Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Thanksgiving limerick for Psychologists

For the introduction of Charles (Chuck) Carver at UT Austin in 2011:
If you lash out when down on your luck,
Then Doc Carver may get you unstuck.
It's the low serotonin
Got you mopin' and moanin',
So try turkey instead of ground Chuck.
I'm surprised they didn't throw in a joke about carving. But I guess you can't have it all. Anyway for more groaners, visit the the UT Austin departmental limerick contest.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Faculty members don't understand how human memory works

That's the thesis of this Chronicle essay by James M. Lang called "Teaching and Human Memory, Part I." I expected this to be an essay by a psychology professor, but surprising Lang is an English professor. However, most of the material for the essay comes from Michelle Miller, the chair of the psychology department at Northern Arizona University. Unfortunately, Lang seems to be saving his actual advice for Part II, which will be published next month.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Does the economy suffer from bipolar disorder?

So says this J. J. B. Morgan paper from 1935.

Manic-depressive psychoses of business

Psychological Review, Vol 42(1), Jan 1935, 91-107.

Morgan, J. J. B.

An analysis of the various theories offered to explain the business cycle of alternate booms and depressions shows that all these theories are based on a superficial study of symptoms, rather than on an analysis of the real causes, which the author believes are psychological in nature.

Business is compared to a patient suffering from a manic-depressive psychosis, in which the boom period parallels the manic phase and the subsequent slump parallels the depressive phase. It is argued that, in business as in the individual psychosis, the manic period is not a period of real optimism or even over-confidence, but is really a period of fear, for which the excessive speculative activity is a compensatory mechanism.

This fear is induced by a lack of confidence in the credit system and a desire to beat it. Two alternative solutions are offered: one is to strengthen the credit system by building up a group of heroic leaders; but this is utopian at present. The other is to discover a better defense mechanism and adopt it.

(via Mind Hacks, which also has a helpful post about where to download recent BBC programs on the brain)