Entries in how i met your mother (7)

Wednesday
Mar052014

The “Cheerleader Effect” (Yes, It Exists)

You gotta love when pop culture inspires scientific research. Motivated by one of my favorite TV shows, How I Met Your Mother, the authors of a recent paper published in Psychological Science1 investigated Barney Stinson’s claim that people appear more attractive when surrounded by others in a group relative to when they are viewed by themselves. He calls this the “Cheerleader Effect,” inspired by the stereotype that cheerleader groups seem very attractive because of how they appear in groups/teams, even though individual cheerleaders are not more attractive than average.

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Friday
Nov012013

I Cheated, Therefore I’m Not a Cheater

Most people generally believe that they are moral and good and that cheating on a partner is wrong. So how do cheaters live with themselves after their infidelity? Understanding how they reconcile their indiscretions with their beliefs about themselves can help us figure out why “good people cheat.” 

Dissonance theory1 predicts that when individuals’ thoughts and behaviors are inconsistent, something has to give. Have you ever wondered why anyone would be a smoker these days, given what we know about the link between “cancer sticks” and cancer? A smoker knows that smoking causes cancer, but might rationalize it by saying “I don’t smoke very much” or “My grandma smoked two packs a day and lived to be 90 years old!” By coming up with these rationalizations, people are able to preserve the impression that their behaviors and attitudes are consistent.

Similarly, cheaters might minimize the significance of their infidelity as a way to cope with knowing they did something wrong. The authors of a new study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships2 propose that cheaters feel bad about their indiscretions but try to feel better by reframing their past infidelities as uncharacteristic or an out-of-the-ordinary behavior.

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Thursday
May232013

Chemistry + Timing = Relationship Success

Last season on How I Met Your Mother, Robin shared a sagely perspective with Ted during a friend’s wedding. She suggested any relationship requires two essential ingredients: “chemistry” (meaning, how compatible people are with each other), and “timing” (basically, whether people meet each other at the right place, right time). As I heard this, I immediately thought how perfectly that sentiment meshes with relationship science.

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Thursday
Jan192012

Why People Have Sex (“The Naked Man” Redux)

How many reasons can you think of for having sex? Some people may assume that there are relatively few motivations (for example: physical pleasure, intimacy, reproduction, sexual release), but psychologists Cindy Meston and David Buss have identified two-hundred and thirty-seven (237) distinct reasons for engaging in sexual activity (clustered in 4 broad categories). There isn’t enough room in this article to identify each of them, but we can certainly touch on some of the more surprising reasons people give. 

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Wednesday
Nov302011

How to Not “Get Played”

Recently, a female friend asked me: “Can you write an article on how to not get played?” When I asked for further clarification on the word “played,” she defined it as something to the effect of “used, lied to, and/or cheated on.” I’ll try my best.

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Monday
Sep192011

The Attractiveness Stereotype and Barney’s “Crazy-Hot” Scale

Like it or not, one of the most influential factors in romantic attraction is physical attractiveness. That’s right, hotness! While some may denounce or shy away from this fact for fear of sounding superficial, the dirty little secret is that we’re all subject to the “beautiful is good” belief. Psychologists’ refer to this beauty bias as the “attractiveness stereotype,” and for decades they’ve shown that people have a tendency to assume that those who are physically attractive are not only desirable because they’re hot, but also because they are believed to possess a number of other socially desirable traits.

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Friday
Apr292011

How I Met Your Mother: Mere Exposure and the “Mermaid Theory”

Decades ago psychologists discovered that simply being close in physical proximity to another person increases liking and attraction for that person. Scientists call this the “mere exposure” effect. Earlier this season on How I Met Your Mother, the mere exposure phenomenon was in full effect, illustrated creatively through Barney Stinson’s "Mermaid Theory."

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