All posts by amybphd

Being Both: The Psychology of Identity Integration

CASTLECertain identities are deeply meaningful for the time and the place in which we live. Being a woman in the 21st century United States carries expectations that were not shared by women in 17th century China and will not be by women in 24th century Argentina. And a woman in the 21st century United States may also be a scientist, police officer, or soldier; she might belong to any racial or ethnic background; she might belong to multiple different cultures; and so forth and so on. So what, you ask? Continue reading Being Both: The Psychology of Identity Integration

Why We Get Into Health Ruts

Why We Get Into Health RutsLately I’ve been wondering about something related to motivation and self-determination theory. Why do we fall into ruts if we’re naturally programmed to learn and grow?

The idea behind competence as a fundamental need is that human beings are driven to perform. We take pleasure in accomplishment. I don’t debate this is true; there are just so many examples of things people do because overcoming the challenge is satisfying. I don’t know that I would ever have tried running a long race if that weren’t the case. Continue reading Why We Get Into Health Ruts

Time Management Strategies for Working from Home

Time Management StrategiesWorking from home seems like a great gig: You don’t have to factor a morning commute into your wake-up time, you can throw in a load of laundry during a conference call, and forget about wearing uncomfortable suits when you’re in a sweatpants mood.

All of those advantages, though, come with the caveat that it’s very easy to lose control of your time when you work from home. When I first began working from home, I found my work days stretching longer than they should because I wasn’t focusing as much as I needed to during the 9-5 block. It took a few months to find my stride. First, I needed to figure out some key strategies for managing my time. Here are three that work for me: Continue reading Time Management Strategies for Working from Home

Healthier Body, Happier Mind: The Many Benefits of Volunteer Work

Healthier Body Happier MindIt should come as no surprise that giving of yourself to help others is a good thing, not just for the people who receive your help, but even more so for you. In fact, Stephanie Brown and colleagues found that in terms of the health and happiness benefits, you’re better off being the one extending help than receiving it. That’s pretty cool: You can do a ton of good for yourself when you do good for others.

But, not so fast: Your motive matters. People who volunteer because they truly want to help others enjoy enhanced health and happiness much more than people with self-serving motives for volunteering. Continue reading Healthier Body, Happier Mind: The Many Benefits of Volunteer Work

Optimal Distinctiveness and Relatedness

halfwayIf there is a universal human truth it’s that human beings are social animals.

According to self-determination theory, one of the fundamental needs that has to be supported to sustain motivation is relatedness, or a sense of connection to something bigger than oneself. That something could be another person, a group, a cause, a faith; the what doesn’t matter so long as no one feels totally alone. Continue reading Optimal Distinctiveness and Relatedness

Why We Keep Things We Don’t Need: The Psychological Weight of “Stuff”

Why We Keep Things We Don't NeedI have a hard time watching the tv show Hoarders.

It makes me feel physically uncomfortable, almost itchy. When I watch even parts of an episode, I feel compelled to root through my own belongings and find something, anything, just one thing, to throw or give away. (My cats count themselves lucky I don’t have the same reaction to Animal Hoarders.) Continue reading Why We Keep Things We Don’t Need: The Psychological Weight of “Stuff”

The Perils of Social Norms

The Perils of Social NormsAs little kids, it’s drilled into us to be polite. Please, thank you, and excuse me are training mantras for the young. As adults, behaving politely becomes almost automatic for most of us. Being otherwise feels deeply uncomfortable. But what if our well-intentioned attempts to create norms of kindness are actually placing people in danger?

Social norms–the way we “should” behave according to our culture and society–can help guide us through new situations. Looking to the world around us for clues is one of the core ways humans figure out what to do; it’s no accident that Albert Bandura’s social learning theory is still taught in every intro psychology course. Continue reading The Perils of Social Norms

Strategies for Workplace Success While Coping with Stigma

strategiesWe all know that, unfortunately, discrimination and prejudice can limit opportunities for people. But belonging to a devalued group may also harm people’s workplace performance via the effects of associated stereotypes. In grad school, I became interested in how people who are successful despite belonging to such devalued groups do it. What’s going on psychologically that helps them overcome the negative effects of being viewed poorly by others based on group membership? Continue reading Strategies for Workplace Success While Coping with Stigma

What Your Email Address Says About You

W H A T  Y O U RYou know people may judge you by the way you look. You can probably guess that people may also judge you by your email address,  especially if it’s something embarrassing or revealing. But you might not realize that your email address can also cue people into other aspects of your identity that can then be used to stereotype you and even influence your behavior.

The first set of research projects I ever worked on examined stereotype threat and lift effects in the context of email addresses. I was an undergraduate student assisting on projects devised by Margaret Shih (now at UCLA) and Todd Pittinsky (now of Stony Brook University). To this day, I think these are very cool studies, and I credit them with making me fall in love with psychology. Continue reading What Your Email Address Says About You

Organizational Culture and Office Layout

Organizational Culture
Here we see an office layout that does not include desks or tables.

Did you know that the way your company’s office is arranged and the type of furniture you use is also a reflection of your corporate culture?

The relationship works in two directions–depending on the culture you already have, certain setups might be more appropriate. But the setup you have also determines to some extent what your corporate culture looks like. Continue reading Organizational Culture and Office Layout