Parenting and Families

The Thoughtful Animal

Category archives for Parenting and Families

What is learning? Most psychologists (indeed, most people in general) would agree that learning is the acquisition of new knowledge, or new behaviors, or new skills. Hungarian psychologists Gergely and Csibra offer a deceptively simple description: “Learning involves acquiring new information and using it later when necessary.” What this means is that learning requires the…

There’s a very well-known experiment in developmental psychology called the “A-not-B task.” The experiment goes something like this: you, the experimenter, are seated opposite a human infant. Within the reach of both you and the child are two boxes: box “A,” and box “B.” You hide a toy in “A,” in full view of the…

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…

“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…

In 1975, Edward Tronick and colleagues first presented the “still face experiment” to colleagues at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development. He described a phenomenon in which an infant, after three minutes of “interaction” with a non-responsive expressionless mother, “rapidly sobers and grows wary. He makes repeated attempts to get…

Children and Their Pets

Your humble narrator finds himself sick with a cold, so here’s a post from the archives. There is considerable research on how children interact with other children and with adults, and how child development can be influenced by those interactions. But research on children’s interactions with non-human animals seem to be limited. Given how ubiquitous…

Figure 1: A mother hyena with her cubs. Early developmental experiences can have significant implications for the growth, behavior, survival, and reproductive success of an individual. In many species, one of the most important factors that affects an individual’s early development is the maternal environment. However, mothers not only provide an environment for their offspring,…

Silver Spoon Hyenas?

A fascinating new paper just came out in Nature Communications and I intend to blog it in the usual manner, but I thought I’d try something new first. Check it out: The Research Question …According to life history theory, mothers should invest in their offspring if this enhances offspring survival and fitness, and if the…

Have you heard about NCBI ROFL? It’s a previously-independent blog that has been incorporated into “Discoblog,” one of the blogs at Discover Magazine. What they do is find amusing or funny abstracts by searching Pubmed (which is run by the NCBI – National Center for Biomedical Information) and just post the abstracts. No commentary, no…

Happy Father’s Day, everyone! I spent a lot of time today thinking back to why I started blogging in the first place, while I was at my parents house doing the other-than-science things that I love to do: playing with the dog, cooking, gardening. I realized that I’ve not done enough of that stuff lately.…