The Dirt Psychology

The Armchair Collective started in 2013 as The Dirt Psychology.

The idea there was to take psychological scholarship and turn it into something more intelligible, with a special focus on those ways in which psychology could help us build our connections to others. The Armchair Collective tries to go a little further than just psychology. As time goes on, we will update these posts to remain current, but you will always be able to find them in our archive, here.

In this collection:

What lies beneath? The uncomfortably vague 'unconscious processes'. cover image

What lies beneath? The uncomfortably vague 'unconscious processes'.

June 18, 2020 by Dorian Minors

The least endearing parts of ourselves are often ascribed to 'unconscious processes'. But these processes are typically very poorly defined. With anything so poorly defined, when we turn to face it, we are stymied; we don't know what we're up against. So let's get a better idea.

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Common sense isn't as helpful as you'd like, and neither is the truth cover image

Common sense isn't as helpful as you'd like, and neither is the truth

April 18, 2020 by Dorian Minors

We covet common sense, especially at those times where the expertise of the academic world can seem so distant from our daily concerns. But the spirit of academic enquiry has something that common sense doesn't and you don't need to be an academic to have it too.

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Avoiding the scientific ego problem cover image

Avoiding the scientific ego problem

June 15, 2019 by Dorian Minors

Science is often an egoistic pursuit. Something about developing a theory seems to inject an arrogance into the method which can lead to a relentless pursuit of a theory in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary. This hurts us, but it doesn't have to.

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Why catharsis is a (dangerous) lie cover image

Why catharsis is a (dangerous) lie

February 24, 2019 by Dorian Minors

Aristotle used the term catharsis to describe the 'purge' of emotions by indulging in them. Then we made it into a theory. But 'venting' your emotions doesn't fix them, it just makes it worse. Much worse.

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Alert - IQ scores are meaningless cover image

Alert - IQ scores are meaningless

January 11, 2019 by Dorian Minors

The Intelligence Quotient, or IQ, is commonly considered a representation of your raw intelligence. At least, that’s the folk wisdom. But the folk wisdom is wrong.

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The three reasons why everyone is so 'cliquey' cover image

The three reasons why everyone is so 'cliquey'

November 5, 2018 by Dorian Minors

The psychology of cliques has a pretty stereotypical pattern. It's been well-described since the 80's. There are three phases, and often they end in collapse.

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Attractiveness might be more about the environment, than about you cover image

Attractiveness might be more about the environment, than about you

August 23, 2018 by Dorian Minors

There are a number of things that occur naturally in our environment that can alter the attraction we feel for people. These things might seem small, but they have an outsize influence on our preferences for people.

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Coming together - the pattern of friendship and love cover image

Coming together - the pattern of friendship and love

June 12, 2018 by Dorian Minors

Making and keeping our connections to others remains one of the fundamental arts we learn in life. And having a stickybeak into other people's relationships is one of the fundamental past times. But if there's one thing psychologists are good at, it's identifying patterns in the way people behave. In that spirit, this model describes the process of people coming together used in the counselling office and by counsellors people-watching over coffee that's quite beautiful.

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Learned helplessness is darker (and less understood) than you think cover image

Learned helplessness is darker (and less understood) than you think

May 3, 2018 by Dorian Minors

As a psychological theory, 'learned helplessness' has an even worse origin story than the grittiest Batman reboot you can imagine. But the story also has a deeper meaning that's often lost in the telling.

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The most powerful way to get someone to like you, is to like them first cover image

The most powerful way to get someone to like you, is to like them first

April 23, 2018 by Dorian Minors

One of our most powerful urges is to be liked. Strange to find, then, that one of the most powerful influences on our likeability is whether others think we like them—‘reciprocal liking’.

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Sexual Attraction - What turns us on in others? cover image

Sexual Attraction - What turns us on in others?

March 20, 2018 by Dorian Minors

Evolutionary psychologists have a perspective on sexual attraction that is discomfiting, but revealing.

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Why your unconscious isn't the bad guy cover image

Why your unconscious isn't the bad guy

January 24, 2018 by Dorian Minors

The idea that humans are on autopilot a lot of the time is not new psychological research, and it's probably not new to you. So many of the self-improvement soundbites that are written and rewritten in our media feeds revolve around the idea that freedom comes from unchaining ourselves from the routines of the everyday. But, something very valuable gets lost in these pithy reminders.

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How being clumsy makes you better looking (according to psychologists) cover image

How being clumsy makes you better looking (according to psychologists)

October 6, 2017 by Dorian Minors

If you're anything like me (and here's hoping you aren't), then you might be delighted to hear that your inability to walk through life unaccompanied by the sounds of various clatters and clangings could actually make you look a little better looking in the eyes of others.

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Why polygamy might be more natural than you thought cover image

Why polygamy might be more natural than you thought

March 8, 2017 by Dorian Minors

Most theories of relationships centre on the idea that humans are well-suited for, and biologically disposed toward forming 'pair-bonds'. But these traditional anthropological and evolutionary perspectives on sex are facing a growing threat from a more recent contender. The idea that human promiscuity is our natural state and community-style lovin' better explains the state of our modern sexuality.

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The Friendship Checklist cover image

The Friendship Checklist

February 20, 2017 by Dorian Minors

Friendships are based on many of the same building blocks of intimacy as romance. In fact, up to a point, friends travel the same cognitive road as our lovers do. But friends can be more satisfying than our spouses, and more enjoyable, according to research. All this begs the question, what the hell is a friend and why are they so awesome?

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Four ways to be attractive (and one you've probably overlooked) cover image

Four ways to be attractive (and one you've probably overlooked)

January 22, 2017 by Dorian Minors

What is attraction? Usually, we just think of it as what turns us on. But interpersonal attraction is so much bigger than this. At its core, attraction is the inclination to chase the good feeling you get from someone else. It's the word we use to describe what draws people together. And, it has aspects that are often overlooked.

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How being selfish can make people like you more cover image

How being selfish can make people like you more

January 8, 2017 by Dorian Minors

For some reason, Benjamin Franklin is known for doing, like, everything first. This is no exception. This little brain quirk is known as the 'Ben Franklin effect' and it refers to the fact that if...

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The five stages of grief are a lie cover image

The five stages of grief are a lie

November 30, 2016 by Dorian Minors

Even if you can't remember them all, I'm sure you've heard of the 5 stages of grief. What you almost certainly don't know is how they're supposed to work. When something bad happens to someone, we...

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Why the best part of your brain is hiding under the stairs cover image

Why the best part of your brain is hiding under the stairs

November 28, 2016 by Dorian Minors

Harry Potter wasn't the only amazing thing to come out of the cupboard under the stairs. It's said that art mimics nature, and in this case, the result is absolutely fascinating (to me). Let's...

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Alert - your brain leaves you open to manipulation cover image

Alert - your brain leaves you open to manipulation

November 23, 2016 by Dorian Minors

Mind control is less common than TV would have you believe, but it can happen. Problem is, the kinds of shortcuts our brain uses to speed things up leaves up open to manipulation. The phenomenon we...

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What do dreams really mean? cover image

What do dreams really mean?

November 21, 2016 by Dorian Minors

I bet you've heard stories of 'prophetic dreams'. Or maybe you've had one yourself. Well, if you're here, you probably want to know what the science says. Dream interpretation has long been a staple...

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Four definitions of attractiveness that'll change how you view it cover image

Four definitions of attractiveness that'll change how you view it

July 15, 2016 by Dorian Minors

What is attraction? Usually, we just think of it as what turns us on. But attraction is so much bigger than this. Attraction is the word we use to describe what draws people together. In this post, we give you an overview of what attraction really means and how you can manipulate it for your personal, social and romantic success.

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Psychologist's secret - why we're so bad at diagnosing 'crazy' cover image

Psychologist's secret - why we're so bad at diagnosing 'crazy'

July 8, 2016 by Dorian Minors

One in five people in any given twelve month period have been or are currently diagnosed with a mental illness. But what does that mean? How do psychologists determine what's a disorder and what's not? In this article we show you how it works and why it might be a bit different to what you expect.

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Take action - be more creative (and other things) cover image

Take action - be more creative (and other things)

June 1, 2016 by Dorian Minors

The Weekly Dispatch We curate the best psychological dirt from all over the web each week so you don’t have to. Get a jumpstart on the week, over your cup of morning coffee or on the way to work...

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Why being 'needy' isn't such a bad thing cover image

Why being 'needy' isn't such a bad thing

April 13, 2016 by Dorian Minors

Have you ever complained about 'needy' people? Or maybe you are one? Well, people being 'clingy' has a simple psychological explanation and is surprisingly common. Not only that, but it actually...

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Three ways science is being corrupted by money cover image

Three ways science is being corrupted by money

April 9, 2016 by Dorian Minors

Researchers don't get paid per article. They get paid a salary based on a kind of 'level' system. The more eminent you are, the higher your level, the more you get paid. Publishing an article...

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Why some science is ignored (even when it's crucial) cover image

Why some science is ignored (even when it's crucial)

March 25, 2016 by Dorian Minors

I'll bet you can guess what kind of research gets more press. Research that gets RESULTS, am I right? No one wants to see research that doesn't 'prove' something (although you can never really...

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Why no one ever takes your advice (and how to fix that) cover image

Why no one ever takes your advice (and how to fix that)

March 19, 2016 by Dorian Minors

I want to tell you why quitting smoking is so hard, or sticking it out at the gym. I want to show you why your friends never take your advice and why your family keep making the same mistakes with...

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How scientists are lying to you cover image

How scientists are lying to you

March 16, 2016 by Dorian Minors

Science is a wonderful thing. Find a problem in the world, follow the scientific method, and we're one step closer to utopia. From the mundane to the extraordinary, when we put 'scientific' in front...

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Four ways to tell whether someone has a mental issue cover image

Four ways to tell whether someone has a mental issue

March 12, 2016 by Dorian Minors

Want to know how to tell whether someone's dealing with a mental issue? That's what psychologists are all about. But it's far harder than you might suspect. In essence, the study of mental disorders...

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Why a 'scientific fact' isn't quite what they taught you in school cover image

Why a 'scientific fact' isn't quite what they taught you in school

March 9, 2016 by Dorian Minors

Psychology is a type of science. Well, it is if it's done properly, anyway. It's a way to make our guesses about how the mind works into 'facts'. A way of understanding the mind, just as science...

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The five types of couple (which one are you?) cover image

The five types of couple (which one are you?)

March 4, 2016 by Dorian Minors

Would you like to know how to make your relationship perfect? There's one easy to remember rule. Influential couples psychologist, John Gottman figured out we need to balance each bad thing we do to...

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Academic publishers - the biggest evil you didn't know existed cover image

Academic publishers - the biggest evil you didn't know existed

March 2, 2016 by Dorian Minors

Did you know that the main academic publishers have higher profit margins than Apple? In 2011, Elsevier made $1.1bn in profit. Lucrative, no? Also, evil. The Guardian compares academic publishers to...

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How our bodies treat rejection like physical pain cover image

How our bodies treat rejection like physical pain

February 25, 2016 by Dorian Minors

Would you believe me if I said that your body treats social pain just as seriously as physical pain? By the time we're done here you will. A functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) device is a...

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How the media screws you with 'science' cover image

How the media screws you with 'science'

February 23, 2016 by Dorian Minors

The media is breaking science. You're breaking science. And it's screwing you out of knowing just what the heck you're talking about. Scientific facts are guesses. A very well-designed kind of guess...

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The real origin of the saying 'happiness is a way of travel' cover image

The real origin of the saying 'happiness is a way of travel'

February 13, 2016 by Dorian Minors

You know, I see the phrase 'happiness isn't a destination, it's a way of life' overlayed on countless sunsets on Pinterest and Instagram. And when I was younger and angstier, over a variety of drug,...

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How fake research articles are making you fat cover image

How fake research articles are making you fat

February 10, 2016 by Dorian Minors

Academic publishers are so evil; they could star as the villain in the next James Bond movie. Don't believe me? Well, you might if you know that they've been known to organise arms trade fairs....

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The brain quirk that changes what (and who) you like cover image

The brain quirk that changes what (and who) you like

January 31, 2016 by Dorian Minors

Your brain will make you like other people more, even if you don't want to. You see, our brain likes to generate sweeping generalisations to free up computing space, even if it causes you problems....

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Four reasons you'll always agree to this kind of request cover image

Four reasons you'll always agree to this kind of request

January 28, 2016 by Dorian Minors

This is the only time that 'no' means 'yes'. I'll tell you why but first, did you know, asking someone for a favour can make them like you more? Well, in a kind of variation of that, if they turn...

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Why you would jump off a bridge if everyone else was doing it cover image

Why you would jump off a bridge if everyone else was doing it

January 23, 2016 by Dorian Minors

I'm going to answer that age old question, 'would you jump off a bridge if everyone else was doing it?'. You know, since I started this site I've gotten people emailing me about this (and a bunch of...

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Warning - getting rejected messes with your DNA cover image

Warning - getting rejected messes with your DNA

January 15, 2016 by Dorian Minors

I bet you thought you know everything worth knowing about DNA. You were wrong. You see, DNA can change its mind about who you are. Deoxyribonucleic acid - it's not necessarily the 'building blocks'...

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How reading (good) non-fiction books builds your empathy cover image

How reading (good) non-fiction books builds your empathy

January 1, 2016 by Dorian Minors

They say a reader lives a thousand lives and those who don't live one. Well, I don't know that 'they' say it, but I like the phrase a lot. I saw a tattoo of it once on Pinterest though, if that...

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Why kids can't lie but you can (the key to emotional intelligence) cover image

Why kids can't lie but you can (the key to emotional intelligence)

December 30, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Did you know, kids don't lie until about the age of three? Well, that's not entirely true. Babies are known to fake-cry, apparently in a less-than-delightful effort to get you to pay more attention...

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How to replicate Christmas cheer the rest of the year cover image

How to replicate Christmas cheer the rest of the year

December 25, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Christmas day. A celebration of the hard work you put in to keep everyone happy for another year. Practice in negotiating with drunken family members. Lessons in assuaging the homophobic fears of...

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How to win Christmas (according to psychology) cover image

How to win Christmas (according to psychology)

December 23, 2015 by Dorian Minors

You know that famous Christmas song? It goes It's the most wonderful time of the year" Good song right? Did you ever wonder why the third line goes And everyone telling you be of good cheer"? Seems...

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The psychology behind three common job interview questions cover image

The psychology behind three common job interview questions

December 17, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Job interviews can come in a few different forms. They can be structured or unstructured, single interviewer or a panel, or even the game-show like future of job interviews, the 'multiple mini...

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The secret to remembering cover image

The secret to remembering

December 15, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Our memory is bound to the context we learn in, something we've discussed in detail before. Essentially, the closer the context in which you're trying to remember something is to the context you...

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The three aspects of the unique human experience cover image

The three aspects of the unique human experience

December 10, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Following his most (in)famous experiment (in which children were encouraged to assault an innocent doll), Albert Bandura was able to academically prove to the world that people learn from each other...

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Three reasons why you’re unhappy in the workplace cover image

Three reasons why you’re unhappy in the workplace

December 8, 2015 by Dorian Minors

The Job characteristics model of work design sounds like something you’d read in an employee handbook. Almost designed to put you to sleep. But it’s one of the few models that applies well in an...

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The psychology behind four horrible job interview questions cover image

The psychology behind four horrible job interview questions

December 3, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Job interviews can come in a few different forms. They can be structured or unstructured, single interviewer or a panel, or even the game-show like future of job interviews, the 'multiple mini...

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Seven ways to hack a conversation cover image

Seven ways to hack a conversation

December 1, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Starting a conversation with someone new is always kind of terrifying, I mean dealing with approach anxiety is something everyone faces. But it doesn't have to be. We've talked before about how...

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Two ways to beat those early conversation jitters cover image

Two ways to beat those early conversation jitters

November 27, 2015 by Dorian Minors

When two people come together for the first time, they engage almost entirely in social scripts, like 'hi, how are you' and 'what do you do for a living' and the obvious responses to those questions...

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How to make stereotypes useful (and how not to mess it up) cover image

How to make stereotypes useful (and how not to mess it up)

November 25, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Stereotypes aren't always harmful. In fact, they're a very important part of our ability to communicate. When we first meet someone, we use stereotypes to judge other people. Social psychologists...

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The (game-show like) future of job interviews cover image

The (game-show like) future of job interviews

November 19, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Job interviews aren't particularly useful in the way they're ordinarily conducted. They tend to get used because people think a good hire will be obvious, or that they are good judges of personality...

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How to read research like a pro in five minutes cover image

How to read research like a pro in five minutes

November 18, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Research can be a crock of s**t. Saying that the 'research says' doesn't mean anything if the research is problematic. That's why, here, we always try to link the article so one can evaluate for...

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Why other people's failures will stop you from achieving cover image

Why other people's failures will stop you from achieving

November 13, 2015 by Dorian Minors

We learn in a number of ways, us clever humans do. From the people around us, from the consequences of our actions and from the environment we live in. Through this learning, we develop something of...

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How to remember effectively (and why you're doing it wrong) cover image

How to remember effectively (and why you're doing it wrong)

November 13, 2015 by Dorian Minors

The concept of 'short-term memory' is flawed. We've spoken before about how memory is usually considered in three 'stores', long term, short term and sensory. But short-term memory presents a...

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How to boost your 'intelligence' (and what intelligence really is) cover image

How to boost your 'intelligence' (and what intelligence really is)

November 11, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Intelligence tests are wildly over-rated. But tests of general mental ability can be very, very useful. For starters, they are the most consistent thing in terms of their ability to predict one's...

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Why job interviews make it harder to get a job cover image

Why job interviews make it harder to get a job

November 6, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Would it surprise you to learn job interviews aren't actually that useful for employers? In fact, in their most common form, job interviews aren't even necessarily required at all. Why? Well, they...

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Why people lie to you (and you let them) cover image

Why people lie to you (and you let them)

November 3, 2015 by Dorian Minors

When we first meet someone, our conversation follows a pattern. That’s because we’re supposed to be following a social script (it’s so obvious, you can tell what stage in a relationship people...

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Why we ignore the biggest part of who we are cover image

Why we ignore the biggest part of who we are

October 30, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Half of what I write here is irrelevant. Oh, it's probably relevant to you, but you probably only represent roughly 30% of the world. The audience of this site is predominantly from societies...

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You don't understand negative reinforcement cover image

You don't understand negative reinforcement

October 28, 2015 by Dorian Minors

The Skinner Box. Sounds terrifying right? Good name for a horror movie. Well, the Skinner Box is actually the name for a phenomenon that makes people do what you want (obviously... if you put me in...

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How the term 'role model' came into being cover image

How the term 'role model' came into being

October 23, 2015 by Dorian Minors

After watching children beat the crap out of a clown doll, Albert Bandura was finally able to show people that we don't just learn by associating outcomes with events. We also learn from each...

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You're studying wrong; encoding specificity cover image

You're studying wrong; encoding specificity

October 20, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Memories are a fickle thing. They get distorted, or lost. But there is a simple trick to strengthen your memories, and it all comes down to how you try and recall.

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Four reasons you should meditate (according to the science) cover image

Four reasons you should meditate (according to the science)

October 13, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Have you thought about meditation? I bet you have. If not because you've heard it can be good for you, then because one of your mates has (and won't stop talking about it probably). Well, its no...

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What kind of (armchair) psychologist are you? cover image

What kind of (armchair) psychologist are you?

October 9, 2015 by Dorian Minors

I think it was visionary thinker and inspirational philosopher, Tupac Amaru Shakur, who posed the question, who do you believe in? And I’m now most certainly listening to that while writing this...

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Which Captain Planet hero are you (according to psychology) cover image

Which Captain Planet hero are you (according to psychology)

October 6, 2015 by Dorian Minors

In the 90's we were all about Captain Planet and the Planeteers, no? Earth, fire, wind, water and poor, belittled Ma-Ti's heart. We all had a favourite (or your kids did) no doubt (I was all...

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How our memory is divided (and how to maximise it) cover image

How our memory is divided (and how to maximise it)

October 2, 2015 by Dorian Minors

God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.” ― J.M. Barrie Our long term memory might be unlimited in it's storage capability. But we have to know how it sorts information before...

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Why do we - go mad together? cover image

Why do we - go mad together?

September 25, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Sometimes, when the delusional cup runneth over, someone else will take up the slack (if you'll allow me to mix metaphors). Imagine a scenario in which someone you know is dealing with delusions or...

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How always being right makes you dumber cover image

How always being right makes you dumber

September 23, 2015 by Dorian Minors

It takes a particularly strong person to admit being wrong about something. Not just because it's hard to admit you were wrong but because our brain literally fights against it. Thucydides once wrote...

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How memory works (the 'magic number' for remembering) cover image

How memory works (the 'magic number' for remembering)

September 18, 2015 by Dorian Minors

In 1953, surgeons removed almost half of Henry Molaison's brain. Henry (or 'H.M.' as he was, and still often is, known) suffered tonic-clonic seizures (previously known as grand mal, an 18th century...

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Your mind ain't telling you the whole truth cover image

Your mind ain't telling you the whole truth

September 16, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Very early in psychology’s history, Sigmund Freud was working hard to understand the unconscious mind, something we’ve talked about before. Almost as a throwaway (in that he talked about these...

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Children strike back - Bobo doll experiments cover image

Children strike back - Bobo doll experiments

September 4, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Kids are incredibly impressionable. Have you read 'how to terrify an infant'? In that article we talk about how the nutter John Watson decided to terrify a little child in order to explore an...

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How to terrify an infant cover image

How to terrify an infant

September 2, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Nature vs Nurture. The ultimate psychological debate. For some reason, we've spent almost 100 years debating whether people are a product of the environment they are raised in, or a product of their...

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The struggle to be good; early psychology cover image

The struggle to be good; early psychology

August 28, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Sigmund Freud was an unusual dude. He had some wacky ideas. But he also had some very useful ones. Prior to Freud, not very many people took the study of the mind very seriously. One of his more...

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The 'inkblot test' ain't worth your time. cover image

The 'inkblot test' ain't worth your time.

August 25, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Psychologists aren't allowed to tell you about certain things. Especially certain kinds of tests. Why? Well, it'll ruin them for you. They won't be 'valid' anymore and if you ever need or want...

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Mommy and I are one - subliminal messaging is bloody weird cover image

Mommy and I are one - subliminal messaging is bloody weird

August 13, 2015 by Dorian Minors

We're about to talk about the equivalent of a psychological ouija board; there's probably a good explanation, but it's creepy as heck. Subliminal perception refers to having a message or a stimulus...

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Talking to yourself ain't crazy (but you're doing it wrong) cover image

Talking to yourself ain't crazy (but you're doing it wrong)

August 7, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Talking to yourself is awesome. You've been doing it since you were two. Ever notice kids playing often talk themselves through what's happening? Say they were playing with a Tonka truck, it might...

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How conversation sparks intimacy cover image

How conversation sparks intimacy

August 5, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Conversation is obviously a source of intimacy. But you mightn't expect it to be one of the predominant sources. Often we consider intimacy as a function of physical closeness. But intimicy is about relational closeness in any form. And conversation is an extremely powerful way to generate it.

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The power of touch - Four extraordinary effects cover image

The power of touch - Four extraordinary effects

July 31, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Human contact is an amazing thing. Just touching someone can have extraordinary effects on people. It's been shown to release all sorts of chemicals and have all sorts of cognitive effects. In this...

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How to get people to pay attention cover image

How to get people to pay attention

July 29, 2015 by Dorian Minors

You can't process everything that you can sense. It's not possible. Think of all the things that are coming in from outside. The sounds, smells, sights. It would be like drinking from a firehose....

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What is love? cover image

What is love?

July 24, 2015 by Dorian Minors

What’s love? It’s a tough idea to wrap our heads around. We’ve talked about it here, and here, and here (and many other places besides). The issue with understanding love is that it’s used in...

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The 'love' hormone isn't so lovely cover image

The 'love' hormone isn't so lovely

July 24, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Irresponsibly pointy neckwear. Oxytocin has been called 'the great facilitator of life' and rarely have we celebrated a chemical like we do oxytocin. People get this bad boy tattooed on their body...

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Learning isn't all memory cover image

Learning isn't all memory

July 22, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Learning isn’t all about memory. You might’ve heard of the (now defunct) ‘different types of learners’; visual, physical, aural. Although that is an example of psychology becoming...

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The 'truth' about social anxiety and just how debilitating it is cover image

The 'truth' about social anxiety and just how debilitating it is

July 15, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Anxiety is a normal healthy emotion. It's thought to be a function of our survival instinct. When we become anxious, our brain gets a bit more active and certain types of anxiety can actually...

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Coming apart - the pattern of relationship breakdown cover image

Coming apart - the pattern of relationship breakdown

July 8, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Making and keeping our connections to others remains one of the fundamental arts we learn in life. And having a stickybeak into other people's relationships is one of the fundamental past times. This isn't always so gratifying though, because relationships don't always work out. This is how that looks.

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How your brain determines your religion (and other things) cover image

How your brain determines your religion (and other things)

July 6, 2015 by Dorian Minors

h1 class="null">The Weekly Dispatch We curate the best psychological dirt from all over the web each week so you don’t have to. Get a jumpstart on the week, over your cup of morning...

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What drives our sexual preferences; babies or people? cover image

What drives our sexual preferences; babies or people?

July 3, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Some psychologists are all about sex. One in particular is famous for his approach to figuring out what turns us on from an evolutionary perspective (something we discuss in detail here). His name...

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Are you brave enough to be creative? cover image

Are you brave enough to be creative?

July 1, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Into yoga? Because I'm about to talk about yoga that'll work your creative flexibility (and by the time I'm finished, you might be into actual yoga too). You might have noticed that the more...

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Why you can't get rid of the rubbish in your garage cover image

Why you can't get rid of the rubbish in your garage

June 26, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Have you got a bunch of crap in your wardrobe gathering dust? I have. In fact, in almost every storage space I have, I could list at least one or two things that haven't been used for months. Very...

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The 'truth' about panic attacks (and why everyone is vulnerable) cover image

The 'truth' about panic attacks (and why everyone is vulnerable)

June 24, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Anxiety is a normal healthy emotion. It's thought to be a function of our survival instinct. When we become anxious, our brain gets a bit more active and certain types of anxiety can actually...

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Broken Brains - the terrifying things everyone is capable of doing (Part 4) cover image

Broken Brains - the terrifying things everyone is capable of doing (Part 4)

June 19, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Imagine one of the most complicated Lego contraptions you ever built without using the instructions. Did you ever run out of the pieces you needed to finish it? Maybe substituted two little,...

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How some 'psychics' use psychology to screw you cover image

How some 'psychics' use psychology to screw you

June 17, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Let's cut to the chase. Most psychics are crooks. Most horoscopes are fluff. Most 'clairvoyants' are cheats. Now, I would never be so bold as to suggest that the entire enterprise built around the...

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How poverty stops you thinking straight (and other things) cover image

How poverty stops you thinking straight (and other things)

June 15, 2015 by Dorian Minors

The Weekly Dispatch We curate the best psychological dirt from all over the web each week so you don’t have to. Get a jumpstart on the week, over your cup of morning coffee or on the way to work...

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One simple sentence literally doubles your persuasiveness - But-You-Are Free cover image

One simple sentence literally doubles your persuasiveness - But-You-Are Free

June 12, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Wish you could get more people to say 'yes'? Well, according to thirteen years of research, by adding one sentence to your arsenal of persuasive techniques, you could literally double your success in...

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How a dodgy source will persuade you better - the sleeper effect cover image

How a dodgy source will persuade you better - the sleeper effect

June 5, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Do you believe in subliminal messaging? The idea of secret messages influencing our thoughts without our knowledge is a scary idea. Fortunately the research indicates that although it might have...

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Photoshop for the mind - the halo effect cover image

Photoshop for the mind - the halo effect

June 3, 2015 by Dorian Minors

This one phenomenon makes you ignore people's flaws. It's the reason that you will pay as much as double for a brand name or ignore the flaws of certain people. It's called the 'halo effect' and...

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Why you aren't as happy as you could be cover image

Why you aren't as happy as you could be

May 29, 2015 by Dorian Minors

You could be as happy as a lottery winner (without winning the lottery) according to science. Since David Gilbert and his colleagues' seminal work in 1998, we've known that people are awful at...

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How having choices makes us unhappy (and how to make them work for you) cover image

How having choices makes us unhappy (and how to make them work for you)

May 27, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Our brain cuts corners. It's nothing but an overgrown shortcut maker. The wise ruler, Paul Atreides once said that the easy (safe, clear) path leads ever down into stagnation. So it's a wonder that...

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How 'self-control' might make you unhappier (and other things) cover image

How 'self-control' might make you unhappier (and other things)

May 25, 2015 by Dorian Minors

The Weekly Dispatch We curate the best psychological dirt from all over the web each week so you don’t have to. Get a jumpstart on the week, over your cup of morning coffee or on the way to work...

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Why incompetent people are unaware of how incompetent they are cover image

Why incompetent people are unaware of how incompetent they are

May 22, 2015 by Dorian Minors

'You know nothing, Jon Snow', whispered Ygritte at the end. Or as Socrates said, 'the only true wisdom is that you know nothing'. Or to be more specific, Bertrand Russell put it, 'those who feel...

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Why we're committing ecocide - the psychology (and other things) cover image

Why we're committing ecocide - the psychology (and other things)

May 18, 2015 by Dorian Minors

The Weekly Dispatch We curate the best psychological dirt from all over the web each week so you don’t have to. Get a jumpstart on the week, over your cup of morning coffee or on the way to work...

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Don't waste time on 'promising' relationships cover image

Don't waste time on 'promising' relationships

May 15, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Opposites attract. A concept we've talked about before. The question in that article was, do opposites attract? Or do birds of a feather flock together? Well, really, they're both true....

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Why 'control' isn't always a bad thing (but can be) cover image

Why 'control' isn't always a bad thing (but can be)

May 13, 2015 by Dorian Minors

A relationship involves two very different people bringing two sets of values, cultures and environmental influences together. They also have two sets of goals and desired outcomes from life. We've...

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The sixth sense is real and it's usually right (and other things) cover image

The sixth sense is real and it's usually right (and other things)

May 11, 2015 by Dorian Minors

The Weekly Dispatch We curate the best psychological dirt from all over the web each week so you don’t have to. Get a jumpstart on the week, over your cup of morning coffee or on the way to work...

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How to stop your partner leaving you cover image

How to stop your partner leaving you

May 8, 2015 by Dorian Minors

A relationship involves two very different people bringing two sets of values, cultures and environmental influences together. They also have two sets of goals and desired outcomes from life. We've...

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Why OCD is a lot worse than you thought cover image

Why OCD is a lot worse than you thought

May 6, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Anxiety is a normal healthy emotion. It's thought to be a function of our survival instinct. When we become anxious, our brain gets a bit more active and certain types of anxiety can actually...

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Why you should always wear your nice clothes (and other things) cover image

Why you should always wear your nice clothes (and other things)

May 4, 2015 by Dorian Minors

The Weekly Dispatch We curate the best psychological dirt from all over the web each week so you don't have to. Get a jumpstart on the week, over your cup of morning coffee or on the way to work...

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How hypnotism works? Four common myths BUSTED cover image

How hypnotism works? Four common myths BUSTED

May 1, 2015 by Dorian Minors

A man stands at the oceanside, watching a photo of his forgotten brothers drift out to sea. The man is Major Ben Marco, and he has just come to the end of an awful adventure; the result of...

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Warning - you aren't in control of your behaviour cover image

Warning - you aren't in control of your behaviour

April 28, 2015 by Dorian Minors

You might not be feeling the emotion you think you're feeling...

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The Quest for Charisma Chapter One cover image

The Quest for Charisma Chapter One

April 21, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Why do some people captivate us? Where within us lies the ability to exude the kind of warmth, grace and presence that draws one ineluctably in? Here, we examine this question. And what better way to explore the characteristics of charm than through the stories of the most winsome characters ever created or remembered.

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The Pursuit of the Perfect Relationship Chapter One cover image

The Pursuit of the Perfect Relationship Chapter One

April 19, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Let's explore some of the most imitible stories from around the world as we search for the knowledge to guide us in the realisation of our 'perfect' romance.

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You're lying to yourself (and it's a good thing) cover image

You're lying to yourself (and it's a good thing)

April 14, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Your brain has a secret plot to make you happier and more successful. To do that it’s lying to you. The problem is, everyone else has this too. In this article we talk about the ‘self-serving bias’, how it infiltrates every part of your life and what happens when it goes wrong.

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People think you're a jerk (here's how to fix it) cover image

People think you're a jerk (here's how to fix it)

April 11, 2015 by Dorian Minors

When you do things, people tend to assume you're doing it because of who you are. This is problematic any time you do something slightly rude. Accidentally bump into someone on the street and if it's not obvious it's an accident that person will assume you're a jerk. Don't say hi to a colleague because you're in a rush (or didn't actually see them properly) and they'll assume you're a jerk too. It's science. It's problematic. And this article tells you how to fix it.

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The secret behind why so many people are jerks (and how to get rid of them) cover image

The secret behind why so many people are jerks (and how to get rid of them)

April 8, 2015 by Dorian Minors

It seems more and more that people are jerks for no particular reason. People bump into you without saying sorry. They won't move over when you want to sit down on the bus. They cut you off in traffic or drive close behind you. In this article, we talk about why we have this persistent perception, how to get rid of it and consequently, how to have a happier and more enriching life.

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The four ways we learn (and how they limit us) cover image

The four ways we learn (and how they limit us)

April 6, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Have you ever suffered from the 'broken escalator phenomenon'? You step on a stopped escalator and feel like you're about to fall over for just a split second. Doesn't matter whether you knew it was...

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Broken brains - the terrifying things everyone is capable of doing (Part 2) cover image

Broken brains - the terrifying things everyone is capable of doing (Part 2)

April 5, 2015 by Dorian Minors

How many people will go against everything they believe just because a few other people said so? Well, Solomon Asch found out in the 1950's. It's not everyone, but the number might surprise you.

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Domestic Violence - More Common Than You Think (and more dangerous) cover image

Domestic Violence - More Common Than You Think (and more dangerous)

March 25, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Domestic violence is extraordinarily prevalent. And extraordinarily dangerous. In this article we talk about what domestic violence looks like so you can recognise the signs in your relationships and those around you.

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Broken brains - the terrifying things everyone is capable of doing (Part 3) cover image

Broken brains - the terrifying things everyone is capable of doing (Part 3)

March 6, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Want to know what happens when you lock up 24 young blokes in a pretend prison, half as guards and half as prisoner? Well, let's be honest, you already have an idea. But I bet you won't believe just how far things went.

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Broken brains - the terrifying things everyone is capable of doing (Part 1) cover image

Broken brains - the terrifying things everyone is capable of doing (Part 1)

February 27, 2015 by Dorian Minors

What if your brain had a deep, dark secret? A power to make you the worst kind of person? Well, science says your brain probably has plenty, and this mini series talks about them so you can take back control. This time we talk about Milgram's obedience experiements and how they show that under the right conditions, you'd be able to electrocute someone to death.

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Why do we speak in tongues cover image

Why do we speak in tongues

February 20, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Why do we speak in tongues? What drives people to speak what seems to be a different language, God or something else? Here we engage with the most convincing psychology behind the phenomenon.

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The secrets about smiling that control your life (no, seriously) cover image

The secrets about smiling that control your life (no, seriously)

February 19, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Smiles are tricky little things. What would you do if I told you they directly affected how we felt and not necessarily the other way around? Well, it just might be true.

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Five tiers of success - the hierarchy of needs cover image

Five tiers of success - the hierarchy of needs

February 17, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Success is a tricky beast to handle. Psychology tries to offer up lots of ways to achieve it. Some are more prevalent than others. Some stand up to the jealous testing better than others. This article talks about one - Maslow's hierarchy of needs, and how you can use it to achieve success in your life.

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The Difference Between Anger, Hurt and Hate--it's about power cover image

The Difference Between Anger, Hurt and Hate--it's about power

February 3, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Emotions motivate us to act. They perform a regulatory function, in guiding us how to respond to something. In this article, we talk about three key negative emotions, why they are so different and just what they're motivating us to do.

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Three random things that make you more attractive cover image

Three random things that make you more attractive

January 29, 2015 by Dorian Minors

Although there are many social and emotional factors that feed into who we feel butterflies for, there are a bunch of weird things left over from our more animalistic past that have a hand too. In this article we talk about three of the more unusual ones.

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Do you believe in destiny? Or growth? The rules that govern relationships. cover image

Do you believe in destiny? Or growth? The rules that govern relationships.

August 29, 2014 by Dorian Minors

Relationships are governed by 'rules' that determine how we act, and how we expect others to act towards us. These invisible rules form part of any relationship and to navigate them, we have to first understand them.

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What we want in our partners (it's more simple than you think) cover image

What we want in our partners (it's more simple than you think)

August 26, 2014 by Dorian Minors

There's a lot of conflicting information out there regarding who wants what out of a relationship. But there are three things that almost everyone, across all cultures seem to value more than anything else.

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Three hidden needs that control our relationships cover image

Three hidden needs that control our relationships

July 29, 2014 by Dorian Minors

From our friends to our lovers, there are always imbalances in a relationship. William Schutz has a theory about why. He breaks it down into three things that determine how you pick your social networks, how well you click with people and whether or not things fall apart.

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Don't always believe what you read cover image

Don't always believe what you read

June 27, 2014 by Dorian Minors

Science is hard. That's why scientists are still around sciencing. In this article, we talk about one of the reasons psychology (and many other sciences) are flawed, and what YOU need to know to be more effective at applying it to your life.

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How to never get mad again (kind of) (part two) cover image

How to never get mad again (kind of) (part two)

June 23, 2014 by Dorian Minors

Ever feel like emotions rule you sometimes? You're not alone. We get emails on this topic every week. Well, in this article we give you a checklist psychologists use to determine why we feel the emotions we feel so you can hijack your brain and turn those emotions into your slaves (not the other way around).

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The four most common causes of conflict in relationships cover image

The four most common causes of conflict in relationships

June 5, 2014 by Dorian Minors

There are times when you want to 'manage' conflicts in relationships. These are not those times. In this article are the four most common causes of conflict in families, friendships and romances and how you can avoid them.

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Making good first impressions - a quick guide to presence cover image

Making good first impressions - a quick guide to presence

June 1, 2014 by Dorian Minors

First impressions aren't everything, but they really help. Check this article out for some psychologically backed suggestions on how to get people feeling positive towards you from the very start.

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Approach anxiety - step one to shaking it off cover image

Approach anxiety - step one to shaking it off

May 29, 2014 by Dorian Minors

The title says it. Suffer from approach anxiety? Don't worry, we all do. Whether you're trying to meet your next partner or network at an event, talking to strangers is hard yakka. In this article, we introduce you to the basic reasons behind that jittery feeling and give you a couple tools that'll help you work up the courage next time.

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What's an anxiety disorder and why should you care? cover image

What's an anxiety disorder and why should you care?

May 17, 2014 by Dorian Minors

General anxiety disorder affects about 3 people in 20 every year. That's a lot. Chances are you're friends with someone who has it. Why though? What causes it? In this article, we go over the ins and outs of GAD in a simplistic way, so you can relate to people with this diagnosis and understand them better.

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What everyone ought to know about Jealousy cover image

What everyone ought to know about Jealousy

May 13, 2014 by Dorian Minors

Jealousy isn't really that complicated when it comes down to it. Makes us 'protect' our loved ones. But from what? And can we control it? In this article, we talk about the specifics of jealousy, when it pops up and just how much control we really have.

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What's the deal with cheaters? cover image

What's the deal with cheaters?

May 8, 2014 by Dorian Minors

In this article, I talk about what makes people more likely and less likely to cheat. Want to know the answer to 'once a cheater, always a cheater'? Well, so do we, but we talk about that too. If you're worried your partners messing around, this article will give you the low down on what kind of person is likely to do it and how you can stop it from happening.

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What's the value of Friendship (hint - it's more important thank you think) cover image

What's the value of Friendship (hint - it's more important thank you think)

May 4, 2014 by Dorian Minors

Friendship is something that is super important to people. In our movies and in books, it's one of the major plot points. In our lives, it's one of the major things we seek. In this article, I cover what makes friendships golden and how you can improve the quality of your own.

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The secret to sexual satisfaction (and it's not what you've been told) cover image

The secret to sexual satisfaction (and it's not what you've been told)

April 28, 2014 by Dorian Minors

Wondering what creates sexual satisfaction? Why some people seem to have it and some don't? In this article I talk about the psychology behind sexual satisfaction and what the real secret to it is.

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Fighting with your friend or partner? Here's why... cover image

Fighting with your friend or partner? Here's why...

April 25, 2014 by Dorian Minors

Drawing on some of the stuff we've already learned (linked at the top of the page), we start to get an even better grasp on just what causes fights in relationships and how we can go about stopping them from happening in the first place. Check this article out for some real depth!

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Are homosexuals and heterosexuals different when it comes to relationships? cover image

Are homosexuals and heterosexuals different when it comes to relationships?

April 22, 2014 by Dorian Minors

We talk about a lot of really basic, fundamental concepts here at The Dirt Psychology especially about how romance and love work. What I get asked is whether it all applies to homosexuals too? In this article, I answer that question so you don't have to wonder

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Bad communication part two - Five kinds of arguments that get us nowhere cover image

Bad communication part two - Five kinds of arguments that get us nowhere

April 18, 2014 by Dorian Minors

Once again, men and women are fundamentally different in many ways. One of them is in how we communicate. In this two part series I give you a quick intro to communication as psychologists see it, then go into four of the most common problems that men and women face when trying to talk. In part two of the series I talk about five of the most common arguments we, as people (not just couples) have, and why they invariably end badly.

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Bad communication part one - Four common problems men and women have when talking to each other cover image

Bad communication part one - Four common problems men and women have when talking to each other

April 15, 2014 by Dorian Minors

Once again, men and women are fundamentally different in many ways. One of them is in how we communicate. In this two part series I give you a quick intro to communication as psychologists see it, then go into four of the most common problems that men and women face when trying to talk. In part two of the series I talk about five of the most common arguments we, as people (not just couples) have, and why they invariably end badly.

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Who else wants to know what the point of love is? cover image

Who else wants to know what the point of love is?

April 11, 2014 by Dorian Minors

We've spoken about what we think love is made up of; for friends, family and lovers. We've also covered why our love gets stronger. But I'm sure you, like many are wondering what the point of love is at all. Well, in this article I'm going to tell you (and it might just leave you thinking...)

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Why some people are 'cold', others are 'clingy', and some just can't let go. cover image

Why some people are 'cold', others are 'clingy', and some just can't let go.

April 4, 2014 by Dorian Minors

Why are some people 'cold' and distant in relationships while others are too 'clingy'? Why do some people never let go of people, or move on when they should? Attachment theory, one of the cruxes of social psychology, has many answers for us.

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How to make any fight in your relationship work in your favour cover image

How to make any fight in your relationship work in your favour

March 28, 2014 by Dorian Minors

We all fight with our friends, family and partners.Sometimes more often, sometimes less. Bet you didn't know that fighting can be awesome. It can actually make your relationship better! In this article I talk about how as well as what kind of fights to avoid.

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The five types of couple (which one are you?) cover image

The five types of couple (which one are you?)

March 25, 2014 by Dorian Minors

John Gottman figured out that every couple is one of five types. Three are good, two are not. Which type of couple are you? In this article, we talk about the five types of couple and one magic 'rule' that could save your relationship (or make at least make things much, much easier)!

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The Psychology of Abnormality - why mental disorders are more complicated than you think cover image

The Psychology of Abnormality - why mental disorders are more complicated than you think

March 18, 2014 by Dorian Minors

One in five people in any given twelve month period have been or are currently diagnosed with a mental illness. But what does that mean? How do psychologists determine what's a disorder and what's not? In this article we show you how it works and why it might be a bit different to what you expect.

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Five ways of thinking that'll spell relationship trouble. cover image

Five ways of thinking that'll spell relationship trouble.

March 14, 2014 by Dorian Minors

These five ways of thinking are some of the most common beliefs about relationships. The problem is that they are completely and utterly wrong. Are you thinking in a way that's going to mess up your relationship? Find out!

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Is being 'gay' a choice? Science says yes (but not in the way you're thinking) cover image

Is being 'gay' a choice? Science says yes (but not in the way you're thinking)

March 11, 2014 by Dorian Minors

Is being gay a choice? Or is it biologically driven. In this article we talk about this hot button issue and show you the evidence that gives us the answer!

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Everything is about sex these days, does it still mean something to us? cover image

Everything is about sex these days, does it still mean something to us?

March 7, 2014 by Dorian Minors

Is our concept of sex broken? Is it still treated too conventionally for you? Or maybe it's become too liberal? It certainly seems that as society progresses, sex is becoming less and less about romance and more and more a tool. So what's the deal? In this article, we give you The Dirt on what sex really means to us and why that's important!

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Why having smart friends isn't always good for you (and how to make sure that it is). cover image

Why having smart friends isn't always good for you (and how to make sure that it is).

March 3, 2014 by Dorian Minors

Have you got a bunch of smart friends? Well in this article tells you why that could be a bad thing. Have you got a bunch of underachieving friends? We give you The Dirt on why this can trip you up. The Dirt Psychology breaks it down and shows you how to avoid these pitfalls.

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Why people think they're your friend (when they aren't) cover image

Why people think they're your friend (when they aren't)

March 1, 2014 by Dorian Minors

We've talked before about the four types of relationships we can have with other people (and we advise you to check that short post out before reading on). There are relationships that are based on...

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One simple trick to never get mad again (kind of) cover image

One simple trick to never get mad again (kind of)

February 17, 2014 by Dorian Minors

It's never easy to control our tempers, or pick ourselves up when we're down. Emotions seem like a complicated thing and sometimes out of our control. Well in this article, The Dirt Psychology gives you the skinny on what causes emotions and how you can take control of them!

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The Four Types of Relationships cover image

The Four Types of Relationships

February 13, 2014 by Dorian Minors

It can be hard to figure out why some of your 'friends' leave you drained and annoyed, while others leave you fulfilled and happy. It can be even harder to know who is taking advantage of you. Check out this article for your go-to guide on what kinds of relationship there are, which ones are bad and how to spot them.

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Four Sure Signs Your Relationship is on the Rocks cover image

Four Sure Signs Your Relationship is on the Rocks

February 11, 2014 by Dorian Minors

Ever wonder whether your relationship is in danger? Well in this article, The Dirt Psychology gives you the dirt on the four clearest signals your relationship needs some vital attention.

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What's Love Got to do With It? cover image

What's Love Got to do With It?

November 28, 2013 by Dorian Minors

We often think of love as the be-all and end all of a relationship. It turns out, that love doesn't really have much to do with how strongly we feel for someone.

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Seven ways psychologists think about relationships that you can hack to better your own cover image

Seven ways psychologists think about relationships that you can hack to better your own

June 3, 2013 by Dorian Minors

The psychology behind human relationships is a vast topic. Within that, there are a whole bunch of theories that psychologists love to argue over. In this article, we give you seven of the most supported theories so you can put them to work on your relationships.

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The Types of Love - From Friends to Flings cover image

The Types of Love - From Friends to Flings

April 1, 2013 by Dorian Minors

Psychologists love to put the mind into neat little boxes. Since love is such a complicated word with many meanings, you might be surprised to find out they managed to squeeze it into just a handful. In this article we talk about those types of love and how they interact, from friends and family to flings and forever afters.

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