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For people with Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory, or HSAM, every day is memorable. Ask them what they were doing on this date 10 years ago, and they’ll be able to tell you. Markie Pasternak, one of the youngest people identified with HSAM, and Michael Yassa, PhD, director of the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory at the Unive…
 
What if the way you think about your brain and how and why it functions is just plain wrong? Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University and author of the book “7 ½ Lessons About the Brain,” discusses myths about the brain and her theory that it evolved not to think but to control our bodies, and that emotions ar…
 
Over the past several years, climate change has moved from an abstract idea to a reality in many Americans’ lives – a reality that we are increasingly worried about. An APA survey found that two-thirds of American adults said that they felt at least a little “eco-anxiety,” defined as anxiety or worry about climate change and its effects. Dr. Thomas…
 
Despite the fact that so many people profess to dislike making small talk, it turns out that talking to strangers and acquaintances can actually strengthen our mental health and enrich our lives. What do we gain from meeting new people? What have we been missing out on this past year as COVID-19 has restricted these social interactions? And how can…
 
It’s too soon to know what effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the suicide rate in the United States, but even before the pandemic, that rate had been increasing in recent years, particularly among young people. Dr. Jill Harkavy-Friedman, PhD, the vice president of research for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, discusses what may …
 
What is it about puns that tickles our funny bone? Or dad jokes? How about a person slipping on a banana peel? What could possibly tie all these very different things together under the heading “humor”? Just in time for April Fool’s Day, we explore that question with Peter McGraw, PhD, a marketing and psychology professor at the University of Color…
 
The COVID-19 pandemic is a grim reminder that infectious diseases have been a danger throughout human history–so much so that the threat of infection has actually helped shape human evolution. Disgust, wariness of strangers, cultural norms around food and cleanliness–all of these behaviors may have evolved at least in part to keep us safe from infe…
 
Many people around the world have lost their sense of smell this past year due to COVID-19. Before the pandemic, scientists had already begun to gain a deeper understanding of how sophisticated our sense of smell is and how it is intertwined with our mental and physical health. Now, the pandemic is giving that research new urgency. Pamela Dalton, P…
 
When the world shut down in March 2020, few people imagined how different things would still look one year later – or that more than 500,000 Americans and 2.5 million people around the world would die from complications of COVID-19. APA’s Stress in America survey has been tracking the mental health toll this past year as Americans have dealt with l…
 
Meditation practices date back thousands of years and are a part of nearly every major religion. But it’s only in the past couple of decades that researchers have begun to use the tools of modern science to explore what is happening in the brain when people meditate and how meditation might benefit our mind and body. Richard Davidson, PhD, director…
 
From movie plots to ad campaigns to viral videos, if they feature twins, they grab our attention every time. But it’s not only the general public who are fascinated with twins. Over many decades, twins have garnered attention from psychologists and other researchers because of what they can tell us about how our genes and environment interact to ma…
 
As a species, humans have an extra-long childhood. And as any parent or caregiver knows, kids are expensive—they take an extraordinary amount of time, energy and resources to raise. So why do we have such a long childhood? What’s in it for us as a species? According to Alison Gopnik, PhD, of the University of California, Berkeley, the answer is tha…
 
For psychologists, romance, attraction and love are not just the stuff of poetry – they’re also a subject for research. What are the qualities of a successful relationship? Why do some relationships endure while others fail? What do we gain from our relationships? How do we know which ones are worth holding onto or when it’s time to quit? Gary Lewa…
 
Who among us wouldn’t want to improve his or her brain? To see better, to hear better or to improve one'​s memory? The field of brain training has attracted controversy as commercial companies have heavily marketed brain training products that aren’t necessarily backed by science. But some researchers believe that brain training research does hold …
 
After a lifetime of thinking that she was just a little bit bad at remembering people, Sadie Dingfelder learned that she had prosopagnosia, a disorder more colloquially known as face blindness. Harvard psychologist Joe DeGutis, PhD, who runs the research study that Dingfelder participated in, joins her to discuss how people with face blindness see …
 
Over the past 20 years, the field of positive psychology has grown from a fledgling idea to a worldwide movement. Positive psychology is the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. Former APA president Martin Seligman, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and the founder of po…
 
This past year, COVID-19 and the U.S. elections have provided fertile ground for conspiracy theories—with sometimes disastrous consequences. Karen Douglas, PhD, of the University of Kent in the United Kingdom, discusses psychological research on how conspiracy theories start, why they persist, who is most likely to believe them and whether there is…
 
Many of us are brimming with good intentions right now, determined to eat more healthily, get organized or fulfill our other New Year’s resolutions. But by February we’ll have reverted back to our old ways. Why is it so difficult to make these lasting behavioral changes? Wendy Wood, PhD, of the University of Southern California, discusses the resea…
 
We’re taking a holiday break, so we’re revisiting one of our favorite episodes from this past year. Back in the spring we talked to University of Florida psychologist Erin Westgate about the surprisingly fascinating topic of boredom. What is boredom? Is it always bad to be bored? What can we do to infuse even boring times with meaning? Links Erin W…
 
These days, Republicans and Democrats don't just disagree with each other's political opinions -- many view members of the other party as immoral and even abhorrent. Eli Finkel, PhD, a social psychologist at Northwestern University in Chicago, led a group of social scientists who published a paper in the journal Science about the causes and consequ…
 
The simulated shock generator for Stanley Milgram’s famed studies on obedience, artifacts from the Stanford Prison Experiment, and a curious machine called a psychograph that promised to read your personality by measuring the bumps on your head--all of these items are on display at the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology at the University…
 
For many people, the holiday season can be a time of stress rather than joy even in the best of times. And this year, of course, the holidays will be different for everyone, as the coronavirus pandemic forces us to forgo holiday gatherings and family visits. Elaine Rodino, PhD, discusses the "holiday blues" and how to get through the season, this y…
 
In our increasingly diverse country, many workplaces have implemented diversity training programs aimed at fostering cohesion, mutual respect and understanding among employees of different backgrounds. Calvin Lai, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at Washington University in St. Louis, discusses what we can learn from psychological research…
 
More than one-third of young adults ages 18 to 23--the older members of Gen Z--said that their mental health was worse right now than at the same time last year, according to APA's Stress in America survey. That's a higher number than any other age group. Emma Adam, PhD, a developmental psychologist at Northwestern University, discusses why the str…
 
When you open the newspaper, turn on the nightly news or scroll the Internet, is what you are reading and seeing true? How do you know? What is “fake news” and why does it seem to be everywhere? Dr. Dolores Albarracin explains why fake news is so compelling, and what it takes to counteract it. "Countdown News Intro" by chimerical via Freesound.org…
 
Scientists are racing to develop a safe, effective, vaccine for COVID-19 – but will people be willing to take it when it's available? We already have a flu vaccine, but less than half of Americans get it each year. Gretchen Chapman, PhD, a cognitive psychologist who studies health behavior, discusses why people choose to get vaccinated–or not–and h…
 
Many Americans see this as the most consequential election in recent American history. What will shape voters’ decisions and actions this year? Jon Krosnick, PhD, director of the Political Psychology Research Group at Stanford University, discusses the psychological forces at play when people decide whether to vote and whom to vote for. He also tal…
 
Among the thousands of apps that aim to help people with everything from stress to anxiety to PTSD to sleep problems, how many are based on solid scientific research? How many live up to what they promise? And how can you choose from among all the options?
 
With U.S. Senator Kamala Harris as the Democrats’ choice for vice presidential nominee, the challenges faced by female political candidates are back in the news again. This year is the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote in the United States, but true equality for women remains elusive in politics, business and many other areas. Al…
 
As the 2020 election cycle heats up, so will conversations among family, friends and acquaintances on opposite ends of the political spectrum. The United States may be more politically polarized than ever, but political disagreements don’t have to devolve into shouting matches and ideological one-upmanship. For people who want to engage in meaningf…
 
Compared with other animals, dogs are brilliant in one important way: They can understand and communicate with us, their human companions. Brian Hare, PhD, of Duke University, talks about what we know about canine cognition and how studying dogs’ evolutionary journey from wild wolves to domesticated pets can teach us more about humanity’s history a…
 
With the start of the 2020-2021 school year just weeks away, politicians, parents, health officials, school officials, teachers’ unions and other groups are debating whether it’s safe for students to return to physical classrooms. Heidi Schweingruber, PhD, a developmental psychologist and director of the Board on Science Education at the National A…
 
Psilocybin, LSD and other psychedelic drugs were once considered promising treatments for depression, anxiety and other mental health ailments. Now, after a decades-long lull, researchers are once again looking into the therapeutic potential of these drugs. Roland Griffiths, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkin…
 
The protests against racial injustice that have made headlines over the past month may be prompting some white Americans to consider—perhaps for the first time--the advantages they've benefited from all their lives. Brian Lowery, PhD, a senior associate dean at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, studies the psychology of racial priv…
 
Over the past several months, millions of newly remote workers have found themselves juggling work and family responsibilities from hastily improvised home offices. Kristen Shockley, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Georgia, discusses her research on how these new teleworkers are adapting and talks about what the pandemic may mea…
 
For more than a week, protestors have filled the streets of cities and towns across the United States and even around the world, demanding an end to racial injustice and police brutality in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. Lauren Duncan, PhD, a professor of psychology at Smith College and an expert on the psychology of protest and collective…
 
Why are some people more susceptible to conspiracy theories than others? Do people actually panic during disasters, like the pandemic? And are the brains of liberals and conservatives physiologically different? Dr. Jay Van Bavel, who directs NYU’s Social Perception and Evaluation Lab, answers these and other questions. Episode Links Jay Van Bavel, …
 
As we enter month No. 3 of living under the COVID-19 lockdown, parents and their kids may be getting on each other’s nerves. Parents working from home may be battling with their children – and each other - for computer access. As youngsters try to finish their school year via remote learning, they may be upset that there will be no summer camp this…
 
With most of us still following shelter-in-place rules, getting mental health care for people who need it can be a challenge. Fortunately, many psychological practitioners have been offering telemental health services for years, using electronic and telecommunications technologies to engage in psychotherapy virtually or by phone. APA’s Dr. Jared Sk…
 
The coronavirus is keeping us from experiencing some of the deepest and most meaningful rituals of our lives, from graduations to weddings to funerals. What is this doing to us psychologically? How important are rituals to our mental health and well-being? Dr. Michael I. Norton, a professor of business administration at the Harvard Business School,…
 
College and university students around the country are dealing with distance learning as their campuses have been forced to close during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Sian Beilock, a psychologist and president of Barnard College in New York, explains how her school is helping students finish the academic year and prepare for the fall. For instances, c…
 
The COVID-19 pandemic is putting new and unforeseen pressures on all of us. Whether it’s trying to telework while the kids are screaming in another room or dealing with the loss of a job, this new normal is taxing our inner resources. Dr. Ann Masten, a professor in the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota, has spent more th…
 
While we do not have a complete national picture, data from a few states and cities are showing that COVID-19 is disproportionately infecting African Americans and Latinos. Why is this so? And what can we do to alleviate these skewed proportions and flatten the curve. Listen to what APA’s Dr. Brian Smedley has to say about the underlying reasons fo…
 
The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was identified in January. By March, most of us had been strongly advised – if not ordered -- to keep at least 6 feet away from other people in public and pretty much to confine ourselves to our homes. Since many of our regular activities and pastimes are now off-limits, what are we doing to fill the…
 
Are you worried about your financial future in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic? Even before the coronavirus struck, many of us were prone to do unwise things with our money. What, if anything, is the pandemic doing to that very human tendency? How can we work against our worst financial instincts while our lives are so chaotic? Our guest, Dr. Bra…
 
Turn on the evening news or open a newspaper these days and there’s virtually nothing but COVID-19 coverage. The story is moving as rapidly as the coronavirus itself. To discuss what we should be doing as we learn more about the virus, we have invited back Dr. Baruch Fischhoff, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and an expert on public perce…
 
The new coronavirus has upended our lives, compelling us to stay in our homes, keep our social distance and be wary of everything we touch. Some of us are teleworking but others have lost jobs. This global pandemic touches everyone and it is causing many of us to feel stress, anxiety and hypervigilance. Our guest, Dr. Lynn Bufka, senior director of…
 
You may have heard about the internet debate on inner monologues recently. It all started from a tweet that went viral. That tweet said that some people have an internal narrative, and some don’t. What ensued were thousands of comments, retweets and news stories on the topic. Turns out that people have a lot to say about their inner voices. Accordi…
 
Do you remember the last time you woke up during the work week without an alarm clock? When you didn’t need caffeine to get going? If you can’t, you’re certainly not alone. Most of us fall short of the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep nightly and an estimated 50 million to 70 million Americans of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds suff…
 
Drinking is ubiquitous in American culture today. It’s hard to go out and not see people imbibing. In the midst of all this booze, there is a burgeoning movement in the opposite direction: Sobriety is having a moment in the spotlight. For the sober-curious crowd, this can mean taking a break from alcohol for a set period or it can mean quitting alt…
 
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