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Can meditation help us to do good?

Many people think that meditation can not only have an impact on stress and illness, but can also improve prosociality. But meditation and prosociality are multi-dimensional constructs: so what exactly are we talking about here? Listen to my conversation with Dr Ute Kreplin at the School of Psychology, Massey University in New Zealand as we talk about her research examining this link, and how the way stadies are carried out can affect the sorts of results they report and how we need to be...


How the sting of rejection shapes the pleasure of revenge #42

What is revenge? How can we understand this dark emotion? The sayings, ‘revenge is sweet’ and that ‘revenge is a dish best served cold’ are revealing. Listen to my conversation with David Chester, Assistant Professor at the Psychology Department of Virginia Commonwealth University, as I talk with him about his programme of research over the past few years looking at dimensions of revenge and how we relate to this complex emotion. We also touch upon the idea of social pain and loneliness,...


Mental health research: Male footballers, LGB Youth, and Acceptance & Commitment Therapy psychoeducation

Welcome to this special conference edition of Who cares? What's the point? In January 2018, I traveled to Cardiff in Wales, UK for two days to participate in the British Psychological Society's Division of Clinical Psychology Annual Conference. When I was there, I was fortunate enough to talk with three researchers about the fascinating work they were doing. So, this show has not one, but three interviews and research topics. First, you'll hear me talking with Dr Susan Wood on male...


How do you choose a mental health app for your smartphone? #40

At some times in our lives, we might want to get support with our mental health and wellbeing. Perhaps we are struggling with a particular issue, or maybe we want to be proactive and take steps to make sure we are adopting healthy practices to keep us on top of things. This days, we have our smartphones with us almost all the time, and this is a natural place for many people to turn to for support or inspiration. But how do you go about choosing a mental health or wellbeing app? And do you...


What's behind the rising tide of anger on the internet? #38

Recent local and world events seem to have triggered, or perhaps have reflected and amplified increasingly polarised views. These views can be expressed online in ways that come across as angry and appear seemingly everywhere - so much so that many websites have turned off their channels for community participation because they have become too difficult to manage. Against the background of verbal attacks becoming all too frequent online, join me as I talk with Ryan Martin, Psychology...


Home alone: Why people believe others' social lives are richer than their own #37

People usually tend to over-estimate their own capabilities and qualities compared to others. For examples, people tend to believe they are more intelligent, trustworthy, moral and happier than others, as well as making better leaders, and drivers. However, when it comes to thinking about our social lives, what little we know seems to indicate that we think other people have more rich, vibrant and satisfying social lives than we do ourselves. Join me as I talk with Sebastian Deri -...


One year of Who cares? What's the point?

Hi all, I have been hosting and producing Who cares? What’s the point? – my science communication podcast – for a year now. There was an opportunity to talk about my creative journey over this year at the Science Communicators of New Zealand annual conference last week, so I took it up and gave a short presentation there. Here’s the slides from my talk that give some details about why I started this project, what I aimed to achieve and how successful I was. There’s some hard and real...


Do teachers believe in "neuromyths" just as much as everyone else?

There are some commonly held misconceptions in the general public about how the brain works and how it affects how we learn - these are often called "neuromyths." We know that the genral public can fall prey to these much of the time, but what about our educators? And if teachers beleive in these neuromyths, what does it mean for how they teach, or how schools allocate their resources? And can we protect against falling for these neuromyths by better training? Join me as I talk with Kelly...


The number of photos we take has increased hugely. How does this change our experience of life? #35

For many of you listening to this podcast, taking photos of things and people in our lives has become much more common, as well as documenting our experiences of life. Understanding how the act of taking photos may get in the way of or increase our pleasure in these activities seems like an important topic for research. Implicitly, we may hear the message that we should stop taking so many photos and just be in the moment and enjoy our experiences without trying to record everything. But...


The language of ageism, and how we use it against ourselves #34

There has been a lot of recent attention on gender pay equity, the re-emergence of racism in western societies, and how youth mental health has been an increasing concern in recent years. However, the way we talk about older people, and indeed, how older people view and talk about themselves is also revealing of deeper attitudes and biases. Join me as I talk with Assoc Prof Dr Tracey Gendron, based in the Department of Gerontology in the School of Allied Health Professions at Virginia...


Regulations of love: How to feel better when relationships end WCWTP#33

Most people will experience a relationship break up. They can be hard to get over. One way to manage this is to try to actively decrease the feelings of love you have for your ex-partner? But does this work? Do people believe they can control their feelings of love in this way? Can you actually do this? Join me as I talk with Asst Prof Dr Sandra Langeslag, based at the Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri - St Louis. We talk about how she tested three strategies...


Break until mid-October 2017

Hi all, Just a quick update for you. I'm lucky enough to have recently become a dad again, and I'm also a candidate in the NZ General Election for the Labour Party. So, I'll be taking a break from podcasting for a few weeks, but I'll be back again in the middle of October. Until then, be sure to have a listen to my back catalogue of shows, and subscribe to the show in iTunes or your favourite podcast app, and you'll get pinged when a new show is uploaded. Thanks for listening - and as...


It is clear that 4 out of 5 people have experienced a mental health disorder by the time they reach midlife. What do we know about those who don't?

You might be familiar with the often quoted statistic that 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 people experience mental health difficulties. What you might not be aware of is that is the answer if people are answering about what they are experiencing at that particular point in time. Long-term studies following the same people over time show that more than 4 out of 5 people (actually 87%) have experienced a mental health disorder by the time they reach age 38. This radically changes our understanding,...


Can the news media play a key role in triggering psychological reactions to terrorism?

In July 2011, Anders Breivik killed 77 adults and children in a bombing in Oslo and a subsequent shooting on a nearby island where the Norwegian Labor Party's youth organisation was having their summer camp. I talk with Dr Bertel Hansen of the Department of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark about the impact of that event in Norway on the incidence of trauma- and stressor-related disorders in the neighbouring country of Denmark, and discuss this with respect to of...


Scared behind the wheel: How driving anxiety may influence our health and wellbeing

Leaning drive has been a rite of passage in many societies for decades. For many, it is a central part of their everyday lives, especially if they live in rural areas, or where other alternatives aren't as practical or appealing. But what happens if we become anxious about driving? How might that shape our lives and wellbeing? In this show I speak with Dr Joanne Taylor, Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology at Massey University in New Zealand. Here is the link to the paper we talk...


Integrated consciousness: A framework for making sense of the world around and within us #29

Consciousness is a curious and complex phenomenon. There are many ideas about what consciousness means and how it comes about, but I came across a compelling and relatively simple argument when I attended TEDFest this year - where the TED2017 conference was livestreamed for TEDx conference organisers from around the world, all convened in New York. In this show I speak with Dr Anil Seth from the Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at the University of Sussex in the UK....


The surprising upside of worrying #28

Worrying can be described as the process of unpleasant thoughts that keep coming back and cause us to be anxious or distressed. Although it's certainly true that worrying is often seen as a problem, there is increasing evidence that it can also be seen in positive ways too. In this show I speak with Associate Professor Kate Sweeny from the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside in the USA. Here is the link to the paper we talk about in this week's...


The recycled self: How our identity relates to whether we recycle a product or not #27

If you drink coffee and buy that in a shop, the barista might call out your name - which may be written on your disposable cup - when it's ready. Does the fact that your name is written on the cup have an influence on whether you choose to recycle it or not? Even if they spelled your name wrong? Everyday, we make decisions about whether to keep or dispose of objects that we have purchased or obtained. Often, the decision can boil down to whether we recycle or trash the object in question....


1747 people talk about their experience taking antidepressants

About 1 in 9 adult New Zealanders receive a prescription for antidepressants each year. Although we think they are generally helpful for people, we know surprisingly little about what it might be like to take them. This week I speak with Associate Professor Dr Kerry Gibson from the School of Psychology at the University of Auckland in New Zealand to find out more. Here is the link to the paper we talk about in this week's...


Do we fear death less after a 'near-death experience'?

'Near-death experiences' come up often in films and novels - the idea of a 'white light' or experiencing meeting loved ones from years before. But are there common aspects to these experiences? And what sorts of consequences might they have once you have them? This week I speak with Dr Natasha Tassell-Matamua, Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology at Massey University, New Zealand to find out more. Here is the link to the paper we talk about in this week's...