I have been thinking a lot this week about luck and circumstance. We sometimes feel we are generally lucky, sometimes unlucky and sometimes don’t consider the role luck plays in our lives as much as we should. Generally, we’re really bad at working out what is our own doing and what is down to the situation we are in, and even worse at estimating what will happen in the future. But what insights can the study of psychology offer?
At this time of year many of us are looking forward to a well deserved holiday. But will we experience blissful days of leisure, and can we be sure what we really got up to last time we went away? And what about that holiday weight gain? PsychologyItBetter.com finds out a bit about the psychology behind our holidays and vacations… and how to make the most of them?
Brexit – you gotta hit’em emotionally. Elaboration , persuasion and heurtistics in the Brexit campaigns
One thought provoking aspect of the events surround Brexit was the claim that ‘people are sick of experts’. Indeed, Leave campaign leaders were told by US political strategists that ‘You can’t reason with people, you gotta hit ‘em emotionally’. Without elaborating too much, this had the effect of reducing the narrative of both campaigns to, in many people’s eyes, simple emotive arguments at the expense of more reasoned debate . Is the success of this strategy likely to be part of the reason that politicians like Farage (and in the US, Trump) to be and (and, for Trump at least) remain effective? Why may this be, and what do psychological models of persuasion say about it?
I’m looking for people to take part in my research – can you help?
As you may know- my ‘proper job’ is as an Associate Professor of Psychology at London South Bank University. Myself and a colleague (Dr Lynne Dawkins) are currently doing some work on smoking, e-cigarettes and the effects they have on health. Would you like to help? We are looking for people who have smoked very little in their lifetimes (fewer than 20 cigarettes), current tobacco smokers and also people who use e-cigarettes. To take part you need to be UK resident and willing to provide a urine and saliva sample (by post, I won’t be coming to your house 😉 ). We’ll also ask you to fill in a few short questionnaires. In return, we’ll send you a £10 Amazon voucher, and you will get a sense of satisfaction from helping advance the cause of science :).
We’ll provide everything you need to take part. If you are interested, just email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more!
This research is ethically approved by LSBU University Research Ethics Panel: UREC number 1577.
I am thrilled to say that my new book, Psychology Squared: 100 Concepts in Psychology You Should Know is now out, published by Apple Press and available in physical form via Amazon and other channels. Written by myself and Dr. Christopher Sterling, this volume outlines 100 interesting ideas and concepts in psychology, each accompanied by a beautiful illustration or fantastically informative diagram. I’m really proud of what we have achieved, and writing it was really the inspiration for the blog. You can read more about it by visiting my little bookstore here.
In the three years since our daughters were born I think I have sung more notes than in the previous couple of decades. We sing in the car, at breakfast , to settle down for bed, at playgroups and sometimes just for no reason at all. And you know what? I am great at it. In my head. Pre-vocalisation I am in tune and often there is an orchestral accompaniment. Then it comes out my mouth and it sounds somewhat flat (or sharp) and a tad toneless. None-the-less I enjoy it – in particular I enjoy singing quietly to (or, I admit sometimes, at) my daughters in the wee hours when it is just us.
It turns out singing is good for you. Personally, I find it has a absorbing quality (much like gardening!) which de-stresses to the extent it makes you mindful of the present without worrying about everything else. If you really belt out a tune, the cardio effects can raise endorphin levels much like exercises such as running or swimming. I did consider trying this when singing to my daughter last night, but it was suggested to me that she only has small ears, I can probably project quite loudly, and the two may lead to less than positive parenting.
If you like what you have read on the blog, you may be interested to know my first ‘PocketBook’ ebook (on how to reduce cognitive biases and improve decision making) is available to borrow from the Kindle Unlimited Library and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library – search for Daniel Frings! (you can also find out more about this PocketBook in the Bookshop, including how to get hold of it if you are not a ‘Kindler’)
Interesting couple of blog entries by Scott Adams (he of Dilbert creator fame) this last couple of weeks. The first why is on why Trump may not be so bad a risk as president as he first seems. It made me chuckle at times, but I don’t buy it – arguing ‘Trump doesn’t mean it most of the time’ just doesn’t cut it for me (nor does the portrayal of Clinton as a drug addled alcoholic seem entirely fair!). But an interesting read none-the-less… What did get me thinking about this article was the notion that you can’t evaluate how well leaders (or decisions) have performed due to the fact you never get to see how the alternatives would have played out. Yet, we are often certain we are pretty good at it!
The second is a humorous take on why you should publicly endorse Clinton – presumably in all her wine-drug-addled glory. Basically, his reasoning is if you that if you don’t, half the US populace (and possibly a greater proportion of the world’s) will want to assassinate you if Trump wins. Not sure that is the best reasoning either, but there you go!
With the Brexit referendum looming I have been thinking a lot about how I will vote. Both camps – for exiting and remaining, can make economic arguments for their position. Both camps can make arguments about the implications for democracy and for the UK as a global power. But what does social psychology say about the Brexit question?
Implementation intentions and behavioural follow-through
Like many people (I suspect!) I am sometimes not so good at following though on my goals. Here are a bunch of things which this week I fully intended to do, but failed epically to achieve. Note this is the abridged version – the full list runs to 3 volumes.
Buy light bulbs for the kitchen
Call an old friend I ran into on the train last week (Hello J!)
Write down when my annual leave is on our kitchen calendar
Call a work colleague to discuss a new project
Write up some work related expense forms
For many of these things I actively thought about doing them several times a day (as well as whilst cooking crazily calorie laden food in a near pitch-black kitchen).I’m not alone here – these sort of goals only seem to account for around 30% of the variance in our behaviour. Now, I am a reasonably well motivated guy, so why the apparent multiple lack of follow through? Part of the is probably due to the way I formulate my intentions.