Archive | Psychology

Theory of Mind – Robert Seyfarth

We all have a theory of mind, of how our mind works, and how the minds of others work. Professor Robert Seyfarth from the University of Pennsylvania talks briefly on how the early years of child development are when we learn to form the basics of a theory of the mind. With time and age we change and refine our theory as we try to account for the complexity of social interactions.

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Kennon M. Sheldon

Kennon M. Sheldon, PhD
Professor of Psychology
Department of Psychology
University of Missouri–Columbia

e-mail: SheldonK[at]

RESEARCH INTERESTS: positive psychology, goal-striving, self-concordance model, development, need-satisfaction, well-being.

TEACHING: Professor Sheldon teaches Social Psychology at University of Missouri–Columbia undergraduate psychology program. Read the full story

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Tweeting the Encyclopedia of Positive Psychology

This is the collection of tweets for every entry in the Encyclopedia of Positive Psychology (EoPP). In a nutshell, I started it back in 2009, stopped for a while, and now I am back onto it.

here are the latest tweets under the hash tag #EoPP

The list will be updated as I tweet new entries.
(The order is both alphabetical and by tweet date with a couple of hickups inbetween. ) Read the full story

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Myth: We use only 10% of our Brain

The Evidence:

  • The evolution of the human brain was only possible because it provided survival advantages and they must have been great since it consumes over 20% of the oxygen we breath while it only weighs 1,5% – 3% of our body weight. If we were to use only 10% of our brain than it would be extremely wasteful and such a disadvantage would be something selected against.
  • Brain damage to far less than 90% of our brain would render us either physically dead, brain dead, or severely impaired. This shouldn’t be if we only use 10% of our brain.
  • Strokes and head traumas that affect much less than 90% of the brain leaves people with serious deficits in functioning.
  • Brain scans show that we use most of our brain even while performing simple tasks.
  • Brain areas that are unused due to injuries or disease either degenerate or are taken over by neighboring brain areas.

Bottom Line: If we have more brain mass, it will be used; if it is not used, it will be discarded; and if we don’t have more of it, natural selection might select for it.

Myth Origin: William James, an American psychologist from the 19th and 20th century, said the average person only achieves a fraction (10%) of their intellectual potential. Misinterpretations have transformed potential into actual physical brain usage.

Lilienfeld, S. O., Lynn, S. J., Ruscio, J., and Beyerstein, B. L. (2009). 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions about Human Behavior. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

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The Strengthspotting Scale

The Strengthspotting Scale measures your ability, frequency, and motivation to identify other people’s strengths, helping others with the application of their strengths, and the emotional satisfaction of doing so. There are twenty questions, four for each of the five categories, that have to be rated on a scale from 1 (Strongly Disagree) to 7 (Strongly Agree).

  • ability – to identify strengths in others
  • emotional – satisfaction of identifying strengths in others
  • frequency – of identifying strengths in others
  • motivation – to identify strengths in others
  • application – helping others to utilize their strengths

You can get a hold of The Strengthspotting Scale in The Strengths Book: Be Confident, Be Successful, and Enjoy Better Relationships by Realising the Best of You, where it is included as part of the book to be released on April 28th, 2010. For research purposes The Strengthspotting Scale is freely available (upon request, no link yet) but understandably not for commercial purposes since it is copyrighted.

The only official link for The Strengths Book is on the CAPPEU site (if I find a link to the PDF I’ll post it).


Linley, A., Willars, J., & Biswas-Diener, R. (2010). The strengthspotting scale. In The strengths book: Be confident, be successful, and enjoy better relationships by realising the best of you. Coventry, UK: CAPP Press.

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Learn how to Speed Read

IMPORTANT NOTICE: with increased speed of reading (skim reading) your accuracy of reading comprehension decreases! (Carroll, 2003; Carvers, 1987) read more at

This is something I definitely will try to master!

[boingboing via Lifehacker]


Carroll, R. T. (2003). The skeptic’s dictionary: A collection of strange beliefs, amusing deceptions, and dangerous delusions. New York: Wiley. Retrieved March 31, 2010, from the The Skeptic’s Dictionary database,

Carver, R. P. (1987). Teaching rapid reading in the intermediate grades: Helpful or harmful?. Reading Research and Instruction, 26(2), 65-76.

ABSTRACT: Bergquist (1984) has contended that children can be trained to increase their reading rate without any loss of comprehension. He cites 11 studies that supposedly provide a wealth of supporting research. These 11 studies, plus other more recent research on reading rate, have been closely examined. It was concluded that rapid reading results in a decrease in the accuracy of comprehension. This makes rapid reading training potentially harmful unless it is presented as a skimming skill.

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10 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude & Become Happier

Gratitude is one of the most powerful ways to improve your well-being and among other things, increasing your happiness. Within positive psychology inquiries, gratitude interventions have proven to be among the most effective, as world expert on gratitude Robert A. Emmons and other researchers have found. Among the wide ranging benefits, researchers have found that “gratitude is positively related to such critical outcomes as life satisfaction, vitality, happiness, self-esteem, optimism, hope, empathy, and the willingness to provide emotional and tangible support for other people, whereas being ungrateful is related to anxiety, depression, envy, materialism and loneliness.” (p. 186)

“A person with the disposition to feel grateful has established a worldview that says, in effect, that all of life is a gift, gratuitously given. Although we cannot in any direct way be grateful, we can cultivate gratefulness by structuring our lives, our minds, and our words in such a way as to facilitate awareness of gratitude-inducing experiences and labeling them as such.” (p. 187) In other words “gratitude is a way of life.” (p. 186)

(Gratitude is one of the 24 Character Strengths included in the VIA Survey of Character Strengths which is a scientifically validated measurement designed to identify what your top signature strengths are.)

The top 10 evidence-based prescriptions for becoming more grateful: Read the full story

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Present like Steve Jobs

Read the full story

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Robert A. Emmons

Robert A. Emmons, PhD
Professor of Psychology
Department of Psychology (Social-Personality)
University of California, Davis

e-mail: raemmons[at]

RESEARCH INTERESTS: gratitude, positive psychology,

Read the full story

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Tal Ben-Shahar – Quotes

The average is indicative of a trend, not of a necessity or of a universal truth. Often, it is those outside the norm, the exceptional ones, who point to the truth of what is possible.” (Ben-Shahar, 2007, p. 138)

Ben-Shahar, T. (2007). Happier: Learn the secrets of daily joy and lasting fulfillment. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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Charlie Rose Brain Series

Charlie Rose Logo In a series of round table discussions, a panel of brain science experts are exploring the most profound questions and challenges pertaining to understanding the brain, mind, consciousness/awareness. Each month, since October 2009, Charlie Rose will continue the discussion with a new round of experts. Read the full story

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Happy People Become Happier Through Kindness

ResearchCounting your kind acts throughout the day will make you happier. This is what a team of Japanese and a U.S. researcher found in two studies they conducted.

Overall people who counted their kind acts each day for a week became happier for at least a month later. And the increase in happiness was greater for people who were already happy to begin with. This finding was the result of two studies in 2006 by researchers Keiko Otake, Satoshi Shimai, Junko Tanaka-Matsumi, Kanako Otsui, and Barbara Fredrickson.

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VIA Survey of Character Strengths

The VIA Survey of Character Strengths is a scientifically validated measurement designed to identify what your top signature strengths are. It was developed from and is based on the multi-year work of Chris Peterson and Marty Seligman. They have identified, with a team of professionals, 24 Virtues and Character Strengths that are found across cultures.

Character Strengths

If you are interested to learn more about how it came about, you can find the culmination of their work in their book called Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification, which is sometimes referred to as the un-dsm manual or more accurately it provides a counter balance to the DSM. Read the full story

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The Beginning of Positive Psychology

The modern positive psychology movement began with Martin Seligman’s American Psychological Association’s (APA) Presidential address at the yearly conference in San Francisco, California. His speech was entitle Building Human Strength: Psychology’s Forgotten Mission (Seligman, 1998) and since then he has come to be known as the father of positive psychology with Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi. (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000)

Read the full story

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Sonja Lyubomirsky

Sonja LyubomirskySonja Lyubomirsky, PhD
Professor of Psychology
Department of Psychology (Social)
University of California, Riverside

e-mail: sonja.lyubomirsky[at]

RESEARCH INTERESTS: happiness, positive psychology, Read the full story

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