Ashley Merryman

Forget Brainstorming

Brainstorming in a group became popular in 1953 with the publication of a business book, "Applied Imagination." But it's been proven not to work since 1958, when Yale researchers found that the technique actually reduced a team's creative output: the same number of people generate more and better ideas separately than together.

The Creativity Crisis

Back in 1958, Ted Schwarzrock was an 8-year-old third grader when he became one of the "Torrance kids," a group of nearly 400 Minneapolis children who completed a series of creativity tasks newly designed by professor E. Paul Torrance. Schwarzrock still vividly remembers the moment when a psychologist handed him a fire truck and asked, "How could you improve this toy to make it better and more fun to play with?"

Why Counting Blessings Is So Hard for Teenagers

As Thanksgiving preparations shifted into high gear, media outlets large and small have been opining on the importance of gratitude, but, more specifically, they've often targeted their sights on the most ungrateful creature of all: the adolescent.

What Do Preschools Have in Common with Bridges?

If you are heading into Manhattan, off the George Washington Bridge, you can't miss the Bridge Apartments, a cluster of four 32-story apartment buildings built right over the interstate.

A Cure for ADHD?

One out of four cases of ADHD eliminated. It almost sounds too good to be true. Nevertheless, a report in the preeminent journal Pediatrics suggests it's possible.What needs to happen for this to occur?

Why Teens Care So Much About Clothes

"We place kids in schools together with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of other kids typically from similar economic and cultural backgrounds. We group them all within a year or so of one another in age.

Why Tarantulas Can Seem So Scary

It's not every day that social scientists use tarantulas in their experiments. Professor Kent Harber brought unwitting Rutgers students into his lab. They were escorted into a semi-darkened room and asked to stand right in front of a table.

Why Masked Costumes Lead to More Tricks and More Treats

Every year for about the past 10 years, my friends and I have pooled together some money to get a bunch of Halloween costumes for the tutoring kids. (The kids can't just wear some of Mom's makeup or cut up a sheet for a ghost costume.

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.

The Problem with Teaching Kids about Stranger Danger

On Saturday, The New York Times ran a thoughtful piece by Jan Hoffman about whether kids can walk to school by themselves. In the US, just 13% of kids are walking or biking to school, down from 41% in 1969. (That drop, as steep as it is, is nothing compared to what's happened in the UK: Gill Valentine found that, in 1971, 80% of British children were responsible for getting themselves to school.

Tell Them, 'You're Acting Obama' (A personal essay)

, I've been thinking about a study published in Psychological ScienceUniversity of Michigan researchers lead by Dr. Daphna Oyserman presented black high-school students in Detroit with a color strip of browns and blacks.

What Do Children Understand About God?

 AM Note: While I began this post with a personal anecdote, the remainder of the piece is based on the work of scientists studying child development. Because a few people have asked about citations, I'm including a few sources at the end of the piece; it's not a complete list of my reading on the topic, but it does include some of the key work. Every Sunday, you can find me in church.