psychology

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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. 

Unraveling the Web of Deception

Apr 8, 2015
Chion Wolf

We fool people all the time. Whether with bad intent or not, deception has become a common practice in today's society. While modern tools such as texting, social media and the internet at large have all made the practice easier, deception in its most basic form goes back to Man's beginning.  Some believe it to be an assertion of power while others claim it's in our blood- a practice born out of our species' need to cooperate in order to survive.

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. 

Andre Silva / Creative Commons

On the series "NewsRadio," the character played by Phil Hartman once said, "Experience once taught me that behind every toothy grin lies a second row of teeth."

Smiling is a universal way to show happiness. But not all smiles are happy. In reality, we smile less for happiness than for social reasons that have nothing to do with happiness. That said,  few things are more ingratiating and calming as another person's genuinely warm smile. But, maybe it's because a genuine smile is such a great thing that we're always looking for the false one. 

What's In a Name?

Mar 26, 2015
Natalie Maynor / Creative Commons

Author Michael Erard is interested in how and why we name things - especially non-human objects and animals - and how naming affects our perceptions and behaviors toward those objects.

He spent a lot of time researching how different subcultures name things - including rock musicians, scientists and Maine lobstermen, because naming tells you a lot about what's going on in a particular culture.  

Andrew/flickr creative commons

Respected researcher and psychologist John Mayer says we can become the best version of ourselves by building our “personal intelligence” to understand ourselves and perceive what makes others tick.

PT Vote / Flickr Creative Commons

Why do we vote the way we do? The easy answer, of course, is that we pick the politician whose values, beliefs and opinions most closely resemble our own. But while that does play a part, there are other, less obvious influences as well.

It turns out that much of why we make the voting decisions we do comes from our subconscious: biases we hold towards things like a candidate's height, weight, looks, tone of voice, and even choice of clothes. Campaigns have known this for years and, with every vote being fiercely sought, have employed a variety of tactics to make their candidate appeal to parts of our psyche we're not even aware of.

The ouster of Bryan Stockton from his perch as CEO at Mattel this week came as the toymaker's best-known brands like Barbie stagnate and it loses business to Web-based games.

Stockton himself said last year that Mattel lacked an innovative culture and blamed it in part on something specific: bad meetings. That's a common and persistent corporate ailment.

Scott Ryan-Hart is a cartographer for the Ohio Department of Transportation, where a typical meeting can last more than two hours.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Here's my favorite one. Eighty-four percent of Frenchmen rate themselves as above average lovers. Ninety-three percent of young drivers in another survey said they were above average. And, 68% of the faculty at the University of Nebraska place themselves in the top 25%.

All of those numbers reflect misplaced confidence. It seems to be genetically wired into us in certain ways.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The Alzheimer’s Association says about five million people in the United States have some form of dementia. They expect that number to increase dramatically as baby boomers age and more people live longer. By 2050, we can expect that number to rise to about a million new diagnoses every year.

Unless things change, many of us will end up in nursing homes.

Alberto Bocchetta, Giorgio Tamburini, Pina Cavolina, Alessandra Serra, Andrea Loviselli and Mario Piga / Wikimedia Commons

Yale University and the state are now offering a new treatment to young people living in the New Haven area who are experiencing psychotic symptoms. The treatment is also the subject of a soon-to-be-released study.

Jim The Photographer / Flickr Creative Commons

If you want to reach people, sing to them, and make them sing. Experience tells us that singing changes people's relationships to reality, maybe even getting them ready to experience pain in a protest march.

Here's a term that was new to me anyway: "Collective Effervescence". It was coined by the sociologist Emile Durkheim to describe a lot of things, including the state we might achieve if we all got together and sang a song about our political aims. You see this in times of protest, from the streets of Ferguson to the streets around Tahrir Square. When people sing, or hear someone else sing, it activates them.

Wessel Krul / Creative Commons

Think of "room escape" like a fancy cocktail: one part mystery, one part problem-solving, and two parts teamwork, with a dash of adrenaline-inducing claustrophobia on top.

If you're still puzzled, then congratulations -- that's the point.

Room escape is a new form of puzzle-based entertainment that's only just begun to catch on in America. It involves transforming ordinary rooms into extraordinary playscapes: richly themed environments in which willing participants are locked inside, and forced to solve mind-bending puzzles in order to escape.

Fear is one of the strongest and most basic of human emotions, and it's the focus of Fearless, the second episode of Invisibilia, NPR's new show on the invisible forces that shape human behavior.

This segment of the show explores how a man decided to conquer his fear of rejection by getting rejected every day — on purpose.

The evolution of Jason Comely, a freelance IT guy from Cambridge, Ontario, began one sad night several years ago.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Later in the show, we discuss this essay in praise of the conventional office life, but first, Colin writes: 

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.

Unraveling the Web of Deception

Dec 23, 2014
Chion Wolf / WNPR

We fool people all the time. Whether with bad intent or not, deception has become a common practice in today's society. While modern tools such as texting, social media and the internet at large have all made the practice easier, deception in its most basic form goes back to Man's beginning.  Some believe it to be an assertion of power while others claim it's in our blood- a practice born out of our species' need to cooperate in order to survive.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Thomas Moore was, for 13 years, a Servite monk. In 1992, he burst onto the national scene with "Care of the Soul", which combined the psychotherapeutic of Jung and James Hillman with ancient and contemporary religious and spiritual ideas. It was number 1 on the New York Times best seller list, and stayed on the list for a year.

Look Into My Eyes / Creative Commons

In his new book, Jealousy, Peter Toohey explores the lesser talked about side of the green-eyed monster. That is, he takes a look at some of the ways that jealousy can actually be good for us. 

This hour, Peter joins us for a panel discussion about jealousy's impact on creativity. We take a look at how the emotion has fueled some of society's greatest books, plays, songs, and paintings -- and discuss what these works, in turn, tell us about ourselves. 

Commerce Marketing Communications Photography / Texas A&M UNiv

A new Yale University Study reveals a negative bias toward mental health patients whose symptoms are explained biologically.

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