June PsychNotes

You’ll probably get the urge to yawn if you stare at this yawning dog. Why? Because you’re a kind and empathetic person, of course! That explanation, and more, in this month’s thrilling edition of PsychNotes.

1) When Experience Can Backfire
I’m at a dangerous point in my career. I’m experienced enough to be skilled and efficient, but confident enough to start doubling down on my mistakes. Behavioral scientist Francesca Gino has been documenting the dangers of experience. “The feeling of knowing leads us to rationalize our past choices—and the urge to do so grows stronger the more experience we acquire.” The good news: if we’re “intellectually humble,” then being reminded we still have much to learn “opens our minds to the fact that there are multiple ways to approach the same decision or task.”

2) A Black-and-White View of Others
Daniel Fox is a Texas psychologists who has made a slew of useful videos for people suffering from borderline personality disorder. The first ten minutes of this video has a nice explanation of splitting, which is the “tendency to alternate between extremes of idealization and devaluation.” He explains, “Splitting wants you to think all mistakes are intentional… It also wants you to think [mistakes] are directed to cause you some kind of pain.” Splitting is a quality I think exists in us all to some degree… or at least it looks that way on Facebook and Twitter.

3) Warren Buffet’s Most Valuable Investment Advice
Billionaire Warren Buffet has some important financial advice for you. He says, “Marry the right person. I’m serious about that. It will make more difference in your life.” This short post links to a couple of interesting abstracts, including: Supportive Relationships Linked to Willingness to Pursue Opportunities, and Spouses’ Personality Influences Occupational Success. Someone should write a book on wise and careful mate selection.

4) People on Autism Spectrum May Be Especially Susceptible to Manipulation
As if the autism spectrum didn’t present enough difficulties (and a few advantages) folks on the spectrum may be especially susceptible to lying and manipulation. The good news is that some lie detections skills can be taught.

5) Try Not to Yawn When You Read This
Over at The Conversation, a couple of physiologists gathered an interesting collection of ideas about the mechanisms behind yawning. The contagious nature of it may be related to empathy, even in dogs. Unfortunately, “the functional purpose of yawning remains elusive.” Maybe yawning evolved as a social signal to let others know they’ve prattled on too long.

With that, I hope you have an excellent June! See you next month.

Image: Wikimedia Commons