Might you be able to rid yourself of an illness by “turning back the clock”? That is, by immersing yourself in a time in your life when you were not ill? We know that thinking about things in a positive way – which we sometimes call “reframing” can make us feel and act differently, and we know that the “placebo effect” is real, but how far can these ideas be taken Psychology has always struggled to separate itself from those who would “borrow” good ideas and take them too far or twist them in ways that promise people too much. We’re now more sensitive than ever about how psychological research is conducted and there are a lot of questions about a proposed new study by Ellen Langer that seems to be skirting some serious ethical issues in order to carry out a study with cancer patients – a study that could be done much less elaborately than is planned. Is this groundbreaking research, or as James Coyne suggests, quackery? We’ll find out what’s going on in this episode of The Psych Files. And by the way, what the heck is the nocebo effect? We find out.
Do “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation” or are we actually pretty happy most of the time? As it turns out humans are far more resilient than you think. Ever heard of the term “affective forecasting“? It’s something we do every day and very often we make mistakes doing it. In this episode you’ll learn more about positive psychology from the authors of a new book called Pollyanna’s Revenge. Another myth put to rest: “depressive realism” – the idea that there’s an advantage to being depressed – that depressed people are more realistic about the world than non-depressed people. That’s not so either and I think you’ll find a lot of interesting information in this episode about what affects your own level of happiness. Join me for a fascinating discussion about how we really react to the ups and downs of life.
Resources on Pollyanna’s Revenge and on Positive Psychology
- Pollyanna’s Revenge: How Memory AND Emotion Foster Happiness
- The authors maintain a twitter feed and blog for their book and on positive psychology news and information
- Info about the Northern Illinois University shooting
- A summary of the research on depressive realism
- A summary of the research on negativity bias
Resources on the Facebook Study
Below is a map I put together with resources on the Facebook experiment. It’s a large map and if you want to view it in a larger size click here.
Create your own mind maps at MindMeister
- To learn more about Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count, listen to my interview with James Pennebaker: The Secret Life of Pronouns – an Interview with James Pennebaker
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.
Resources to Help You Search the Web Efficiently
- Here’s a link to my app, PsycExplorer iPhone and PsycExplorer for iPad
- Thanks to Charles Schallhorn, who has some great materials on his YouTube Channel
- Here’s the “magic code” you saw used in the video to create rss feeds from YouTube playlists: http://gdata.youtube.com/feeds/api/playlists/put-playlist-ID-here
- Here’s the very cool site you can use (for free) to have email and/or phone alerts sent to you: IFTTT. Explore this tool for all kinds of other possibilities!
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 involved to solve this problem? Listen to this episode and find out.
Resources for this Episode
- Grant, A. M., & Hofmann, D. A. 2011. It’s not all about me: Motivating hospital hand hygiene by focusing on patients. Psychological Science, 22: 1494-1499. You can download this article on Adam Grant’s website.
- Campaign Aimed at Patient Health Ups Doc Hand Washing article from Scientific American
- Patients’ Health Motivates Workers To Wash Their Hands from Psychological Science.
…messages aimed at health care professionals should be most effective when they emphasize how hand-hygiene practices can protect patients’ health rather than personal health – Grant and Hofman