Category Archives: TV Shows

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…

Continue reading

Advertisements

Seeing the 1960s forest for the Mad Men trees.

Doesn’t it feel sometimes like the trendy thing to do is reminisce about the past?

Joan Harris (nee Holloway) on "Mad Men"

With the return of AMC’s Mad Men on Sunday, a legion of fans will be tuning in to marvel at Joan’s bodacious curves, Roger and Don’s alcohol-soaked workplace antics, and Betty Draper’s disturbingly standoffish take on parenting. Stephen King’s popular new book 11/22/63 is about a man who travels back in time to 1958. Shows like Pan Am and Playboy Club debuted this year, hoping to capitalize on audiences’ apparent love for reminiscing. It even seems like fashion has pivoted back towards the past, with retro dresses popping up in store windows across the country. But as we all sit around and revel in the nostalgic quirks of the 1960s, is there anything psychological going on beneath the surface?

There’s a fairly straightforward reason why we love to reminisce; feeling “nostalgic” tends to be associated with a variety of positive emotions, like happiness, social connection, and positive feelings about oneself. However, nostalgia might also have some sneaky side effects.

Continue reading

From The Archives: Love, hate…what’s the difference?

This was originally blogged at IonPsych for Valentine’s Day on 2/14/2011. You can see the original post here.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’d like to take a quick look at one of the most fundamental human emotions — hate.

Wait, that doesn’t seem right. Hate? On Valentine’s Day? Isn’t V-Day supposed to be about love, Hallmark, and all of those positive, mushy feelings?

Well, sure. Of course Valentine’s Day is supposed to be about love. But are love and hate really all that different?

They both make us act irrationally. They both cloud our thinking and judgment. They’ve both sparked wars, poetry, and some of the greatest epics of all time. They both make our hearts race, our pupils dilate, and our palms sweat.
Continue reading

Why Jersey Shore won’t make you dumber: The importance of responsible science journalism

I was browsing my Facebook news feed yesterday when I saw that someone I know from college had linked to this article on the MSNBC website: “Watching ‘Jersey Shore’ might make you dumber, study suggests.” The description underneath the link read, “Take note, fans of mindless reality shows like ‘Jersey Shore’: New research suggests watching something dumb might make you dumber.”

At that point, I should have thought to myself, “I have a lot of work that I need to get done today. I probably should not read this article and risk getting very worked up over what will likely be a really painful misrepresentation of psychological research.”

Oh, if only I ever actually thought that way. But alas, I do not. So I clicked on the link.

My bad.
Continue reading

Fear and love on a shaky bridge.

“Imagine being in the jungle, thousands of miles from civilization…”

Thus opens the promo for Love In The Wild, the “extreme dating experiment” premiering on NBC this week which promises that its contestants will go on first dates that are jam packed with shaky bridges, crocodile attacks, and bungee jumping.

Either NBC has recently replaced their writing staff with former academics, or their writers missed a true calling as social psychologists. This trick has been done before — and, in case you were wondering, it works.
Continue reading

Reality TV: The Soulmate Machine?

For those still tuned in after 10 seasons, 7 total judges, and countless sob stories, American Idol ended this week after crowning teenage country crooner Scotty McCreery as its newest addition to the confetti-covered winning lineup.


On top of its usual fanfare of tears, hugs, and a cheesy coronation song (this year’s crowning number was “I Love You This Big,” presumably because they’ve run out of song titles that involve dreams and mountains), this year’s finale brought on water cooler gossip for one more reason – the big ol’ kiss that runner-up Lauren Alaina planted on Scotty’s mouth after he won, right before he said that they had been together since Day 1 and were going to “stay together” after the show. Continue reading

Sex and the married neurotic

There are few things in this world that I truly loathe. One of those things is the show Everybody Loves Raymond.

Why, you might ask?

First of all, it’s actually quite hard to really ‘love’ Raymond. From what I’ve seen of the show (which is admittedly not much), he seems to care about three things: golf, trying (in vain) to have sex with his wife, and placating his intrusive family.

But there’s another problem – Debra isn’t innocent either.
Continue reading