220: PsycExplorer Roundup: More Evidence That Animals Think and Feel

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In episode 217 I asked you to be frank with yourself: Does your animal really think? It's easy to believe they do, but if you're going to study this issue scientifically you have to eliminate our human tendency to anthropomorphize - to want to believe that animal actions are motivated by internal states. Here's a roundup of a few articles I found in my PsycExplorer app (PsycExplorerHD for iPad) which show exactly what psychologists are doing to find out what exactly is going on (if anything...) in the minds of dogs, cats, rats, chickens and yes fruit flies. Are they really thinking in … [Read more...]

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 218: Good News for Older Folks

Guess what? There are a good number of positives to growing older. Let's put aside all the negative stereotypes of older folks and realize that they can demonstrate a surprising level of "coolness" about life. There's a certain perspective you get when you're older that's enviable. Older folks have passed many of life's challenges and they can look back with satisfaction. But they also can have a surprising nonchalance about the challenges they face which we - as younger people - often think would make us terribly unhappy. Let's take another look at aging and see it from a different … [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 … [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 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 216: Working Remotely – Psychological Advantages and Disadvantages

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The idea of working from home sounds great - but be aware of the downside. In this episode of The Psych Files I talk about what factors influence your job satisfaction and motivation when you work from home. I also discuss the interesting concept of "emotional labor" - what is it like when you know your boss is watching you and judging whether you are "acting happy" to customers? What's the cost to you of acting in a way that is contrary to how you actually feel? … [Read more...]

Ep 215: What Was Life Like in an Asylum?

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Ever wondered what it was like to be a patient in an "insane asylum"? "Asylums" changed names over the years (including "State Hospital" and "Psychiatric Center") and so did the treatment of the mentally ill. Hear from Dr. Jennifer Bazar how we went from chaining people up to hydrotherapy to sexual surgery and finally to what is called "moral treatment". A fascinating walk down the history of psychology with an engaging psychology historian. … [Read more...]

Ep 214: Your Adolescence is Giving Me A Mid-Life Crisis!

We all know that adolescence is a time of change and often a tough time for the teen. But what about the parent? Today's parents are often older than years ago, and today's parents are sometimes going through their own self-examination, their own doubts, their own exploration. What happens when you bring those two together? Sometimes a lot of yelling frankly. In this episode I talk about the changes going on in the adolescent and in the older parent and how parents can avoid the yelling and the accusations that only undermine what the teen is going through and how parents can step back … [Read more...]

Ep 213: Leveraging Our Natural Curiosity for Learning (and for Blog and Video Clicks)

The Motivation to Learn

We don't have to pay you to get you to do things (extrinsic motivation) - you're already a curious person. We also don't necessarily have to find things you're already interested in (intrinsic motivation) we just have to find things are naturally interesting to all of us in order to get you excited about learning or interested in clicking on a link. How does our attraction to puzzles, questions, and unsolved mysteries get used to get us to click on videos or blog posts? And how can it be used to get students to want to learn (motivation to learn)? You'll find out that there are ways to get … [Read more...]