Psychological Science

The Thoughtful Animal

Category archives for Psychological Science

“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 March 2000, Dr. Simon Chapman and colleagues from the University of Sydney published a paper in which they assessed the effectiveness of an educational intervention for the prevention of dog bites in children. “Prevent-a-Bite” is an educational programme designed for primary school children. The programme aims to instill precautionary behaviour around dogs, assuming that…

Meet Rio. Rio is a California Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus). She was born in captivity at Marine World in Northern California, and due to insufficient maternal care from her biological mother, she was transferred to the Long Marine Laboratory at UC Santa Cruz when she was just a few days old. There, she was raised…

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…

The Fate of the Alamogordo Chimps

The National Institutes of Health announced that by 2011 it will transfer almost two hundred chimpanzees from the Alamogordo Primate Facility in New Mexico to a lab in San Antonio, Texas, lab for use in invasive research. In 1995, the NIH announced a moratorium on the breeding of chimps in federally-supported labs, and as a…

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…

Ravi Iyer, a graduate student and colleague of mine at the University of Southern California in social psychology, blogs regularly about moral psychology at polipsych.com, and tweets from @ravi_polipsych. He collaborates with others on YourMorals.org, where interested individuals may participate in research in political and moral psychology. I asked him to contribute a guest post…

Morality and convention are so mired in culture that it may seem near impossible to determine the extent to which biology and environment give rise to it. And yet it is possible to investigate the evolutionary origins of morality. Research with infants – especially pre-verbal infants – who have not yet been sufficiently exposed 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…

I’m on Bloggingheads.tv!

My Child’s Play co-blogger Melody and I are the subjects of today’s Bloggingheads.tv Science Saturday program. Watch us chat with eachother for about an hour on how we became scientists and science bloggers, our thoughts on the state of psychology as a field, peer review and the journal system, how the study of language learning…