Guest Post by John Doris – Simine Vazire (sometimes i'm wrong)

with permission, an excerpt from john doris's forthcoming book. i wanted to post this because i think it is an excellent summary of the current crisis in social/personality psychology from a well-informed 'outsider'.  this will be review for many psychologists, but should be useful for new researchers, and for those outside of psychology who want some background/analysis from someone who is not in the trenches but has read and thought a lot about this literature and these issues.  

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art by melissa dominiak

Doris, J. M. 2015. Talking to Our Selves: Reflection, Ignorance, and Agency. Oxford:Oxford University Press.   […]  At this writing, social psychology is being shaken by charges that many published findings, including numerous iconic findings, do not replicate when tested by independent investigators. Continue reading

How to Flunk Uber: A Guest Post by Bob Hogan – David Funder (funderstorms)

How to Flunk Uber by Robert Hogan Hogan Assessment Systems Delia Ephron, a best-selling American author, screenwriter, and playwright, published an essay in the New York Times on August 31st, 2014 entitled “Ouch, My Personality, Reviewed”  that is a superb example of what Freud called “the psychopathology of everyday life.”  She starts the essay by noting that she recently used Uber, the car service for metrosexuals, and the driver told her that if she received one more bad review, “…no driver will pick you up.”  She reports that this feedback triggered some “obsessive” soul searching:  she wondered how she could have created such a bad score as an Uber passenger when she had only used the service 6 times.  She then reviewed her trips, noting that, although she had often behaved badly (“I do get short tempered when I am anxious”), in each case extenuating circumstances caused her behavior.  She even got a bad review after a trip during which she said very little:  “Perhaps I simply am not a nice person and an Uber driver sensed it.” The essay is interesting because it is prototypical of people who can’t learn from experience.  For example, when Ms. Ephron reviewed the situations in which she mistreated Uber drivers, she spun each incident to show that her behavior should be understood in terms of the circumstances—the driver’s poor performance—and not in terms of her personality.  Perhaps situational explanations are the last refuge of both neurotics and social psychologists? In addition, although the situations changed, she behaved the same way in each of them:  she complained, she nagged and micro-managed the drivers, she lost her temper, and she broadcast her unhappiness to the world. Continue reading

DMT: Gateway to Reality, Fantasy or What? – Scott McGreal (Unique—Like Everybody Else)

The bizarre phenomenon of encounters with non-human entities under the influence of DMT has inspired both mystical and scientific speculations. Greater understanding of the psychological and personality characteristics of DMT users might help shed light on this curious phenomenon. read more

Does Power Help or Hurt Perspective-Taking? – Amie Gordon (Psych Your Mind)

First comes love, then comes the realization that we are navigating life’s journey with another person who may have different thoughts, feelings, and beliefs than us. How do we deal with having differing viewpoints from our romantic partners? Perspective-taking is a fundamental social skill that helps us smoothly steer through the many bumps in the road, from picking out a thoughtful anniversary gift to helping us reach a compromise on a contentious issue. When people are able to consider their partner’s point of view, both they and their partners report being more satisfied with their relationship (Long, 1990). Although this basic skill is fundamental and beneficial, not everyone is good at perspective-taking, particularly in their romantic relationships (Kenny & Acitelli, 2001). So who is good at perspective-taking and who is lacking? To answer this question, I turned to the research on power. I was curious to find out whether feeling powerful in a romantic relationship might lead people to be better, or worse, perspective-takers.
Power is potent, affecting how people think, feel, and interact with others. Although thinking about powerful people might bring to mind the caricature of a power-hungry CEO, the reality is that power is not just in the workplace, it is part of all of our relationships, shaping how we interact with our parents, friends, and romantic partners. So how exactly does it shape our relationships? Or, in our case, our ability to step into our partner’s shoes? Well, the old adage, “power corrupts,” suggests that powerful people should be selfish, caring only about getting their own way and paying little attention to what their romantic partners are thinking and feeling. And there is research to support this – people are less likely to take strangers’ perspectives when they feel powerful (Galinsky et al., 2006) and in families, powerful members are less likely to perspective take (Barber, 1984). Continue reading

Personality, Your Money, and Your Health – Howard Friedman (Secrets of Longevity)

What does your health and happiness have to do with your money? It is not so much what we are hearing about expert decision-making, or about status and stress. read more

The selection-distortion effect: How selection changes correlations in surprising ways – Sanjay Srivastava (The Hardest Science)

A little while back I ran across an idea buried in an old paper of Robyn Dawes that really opened my eyes. It was one of those things that seemed really simple and straightforward once I saw it. But I’d never run across it before.[1] The idea is this: when a sample is selected on a combination of 2 (or more) variables, the relationship between those 2 variables is different after selection than it was before, and not just because of restriction of range. The correlation changes in ways that, if you don’t realize it’s happening, can be surprising and potentially misleading. It can flip the sign of a correlation, or turn a zero correlation into a substantial one. Let’s call it the selection-distortion effect.

First, some background: Dawes was the head of the psychology department at the University of Oregon back in the 1970s. Merging his administrative role with his interests in decision-making, he collected data about graduate admissions decisions and how well they predict future outcomes. He eventually wrote a couple of papers based on that work for Science and American Psychologist. The Science paper, titled “Graduate admission variables and future success,” was about why the variables used to select applicants to grad school do not correlate very highly with the admitted students’ later achievements. Dawes’s main point was to demonstrate why, when predictor variables are negatively correlated with each other, they can be perfectly reasonable predictors as a set even though each one taken on its own has a low predictive validity among selected students.

However, in order to get to his main point Dawes had to explain why the correlations would be negative in the first place. Continue reading

Peak Experiences in Psilocybin Users – Scott McGreal (Unique—Like Everybody Else)

A recent study of intensely positive experiences in people who have used psilocybin found that some users had experienced profoundly altered states of consciousness, including visual hallucinations even when not under the direct influence of the drug. Perhaps psilocybin might have lasting effects on a person’s ability to enter altered states of consciousness without drugs.

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