Psychologists React to Robin Williams’ Death

Robin Williams

Shock and Sadness

How has the mental health community reacted to Robin Williams’ suicide? I’ve been reflecting on my own reaction as well as reading blog posts and news articles from other mental health professionals. Here’s my take on what we’re thinking.

Like everyone else, mental health professionals found themselves saddened and speechless at Williams’ loss. He was so unique and gave so much. He will be so missed.

But Why Couldn’t He Have…

It’s so natural for us to think, “But he was rich and famous – couldn’t he have brought himself out of this?”. There are two things we need to understand here:

Hedonic Adaptation – the term to describe the fact that we all get used to what we have. Almost all of us think that if we had more money, a new car, or more X, Y or Z we would be happier. And maybe, for a little while, we would. But we don’t stay delirious forever.Our minds adapt and whatever our current state soon becomes the daily grind. In the civilized world we already have more than most people. You probably already have more money and more stuff (cars, smartphones, TVs, etc.) than you had 10 years ago. Bet you’ve gotten used to it. Robin Williams had been famous for 30+ years. I’m sure he was used to it. I doubt it gave him the kind of joy we imagine it would give us. We are quite poor at what we call “emotional forecasting“: we think we’ll feel a certain way in the future, but we’re usually wrong.
[Read more…]

Psychology Tip to Help You Get More Tips

Do you have a tip jar at work? Here’s one way to use a little psychology to increase the likelihood that customers will put a little money in there:

  • Set out not one but two tip jars
  • Label the jars with two competing themes

Okay, so what do I mean by “competing themes”? What you want to do is to motivate people to drop in a little (or a lot of course) money by tapping into their social identities. For example, if you know that there is a natural rivalry between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox (and especially if there is a game between them coming up), label one tip jar Yankees and the other Red Sox (or better yet, print out an image of their logos and tape them to the jars). People want their team to win. It makes us feel good. Here are some examples…
[Read more…]

Ep 207: The Psychology of Vine


Would you believe there’s a lot of psychology you can fit into a 6 second vine? Well there is. In this video episode I show you a few of there vines I like and which are also good (unintended) demonstrates of a variety of psychological concepts. I think you’ll have fun with this one.
[Read more…]

Ep 200: Reflections on the 200th Show!

Squarespace Homepage

Thank YOU Squarespace for sponsoring the 200th episode!

Thank YOU Squarespace for sponsoring the 200th episode!

Thank you so much for listening to The Psych Files for the past 6 1/2 years. In this episode I provide a little background on how the podcast started and what has happened as it grew over the years. It just past 8 million downloads and I want to share a few thoughts on this with you. Thank you everybody!

Facts about the Show

  • Started in January of 2007
  • Over 9 million episode downloads
  • 4,500 episode downloads day on average
  • Almost always in the top 10 of iTunes Higher Ed
  • Website gets an average of 800 hits day
  • 4 1/2 stars from 131 ratings on iTunes
  • The show has been featured in the APA Monitor, The Discovery Channel show Dark Matters, and has led to invited presentations at APA and APS conferences

Popular episodes:

Upcoming Episodes

  • More Great Psychology Apps
  • Abandoned Suitcases Reveal Private Lives of Insane Asylum Patients
  • jetlag/circadian rhythms
  • New Little Albert Findings
  • Psychology of laughter with Greg Dugan
  • New treatments for autism
  • Kohlberg stages of Moral Development
  • Visual illusions
  • Psychology of Magic
  • More on the DSM5
  • The Strengths Perspective (Social Work)
  • Anorexia/Bulimia
  • The Controversy over the Effects of Serotonin
  • A Call To Men
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Allowing children to have dogs accompany them while they testify
  • Transcranial stimulation
  • Stats: chi-square, t-test, anova
  • How medications work
  • anesthesia
  • Narrative Therapy (Damien from facebook)

The Bystander Approach

In the end, what will hurt most is not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. – Martin Luther King

The video below consists of 7 shorts clips from a longer video called Violence & Silence: Jackson Katz, Ph.D at TEDxFiDiWomen. My thanks to podcast listener Jackie who encouraged me to watch the video.

I used a very cool tool called ReelSurfer to edit the video to what I thought were some of Dr. Katz’s key points. Press play and you will cycle through these 7 clips.

Here is the link to a previous episode I did on the topic of blaming the victim

A related episode on the topic of the Justice Motive

Adult men with power need to speak out


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 Fire. In this episode I interview the lead author, Stuart Ritchie, of the first published replication of one part of Bem’s work. Listen as Stuart describes what he did and what he found on this very controversial topic.
[Read more…]

Ep 172: Interview with Nathalie Nahai – The Web Psychologist


Nathalie NahaiDid you know that you can apply your psychology skills to the development of effective websites? Meet one woman – Nathalie Nahai – who does exactly that and she has a background in not only psychology, but also Art, Physics and English Literature. She’s putting all those together to help people improve their websites and the power of their online influence, which by the way, is the (working) title of the book she’s writing: The Psychology of Online Influence.

How to Contact Nathalie Nahai

Rory Sutherland interviews Nathalie Nahai | Webs Of Influence from The Web Psychologist on Vimeo.