Leading Psychologists Reveal Some of Their Own Inner Demons

Today, I recommend checking out the British Psychological Society's Research Digest. BPS asked over 20 of the world's leading psychologists to confess (in 150 words or less) to one nagging thing they still don't understand about themselves.

Witty, charming, and by definition insightful, the psychologists' answers are well-worth reading. Richard Wiseman's piece wondering where comedy comes from made me chuckle; Robert Plomin's thoughts on parenting and genetic influence reminded me how much Po and I want to delve into this work – and how many questions are still left unanswered.

But, read the essays as a group, and I think the scholars' replies offer an even broader insight.

For example, evolutionary psychologist David Buss has studied the way men frequently – and incorrectly –  believe that women's friendliness towards them is an indication of sexual interest. He knows that men get this wrong all the time; however, in the moment, Buss confesses, when women are friendly to him, he still finds himself thinking it's a sign of their attraction. Similarly, social psychologist Norbert Schwartz recounts a study he did, about how people adopt a gloomy outlook when the weather is gloomy: all it takes is to acknowledge the weather, and the effect on people's affect disappears. Yet he too confesses to having a gray mood with the sky is dark.

Taken collectively, the scholars responses  show that even those who study psychology for a living aren't immune from core emotional responses. Change isn't easy. The scholars also admit that asking questions is important – but that even helpful answers may not seem helpful at the time.

All that doesn't remove the need for studying psychology. If anything, it makes our quest for understanding all the more important.

 

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