Awe and the Supernatural

Majestic mountains, vibrant vistas, stunning scenery – and, perhaps, the transformation of a blob of molten glass into a rearing horse – these are sights that can truly be awe-inspiring, generating those feelings of reverence and wonder. They make time seem to slow down. But do they also make it seem more likely that there must be…

Facebook and Filter Bubbles

Yes, this is about the Facebook kerfluffle of the week, the probably-unethical and definitely-badly-managed study showing that changing users’ News Feeds would change what users posted themselves. Oddly enough, given my standing as a teacher of research methods and a practicing psychology researcher, I am not outraged about the ethics of the study itself; I am…

Smiles really might warm your heart (or brain)

Part 1 of 2 about the overlap between social and physical perception. Those heartwarming touches can give us a warm feeling inside, and help us warm up to someone we don’t know well. On the other hand, a cold-hearted person will leave us cold, and if you give people the cold shoulder too often your…

Not quite ready to call squishing bugs “sadism”

I admit, I have sometimes wondered what leads people into the career euphemistically we might euphemistically call “pest control” or more realistically declare “extermination”. I have been greatly relieved that people have chosen such career paths and are so available to handle wasp nests in my attic, and unable to fathom why anyone would opt to spend…

The best years of our lives

Contrary to what many of my students are being told, these are probably not the best years of their lives – or at least, not the happiest. In fact, the people who are telling them this – parents and grandparents, one would suspect – are probably much happier now than they were when they were…

Let sleeping babies lie in peace

Most parents are probably cautious and quiet around a sleeping baby, worried that the slightest sound will jar them from their slumber. Now, there’s even more reason to watch what you say when a sleeping baby is around, because we know that even if it doesn’t wake them up, they can still hear it – and…

Many ways to be mindful

Not long ago I started thinking about the possibility that different types of meditation might lead to different benefits – loving kindness might contribute to social connections and empathy, perhaps, while a body scan might provide some specific health benefits by helping people get in tune with their bodies. The logical next step is to…