Episode 64: A Scientist Goes Looking for a Self Help Book….

Self Help books: why are there so many out there? How do you choose? Can they cure depression? Help you lose weight? Stop smoking? Can they replace psychotherapy? Find out how to weed out the best self-help book from all the others. Here's a list of the top 14 things that really bother psychologists or any scientists about self-help books. [adsenseyu2] Self Help Books - When NOT to Trust Them Make Outlandish claims with no science to back them up (ex: can cure illnesses and lose weight and stop smoking, etc.). Remember that "Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary … [Read more...]

Episode 57: Expectancy Theory, Goal Setting and Getting in Shape

Expectancy Theory and Losing Weight

Confused about expectancy theory? I'll clear things up in this episode. It can be a little complicated but I'll use the familiar example of losing weight to nail this idea down. I'll also talk about goal setting. What's the psychology behind getting in shape? In this episode of The Psych Files podcast I examine two established theories of human motivation - goal setting and expectancy theory. If you've tried the Atkins diet, the south beach diet some other low carb diet plan or even (yikes!) a lemonade diet, then it's time to try something different - get into your head just a little bit … [Read more...]

Episode 50: Psychological Study Ripped Straight from….the Bible?

How many scientific studies find their inspiration from a parable in the bible? Well, this one does and for my 50th episode I'll go over a very interesting study based on the Good Samaritan parable. We'll take another look at the topic of bystander intervention by asking the question: are people more likely to help someone if they are thinking "pious" thoughts at the time? [adsenseyu2] After reviewing the study I'll take a look at a couple articles that cite the good Samaritan parable and ask the question: what does the results of this study imply about the value of character education, … [Read more...]

Episode 36: Kitty Genovese: What Really Happened?

Image via Wikipedia Kitty Genovese: what you know about what happened to her is wrong. Kitty Genovese was repeatedly attacked while others watched and did nothing - right? Wrong. While the story lead to a long and successful line of research in the area of bystander intervention and diffusion of responsibility, the facts of the story are incorrect. [adsenseyu2] What are the facts behind the Kitty Genovese case and if groups are so unlikely to help, how do you explain how people came together to help at 911? Let's take another look at the legacy of this famous story in this … [Read more...]

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. [adsenseyu2] Resources On Extreme Sports Personality Psychology website at Arcadia. This site has a lot of great … [Read more...]

Episode 32: Mnemonics and Two Keys to Learning

To learn or not to learn: that is the question this week on The Psych Files. Come with me as I explore mnemonic techniques, learn to memorize Hamlet's famous speech, and learn 2 keys to true, lasting learning. [adsenseyu2] Want to try out some mnemonics? Need to memorize the parts of the brain? My Brain Mnemonics will amaze you with how fast you can memorize not only many brain parts (as well as neuron parts and the types of brain scans) but you'll know exactly what each does! Use a credit card or PayPal Resources For This Episode Click to read the article in New York … [Read more...]

Episode 31: Lemon Slices and a New Face on Mars! Gestalt Principles at Work

The gestalt principles of perception - how do they work? How do they explain the fact that we sometimes perceive strange things, and how we can appreciate works of art? In this episode I take a close look at why people see a lot of strange things around them - including me. We'll see images on lemon slices, on Mars, and on building tops. Why do we perceive these things? [adsenseyu2] Resources on Gestalt Principles … [Read more...]

Episode 26: Why do Statistics Make Us So Queasy?

Why are we often anxious about or even suspicious of statistics? Let's take a look at this topic. Along with some interesting examples I've got some statistics-oriented jokes I hope you'll find funny (okay, maybe you'll just find them...interesting. Humor me). Conquer your fears this week on The Psych Files. [adsenseyu2] Resources For This Podcast Michael Shermer's book, Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time is also an excellent book on the kinds of thinking that lead us astray. This is the book I mention in the podcast … [Read more...]

Episode 16: Personal Space Invasion: What Happens When Someone Invades Your Personal Space?

Do feel slightly uncomfortable in the bathroom? How does the presence of others in the bathroom affect you? What about places other than the bathroom? How close is too close? A psychological study was done in 1976 in which psychology researchers hid in men's bathrooms to observe...well, you'll find out. Learn more about personal space in this episode of The Psych Files. The article discussed in this episode: Middlemist, R. D., Knowles, E. S. & Matter, C.F. (1976). Personal Space Invasions in the Lavatory: Suggestive Evidence for Arousal. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, … [Read more...]

Episode 13: Big Brother? What Your Grocery Store Knows About You

Psychological Research in your life: does your local grocery store know more about you than you do? We take a look at the research that's been done to learn more about your behavior in the supermarket and how that information is used to get you to buy more than you planned for. From the MSN article "15 Ways Stores trick you into spending" Shopping Carts: they are large and tend to be right near the entrance to entice you to use them Toys: far from the entrance The most expensive versions of items are at eye level while bulk options are at the bottom Items that are not on sale are … [Read more...]