Monday, December 24, 2012

PYM: Holiday Edition

Looking for your perfect holiday?
The holidays are upon us, which can mean family, fun, food, and cheer. But also, stress, anxiety, conflict, and caloric guilt. Psychology has a lot to say about how to promote the former and avoid the latter, so like last year, I've compiled posts from the previous year to provide you with tips on how to make your holidays a little bit brighter.

On giving and receiving gifts:

-It is not the thought that counts. There is a mismatch in our preference for giving and our preference for receiving gifts. We like to think that a thoughtful gift is the best kind, but gift recipients really just want to receive a gift they like - so know that picking a gift from someone's amazon wish-list is a surefire way to guarantee a happy Christmas. But if you went off-road this Christmas when buying your presents, temper your expectations for how happy the recipient will be when receiving a gift accompanied by out-of-the-box thinking. And if you are receiving a gift that isn't what you expected, remember that the gift giver thought they were doing something nice by putting in that extra thought and not just clicking on the amazon link.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Friday Fun: My Favorites of 2012!

Hello again PYM readers! The end of 2012 marks the end of our second year as a psychology research blog (the first full year). I feel like a proud papa (Also, I will be an actual papa in March). With the close of our second year here at PYM, I'd like to highlight some of my favorite blog entries from the past 12 months.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tabula Rasa: Do genes influence personality?
If I were to ask you the simple question, "Do you think that genes influence your personality?" The first thing you might think, is that I'm asking you a stupid question. After all, nearly all our lay beliefs about the world include beliefs that some of our genetic material influences who we become as people. And though we do believe, to varying degrees, that our experiences shape who are, I'm sure we can't think of all that many people who believe, like Aristotle, that we are a tabula rasa (blank slate). As well, if you believe in evolution then you must have an implicit belief that genes influence who we are. If evolution has taught us anything, it is that survival means passing on the fittest of our genes to the next generation.

So, you come to PYM today with the implicit belief that your personality is most certainly influenced by your genes. What if I told that this is not what the most recent research in behavioral genetics would suggest?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Is it the thought that counts?

Now that we are in the midst of the holiday gift-giving season, many of you may be searching for the perfect presents to give friends and family members. Whether braving the busy parking lots at malls or surfing the internet for the latest deals, shoppers are likely putting a lot of time and energy into purchasing gifts that are just right. After all, when it comes to gift-giving, isn’t it the thought that counts? Conventional wisdom tells us that how much a gift is liked or appreciated is based not just on the gift’s objective quality, but also (and more) on how much thought the gift-giver put into choosing it. If that’s the case, then, you need not worry about getting the “perfect” gift. Your gift will be appreciated and valued for the thought behind it, right?

Monday, December 3, 2012

The secret to flourishing? Science says it's in the numbers

Flourishing is in the numbers
When it comes to human flourishing, science is getting pretty specific. Over the course of our daily lives, we have a variety of positive and negative experiences. And I think most of us would agree that we are likely to be happiest when we maximize the positive and minimize the negative. But researchers suggest that it is not just about having more positive and less negative in our lives – it is the ratio of positive to negative that matters.

So what is that magical ratio? At or above 3:1. Researchers Fredrickson and Losada tracked people’s daily experiences over the course of a month and found that people who are flourishing (as opposed to languishing) report experiencing at least three times as many positive emotions as negative emotions in their daily lives.