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 I have a twitter and Facebook account, and a (slightly outdated) Linkedin account.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.
Judgement:10 judgemental biases to avoid. 10 improvements to your decision making.
As you may know, about a month ago I released a short ‘PocketBook ‘ called Judgement: Judgement:10 judgemental biases to avoid.10 improvements to your decision making.’. This ebook outlines some key psychological principles which will help you improve your everyday judgements and decision making. Each principle is outlined in an accessible way, and comes with a number of clear improvements which you can action immediately. These are all outlined in 600 words or less, making it easy to dip in and out of.
Kids should have magic in their lives. The tooth fairy, Santa Claus, Imaginary friends, the Elf-on-the-shelf (although to be honest, that last US inspired tradition weirds me out a little, so we are skipping it!) are all day to day parts of our children’s reality. But is magic for children a ‘good’ thing or a morally dubious waste of time? And what do psychologists who have studied it argue?
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 email@example.com to find out more!
This research is ethically approved by LSBU University Research Ethics Panel: UREC number 1577.
Procrastination, as we all know, is a productivity killer. I have a list of jobs (sometimes written down, and sometimes in my head) I need to do on a day to day basis. Some jobs – particularly ones I am worried about, or where a poor outcome has dire consequences- seem to sit on that list for a long time. This often makes them more difficult when I finally get to them! Why do we do this to ourselves? What is the psychology which underpins it, and how can we avoid getting bogged down in procrastination?
This post has a bit less psychology and a bit more opinion on Brexit and our society.
I voted to stay, and we lost. That is one side effect of democracy. In the aftermath of the Brexit vote, half the population of the UK is surprised. A good chunk of that half is also very angry (I was this morning for sure). Social media today is full of people berating Leave voters for being ‘stupid’, ‘selfish’ or ‘racist’. People need to blow off steam, but they also need to step back and consider what comes next, and who we want to be as a nation.
Many commentators have (and I am sure will continue to) split the in and out voters along broad lines – haves and have nots, urban vs. rural and young versus old. This is simplistic stereotyping at its very worst. I bet you within a mile of me I can find a young urbinate who voted leave and an old farmer who voted stay. I can also find bright and not-so-bright people in both camps, and those with strong (and absent) moral compasses too. We know from social psychology categorising people in this way reduces them to a few basic attributes and removed individual difference. It also fosters negative interactions between groups which increases the likelihood of conflict and makes agreement harder. Be under no illusion we need to avoid this.
Sometimes, 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?
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.