Ep 202: How To Memorize Freud’s Stages of Psychosexual Development


Need to memorize Freud’s stages of psychosexual development for a test? Here’s a mnemonic that should do the trick. In this brief video, the founder of psychoanalysis gives you a mnemonic and explains the 5 stages for you. What do orangutans and ogres have to do with Freud’s stages? They’ll help you remember them, that’s what. Find out how in this episode and make sure to check out these other Psych Files episodes for psychology mnemonics: How to Memorize the Parts of the Brain, How to Memorize Erikson’s Eight Stages, and How to Memorize Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development. I love mnemonics here on The Psych Files so if you need to memorize anything else let me know!

Ep 190: Why Do You Get So Absorbed in that Book (or Movie)?

Experience Taking

Have you ever become so immersed in a book or movie that you actually felt like the character? Or you felt the character’s pain or joy? Why does this happen? When does this happen? What is it about the book or the movie and its characters that draws us in like this? It’s amazing isn’t it? To be so moved like this. Psychologists have studied this experience and we have some ideas regarding what factors have to be present in order for this to happen. And would you believe that this understand might help us to combat racism and bullying? Pretty amazing stuff. Join me as I explore what psychologists call “experience taking“.

Experience Taking

Ep: 169 – Validity – How Can You Tell a Good Test from a Bad One?


In episode 168 I discussed reliability but the real test of a test’s “mettle” – or how confident you can be in the results – comes when you subject it to lots of validity tests. You’ll learn a lot about validity if you take a psychology class. High validity is what separates the many fun-to-take but essentially meaningless tests you’ll find on the web, and a truly solid test of your personality.
[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…]

Ep: 166: The Secret Life of Pronouns – an Interview with James Pennebaker


What do you reveal about yourself in the way you use the smallest and seemingly most insignificant words you use every minute? That’s the focus of Dr. James Pennebaker‘s fascinating book and one of the most interesting psychology books of 2011: The Secret Life of Pronouns. If you’re fascinated by language then you’ll find this episode especially interesting.
[Read more…]

Episode 140: Psychoanalyzing Jack Lalanne


In this episode I put Jack Lalanne "on the couch". I take selections from several of his videos and see what they reveal about his personality. He was clearly passionate about exercise, but what drove this passion? What was his underlying motivation? I suggest that his relationship with his father was crucial to his passion for exercise and fitness. Join me as I do a little armchair psychoanalysis of Jack Lalanne.


Episode 107: Freud, Projective Tests and …. Poetry


Picture of a Rorshach InkblotHow do the Rorschach, the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) and the House, Tree, Person tests work? Do you reveal something about yourself when you tell stories about pictures or tell what you see in an inkblot or even when you do something as seemingly innocent as drawing a picture of a house? In this episode I try to answer these questions about the Freudian defense mechanism of projection as well as show you how a wonderful poem called How It Will End by Denise Duhamel could be an excellent example of psychology in everyday life.

Resources for this Episode

  • Many thanks to Denise Duhamel for allowing me to read her wonderful poem How It Will End on this episode. You can find out more about her here.
  • Click to hear Garrison Keillor read the poem in the September 28, 2009 episode of The Writer’s Almanac.
  • You can find more poetry by Denise Duhamel here: Denise Duhamel on Amazon

Projective Tests

  • The Rorshach Society of North America created this site where you can get a sense of what it is like to take the Rorshach test.
  • Information about the Rorshach Test from Wikipedia
  • Information about the Thematic Apperception Test from the Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders
  • Iinformation about the Thematic Apperception Test from Wikipedia

Episode 82: What’s the Best Personality to be a Waiter?


What kind of personality do you need to be a good waiter/waitress? In a previous episode we talked about the tactics: touching customers, drawing smiley faces on bills, crouching down to the customer’s level, etc. But these strategies don’t always work, so what kind of person do you need to be? We find out in this episode as we explore the personality trait called the Self-Monitoring personality.

Thank you to Jessica, Glynda, Nick and Laurie for allowing me to interview them for this episode.

Articles on Self Monitoring

  • Snyder, M. (1974). Self Monitoring of expressive behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30, 526-537.
  • Lippa, R. & Donaldson, S. I. (1990). Self-monitoring and idiographic measures of behavioral variability across interpersonal relationships. Journal of Personality, 58, 465-479.
  • Ickes, W., Reidhead, S., & Patterson, M. (1986). Machiavellianism and self-monitoring: As different as “me” and “you.” Social Cognition, 4, 58-74.
  • Snyder, M. & Gangestad, S. (1986). On the nature of self-monitoring: Matters of assessment, matters of validity, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 1, 125-139.

Examples of Reliability and Validity in this Episode

  • At approximately 14 minutes: test-retest reliability: if you are a self monitoring person then you should score highly on the test every time I give it to you.
  • At approximately 15:15 minutes: internal reliability: if I have 10 questions that all measure the same idea (let’s say your ability to read visual cues from others) and you have this ability, then you should score highly on all 10 questions.
  • Validity: in order to establish a test as valid, you have to have more than reliability. You have to make predictions about what people who score highly on your test are like in real life. For example, you could give the test to a group of successful sales people (operationally defined as salespeople who make a lot of money) and to a group of not very successful salespeople. The successful sales people should score highly on your test, and the unsuccessful people should obtain a low score.

Sites with Information on Self Monitoring

The helpful website I mentioned at the end of the episode is JogLab, a website with a tool which helps you build acronyms. Check it out!

Episode 35: The Psychology of Extreme Sports


Time for a little fun. I know you’ve asked yourself this question: why do people engage in those dangerous extreme sports like hang gliding, bungee jumping and rock climbing? Would you believe it might have something to do with neurotransmitters and something called Monoamine Oxidase? In this video episode we learn about Sensation Seekers. Along the way I discuss how SSRI‘s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) function in the synapse. Come along for the ride.

Resources On Extreme Sports

Media Resources for this Episode