psychology

Mike Licht / Creative Commons

Our deepest convictions shape how we see the world from a very young age. Our parents, community, and religion deeply influence our beliefs and ultimately, the political identity we choose to adopt.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Recently, a group of us gathered on stage at Watkinson School for a conversation about humor and comedy.

The conversation had two fields on inquiry. The first was the very strange business of trying to be funny as a way of putting food on the table. It's a weird job. It's not so much a matter of trying to be funny as it is of trying to figure out what's funny about the thing sitting in front of you. 

Watch How This Hustler Does His Work

Jan 29, 2016
Chion Wolf / WNPR

The art of the con can be pretty fascinating, but we often make the mistake of thinking we’re not vulnerable. One hustler stopped by WNPR to demonstrate how it’s done. 

Bansy / Creative Commons

Dr. Joseph Cyr, a surgeon with the Royal Canadian Navy, had to think quick when his ship came upon a rickety boat with mangled and bloody bodies. at the height of the Korean War in 1951. As the only doctor on board, he quickly moved to operate on 19 men, all of them his enemies in this war. All survived, making the young doctor a hero.

Except he wasn't really a doctor. 

Photonesta

Okay, this show comes with a trigger warning.

We're going to talk about things people eat, and some of those things are not for the squeamish. This is a conversation about disgust, and specifically, how our reflexive response of disgust may get in the way of things we probably need to think about doing.

Ugly Dolls / Flickr

What does it mean to say that someone, or something is ugly? For a label that gets tossed around so often, its meaning is hard to pin down. Perhaps that's because, throughout history and around the world, our notions of ugliness have shifted considerably.

Willle Stark / Flickr Creative Commons

Coincidences happen to everyon, wwhether it's hearing a song you've been thinking about all day on the radio, or running into an old acquaintance whose name recently came up in conversation. For events so seemingly unlikely, coincidences certainly have a way of happening quite often. And now, after much study, psychologists and mathematicians think they know why.

Walking With Dante

Dec 9, 2015
Freeparking / Creative Commons

"Dante's Inferno" is the most famous section of "The Divine Comedy," poet Dante Aligheri's, 14,000 line epic poem. It's where Dante must face his sins before moving beyond an eternity in hell, where the doomed can still find redemption in the acceptance of their humanity. 

The Placebo Effect

Dec 1, 2015
Christian Schnettelker / Creative Commons

Placebo treatments have been making people feel better for a long time. They've been working since long before Franz Mesmer was run out of 18th-century Vienna for "mesmerizing" a young pianist into regaining her eyesight, after all hope for a medical cure had been lost.  

Doctors have long dismissed the placebo effect as inferior to conventional medical treatments that sometimes fail where placebo works well, including in surgical procedures like arthroscopy, a popular procedure that relieves the pain of arthritic knees. 

The Trouble With Changing Your Mind

Nov 25, 2015
Jose Maria Cuellar flickr.com/photos/cuellar / Creative Commons

Changing our mind on an issue is something we're all free to do. But that doesn't mean it comes without a cost. What would it cost a lifelong liberal to suddenly turn conservative, or a career scientist to suddenly start denying climate change? As we typically associate with others of like mind, chances are the costs could be high.

Willle Stark / Flickr

Coincidences happen to everyone -- whether it's hearing a song you've been thinking about all day on the radio or running into an old acquaintance whose name recently came up in conversation. For events so seemingly unlikely, coincidences certainly have a way of happening quite often. And now, after much study, psychologists and mathematicians think they know why.

U.S. Intelligence Dabbles in Forecasting the Future

Sep 29, 2015
CALI / Flickr

The participants are average citizens: school teachers, waiters, pharmacists, perhaps even your neighbor. By day they work and pay their bills, but when they return home, things change. These elite individuals go to work forecasting the outcomes of global events (sometimes years into the future), all at the direction of a little-known government intelligence agency called IARPA.

While this all sounds ripped from the latest Hollywood thriller, the truth is that this is happening right now in America. The "superforecasters," as they are known, are all volunteers. They are Americans like you and me who signed up to take part in a long-running experiment put together by U.S. intelligence officials and several university professors.

Patrick McGarvey/flickr creative commons

Think about what it's like to ride that super-fast, double-looped, mountain-high roller coaster. Hyper-focused, you study the rickety bones of the structure while waiting your turn. You hear the clattering of the cars as they climb to the highest peak, and then watch as they plunge toward the ground with their loads of screaming passengers. Eventually the cars glide back to the starting position and it’s your turn. 

Matt Crowely / Flickr

Between all we know to be true, and all we know to be false, lies a world of woo. Woo-Woo, to use the official term, refers to ideas considered irrational or based on extremely flimsy evidence, or that appeal to mysterious occult forces or powers.

But who decides what's woo-woo, and what gets accepted into the hallowed halls of scientific truth?

There’s a proposal to build a 16-bed mental health care facility in Essex County. A non-profit agency serving the Northeast Kingdom wants to partner with the state to add more psychiatric beds.

Supporters say such services are sorely needed, but not everyone agrees on where and how they should be provided.

Does Your Dog Really Know How You Feel?

Aug 4, 2015
Chion Wolf / /WNPR

Our show is all about "man's best friend." 

Dogs are, generally, cute and cuddly and many of us adore them. But what's the science behind our puppy love? We talk with researchers and reporters who study whether or not our dogs are as intuitive as we sometimes think they are or whether they are just "dumb as a dog."

The Flap Over Flags

Jul 22, 2015
Sam Howzit / Creative Commons

Flags have been in the news a lot lately. South Carolina removed the Confederate flag from its Statehouse this month and one Missouri county threatened to lower the flags at their courthouse for one full year to mourn the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. 

The Backstory of Advice

Jul 21, 2015
Chion Wolf / WNPR

 

What makes advice good or bad? When and why do we listen to what others have to say? It is human nature to turn to others for advice when the going gets tough; we seek the wisdom of loved ones, lawyers, doctors, therapists, and advice columnists. But even when presented with good advice, we don't always take it. This hour, we get down to business about advice.

anoldent/flickr creative commons

Science still can't say for sure why we need sleep, though we spend a third of our lives asleep, or trying to sleep. Those trying to sleep include the millions who have some sort of sleep issue, from insomnia to over-sleeping.

lculig/iStock / Thinkstock

We usually think of propaganda as a tool used by autocrats eager to manipulate minds and limit rights we take for granted in the West. Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un or King Salman bin Abdulaziz wouldn't have a chance with us.

But Western culture is steeped in propaganda that's more insidious and less blatant.

Klan McKellar / Creative Commons

Oh no! It's my turn to speak. My throat is tight, my mouth is pasty and the butterflies are eating at my stomach. My mind feels blank, what if my voice cracks? My heart is pounding so hard I feel lightheaded.   This is how I felt before speaking in front of an auditorium filled with over 300 teachers and administrators in the town in which I live. I made it - but there was a moment when I wasn't sure I would. In the end, I liked it more than I thought I could. 

Gareth Williams/flickr creative commons

Since we are the narrators of our lives, we control our perspective in the stories we tell to make sense of the world. Psychology professor Timothy Wilson says in his book Redirect these tales we tell have a powerful reality, determining whether we will lead healthy, productive lives—or get ourselves into trouble. 

Joel Ormsby / Creative Commons

All of us know what it feels like to have a bad day - the pain, the regret, the sheer misery. We also know how one bad decision can spiral into a day(s) filled with misery.  Sometimes, misery stems from really bad events that are out of our control, like the loss of a loved one. But, too often, we're quick to blame misfortune on chance, the toss of the dice, bad luck. 

PBS NewsHour

More Connecticut students report feeling sad and hopeless and they are seeking help at school-based health clinics, counselors say.

Their problems range from bullying to family issues to anxiety.

Rennett Stowe / Flickr Creative Commons

In 1954, Roger Bannister did the previously unthinkable. He ran a mile in under four minutes. Six weeks later, his chief rival John Landy, did the same thing, and bettered Bannister's performance.

Thirteen months later, three other runners broke four minutes. Bear in mind that this had been considered impossible for as long as there had been time-keeping at track meets.

Practice of Forgiveness Shown to Help Victims Heal

May 6, 2015
https://www.facebook.com/JesseLewisChooseLove

Think back to a time you felt wronged by someone. Does the memory of the injury still make you upset or cause you stress? 

Considering the amount of minor and major trauma we sustain throughout our lives, we are given surprisingly little information about how to process these unpleasant experiences to help minimize long-term negative effects.

Columbine; Port Arthur, Australia; The Sikh Temple of Wisconsin; Newtown — the list goes on and on. And, by now, the elements of this type of massacre have become ritualized: usually one, but sometimes more than one, deeply disaffected person, almost always male, who is heavily armed with guns and/or explosives, targets the innocent. In the aftermath, which sometimes includes a trial, the crucial question of "Why?" is never really answered. Instead, most of us are left to wonder how any human being, however twisted, could be capable of such horror.

Mike Licht / Creative Commons

University of Kentucky Biology professor James Krupa is frustrated with the resistance of his non-biology students to accept the theory of evolution as established fact, despite what he calls an "avalanche of evidence" supporting its validity.

Krupa says that evolution is the foundation of our science, and just as we accept germ theory, cell theory, quantum theory, and even game theory, we must understand the significance of evolution even if it challenges long-held religious beliefs.

Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation

Scarlett Lewis is on a mission. She lost her six-year-old son, Jesse, during the 2012 Newtown school shooting that left 20 children and six educators dead. But somehow, through something barely short of a miracle, she’s been able to use that pain and turn it into something powerful. 

Lewis created the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation to honor the message her son left on the family’s chalkboard the day he died – nurturing healing love. One of the things she’s trying to do is bring social and emotional learning into public schools.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The State Department of Public Health has just released 2013 data on Health Risk Behaviors in Connecticut’s High School Age Youth. This week, WNPR is focusing on one particularly troubling condition described in the report: self injury.

On Wednesday, we learned about how one Connecticut school district is trying to cope with a substantial rise in the number of high school students who are cutting themselves.

In part two, we bring you the story of a Connecticut man’s journey through mental illness and self-injury to recovery. 

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