Decision-Making

The Thoughtful Animal

Category archives for Decision-Making

My latest piece for LAist just went up: Retail therapy: It’s the answer for almost any problem. Girlfriend broke up with you? Didn’t get that promotion? Buy yourself something pretty. People like to shop, especially for high-status items, when they’re feeling down. Decades of research has indicated that when a key feature of one’s identity…

PsychBytes is an experiment: three recent findings in psychology, each explained in three paragraphs or less. Generally, these are papers that I wouldn’t have otherwise covered in this blog. Please share your thoughts on this model in the comments. What works, and what doesn’t? Would you like more PsychBytes in the future? What’s In A…

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Painstaking scientific research has identified seven dating tips that could boost your chances on Valentine’s Day … including shouting in his right ear and scaring him witless. Whether or not you have a Valentine this year, head on over to check out to my latest piece in The Guardian: Valentine’s Day dating tips from lovestruck…

“When men wish to construct or support a theory, how they torture facts into their service!” Even in 1852, psychologists like Charles Mackay, who wrote those words in his book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, were well aware of the dangers of confirmation bias. I was reminded of the pervasiveness of this…

Does Fido see the cup as half full? Is your dog pessimistic? Last time we saw headlines like these they were about a certain barnyard animal. Remember “Pampered pigs ‘feel optimistic’”? I didn’t like it then, and I don’t like it now. Roughly half of the population of dogs in the UK are likely to…

Cooperation and conflict are both a part of human society. While a good deal of the academic literature addresses the evolutionary origins of conflict, in recent years there has been an increased focus on the investigation of the evolutionary origins of cooperative behavior. One component of cooperative behavior that might be present in other animals…

Quandaries such as those involving stealing a drug to save a spouse’s life or whether or not to have an abortion have historically dominated the study of the development of moral thinking. The predominant research programs in psychology today use dilemmas in which one choice is deontologically correct (it is wrong to rotate a lever…

If there is one book that every human should read, it is The Invisible Gorilla, by Chris Chabris and Dan Simons. I suppose that’s a pretty bold statement to make. Let me explain. As a student of psychology, and as someone who studies and writes about the mind, I am overwhelmed with the general perception…

Late last week you might have seen headlines that went something like this: “Pampered pigs ‘feel optimistic’” or, this: “Can you ask a pig if his glass is half full?” or, “Pigs have feelings, too (and they prefer a bit of luxury)” The headlines came, respectively, from BBC News, EurekAlert, and the Daily Mail. This…

“But wait,” you say. “Anteaters aren’t pets!” Well, I didn’t think so either. But Salvador Dali had a pet anteater. And that’s good enough for me. Figure 1: Salvador Dali taking his pet anteater for a stroll. (Source) The Giant Anteater, Myrmecophaga tridactyla, only eats ants and termites, making it a myrmecophage. (Hey, Alex Wild,…