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Psychology

368 articles
  • Dijkstra_HERO

    The Fine Line Between Reality and Imaginary

    We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are.

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    New Evidence That Therapy Can Make You Happier

    What are the interventions that are supposed to make us happier? What doesn’t work? And if something does work, how much good does it do?Pixabay In “All Eyes on Me,” a song from his new Netflix special Inside, the musician-comedian Bo Burnham pauses to ask, “You want to hear a funny story?” He tells us […]

  • Denham_HERO

    You Can’t Dissect a Virtual Cadaver

    What is lost when we lose in-person learning.

  • MacNamara_HERO

    Why People Feel Like Victims

    Getting to the core of today’s social acrimony.

  • Singal_HERO

    The Weak Case for Grit

    Where’s the evidence that grit predicts success?

  • Greene_HERO

    How to Quiet Your Mind Chatter

    To break the tape loop in your head, talk to yourself as another person.

  • Davies_HERO

    What If You Could Describe Your Dreams While Dreaming?

    The potential to hack our dreams opens a new frontier for mental research.

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    This Is How Your Brain Walks the Dog—a Dialogue

    Habits: You two were arguing, I just kept walking. Felt like the right thing to do.Photograph by evrymmnt / Shutterstock INT. HOME OFFICE—DAY BODY, a middle-aged woman, is working at a computer, trying to finish a plan for the household budget. Habits Oh! It’s time to walk the dog. BODY stops typing. Central Executive Uh, […]

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    Was the Golden Rule Born in the Mind of a Monkey?

    As economic inequality increased in many wealthy nations in recent years, a debate has developed around the question of whether inequality is bad for national economies—and bad for their citizens. A captivating video clip of monkey behavior (see below), taken from a 2011 TED talk by primatologist Frans de Waal, has become a surprising piece of […]

  •  Paulson_HERO

    Consciousness Is Just a Feeling

    With help from Freud, this neuropsychologist locates consciousness in choice.

  • Henrich_HERO

    Martin Luther Rewired Your Brain

    How mass literacy, spurred by Protestantism, reconfigured our neural pathways.

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    A Simple Way to Reduce Cognitive Bias

    It’s encouraging to know that merely paying attention to the details of your environment can make you a little more rational.Illustration by yulianas / Shutterstock Would you like to be more rational? Of course you would. Who doesn’t want to behave and think more reasonably? Good news: New research, from Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer, suggests […]

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    Can You Treat Loneliness By Creating an Imaginary Friend?

    Tulpamancers imagine talking to the tulpa, sometimes for more than an hour a day, and eventually, perhaps after several months, the tulpa will start talking back.Photo Illustration by LeaDigszammal / Shutterstock Did you ever have an imaginary friend? If you didn’t, chances are you know someone who did. Imaginary companions, as scholars call them, are […]

  • Scrivner_HERO

    Why Horror Films Are More Popular Than Ever

    It feels good to control what will terrify you.

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    The Problem with a New Study on Mentorship in Science

    Arguably the best prescription to improve the situation facing women in science is for there to be more women in science.Oleg Golovnev / Shutterstock The increasing visibility of women in leadership roles is one of the few success stories in the struggle for equality in science. But a new study, which connects how often scientists’ […]

  • chess cognition_HERO

    Scientists Analyzed 24,000 Chess Matches to Understand Cognition

    Chess could perhaps be the ultimate window through which we might see how our mental powers shift during our lives.

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    Why America Is Ripe for Election Conspiracy Theorizing

    One day in 1787, Benjamin Franklin emerged from the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, where the founders were debating the shape of a new government. He was confronted by Elizabeth Willing Powel, a society figure and wife of the Philadelphia mayor. “Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?” she asked. “A republic,” Franklin […]

  •  GRunes_HERO

    What You Can Learn from Living in Antarctica

    Wisdom from the end of the Earth.

  • Callier_HERO

    New Veggies for a Warming Planet

    We need a diversity of crops to adapt to Earth’s changing climate.

  • baby yoda_HERO

    What Makes Baby Yoda So Lovable?

    The ways in which this creature’s creators have successfully modeled him on human attributes can offer insights into how and why people deem certain beings and certain behaviors undeniably lovable.Star Wars Wallpaper / Lucasfilm The internet doesn’t agree on much these days. But there is one indisputable fact: Baby Yoda is absolutely adorable. For the […]

  •  Gallagher_HERO

    How to Stop Feeling Crushed for Time

    Quit worrying whether time is money. Start appreciating time’s true value.

  • uitwaaien benefits_HERO

    The Simple Dutch Cure for Stress

    “Uitwaaien” is a popular activity around Amsterdam—one believed to have important psychological benefits.Photograph by John Loo / Flickr Last year I was in San Francisco, a city known for its tech companies, steep hills, and fierce winds. Each day I’d run around the neighborhood and up through the park, ending with a spectacular view of […]

  • Frank_behavioral contagion_HERO

    Behavioral Contagion Is Boosting Biden’s Presidential Prospects

    That Trump’s ship is sinking is now a widespread public perception.Photograph by Gage Skidmore / Flickr During the pandemic, I’ve been participating in weekly Zoom calls with former Peace Corps Volunteers who served with me in Nepal during the late 1960s. As among so many of my other friends, there is high anxiety in this […]

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    It Pays to Be a Space Case

    Kieran Fox, a neuroscientist, says some of his colleagues see him as an “alien” because of all the time he takes off to let his mind wander.Photo Illustration by Sergey Nivens / Shutterstock It’s a feeling we all know well—you’re at a work meeting or in the middle of a book, when you realize that […]

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    People Are Discovering the Joy of Actually Talking on a Phone

    Researchers predicted that people would consistently underrate how much they might benefit from talking on the phone.Photograph by Stokkete / Shutterstock I’m one of the lucky ones. The onset of this pandemic has put a strain on the sanity of many people forced to isolate themselves from friends and family. If you live alone, or […]

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    The Dark Side of Smart

    Intelligence is associated with coming up with more convincing bullshit and with being a better liar, but not associated with a better ability to recognize one’s own bias.Photograph by ArTono / Shutterstock Manipulative communication surrounds us. With misinformation and disinformation about the pandemic, “cheap” and “deep” fakes of elected officials, and targeted ads and emotionally […]

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    Believing in Monsters: David Livingstone Smith on the Subhuman

    The Nazis called Jews rats and lice. White plantation owners called their Black slaves soulless animals. Pundits in Myanmar call Rohingya Muslims beasts, dogs, and maggots. Dehumanizing talk abounds in racist rhetoric worldwide. What do people believe, typically, when they speak this way? The easiest answers are wrong. Literal interpretation is out: Nazis didn’t believe […]

  • Gallagher_HERO

    Are You Yoda or Darth Vader?

    How to recognize your light and dark sides.

  • Fleerackers_HERO

    Your Romantic Ideals Don’t Predict Who Your Future Partner Will Be

    Why birds of a feather don’t flock together for long.

  • Gallagher_HERO

    The Brave New World of Chemical Romance

    How love drugs will shape the future of our relationships.

  • Earp_HERO

    Show Me How to Say No to This

    How drugs today can cure a crushing love.

  • Scrivner_HERO

    Horror Fans Have More Fun During a Pandemic

    Why shows like “The Walking Dead” might help us cope with the real thing.

  • Berger_HERO

    The Things We Can’t Control Are Beautiful

    How Maria Konnikova found enlightenment at the poker table.

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    How the Pandemic Has Tested Behavioral Science

    In the interplay between behavioral science and policy, puffs of smoke abound.Photo illustration by metamorworks / Shutterstock In March the United Kingdom curiously declined to impose significant social distancing measures in response to the global pandemic. The government was taking advice from several parties, among them the so-called “Nudge Unit,” a private company called Behavioral […]

  • Perkowitz_HERO

    The Power of Crossed Brain Wires

    Synesthesia makes ordinary life marvelous.

  • Kommers_HERO

    Mice on Acid

    To get a legal hallucinogen to market, rodents need to take the first trip.

  • Ingenious: Helen Fisher

    Talking sex, brains, and commitment with the best-selling scientist of love.

  • Davies_HERO

    We Aren’t Selfish After All

    In turbulent times, people go from “me” thinking to “we” thinking.

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    The Case Against Thinking Outside of the Box

    Social, cultural, economic, spiritual, psychological, emotional, intellectual: Everything is outside the box. And this new sheltered-in-place experience won’t fit into old containers.Photo Illustration by Africa Studio / Shutterstock Many of us are stuck now, sheltered in our messy dwellings. A daily walk lets me appreciate the urban landscaping; but I can’t stop to smell anything […]

  • Denworth_HERO

    Friendship Is a Lifesaver

    Science is showing us the best remedy for aging is friends.

  • Weiner_HERO-F

    How a Nuclear Submarine Officer Learned to Live in Tight Quarters

    You get comfortable being uncomfortable.

  • Weiner_HERO-F

    How a Nuclear Submarine Officer Learned to Live in Tight Quarters

    You get comfortable being uncomfortable.

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    Prayer in the Time of COVID-19

    In a recent viral news segment on CNN, cars are shown exiting what a narrator says is a church parking lot—dozens of people, including children, had just attended an evening service. A reporter asks a woman in her car why, when the COVID-19 pandemic has convinced many to stay home, she went anyway. “I wouldn’t […]

  • Fleerackers_HERO

    Let’s Talk About Our Health Anxiety Over COVID-19

    The calming power of conversation, mindfulness, and a little exercise.

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    Let’s Aim for Physical Rather Than Social Distancing

    Isolation can be toxic. Let’s reduce physical distance while staying connected.Illustration by Tartila / Shutterstock Amid all the calls in nearly every country for social distancing, the most powerful tool we have to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, one important fact gets lost: We are fundamentally social beings, and social distancing can carry a heavy […]

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    Scientists Can Predict Your Job By Your Social-Media Personality

    People soon might be able to identify career options that truly fit their personality traits and values, based on the digital traces that they leave through their online behaviors.Photo Illustration by Billion Photos / Shutterstock For many of us, finding the “right” career can feel like an impossible feat. When my little sister was in […]

  • berger_HERO-F

    A Clash of Perspectives on Panpsychism

    What panpsychism does—and does not—explain about consciousness.

  • OConnor_HERO

    There’s No Homunculus In Our Brain Who Guides Us

    Why the cognitive-map theory is misguided.

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    Why We Love to Be Grossed Out

    Disgust may not be a straightforward extension of the immune system’s aversion to harmful substances, but rather “a psychological nebula, lacking definite boundaries, discrete internal structure, or a single center of gravity,” says psychologist Nina Strohminger.Photograph by Star Stock / Flickr Nina Strohminger, perhaps not unlike many fans of raunchy comedies and horror flicks, is […]

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    This Psychological Concept Could Be Shaping the Presidential Election

    Could Warren’s political fate in 2020 turn on voters who think she would make a great president choosing another candidate because they think that’s what their neighbors will do?Photograph by Maverick Pictures / Shutterstock Not too long ago, I briefly met Elizabeth Warren in a restaurant in Cambridge, near Harvard, where I’m now a postdoc […]

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    The Problem with “Smart” New Years’ Goals

    Researchers found that people who set both superordinate and subordinate goals at New Year’s invested more effort into pursuing them.Photograph by marekuliasz / Shutterstock There’s a name for the sudden spur of motivation we often feel at New Year’s—the fresh start effect. You might also feel it on your birthday, at the start of the […]

  • Koenig_HERO

    The Psychology of Greta Thunberg’s Climate Activism

    Identifying the ingredients of an effective argument.

  • The Hidden Sexism of How We Think About Risk

    If men take more risks than women, it’s not because of biology.

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    Is the Psychology of Greta Thunberg’s Climate Activism Effective?

    Greta Thunberg may have weighted her U.N. remarks toward care and fairness, but she didn’t omit loyalty. “You are failing us,” she said. “But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal.”Photograph by Liv Oeian / Shutterstock Last month, Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenage activist, excoriated world leaders for their ongoing failure to address […]

  • The Genius of Learning

    MacArthur Fellow Danielle Bassett says learning works best when you don’t overthink it.

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    Daydreams Shape Your Sense of Self

    Certain daydreams reflect what is important to a person; what worries them, who they care about, and what they love and aspire to do.Photograph by Crispy Fish Images / Shutterstock You are at home, cutting onions for dinner, and tear up from the vapor. Your mother, teaching you how to cut onions when you were […]

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    How Aging Shapes Narrative Identity

    It’s not just our flesh and bones that change as we get older.Photograph by dirkmvp41 / Flickr In 2010, Dan McAdams wrote a biography about George W. Bush analyzing the former American president using the tools of personality psychology. It was, in his own words, a flop. “I probably had three readers,” McAdams laughs. But […]

  • Ingenious: Mazviita Chirimuuta

    Color is a dance between your brain and the world.

  • Gallagher_HERO

    Playing Video Games Makes Us Fully Human

    No other media meets our emotional and social needs like electronic games.

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    Our Aversion to A/B Testing on Humans Is Dangerous

    Research suggests that people have an irrational aversion to A/B tests, which could limit the extent to which important institutions like hospitals, legislatures, and corporations base their decisions on objective evidence.Photograph by Fernando Cortes / Shutterstock Facebook once teamed up with scientists at Cornell to conduct a now-infamous experiment on emotional contagion. Researchers randomly assigned […]

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    Game of Thrones and the Evolutionary Significance of Storytelling

    I told myself it was absurd to be discontented with the way Game of Thrones ended. Why should I feel anything for the fate of a fictional world? Even so, I watched with interest, on YouTube, videos of how several of the episodes—particularly “The Long Night,” “The Bells,” and “The Iron Throne”—could have been re-written […]

  • Zaki_HERO

    Can We Revive Empathy in Our Selfish World?

    An experiment shows how to rebuild human compassion.

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    The “Emodiversity” of Star Wars

    What the hyper-rational Vulcan Spock represents, psychologist Igor Grossman said, is “uniform emotional down-regulation,” whereas the hallmark of Yoda’s judgment style is his ability to “recognize and balance a wide range of emotions”—a key aspect of wisdom.Star Wars / YouTube This past “Star Wars Day,” May 4, I watched some of the original trilogy a […]

  • Marcus_HERO

    Human Exceptionalism Stifles Progress

    The aversion to playing God is not just about God.

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    The Problem with the Way Scientists Study Reason

    Psychologists studying reasoning extensively rely on logic and philosophy, and neglect psychology’s more natural ally: biology. Portrait of Luca Pacioli (1445–1517) with a student (Guidobaldo da Montefeltro?) / Attributed to Jacopo de’ Barbari / Wikicommons In March, I was in Paris for the International Convention of Psychological Science, one of the most prestigious gatherings in […]

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    Nurture Alone Can’t Explain Male Aggression

    A young bank teller is shot dead during a robbery. The robber flees in a stolen van and is chased down the motorway by a convoy of police cars. Careening through traffic, the robber runs several cars off the road and clips several more. Eventually, the robber pulls off the motorway and attempts to escape […]

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    The Problem with Mindfulness

    The mindfulness movement’s heavy focus on positive, health-related perks, like stress or anxiety reduction, turns meditation into a mere tool for mental hygiene.Photograph by DrewHeath / Wikicommons Should we be mindful of how popular “mindfulness” now is? Carl Erik Fisher says we should. Fisher is a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University and a […]

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    Taking Another Person’s Perspective Doesn’t Help You Understand Them

    No moral advice is perfectly sound. The Golden Rule—do unto others as you would have them do unto you—is only as wise as the person following it. A more modern-sounding tip—take the perspective of others—can seem like an improvement. It was Dale Carnegie’s eighth principle in How to Win Friends and Influence People (it is […]

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    The Self Is Other People

    “We’re constantly bouncing off other people and looking at other people as a mirror of us. Our very sense of who we are is intertwined with what we see when we see other people look at us.”Photograph by Saly Noémi / Fortepan / Wikicommons An oft-repeated line in A Series of Unfortunate Events, a Netflix TV […]

  • Magic_HERO

    A Magician Explains Why We See What’s Not There

    Our brain is constantly picturing what the future should be.

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    The Case for Being Skeptical of Moral Outrage

    If, as the research shows, our moral outrage is highly sensitive to actions but not consequences, we might want to treat feelings of moral outrage—whether others’ or our own—skeptically. Photograph by Vjacheslav_Kozyrev / Flickr The episode last month at the Lincoln Memorial, involving the boys from Covington Catholic High School, and a Native American man, […]

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    The Case for Professors of Stupidity

    Bertrand Russell’s quip prefigured the scientific discovery of a cognitive bias—the Dunning–Kruger effect—that has been so resonant that it has penetrated popular culture.Wikicommons On this past International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I reread a bit of Bertrand Russell. In 1933, dismayed at the Nazification of Germany, the philosopher wrote “The Triumph of Stupidity,” attributing the rise […]

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    Why Doing Good Makes It Easier to Be Bad

    Oscar Wilde, the famed Irish essayist and playwright, had a gift, among other things, for counterintuitive aphorisms. In “The Soul of Man Under Socialism,” an 1891 article, he wrote, “Charity creates a multitude of sins.” So perhaps Wilde wouldn’t have been surprised to hear of a series of recent scandals in the U.K.: The all-male […]

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    The Case Against Geniuses

    Once you’re called a “genius,” what’s left? Super genius? No, getting called a “genius” is the final accolade, the last laudatory label for anyone. At least that’s how several members of Mensa, an organization of those who’ve scored in the 98th percentile on an IQ test, see it. “I don’t look at myself as a […]

  • Bering_HERO

    Holding Hands with a Chimp

    How my suburban-hewn world-view was flipped on its head.

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    The Psychological Challenges of Just Getting to Mars

    Though space may be the quintessential I.C.E. environment, Musk appears to be aiming to make trips to Mars—aspirationally scheduled to commence in 2024—as far away from I.C.E.-y as possible.Photograph by NASA Life outside Earth has its own Hobbesian description: isolated, confined, and extreme—or I.C.E. “Space is the quintessential ICE environment,” according to a 2018 paper, published […]

  • Hart_HERO_FINAL

    Herbicide Is What’s for Dinner

    How the biggest farming practice you’ve never heard of is changing your food.

  • Pregnancy Changes Perception of Odors and Tastes

    Receptor modifies how mated fruit flies perceive polyamines.

  • Gillespie_HERO

    A Eulogy for a Cow

    How commodified animals die.

  • Ingenious_HERO

    Why We Still Need Monsters

    Stephen T. Asma on what haunts us.

  • Stewart_HERO

    12 Mind-Bending Perceptual Illusions

    Everyone loves a good optical illusion. Most people first come across them as kids, and are instantly transfixed. And most of us never quite outgrow them. Even cats seem to enjoy the occasional optical illusion! The good news, then, for humans and nonhumans alike, is that our illusions seem to be getting better over time. […]

  • A Study on Meter and Rhyme

    Language that is metrically regular to an unusual degree is not only found in poetry, but also in the language of rites and festive events, in preverbal infant-directed speech (IDS), in slogans, commercial ads, etc.

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    Why Forests Give You Awe

    When you walk in a tropical forest, the sheer abundance and variety of life can have a powerful and somewhat disorienting effect.Painting by Caspar David Friedrich (circa 1820-1821) / Wikicommons Can you remember the time when you first felt awe, that feeling of being in the presence of something immense and mind-blowing? The natural world—with […]

  •  Simonton_HERO

    Your IQ Matters Less Than You Think

    In studies of children and historical figures, IQ falls short as a measure of success.

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    Why Joel Osteen, “The Smiling Preacher,” Is So Darn Appealing

    Right out of the gate, Osteen is using three of Antonakis’ identified tactics: an animated voice, facial expressions, and gestures.Photograph by Cooper Neill / Getty It’s hard to quantify charisma, but by any measure Joel Osteen has some pretty impressive stats. Every week, the man some call “The Smiling Preacher,” draws an estimated 43,500 individuals […]

  • Jauhar_HERO

    A Cardiologist’s 9/11 Story

    From trauma to arrhythmia, and back again.

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    Why Nuclear Power Professionals Are Serious About Joking Around

    The Summer Games events often have a dark humor to them—they play around with nuclear disaster scenarios in ways outsiders might find jarring.Photograph by Stephen P. Weaver / Wikicommons In August 2013, Finland’s young nuclear professionals, under 35 years old, met up for the Summer Games in Mikkeli municipality, put on by the Finnish Nuclear […]

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    Many of Our Beliefs Are Unconscious: A Response to Nick Chater

    After a few years of driving, you are able to hold conversations while navigating a busy city. How is this possible without unconscious thought?Photograph by wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock Nick Chater has put forward a bold claim in his recent book, The Mind Is Flat, as well as in an article and interview in Nautilus: that […]

  • Berger_HERO

    This Man Says the Mind Has No Depths

    Nick Chater argues our brain is a storyteller, not a reporter from an inner world.

  • Chater_HERO

    There Is No Such Thing as Unconscious Thought

    A behavioral scientist unravels one of our most cherished conceptions.

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    Taking Another Person’s Perspective Doesn’t Help You Understand Them

    No moral advice is perfectly sound. The Golden Rule—do unto others as you would have them do unto you—is only as wise as the person following it. A more modern-sounding tip—take the perspective of others—can seem like an improvement. It was Dale Carnegie’s eighth principle in How to Win Friends and Influence People (it is […]

  • Miller_HERO

    Should You Tell Everyone They’re Honest?

    People try to live up to their labels.

  • Camille_HERO

    What a Russian Smile Means

    How culture and history make American and Russian smiles different.

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    Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness—But Time Just Might Do It

    A city’s pace of life was indeed “significantly related” to the physical, social, and psychological well-being of its inhabitants.Photograph by Neta Bartal / Flickr While on vacation in distant locales, people often find that time moves quite differently than in the places they’re used to. In the tropics, we settle into the grooves of “island […]

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    To Persuade Someone, Look Emotional

    Asked at the start of the final 1988 presidential debate whether he would support the death penalty if his wife were raped and murdered, Michael Dukakis, a lifelong opponent of capital punishment, quickly and coolly said no. It was a surprising, deeply personal, and arguably inappropriate question, but in demonstrating an unwavering commitment to his […]

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    The Psychological Challenges of Just Getting to Mars

    Though space may be the quintessential I.C.E. environment, Musk appears to be aiming to make trips to Mars—aspirationally scheduled to commence in 2024—as far away from I.C.E.-y as possible.Photograph by NASA Life outside Earth has its own Hobbesian description: isolated, confined, and extreme—or I.C.E. “Space is the quintessential ICE environment,” according to a new paper, […]

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    This Man Memorized a 60,000-Word Poem Using Deep Encoding

    Of man’s first disobedience, and the fruit of that forbidden tree,” John Basinger said aloud to himself, as he walked on a treadmill. “Of man’s first disobedience…” In 1992, at the age of 58, Basinger decided to memorize Paradise Lost, John Milton’s epic poem, as a form of mental activity while he was working out […]

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    The Case Against Geniuses

    Once you’re called a “genius,” what’s left? Super genius? No, getting called a “genius” is the final accolade, the last laudatory label for anyone. At least that’s how several members of Mensa, an organization of those who’ve scored in the 98th percentile on an IQ test, see it. “I don’t look at myself as a […]

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    How Social Media Exploits Our Moral Emotions

    The architecture of social media exploits our sense of right and wrong, reaping profit from the pleasure we feel in expressing righteous outrage.Photograph by Kitja Kitja / Shutterstock A few years ago, Justine Sacco, then the senior director of corporate communications at the holding company InterActiveCorp, tweeted about the nuisances of air-travel during a long, […]

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    How You Can Be a Less Politically Polarizing Person

    Partisanship doesn’t just affect moral and perceptual judgments—even cold, quantitative reasoning can’t escape its pull. A 2013 study showed that “people with high numeracy skills were unable to reason analytically when the correct answer collided with their political beliefs.”Image by Mushki Brichta / Wikicommons One night last month at Union Hall, a bar in Brooklyn, […]

  • Frank_HERO-F

    Can You Overdose on Happiness?

    The science and philosophy of deep brain stimulation.

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    You’re a Bad Judge of How Good-looking You Are

    Why are we such bad judges of how others see us? Epley’s answer is that other people are novices about us, while we’re experts.“The Green Mirror” (1911) by Guy Rose / Wikicommons There’s the full-body bedroom mirror, the bathroom mirror, and the trusty living-room mirror, the one closest to the front door—the last one I […]

  • Casual Sex May Be Improving America’s Marriages

    One-night stands and friends with benefits are just what your brain ordered.

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    The Problem with Mindfulness

    Should we be mindful of how popular “mindfulness” now is? Carl Erik Fisher says we should. Fisher is a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University and a practicing psychotherapist who integrates meditation in his practice, and meditates himself. But he worries some popular meditation practices, which stress salvation through a clear mind, undermine the […]

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    Why Forests Give You Awe

    Can you remember the time when you first felt awe, that feeling of being in the presence of something immense and mind-blowing? The natural world—with its domineering mountains, colossal trees, and tall waterfalls—is one of its main sources. I felt awe first when I was a young boy at the feet of the biggest tree […]

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    Why Doing Good Makes It Easier to Be Bad

    Oscar Wilde wouldn’t have been surprised to hear of a series of recent scandals in the U.K.

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    Here’s Why Our Postwar “Long Peace” Is Fragile

    Have mechanisms like democratization really fostered an enduring trend of peaceful co-existence, or is this just a statistical fluke—a normal interlude of relative calm before another global-scale conflagration?U.S. Postal Service / National Postal Museum / Bureau of Engraving and Printing / Wikicommons You could be forgiven for balking at the idea that our post-World War […]

  • Self_Curtain_HERO

    Self

    In thinking about this month’s issue, the question came up among staff: What interesting stories are out there that involve the self but do not involve people? We thought of many, everything from quantum particle self-energies to immune system foreign-body detection. As varied as they were, these stories shared something in common: A fraught definition […]

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    Why Is There So Much Hate for the Word “Moist”?

    A lot of people don’t like the word “moist.” Several Facebook groups are dedicated to it, one with over 3,000 likes, New Yorker readers overwhelmingly selected it as the word to eliminate from the dictionary, and Jimmy Fallon sarcastically thanked it for being the worst word in the English language. When you ask people why […]

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    Loneliness Is a Warning Sign to Be Social

    Loneliness spurs the brain into a hyper-vigilant state, unable to relax. The lonely brain doesn’t passively take the world in, but actively interprets it as an unfriendly place.“Nighthawks” (1942)  by Edward Hopper / Wikicommons In 2002, a group of adults aged 50 and over answered a series of questions about their physical and mental health. […]

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    If You Can’t Smell Him, Can You Love Him?

    Most people do not know or even think that they communicate via smell as well as through words, tone, or body language. Photograph by Hans Neleman / Getty Images What are the ingredients of a good relationship? Trust? Communication? Compromise? How about a sense of smell? When researchers in the United Kingdom surveyed almost 500 […]

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    How Hidden Social Contexts Influence Your Genetics

    Educational attainment has some qualitatively unique features that we’re going to have to be sensitive to when we attempt to study the genetics of it.Photograph by Joey Yee / Flickr What if a wound of yours, a pierced ear, say, healed at a different rate depending on who was around you? A 2017 study explored […]

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    What William James Got Right About Consciousness

    Is consciousness an instinct? When feeling at sea about definitions and meanings in the mind/brain business, it is always rewarding to dial up William James once again. More than 125 years ago, James wrote a landmark article simply titled “What Is an Instinct?” He wastes no time in defining the concept: Instinct is usually defined […]

  • Salk_HERO

    The Last Love of Jonas Salk

    The unusual union of a renowned artist and the discoverer of the Polio vaccine.

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    5 Reasons Why Humans Can’t Do Without Sports

    The importance of being playful is evident in how ancient the behavior is.Photograph by U.S. Air Force / Staff Sgt. Jannelle McRae Last year, more than 111 million people—about a third of the U.S. population—watched the Super Bowl. The numbers will likely be similar on Sunday: Devout football fans, and those watching their first N.F.L. […]

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    How My Ecstasy Trip Turned Into a Rare Anxiety Disorder

    A week after the concert, when my trip should’ve already been over, I was still seeing things. When I took my contacts out, the lights blurred into vast orbs, and hung in front of my eyes like Christmas lights.Photograph by Dimas Ardian / Getty Images When I was at the Firefly Music Festival in Delaware, […]

  • Damasio_HERO

    Why Your Biology Runs on Feelings

    Think feelings are important? You’re more right than you know.

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    Can PTSD Be Good for You?

    There’s no way to be sure what will traumatize someone, and not everyone exposed to “trauma” develops PTSD.Wikicommons You might think it insensitive or even offensive to ask whether PTSD could be good for someone. Who wants a disorder, let alone one caused by “post-traumatic stress”? Yet when Nautilus posed this question to Rachel Yehuda, […]

  • Hubert_HERO

    Autistic Prodigies Since “Rain Man”

    Our evolving understanding of “the engineer’s disease.”

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    The Secret Costs of Keeping Secrets

    After only 10 minutes of keeping their sexual identity a secret, participants performed worse on a test that required complex thinking than did participants who were not asked to conceal anything.Photograph by Sarah Horrigan / Flickr Keeping a secret can be hard work. It may seem relatively easy to avoid mentioning your friend’s surprise birthday […]

  •  Waldman_HERO

    What We Get Wrong About Dying

    A pediatric oncologist describes the lessons of his practice.

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    Collective Intelligence Will End Identity-based Politics

    It is possible to imagine, explore, and promote forms of consciousness that enhance awareness as well as dissolve the artificial illusions of self and separate identity.Photo illustration by Shane Taremi / Flickr The Canadian poet Dennis Lee once wrote that the consolations of existence might be improved if we thought, worked, and lived as though […]

  • Trust_HERO

    Trust

    Why save a drowning stranger? That’s the question biologist Rob Trivers asked at the beginning of his classic 1971 paper, “The evolution of reciprocal altruism.” The answer, he argued, is that it becomes worth it if you can have the expectation of being saved in the future. The population that selects for altruism and against […]

  • Segal_HERO

    The Resulting Fallacy Is Ruining Your Decisions

    Are you judging your decisions on their outcomes?

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    How Sex Perps Use Deny, Attack, and Reverse

    It’s important to give name to and recognize this phenomenon. Perpetrators of sexual violence—and any kind of wrongdoing—must not be allowed to continue to use DARVO (Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender) to hijack the truth.Photograph by Gage Skidmore / Wikicommons Last year, at a campaign rally, candidate Donald Trump denied that he had sexually […]

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    Yes, It Matters What You Wear to an Exam

    The formality of clothing might not only influence the way others perceive a person, and how people perceive themselves, but could influence decision making in important ways through its influence on cognitive processing style.Photograph by John Chillingworth / Getty Images In May 2015, an official vote was held by the Oxford University Student Union about […]

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    Make the Cosmic Perspective Your Next Coping Mechanism

    Contemplating cosmic history isn’t alienating; it’s affirming.Pexels I am often asked how I cope with the vast and seemingly incomprehensible abyss beyond Earth. As with modern politics, it’s thought that contemplating the cold, indifferent, cosmos—as I do for a living—can make us feel small, powerless, and unimportant: specks of dust flickering in the void for […]

  • Roberts_HERO-2

    How to Teach Science with Sugar and Cream

    High school teachers are bringing ice cream into the lab.

  • Fear_HERO-2

    How Evolution Designed Your Fear

    The universal grip of Stephen King’s personal terrors.

  • Zomorodi_HERO-F-3

    What Boredom Does to You

    The science of the wandering mind.

  • Ingenious_HERO

    Why We Still Need Monsters

    This month’s Ingenious, Stephen T. Asma, on what haunts us.

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    How Video Games Satisfy Basic Human Needs

    Psychologists found that video games that allowed players to play out their “ideal selves” (embodying roles that allow them to be, for example, braver, fairer, more generous, or more glorious) were not only the most intrinsically rewarding, but also had the greatest influence on our emotions.Illustration by Ferino Design / Flickr Grand Theft Auto, that […]

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    The Science Behind “Blade Runner”’s Voight-Kampff Test

    Is Rick Deckard a replicant, an advanced bioengineered being? The jury concerning the character in 1982’s Blade Runner is still out. Harrison Ford, who plays Deckard in the film, thinks he’s human. Ridley Scott, the film’s director, is adamant that he’s not.* Hampton Fancher, the screenwriter for the original film and the sequel, Blade Runner […]

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    Why Facebook Is the Junk Food of Socializing

    Have you ever been walking in a dark alley and seen something that you thought was a crouching person, but it turned out to be a garbage bag or something similarly innocuous? Me too. Have you ever seen a person crouching in a dark alley and mistaken it for a garbage bag? Me neither. Why […]

  • Yes, You Get Wiser with Age

    How the psychosocial dimension changes the picture of aging.

  • Asma_HERO

    Why Monster Stories Captivate Us

    Our brains are compelled by category violations.

  •  Solman_HERO

    The Perils of Letting Machines into the Hive Mind

    We think we know more than we do—including how machines will behave.

  • Marche_HERO-4

    How We Cope with the End of Nature

    As our environment crumbles, we seek solace in animatronic moose.

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    The Pernicious Myth of Willpower

    It turns out “willpower” is not a valid psychological construct.

  • King_HERO

    The Best Burger Place Is a Lab

    Growing meat cell by cell is better for your wallet and the world.

  • Barrett_HERO

    Emotional Intelligence Needs a Rewrite

    Think you can read people’s emotions? Think again.

  • Barrett_HERO

    Emotional Intelligence Needs a Rewrite

    Think you can read people’s emotions? Think again.

  • Gilbert_HERO

    Should You Feed Your Kid Probiotics?

    It’s not as simple as you think.

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    Impossibly Hungry Judges

    It is up to authors to interpret the effect size in their study, and to show the mechanism through which an effect that is impossibly large, becomes plausible.The Court by William Hogarth (circa 1758) I was listening to a recent Radiolab episode on blame and guilt, where the guest Robert Sapolsky mentioned a famous study on judges handing out […]

  • Sapolsky_HERO

    Why Your Brain Hates Other People

    And how to make it think differently.

  • Why You Can’t Help But Act Your Age

    The surprising relationship between mindset and getting old.

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    What Pushes a Person to Suicide?

    In a 2005 review, titled “Dissecting the suicide phenotype: The role of impulsive-aggressive behaviours,” Gustavo Turecki, an expert on suicide at McGill University, argues that impulsivity is a crucial aspect of suicide.Photograph by Andrew Toskin / Flickr One May day five years ago, an ambulance arrived for me. My eyes were twitching, hands shaking, thoughts […]

  • How Identity Ages

    It’s not just our flesh and bones that change as we get older.

  • The Pressures and Perks of Being a Thought Leader

    Barmy ideas can gain a foothold just because of the prominence of the person voicing them.

  • MIT_HERO

    Are You a Self-Interrupter?

    Distraction in the technology age.

  • The Advantages of the Compartmentalized Life

    How I avoid getting lost in the “what if”s of my life and focus on the lives of my cancer patients instead.

  • Lopata_HERO

    Pre-Conscious Humans May Have Been Like the Borg

    Does an alien race from Star Trek tell the story of human consciousness?

  • Cooper_HERO-1

    Why Poverty Is Like a Disease

    Emerging science is putting the lie to American meritocracy.

  • Katnelson-HERO

    What the Rat Brain Tells Us About Yours

    The evolution of animal models for neuroactive medicine.

  • Mariani_HERO-MAGA

    How Nostalgia Made America Great Again

    When the present looks bleak, we reach for a rose-tinted past.

  • Mariani_HERO-MAGA

    How Nostalgia Made America Great Again

    When the present looks bleak, we reach for a rose-tinted past.

  • Seigel_HERO

    Why You Feel the Urge to Jump

    The science and philosophy of looking down from a high place.

  • Pang_HERO-dickensnap

    Darwin Was a Slacker and You Should Be Too

    Many famous scientists have something in common—they didn’t work long hours.

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    The Case for More Intellectual Humility

    I can remember, almost a decade ago, when I was convinced out of my “Young-Earth” Creationism. It was almost a process of de-radicalization. During high school I was a generic Christian, but then some friends suggested I watch a video of a pastor online and, well, you can guess the rest. The message encouraged spreading […]

  • The Wisdom of the Aging Brain

    Tantalizing evidence suggests that brain activity shifts to increase wisdom as we age.

  • Hutson_HERO

    Why Power Brings Out Your True Self

    Are you a tyrant or a servant?

  • Larson_HERO-2

    This Is My Brain on Rock Climbing

    The neurology of dread and desire on Half Dome.

  • Larson_HERO-2

    In the Flow on Half Dome

    “I felt elated, alive. ‘Look where we are!’ I shouted. ‘This is crazy!’”

  • balance as sense_HERO

    We Should Count Balance As One of the Senses

    One Tuesday in January, a leather briefcase strung across my shoulder, I tramped through the damp campus of a large California university, looking for the classroom where I would lecture. The drizzle-mist common to the central coast in the winter months had left me wet and cold, so I stepped into the dining hall for […]

  • The Distracted Mind

    Multitasking, task switching, and continuous partial attention.

  • mouse meditation_HERO

    This Could Be a Way to Get the Benefits of Meditation Without Meditating

    It can seem like a Catch-22 is baked into the practice of meditation. It’s meant, among other things, to foster patience—but meditation also seems to require considerable patience to work. Or at least “mindfulness meditation” does. (There are many ways to meditate; the practice isn’t monolithic.) When I began to toy with it several years […]

  • lemur color_HERO

    What If Only Females Could See Color?

    Have you ever wondered how your life might be different if you could see beyond the visible light spectrum—into ultraviolet or infrared? For one thing, you might be immune, or less susceptible, to implicit racial bias. Inna Vishik, an applied physicist at U.C. Davis, says if you weren’t limited to the typical range of colors […]

  • Davie_HERO

    Why the Dark Side of the Force Had to Be Dark

    The innate meanings of color and intensity.

  • Osteen_HERO

    Why Joel Osteen, “The Smiling Preacher,” Is So Darn Appealing

    It’s hard to quantify charisma, but by any measure Joel Osteen has some pretty impressive stats. Every week, the man some call “The Smiling Preacher,” draws an estimated 43,500 individuals to his Lakewood Church, which he moved into a former professional basketball stadium just off Houston’s Highway 59 in 2005. Osteen’s weekly sermons are beamed […]

  • holding newspaper_HERO

    It’s Easy to Make Enemies of People We Only Read About

    Last week, Marco Rubio, a United States senator from Florida, found himself in an unfamiliar position. He felt compelled to remind his more senior colleagues in the Senate of the value of rational debate. Word of this didn’t really catch on until The Washington Post, two days later, ran the headline: “Marco Rubio just gave […]

  • love smarter_HERO

    Love Can Make You Smarter

    Love is supposed to make you stupid. We’re used to seeing the lover as a mooning fool, blind to his lover’s faults and the goings-on of the outside world, or even as a person who has lost all sense of rationality or propriety, driven to a kind of madness. There’s science to back this up: […]

  • Sedacca_HERO-2

    The Man Who Played with Absolute Power

    A chat with the creator of the Stanford Prison Experiment.

  • Piore_HERO-3

    The Anatomy of Charisma

    What makes a person magnetic and why we should be wary.

  • Lewis_HERO-1

    Bias in the ER

    Doctors suffer from the same cognitive distortions as the rest of us.

  • Hutson_HERO

    Does Depression Have an Evolutionary Purpose?

    Some psychologists believe suicide and depression can be strategic.

  • open mind lucky_HERO

    The Key to Good Luck Is an Open Mind

    Luck can seem synonymous with randomness. To call someone lucky is usually to deny the relevance of their hard work or talent. As Richard Wiseman, the Professor of Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, in the United Kingdom, puts it, lucky people “appear to have an uncanny ability to be in the […]

  • Fisher_HERO-1280X546-F

    Against Willpower

    Willpower is a dangerous, old idea that needs to be scrapped.

  • face cloud_HERO

    Why We Hear Voices in Random Noise

    You may have once seen a giant face in the clouds. Perhaps it took you aback, amused you, or maybe it prompted an “uncanny valley” kind of sensation—realness, but with a lingering unease. In any case, it’s not a modern phenomenon. It’s thought that a similar experience was shared by an early hominid approximately 3 […]

  • sailing superstition_HERO

    Even Scientists Act Superstitious at Sea

    To wish someone “good luck” is taboo aboard a ship. So are transporting bananas and whistling. But sighting a pod of dolphins can invite good fortune, I discovered last November, as I sailed 3,000 miles from Los Angeles to Honolulu. Wearing a gold hoop earring, I learned from one of my crewmates, who had one […]

  • moral luck_HERO

    How Considering False Histories Changes Our Moral Judgments

    Moral luck isn’t just a philosopher’s toy concept. It’s reflected in our legal system. Suppose that you and your roommate, Riley, get equally drunk and both drive home separately on similar routes. Let’s say both of you are equally skilled drivers but also equally impaired, and just by chance, you kill somebody crossing the street […]

  • Wald_HERO

    How to Be Lucky

    It pays to imagine your life is on a winning streak.

  • animal rescue_HERO

    How Animal Rescuers Are Burning Out Their Empathy

    No one likes to hear about the freezers full of euthanized animals. It’s an uncomfortable reality, but often animal rescue workers have no option but to kill sick or badly wounded animals—as humanely as possible. For these professionals and volunteers, administering euthanasia is a major contributor to compassion fatigue—the chronic stress that stems from extended […]

  • video games_HERO

    How Video Games Satisfy Basic Human Needs

    Grand Theft Auto, that most lavish and notorious of all modern videogames, offers countless ways for players to behave. Much of this conduct, if acted out in our reality, would be considered somewhere between impolite and morally reprehensible. Want to pull a driver from her car, take the wheel, and motor along a sidewalk? Go […]

  • hardwired heroism_HERO

    Hard-Wired for Heroism

    On August 21, 2015, Anthony Sadler, 23, a California college student, was riding a train from Amsterdam to Paris with his friends, Aleksander Skarlatos and Spencer Stone. Skarlatos was an Oregon National Guardsman on who had just wrapped up a tour in Afghanistan, and Stone, an American Airman 1st Class in the U.S. Air Force. […]

  • blaming 2016_HERO

    Why We Love to Blame 2016

    You may have noticed it by now: the—I guess I’ll call it an impulse—to anthropomorphize “2016.” It began gradually. First, we objectified it, likening it to a disturbing film, a force of nature, broken hardware. As Slate put it: In trying to wrap our heads around 2016’s all-reason-and-logic–defying onslaught of tragedy and absurdity, we objectified […]

  • west homework_HERO

    Attitude, Not Quantity, Makes Homework Effective

    A smile pulled the corner of Yú’s* mouth. “There is a saying in China,” she says. “‘No students compete. Parents compete.’” The polished Beijing native, who is both a mother and a grandmother, leaned forward with flawless posture as she reminisced about overseeing her son’s education. He was a brilliant student who graduated high school […]

  • lucy walking skeleton

    Why Are You So Smart? Thank Mom & Your Difficult Birth

      Looking around our planet today, it’s hard not to be struck by humanity’s uniqueness. We are the only species around that writes books, runs experiments, and builds skyscrapers. Our intelligence must have also been useful when we were evolving—presumably it helped us to be better hunters and avoid being hunted ourselves, for instance. Perhaps […]

  • Irwin_HERO

    Video Games Are Changing the Hero

    This is what happens when we can occupy our heroes’ bodies.

  • generous testosterone_HERO

    Testosterone Can Make Men Feel Generous

    Testosterone gets a pretty bad reputation. It’s been long known as the hormone of aggression. In his 1998 book, The Trouble With Testosterone: And Other Essays on the Biology of the Human Predicament, the neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky writes, “What evidence links testosterone with aggression? Some pretty obvious stuff”: Males tend to have more testosterone than […]

  • It May Not Feel Like Anything To Be an Alien

    consciousness.

  • mensa logo_HERO

    How a Genius Is Different from a Really Smart Person

    The most intelligent two percent of people in the world. These are the people who qualify for membership in Mensa, an exclusive international society open only to people who score at or above the 98th percentile on an IQ or other standardized intelligence test. Mensa’s mission remains the same as when it was founded in […]

  • internet troll_HERO

    The True Nature of an Internet Troll

    Although the phrase “to troll” only recently entered the mainstream lexicon—partially thanks to the rise in popularity of online discussion forums like 4chan and Reddit, as well as massive multiplayer online games—trolling dates back to chatrooms in the ‘80s. Back then, “trolls” referred to online instigators of disparaging and, essentially, pointless arguments, or “flamewars.” Nowadays, […]

  • Marsa_HERO

    Sick for Attention

    Meet five Munchausen patients who went to desperate lengths to fake illness.

  • Watson_HERO-F

    Catch Us If You Can

    We like impostor stories because we’re afraid we’re impostors ourselves.

  • false story_HERO

    Why Do We Get Transported by Stories We Know Aren’t True?

    In Jasper Fforde’s lighthearted “Thursday Next” series of books, people can use a “prose portal” to enter the world of a book, to change the plot or kidnap a character. The prose portal is an imaginative metaphor for a familiar experience: feeling taken away by a narrative, sucked into a good book so that we […]

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    You Can Have Emotions You Don’t Feel

    What does it mean to have an emotion? It seems obvious that having one means feeling it. If you’re happy but don’t know it, in what sense could you actually be happy? Such reasoning seemed sound to William James. Conscious feeling, he thought, was precisely what distinguished the emotions from other mental states, like desire. […]

  • white cop_HERO

    Can Training Help People Un-learn a Lifetime of Racial Bias?

    In the 1990s, the block I lived on in New York City was chaotic and seedy. From my window, I’d witnessed many drug deals, one stabbing, and the aftermath of one shooting. The mayhem escalated dramatically on the Fourth of July, when it was a good idea to stay somewhere else for the night. But […]

  • Sapolsky_HERO

    To Understand Facebook, Study Capgras Syndrome

    This mental disorder gives us a unique insight into the digital age.

  • Greco_HERO

    There Are No True Rebels

    We follow others no matter how hard we try.

  • left right frame_HERO

    Framing the World in Terms of “Left” and “Right” Is Stranger Than You Think

    Sometimes it’s the simplest studies that reveal how deeply culture shapes our thinking. Take a 2009 experiment involving only a researcher, a child, and a two-word instruction.1 The researcher announces, “Let’s dance!” and demonstrates a series of movements: He holds his hands together at eye level and extends them—first to the left, then to the […]

  • Vanderbilt_HERO

    How to Choose Wisely

    From Yelping to dating, there’s a better way.

  • Vanderbilt_HERO

    How to Choose Wisely

    From Yelping to dating, there’s a better way.

  • meerkats eating scorpions

    Social Learning in Nature Is Ubiquitous

    In 1898, American psychologist Edward Thorndike published a seminal dissertation on animal intelligence. Thorndike, then at Columbia University, had spent hours experimenting with cats and special contraptions of his own design: puzzle boxes, confined spaces the cats could only escape by, for example, pawing at levers in order to trigger a release mechanism. Once out, […]

  • Svoboda_HERO-still.

    The Problem with Modern Romance Is Too Much Choice

    Are we happier with few or many choices? One subject settles the debate—dating.

  • Paliwal_HERO

    Beyond Sexual Orientation

    Sexual fluidity is a challenge to both traditional and alternative sexual narratives.

  • Paliwal_HERO

    Beyond Sexual Orientation

    Sexual fluidity is a challenge to both traditional and alternative sexual narratives.

  • O'Connor_HERO-3

    For Kids, Learning Is Moving

    Children’s brain development is fueled when they find their own way.

  • Velasquez-Manoff_HERO

    Hallucinogen Therapy Is Coming

    How shrooms can spring people from fears and destructive habits.

  • Neilson_HERO2

    A Mental Disease by Any Other Name

    For Frank Russell, reinterpreting his schizophrenia as shamanism helped his symptoms.

  • Jerk_HERO-F

    How to Tell If You’re a Jerk

    If you think everyone around you is terrible, the joke may be on you.

  • Drudge spacebrain hero

    How Outer Space Dulls an Astronaut’s Mind

    On a wet Wednesday in June, 1783, the first hot air balloon lifted into the sky in the French city of Annonay. It travelled three thousand feet into the air and was carried aloft for nearly two miles, eventually touching down in a vineyard. It flew empty; safety wasn’t a guarantee. A couple of months […]

  • Krakauer Hero 733x550

    Will A.I. Harm Us? Better to Ask How We’ll Reckon With Our Hybrid Nature

    Little Lewis, my son, I see some evidence that you have the ability to learn science, number and proportions, and I recognize your special desire to learn about the astrolabe… — Chaucer’s Astrolabe Treatise, 1391. At what point did we create an artificial intelligence? Was it when we first chiseled on rocks the memory of […]

  • Vanderbilt_Youtube_HERO

    Why We Love How-to Videos

    Instructional videos can teach us anything—especially if you watch them this way.

  • Vanderbilt_Youtube_HERO

    Why We Love How-to Videos

    Instructional videos can teach us anything—especially if you watch them this way.

  • Ball_HERO

    Cursive Handwriting and Other Education Myths

    Teaching cursive handwriting doesn’t have nearly the value we think it does.

  • fiji rugby_HERO

    Rooting for the Favorite Is a Sign of Social Dominance

    Over the first week of the Rio Olympics, an ancient narrative played out in the men’s rugby sevens tournament. Rising through a field of 12, the Fiji national team dispatched powerhouses New Zealand and Great Britain on its way to a gold medal, the first of any kind for the small South Pacific nation. Having […]

  • manuel gold_HERO

    How Stereotypes Slow Athletes Down

    When Simone Manuel received the gold for the women’s 100-meter freestyle swim at the Rio Olympics in early August, the win represented more than just the culmination of Manuel’s many years of training and a victory for her country. It was a triumph over long-held racist stereotypes that black people are poor swimmers. Manuel was […]

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    Why the Best Athletes All Have Their Own #PhelpsFace

    On the second day of the Rio Olympics, American swimmer Michael Phelps won his 19th gold medal (he would go on to win four more), becoming the world’s most decorated Olympic athlete. The next day, Phelps revealed that he also has what may be the world’s best game face. While waiting for a semifinal race, […]

  • mental sword_HERO

    Just Imagining a Workout Can Make You Stronger

    I bet when you woke up this morning, even before you opened your eyes, you knew where all of your limbs were. You didn’t have to look at, or try moving them, to feel their presence. This is because you have the power of proprioception (it’s also sometimes called “kinesthesis”). Because it’s a sense, just […]

  • rio cycling_HERO

    Distraction Can Make You a Faster Cyclist

    In the slightly surreal yet decidedly wonderful 2003 animated film The Triplets of Belleville, three drugged cyclists pedal stationary bikes on-stage in a theatre while French mafia types bet on which of them will win their “race”—as they pedal, they gaze at film of a road course projected onto a screen in front of them, […]

  • Pilon_HERO

    Sports Hooliganism Comes Down to a Fear of Death

    Fan riots are sparked by terrible insights that the Grim Reaper is winning.

  • Pilon_HERO

    What Lurks Behind Rabid Sports Fandom?

    Hooliganism comes down to a fear of death.

  • Barth_HERO-2

    The Unique Neurology of the Sports Fan’s Brain

    Why we get off on the game—and are better off for it.

  • McKinnon_HERO

    The Strange Brain of the World’s Greatest Solo Climber

    Alex Honnold doesn’t experience fear like the rest of us.

  • coffee pringles_HERO

    How Sound Can Make Food Taste Better

    When you consider the earthy aroma of a cup of cappuccino or the salty tang of a potato chip, you may overlook the sounds they make as you savor them. The glug-glug of coffee as it’s poured into your mug, the crackle of the chip on your teeth, even any music playing in the background—these […]

  • Davies_BR-dreams

    Your Terrifying Dreams Could Be Rehearsal for Real Life

    Once, I dreamed I was at a man’s funeral. According to the deceased’s instructions, each of his toes were to be buried in tiny, individual coffins. When I woke up, I wondered, “What could it mean?” According to some neuroscience research on dreams, like that of the Harvard psychiatrist Allan Hobson, the coffined toes might […]

  • nighthaw_hero

    Loneliness Is a Warning Sign to Be Social

    In 2002, a group of adults aged 50 and over answered a series of questions about their physical and mental health. A subset of the questions went as follows. How often do you feel … 1) A lack of companionship 2) Left out 3) Isolated from others The adults rated their answers on a scale […]

  • contemplating future_HERO

    Be Happier By Knowing Your Future Self

    Aren’t you positively brimming with joy, now that winter has gone? No? Me neither. Yet several months ago, I couldn’t wait for the Ottawa snow to melt and spring to start. Now that it’s here, though, I can’t really tell what I thought was so exciting. This is because when we imagine the future—like how […]

  • Lipsitz_HERO

    The Real Secret of Youth Is Complexity

    Our physiological processes become increasingly simple as we age.

  • fallen angel_HERO

    This Man Memorized a 60,000-Word Poem Using Deep Encoding

    Of man’s first disobedience, and the fruit of that forbidden tree,” John Basinger said aloud to himself, as he walked on a treadmill. “Of man’s first disobedience…” In 1992, at the age of 58, Basinger decided to memorize Paradise Lost, John Milton’s epic poem, as a form of mental activity while he was working out […]

  • ayahuasca_HERO

    This Is Spock’s Favorite Psychedelic

    One chilly spring night in early March, I went to the Rubin Museum of Art, in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood. The Rubin, according to its website, “provides immersive experiences that encourage personal discoveries and spark new ways of seeing the world.” I was there for a “Brainwave” event, a conversation series nine-years running, in […]

  • Mitteldorf_HERO-3

    Why Aging Isn’t Inevitable

    The great variety of aging styles among plants and animals suggests it can be controlled.

  • Steinsaltz_HERO

    Will 90 Become The New 60?

    As our lifespans have increased, so too have our active years. Can that go on?

  • holding illusion_HERO

    This Man Wants Magic to Be a Branch of Psychology

    In his rather untidy office at Goldsmiths, University of London, the cheerful and vaguely rumpled Gustav Kuhn grabs what looks like a wire-frame pyramid off of an otherwise empty shelf. Holding it gently, his Swiss-English accent crackling over our transatlantic Skype connection, he says, “I tried to investigate pyramid power—the idea was that you could […]

  • Ingenious_Lane_HERO

    Ingenious: Nick Lane

    The biochemist explains the elements of life, sex, and aging.

  • Peterson_HERO

    Can a Cat Have an Existential Crisis?

    Treating my cat for depression caused me to question the state of anxiety in animals and us.

  • Dark Humor_HERO

    When Does Dark Humor Stop Being Funny?

    In either ninth or tenth grade, my friend Dan and I found a book of “Truly Tasteless Jokes” on the cafeteria floor. Our teenage psyches were quickly mesmerized, and we spent the majority of lunch reading it cover to cover. I laughed at one dead baby joke in particular (which I can’t repeat here). It […]

  • cultural happiness hero

    Happiness Is About Living the Good Life—However You Define It

    The American dream is a self-oriented one. Fulfilling it means getting everything you want out of life. But it is not necessarily a call to live selfishly. It is a call to sanctify what you can achieve and desire—to ennoble the pursuit of happiness. This way of understanding happiness—getting what you want—is hardly unique to […]

  • Ericsson_HERO-2

    Not All Practice Makes Perfect

    Moving from naive to purposeful practice can dramatically increase performance.

  • Weir_HERO-7

    Parents Shouldn’t Spy on Their Kids

    Apps that make it easy to invade kids’ privacy are a recipe for arrested development.

  • waytz_HERO

    No, You Can’t Feel Sorry for Everyone

    The idea of empathy for all ignores the limits of human psychology.

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    No, You Can’t Feel Sorry for Everyone

    The idea of empathy for all ignores the limits of human psychology.

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    Why Revolutionaries Love Spicy Food

    How the chili pepper got to China.

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    What It’s Like Being a Sudden Savant

    Before her accident Heather Thompson was, by any measure, very successful. She lived just outside Seattle’s urban sprawl, was a CEO and a nationally respected business strategist, married, and had a two-year-old daughter. “I was at the pinnacle of my career,” she said. Then, on March 6, 2011, Thompson went to the grocery store and, […]

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    How to Avoid Empathy Burnout

    Caregivers can benefit by understanding a patient’s pain without feeling it themselves.

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    Yes, It Matters What You Wear to an Exam

    In May 2015, an official vote was held by the Oxford University Student Union about clothing policy. It was over whether to keep “subfusc,” a traditional uniform dating back to the mid-seventeenth century—comprised of a dark suit or skirt, black shoes, white shirt, and a white or black bow tie or ribbon—mandatory for exams. The […]

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    When You Listen to Music, You’re Never Alone

    Technology hasn’t diminished the social quality of listening to music.

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    Here’s Why People Are Obsessed With Mugshot Hotties

    On June 18, 2014, a photo of a very handsome, no-name man was posted on the Web. Within 48 hours, it garnered 62,000 “Likes” on Facebook and became a media spectacle. Today, the Like count is up to almost 102,000, and the photo is still attracting comments. But thousands of pictures of highly attractive people […]

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    How to Learn to Love to Practice

    Is there a secret to staying in the zone?

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    Curiosity Depends on What You Already Know

    We seek novelty, but not too much.

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    When Dating Algorithms Can Watch You Blush

    The next generation of dating algorithms will use real-life interactions.

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    Am I Ugly?

    What science says about my outer beauty.

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    The Neuroscience of Wine

    Why our minds can be led astray about the tastes of wines.

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    Why the Teenage Brain Isn’t Built for Solitary Confinement

    Johnny Perez was 16-years old when he was arrested for gun possession and admitted to Riker’s Island. Within months, he did his first round of solitary confinement: 60 days in a 60 square-foot cell. The punishment was for fighting to use the telephone. Between the pushups, the jumping jacks, and the officers taunting him, the […]

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    Why We Swim in Quarries

    The powerful allure of the deep azure.

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    How Where You Are or What You’re Doing Alters Your Sense of Time

    maradon 333/Shutterstock How we think of time can lead to some odd results. For example, imagine your co-worker says next Wednesday’s meeting has been moved forward two days. When is the meeting going to be held? Your response can be predicted by how you see your relationship to time. If you see time flowing toward […]

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    Our Conflicted Feelings For R2-D2

    Lucas’ droids are halfway between human and inhuman, so we can both love and ignore them.

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    Our Conflicted Feelings For R2-D2

    Lucas’ droids are halfway between human and inhuman, so we can both love and ignore them.

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    Men Are Better At Maps Until Women Take This Course

    A bit of education can erase a definitive cognitive gap between men and women.

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    How to Survive Solitary Confinement

    An ex-convict on how to set your mind free.

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    Personal Space Is a Fear Response

    Rommel Canlas/Shutterstock Edward Hall, an American anthropologist, first defined “personal space” in the mid-1900s, when he noticed that its size varied widely from culture to culture: Southern Europeans and Latin Americans, for example, were “closer talkers”, while Northern Europeans and North Americans were more stand-offish. Personal space, Hall surmised, was a form of social communication, […]

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    A Vaccine for Depression?

    Ketamine’s remarkable effect bolsters a new theory of mental illness.

  • Scully-HERO-4

    You Can “Catch” Stress Through a TV Screen

    Couch potatoes beware—characters in distress are hazardous to your health.

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    When Destructive Behavior Makes Biological Sense

    For people raised in chaos, risk-taking is hardwired.

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    What Happens When You Can’t Talk to Yourself?

    How a missing inner monologue affects the sense of self.

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    Why We’re Patriotic

    Whether it’s our country or our football team, we need to belong.

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    Identity Is an Inside Joke

    Why you laugh with your friends.

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    Why Virtual Classes Can Be Better Than Real Ones

    An engineering professor takes online-course critics to school.

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    How Many Real Friends Can You Have at Once?

    My wife can’t seem to walk for a half-hour around Ottawa, a city with nearly a million people, without running into at least three of her friends. Some people, like my wife, seem to have a zillion of them, while others appear to be content with just a handful. Having more friends seems like a […]

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    What Technology Can’t Change About Happiness

    As pills and gadgets proliferate, what matters is still social connection.

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    Why Futurism Has a Cultural Blindspot

    We predicted cell phones, but not women in the workplace.

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    Why You’re Biased About Being Biased

    In a classic experiment in 1953, students spent an hour doing repetitive, monotonous tasks, such as rotating square pegs a quarter turn, again and again. Then the experimenters asked the students to persuade someone else that this mind-numbing experience was in fact interesting. Some students got $1 ($9 today) to tell this fib while others […]

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    Read the Lost Dream Journal of the Man Who Discovered Neurons

    An exclusive look at the dreams Santiago Ramon y Cajal recorded to prove Freud was wrong.

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    Why Ancient Greeks Might Have Had Much Different Colors Than We Do

    As a philosopher who studies the meaning of color, Mazviita Chirimuuta is well aware that philosophy can easily get stuck on that topic. In her recent book, Outside Color, Chirimuuta tries to move beyond one of the major hang-ups when thinking about color, arguing that the property should be defined not by the world outside or inside […]

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    What Color Is This Song?

    Test your inner synesthesia.

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    The Girl Who Smelled Pink

    A mother wonders if we are all born with synesthesia.

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    The Colors We Eat

    Food color does more than guide us—it changes the experience of taste.

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    The Tricks Used by Pilots, Surgeons & Engineers to Overcome Human Error

    When Germanwings Flight 4U9525 crashed into the French Alps in March it did not take investigators long to determine the likely reason: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had allegedly been suffering from depression and may have crashed the plane as a means to commit suicide, taking hundreds of people along with him. But that doesn’t tell the […]

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    The Simple Logical Puzzle That Shows How Illogical People Are

    In the 1960s, the English psychologist Peter Wason devised an experiment that would revolutionize his field. This clever puzzle, known as the “Wason selection task,” is often claimedto be “the single most investigated experimental paradigm in the psychology of reasoning,” in the words of one textbook author. Wason was a funny and clever man and […]

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    The Bugs in Our Mindware

    Many obstacles lie on the path to rational thought.

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    PTSD: The Wound That Never Heals

    Coming back to life after losing my first child.

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    Why Does Mass Hysteria Affect Mostly Women?

      In 2012, in Le Roy, New York, four cheerleaders developed Tourette’s-like symptoms, which eventually spread to 13 others. In 2011, nearly 2,000 female factory workers fainted on the job in factories throughout Cambodia. In 1962, laughing fits took over half the population of an all-girls school in a village in East Africa. In 1560 […]

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    Fear in the Cockpit

    The tragic plane crash in Taipei was the result of mechanical and psychological failures.

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    Why Do People Have Such Strong Feelings for the Portland Airport’s Carpet?

    A typical view of the Portland airport’s old carpet on social mediaMichael Morgan via Flickr “Take a pic of your feet on the carpet,” texted my sister. I had just landed in Portland, Oregon, to visit my siblings, and was walking to the airport exit. Autocorrect must have made a mistake, I thought. Yet I […]

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    5 Languages That Could Change the Way You See the World

    I went to my neighbor’s house for something to eat yesterday. Think about this sentence. It’s pretty simple—English speakers would know precisely what it means. But what does it actually tell you—or, more to the point, what does it not tell you? It doesn’t specify facts like the subject’s gender or the neighbor’s, or what […]

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    Why Your Brain Hates Slowpokes

    The high speed of society has jammed your internal clock.

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    The Death of Hundreds Is Just a Statistic—But It Doesn’t Have to Be

    Imagine that tomorrow I were to show you a newspaper article describing a deadly wildfire. Do you think you’d be more upset upon reading that 10,000 people died than if you read that five people died? This scenario makes people engage in affective forecasting—predicting their future emotional states. We expect that hearing about 10,000 deaths […]

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    Goodbye, Turing Test; Bring on the Turing Decathlon

    A statue of Alan Turing by sculptor Stephen Kettle made entirely of pieces of slate. The statue depicts Turing working on an Enigma machine, which the Nazis used to encode messages, and is located at Bletchley Park, the British-government site where Turing and colleagues did their code-breaking. Photo by Richard Gillin via Flickr How many […]

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    How ISIS Broke My Questionnaire

    I felt the impact of an attack by the terrorist group. So why didn’t my research data?

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    New Year’s Resolutions and the Science of Willpower

    The “marshmallow experiment” has become a famous way to measure the self-control of children. (This is a version of the test made for entertainment, not research, purposes.) Every year since 1988, my friend Lou and I have picked a New Year’s resolution together. We meticulously keep to each promise for exactly one year. The 2014 […]

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    How “Meaning Withdrawal,” aka Boredom, Can Boost Creativity

    Two Ironing WomenEdward Degas In his book Boredom: A Lively History, an oxymoronic title if ever there was one, Peter Toohey argues that the eponymous feeling has plagued our species since ancient times. “Boredom is a universal experience, and it’s been felt in most eras,” says Toohey, a professor of Greek and Roman studies at […]

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    How the Obits Became My Muse

    The unusual lives of a physicist and an aviator, in verse and song.

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    Take Two Hikes and Call Me in the Morning

      One hundred sixty years ago, Henry David Thoreau published his magnum opus, Walden. In it he detailed his time spent living alongside nature in a cabin adjacent to Walden Pond. In one of the book’s emblematic lines, Thoreau wrote, “We can never have enough of nature.” He believed that it was a “tonic” for us. […]

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    The New Way to Save Money: Playing the Lottery

    Chris Goldberg via Flickr Lotteries have often been called a tax on the poor and, alternately, a tax on the innumerate. There is something to both claims: Lottery tickets are disproportionately bought by lower-income people, and in aggregate the players win back only a small percentage of the money spent on tickets. Overall, lotteries suck […]

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    When Does a Consciousness Test Not Test for Consciousness?

    A pigeon looks at its reflection in the mirror. It sees a blue dot on the reflection’s breast. It reaches down and pecks at the dot on its own breast. This is the classic behavior required for passing the “mirror test,” an influential experiment used to test for self-awareness in animals. Chimpanzees became the first […]

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    Why Are We So Obsessed With Mugshot Hotties?

    On June 18, a photo of a very handsome man was posted on the Web. It wasn’t intended to “break the Internet” Kardashian-style, but that’s pretty much what happened, if only on a slightly smaller scale. Within 48 hours, the portrait garnered 62,000 “Likes” on Facebook and became an online spectacle. Today the Like count […]

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    How Star Trek May Show the Emergence of Human Consciousness

    The Borg capture Captain Jean-Luc Picard and turn him into Locutus, all but erasing his previous identity.CBS   Captain Picard: “How do we reason with them, let them know that we are not a threat?” Guinan: “You don’t. At least, I’ve never known anyone who did.” With this brief, ominous exchange, the heroes of Star […]

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    How Your Brain Gaslights You—for Your Own Good

    Nailia Schwarz via Shutterstock Runners can tell you that sometimes the last mile of a run seems to feel dramatically longer than the first. This perceptual distortion isn’t limited to brains addled by exercise—it’s a consistent feature of our minds.   When we look at the world, it certainly feels like we’re seeing things as […]

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    How to Avoid the Desperate Future of “Interstellar”

    In 2011 America’s astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, was on Real Time with Bill Maher discussing the proposed termination of NASA’s James Webb Telescope, which the House Appropriations Committee had decried as “billions of dollars over budget and plagued by poor management.” Tyson went on to deliver what is now one of his most famous quotes:   […]

  • Svaboda_HERO

    Why You Keep Dreaming About Being Naked

    Are the common elements in our dreams the result of basic biology, or something deeper?

  • Moon_HERO

    Your Brain Can’t Handle the Moon

    How the moon stirs tension between your conscious and subconscious minds.

  • Moon_HERO

    Your Brain Can’t Handle the Moon

    How the moon stirs tension between your conscious and subconscious minds.

  • Simonton_HERO-1

    If You Think You’re a Genius, You’re Crazy

    Both geniuses and madmen pay attention to what others ignore.

  • Oakley_HERO

    How I Rewired My Brain to Become Fluent in Math

    Sorry, education reformers, it’s still memorization and repetition we need.

  • Beato_HERO

    How To Waste Time Properly

    The right distractions boost creativity.

  • Opar_Zhu_HERO

    Why We Procrastinate

    We think of our future selves as strangers.

  • Crist_HERO

    Postcards From the Edge of Consciousness

    Sensory deprivation goes from CIA torture manuals to a yoga studio near you.

  • Crist_HERO

    Postcards From the Edge of Consciousness

    Sensory deprivation goes from CIA torture manuals to a yoga studio near you.

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    How Does Flying Feel on the Other Side of the Cockpit Door?

    Turbulence in the wing vortex produced by an airplaneNASA Langley Research Center (NASA-LaRC) via Wikipedia In many of the times we encounter turbulence in our lives, it is preceded by a calmly worded warning from above. “Uh, folks, we may hit a few bumps,” a pilot announces over the plane’s PA system—or something to that […]

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    Are You Resilient?

    Take this quiz and learn the keys to bouncing back.

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    Can You Die From a Broken Heart?

    What happens to our bodies when the bonds of love are breached.

  • Sapolsky_HERO

    Dude, Where’s My Frontal Cortex?

    There’s a method to the madness of the teenage brain.

  • Sapolsky_HERO

    Dude, Where’s My Frontal Cortex?

    There’s a method to the madness of the teenage brain.

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    Was the Golden Rule Born in the Mind of a Monkey?

    As economic inequality increased in many wealthy nations in recent years, a debate has developed around the question of whether inequality is bad for national economies—and bad for their citizens. A captivating video clip of monkey behavior (see below), taken from a 2011 TED talk by primatologist Frans de Waal, has become a surprising piece of […]

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    What Do Animals See in a Mirror?

    A controversial test for self-awareness is dividing the animal kingdom.

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    Want to Get Out Alive? Follow the Ants

    Ants show that emergency exits can work better when they’re obstructed.

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    Found: The World’s Favorite Number

    Ecelop via Shutterstock Go ahead, admit it. Like a lot of people, you have a favorite number. Maybe you’re not as extreme as Sheldon Cooper, the arch-nerd character on television’s Big Bang Theory, who loves the number 73: “73 is the 21st prime number, its mirror 37 is the 12th and its mirror 21 is […]

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    Colleges Want Students with Character, But Can’t Measure It

    SATs are on their way out, but new tests aren’t quite ready.

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    Secret Military Test, Coming Soon to Your Spanish Class

    A powerful, precise language aptitude test is entering civilian life.

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    The Ancient, Peaceful Art of Self-Generated Hallucination

    Cornelia Kopp via Flickr After five years of practicing meditation, subject number 99003 began to see the lights. “My eyes were closed,” he reported, “[and] there would be what appeared to be a moon-shaped object in my consciousness directly above me, about the same size as the moon if you lay down on the ground […]

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    How a Rubber Hand Can Help Fight Racial Bias

    maxstockphoto via Shutterstock I am a light-skinned woman, I grew up in the Southern United States, and I harbor negative stereotypes about dark-skinned people. I dislike this about myself. I would like to pretend that this is not true, but I have proof. About 15 years ago I found myself making a stop for gas […]

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    Why Is the Merger Called Mayonnaise Loved—& Hated—so Deeply?

    While a strong trend in the culinary arts has been to let individual, natural ingredients shine through, one food has quietly come to dominate the retail market by merging a group of incongruous ingredients together. Mayonnaise, that familiar white goop hiding in your sandwich and coleslaw, is officially the most valuable condiment in the nation. […]

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    Is It Normal to Hoard?

    Hoarding shows us at our best, and worst.

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    Trying Not to Try

    Modern science and Chinese philosophy tell us similar stories about how we think.

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    Want Fungus in That? Our Delicious & Useful Rotten Foods

    Imagine a bowl of half-cooked beans coated in a layer of fibrous, white mold. Dotted across the surface of the mold are little black and blue spores. It smells faintly of ammonia. Sound appetizing? It might seem too much like the remnants of last week’s edamame, but that moldy bean cake, or tempeh, is a […]

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    Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness, But Time Just Might Do It

    While on vacation in distant locales, people often find that time moves quite differently than in the places they’re used to. In the tropics, we settle into the grooves of “island time” and relax thanks to a more leisurely rhythm. A trip to a big city can leave us exhilarated but also drained by the […]

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    The Pleasure and Pain of Speed

    Are we willing to speed our lives up indefinitely?

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    The Powerful Emotional Pull of Old Video Games

    Patrick Gensel via Flickr Lately I’ve been hearing a kind of spectral music in the background of my daily life. It’s a syncopated, repeating MIDI ditty that conjures a feeling of excitement and invigorating challenge. I recently recognized it, and in the process experienced an intense wave of nostalgia. It’s the battle theme from the […]

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    Not-So-Sweet Home: The Persistence of Domestic Violence

    Zurijeta via Shutterstock The home is in many ways the basic unity of society, a bastion of shelter and family bonds. It is the means by which the social order is reproduced and the context in which children are brought into the world. Yet for millions of women, children, and men, all over the world, home […]

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    Best of 2013: How to Waste Time Properly

    The right distractions can boost creativity.

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    At Home in the Liminal World

    Living in transition, between cultures, we are discovering who we are.

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    What Virtual Reality Teaches Us About Home

    We don’t like cookie-cutter suburbs, but we buy there anyway.

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    Education Is a Waste of Effort—But It Doesn’t Have to Be

    In the nearly 25 years that I spent in school, I produced countless term papers, exams, and presentations, nearly all of which of no value to anyone else. And that goes for most of the 20 million or so college and graduate students currently pursuing higher education in the United States. They produce thousands of […]

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    The Science of Gratitude

    New research suggests saying thanks regularly can benefit your health.

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    How To Waste Time Properly

    The right distractions can boost creativity.

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    Misdeeds & Disease: How Similar Are Disgust & Moral Disgust?

    Feliciano Guimaraes via Flickr The news earlier this fall that chemical weapons had been used in Syria’s civil was seen as a new low in that conflict. Many people condemned their use as “disgusting”; President Obama, making the case for a military response, said the images from the attack were “sickening.” Moral outrage sometimes demands […]

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    The Secret Costs of Keeping Secrets

    Sarah Horrigan via Flickr Keeping a secret can be hard work. It may seem relatively easy to avoid mentioning your friend’s surprise birthday party or your co-worker’s recent breakup, but concealing even trivial information, let alone important things, can be exhausting. When keeping a secret, we have to constantly monitor what we say to make […]

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    Cracking the Social Code

    New approaches are helping autistic people understand “neurotypicals”—and vice versa.

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    Safecracking the Brain

    What neuroscience is learning from code-breakers and thieves.

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    Secrets That Won’t Rest

    A family therapist uncovers the cost of keeping silent.

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    What’s the Sound of Personhood?

    Opening locked minds with music.

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    When Hackers Fight

    A leet hacker recounts an epic pwning.

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    Teaching Me Softly

    Machine learning is teaching us the secret to teaching.

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    Drop-Dead Famous

    If we are to learn how to die, we need teachers.

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    Why Everyone Thinks They’re Safer Than Average

    It’s an odd quirk of the human mind that we tend to think we’re less likely to be affected a particular threat—be it the flu, a car accident, or a flood—than anyone else. Like the fictional town of Lake Wobegon, where all the children are above average, this is a patent impossibility: Everyone can’t be […]

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    Ingenious: Jim Davies

    How the unlikely drives imagination.

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    Depth Perception & Death Prevention: Babies’ Visual Instinct

    We humans take a lot for granted. Pizza delivery, email, smartphones, dishwashers. All of this occurs in the background, making our lives simpler. None of it requires any explicit effort. Our minds also do a lot of subconscious work that we take for granted. Have you ever seriously thought about how you know that the […]

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    Two Good Ways to Really *Get* the Solar System

    The Sun is one busy celestial body. In addition to giving us light, holding the solar system together, and providing the energy for almost every living thing on Earth, it’s also a grapefruit in a grass field in Austin, Texas, and a 50-foot yellow archway in northern Maine. Now, obviously this huge mass of incandescent gas […]

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    Why Do We Get Transported by Stories We Know Are False?

    In Jasper Fforde’s lighthearted “Thursday Next” series of books, people can use a “prose portal” to enter the world of a book, to change the plot or kidnap a character. The prose portal is an imaginative metaphor for a familiar experience: feeling taken away by a narrative, sucked into a good book so that we […]

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    Why People Love to Get Lost in Books

    In the huge range of different human cultural inclinations, one of the most widespread is a fondness for stories. We just love to get lost in a good book or movie. When we do, we tend to ignore where we are and become completely absorbed in the story. Psychologists call this “transportation,” and have conducted […]

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    Learning to Fly

    Coping with anxiety in an uncertain world.

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    Fooled By Your Own Brain

    Don’t be so certain your senses are telling you the truth.

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    Internet Rage, the Flip Side of Selfless Heroism

    Human nature is one of those aspects of the world that can seem inexplicable, too varied and complicated to be pinned down by overarching explanations. On the one hand our species includes people like Garrett O’Hanlon, who was standing on a Manhattan subway platform one recent night when someone passed out onto the tracks right […]

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    What’s Your Story? The Psychological Power of Narrative

    We’re all stories in the end. — “The Big Bang,” Doctor Who In 2003, author James Frey published a bestselling autobiographical memoir, A Million Little Pieces, purportedly detailing his struggle to overcome addiction. Nearly three years later, during a riveting appearance on Oprah, he admitted that several supposedly factual details had been embellished or fabricated. All […]

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    Your Very Weird, Very Personal Sense of Smell

    We’re used to the idea that some among us are colorblind, perceiving the world differently because of a quirk in their genetics. And it’s well-known that teenagers and young adults can hear high-pitched sounds that their elders cannot, an ability that’s been exploited by manufacturers of The Mosquito, an anti-loitering device that annoys youth into leaving. […]

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    Cooperation Is What Makes Us Human

    Where we part ways with our ape cousins.

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    Metaphors Are Us

    War, murder, music, art. We would have none without metaphor.

  • Metaphors_R_Us_1280x376.jpg

    Metaphors Are Us

    War, murder, music, art. We would have none without metaphor.

  • Metaphors_R_Us_1280x376.jpg

    Metaphors Are Us

    War, murder, music, art. We would have none without metaphor.

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    Where Uniqueness Lies

    The ultimate treasure hunt for the key in our brains that unlocks our difference.