Fundamental facial expressions: are there really 21?

Fundamental facial expressions: are there really 21?
How about sadly disgusted? Fearfully angry or fearfully surprised? We’re happily surprised to see that these categories seem burned into the human psyche. When volunteers are asked to make a “disgustedly surprised” face, they all look pretty much alike. How come? More »

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!
Halloween is supposed to be fun, but there’s a disturbing undercurrent of real belief in unreal stuff. Wish The Why Files luck as we struggle to explain why so many people believe in spirits, zombies or communication with the dead! More »

Lying liars lie!

Lying liars lie!

We lie for many reasons: Glory. Money. Both. Something else. Is there a science of detecting lies? Does the digital realm make lying harder? Easier? Both? More »

Screaming about screen time?

Screaming about screen time?

We spend ever-more hours with TV, cellphones, tablets and computers, is it rude or necessary to always answer your phone? Does distraction make you dumb? What about multitasking? More »

Emotional expressions: The face isn’t the whole story

Emotional expressions: The face isn't the whole story

At the moment of loss or victory, an athlete’s face shows intense … what? Without seeing the body, you can’t tell whether an important point was won or lost. Adding the body language makes all the difference — and can even overwhelm the message of the face! More »

Losing in politics & sports

Losing in politics & sports

What’s the attachment to “my” team? How do we deal with the inevitable disappointment? Are murder and suicide now “part of the game”? And what about politics? More »

To play, and therefore to mate

To play, and therefore to mate

Are we affecting the character of future generations by the way we choose mates? If choosing attractive mates tends to make the grandchildren more attractive, what about choosing mates who like to laugh or have fun? More »

Holiday blue? NOT!

Holiday blue? NOT!

Sick of the scare stories about holiday stress? Over-eating, over-this, over-that? What’s the upside of holidays, in terms of ritual and getting together with family and friends? What’s more conducive to happiness: giving or receiving? More »

Brain under threat

black and white graphic of frightened eyes

In just a moment, our brains can go from calm, deliberate and focused, to alert, agitated and aroused. New neural networks get activated during the transition. Now a study of the fight-or flight-response fingers a common hormone in triggering the brainwide changes. More »

The psychological price of job loss

black and white photos of men in soup kitchen line during the great depression

What does long-term job loss do to depression, anxiety, brooding? Could long-term job loss shorten your life? Does job loss lead to shaken baby syndrome? More »

Honor thy mother

Bolivian mother and child smile at camera

Mother is your first — and most important — relationship. What does science tell us about the effects of mothering? What happens when groups of monkeys are raised without a mother? How does a “fragile family” affect young people? What are “social risk factors,” and why should we care about them? More »

Animal love! (?)

Animal love! (?)

Researchers finally accept that animals can have emotions. But is love one of those emotions, and how would we be sure? What does neurochemistry and behavioral studies tell us about emotions. Does your dog really love you? Your cat? Do they love each other? More »

Prayer: How does it work?

Prayer: How does it work?

How do victims of domestic violence benefit from prayer? A series of interviews shows a range of mechanisms: from zoning out to offering psychic protection to allowing forgiveness. A new study shows how real benefits could emerge from an appeal to an “imaginary other.” More »

Smile: A new view of happiness

Smile: A new view of happiness

Heard the rumor that people are happy — or not — depending on their genes and upbringing? “My bad,” says a 24-year study from Germany, which finds the opposite. Attitudes toward money, employment and neurotic mates all play a big role resetting your “happo-stat.” More »

Psychedelics are back – as therapy

psychedelic glasses read 'psyschedelic medicine'

Journal of Psycho-pharmacology. How do hallucinogens change consciousness? Psilocybin relieves terror of PTSD, death. Ecstasy may ease OCD. What’s new in psychedelic research? More »