do Dreams Mean?

What do psychologists really think about your dreams - do they have meaning? In this episode I talk about what psychologists think today about dreams. You probably know that Freud thought that dreams had a manifest content (the people and things that happened in the dream that you remember) and a latent content (the unconscious meaning of the dream). Do we still think this? Also: can you look up in a book or online to find out what your dreams meant? If you dream about a cat for example - what does this mean? In this episode I explore these questions with author and psychoanalyst Kerry … [Read more...]

Ep 187: I’d Like to Have an Argument Please (critical thinking part 3)

How would you like to have an argument? Turns out that learning how to have a good argument might just be the best way to learn to think critically. In this episode I discuss a neat piece of research in which 7 and 8 year olds are taught how to effectively argue. And they do a darn good job of it as it turns out. Perhaps this is the way to teach our young people critical thinking: give them some great books to read - like The Giving Tree - and have them discuss what they think about it. The key ingredient: making sure that they fully understand the point of view of the other person. This'll be … [Read more...]

Ep 184: Critical Thinking (Part 2) – Important? Yes. But Can We Teach It? Well….

The importance of critical thinking for children

In episode 183 I talked about what critical thinking is and why it's important. Now we talk about why it's so darn hard to teach and to use critical thinking in our everyday lives. In this episode I'll discuss Dr. Daniel Willingham's advice to teachers on what they can do to effectively teach critical thinking - something that couldn't be more important in today's world where misinformation is all around us. Make sure to take a look at the concept map below. … [Read more...]

Ep 183: Critical Thinking – Important? Yes. But Can We Teach It? Well….

Critical Thinking Key Ideas

Why does it concern psychologists that the Texas GOP platform recently opposed the teaching of critical thinking? Most of us have been told since we were very young that critical thinking is very important. Psychologists certainly agree and a lot of time spent in most psychology classes is spent learning how to think critically. Why is it such a central part of our classes? And here's a kicker: it might be a lot harder to teach it than we had hoped. Find out why critical thinking is so central to psychology. Sounds kinda dry? I think you'll find this a lot of fun (in a mental kind of … [Read more...]

EP 177: Why You Hate Psychology – Media Bias and Misunderstandings about How Science Works

In this follow-up to episode 176 I discuss two more reasons why I believe some people either don't like or just distrust psychology: 1) the belief that it is not a science, and 2) the belief - created by the media - that psychologists make a lot of money for giving out common sense advice. I hope you'll see that psychology is not unlike other sciences in that we study something extremely complex and yes, sometimes our findings are contradictory and they change over time. However, psychologist Timothy Wilson makes some excellent points about this concern in his recent article in the Los … [Read more...]

EP 176: Why You Hate Psychology – Self Esteem Movement and Positive Thinking

imagespositiveThinking_web.gif

Why do so many people have strongly negative feelings about the field of psychology? I think there are a handful of reasons and in this episode I talk about two of them: the so-called "self-esteem movement" and the "positive thinking" movement. Are psychologists responsible for why "kids today" appear to be so self-centered? Do psychologists think that changing yourself is as simple as just changing the way you think? Hear one psychologists opinion on this and my explanation on two reasons why I think maybe you hate psychology. Just hear me out. … [Read more...]

Ep 174: The First Replication of Daryl Bem’s Research on Psychic Phenomenon

Concept Map with Details of the Replication of Bem's Feeling the Future study

Have psychologists recently found evidence for the existence of psychic ability? Last year, well-known psychologist Daryl Bem published an article called Feeling the Future in which he describes a number of studies, all of which provided support for a kind of phi phenomenon he calls "retroactive influence". The research appeared in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The article caused a storm of controversy and calls for changes to how research and the peer review process is conducted. I covered some of those recommendations in video episode 165: Psychological Research Under … [Read more...]

Ep 168: Reliability – the Foundation of Any Good Personality Test

Can you tell your personality from what flavor ice cream you like? There are lots and lots of so called Personality tests on the web. How do you know when you've come across a good one? For example, are the inner workings of your personality revealed in the playlists you have on your smartphone or mp3 device? In this episode we take a look at the first thing you should demand from any test - reliability. If you're interested in psychology you are going to learn A LOT about the different kinds of reliability. … [Read more...]