Kelly McGonigal's Blog
December 30, 2013
February 23, 2013
Years before I went to graduate school, when my son was still young enough to sit in the front of the grocery cart, I learned a powerful lesson about the persuasive nature of media. We were in the cracker aisle when my normally calm toddler began begging for a box of Ritz party crackers. As an organic shopper, these weren’t on my list, but somehow my son seemed to have intimate knowledge of their salty deliciousness. I struggled for a few moments before agreeing to his youthful demands. After all, what harm could a few Ritz crackers do?
“I can’t believe that I’m trying to start dating again at the age of fifty-three. My niece signed me up for an online dating service, but I don’t have the stomach for this.”
“This time around I’m going to be picky. I want someone who understands me.”
“I just want a friend.”
“I just want a sexual partner.”
So-called “helicopter parents” are roundly criticized by everyone from teachers to media experts for smothering them with too much loving. If you want to “land your kids in therapy,” according to psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb writing in Atlantic Magazine, then by all means give them everything under the sun. If you want them to become productive members of society with reasonably normal lives, then keep the hugs and kisses to a minimum and even deny them things once in a while. “Well-meaning parents can ruin their children,” so the claim goes.
Sobbing, Carly can’t believe it. That he could have done such a thing. This boy she loved, this boy she trusted. Or thought she loved and thought she trusted. “He’s ruined everything! Betrayed everything! Everything we had! Gone, just like that!”
Her boyfriend has admitted to sleeping with another girl at the weekend.
“I can’t believe he’s done it! He promised that he’d never do anything like this! He promised!”
Watching politics is an occupational hazard when you’re a political science professor. And I must admit that after all my years of running campaigns as a campaign consultant and then studying politics from the academic perspective, watching politics makes my head hurt sometimes.
Research by Elizabeth Loftus over thirty years established that eye-witnesses’ recall of incidents could be influenced by the language of their interrogation: for example, using words like “smash” in relation to a car accident instead of “bump” or “hit” causes witnesses to report higher speeds and more serious damage. But more recent research has revealed that this so-called misinformation effect is not found if a robot does the questioning.