Monday, 24 September 2012

Ψ: Psychology Symbol

Many of you might have asked yourselves about how we symbolize psychology.The most common symbol of psychology is Ψ. Where does that come from though?

The fact is that to discover the origin of the psychology symbol, you simply have to trace its etymology (word origin and sense development).
As can be seen from the image below the symbol for psychology represents the penultimate letter of the Greek alphabet, psi, which is also the first letter of the Greek word psuche, meaning mind or soul, from which the term psyche arose; which in turn gave us the name of the discipline psychology which is most commonly defined as study of the mind.

Evidence for the etymological origin of the psych symbol can be traced back as early as 1879. The following definition is taken from the book "New Word Analysis (School Etymology of English Derivative Words)" by William Swinton.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Benign Envy is Good For You

We all know about the destructive forces that envy can unleash because it's...

"...a hostile emotion that often prompts aggressive behaviors. Its antagonistic nature is exemplified by the many publicized crimes and intergroup conflicts attributed to it; the countless literary tales of assassination, murder, and sabotage provoked by it..." (van de Ven et al., 2011)

But psychologists have identified two types of envy:

"We tend to feel malicious envy towards another person if we think their success is undeserved. This is the type that makes us want to strike out at the other person and bring them down a peg or two. However when another's success feels deserved to us, we tend to feel a benign envy: one that isn't destructive but instead motivates."
Benign envy is the kind which raises you up rather than making you want to pull the other person down. Here are four ways that this type of benign envy can be useful.

1. Benign envy motivates

Benign envy can motivate, as long as you compare yourself to the right person. If he or she is in your league, then they can push you on to greater achievements:
"Relevant superstars provoke self-enhancement and inspiration when their success seems attainable but self-deflation when it seems unattainable." (Lockwood & Kunda, 1997)
So stick to being envious of people who are doing a bit better than you. For motivation envy beats admiration.

2. Benign envy feels good

Benign envy is the norm: most people automatically compare themselves with people doing better than themselves. And when we see other people doing better than us, it can give us hope, which makes us feel good.
Here is what Simon Latham says in his book "The Science of Sin: The Psychology of the Seven Deadlies (and Why They Are So Good For You)":
"...comparison can provide information on how a task is done. If you have the good fortune to observe a skilled performer, you watch, you learn and so you perform better [...] Envy can change your expectations about what it is possible to achieve. In other words, it can change your perceived likelihood of success."

3. Benign envy makes you more creative

People who are doing better than us can spur us on to be more creative. In one study on creativity:
"...participants were exposed to comparison targets who either threatened or boosted self-evaluations and then completed a performance task. Participants exposed to the threatening target performed better than those in a control group, whereas those exposed to the nonthreatening target performed worse." (Johnson & Stapel, 2007)

4. Benign envy makes you smarter

In the same way as it can make you more creative, being envious can make you smarter. Blanton et al. (1999) found that students who compared themselves with others tended to do better in school.
Similarly, these sorts of upward social comparisons can make women better at maths:
"...women's math test performance was protected when a competent female experimenter (i.e., a female role model) administered the test." (Marx & Roman, 2002)

Envy can change your perspective

So envy isn't all bad, as long as it isn't destructive. It's natural and beneficial to compare ourselves upwards with people doing a bit better than ourselves as long as we don't let the green monster out of its cage.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Depression Project(!)

In contemporary times due to numerous factors, depression seem to be the scourge of our times. Despite that fact,there are many people who do not know exactly what depression is and what are the effects of it.The video below will explain everything for you :

What is depression

We often use the expression "I'm feeling depressed" when we're feeling sad or miserable about life. Usually, these feelings pass in due course. But if the feelings are interfering with your life and don't go away after a couple of weeks, or if they come back, over and over again, for a few days at a time, it could be a sign that you're depressed in the medical sense of the term.

I felt detached from the world around me. All emotions – love, affection, anger – were gone. Actually, I can't say I had no emotions, I did, but they all seemed desperately negative. Most involved fear. Fear that I would never escape the condition.

In its mildest form, depression can mean just being in low spirits. It doesn’t stop you leading your normal life, but makes everything harder to do and seem less worthwhile. At its most severe, major depression (clinical depression) can be life-threatening, because it can make people suicidal or simply give up the will to live.

Forms of depression

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

If you usually become depressed only during the autumn and winter, it could be due to not getting enough daylight. You may benefit from spending time sitting in front of a special light box.

Postnatal depression

Many mothers have ‘the baby blues’ soon after the birth of their baby, but it usually passes after a few days. Postnatal depression is a more serious problem and can appear any time between two weeks and two years after the birth.

Bipolar disorder (manic depression)

Some people have mood swings, when periods of depression alternate with periods of mania. When manic, they are in a state of high excitement, and may plan and may try to execute grandiose schemes and ideas.

At least one person in every six becomes depressed in the course of their lives. One in 20 is clinically depressed. Figures suggest that it is women more than men who become depressed, but men may find it harder to admit to or talk about their experience. All age groups can be affected, and it’s important to take symptoms seriously and not to dismiss them as an inevitable part of growing up or growing old. By recognising and treating the symptoms and getting help, it’s possible to overcome depression, and prevent it coming back.

Causes of depression

There's no one cause of depression; it varies very much from person to person and can occur through a combination of factors. Although depression doesn't seem to be inherited through genes (with the possible exception of manic depression), some of us are more prone to depression than others. This could be because of the way we're made, or because of our experiences or family background.

I was so scared of being alone with my thoughts. At night, everything seemed so bleak. I couldn't concentrate on anything; I couldn't read or watch TV. I couldn't relax or unwind. Sleep seemed impossible – so many thoughts were racing through my mind. I would spend hours fantasising about ways of killing myself.
Past experiences can have a profound effect on how we feel about ourselves in the present, and if those feelings are very negative, they can be the start of a downward spiral. In many cases, the first time someone becomes depressed, it's triggered by an unwelcome or traumatic event, such as being sacked, divorced, physically attacked or raped.

Depression is seen by some experts as a form of unfinished mourning. Often events or experiences that trigger depression can also be seen as a loss of some kind. It could be following the actual death of someone close, a major life change (such as moving house or changing jobs) or simply moving from one phase of life into another, as we reach retirement or our children leave home. It’s not just the negative experience that causes the depression, but how we deal with it. If the feelings provoked are not expressed or explored at the time, they fester and contribute towards depression. It's important to acknowledge and grieve over what we have lost in order to be able to move on successfully.

Everything to do with everyday life seemed like such hard work. I simply didn't have the energy to go to work, to see friends, to shop, cook or clean. It all seemed pointless! What was the point in eating, when I didn't even want to be alive?

Depression may also be caused by an underactive thyroid. The thyroid gland controls metabolic rate and, if it is not working properly, can cause you to experience various symptoms. If it is underactive, you will feel sluggish and lethargic, may put on weight, and feel depressed. If it is overactive, you may feel very speeded up, lose weight and have symptoms similar to mania. It is important to have a thyroid function test (a simple blood test) to make sure that this is not the cause of your depression, especially if you cannot account for it in other ways, such as recent life events. If an underactive thyroid is diagnosed, it can be treated successfully with appropriate medication (see Useful websites).

Anecdotal evidence suggests that occasionally people become very depressed in response to certain foods. Such a reaction is very individual, and people are often not aware of the particular food substance or drink that is causing the problem. But if you suddenly feel depressed for no apparent reason, it may be worth considering whether you have eaten or drunk something new, and whether this might have caused your sudden change of mood. If this is the cause, your mood should lift very quickly, so long as you don’t consume any more of the particular item.


At a time when you may well find making decisions difficult, it can also seem like an added burden to try and choose between a range of treatment options.

What is actually available to you may depend very much on where you live. For example, talking treatments, such as counselling and psychotherapy, are more readily available in London and the South-East than they are in rural areas of northern England. You should be able to choose freely among a range of treatment options, but, in practice, most people attending GP surgeries are offered antidepressants as the first treatment choice. Don't be afraid to ask your GP about the treatments offered and what the alternatives are.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines on the treatment of depression (updated 2009) suggest that, for mild depression, antidepressants are not appropriate because the risk of side effects outweighs the benefits. Suggested treatments include watchful waiting – a recognition of the fact that depression often goes away without
treatment – guided self-help, short-term talking treatments such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), behavioural activation, and exercise programmes. For more severe depression antidepressants are appropriate, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are suggested because their side effects are usually better tolerated than those of the alternative types of antidepressants. However, combining a psychological treatment with medication maybe the most effective course for severe depression.


Antidepressant drugs are the most common medical treatment for depression. They work on chemical messengers in the brain to lift your mood. They can’t cure depression, but they can alleviate the symptoms so that you may feel able to take action to deal with the depression yourself. It often takes between two to four weeks before the drugs take effect. The usual recommendation is that you stay on them for six months in order to prevent a recurrence. They don’t work for everyone.

Antidepressants frequently cause unpleasant side effects, which are worse to begin with. Some can be dangerous when used with other drugs. Of the various different types available, SSRIs are usually the preferred first choice because, although they have as many listed side effects as older drugs, they are usually better tolerated. Others include tricyclic antidepressants and MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors). Whichever type of antidepressant you take, you may experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking them, especially if you have been taking them for some time. Because of this you should withdraw slowly, reducing the dose in stages over a period of weeks.

Psychological treatments

Your GP may offer you one of the following psychological treatments. The choice will depend on what's available, your own preferences, how severe your depression is and other factors:

Five or six sessions of problem-solving therapy can help people break down their problems into manageable portions and provide strategies for coping with them.
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) helps to identify and change negative thoughts and feelings affecting behaviour and may last up to 12 months. Computerised CBT (CCBT) is now available and can be used in addition to or instead of sessions with a therapist. It is not suitable for someone with severe symptoms though, and NICE recommend individuals are assessed before using one of the programmes.
Guided self-help delivers a six to eight week therapy programme through self-help books, under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) focuses on relationships. Therapy can continue for 6 to 12 months.
Psychodynamic counselling or psychotherapy focuses on how past experiences may be contributing to experiences and feelings in the present. Therapy can be short or long-term.
Counselling can be short or long-term. It involves talking with someone who is trained to listen with empathy and acceptance. This allows you to express your feelings and find your own solutions to your problems.
Psychotherapy is not usually available on the NHS. It is more frequent and intensive than counselling, and goes more deeply into childhood experience and significant relationships. Most psychotherapists work in private practice. For lists of qualified and regulated therapists, see Useful organisations, further down this page. For more information, see Further reading.

Painful experiences are hard to talk about, but healthcare professionals understand this. Be as frank as possible, so that people can offer you the best help. Don't be afraid to ask questions about your condition.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Don’t Take No For An Answer

Dealing effectively with objections can be more powerful than other standard methods of persuasion.
You ask someone for a favour and they say no. Where do you go from there?
According to two experiments conducted by Boster and colleagues, you ask: "Why not?", then try to deal with the objections (Boster et al., 2009).
The key is transforming the 'no' from a flat refusal into an obstacle to be surmounted. If you can deal with the obstacle, the theory goes,your request is more likely to be granted.
Boster and colleagues tested this approach against these three other well-established methods of gaining compliance to a request:
  • Door-in-the-face (DITF): first you make a very large request which is easily turned down; this is where the metaphorical door is slammed in your face. But, then follow up straight away with a much smaller request which now, comparatively, looks very reasonable. This has been shown to substantially increase compliance.
  • Foot-in-the-door (FITD): better known as the 'low-ball' technique, this is the exact reverse of the door-in-the-face, in that you first ask for something small, then crank it up. Agreeing to the smaller request makes people more likely to agree to a second, larger request. The art is in judging the step up just right.
  • Placebo information (PI): this is when you give someone a reason, but not a very good one. Like you say: "Can I use the photocopier before you, because I have to make some copies?" This example was used in an experiment by Langer (1978) who found that for small requests it boosted compliance from 60% to 90%.
To test all these methods, the experimenters asked 60 random passers-by to look after a bicycle for 10 minutes. In their first test the why not? (WN?) method was compared with DITF and PI. While 20% complied using the DITF technique, 45% complied with the PI technique, but fully 60% complied with the WN? method. Statistically the WN? method beat DITF and was as good as PI.
A second experiment added the FITD technique as well. This time, though, 67 random participants walking down the street were approached and asked if they would be willing to give up some free time for a good cause. The WN? technique fared best, producing an average compliance rate of 50%, compared with 36% for DITF, 26% for FITD and 13% for PI.

Cognitive dissonance

We don't know from this research why the technique works so well in these situations, but Boster et al. wonder if it's because of persistence. Repeated requests give the impression of urgency and this may better target people's guilt and/or sympathy.
My favourite explanation, though, is to do with cognitive dissonance. This is the finding that we try to avoid inconsistencies in our thinking which cause us mental anguish. It feels dissonant—the two ideas butting up against each other—not to comply after objections have been effectively dealt with; after all, if there's no reason not to do it, why not do it?
Although this experiment doesn't test it, these techniques may well be even more powerful when used together, especially as 'why not?' can be tagged onto almost anything. The only down side of the WN? technique is that it requires the wit to dispel objections. Still, anticipating objections is a standard part of negotiation so many of these can be prepared in advance.
It might feel cheeky to keep asking 'why not?' when people refuse, but this experiment suggests it can be a powerful way to encourage compliance.

Friday, 18 May 2012

6 Types of Play: How We Learn to Work Together

The pioneering developmental psychologist Lev Vygotsky thought that, in the preschool years, play is the leading source of development.
Through play children learn and practice many basic social skills. They develop a sense of self, learn to interact with other children, how to make friends, how to lie and how to role-play.
The classic study of how play develops in children was carried out by Mildred Parten in the late 1920s at the Institute of Child Development in Minnesota. She closely observed children between the ages of 2 and 5 years and categorised their play into six types.
Parten collected data by systematically sampling the children's behaviour. She observed them for pre-arranged 1 minute periods which were varied systematically (Parten, 1933).
The thing to notice is that the first four categories of play don't involve much interaction with others, while the last two do. While children shift between the types of play, what Parten noticed was that as they grew up, children participated less in the first four types and more in the last two - those which involved greater interaction.
  1. Unoccupied play: the child is relatively stationary and appears to be performing random movements with no apparent purpose. A relatively infrequent style of play.
  2. Solitary play: the child is are completely engrossed in playing and does not seem to notice other children. Most often seen in children between 2 and 3 years-old.
  3. Onlooker play: child takes an interest in other children's play but does not join in. May ask questions or just talk to other children, but the main activity is simply to watch.
  4. Parallel play: the child mimics other children's play but doesn't actively engage with them. For example they may use the same toy.
  5. Associative play: now more interested in each other than the toys they are using. This is the first category that involves strong social interaction between the children while they play.
  6. Cooperative play: some organisation enters children's play, for example the playing has some goal and children often adopt roles and act as a group.
Unlike Jean Piaget who saw children's play in primarily cognitive developmental terms, Parten emphasised the idea that learning to play is learning how to relate to others.
You can see more about Jean Piaget's theory of development on our blog in the article Child Development: Cognitive Developmental theory of Jean Piaget at 

Friday, 11 May 2012

New habits

How Long to Form a Habit?

Research reveals a curved relationship between practice and automaticity.

You want to create a new habit, whether it's taking more exercise, eating more healthily or writing a blog post every day, how often does it need to be performed before it no longer requires Herculean self-control?

Clearly it's going to depend on the type of habit you're trying to form and how single-minded you are in pursuing your goal. But are there any general guidelines for how long it takes before behaviours become automatic?
Ask Google and you'll get a figure of somewhere between 21 and 28 days. In fact there's no solid evidence for this number at all. The 21 day myth may well come from a book published in 1960 by a plastic surgeon. Dr Maxwell Maltz noticed that amputees took, on average, 21 days to adjust to the loss of a limb and he argued that people take 21 days to adjust to any major life changes.

Doing without thinking

Now, however, there is some psychological research on this question in a paper recently published in the European Journal of Social Psychology. Phillippa Lally and colleagues from University College London recruited 96 people who were interested in forming a new habit such as eating a piece of fruit with lunch or doing a 15 minute run each day Lally et al. (2009). Participants were then asked daily how automatic their chosen behaviours felt. These questions included things like whether the behaviour was 'hard not to do' and could be done 'without thinking'.
When the researchers examined the different habits, many of the participants showed a curved relationship between practice and automaticity of the form depicted below (solid line). On average a plateau in automaticity was reached after 66 days. In other words it had become as much of a habit as it was ever going to become.
This graph shows that early practice was rewarded with greater increases in automaticity and gains tailed off as participants reached their maximum automaticity for that behaviour.
Although the average was 66 days, there was marked variation in how long habits took to form, anywhere from 18 days up to 254 days in the habits examined in this study. As you'd imagine, drinking a daily glass of water became automatic very quickly but doing 50 sit-ups before breakfast required more dedication (above, dotted lines). The researchers also noted that:
  • Missing a single day did not reduce the chance of forming a habit.
  • A sub-group took much longer than the others to form their habits, perhaps suggesting some people are 'habit-resistant'.
  • Other types of habits may well take much longer.

No small change

What this study reveals is that when we want to develop a relatively simple habit like eating a piece of fruit each day or taking a 10 minute walk, it could take us over two months of daily repetitions before the behaviour becomes a habit. And, while this research suggests that skipping single days isn't detrimental in the long-term, it's those early repetitions that give us the greatest boost in automaticity.
Unfortunately it seems there's no such thing as small change: the much-repeated 21 days to form a habit is a considerable underestimation unless your only goal in life is drinking glasses of water.

Friday, 4 May 2012

SMILE -All the benefits

People are always smiling, especially in groups, but it doesn't just signal that they're happy, far from it. We use smiles for specific social purposes because they can send out all sorts of signals that can be useful for us.

1. Get others to trust you

In a world where everyone is out for themselves, who should we trust? One signal that suggests we are trustworthy is a smile. Genuine smiles send a message that other people can trust and cooperate with us. People who smile are rated higher in both generosity and extraversion and when people share with each other they tend to display genuine smiles (Mehu et al., 2007).
Economists even consider that smiles have a value. In one study by Scharlemann et al. (2001) participants were more likely to trust another person if they were smiling. This study found that a smile increased people's willingness to trust by about 10%.

2. Smile for leniency

When people do bad things they often smile when they are caught. Is this to their benefit?
According to a study conducted by LaFrance and Hecht (1995), it can be. We treat people who've broken the rules with more leniency if they smile afterwards. It doesn't matter whether it's a false smile, a miserable smile or a real felt smile, they all work to make us want to give the transgressor a break.
This seems to work because we find people who smile after breaking the rules more trustworthy than those who don't.

3. Recover from social slip-ups

Did you forget to buy your partner an anniversary present? Has an important client's name slipped your mind? Have you accidentally kicked a small child? If you've tripped on a social banana, embarrassment is your go-to emotion.
The function of embarrassment is to get us out of tight social spots (Keltner & Buswell, 1997). The embarrassed smiles we display involve looking down and sometimes we emit a silly little laugh. This is designed to elicit fellow-feeling from other people so they think less of the slip and forgive us more quickly.
So the embarrassed smile helps us get out of jail free(ish). Once again, the power of a smile.

4. Because otherwise I'll feel bad

Sometimes we smile both because it's polite and so that we can avoid feeling bad afterwards. Like when someone enthuses about how they saved a small amount of money with a coupon they found down the back of the sofa. It hardly seems to warrant a smile but you muster one anyway because it's polite.
In one study people were asked to remain stony-faced after hearing someone else's good news (LaFrance, 1997). They felt bad afterwards and thought the other person would think worse of them as a result.
So we nod and smile politely because otherwise we'll regret it afterwards. Women, though, seem to feel this pressure to smile at the happy news of others more than men.

5. Laugh off the hurt

Smiling is one way to reduce the distress caused by an upsetting situation. Psychologists call this the facial feedback hypothesis. Even forcing a smile when we don't feel like it is enough to lift our mood slightly (this is one example of embodied cognition).
A word of warning: smiling at upsetting things may work but it doesn't look good to others. When Ansfield (2007) had participants viewing distressing videos, those who smiled felt better afterwards than those who didn't. But people who smiled at distressing images were judged less likeable by others.

6. Grin for insight

When we're nervous our attention tends to narrow. We stop noticing what's going on around the edges and only see what's right in front of us. This is true in both a literal and a metaphorical sense: when nervous or stressed we're less likely to notice ideas that are at the edge of our consciousness. But to gain insight into a problem, it's often precisely these peripheral ideas we need.
Cue a smile.
Smiling makes us feel good which also increases our attentional flexibility and our ability to think holistically. When this idea was tested by Johnson et al. (2010), the results showed that participants who smiled performed better on attentional tasks which required seeing the whole forest rather than just the trees.
So a smile really can help give us a burst of insight.

7. Smile for sex

A woman's smile has a magical effect on men, over and above eye contact. One study examined how men approached women in a bar (Walsh & Hewitt, 1985). When a woman only established eye contact with a man, she was approached 20% of the time. When the same woman added a smile, though, she was approached 60% of the time.
When men smile at women, though, the effect is less magical. While smiling increases women's attractiveness to men, it doesn't work so well the other way around. Indeed there's some evidence men look more attractive to women when displaying pride or even shame, than when they look happy (Tracy & Beall, 2011). Less smiling makes a man look more masculine.

8. Hide what you really think

Psychologists used to think that a genuine smile never lies. Fake smiles involve only the mouth, while real smiles—called Duchenne smiles by psychologists—reach up to the eyes. Recent research, though, suggests that 80% of people can fake the crinkly eyes central to a Duchenne smile (see Duchenne: Key to a Genuine Smile?).
So smiles can be used to hide what we really think, but it's still not easy to fake a real smile because they have to be timed correctly. A key to a trustworthy smile is that it has a slow onset, i.e. it takes about half a second to spread across the face. One piece of research has found that in comparison to a fast onset smile (about a tenth of a second to spread), slow onset smiles are judged more trustworthy, authentic and even more flirtatious (see: A Slow Smile Attracts).

9. Smile to make money

We've already seen that economists have calculated the value of a smile, but can a smile make us real cash-money? Apparently the broad smile of a waitress can: Tidd and Lockard (1978) found smiling waitresses made more in tips (there's no study on waiters).
More generally people in service industries, like flight attendants or those in entertainment and hospitality are effectively paid to smile at customers. But, watch out, a constant mismatch between felt and displayed emotion—called emotional labour by psychologists—can be exhausting, possibly leading to job burnout.
A smile may make money, but it can also be draining.

10. Smile and (half) the world smiles with you

One of the simple social pleasures of life, which goes almost unnoticed because it's automatic, is when you smile at someone and they smile back.
As you'll have noticed, though, not everyone does smile back. Hinsz and Tomhave (1991) wanted to see what proportion of people would respond to a smile aimed at them with their own smile. Their results suggest around 50% of people reciprocate. In comparison almost no one responds to a frown with their own frown.

Smile for longevity

If none of these studies can coax a smile out of you then consider this: people who smile more may live longer. A study of pictures taken of baseball players in 1952 suggests those smiling outlived their non-smiling counterparts by seven years (Abel & Kruger, 2010).

Sunday, 22 April 2012

How to commit to a goal

Reality check

The researchers divided 136 participants into three groups and gave them each a different way of thinking about how they wanted to solve a problem, in this case it was an interpersonal one.
  1. Indulge: imagine a positive vision of the problem solved.
  2. Dwell: think about the negative aspects of the current situation. 
  3. Contrast: first imagine a positive vision of the problem solved then think about the negative aspects of reality. With both in mind, participants were asked to carry out a 'reality check', comparing their fantasy with reality.
Crucially, participants were also asked about their expectations of success in reaching their goal.
The researchers found that the contrast technique was the most effective in encouraging people to make plans of action and in taking responsibility but only when expectations of success were high. When expectations of solving their interpersonal problem were low, those in the mental contrast condition made fewer plans and took less responsibility.
The contrast condition appeared to be forcing people to decide whether their goal was really achievable or not. Then, if they expected to succeed, they committed to the goal; if not, they let it go.
Using this technique, the same thing happens to emotions as well as thoughts. In a second experiment the mental contrasting had the effect of committing people emotionally to the goal if they thought they could succeed, or letting the goal go if they didn't. Both those who indulged or dwelled made no such emotional investment.
A third experiment found that people in a mental contrast condition were more energised and took action sooner than those who only entertained positive or negative fantasies on their own. Once again people didn't commit themselves to goals they didn't expect to achieve.

 Why mental contrasting is hard

Carrying out a kind of reality check sounds like a straightforward technique, but from other research we know that it's easy to get wrong.
The positive fantasies about the future must come first, followed by the negative aspects of reality. Then it's also vital that we think carefully about the difference between fantasy and reality. A study has found that if people don't contrast fantasy with reality then the technique doesn't work (Oettingen & Gollwitzer, 2001).
There's a good reason why we need to rub our noses in the difference between fantasy and reality. It's because we hate to have inconsistencies pointed out to us and will attempt all kinds of mental contortions to avoid them. Psychologists call this cognitive dissonance: our mind's discomfort with thoughts and actions which are incompatible with each other.
Our natural reaction is to avoid bringing fantasy and reality together because it's uncomfortable. Suddenly it becomes obvious what needs to be done and these realisations can be depressing—we might have a lot of work to do. Worse, we might have to face the fact that our goal is unworkable.
Another reason the technique is difficult is that people dislike moving from happy to depressing thoughts. We want to keep thinking about happy things. Or if we're thinking negative thoughts, it's difficult to change to positive.

Hearts and minds

When done right, the strength of this technique is it forces us to decide. People have a natural tendency to avoid decisions, preferring to stay in a fantasy land where the chance of failure is zero.
Mental contrasting makes us ask ourselves if this is really a goal we want to pursue. If not we should forget about it and move on to something else. If we expect to succeed then it forces us to commit our hearts and minds to it, making us act now with energy and focus.
And if we imagine failing then we should anticipate regret. A vague goal you don't care about is a goal to which you're not committed. Deciding to do one thing, rather than another is always a kind of risk, both cognitive and emotional. The time we expend pursing one goal is time that can't be spent pursuing others.
By contrast, if we never fully commit then it's difficult to achieve anything. What the mental contrasting technique forces you to do is choose. Making a choice—a committed choice—is the first step along the journey to realising your goals.

Friday, 20 April 2012

The useless info of the day : Gum and memory

A gum can freshen your breath,act as a substitute of cigarette but according to a new research it can also improve your memory.

A team of psychologists in the United Kingdom argued that gum may be able to improve memory, since according to their investigations of those who chewed gum during a test of short and long term memory performed significantly better than those who did not.

 As announced by Andrew Scholey of the University of Northumbria in Newcastle UK, "These results demonstrate for the first time that the gum can improve long-term and working memory. There are a number of possible explanations, but it is still hypothetical, "he says.

Either it is true or not, the habit of chewing gum never stops entertaining young and old.


Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The Intouchables (2011)

The Intouchables (French: Intouchables, which translates literally as Untouchable) is a French film directed by Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano. In just nine weeks after its release in France on 2 November 2011 it became the second most successful French film of all time (in number of spectators) in the French box office, behind the 2008 film Welcome to the Sticks.

The feel-good dramatic comedy has become a cultural phenomenon in France where it was voted cultural event of the year 2011 by 52% of the French.

The Plot

The movie tells the development of the improbable friendship between Philippe, a wealthy tetraplegic, and Driss, a young offender of Senegalese descent, who is hired as his live-in carer.

The film begins at night in Paris. Driss is driving Philippe's Maserati Quattroporte at full speed, with Philippe in the front passenger's seat. They are soon chased by the police. "I bet you 100 euros I shake them off," Driss tells his passenger. Yet they are caught. Unfazed, Driss doubles his bet with Philippe, convinced they will get an escort. In order to get away with his speeding, Driss claims the tetraplegic Philippe must be urgently driven to the emergency room; Philippe pretends to have a stroke and the fooled police eventually escort them to the hospital. The two men are jubilant. As the police leave them at the hospital Driss says "Now let me take care of it," and they drive off.

The story of the two men is then told as a flashback, which occupies most of the film.

Philippe, a rich quadriplegic who owns a luxurious Parisian mansion, is interviewing, along with his assistant Magalie, to recruit a live-in carer to help him. Driss, a candidate, has no ambitions to get hired. He is just there to get a signature showing he was interviewed and rejected in order to continue to receive his welfare benefits. He is extremely casual and shamelessly flirts with Magalie. He is told to come back the next morning to get his signed letter. Driss goes back to the tiny flat that he shares with his extended family in a bleak Parisian suburb. His aunt, exasperated from not hearing from him for six months, orders him to leave the flat.

The next day, Driss returns to Philippe's mansion and learns to his surprise he is on a trial period for the live-in carer job. He learns the extent of Philippe's disability and then accompanies Philip in every moment of his life, discovering with astonishment a completely different lifestyle. A friend of Philippe's reveals to Philippe Driss' criminal record which includes six months in jail for robbery. Philippe states he does not care about Driss' past as long as he does his current job properly.

Over time, Driss and Philippe become closer. Driss dutifully takes care of his boss, who frequently suffers from psychosomatic pain. Philippe discloses to Driss he became disabled following a paragliding accident and that his wife died very young.

Gradually, Philippe is led by Driss to put some order in his private life, including being more strict with his adopted daughter Elisa, who behaves like a spoiled child with the staff. Driss discovers modern art and opera and suddenly decides to paint.

For Philippe's birthday, a private concert of classical music is performed in his living room. At first very reluctant, Driss is led by Philippe to listen more carefully to the music and opens up to Philippe's music. Driss then plays the music he likes to Philippe (Earth, Wind and Fire).

Driss discovers that Philippe has a purely epistolary relationship with a woman called Eleonore, who lives in Dunkirk. Driss encourages him to meet her but Philippe fears her reaction when she discovers his disability. Driss eventually convinces Philippe to talk to Eleonore on the phone. Philippe agrees with Driss to send a photo of him in a wheelchair to her, but he hesitates and asks his aide, Yvonne, to send a picture of him as he was before his accident. A date between Eleonore and Philippe is agreed. At the last minute Philippe is too scared to meet Eleonore and leaves with his aide Yvonne before she arrives. Philippe then calls Driss and invites him to travel with him in his private jet for a paragliding week-end. Philippe gives Driss an envelope containing 11 000 euros, the amount he was able to get for Driss's painting, which he shamelessly sold to one of his friends, by saying it was from an up-and-coming artist.

Adama, the younger brother of Driss, who is in trouble with a gang, takes refuge in Philippe's mansion. Driss comes clean about his family and reveals his secret wounds. Philippe eventually advises Driss, who "may not want to push a wheelchair all his life", to seek work elsewhere.

Driss returns to his suburbs, joining his friends, and manages to help his little brother. Due to his new professional experience, he lands a job in a transport company. In the meantime Philippe has hired carers to replace Driss but he isn't happy with any of them. His morale is very low and he stops taking care of himself. Yvonne is worried and contacts Driss. Driss arrives and decides to drive Philippe in the Maserati and the action comes back to the first scene of the film, the police chase. After they have eluded the police, Driss takes Philippe straight to the seaside. Driss and Philippe arrive at a restaurant with a great view of the ocean. Driss suddenly leaves the table and says good luck to him for his meeting. Philippe does not understand but a few seconds later Eleonore arrives. Philippe looks outside and sees Driss walking along the seawalk, smiling at him.


The film won the Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix award given to the best film at the Tokyo International Film Festival and the Award for Best Actor to both Francois Cluzet and Omar Sy in 2011.

Omar Sy received the César Award for Best Actor on 24 February 2012 for the role of Driss (defeating Jean Dujardin, nominated for The Artist). He is the first actor of African descent to receive this award.

In the United States, a review published in Variety finds the movie "offensive", "which flings about the kind of Uncle Tom racism one hopes has permanently exited American screens". In the film Driss (Omar Sy) is of Senegalese descent. Most French journalists do not understand such an interpretation and highlight the cultural issue that America has with anything linked to ethnicity.

The Weinstein Company has acquired rights of the film in English-speaking countries, Scandinavian countries, China and US remake rights.

The Cast

François Cluzet as Philippe
 Omar Sy as Driss
 Anne Le Ny as Yvonne
 Audrey Fleurot as Magalie
 Clotilde Mollet as Marcelle
 Alba Gaïa Kraghede Bellugi as Elisa
 Cyril Mendy as Adama
 Christian Ameri as Albert
 Grégoire Oestermann as Antoine

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Color Psychology

 Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions. - Pablo Picasso
Do you feel anxious in a yellow room? Does the color blue make you feel calm and relaxed? Artists and interior designers have long understood how color can dramatically affect moods, feelings and emotions. It is a powerful communication tool and can be used to signal action, influence mood, and cause physiological reactions. Certain colors can raise blood pressure, increase metabolism, or cause eyestrain.
Of course, your feelings about color can also be deeply personal and are often rooted in your own experience or culture. For example, while the color white is used in many Western countries to represent purity and innocence, it is seen as a symbol of mourning in many Eastern countries.
Why is color such a powerful force in our lives? What effects can it have on our bodies and minds? Continue reading to further explore the history of color including how it's used, the effects it may have and some of the most recent research on color psychology.


What Is Color?

In 1666, English scientist Sir Isaac Newton discovered that when pure white light passes through a prism, it separates into all of the visible colors. Newton also found that each color is made up of a single wavelength and cannot be separated any further into other colors.
Further experiments demonstrated that light could be combined to form other colors. For example, red light mixed with yellow light creates an orange color. Some colors, such as yellow and purple, cancel each other out when mixed and result in a white light.
If you have ever painted, then you have probably noticed how certain colors can be mixed to create other colors. Marion Boddy-Evans,'s Guide to Painting, has an excellent overview of color theory basics including how different colors can be mixed.

Color Psychology - The Psychological Effects of Color

While perceptions of color are somewhat subjective, there are some color effects that have universal meaning. Colors in the red area of the color spectrum are known as warm colors and include red, orange and yellow. These warm colors evoke emotions ranging from feelings of warmth and comfort to feelings of anger and hostility.
Colors on the blue side of the spectrum are known as cool colors and include blue, purple and green. These colors are often described as calm, but can also call to mind feelings of sadness or indifference.

Color Psychology as Therapy

Several ancient cultures, including the Egyptians and Chinese, practiced chromotherapy, or using colors to heal. Chromotherapy is sometimes referred to as light therapy or colourology and is still used today as a holistic or alternative treatment.
In this treatment:

  • Red
    Red is thought to be linked to the base chakra and the spine, hips and legs. It's thought to stimulate and boost physical energy, strengthen willpower, increase circulation, clear congestion and is linked with sexuality. Too much red may overstimulate and possibly promote anger or aggressiveness.
  • Orange
    Orange is thought to encourage joy, socializing and optimism, which is why it's considered useful for depression or sadness. Orange is associated with the sacral chakra and it's believed to benefit the kidneys, urinary tract and the reproductive organs. Too much orange is thought to lead to tiredness, pessimism and confusion.
  • Yellow
    Yellow is associated with the solar plexus chakra. An imbalance in the solar plexus chakra is thought to promote fear, apprehension, confusion, lack of determination, introversion or power issues, which this color is believed to balance. Yellow is associated with the intellect and mental processes and is uplifting. The solar plexus chakra is also thought to influence the digestive system. Too much yellow is believed to lead to poor concentration and hyperactivity.
  • Green
    Green is a color that's thought to encourage emotional stability, purity and calmness. It's related to the heart chakra, so it's believed to help with emotional issues, such as love, forgiveness, trust and compassion. An imbalance in the heart chakra is associated with fear of relationships, mistrust, jealousy, isolation and insecurity.
  • Blue
    Blue is related to the throat chakra and is said to be connected to the throat and lungs. It's thought to enhance verbal expression and communication, artistic expression and willpower. It's a calming color and is believed to help insomnia, anxiety, throat problems, high blood pressure, migraine and skin irritation.
  • Indigo
    Indigo is associated with the third eye chakra, located between the eyes, and is related to the eyes and the lower part of the head. It's said to encourage greater intuition and strengthen the lymph system, immune system and help purify and cleanse the body.
  • Purple or Violet
    Purple, or violet, is associated with the crown chakra, which is at the top of the head. It's thought to encourage spirituality, intuition, wisdom, mastery and mental strength and focus. Too much purple is thought to promote pride and arrogance.
  • Most psychologists view color therapy with skepticism and point out that the supposed effects of color have been exaggerated. Colors also have different meanings in different cultures. Research has demonstrated in many cases that the mood-altering effects of color may only be temporary. A blue room may initially cause feelings of calm, but the effect dissipates after a short period of time.
    Studies have also shown that certain colors can have an impact on performance. Exposing students to the color red prior to an exam has been shown to have a negative impact on test performance. More recently, researchers discovered that the color red causes people to react with greater speed and force, something that might prove useful during athletic activities.

     Note: This information should be used for education only and should not be used to diagnose or treat disease. There is no evidence that color therapy can be used to treat, alone or in conjunction with standard therapy, any condition or disease. If you have any symptoms, please see your primary care provider.

    Friday, 13 April 2012

    The Innkeepers (2011)

    The Innkeepers is a 2011 horror film written, directed, and edited by Ti West, starring Kelly McGillis, Pat Healy and Sara Paxton.

    The Plot

    During the final days at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, two employees determined to reveal the hotel's haunted past begin to experience disturbing events as old guests check in for a stay.


    The Innkeepers has received generally good reviews from critics. As of 3rd February 2012, the film has a 76% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes with 61 out of 80 reviews counted, with consensus "It doesn't break any rules of the genre, but The Inkeepers serves as additional proof that Ti West is a young director that discriminating horror fans can trust". David Harley of horror movie review site Bloody Disgusting gave the film three skulls out of five saying that "once the tone shifts from light-hearted comedy to balls-to-the-wall horror, it makes the two halves feel like separate films" and that The Innkeepers is "just kind of disappointing". Others gave the film more favorable reviews, with Life After Undeath giving the film 8 out of 10 and saying that "it is a slow burn with a wicked punch and it is creepier than that one eyed whore with the deep voice you always avoid on your way back from the 'massage' parlor". gave the film a largely negative review stating that "nothing happens for a VERY long time, other than the old tried, tested, overdone and predictable jump scenes, and for a film that is over 100mins long, that isn’t good."

    The Cast

    Sara Paxton as Claire
     Pat Healy as Luke
     Alison Bartlett as Gayle, Angry Mom
     Jake Ryan as Jake Schlueter
     Kelly McGillis as Leanne Rease-Jones
     Lena Dunham as Barista
     George Riddle as Old Man
     Brenda Cooney as Madeline O'Malley
     John Speredakos as Officer Mitchell

    Thursday, 12 April 2012

    Wrath of the Titans (2012)

    Wrath of the Titans is a 2012 American fantasy film and sequel to the 2010 film Clash of the Titans. The film stars Sam Worthington, Rosamund Pike, Bill Nighy, Édgar Ramírez, Toby Kebbell, Danny Huston, Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson with Jonathan Liebesman directing a screenplay by Dan Mazeau and David Leslie Johnson. Wrath of the Titans takes place a decade after the events of the first film as the gods lose control over the imprisoned Titans and Perseus is called once again, this time to rescue his father Zeus, overthrow the Titans and save mankind.

    Talk of a sequel began with the release of Clash of the Titans in March 2010. Scribes Dan Mazeau and David Leslie Johnson were hired in June 2010 and director Jonathan Liebesman was brought on-board in August 2010. The majority of the casting took place between January and February 2011. Principal photography began in London in March 2011. The film was converted to 3D in post-production. Wrath of the Titans was released in 2D and 3D on March 30, 2012 in the United States.

    The Plot

    Ten years after he defeated The Kraken, Perseus (Sam Worthington), the demigod son of Zeus (Liam Neeson), now lives as a fisherman with his 10-year-old son, Heleus (John Bell). One night, Perseus is visited by Zeus, who tells him that the powers of the gods are fading and the walls of the underworld prison of Tartarus are breaking due to the lack of devotion from humans and states they will need the world's armies to combat the potential threat, but Perseus shows little interest and refuses to get involved. Afterwards, Zeus travels to Tartarus to meet with his brothers Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Poseidon (Danny Huston), and his son Ares (Edgar Ramirez). He tells Hades they must forget the past and unite to rebuild Tartarus, but Hades orders his minions to attack. They severely injure Poseidon, and Ares betrays Zeus over showing Perseus more affection, taking him prisoner and stealing his thunderbolt. Hades and Ares plan to drain Zeus' power to revive Kronos, the father of Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon, in exchange for the two to remain immortal.

    The walls of Tartarus break, unleashing monsters into the world. After slaying a Chimera that attacks his village, Perseus then takes Heleus to the Mount of Idols, so they can speak to Zeus, but the dying Poseidon arrives instead. He informs Perseus that Hades and Ares are holding Zeus in Tartarus, and tells him to meet with his demigod son Agenor (Toby Kebbell) to find the fallen god Hephaestus, who knows the way into Tartarus. Poseidon gives Perseus his trident before succumbing to his injuries and crumbling into dust.

    Perseus flies on Pegasus to the campsite of Queen Andromeda's army. Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) has imprisoned Agenor for stealing crown jewels, but Perseus has him released. Perseus, Andromeda, Agenor, and a group of soldiers set out at sea to find Hephaestus, with Agenor explaining that Hephaestus created the three great weapons that Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon wield: Zeus’ Thunderbolt, Hades' Pitchfork, and Poseidon’s Trident, and that together they form the Spear of Triam, the only weapon that can defeat Kronos. Agenor uses Poseidon's trident to direct the boat to Hephaestus's island, where they encounter three Cyclopes who attack them. When Perseus shows them the trident, they lead the group to Hephaestus (Bill Nighy), the smith god, stripped of much of his godly power after siding with Hades after he betrayed the Olympians ten years prior. He explains that he has a map to navigate the path into Tartarus. He leads them to the door into the Labyrinth, where they are attacked by Ares after a soldier prayed for him to come. Ares kills most of the soldiers while Hephaestus opens the door. Hephaestus then sacrifices himself so that Perseus, Andromeda, and Agenor can enter the door before it closes. Agenor tries to use the map to direct them, but the labyrinth continually shifts. Perseus gets cut off from the group and encounters and kills a Minotaur. Eventually, The group reunites at Tartarus.

    Meanwhile, Zeus has been almost entirely drained of power and close to death as Kronos starts to awaken. Zeus apologizes to Hades and asks his forgiveness as he forgives Hades for his actions. Hades has a change of heart and finally decides to help Zeus and the human army, but Ares intervenes. Perseus arrives and uses the trident to free Zeus. As they are escaping, Ares throws Hades's pitchfork into Zeus's back.

    Perseus, Andromeda, Agenor and Hades carry a weakened Zeus down to the base of the mountain where Andromeda's army is gathered. Perseus combines the trident and Hades’ pitchfork, but he still needs Zeus's thunderbolt, which Ares still has. Perseus prays to Ares, challenging him to a fight at the Temple of Gods, which Ares accepts. At the temple, Perseus finds out Ares has kidnapped Heleus, who was brought to watch Perseus die. Ares easily subdues Perseus, but is distracted when Heleus tries to challenge him by pointing a sword at him, giving Perseus the opportunity to subdue him. Perseus then destroys Ares with Zeus's Thunderbolt and combines the gods' weapons into the Spear of Triam. Meanwhile, Andromeda's army is subdued by Kronos' army of Makhai, but a redeemed Hades and a revived Zeus use what power they have left to defeat the army, who have murdered almost all of Andromeda's men. Kronos then appears and starts to destroy them, in which Zeus and Hades defend them and at the same time are giving Perseus the opportunity to fly right down Kronos' throat. Kronos lets out one last blast, and Zeus takes the brunt of the force to protect Hades. Perseus throws the Spear into Kronos' stomach, destroying him once and for all.

    Perseus meets with Zeus and Hades. Zeus commends Perseus for his courage, stating that the time of the gods is over before turning to dust. Hades is now human, though he states he might be better as one before walking away. Perseus reunites with Andromeda and kisses her. Knowing that their are still Titans to battle, Perseus decides to train Heleus to be a soldier.


    Wrath of the Titans has received generally unfavorable reviews from film critics. Metacritic assigned the film an average score of 37/100 based on reviews from 32 critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 23% approval rating with an average rating of 4.4/10, based on an aggregation of 144 reviews and offers the consensus; "Its 3D effects are an improvement over its predecessor's, but in nearly every other respect, Wrath of the Titans fails to improve upon the stilted acting, wooden dialogue, and chaos-driven plot of the franchise's first installment".

    Andrew Barker of Variety gave the film a positive review, saying, "The Clash of the Titans franchise has matured ever so slightly with Wrath of the Titans, hewing incrementally more faithfully to its Greek origins and trimming the fat in essential places". Richard Corliss of Time magazine wrote, "Wrath [of the Titans] radiates the straight-forward, straight-faced pleasures of the mytho-muscular epics, like Hercules and Jason and the Argonauts, produced in Europe a half-century ago". Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly commented, "For a movie that's basically all warmed-over pseudo-mythology and special effects, Wrath of the Titans is certainly more fun, in its solemnly junky way, than John Carter. It may also be a little more fun than its cheeseball predecessor, the 2010 remake of Clash of the Titans".

    However, Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter called it, "A relentlessly mechanical piece of work that will not or cannot take the imaginative leaps to yield even fleeting moments of awe, wonder or charm". Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times remarked, "It lacks a comprehensible story, and you won't need your CliffsNotes on the Greek myths. You get an idea of who the major players are, and then they spend a modest amount of time shouting laughable dialogue at one another while being all but forced off the screen by special effects.". Mark Olsen of the Los Angeles Times criticized, "Directed this time out by Jonathan Liebesman, the film lacks inspiration or zest in storytelling, performance or action. This is pure product, a movie desperately without energy or enthusiasm of any kind".

    The Cast

    Sam Worthington as Perseus
     Liam Neeson as Zeus
     Ralph Fiennes as Hades
     Édgar Ramírez as Ares
     Toby Kebbell as Agenor
     Rosamund Pike as Andromeda
     Bill Nighy as Hephaestus
     Danny Huston as Poseidon
     John Bell as Helius
     Lily James as Korrina
     Alejandro Naranjo as Mantius
     Freddy Drabble as Apollo
     Kathryn Carpenter as Athena
    Sinéad Cusack as Clea