Ep 221: The Facebook Experiment: Reaction from Psychologists

Facebook Experiment on Social Contagion

You may have heard that Facebook manipulated the content of user's New Feeds during January of 2012 so that some users saw more positive posts than others, which other Facebook users saw more negative posts. They interpret this as an indication of Social Contagion on a massive scale (almost 700,000 Facebook users were part of the study). How did this affect these users? Did those who say negative posts become more negative and vice versa? The answer is that the research indicates that some of them - though a very, very few of them - did subsequently write posts that were similar to the ones … [Read more...]

Ep 216 (video): YouTube Power Search Tips

How can you find the best videos on YouTube? In this video episode of The Psych Files you are going to learn some crazy power tips that will alert you whenever whenever a video from a credible source gets added to a YouTube playlist. You will be the first to know. And you can find out not only by receiving an email, but - if you want - you can also get a phone call when that video is ready for you! Don't waste your time - there are some crazy new ways to efficiently search the web and here is how I do it. … [Read more...]

Ep 188: Psychologists Are Keeping You From Getting the Flu

Wash Your Hands to Avoid Illness

Didn't get the flu this past winter? Thank a psychologist. What? Well, it could be that a psychologist was involved in helping health care professionals to do what they know they need to do (but sometimes don't): wash their hands. The issue here is persuasion and motivation: how to we get people to do something - and keep doing it? Health care workers like doctors and nurses can fall prey to the availability heuristic: they can easily remember times when they didn't wash their hands and they didn't get sick so they might develop an "illusion of invulnerability". How do psychologists get … [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: 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 165 (video): Psychological Research Under Fire: What Can We Do About It?

What's going on with Psychology? There have been a number of reports about poorly conducted or completely fraudulent research in the field such as this one that appeared in the New York Times. Well, there's bad research in all fields, but psychology, which has through its history struggled for scientific credibility, is particularly sensitive to this issue and many psychologists have come out with strong recommendations to make sure that our research is of the highest quality. … [Read more...]

Episode 141: Psychology Gets Smart: A New Kind of Lie Detector?

You've probably heard that the so called "[easyazon-link asin="0803224591"]Lie Detector[/easyazon-link]" test (the polygraph ) doesn't actually detect when you've lied, but rather just takes some physiological measures from your body and these have to be interpreted by experts. Sometimes those experts make mistakes. Join me as I describe a psychological study that tested a new kind of "Lie Detector" - drawings. This study involved Agents, Missions, an Interception, and a mysterious "package". This is psychology? You better believe it. [easyazon-block asin="1405131128" align="center"] … [Read more...]

Episode 133: Replacing Your Doctor With a Robot?

Are you embarrassed to take your clothes off in front of your doctor? Most of us are. Well, what if your doctor was a robot? Would this make it easier or harder to remove your clothes? Before you answer - would it matter if the robot looked like a real person or if it looked like R2-D2? That's the question we examine this week on The Psych Files. Robots and Emotions Why are fictionoal - and real - robots often built to look like us? Probably because it's easier to relate to them. Learn more about how we develop feelings for robots on this article I found at The Week: Falling in love … [Read more...]