I’m sorry. I’ve changed. I promise. Really.
It was excruciating to watch Anthony Weiner, the New York lawmaker, making public amends this week for tweeting lewd photos of himself to a young woman he didn’t even know. He was clearly mortified—at least his taut jaw and flat expression suggested that he was. But politicians are practiced at sending non-verbal messages, and Weiner was no doubt using every tool in his kit. Maybe he was just chagrined and upset at getting caught in such a foolish stunt. He hasn’t won my trust back yet, and I’m guessing that others feel this way as well. Trust recovery—apologizing, promising change, insisting we’ve changed—is tricky business.
Virginity and Promiscuity: Evidence For the Very First Time
True Love Waits is a virginity pledge program, probably the largest of its kind. Started by the Southern Baptist Convention in 1993, it now claims more than 2.5 million members, teenagers and young adults who have promised to remain sexually “pure” until marriage. Many other virginity pledge programs have sprouted up since the ‘90s, and what’s more, state lawmakers have jumped on the abstinence bandwagon. Thirty-four states now require that abstinence be taught or emphasized in the school curricula, while only 15 mandate instruction in contraception.
Muggle Psychology: Connecting With Wizards
I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone aloud to my youngest son, when he was about nine years old. We read every morning on the couch in the family room, while we waited for the school bus to arrive. I can recall watching his face as I narrated the young wizard’s adventures—and wondering how he was experiencing the magical world of Hogwarts. I wanted him to get lost in the world of wizardry, to feel Harry’s sense of wonder and fear the menacing Lord Voldemort’s power. Being transported away to fictional worlds is one of the joys of life, an experience so common that we rarely stop to ask why it’s so. Why do we even have this kind of other-worldly experience?
How People Lose 100 Pounds
I am in awe of people who make a decision to lose a huge amount of weight—75 pounds, 100, even more—and then do it. I’m not talking about The Biggest Loser contestants, who do it for money and fame. I mean those who, privately and without fanfare, commit themselves to diet and exercise, set a distant goal, and then slowly chip away—one difficult pound after another difficult pound after another. The payoff is so far away. How do they stay motivated for the long haul? How do they even get started? Classical theories of motivation fail to explain such long-range commitment.
When Thoughts Weigh Heavy: Outsmarting the Liars
One of my guilty pleasures is the long-running TV show NCIS, a drama focused on the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. The hero is a former Marine, now Special Agent Jethro Gibbs, a disciplined detective with an uncanny ability to observe and interrogate criminal suspects. He doesn’t say much or display much emotion in the interrogation room—indeed his cool demeanor is his trademark—yet he is a keen lie spotter. Psychological scientists are fascinated by real-life versions of the fictional Gibbs. Detecting lies and liars is essential to effective policing and prosecution of criminals, but it’s maddeningly difficult.
“After you, please”: The ancient roots of etiquette
I was drilled in good manners growing up. I wouldn’t dare sit down at the table until guests had been seated. I always walked curbside, especially when walking with a woman. And I still to this day hold every door for whoever is following me, including complete strangers. These rules of etiquette are second nature to me, inscribed in my neurons. My parents never told me why we do these things. They are simply things one does, out of politeness and respect for others. But now I read that my motives may not be entirely noble. According to new research from Penn State scientists, etiquette may be an evolved form of cooperation.