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Positive Psychology

Positive Psychology: Can psychology break away from its obsessive focus on the negative? Four decades after Abraham Maslow popularized the search for self-actualization, academics are bringing scientific vigor to our search for the fulfilled life. Evolutionary biologist Nancy Etcoff believes that our Hedonic Set Point can be raised. George Vaillant is less concerned with happiness than with the Neurobiology of Spirituality and Joy. Daniel Gilbert studies prospection, our search for happiness, and our ability to recover from tragedy. Meanwhile, Tal Ben-Shahar teaches the most popular class at Harvard, Psychology 1504: Positive Psychology (includes links to syllabus, reading list, powerpoints, and realvideo of full class lectures).
posted by alms on Jan 31, 2007 - 21 comments

laughter is the best medicine

The Laughing Club. A practicing doctor at a Bombay hospital, Dr. Kataria, formed the first laughing club in 1994. What started off as a group of 5 people, barely able to break into a chortle, gradually spread the world over. Today, there are 5,000 laughing clubs around the world.
posted by nickyskye on Jan 28, 2007 - 14 comments

The Art of Psychiatry

Dictionary of Disorder - shaping the DSM
posted by Gyan on Jan 13, 2007 - 13 comments

知己知彼,百戰不貽

Why hawks win. How identified predictable errors of judgement favour hawkish policy decisions. Via. Previously.
posted by Abiezer on Jan 13, 2007 - 16 comments

The Ideological Animal

The Ideological Animal. We think our political stance is the product of reason, but we're easily manipulated and surprisingly malleable. Our essential political self is more a stew of childhood temperament, education, and fear of death. Call it the 9/11 effect. Or the Metafilter effect. [ducks]
posted by gottabefunky on Jan 9, 2007 - 44 comments

this body is a prison

this body is a prison (google video link)
Go behind the scenes of media coverage of the West Bank and enter a world where terror is a daily reality. Against the backdrop of this politically tumultuous environment there emerges a deeply layered story of a nation fractured by walls both physical and internalized.

Professor of Psychology Khalil Issa discusses the existential dilemmas faced by Palestinian youth as they attempt to develop a sense of self in a land carved by war.

posted by Tryptophan-5ht on Nov 30, 2006 - 2 comments

Illusion is the first of all pleasures

"Illusion is the first of all pleasures"
posted by MetaMonkey on Nov 7, 2006 - 12 comments

Dr Kanazawa.

I find my interest piqued by some of Dr Satoshi Kanazawa's ideas. Especially regarding The conformist culture of Asia. But also: The Myth of Racial Discrimination in Pay in the United States[pdf]. He works hard thinking.
posted by econous on Nov 6, 2006 - 27 comments

This just in: Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance

...Objectives    This double-blind study evaluated the acute and longer-term psychological effects of a high dose of psilocybin relative to a comparison compound administered under comfortable, supportive conditions...

Results    Psilocybin produced a range of acute perceptual changes, subjective experiences, and labile moods including anxiety. Psilocybin also increased measures of mystical experience. At 2 months, the volunteers rated the psilocybin experience as having substantial personal meaning and spiritual significance and attributed to the experience sustained positive changes in attitudes and behavior consistent with changes rated by community observers.

Conclusions   When administered under supportive conditions, psilocybin occasioned experiences similar to spontaneously occurring mystical experiences. The ability to occasion such experiences prospectively will allow rigorous scientific investigations of their causes and consequences.
Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance
posted by y2karl on Oct 16, 2006 - 58 comments

Shadow People

Scientists discover a region of the brain responsible for feelings of 'self' and 'other'. If electrically stimulated, it causes the perception of an alien being-- a shadow person, standing just behind you, mimicking your every move. This could explain strange feelings of being watched, or of strange presences, or ghosts.
posted by empath on Sep 27, 2006 - 75 comments

Stanford Prison Experiment, The Video

Studying obedience and conformity: The Stanford Prison Experiment has been discussed many times before (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) and has been made into a number of movies. Now you can watch the incredible review film made by the experimenter, with extensive documentary footage, post-experiment interviews and commentary: The Stanford Prison Experiment. [google video, 50 mins]
posted by MetaMonkey on Sep 14, 2006 - 27 comments

Wait, so lawbreakers can be unethical too?

Subliminal Spam. It's rather crude, but I wonder if we'll start seeing more of this, and done more subtly.
posted by delmoi on Sep 6, 2006 - 20 comments

The Internet and You

The Internet and our social and psychological well-being : This older study correlates Internet use with declining social relationships and isolation. A more recent study (PDF) shows that the Internet has changed and positively affects social relationships.
posted by lpctstr; on Aug 31, 2006 - 6 comments

transitional states of mind

The Tibetan Book of the Dead: Part One. Part Two. [YouTube videos] [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Jul 28, 2006 - 20 comments

Coming soon to a cinema near you

The Human Speechome Project - "A baby is to be monitored by a network of microphones and video cameras for 14 hours a day, 365 days a year, in an effort to unravel the seemingly miraculous process by which children acquire language.". Selected video clips. Paper (PDF, 750KB). To test hypotheses of how children learn, Prof Deb Roy's team at MIT will develop machine learning systems that “step into the shoes” of his son by processing the sights and sounds of three years of life at home. Total storage required: 1.4 petabytes.
posted by Gyan on Jul 23, 2006 - 21 comments

been caught stealing...?

New research finds that the human brain registers the avoidance of an anticipated punishment in pretty much the same way as it registers a reward. (See this link for a less technical discussion of the research.) Do these findings suggest that the use of punishment as a deterrent to undesirable behavior in effect actually motivates the undesirable behavior (as opposed to the use of negative reinforcement, or in other words, the withholding of reward)? Do punishment-oriented models of socialization/behaviorial conditioning actually encourage cheating, by in effect selecting for better cheaters?
posted by saulgoodman on Jul 12, 2006 - 28 comments

The miserable and the horrible.

Some dark thoughts about happiness.
posted by Sticherbeast on Jul 10, 2006 - 29 comments

Mmmm, mmm good... Freshly squeezed crude!

Suppose you were like this guy and you had devoted nearly a decade of your life to figuring out how to make oil from turkey gizzards. Now suppose this guy and a bunch of pencil-pushers like these guys came along and started challenging the long-term viability of carbon-based fuels (whether of the freshly-squeezed variety or not). For sake of argument, suppose they were right. How reluctant do you suppose you'd be to admit it, even to yourself?
posted by saulgoodman on Jul 10, 2006 - 45 comments

^_* *_^

The Symmetry Thesis
posted by Tlogmer on Jun 6, 2006 - 37 comments

Childhood trauma makes adults gullible?

Graduates of the "school of hard knocks" flunk real life. A study from the University of Leicester says that, contrary to popular expectation, unpleasant and traumatic life experiences don't make people suspicious and shrewd -- quite the opposite. Many people who've had a tough life actually turn out more gullible and easily swayed:
"This is because the person may have learned to distrust their actions, judgments and decisions due to the fact that the majority of the time their actions have been perceived to invite negative consequences"
The counter-intuitiveness of this finding fascinates me. Wait. Maybe I shouldn't be taking it at face value...
posted by AmbroseChapel on May 27, 2006 - 50 comments

Ayahuasca

Hell and Back: "Deep in the Amazon jungle, writer Kira Salak tests ayahuasca, a shamanistic medicinal ritual, and finds a terrifying—but enlightening—world within." Interesting tale found via this interview with Charles Grob on the potential therapeutic uses of psychedelics. The legal status of ayahuasca in the US was recently discussed here.
posted by homunculus on May 26, 2006 - 56 comments

Burying Freud

Burying Freud. A collection of essays and responses by and about Freud's harshest critics, including "Confessions of a Freud-Basher" by anti-Freud point man Frederick Crews, interviewed at length here.
posted by mediareport on May 15, 2006 - 32 comments

The Magical Number Seven

The Magical Number Seven Psychologist George A. Miller on the human limits for processing and remembering data. It is a little dramatic to watch a person memorize 40 binary digits in a row without error.
posted by Lanark on May 10, 2006 - 14 comments

Strange afflictions.

Penis panic, is a type of body dysmorphia, among other strange afflictions. Also known as koro, it may be induced by cannabis, superstition or fear.
posted by nickyskye on May 8, 2006 - 23 comments

Shania Twain defence works in drunk driver's favour

It's okay...Shania was driving for me. Chalk another one up to insanity. Hinkley had Jody. Berkowitz had Sam. God told Peter Sutcliffe what to do. Of course, no one told Ted Kaczynski what to do.
posted by thejimp on Mar 29, 2006 - 45 comments

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Author of the excellent book "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience" which investigates the phenomenon of the happiness of doing, how the balance between stress/anxiety and slack/boredom effect experience and happiness, and how we can all use it to our advantage.
posted by loquacious on Mar 22, 2006 - 32 comments

The Good Burns, Not C. Montgomery Burns

Everyone in the blue and the green loves David Burns.
His landmark (and most often recommended) book, "Feeling Good" is available in Small, Medium, and you can even Supersize it, complete with exercises, questionnaires and expanded section on medications for depression.
"Feeling Good" is a great book, but Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is good for lots of stuff besides depression.
Like dating, relationship or shyness issues. Solutions that do not involve John Gray, Dr. Phil, Dr. Laura, or heck, even the song "Doctor Doctor" from the Thompson Twins.
No worries, because Dr. Burns has a book for that too, and it rocks. It will get you off the couch, and get you out and smooching in no time.
There are others out there also working with CBT to help you make your life all it can be.
posted by willmize on Mar 21, 2006 - 19 comments

The Reinvention of the Self

Neurogenesis Neurogenesis, the birth of new brain cells, was something we were all taught was impossible after a certain point. Professor Elizabeth Gould, doctor of psychology at Princeton, has claimed that it happens all the time. (more) Now, she and her team at Princeton are saying not only is our brain always changing, stress and environment directly affect brain development.
posted by blacklite on Mar 4, 2006 - 27 comments

A model for mapping personality awareness

The Johari Window was invented by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingram in the 1950s as a model for mapping personality awareness. By describing yourself from a fixed list of adjectives, then asking your friends and colleagues to describe you from the same list, a grid of overlap and difference can be built up. To start, pick the five or six words that you feel best describe you. Your results will be saved, under a name of your choosing, so that you can send your friends and colleagues directly to your Window.
posted by airguitar on Feb 15, 2006 - 17 comments

Mad Gasser of Mattoon

In 1944, the town of Mattoon, Illinois found itself in a collective panic over the exploits of a "phantom anesthetist", who was breaking into houses and subjecting victims to a paralyzing gas. Was the Mad Gasser of Mattoon (pdf) real, or were the town's citizens suffering from mass hysteria?
posted by feathermeat on Jan 1, 2006 - 29 comments

Now show me how to do the thing with the termites and the stick.

It's official, humans are dumber than chimps. These guys show (at the NY Times level) that human kids will over-imitate every ritualized nuance modeled for them, whereas chimp kids just wanna get the damn cookie out of the box. Their website also describes more of their studies.
posted by Eothele on Dec 13, 2005 - 42 comments

Neurotic? Extroverted?

Personality
“Research in individual differences addresses three broad questions: 1) developing an adequate descriptive taxonomy of how people differ; 2) applying differences in one situation to predict differences in other situations; and 3) testing theoretical explanations of the structure and dynamics of individual differences.”
Visit the Personality Project. While you're there, participate in the Internet Personality Inventory Survey.
posted by Ethereal Bligh on Dec 12, 2005 - 17 comments

Trust Cancels Fear

Trust-Building Hormone Short-Circuits Fear In Humans Oxytocin, a brain chemical recently found to boost trust, also suppresses the activity in the amygdala where fear is generated. This could be a breakthrough for those who suffer from any type of social avoidance disorder.
posted by sultan on Dec 8, 2005 - 23 comments

SIRCumlocution

The Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, England, publishes sociological and antropological studies of contemporary issues. Particularly interesting are their guides to British pub etiquette, flirting, and horse racing watching etiquette. But watch out for their opinionated bulletins about current events—surely articles their corporate sponsors and sister PR agency (at the same address and with the same staff) would be proud of. SIRC studies previously mentioned here, here, and here.
posted by grouse on Dec 4, 2005 - 9 comments

Expertise

Everybody's an expert, but does expertise promote better predictions?
posted by semmi on Dec 1, 2005 - 14 comments

"well, it breaks the ice, doesn't it"

Having sweated over the origins of the universe and split the atom, academics have finally tackled the question that has perplexed mankind since the dawn of time: what are the best chat-up lines? A study from psychologists at the University of Edinburgh tested 205 people for reactions to 40 vignettes of a woman approached by a man using "verbal signals of genetic quality" in different categories, and found the best rated approaches to be those revealing character qualities, wealth and culture, although the puzzling winning line proved a flop in real life tests. Unsurprisingly, a direct request for sex received a low score. Previous findings by the Japanese proved equally dubious. But there's still hope, as the code seems to have been cracked in Dublin, where since last year "there is definitely more pulling". The secret? A smoking ban, a lot of crowded pubs, and "smirting", an unexpected side effect of the health measure.
posted by funambulist on Nov 6, 2005 - 103 comments

This post is dressed in blue

To invoke Fast and the Furious: It's not how you play the game that matters, it's the color of your uniform
posted by daksya on Oct 29, 2005 - 21 comments

ragnarok now? or is it all just in your head?

Why do we always seem to expect the worst from some people? By now, it's common knowledge that media reports of widespread looting, violence and sexual assault in the wake of Katrina's strike on New Orleans were grossly exaggerated, but why? Some might attribute such distortions to unconscious bias, offering up some hope of alleviating racial tension by bringing unexamined racial biases to light; still others see the problem of racial tension as an intractable one, leading inevitably to an all-out clash of cultures--even finding "evidence" of the inevitably of such a conflict in the unlikeliest of places. Still others seem especially eager to bring all these tensions to a head. What's really going on these days? Is racial tension ultimately a political problem or, as some suggest, a psychological one?
posted by all-seeing eye dog on Oct 21, 2005 - 35 comments

Metafilter: Best of the Web??

Research by dumb, ignorant Yankees on national stereotypes.
posted by Gyan on Oct 7, 2005 - 30 comments

Dr Sax Examines Duluoz

"Without any particular training or background, this patient, just prior to his enlistment, enthusiastically embarked upon the writing of novels. He sees nothing unusual in this activity." Who was the patient? A 21-year-old seaman named Jack Kerouac, who would become the author of On the Road, The Dharma Bums, Dr. Sax, Visions of Cody and many other great novels that you should be reading instead of these gaddam websites. (The diagnosis from the Navy doctors, "schizoid personality," earned Kerouac a discharge.) A hilarious and poignant find from The Smoking Gun.
posted by digaman on Oct 2, 2005 - 19 comments

No more knuckle sandwiches in the cafeteria.

Diet and behavior.
posted by Gyan on Sep 30, 2005 - 30 comments

The Vagaries of Religious Experience

Is God nothing more than an attempt to explain order and good fortune by those who do not understand the mathematics of chance, the principles of self-organizing systems, or the psychology of the human mind? Daniel Gilbert, a professor of Psychology and head of the Social Cognition and Emotion Laboratory at Harvard, discusses his latest research and soon to be published study about the vagaries of religious experience.
posted by pmbuko on Sep 30, 2005 - 66 comments

Classic texts in psychology

Classics in the History of Psychology
posted by Gyan on Sep 26, 2005 - 3 comments

Reporters covering Katrina receiving trauma assistance

The New York Times is offering Katrina reporters trauma counselling. Reporters covering warzones in Iraq, Chechnya and the Sudan were not offered near-mandatory trauma counselling by the newspaper of record.

Journalists in Lousiana and the rest of the Gulf Coast were.

"In fact, the circumstances were so shocking to reporters that according to one staff member, The New York Times e-mailed information about dealing with trauma to reporters in the field, outlining warning signs; employee-assistance counselors also placed calls to reporters."
posted by huskerdont on Sep 7, 2005 - 35 comments

Shades of Grey in a Black & White Issue.

The Inequality Taboo - Charles Murray defends his ideas, published in the controversial book The Bell Curve.
posted by Gyan on Sep 5, 2005 - 71 comments

Porn blindness

Porn can make you go blind. Kinda.
posted by gottabefunky on Aug 22, 2005 - 40 comments

Not getting symbolism

"Almost half the children committed one or more of these mistakes. They attempted with apparent seriousness to perform the same actions with the miniature items that they had with the large ones. Some sat down on the little chair: they walked up to it, turned around, bent their knees and lowered themselves onto it. Some simply perched on top, others sat down so hard that the chair skittered out from under them. Some children sat on the miniature slide and tried to ride down it, usually falling off in the process; others attempted to climb the steps, causing the slide to tip over. (With the chair and slide made of sturdy plastic and only about five inches tall, the toddlers faced no danger of hurting themselves.)"
posted by Tlogmer on Aug 18, 2005 - 34 comments

loonie oh loonie oh loonie oh loonie-oh!

Have you ever thought your boss might be a sociopath? According to some, you just might be right. A recent film called The Corporation actually goes so far as to argue that American-style free markets select for sociopathic tendencies. While some on the left seem all too eager to chime in with their self-righteous “I told you sos,” others on the right dismiss all such notions to defend free markets with open contempt… Which is strange when you consider that free market theory owes its existence to Darwin’s theories of natural selection, which many on the right don't accept. Seriously--help me sort this out, or else I'm going to have to conclude we've all gone crazy.
posted by all-seeing eye dog on Aug 3, 2005 - 86 comments

Introverts R Us

We Introverts make up 40% of the population. So we make up a large portion of the market. We learn differently than extroverts (NSFW). We appear calm, but that may be an illusion. In fact, we need special care and attention. We like to read, write, and test software, but we're afraid of networking. We have spiritual needs (scroll down). If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you smile at us, we may surprise you. Some of us read Metafilter.
posted by grumblebee on Jul 22, 2005 - 56 comments

You have evolved to like this interview.

The fitness of evolutionary psychology
posted by daksya on Jul 4, 2005 - 22 comments

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