Running on autopilot? Everyday Automaticity.

autopilotSometimes, I wonder who is driving, me or the autopilot!

This last week or two have been a bit busy. As a result, I suspect I have been leaning a bit too much on my autopilot. On top of the day to day stuff, all sorts has been going on – I have had a big grant application due in, a new member of staff starting and end of teaching session marking, checking, and paperwork are all being done. (I love teaching, but I hate paperwork). I’m also getting ready to visit another university to comment on their courses and preparing to help evaluate one our own institution is launching. Finally, one of my PhD student this week defended their thesis – basically explaining to an independent judge why they should be given a doctorate. Alongside this me, my partner, baby Annabelle and big sister Katherine all went camping for the first time this weekend (having a great time, but a busy, not-much-sleep one!). This is all good stuff, but it means sometimes I forgot to be conscious of what I was doing. Whats the psychology behind this, and can we do anything about it?

Continue reading “Running on autopilot? Everyday Automaticity.”

Psychology Squared book is out!

It’s finally out!

Psychology_squaredI 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.

The Benefits of Singing and the Orchestra in my Head

choirThe orchestra in my head.

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.

Continue reading “The Benefits of Singing and the Orchestra in my Head”

‘Judgement’ ebook now available in Kindle library

Judgement pocketbook cover

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’)

Dilbert for Trump?

presidential-1311753_640

Dilbert 4 Trump?

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!

Like this? Sign up for email updates and Check out the BookShop!

Brexit, history and fish’n’chips?

EUFLAG

Brexit, history and fish’n’chips?

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?

Continue reading “Brexit, history and fish’n’chips?”

How to achieve your goals by using implementation intentions.

goalImplementation 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.

  1. Buy light bulbs for the kitchen
  2. Call an old friend I ran into on the train last week (Hello J!)
  3. Lose weight
  4. Write down when my annual leave is on our kitchen calendar
  5. Call a work colleague to discuss a new project
  6. 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.

Continue reading “How to achieve your goals by using implementation intentions.”

One Lovely Blog Award

1lovelyblog

I am really touched to say my blog has been nominated for a One Lovely Blog Award by ThugsandRuffians over at the AGreatBigBeautiful blog. A massive thank you for this – it’s a tremendous motivator 🙂 🙂 :-). Do check out AGBB – it’s a super positive, inspiring, honest and at times funny blog about parenting, everyday magic moments and life. I love it. Go and check it out now (then come back and read on).

Back? Ok. There are some strings attached to this award.

Continue reading “One Lovely Blog Award”

A Big Thank You!

thank youA Big Thank You!

As we come up to the end of the first month of PsychologyItBetter I just wanted to say a big thank you. Since we launched we have had over 350 visitors from all over the world including the UK (where parents are sleepy, and people are taking exams), Canada (where micro-veg is popular, China, Mexico, Russia, India, Greece and many others!

It’s great to hear from you…

If you like something, let me know! I’m really thrilled every time someone leaves a comment or likes a blog entry, so do keep them coming.

…and keep telling others about it!

I’d also really like to thank everyone who has taken a couple of seconds to facebook liked, reposted or retweeted links I have sent out – it’s a little action which gives me a real boost. Please please please keep it up 🙂

Thanks again

Dan

How cavemen, chocolates and a dinner invite nearly destroyed my marriage.

reciprocity

Dinner invites….

It all began with a perfectly ordinary event – my partner, daughters and I were invited around for a late afternoon dinner with some friends one Sunday last month. Usually when you go to someone’s house you bring something – some flowers, something you have made, or a bottle of something (not so much the latter for us now as we are basically drunk all the time in my household). In this instance we’d been quite disorganised and been unable to sort anything out in advance. No problem – we would just pick something up on the way right? Wrong. Just as we were leaving our baby (with impeccable timing) needed a full nappy / outfit change and a comprehensive hosing down(I’ll let you guess why). As a result we arrived at the supermarket at one minute past four, 60 full seconds after it closed, and were barred entry. Even though we knew the people we were seeing (who are super nice squared) would not automatically expect us to bring something we still felt we had a dilemma – walk across town to another shop which may be open, but be quite late (which with kids and eating can be a deal breaker in terms of a pleasant afternoon!) or go empty handed, which felt wrong (or so half of our partnership thought). OK, so it’s a bit of a exaggeration to say my marriage was nearly destroyed by this discussion. But my partner and I did have quite a falling out! In the end we picked something up, were a bit late, and had a fantastic evening. The tension this seemingly minor issue raised did lead me to reflect on why the drive to bring something when we go to someone’s house to eat is so strong, and what psychology has to say about it.

Continue reading “How cavemen, chocolates and a dinner invite nearly destroyed my marriage.”