psychology

How can you tell if another person, animal or thing is conscious? Try these 3 tests

How can you tell if another person, animal or thing is conscious? Try these 3 tests

How can you know that any animal, other human beings, or anything that seems conscious, isn’t just faking it? Does it enjoy an internal subjective experience, complete with sensations and emotions like hunger, joy, or sadness? After all, the only consciousness you can know with certainty is your own. Everything else is inference. The nature of consciousness makes it by necessity a wholly private affair.

Majority of people return lost wallets – here’s the psychology and which countries are the most honest

Majority of people return lost wallets – here’s the psychology and which countries are the most honest

Honesty is one of the traits we value most in others. We often assume it is a rather rare quality, making it important for us to find out who we can actually trust in this selfish world. But according to new research, there’s no need to be so cynical – it turns out most people in the world are honourable enough to return a lost wallet, especially if it contains a lot of cash.

Gravity influences how we make decisions – new research

Gravity influences how we make decisions – new research

Returning to Earth from the International Space Station, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield remarked how making the right decision is vital in high pressure environments, saying:

Can robots ever have a true sense of self? Scientists are making progress

Can robots ever have a true sense of self? Scientists are making progress

Having a sense of self lies at the heart of what it means to be human. Without it, we couldn’t navigate, interact, empathise or ultimately survive in an ever-changing, complex world of others. We need a sense of self when we are taking action, but also when we are anticipating the consequences of potential actions, by ourselves or others.

Our obsession with taking photos is changing how we remember the past

 Our obsession with taking photos is changing how we remember the past

I recently visited the Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia – one of the best art museums in the world. I was expecting to serenely experience its masterpieces, but my view was blocked by a wall of smart phones taking pictures of the paintings. And where I could find a bit of empty space, there were people taking selfies to create lasting memories of their visit.

Making New Year’s resolutions personal could actually make them stick

 Making New Year’s resolutions personal could actually make them stick

If you feel you consistently fail at your New Year’s resolutions, you are not alone. Despite our good intentions, we’re pretty poor at changing our own behavior. We continue to smoke, eat or drink too much, and exercise too little, all of which affect our health and well-being.

Spending time alone in nature is good for your mental and emotional health

Spending time alone in nature is good for your mental and emotional health

Today Americans live in a world that thrives on being busy, productive and over scheduled. Further, they have developed the technological means to be constantly connected to others and to vast options for information and entertainment through social media. For many, smartphones demand their attention day and night with constant notifications.

The surprising benefits of being a pessimist

The surprising benefits of being a pessimist

How many times have you been told that something great will happen as long as you believe it is possible? From pop psychology books to self-improvement seminars and blogs, there’s a lot of hype surrounding the advantages of positive thinking. And there’s certainly some evidence behind it – a large body of work suggests that being optimistic reaps a number of positive rewards, including better health and wellbeing.

People with depression use language differently – here’s how to spot it

People with depression use language differently – here’s how to spot it

From the way you move and sleep, to how you interact with people around you, depression changes just about everything. It is even noticeable in the way you speak and express yourself in writing. Sometimes this “language of depression” can have a powerful effect on others. Just consider the impact of the poetry and song lyrics of Sylvia Plath and Kurt Cobain, who both killed themselves after suffering from depression.

Feel the fear and do it anyway: why being scared can be good for you

Feel the fear and do it anyway: why being scared can be good for you

When I was ten, my Uncle Chris took me on the ghost train at the fair. I had looked forward to that trip so much; as an imaginative child I devoured ghost stories, and wondered if night terrors were manifestations trying to claw their way over from the other side.

Can training your working memory make you smarter? We reviewed the evidence

Can training your working memory make you smarter? We reviewed the evidence

We would all like to boost our cognitive ability beyond the limits set by Mother Nature. So it’s no wonder that brain-training programmes – which typically focus on training our working memory – are a multibillion-dollar industry. But can this kind of training really make us smarter?

‘Seeing’ music or ‘tasting’ numbers? Here’s what we can learn from people with synaesthesia

‘Seeing’ music or ‘tasting’ numbers? Here’s what we can learn from people with synaesthesia

Imagine what the world would be like if numbers had specific spatial locations, music had shapes, or colours made sounds. Perhaps you’d experience the bass in the Jamie xx track Gosh as cuboid, metallic and heavy, with spiralling ribbons of synthesiser in the background.

Ever noticed time seems to move faster when you’re in control of things? Science can explain why

Ever noticed time seems to move faster when you’re in control of things? Science can explain why

We’ve all been there: waiting for a boring meeting to finish or for a bus to arrive and time just seems to drag on far more slowly than usual. Yet our most enjoyable moments seem to whizz by at lightning speed. It seems obvious that more boring events appear to take longer than the ones that stimulate us. But there’s another reason we sometimes experience time differently.