Neural plasticity for practicing mindfulness

Adapting to Change The way we understand change shapes how we respond to it. For the purpose of clarification, I want to develop a working definition for change so we are all on the same page. Since change is very relative and subjective for each individual, in this context change will be defined as intentional or unintentional experiences that evoke resistance from a difference in life circumstance. The purpose of this is to cover the spectrum of possible forms of changes such as maybe breaking a bad habit that is giving us health problems, financial issues, moving, etc. What I … Continue reading Neural plasticity for practicing mindfulness

We need more risk-takers, not their excesses

Risk off. Why some people are more cautious with their finances than others RISK has always had a bit of an image problem. It is associated in the popular mind with gamblers, skydivers and, more recently, the overpaid bankers who crippled the global economy. Yet long-term economic growth would be impossible without people willing to wager all they have by starting a business, expanding an existing one or trying to invent a better mousetrap. Such risk-taking has been disturbingly scarce in America of late: the number of self-employed workers, job-creation at start-ups and the sums invested in businesses have been … Continue reading We need more risk-takers, not their excesses

Heavy drinkers do not respond to excise tax rates

Petrol tax:speeding :: alcohol tax:binge drinking If you want to reduce binge drinking, excise tax rates are a remarkably blunt instrument. We don’t use petrol taxes to curb drag racing; we shouldn’t think that alcohol excise is a great solution to binge drinking. I’d posted last year on a nice Australian study by Byrnes et al who found that tax increases did a lot to curb light and moderate drinkers’ consumption, but did little to stop binge drinkers. Heavy drinkers did respond to the price hikes, but only by cutting back on their light drinking days. They still binged on … Continue reading Heavy drinkers do not respond to excise tax rates

The top ten of the cognitive revolution

How Thinking Works: 10 Brilliant Cognitive Psychology Studies Everyone Should Know Fifty years ago there was a revolution in psychology which changed the way we think about the mind. The ‘cognitive revolution’ inspired psychologists to start thinking of the mind as a kind of organic computer, rather than as an impenetrable black box which would never be understood. This metaphor has motivated psychologists to investigate the software central to our everyday functioning, opening the way to insights into how we think, reason, learn, remember and produce language. Here are 10 classic cognitive psychology studies that have helped reveal how thinking … Continue reading The top ten of the cognitive revolution

Pars destruens vs. pars construens in psychology

The changing face of psychology In 1959, an American researcher named Ted Sterling reported something disturbing. Of 294 articles published across four major psychology journals, 286 had reported positive results – that is, a staggering 97% of published papers were underpinned by statistically significant effects. Where, he wondered, were all the negative results – the less exciting or less conclusive findings? Sterling labelled this publication bias a form of malpractice. After all, getting published in science should never depend on getting the “right results”. You might think that Sterling’s discovery would have led the psychologists of 1959 to sit up … Continue reading Pars destruens vs. pars construens in psychology

Nudging people to recycle textiles

Smart bins make it easy to donate textiles Donating your used and no longer needed clothing is a no-brainer, but for people living in cities, especially those without cars, getting to donation spots with sacks of clothing or other textiles can be hard to manage. Goodwill of San Francisco wants to make that process as convenient as possible and they’re debuting a new high-tech solution to get more people donating their used textiles. The goBIN is a smart donation bin that has sensors that ping Goodwill when its full and time for pick-up, making sure the bin is always ready … Continue reading Nudging people to recycle textiles

How to reveal rational preferences

Why ‘irrational’ choices can be rational When faced with choices such as what to eat first, we might make decisions that look irrational at first sight. You prefer apples to oranges, but cherries to apples. Yet if I offer you just cherries and oranges, you take the oranges. That does necessarily mean you’re crazy, according to a new study published in Biology Letters1. The research shows that sometimes a decision like this, which sounds irrational, can actually be the best one. Organisms, including humans, are often assumed to be hard-wired by evolution to try to make optimal decisions, to the … Continue reading How to reveal rational preferences