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The Psych Files

The Psych Files

The Psych Files is a podcast for anyone who wonders why we do what we do. Experienced educator Michael Britt, Ph.D., in an upbeat and friendly style, shows you how ideas from the field of psychology apply to everyday life. If you?re a life-long learner, a student or a teacher, you?ll find his 20-30 minute episodes enjoyable and educational. Over 14 million episodes have been downloaded to date with over 100,000 people listening every month. See what all the talk is about!


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Ep 324: Put Your Love Life on Automatic

In this episode I cover a few interesting topics. First, have you ever "blanked out" in front of an audience? I recently did and I was determined to find out why this happened. I found some answers in a great book called Stop Talking, Start Influencing. Also I'll tell you about the memorization strategies I used in a recent play I was in, and we'll finish up with a snippet from an interview with Clive Thompson, author of Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World and he'll tell us how some coders tried to automate parts of their love life.
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Ep 323: Computer Programmers: Obsessed With Efficiency

Do you have your own little ?tricks?? That is, ways of doing things that are faster than how you used to do them? Well, congratulations, you?re something of an efficiency expert. And if you can picture an assembly line of people putting products together, then you?ve seen one way of increasing productivity. But some of us are really, really obsessed with efficiency and often those people are computer programmers. Some of them, as you?ll hear from Clive Thompson (author of ?Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World?) have even developed ways to make their love lives more efficient! Sounds impossible but I think you?ll enjoy hearing what some coders are up to. Why are they obsessed with efficiency? Do they score highly on Conscientiousness in the Big Five personality score? Would Frederick Taylor - founder of scientific management - feel a kindred spirit in them? Let?s find out.
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Ep 322: An Introduction to Cross Cultural Psychology

Why is it okay - in some cultures - to jaywalk, while in others you could get arrested for jaywalking? Why was marijuana was sold - legally - for years in the streets of Amsterdam when it is only now become legal in the US? The reason: some cultures are what author Michele Gelfand calls "loose" and others are "tight". Here's my first episode on cross-cultural psychology and I think you're going to really enjoy listening to professor Gelfand to find out how our culture's norms shape our attitudes and behavior.
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Ep 321: OCD - What is it Really Like?

Would you like to get into the mind of someone who not only has OCD, but who also wrote a novel in which the main character deals with it as well? That's the premise behind the book, Waiting For Fitz. In this episode I interview the author, Spencer Hyde. He talks about the novel, the other characters (one of whom suffers from schizophrenia) and his own experiences dealing with OCD.
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Ep 320: Cannibis and Mental Health - Whose Advice Do You Trust?

Only a little while ago cannabis (marijuana) was approved for medical purposes. Now "recreational use" of the plant is legal in many states in the US. It is being prescribed to treat PTSD, schizophrenia and chronic pain among others.   But what is dispensary opens near you - can you trust the advice of the "budtender" (those who work at cannabis stores) who often provide advice to customers. Dr. Nancy Haug conducted a study to find out what kind of training these workers have and what they base their advice on. You'd be surprised. I talk with professor Haug about this topic and then I talk about what I've been doing to create online activities for students.
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Ep 319: Forensic Psychology - An Interview with Dr. Susan Lewis

It seems like there?s no end to TV shows about criminals who have various psychiatric disorders. It?s understandable that we find them fascinating, but how accurate are they? What is it really like to work with individuals who are convicted of serious crimes but who are unquestionably suffering from a mental illness? If you?re interested in these questions or are thinking of going into the field of forensic psychology then you need to listen to Dr. Susan Lewis as she tells us about two of the many clients she came to know during her years in this field. You?ll hear about the case of ?Jay? ? a deeply troubled man who is stuck in a revolving door between in-patient psychiatric hospitals and the criminal justice system. You?ll also hear about ?Kristen? ? a deeply violent woman who can?t get the help she needs. Dr. Lewis is the author of a book called ?From Deep Within: A Forensic and Clinical Psychologist's Journey? and in this honest and moving interview you?ll learn what it?s really like to work with individuals like ?jay? and ?Kristen?.
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Ep 318: What is Academic Shame?

Recently we've learned that many students learn best not when things are well explained to them, but rather when they're just a little bit confused. Professor Jeremiah Sullins (interviewed in episode 267) talked about his work on Productive Confusion. Now he's on to a related topic: what if instead of being motivated by confusion, students who are prone to shame wind up feeling so frustrated that they feel ashamed of their confusion and lose the motivation to learn? That's what we'll address in this interview with Dr. Sullins and his work on academic shaming.
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Ep317: It's So Fluffy! Cuteness Makes Us Aggressive

Have you ever seen something so cute you just want to squeeze it to death? Or a child so cute you want to pinch it's cheeks really hard? Why do we have these odd, powerful, opposite feelings? It's called "cute aggression" and we'll try to explain it in this episode.  We'll also look at the bullying in Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, sexual coercion in the song, "Baby, It's Cold Outside" and yet another nail in the coffin for our non-existent "learning styles".
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Ep 316: Motivational Interviewing and the TV Show Columbo

Hopefully you've watched the TV show Columbo. Curious about what this character has to do with psychology? You'd be surprised.  In this episode I analyze Columbo along with the Jennifer Garner movie, "Peppermint". I also explain why you remember how to ride a bike but can't remember where you put your cell phone.
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Ep 315: The Psychology of A Quiet Place and Mission Impossible

Did you see the movie A Quiet Place? How about Mission Impossible? It's always fun to analyze movies from a psychological perspective and that's what I do in this episode. A Quiet Place has a lot of family dynamics issues going on but Mission Impossible? You'd be surprised. We'll look at such things as family therapy, the identified patient, sexism and even correlational statistics.  Let's have some fun.
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Ep 314: Trauma Recovery with Dr. Matt Jaremko

If you're suffering from the effects of a trauma in your life or know someone who is, then listen to Dr. Matt Jaremko talk about his new book with Beth Fehlbaum called Trauma Recovery: Sessions With Dr. Matt". Dr. Jaremko's approach to therapy with trauma victims is straightforward and respectful. It's about helping survivors get their confidence back and move forward. Students of psychology will also see how the ideas of Albert Bandura and Arnold Lazarus come together in a fascinating therapeutic technique.
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Ep 313: Owning Bipolar: A Conversation with Michael Pipich

This is part 2 of my interview with Michael Pipich, author of the book, Owning Bipolar. In this part of the interview MIchael discusses his therapeutic approach to trearting Bipolar Disorder.If you have been diagnosed with bipolar or know someone who has, this episode is for you. Michael Pipich brings his 30 years of experience together in his new book, Owning Bipolar.
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Ep 312: Owning Bipolar: A Conversation with Michael Pipich

Bipolar (previously known as "manic depression") is often a difficult disorder to diagnose, much less to live with.  If you have been diagnosed with bipolar or know someone who has, this episode is for you. Michael Pipich brings his 30 years of experience together in his new book, **Owning Bipolar**.  In part 1 of my interview with him, we discuss what exactly is bipolar and why it is difficult to diagnose.
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Ep 311: The Ape That Understood the Universe

How are men and women different - really? There's plenty of debate over this, but how this: examine the differences between males and females across a wide variety of species. What are the reliable differences we see again and again? That's exactly what author Steve Stewart-Williams has done in his latest book, The Ape That Understood the Universe.  If you're interested in evolutionary Psychology you've come to the right place.  Fascinating discussion.
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Ep 310: How To Memorize Psychiatric Medications

Having a hard time **memorizing psychiatric medications** and which disorder they are used to treat?  These memory tricks will get them into your head in minutes - and they'll stick so you can get a better grade on your test.  I've got ways to remember 12 medications like **Zoloft, Prozac, Ritalin, Adderall, Lithium**, and more - and which diagnosis (**Depression, Anxiety, Psychosis**, etc.) the drug is used to treat.  Don't spend hours in rote memorization - use these memory tools instead.
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Ep 309: College Teaching Needs To Change

College teaching needs to change. This doesn't mean using a new fad technique. It doesn't mean dumbing anything down to get "today's students". It does mean that professors need to adopt more of the approaches to teaching that Ken Bain identified in his must-read book, "What The Best College Teachers Do". In this episode I describe one of the key ideas from the book and I show how they could be applied in two specific examples.
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Ep 308: How to Change the Mind of a Conservative

How do you get someone is is conservative to support climate change? Or stricter controls on guns? There is a way. Research confirms that conservatives tend to be focused on how good the past was, while liberals are "future-focused". So what if you frame a statement about gun control by framing that statement around words and images that support a person's preferences for the past or the future? Let's see how your attitudes are being ever so slightly influenced by the way statements are "framed". You'll be a wiser consumer as a result.
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Ep 307: Do Those i-Statements Actually Work and Did Koko Really Use Language as We Do?

Remember those "i-statements" you're supposed to use when you get mad at someone? "I feel ____ when you ____ because ____". Does that actually work? Does talking in this way resolve problems better and not get the other person defensive? We're going to find out. Also, Koko the gorilla died recently. But did she really master sign language? Or is there less to this story than first appears? In this episode we put on our critical thinking caps and take a look.
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Ep 306: Why Do You Talk To Your Dog Like That? And Does It Understand You?

Alright, let's all admit it - we talk to our pets in that funny pet voice. Who's a good dog? Well, there's been a lot of research on your use of this voice to talk to dogs as well as babies. What exactly are you doing with your voice? And most importantly, does your dog know what the heck you're saying? Does it help to talk this way? Let's find out.  And here's something you never thought of if you've ever tried to train a parrot or parakeet to speak: how come you DON'T use your "pet voice" in this case?
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Ep 305: In the Movies, Why Does the Woman Always Have to Die? And Other Gender Stereotypes

What can we learn from an old, dusty book I found in the basement? Well, if that book is about gender role **stereotypes** then there's a lot of things to uncover that explain why boys and girls act the way they do.   In this episode we get an example of **qualitative research** by really diving into the book called "Those We Love". How do books shape who we think we are and how we act as adults?
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Ep 304: Guess What? Testosterone Doesn't Neccessarily Cause Men to be Aggressive

Most of us assume one of the reasons men tend to act aggressively is that men have higher levels of testosterone. Let's take a look at this "testosterone myth" because this isn't always the case. In fact, in some cases, the higher levels of testosterone actually cause men to be MORE NICE than usual. Don't believe it? Let's take a look at what author Robert Sapolsky has to teach us about the true and subtle effects of testosterone. I think you'll be surprised.
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Ep 303: Significance Quest Theory: How Do We De-Radicalize People?

So now that we know a lot about why individuals join extermist groups, what can we do about it? How do we bring them back to society and help them have meaningful lives again? This is the second of 2 episodes on this topic and what we learn here also applies to school shooters. Here are some concrete suggestions, supported by extensive research.
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Ep 302: Violent Extremism: What's the Psychology Behind It?

What draws people toward violent extremist groups? Psychologists have conducted a lot of research to find this out and in this episode I summarize the findings of key researchers in this area. Researchers Arie Kruglanski, Katarzyna Jasko, David Webber, Chernikova and Erica Molinario explain how their theory, called SQT or Significance Quest Theory explains what leads young men to join extremist groups.
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Ep 301: The Role of CTE in the Life of Aaron Hernandez

You have probably heard a lot about football and CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), the brain degeneration that results from repeated head impacts. One of the worst cases so far of CTE was found in the brain of football player Aaron Hernandez. The Oxygen network produced a fascinating account of Hernandez's life entitled Aaron Hernandez Uncovered and I was asked to participate in a panel discussion with other podcasters in which I talk about CTE as well as Toxic Masculinity. Here's the recording of that Facebook Live stream event. I think you'll find it really interesting.
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Ep 300: Jazz Piano Improv - How Do They Do That?

Ever wonder how the fingers of really experienced pianists who are improvising seem to fly across the keyboard? How do they know where their fingers are going? How can they think that fast? In this episode I'll tell you about some of what the brain is doing when pianists play the piano. Maybe you'll be inspired to start playing yourself....?
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Ep 299: How Smart Do You Want Your Fitness Tracker to Be?

Fitness tracking devices are getting smarter. They?re going to have to get a lot smarter if they are going to be powerful tools in your quest to be fit. But how much more ?smart? do we really want them to get? Today they keep track of your steps and heart rate, but if your fitness tracker ?knew? how you were thinking and whether you were saying things to yourself that are de-motivating (?I?ll never get in shape anyway??) it might be more effective in getting you off the couch. But do you want it to have this information?    What if your tracker had some of the same GPS-enabled information that many cars and apps (like Waze) have? What if it knew the conditions of the area sidewalks, which walking/jobbing routes were safer than others or which had better scenery? This knowledge sounds like it could be very helpful, but are okay with your device having that info? In this episode I look at some recent research on tracking devices (like those made by FitBit, Garmin, Samsung and others) and how they could be made even more effective by borrowing ideas from Facebook and Netflix.
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Ep 298: Nudge Your Way to Better Health

How can psychologists get you to lead a healthier life? We all have "noble intentions" when it comes to eating well and exercising regularly, but those intentions often don't last too long and you're back to your old unhealthy ways. We can lecture you again about the benefits of healthy eating and exercise, or we can try to "nudge" you toward healthier eating. In this episode I talk about a articles that appeared in the journal Health Psychology about how subtle influences can be used to make big changes in our lives.
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Ep 297: The Movie Coco - What's the Psychology Behind It?

Have you seen the movie Coco? You should - it's a very moving story. But if you pay attention to the music you'll notice that the melody to the son "Remember Me" is played in several different ways - each with a very different effect on the psyche. In this episode I examine the psychology of this music. A;ong the way we'll see how minor chords and musical repetition affect, of all things, the release of dopamine in the brain.
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Ep 296: The Psychology and the Research Behind Why Some People are Angry when Athletes Take a Knee

What is the psychology and the research behind why many people are angry about athletes ?taking a knee? during the playing of the national anthem? Part of the explanation lies in what?s called the ?empathy deficit? that people in power can sometimes display. That is, those in higher social classes in societies are often not able to correctly interpret the facial expressions and gestures of people in lower social classes. Don?t believe it? In this episode I go through the research on how this ?empathy deficit? was discovered. Judge for yourself. There?s also a little evolutionary psychology here so I think you?ll find this episode of interest. Check it out!
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Ep 295: How Can the Ordinary Person Be Inspirational?

It's often asked: why don't we make heroes out of everyday people? Well, what makes some people's stories inspirational and other not? Let's say you want to inspire young people to make the most of their lives - how do you do that? What stories are the best to tell or what videos are likely to be shared the most? We'll tap into the latest psychological research to find out.
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Ep 294: What is Forensic Psychology Really All About?

If you've watched even a few detective shows (like CSI) you may think you have a sense of what the field of Forensic Psychology is like, but my interviewee David Webb is here to talk about what it's really like to work in this field. David is the author of the All-About-Psychology website as well as the All-About-Forensic-Psychology website. Let's separate fact from fiction and find out how psychological findings are applied to the justice system. And if you're interested in this field, or in pursuing a graduate psychology degree in any other area, check out our sponsor's website: Let's learn about Forensic Psychology!
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Ep 293: Emotional Intelligence - How Is It Taught?

One of the hardest challenges as we grow up is to know how we feel and to understand how others feel. The next step after we're aware of our feelings is knowing how we're going to best act on them. That's the essence of Emotional Intelligence and in this episode, school psychologist and author Kyle Carlin talks about a book he has written called Bug and Boo. It's a charming story about a young girl and her imaginary friend, but it's also a tool to help parents, educators and therapists help youngsters recognize and deal with their own and others' feelings.
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Ep 292: Yes, Computers Can Guess Your Sexual Orientation

On this episode I talk about a several psych topics, including what computer programs look at when they try to guess your sexual orientation - and they are really accurate at doing so. Also: anxiety blankets and the musical Hairspray - what do we reveal about ourselves sometimes when we don't even know it!
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Ep 291: How Important is Your Name? Maybe A Lot

What do you think of your name? Like it? Do you prefer a nickname or do you prefer when people call you by your full name? Why do you think people have these preferences? That's what we're looking at in this episode - research showing that other people (and yourself) might be shaping you to actually look like and act like your name. It's not a conspiracy - it's science. I also look at the latest research on exercise and how it is that one day's exerise might just make the next day a whole lot better. #exercise #psychology
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Ep 290: Class Demonstrations That Always Work

If you've ever wondered what goes on in a typical psychology class, well, here ar e 4 class activities I do almost every semester that are my ?sure fire hits? ? they engage the students in the learning process while helping them really grasp what a key term in psychology means. So you?ll learn about how students memorize each other?s names in a matter of minutes (mnemonics), as well as how they use a piano to shape a fellow student?s behavior (reinforcement and shaping), how they deal with solving unsolvable anagrams (learned helplessness), and how their memories of a car crash are easily manipulated by the way they are asked to recall the experience (unreliability of eyewitness testimony). Sure fire class demonstrations.
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Ep 289: Games and Videos as Therapeutic Tools: Dr. Anna Vagin (part 2)

In part 2 of my interview with Dr. Anna Vagin, she talks about some of the videos she uses to help kids and teens better understand the emotions and challenges of characters in the videos and how those characters dealt with their difficult situations. The videos are a launching point for discussion and insight into the clients' own lives.
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Ep 288: Using TableTop Games and Videos in Therapy: Interview with Anna Vagin

In part 1 of my interview with Anna Vagin, Ph.D. we talk about how she uses games and videos as part of her work with children and adolescents. I think you'll be surprised how Dr. Vagin uses short videos she finds on YouTube in her sessions. These are not games or videos that were designed to be used in this way, but she has carefully scoured YouTube to find videos that help youngsters connect with their emotions and to better understand others. What's additionally interesting is that Dr. Vagin's Ph.D. is not in psychology but rather in Speech and Language Pathology. Ever thought of that as a career path - a way to help people in their lives? I think you'll find this episode very interesting. #psychology #psychotherapy #therapy
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Ep 287: What to do About Fake News? Apply a Little Psychology - Part 2

In part 2 of my interview with Gleb Tsipusky we talk more about why so many of us (including me) fall for fake news stories and why such stories can spread so rapidly. We also talk about what he's doing to address the problem: the Pro Truth Pledge. Find out more about how he's applying some psychology to solve a real world problem.
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Ep 286: What to do About Fake News? Apply a Little Psychology

We're all aware of the problem of fake news, but why do we fall for it? When we read a post on Facebook that sounds a little questionable, why don't we check into it further? You better believe there's some psychology going on here. In this episode I interview Dr. Gleb Tsipursky of Ohio State university. He's been studying this in great depth. We'll apply theories from Daniel Kahenmann (Thinking Fast and Slow) as well as examine the "backfire effect", emotional reasoning and emotional contagion to better understand what's going on. In the upcoming second part of this interview we'll look at what Gleb is up to with his Pro Truth Pledge where more psychology is being applied to help us all stop spreading fake news.
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Ep 285: Ketamine and Depression, Raven Intelligence, and Those Darn Fidget Spinners

What are psychologists talking about this week? Well, we're fighting back against the unbelievable claims made by the marketers of fidget spinners (does the toy really help people with ADHD, PTSD and anxiety?), we're astounded by the results of research on the intelligence of ravens (apparently the birds get resentful if you don't treat them fairly), the latest news on the use of the drug Ketamine, and finally, how we're more likely to believe what a scientist says if he/she is not that attractive and instead looks more like our stereotype of a "scientist".
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Ep 284: On the TV Show Luther, Logical Thinking and Crinkly Plates to Lose Weight

Here's a new piece of weight-loss advice: eat on a crinkly plate! Um...sounds weird. It is kinda, but we'll explore why this might be a good bit of advice. We'll also take a minute and a half sound byte from the TV show Luther and wring all kinds of critical-thinking goodies from it. We'll discover why it might be a total waste of time for you to read about how other people became successful (or happy or have a better marriage or whatever else you might want). All those advice-giving books could be a waste of time. It has to do with our self-esteem and confirmation biases. We'll have some fun.
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Ep 283: How To Practice Correctly and is Facebook Rotting Your Brain?

Guess what? Practice definitely does NOT always lead to perfection. When you practice an instrument are you doing it right? In this episode I explore the "10,000 hour" myth and how you can practice something - like an instrument or a language - in a way that is going to result in much faster learning. We'll see that the idea that you don't need to memorize anything because you can always look it up on Google doesn't hold water and we'll take a look at the evidence that Facebook might be rotting your brain (it isn't).
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Ep 282: Psychology and Gaming - Part 2 of an Interview with Josue Cardona and Kelli Dunlap

All of us have probably felt a little "down" every once in a while so we can empathize a little with someone who is depressed, but how about someone who is suffering from schizophrenia? What is it like? Games may hold one answer for helping all of us gain a small experience of what it is like to suffer from schizophrenia. In part two of my interview with Josue Cardona and Kelli Dunlap we continue our discussion of how games can make understanding psychology more impactful.
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Ep 281: Psychology and Gaming - an Interview with Josue Cardona and Kelli Dunlap

Interested in psychology? How about gaming? Did you know that these two fields actually go together quite well? Find out how two people with strong backgrounds in both of these fields are putting their experience to work creating games that educate and that provide players with experiences that really help us understand more about mental health. In part 1 of this two part episode we talk about games and their application to psychology. I think you're really going to enjoy it.
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Ep 280: Bystander Activation: Yes, There Are Things You Can Do To Change the World

We live in a time when facts are being questioned, and when respect for each others' differences is on the decline. How often do we say to ourselves: "Yea, but what can I do about it?". Actually, with a little psychology maybe you can turn things around. In this episode I interview someone who's doing just that: Patrice Jones. He's a marketing VP and he recently created a video on his own time that he hopes will remind viewers - be they New England Patriot's fans or not - that we all share a commitment to basic human values like equality and dignity. If we are to keep those values alive we need to be vigilant. See how Patrice is combining a little psychology with his skills as a marketer to develop empathy and a shared sense of the larger group to which we all belong.
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Ep 279: The United Airlines "Involuntary Deboarding" Incident: from Shock Value to Productive Discussion

The involuntary removal of a passenger on a United Airlines flight has justifiably garnered a lot of attention. And as teachers we certainly want to capture students' attention. But how do we create a discussion among students that goes beyond the simple shock value of showing the video? In this episode I talk both about the connections to psychology and about a series of new books that describe ways - simple ways - that teachers can create powerful, critical thinking, discussions in their classrooms.
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Ep 278: Memorize Your Lines or Lyrics: Techniques You Never Heard Of

Have to memorize lines for a play or musical? There are a lot of techniques. Let me tell you about a few that are backed by science. I've been involved in the theatre for many years and I've done a lot of memorizing of both lines and song lyrics. Typically, actors and singers use repetition - and don't get me wrong - that works, but there are other ways to get those lines into your head. Ever heard of interleaving? How about using the Method of Loci (often called the Memory Palace) to memorize the sequence of an entire play? Impossible? Nope. Let's take a look.
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Ep 277: How to Remember Names and the Psychology of that BBC Interrupted Interview

It's hard to remember names - here's how to do it. You'll use your imagination and some weird imagery - but this works. Here's another great use of mnemonics. I'll give you a bunch of people's names and describe the images I created to help me remember them. Give your brain a little room to roam and put it to practical use. Also, I look at recent research that provides yet another reason why names are hard to remember. By the way, let me ask you a question: How many of each animal did Moses take on the ark? The answer: 0 (re-read the question...). I also take a look at that viral video called the "BBC Interrupted Interview". What's the psychology behind why many people thought the woman in the video was a nanny when she was the mother. We'll see how stereotypes develop. #psychology #memory #stereotypes
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Ep 276: "Because I Said So" Doesn't Work for Teens

How many times when a parent is arguing with a teen has the parent either said - or wish they could say - "Do it because I said so!". As a parent myself, I've had more than a few of those times. But it just doesn't work - especially with teenagers. In this episode I explore the classic three parenting styles first described by Diana Baumrind in 1971. Then I share my reasons why "Because I Said So" won't work especially in the teen years when teens typically have a low self esteem and a strong desire to believe they are right in the way they interpret the world.
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Ep 275: What Makes Some People Funny?

You probably know someone who is just plain...well, funny. They may not necessarily even tell that many jokes, but they know how to come up with funny interpretations for what's going on around you ("That guy looks like...."). They just know how to make you laugh. Researchers have studied this in great depth to find out What kind of personality makes for a good strong ability to just come up with funny stuff. And if you've ever watched the TV show, "Who's Line Is It Anyway", in which comedians have to come up with funny stuff on the spot, you've probably wondered how they do that. Let's take a look.
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En liten tjänst av I'm With Friends. Finns även på engelska.
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