Psychology

Word of Mouth
11:01 am
Thu December 11, 2014

12.11.14: The First Skiers, How To Talk To Strangers, & This Is Crohn's Disease

A ski trail at Mount Sunapee
Credit Kelsey Ohman via flickr Creative Commons

In New Hampshire, skiing is one of winter’s biggest perks and the best cure for cabin fever. The first skiers put two planks on their feet and slid down a mountain, not as a past time but as a way to hunt. On today’s show, a National Geographic reporter sets out on the trail of the earliest skiers in human history and finds himself elk hunting in the far reaches of western China where he witnesses a skiing tradition thousands of years old.

Also, a couple embarks on a medical odyssey to find relief from a devastating illness. And talking to strangers may be good for your health. The psychology behind interacting with people you don't know.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

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Word of Mouth
1:33 pm
Tue November 4, 2014

11.4.14: Winners & Losers

Credit Garry Night via flickr Creative Commons

While we can’t predict the outcome of the midterm elections, two things are certain: there will be winners and there will be losers.  Today’s show is all about winning and losing, starting with the brain chemistry of champions. And we’ll examine the victors and the vanquished in the natural world through the parasite-host relationship.

Plus, we’ll take a look back at political losers throughout history, including Samuel Tilden, who never got over his loss to Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

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Word of Mouth
2:34 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

9.10.14: Researching What Makes Something Funny & Designing Technology To Deceive

This cat, is not amused.
Credit myri_bonni via flickr Creative Commons

At her funeral on Sunday, fellow comedians applauded Joan Rivers for her sharp wit, biting humor, and irreverent routines. What really made Joan Rivers so funny? On today’s show, the director of the Humor Research Lab offers some theories into what makes us laugh. Plus, from walk sign buttons that don’t reflect reality to digital signs over-estimating wait times at amusement parks; we’ll consider why technology is sometimes designed to give us the illusion of control.

Listen to the full show and Read more for individual segments. 


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Word of Mouth
2:16 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

8.19.14: Narcissism, Selfies, & New Hampshire's Big Break

Credit W10002 via Flickr CC

  Anyone who has taken a personality test knows that they tend to be long, indepth, and even invasive. But today we discover how a group of researchers is testing levels of narcissism with one simple question. And, we’ll look into what an inflated sense of self means for society at large. Then, a philosopher and ethicist joins us to discuss the delicate balance between confidence and vanity in the age of the selfie. Plus, New Hampshire has a bigger role in cinema than you may have realized. We look at what roles put our state on the map.

Listen to the full show and Read more for individual segments.


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Word of Mouth
12:21 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

7.20.14: TV On The Radio

Credit Chris Brown via Flickr Creative Commons

From airplanes to high school cafeterias, television is everywhere these days. Whether you are a Game of Thrones diehard or an Orange is the New Black binger, most of us have found ourselves entrenched in what some call the Third Golden Age of Television. Today on Word of Mouth we talk all things television. First, Matt Zoller Seitz  makes the case that Seinfeld was the original anti-hero.

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Word of Mouth
12:32 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

6.03.14: The Psychology Of Killers, Weathermen Get Serious, And Product Placement

Credit NASA Goddard Photo and Video via Flickr Creative Commons

In a world filled with tough news, we’ve come to expect our weather updates to include a bit of comic relief. But is it time for them to sober up?  Today we’re challenging our expectations with the case against kooky weather-reporters. And, amid calls to prevent the mentally ill from buying guns, we’ll hear a challenge to the notion that health-care professionals can weed out America’s killers. Plus, we take a look at the funniest and most culturally resonant examples of product placement from the last ten years.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.


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Word of Mouth
1:49 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Famous Germaphobes

Howard Hughes' success is unprecedented, but he also experienced mysophobia within his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Credit anyjazz65 via flickr Creative Commons

We wash. We sanitize. We might wash again, just to make sure. But in the end, we will probably allow ourselves to believe that it (whatever it is – a hand, a dish, a children’s toy that the dog confused for its own) is clean enough. We carry on.

At least, some of us do.

This is the time that all the germaphobes out there reading this raise their sanitized hands and say “Me! Me! That toy is not clean. For the love of Clorox – it is not clean!” Was this your reaction? You may be suffering from mysophobia, the fancy term for “fear of germs.”

Keep calm; you’re in good company.

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All Things Considered
5:52 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Can Utilities 'Nudge' Consumers To Use Less Electricity?

Public Service of New Hampshire is an energy utility – but it’s about to try an experiment in psychology, which it hopes might prompt consumers to use less electricity.

It's known as "nudging," and to explain how it works we turn to David Brooks, who writes the weekly GraniteGeek science column for the Nashua Telegraph and GraniteGeek.org.

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Word of Mouth
12:05 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Entering The 'Promise Land' Of Self-Help

Credit via promiselandbook.com

Three weeks into the New Year, sticking to that resolution to exercise more or stop eating sugar or drink less may feel a little extreme. So, what do you do? Shrug your shoulders and reach for another cupcake? Log onto veganlife.com? Head for the bookstore to find somebody, anybody, who can guide us to be fitter, happier, radiant human beings? From the meditations of Marcus Aurelius to Benjamin Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanac,”  people have been reaching for advice on how to be more fully actualized since long before being self-actualized was a term. The writer Jessica Lamb-Shapiro set out to explore the 11-billion dollar industry of self-improvement books, seminars, and coaching to figure out why people follow them so devoutly--if they work--and what happens when they don’t. She’s written a memoir called, Promise Land: My Journey Through America’s Self-Help Culture.

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Word of Mouth
11:27 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Rethink 2014: The Psychology of Scarcity

Credit Sara Plourde

Scarcity is a kind of great equalizer. Whether it be less sleep, security, time, food, money or whatever a person needs, scarcity hijacks the mind, diminishes intelligence, and lowers resistance to temptation. Eldar Shafir, Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs at Princeton set out to find evidence for what happens to our minds when we have too little – and how scarcity shapes our choices and behaviors.  He's coauthor of the new book is Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much.

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All Things Considered
5:17 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Effects Of Spanking Kids Can Linger Into Adulthood, UNH Researcher Says

The cover of "The Primordial Violence," co-authored by Dr. Murray Straus of the University of New Hampshire.

Dr. Murray Straus has studied the use of spanking and corporal punishment with children for decades, as a professor of sociology and founder and co-director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire.

He compares the research on spanking to studies on cigarettes – people use it because it seems right at the time, but that’s because they can’t see the long-term dangers.

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Word of Mouth
2:00 pm
Wed January 1, 2014

Sherlock Holmes, Zen Master?

Enthusiasm for the fictional British detective is hardly new. When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes in an 1893 issue of Strand magazine, 20,000 readers canceled their subscriptions. Doyle succumbed and revived the character in dozens more stories before his own death in 1930. While the appeal of Sherlock Holmes coincided with the rise of popular science in the late Victorian era, today’s Sherlock-mania may be connected to a more 21st century concept: mindfulness.

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Giving Matters
12:47 am
Sat December 14, 2013

For Struggling Youth, The Webster House A Second Home

Credit Courtesy of The Webster House

The Webster House is a children's home in Manchester that has been in operation since 1884, caring for youth who are unable to live at home.

Gabrielle Dante came to The Webster House when she was in her mid-teens. She had been experiencing problems at home and at school, and was struggling to overcome an eating disorder.

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Word of Mouth
11:22 am
Wed November 6, 2013

The Philosophy Of Tickling

This photo was used to illustrate Schuster's story with the following caption: Photographs from Nadezhda Ladygina-Kohts, Infant Chimpanzee and Human Child. Originally published in 1935, the book offers a comparative study of the behavior of a human child (Ladygina-Kohts’s own son Roody) and an infant chimpanzee named Joni. The bottom two images in this plate show Joni reacting to being tickled.

The sensation of tickling has baffled great thinkers  since the days of Aristotle, who used human ticklishness to distinguish people from animals. Later, Freud puzzled over the strange mix of pleasure and pain caused by tickling.  

Indeed, we tickle kids or siblings, sometimes affectionately, sometimes edging towards cruelty.  Still unknown is why people laugh when tickled, and why you can’t tickle yourself? Why do some people enjoy tickling and others not? And what is tickling, after all? Contemporary philosopher Aaron Schuster picks up those questions. He’s on the faculty at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam and wrote “A Philosophy of Tickling” for Cabinet Magazine.

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Word of Mouth
11:07 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Do You Believe In Satan? How Belief In Pure Evil Affects Behavior

Credit squirelaraptor via Flickr Creative Commons

Lucifer, Beelzebub, the Prince of Darkness…whatever he's called, some seventy percent of Americans believe in the existence of the Devil. That’s according to a 2007 Gallup Poll, and that number has increased steadily since 1990, when only fifty-five percent believed in evil personified in the form of Satan.

Now, researchers are looking at the implications of belief in “pure evil” on psychological and social behaviors.  Piercarlo Valdesolo is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Claremont Mckenna College and contributor to Scientific American’s “Mind Matters” blog, where we found his article, “The Psychological Power of Satan.” 

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