Category Archives: Holidays / Calendar Events

Set SMART resolutions in 2013!

Many people around the world woke up this morning with a renewed determination to tackle a long list of resolutions. But as we head into 2013, it’s worth noting that some of these resolutions will be better than others. Psychological research on goals can clue us in to which resolutions will be more likely to end in success, and which will probably end up flopping before the snow even melts.

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Stocking Stuffers For The PsycHoliday Season

 

stockingsIf there are four things that people tend to have on their minds during the holiday season, it’s a) saving money, b) friends & family, c) the “holiday spirit,” and d) finding the perfect gift for everyone on their lists.

With this in mind, why not step out of the box when it comes to this year’s stocking stuffers? More specifically, why fill others’ stockings with material gifts when, instead, you can use your stockings to forge better, stronger relationships?

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The Zombies In Our Midst

Photo by Daniel Hollister via Creative Commons

Every Halloween, we find ourselves surrounded by zombies, vampires, ghouls, and other mythical monsters. But even though this is the one day each year that we consciously realize we are surrounded by these creatures (at least in their human-costumed forms), are we surrounded by more common forms of these monsters every day without even realizing it?

Let’s take a deeper look at what I mean…

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Are your 9/11 memories really your own?

I can remember exactly where I was eleven years ago when I learned why the sky was starting to fill with smoke about 30 miles to the west.

Though I live in Illinois now, I’m originally from Long Island. In September 2001, I was just beginning the 9th grade at Friends Academy, my new high school in Locust Valley. I had just started getting to know the people who would become my closest friends over the next four years. I was on my way to Computer Programming when I ran into Molly, a girl on my bus.

“Hey, did you hear?” Molly asked, somewhat casually.

“No, what’s up? Oh, is Maggie taking the bus today?!” I asked excitedly. Maggie was Molly’s adorable baby sister, whose expeditions onto our bus were rare (but exciting) events.

“No…apparently something really big just happened in the city. They’re canceling class right now and calling an all-school assembly in the Dolan Center. You didn’t hear?”

“Oh, no, but thank God. I didn’t finish my math homework last night and I didn’t have time to do it on the bus, this is awesome,” I said with a smile. “Do you have any idea why they’re canceling class, though?!”

I had no idea at the time how much I would cringe for the rest of my life whenever I looked back and thought about my first reaction to hearing that “something big” was going on in the city.
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We Won. They Lost.

A slightly different version of this post (pertaining to college basketball) was originally blogged at IonPsych on 3/29/2011. I’ve decided to re-post it from the archives today with some tweaks in honor of the Olympic Games. You can see the original post here.

Let’s start off this post with an exercise in imagination.

Imagine that we happen to be big fans of the same team.

First, imagine that our country’s team is the underdog in a major sports competition – say, the Olympic Games. People didn’t really expect that we’d win anything. Yet we manage to snag gold, and we’ve never been prouder of our country or our athletes.

Now imagine a different scenario: Our country’s team actually placed first in the qualifying rounds, and they’re heavily favored to win gold. Experts said that the road to victory was basically paved for them. But in a jaw-dropping upset, they made several key mistakes and failed to earn any place at all on the medal podium.

What jumps out at you about those two scenarios?

One tells the story of underdog triumph, and the other talks of stunning defeat.

But there’s something you may not have noticed that signals just as much of a difference in the tales —

The pronouns.

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If You Compare Yourself With Michael Phelps, Will You Become A Better Swimmer?


“Remember, the Ukrainians are doing this in the snow,” warns a concerned McDonald’s consumer to Team USA boxer Marlen Esparza, as the pseudocoach chows down on a burger and watches Esparza train in one of Mickey D’s new 2012 Olympics commercials. I’m not sure if they realize it, but when McDonald’s instructed the actress to coach Esparza by saying this, they tapped into the logic underlying a fundamental psychological concept: Social Comparison Theory.

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USA! USA!

I hope that everyone is excited for the Olympics to begin tonight! Over the next two weeks, I will be posting several pieces on the Olympics and psychology, ranging from the ways that athletes feel/express emotions to the different ways that athletes from various cultures tend to construe their successes (and failures). I’m really excited to be blogging about the Olympics – there’s so much psychology to delve into here, and I hope you’ll all tune in over the next couple of weeks to learn all about it!

In the meantime, here are links to some cool posts from across the blogosphere on psychology and the Olympics. Enjoy!

The 2012 Olympic Games: What is the Role of Psychology? by Chris Carr at Psychology Today

Hosting a Major Sporting Event – Economic Gains Are Unlikely, But Will It Bring Happiness? by Christian Jarrett at BPS Research Digest

What It Takes To Be An Olympic Athlete Q&A with sports psychologist Shane Murphy at APA

The Psychology of Dressing for Olympic Success by Richard Wiseman at The Guardian

Olympics and Gender Empowerment through Sport by Elizabeth Meyer at Psychology Today

How Do Women and Girls Feel When They See Sexualized or Sporty Images Of Female Athletes? by Christian Jarrett at BPS Research Digest

How to Raise an Olympic Athlete by Christine L. Carter at Psychology Today

Twin Olympics! by Nancy L. Segal at Psychology Today

Lessons Worth Learning from the 2010 Winter Olympics by Marie Hartwell-Walker at PsychCentral

Could The Olympics Be A Catalyst For Inter-Cultural Discord? by Christian Jarrett at BPS Research Digest (note: The paper that this post is based on was authored by some of my former UIUC colleagues!)

Do World-Class Sprinters Really Move Their Legs No Faster Than Ordinary Runners? by Dave at Science-Based Running (note: OK, this is not psychology, but I’m including it because I find this post incredibly cool.)

And of course, in the spirit of the Games …

Image by Joshua Nathanson via Wikipedia

USA! USA!

Happy Father’s Day: The Psychology of Papas

When thinking about parents and children, most people — including psychological researchers — tend to focus on the characteristics and importance of the mother-child bond. However, in honor of Father’s Day, I think it’s about time to focus a little attention on the importance of Dads.

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You can’t put a price on a rivalry game.

This was originally blogged at IonPsych on 3/9/2011 with the title “March Madness: Priceless for Some, Overpriced for Others.” I’ve decided to re-post it from the archives today, in honor of the fact that tonight is the 2nd Duke-Carolina game of the season. You can see the original post here. And, as always, Go Duke!

When I was in college, I slept outside in a tent almost every night during the 2 coldest months of the year.

OK, before you call me crazy, there’s more to the story.

I actually did this for four years in a row.

And all four years, this ‘tenting’ experience that cost me quality sleep, socially acceptable hygiene habits, and at least a few tenths of my cumulative GPA was all for a two-hour basketball game.

Alright. I guess that doesn’t make me sound much saner. Unless I tell you it was for the annual home Duke-UNC game. Then it might make me sound a BIT more rational. But probably not, unless you’re a Duke or Carolina alum.

Here’s what I can tell you, though – I don’t regret a single second of it. In fact, it’s one of my fondest college memories. And if I had the chance to sell my spot at that game, even for a few thousand dollars, I never would have taken it. Continue reading

A Very PsySociety Gift Guide

The holidays are almost upon us (and sneaking up even sooner for me and my family — we’re Jewish, and Hanukkah’s in just one week!) If you’re at all like me, you have left most of your shopping to the last minute and are looking for some good, quick suggestions. Well, never fear, PsySociety readers! Here I am with a little gift guide, crafted especially with your favorite science writers, science photographers, and plain ol’ scientists in mind. Or, if your shopping is all done for the season, why not celebrate by treating yourself to a nice sci-themed gift?

[NOTE: Each image has a click-through link to the webpage where you can purchase the featured item. Many of the websites note that the deadline for Christmas delivery is December 16th, hence the rushed post tonight, so if you like anything you see here…get on it!]

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