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Literally Psyched

Literally Psyched

Conceived in literature, tested in psychology

The Big Lesson of a Little Prince: (Re)capture the Creativity of Childhood

My heart leaps up when I beholdA rainbow in the sky:So was it when my life began;So is it now I am a man;So be it when I shall grow old,Or let me die!The Child is father of the Man;I could wish my days to beBound each to each by natural piety.~William Wordsworth, 1802 “Once upon a time, there was a little prince who lived on a planet that was barely larger than he, and who needed a friend.”* That’s how Antoine de Saint-Exupéry would have liked to begin his story of the Little Prince...

March 18, 2012 — Maria Konnikova

Our Storytelling Minds: Do We Ever Really Know What's Going on Inside?

W.J. was a veteran of World War II. He was gregarious, charming, and witty. He also happed to suffer from a debilitating form of epilepsy—so incapacitating that, in 1960, he elected to have a drastic form of brain surgery: his corpus collosum—the connecting fabric between the left and right hemispheres of the brain that allows the two halves to communicate—would be severed...

March 8, 2012 — Maria Konnikova

Why Are We So Afraid of Creativity?

Creativity: now there’s a word I thought I wouldn’t see under attack. Don’t we live in a society that thrives on the idea of innovation and creative thought?

February 26, 2012 — Maria Konnikova

Hamlet and the Power of Beliefs to Shape Reality

Writing at the close of the nineteenth century, William James, the father of modern psychology (and Henry’s brother), observed that, “Whilst part of what we perceive comes through our senses from the objects around us, another part (and it may be the larger part) always comes out of our own head.” We now know that it is, in fact, the larger part: perception is just as much about construal, belief, the interaction of environment and memory as it is about sensory inputs...

February 18, 2012 — Maria Konnikova

Remembering the Exception to the Rule: Of Mockingbirds and Morality

This year, To Kill a Mockingbird (the movie) turns 50 (the book itself celebrated its fiftieth birthday in 2010). I actually didn’t see the movie until late in college, when I came across the tape while rummaging through a cardboard box of my parents’ old films on a snowy evening in Vermont...

February 2, 2012 — Maria Konnikova

What Do Polar Bears and Social Faux Pas Have in Common?

Fyodor Dostoyevsky is a psychological goldmine. If you can think it, chances are he wrote about it. But as far as I know, only once has his writing directly inspired psychological research—and it was his non-fiction at that...

January 12, 2012 — Maria Konnikova

The Psychology Behind Gift-Giving and Generosity

A few weeks ago psychologist Dan Ariely, inspired by the holiday frenzy, pondered the hows and whys of gift-giving. Reading his piece—an endorsement of a behavioral economics view that challenges the rational economic contention that gift-giving is a largely irrational dilemma—at once brought to mind the story that has to me (and, I suspect, to many others) always epitomized the spirit of gifts and generosity: O...

January 4, 2012 — Maria Konnikova

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