Monthly Archives: July 2011

With pets like these, who needs people? [at The Thoughtful Animal]

This week, I was thrilled to write a guest post for Jason Goldman at The Thoughtful Animal, a blog about animal cognition, animal behavior, and the human-animal relationship hosted on the new Scientific American blog network.

The post went up on Wednesday; in it, I discuss a recent study examining the effects of pet ownership on self-esteem, happiness, and relationships with other people. Here’s a quote from the beginning, which sets up the story for the bulk of the post:

One would think that there’s a very clear tie between interpersonal relationships and the owner-pet connection. If lonely people anthropomorphize their pets, presumably as a means of coping with social isolation, then can’t we assume that the very people who derive high levels of social support from their pets are only doing so because of equally low levels of social support from the people around them?

Well, not so fast. There’s more to the story.

Click here to read the entire post over at The Thoughtful Animal!


McConnell, A.R., Brown, C.M., Shoda, T.M., Stayton, L.E., & Martin, C.E. (2011). Friends with benefits: On the positive consequences of pet ownership. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology PMID: 21728449

Epley, N., Akalis, S., Waytz, A., & Cacioppo, J. (2008). Creating Social Connection Through Inferential Reproduction: Loneliness and Perceived Agency in Gadgets, Gods, and Greyhounds. Psychological Science, 19 (2), 114-120 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02056.x

Sex, lies, and power = lies about power and sex.

Can we please stop sounding the depressing alarm claiming that all powerful men are destined to be cheating husbands?

Yes, in recent history we’ve had Anthony Weiner and Arnold Schwarzenegger. But we’ve also had Barack Obama and Mark Wahlberg. However you choose to feel about the debt ceiling or The Fighter, these are recently-newsworthy examples of powerful men who have stayed happily married without getting caught up in a sex scandal. And they’re far from being the only ones.1

The problem with proclaiming that there’s an inextricable link between power, maleness, and cheating is that it implicates both power and masculinity as unavoidable evils. Fact is, that’s not really fair – or accurate.

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Casey’s case: What psychology says about Anthony’s acquittal.

Casey Anthony

Credit: Red Huber/AP Photo

Everyone seemed to think Casey Anthony would be found guilty of murdering her 2-year-old daughter Caylee.

They all thought wrong.

In light of Anthony’s recent murder acquittal, plenty of people have wondered (either angrily or with genuine confusion) how a jury could possibly acquit Casey Anthony when her guilt seemed so apparent to the general public. As it turns out, several legal and psychological characteristics that have historically influenced the outcomes of jury trials may be able to clarify this bewilderment.
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America: Land of the free, and home of the…discontent?

American Flag

Many Americans celebrated July 4th with fireworks and barbecues. But how much thought did everyone give to the true spirit of Independence Day?

Independence is one of those things that America is known for. In fact, “independent” tends to be America’s adjectival calling card. Not only is America frequently thought of as a superpower responsible for spreading the light of freedom throughout the world, but people are often only successful within American society if they are self-sufficient and largely self-focused.

However, this vision of America has fallen out of favor lately. Many global citizens simply aren’t thrilled by the thought of a country whose national stereotype paints it as self-serving, and plenty of Americans are well aware of that fact. To examine this phenomenon in greater detail, MarYam Hamedani, Hazel Markus, and Alyssa Fu ran a series of studies where they tested exactly what it is that people think of when they think of ‘America,’ and how this vision impacts thoughts and actions.

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Beautiful people, beautiful products.

Today I’m excited to repost a guest post that I wrote earlier this week for Lovely At Your Side, a lifestyle blog hosted by one of my best friends from high school, Jenny, and her equally-lovely sister Olivia. As their site frequently covers topics related to fashion and shopping, I wrote a post for them on the psychology behind using beautiful people in advertisements. The post discusses how pretty faces influence our product evaluations – and how the way we feel about ourselves might impact this process more than we realize.

You can see the post on their site (linked here), and it is also reprinted below in its entirety.

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