The Psychology of Christmas

There is one. A Psychology of Christmas, that is. Here I am over at going on about it, as usual:

In the 1930s, US President Calvin Coolidge made the following observation on the annual yuletide festivities: “Christmas is not a time nor a season,” he said, “but a state of mind.”

For sure, Christmas affects the human mind in many ways, capable of stimulating joy, nostalgia, excitement, trepidation, and stress – occasionally all at the same time. It is little surprise to learn, then, that behavioural science has produced voluminous research into the human side of Christmas.

At the time of writing, a standard Google search for the ‘Psychology of Christmas’ yields approximately 126 million results. Even Google Scholar gives us 200,000. There is much to cover.

Perhaps the best starting point is to remember that Christmas is one of the most psychological of human festivals, in that it echoes the visceral terror of darkness that characterised humanity’s earliest experiences of winter.

There’s plenty more where that came from. Make sure you go read the rest of the piece here

It’s a taster for a public lecture I am giving tonight in Trinity. I believe tickets are all sold out, but nonetheless here is the info.

Dublin seems really Christmassy right now. Tonight, for sure, it will be even more Christmassy…

Psychology is (not?) fine

Today I will be doing a turn. Actually, two turns. (Three, if you include tomorrow.)

This afternoon I have the honour of being a keynote speaker at the Psychological Society of Ireland’s annual conference, here in Wexford City (Ireland’s “sunny southeast”, where roadside strawberries come from, and opera).

My talk is part of a special plenary organized by PSI, the British Psychological Society, AND the American Psychological Association. So no pressure then!

I will be asking, “Is it time for Psychology 2.0?” and yes, you’ve guessed it, it’s a rhetorical question.  But without spoiling too much, I can tell you that my rhetoric will be organized around an assertion that, yes, I do think it is time for such a thing.

I will refer to ‘Psychology in Crisis‘. Basically, I will say that the reason psychology is in crisis is not so much its poor replicability or the prevalence of sloppy methods, but rather that so many psychologists adopt a “This Is Fine” posture whenever they are presented with evidence of the many challenges that blight psychological science today.

Hence the dog, hence the meme, hence the title of this blog post.

Those other turns in brief:

  • Later this afternoon, the PSI will very kindly be launching my book as part of their conference programme. Copies will be available to purchase. (I will sign yours for free.)
  • And tomorrow, as part of a freestyle session with the PSI Science & Public Policy committee, I will be giving a short talk called “How To Not Hate Yourself While Doing Research In Psychology.” (Self-therapeutic? Maybe.)

That’s all I have time to write for now. Other things are happening but I will blog about them later. Right now it’s a conference — I need to go network.

Everything is fine.


Forty-one international scientists have signed a declaration supporting Cochrane’s decision to withdraw its controversial review of exercise therapy in ME/CFS

And I’m one of them.

This is important not least because of claims appearing over the weekend that Cochrane pulled its controversial review due to pressure from brain-addled trouble-making “patient activitists,” rather than for scientific reasons.

Claims that Cochrane had been harassed were made not by Cochrane themselves, but, rather, by the authors of the controversial review, along with their friends, colleagues, and even their relatives.

I will write more about this issue soon.

In the meantime, you should check out the statement:

Cochrane has decided to temporarily withdraw a review of exercise therapies for the illness variously known as ME, CFS, ME/CFS and CFS/ME. The review reported that exercise therapy is effective in treating the illness—a finding that has provided unwarranted support for recommendations that patients should undergo the intervention known as graded exercise therapy. Yet Cochrane has found merit in complaints about serious scientific missteps and has asked the review team to respond accordingly.

Supporters of the approach to treatment endorsed by the Cochrane review have portrayed the decision for temporary withdrawal as a loss for science and an unfortunate capitulation to pressure from a vocal patient lobby. But patients have criticized the review not because they harbor anti-scientific views or are prejudiced against psychiatry. Rather, they have expressed reasonable and convincing concerns about the poor methodological choices made by the reviewers, who to date have not offered robust explanations.

We therefore believe it is important to voice our support for Cochrane’s effort to seek clarity on the issues raised not only by patients but by many others as well, including scientists, clinicians and academics. Here are some key reasons why we agree with Cochrane’s decision…

Read the rest at Virology Blog.


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