General Language Skills Might Help With Learning Programming Languages

Is learning a programming language like learning any other kind of language? Intuitively, you might expect the answer to be no. Programming languages are made up of different components than natural languages, and they’re used for a different purpose. But a new study from researchers at University of Washington suggests that to some extent the…

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Not Judging Your Own Thoughts as an Element of Happiness

There’s no formula for happiness, but something that apparently helps is not being too judgmental toward your own thoughts and feelings. A recent study from researchers in Spain highlights the role that this kind of acceptance plays in overall happiness. The study surveyed 589 participants, asking about several different personality traits and about their self-rated…

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Friends Cooperate More Efficiently After Exchanging Gifts

As I’ve written about before, people give gifts for a range of reasons – sometimes simply to do something nice, sometimes because they want to influence others. A new study from researchers in Italy sheds light on another function gifts can serve: increasing teamwork and cooperative performance. In the study, 32 pairs of close friends…

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The Psychological Separation Between “Meat” and “Animals”

People like animals. People also like to eat animals. This presents an obvious problem. It’s challenging to make a convincing case to yourself that you think animals are cute and want to protect their welfare in between swallowing mouthfuls of pork. You might recognize this as a classic example of cognitive dissonance, where people have…

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Children Will Imitate Robots

Young children have a range of skills that make them phenomenal learners, and one of these skills appears to be copying the people around them. For better or for worse, children will imitate the behaviors they observe in others. Psychologists have come up with various theories about why children are such prolific imitators. One theory…

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Testing Berry Smoothies as a Brain Superfood

Berries commonly star on lists of “brain-boosting” foods. As I’ve talked about before, there’s some evidence for the idea that berries can enhance cognitive functioning, although it’s not an open-and-shut case. The latest study to examine the relationship between berries and brain functioning comes in liquid form – specifically, in the form of a 400…

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Stress Beliefs Might Matter for Stress Response

People seem to have real differences in how we react to the stressful situations we inevitably encounter in everyday life. Given that stress is intertwined with mental and physical health, figuring out what interventions might help people respond to stress more constructively is a key topic for psychology researchers. A new study in Annals of…

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Does Having a “Game Face” Improve Cognitive Performance?

One of the counterintuitive ideas in psychology that has become popular lately is that our body language isn’t just an expression of our attitudes but can actually change those attitudes. A 2010 paper suggested, for example, that adopting more confident body language might really make one more confident. That idea then entered the mainstream through…

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The Childhood Roots of Greed

Being willing to share resources with each other is one of the things that keeps our society functioning. That’s why one of the lessons that we commonly teach children is how to share. Of course, to varying degrees, we all ignore that lesson at times. There’s an opposite tendency to always want more of something…

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