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  • Science & the Public

    Online reviews can make over-the-counter drugs look way too effective

    Here’s one good reason why people often take medications and use health products that don’t live up to expectations or just don’t work — digital word of mouth.

    The reviews can be glowing. Take this scuttlebutt about a cholesterol treatment: “I have been using this product for 2 years. Within the first 3 – 4 months my cholesterol was down 30 points. Just got cholesterol tested last week:...

    03/14/2017 - 14:48 Science & Society, Psychology
  • Feature

    Nudging people to make good choices can backfire

    Nudges are a growth industry. Inspired by a popular line of psychological research and introduced in a best-selling book a decade ago, these inexpensive behavior changers are currently on a roll.

    Policy makers throughout the world, guided by behavioral scientists, are devising ways to steer people toward decisions deemed to be in their best interests. These simple interventions don’t...

    03/08/2017 - 08:00 Psychology, Science & Society
  • News

    Physically abused kids learn to fail at social rules for success

    Physical abuse at home doesn’t just leave kids black and blue. It also bruises their ability to learn how to act at school and elsewhere, contributing to abused children’s well-documented behavior problems.

    Derailment of a basic form of social learning has, for the first time, been linked to these children’s misbehavior years down the line, psychologist Jamie Hanson of the University of...

    02/13/2017 - 12:00 Psychology, Mental Health, Human Development
  • Reviews & Previews

    Mysteries of time still stump scientists

    Why Time FliesAlan BurdickSimon & Schuster, $28

    The topic of time is both excruciatingly complicated and slippery. The combination makes it easy to get bogged down. But instead of an exhaustive review, journalist Alan Burdick lets curiosity be his guide in Why Time Flies, an approach that leads to a light yet supremely satisfying story about time as it runs through — and is perceived...

    02/08/2017 - 07:00 Neuroscience, Psychology
  • News

    Long-lasting mental health isn’t normal

    Abnormal is the new normal in mental health.

    A small, poorly understood segment of the population stays mentally healthy from age 11 to 38, a new study of New Zealanders finds. Everyone else encounters either temporary or long-lasting mental disorders.

    Only 171 of 988 participants, or 17 percent, experienced no anxiety disorders, depression or other mental ailments from late...

    02/07/2017 - 12:58 Psychology, Mental Health
  • Science & the Public

    You’ve probably been tricked by fake news and don’t know it

    If you spent Thanksgiving trying in vain to convince relatives that the Pope didn’t really endorse Donald Trump or that Hillary Clinton didn’t sell weapons to ISIS, fake news has already weaseled its way into your brain.

    Those “stories” and other falsified news outperformed much of the real news on Facebook before the 2016 U.S. presidential election. And on Twitter, an analysis by...

    12/04/2016 - 06:00 Psychology, Science & Society
  • Science Ticker

    Dogs form memories of experiences

    Dogs don’t miss much. After watching a human do a trick, dogs remembered the tricks well enough to copy them perfectly a minute later, a new study finds. The results suggest that our furry friends possess some version of episodic memory, which allows them to recall personal experiences, and not just simple associations between, for instance, sitting and getting a treat.

    Pet dogs watched...

    11/23/2016 - 12:00 Animals, Neuroscience, Psychology
  • News

    Learning curve not so smooth

    Many preschoolers take a surprisingly long and bumpy mental path to the realization that people can have mistaken beliefs — say, thinking that a ball is in a basket when it has secretly been moved to a toy box. Traditional learning curves, in which kids gradually move from knowing nothing to complete understanding, don’t apply to this landmark social achievement and probably to many other...

    10/31/2016 - 07:00 Psychology
  • News

    Training for parents may lessen some autism symptoms in kids

    Training parents to better communicate with their children with autism spectrum disorder may lead to long-lasting improvements in certain symptoms, scientists report online in the Oct. 25 Lancet.

    The results are “very encouraging,” because they show long-term benefits for a relatively low-intensity treatment — one that’s delivered by parents, says clinical psychologist Geraldine Dawson,...

    10/25/2016 - 18:30 Health, Psychology
  • News

    Erasing stigma needed in mental health care

    Scientists, politicians, clinicians, police officers and medical workers agree on one thing: The U.S. mental health system needs a big fix. Too few people get the help they need for mental ailments and emotional turmoil that can destroy livelihoods and lives.

    A report in the October JAMA Internal Medicine, for instance, concludes that more than 70 percent of U.S. adults who experience...

    10/13/2016 - 15:03 Psychology, Anthropology