At this time of year students return to university. This is an exciting time as you get to catch up with last year’s student and see what they been up to over the summer. Of course, we also welcome a new cohort of students to the University and, for many of them, help them get used to a new way of life. For some of these new faces, the transition between their old lifestyle and becoming a student is easy. For others it is more difficult. What causes these differences and what does the study of psychology tell us about situations where our identities don’t really fit together, or are just plain incompatible? Read on to find out.
Do we think better in groups? Groupthink and group polarisation psychology in action.
Way back in my first post on cognitive biases I mentioned that a couple of the projects I am working on are quite high pressured, and involve a small, tight knit team. I love working in a small group, and currently our little band is on a roll, producing lots of good research and making some great contacts. For these particular projects, the team is made up of four people, each bringing their own strengths and differing areas of expertise. This sounds like a dream come true right? I’m very lucky, but also quite aware that our small, slightly insulated group brings its own risks, Indeed, the combination of a high pressure environment, a small team and high (in academic terms anyway!) stakes are all characteristics of situations which a psychologist named Janis1 suggest can encourage a phenomena called Groupthink.
A wave of bans across France of Muslim sportswear known as ‘burkinis’ has raised a furore both in France and the rest of the world, and a veritable storm of social media activity . How can we understand this burkini ban from a psychological point of view? And what is the likely result of such a burkini ban for the future?
Do you smoke or vape and live in London?
Would you like to take part in a valuable research study and get paid?
I’m really excited to be leading a research project funded by Cancer Research UK looking at people’s attitudes towards e-cigarettes. If you smoke tobacco or vape e-cigarettes we’d be really keen to hear from you. The study is open to non-smokers too! If you took part in our earlier E-cig research (which is still open by the way) you can still take part in this one….
Luck, Psychology and Judgements
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?
Holidays are here again!
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?
Better Influence book out this week!
A big part of my motivation in creating this blog is making Psychology accessible to a wide audience. As part of this I am also writing a series of ‘PocketBooks’. Each pocketbook outlines 10 key concepts in a particualar field of psychology. Each is communicated in 600 words or less, making it perfect to dip in and out of. In the spirit of psychologyitbetter.com, each also outlines a number of improvements you can employ in you day to day life.
I’m really pleased to announced that the second PocketBook in the series, ’Better Influence, 10 quick concepts you can use to persuade others more effectively’ is out in paperback and ebook formats this week! You can find out more at the Bookshop. I am really pleased by this volume and, with an introductory price of just £3.99 for the paperback and an amazing £1.99 for the ebook, I hope you check it out and enjoy it too!
Please tell me what you think of this post, and don’t forget to sign up for email updates or visit the bookshop if you enjoyed it! If you sign up now you can receive a FREE COPY OF THE JUDGEMENT AND DECISION MAKING EBOOK
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?
Facebook and social networks – pastime or addiction?
I am not really a heavy social network user. I have a twitter and Facebook account, and a (slightly outdated) Linkedin account. I mostly use mine to publicise my blog and keep in touch with distant friends. I maybe make about 6 posts a week max. For most, these networks are a great way to bring people together and share views. For others, though, social networks like Facebook can become problematic or even addictive. Can the science of psychology help predict who is at risk?
Holidays and stereotypes content: Confessions of a ‘Hippy Parent’.
This last week my family and I have been on holiday. I for one needed it – the end of the academic year is pretty busy and I usually come out of it pretty beat. For our holiday we went to a resort on the south coast. We rented a small apartment in a block of 4 in the resorts ‘holiday village’. We had a super time and have returned back to work and family life much refreshed. However, something happened which was a bit thought provoking. I was (in a fairly nice way – all things considered!) reduced to a stereotype.