Outnumbered: People Overestimate the Presence of Symbolically Threatening Groups

Each time we enter a new environment, we’re confronted by a flood of information. Our perception of a place might be influenced by the lighting, noise, the number of exits—and the occupants. When we perceive those people as symbolically threatening to our values and beliefs, whether because of their race, sexuality, political affiliation, or another …

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I Don’t Care If It’s Fake News, I Believe It

While the past several decades can rightly be called the “information age,” the rise of social media platforms makes is seem like the past few years could be considered the misinformation age. The viral nature of alternative facts, rumors, and planned disinformation campaigns has taken its toll on global politics, the economy, and healthcare. If …

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‘This Is the Price We Pay to Live in This Kind of Society’

Seeing news of mass shooting after mass shooting can produce both a stress response and a cynical sense that nothing will change. … The sites of mass shootings have become instantly recognizable markers of tragedy in the geography of recent American history: There’s Columbine, Parkland, Aurora, the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Sandy Hook, and Virginia …

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Practical Ways to Alleviate Loneliness and Isolation Among Older Adults

Over 14 million older adults live alone in the U.S., according to the Administration on Aging[1]. Unfortunately, loneliness and isolation are serious issues with deleterious health implications. Both are linked to decreased physical and mental health, as well as increased mortality. In fact, The National Institute on Aging notes loneliness and isolation can lead to …

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Facial Expressions Do Not Reveal Emotions

Do your facial movements broadcast your emotions to other people? If you think the answer is yes, think again. This question is under contentious debate. Some experts maintain that people around the world make specific, recognizable faces that express certain emotions, such as smiling in happiness, scowling in anger and gasping with widened eyes in …

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2022 Spence Award Mini Episode: Brian Anderson and Habit-Reinforcing Behavior

The winners of the 2022 APS Janet Taylor Spence Award for Transformative Early Career Contributions represent some of the brightest and most innovative young psychological scientists in the world. In a series of mini-episodes, Under the Cortex talks with each winner about their research and goals. Today we hear from Brian Anderson (Texas A&M University) about his research on …

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How Meditation Could Change the Brain

n a time when traumatic events such as pandemics, shootings and loss seem never-ending, mindfulness can be a tool for feeling capable during periods of uncertainty. “Mindfulness is a collection of practices nowadays, aimed to help most of us cultivate moment-to-moment awareness,” said Monica Vermani, a clinical psychologist based in Toronto and author of “A …

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U.S. Kids Are Falling Behind Global Competition, but Brain Science Shows How to Catch Up

On vital measures that predict later success in school and life, small children in the U.S. do worse than kids in comparable countries. This distressing information comes from an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) study of five-year-olds. For years the OECD has been examining the academic achievement of 15-year-old students from around the world, and recently …

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Why It’s So Hard to Make Risk Decisions in the Pandemic

Over the past two years, I like to think I’ve gotten practiced at a type of wretched multivariable calculus: pandemic decision-making. The process starts with the blue bubble of a texted invitation or a date flagged on the calendar—a party Saturday, a sibling’s high-school basketball game, a second cousin’s middle-school Quidditch match, a cross-country flight …

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Depression May Cause Us to View Success as an Exception to the Rule 

Depression has long been known to interfere with our ability to set realistic expectations, casting a pessimistic pall over the future. More recently, however, researchers have started to link the negative outlook brought about by depression to an impaired ability to update expectations.   The cognitive inflexibility found in people with depression may contribute to a …

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