Vaccines to protect against COVID-19 are now widely available in the United States. But, wide availability doesn’t mean wide acceptance. Vaccine hesitancy and individuals who proudly claim they are anti-vax are not new phenomena. But why, with so much availability, do people resist vaccines so aggressively? What is the psychology behind this hesitancy? Is there anything we can do to change the minds of people to follow medical advice and get vaccinated? To help us unravel that vexing question, Under the Cortex welcomes author and psychologist Dr. Stuart Vyse.
Pain is the body’s way of alerting the brain to injury and disease. Without a robust pain response, physical trauma could go unnoticed and untreated. Some people, however, experience chronic pain that lasts long after an injury has healed or has no easily identifiable cause. Unfortunately, treating chronic pain with over-the-counter and prescription medication has its own health risks, including adverse side effects and addiction. In the latest issue of Psychological Science in the Public Interest (PSPI), a team of researchers explores how psychological interventions can be part of a comprehensive plan to manage chronic pain while reducing the need for surgeries and potentially dangerous medications. Charles Blue interviews Mary Driscoll, a researcher at Yale University, and first author on the issue's main article.
Corporations, universities, and individuals have tried to find some magic formula to understand personalities and what characteristics and skills someone brings to the table. Over the years and across the globe, people have used handwriting analysis, phrenology—reading the bumps on the head—and even Ivy League diplomas to ascertain if someone has leadership potential or is an ideal team player. Perhaps the best known personality test is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. This episode takes a deep dive into the skeptical side of this topic with Dan McAdams, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University.
Though small in scale and sometimes unintended, microaggressions can negatively impact the well-being of individuals while reinforcing harmful stereotypes in society. Monnica Williams, a researcher at the University of Ottawa, discusses the study and impacts of microaggressions. The latest issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science is dedicated to the topic of microaggressions. You can read more about this topic here: Current Understandings of Microaggressions: Impacts on Individuals and Society.
In this special episode of Under the Cortex, the entire APS communications team (Kim Armstrong, Charles Blue, Ludmila Nunes, and Leah Thayer) shares its top highlights from the September/October 2021 Issue of the Observer. We cover "Rain Before Rainbows, The Science of Transgender Flourishing," "Convicted by Memory, Exonerated by Science," "Psychological Science Needs the Entire Globe," and much more!
Issues of gender equality, inclusion, and transgender rights have received a great deal of public and political attention. This includes laws restricting who can use which bathrooms, who has a right to compete in certain sports, and how gender is handled more broadly in our educational institutions and the workplace. Thekla Morgenroth with the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom shares their research on this topic.
You can read more in the article "The Rain Before Rainbows" appearing in the September/October issue of the Observer, the APS membership magazine.
Throughout the COVID pandemic, people have tried many things to help cope with their emotions and reduce the fear they feel. But that may not always be a good thing. If fear can motivate positive health behaviors, perhaps simple things like washing your hands, then could doing away with fear lead to less healthy behaviors? And, if so, are there better ways to cope with the current pandemic? To shed some light on this topic, we interview Brett Ford with the University of Toronto, who has published a paper in the journal Psychological Science on “Coping with Health Threats.”
What explains exceptional human performance? Does a focus on intensive specialized practice facilitate excellence, or is a multidisciplinary practice background better? Researchers investigated this question in sports and found that even when young competitors show tremendous promise in swimming, skateboarding, karate, or any other specialized sport, they’re likely to emerge better adult athletes if they take a more multidisciplinary approach, practicing a variety of sports and even engaging in friendly pickup games. To explore this more fully, Charles Blue interviews Arne Güllich with the Kaiserslautern University of Technology about his study published in Perspectives on Psychological Science.
Young children learn language at a pace far faster than teenagers or adults. One explanation for this learning advantage comes not from differences between children and adults, but from the differences in the way that people talk to children and adults.
Researchers have developed a method to experimentally evaluate how parents use what they know about their children's language when they talk to them. They found that parents have extremely precise models of their children's language knowledge and use these models to tune the language they use when speaking to them. Charles Blue speaks with the study's author, Daniel Yurovsky with Carnegie Mellon University. The results are published in Psychological Science.
Sometimes our eyes can deceive us, as shown by a perception-bending optical illusion involving a pair of lines, or sticks, of equal length. One stick, framed by open fins at each end, appears longer to our eyes than an equally long stick framed by closed fins. Even when we use our hands to estimate the lengths of the sticks, we are susceptible to the illusion. Previous research has shown that the illusion collapses when we prepare to grasp the stick with our hands. New research adds to these findings by showing that the illusion also collapses when we use our hands to describe such an action.
Susan Goldin-Meadow explains how a new study published in the journal Psychological Science reveals that, under certain conditions, gesturing may enhance our ability to estimate the dimensions of objects even when our eyes deceive us. Read the entire news release here.