Category Archive: Psych Nerdery

May 29 2014

Optimism, Priming

[Early morning airport thoughts, mostly organized] There’s been a great replication debate playing its way across psychology this year, heating up recently, and there are some particularly good things being said. Things that make me happier and more exclamatory about this field I love. To start, two years ago, Daniel Kahneman wrote an open email …

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Apr 29 2014

Aversive and Achievement Goals

[Related to The Cockroach of Motivation. If you're here and generally consider yourself part of the rationality community, check out the quick note first.] In psychology, especially the subsector focused on motivation and identity, there’s this idea of future possible selves: the ways you imagine yourself being as you go forward. You can have lots …

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Apr 26 2014

Please Stop Talking About All Those Babies Waiting To Be Adopted

This post was inspired and cobbled together from an internet comment that accidentally grew into a novel.  I’ve attempted to include citations where possible, but the majority of this information comes from working in adoption services research at the Fabulous Unspecified Internship last year and is not easily accessible for citation. Add salt as necessary.  …

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Apr 19 2014

Illusory Bodies, or What If We Totally Confused Your Sense of Owning Your Body?


The short version of our research is that some scientists got together and had this conversation: “Hey, hey, you know that iconic study where researchers made people think a rubber hand belonged to them?!” “Yeah! and how it’s been used in research about racism, pain, empathy, and like, basically everything?” “WAIT. WAIT. What if we …

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Apr 16 2014

Things Psychology Accidentally Taught Me

via Flickr user Deradian, some rights reserved

1. Never commit a crime unless you know you can get away with it. Otherwise you might end up in front of a jury, and juries are TERRIFYING. So are eyewitnesses. 2. If you want to read through research quickly, you can read the abstract and skip the methods and results reporting in favor of …

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Apr 12 2014

Measles and the Inoculation Effect

I gave a talk at Illinois-Wesleyan earlier today about marketing, persuasion, and pseudoscience. As part of the notes, I mentioned that I had heard recently, but wasn’t sure of the veracity, that the measles outbreaks that were getting so much skeptic attention, were being wrongly blamed on anti-vaxxers. A few hours later, my RSS feed …

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Mar 30 2014

Psychology For Gryffindors

This should work if you’ve read canon Harry Potter or Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, and is some blending of the two. You can probably make sense of it with one or the other, but let me not fail to remind you that Methods is here and you should read it. Psychology for …

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Feb 23 2014

[Sunday Assembly Chicago] Talk Notes, Citations, Oddments

[General version of what I'm saying at Sunday Assembly Chicago today. Yes, the footnotes start at 2. I edited and didn't want to go fix all superscripts at 6 am this morning.] Good morning! I’m Kate Donovan, and in about two sentences, I’m going to stop talking. I’m going to smile (see?) and stare pleasantly back at you, …

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Feb 11 2014

[#FtBCon] Mental Illness & Society

I live in a large house with eleven people and occasionally questionable wifi. So, on the morning of Sunday’s FtBCon, I walked to campus to find a quiet room to do my panel. Option 1: temporarily under reorganization, which seemed to involve moving desks around and dropping them for maximum noise. Option 2: Mysteriously full. …

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Dec 20 2013

Some ‘Exercise for Mental Health!’ Headscratching

[CN: Brief mention of eating disorders, exercise for weight loss] “Even a little bit of exercise can improve mental functioning!”  The little display-quotes at the top of Psychology Today’s page always make me a touch antsy. The thing about writing popular psychology is that you want to to actually be popular, and “well, we tested …

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