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Psychology

Grand Theft Auto 5 screenshot of man looking at two women in short skirts
Fall 2019

The evidence that video game violence leads to real-world aggression

A 2018 meta-analysis found that there is a small increase in real-world physical aggression among adolescents and pre-teens who play violent video games. Led by Jay Hull, a social psychologist at Dartmouth College, the study team pooled data from 24 previous studies in an attempt to avoid some of the problems that have made the question of a connection between gaming and aggression controversial.

Many previous studies, according to a story in Scientific American, have been criticized by “a small but vocal cadre of researchers [who] have argued much of the work implicating video games has serious flaws in that, among other things, it measures … » More …

Fall 2013

If You Don’t Snooze, You Lose

About an hour before sunrise on August 27, 2006, Comair Flight 5191 was approaching 120 miles per hour on its takeoff from the Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Kentucky, when co-pilot James Polehinke noticed something strange about the runway.

“That is weird,” he said in a conversation captured by the flight recorder. “No lights.”

“Yeah,” said Capt. Jeffrey Clay.

Sixteen seconds later, their 50-seat commuter jet ran out of runway. Polehinke just managed to get airborne but not enough. The plane hit an earthen berm, clipped a fence and a clump of trees, and went down in a ball of flames.

The pilots had gone … » More …

Clock with microbes
Spring 2018

Do microbes dream of circadian sleep?

Anticipation is sweet. In anticipation of the blooming light, plants unfurl their leaves. For many marine creatures, rising to the sea surface as the moon rises is the anticipatory signal that food is available. In our gut, too, microbes anticipate dinnertime because microorganisms have internal clocks that sound the dinner bell.

“And here’s where it gets interesting,” says Hans Van Dongen, a professor of psychology at Washington State University Spokane and internationally known sleep expert.

“The biological clock those organisms have and the brain-based clock that humans have are not necessarily in sync. You notice this when you travel to another time zone. … » More …

Author Tracy Cutchlow ’97 and her daughter.
Spring 2015

Bringing up babies

If only babies came with instruction manuals.

A simple set of operating guidelines might help new parents navigate the necessity of naps, manage mealtimes, and teach a toddler to share.

While there are thousands of books and guides and websites, the situation is far from simple. Well-meaning childhood experts, doctors, and parents have blanketed early childhood with good, bad, and often conflicting advice. “The problem is, no one has time to read all that’s out there,” says Tracy Cutchlow ’97, a journalist, book editor, and (fairly) new mother.

Raising a baby can be confusing, confounding, and complicated, Cutchlow admits one afternoon over coffee in Seattle. … » More …

Chinese cannabis text
Summer 2014

Sex, drugs, and differences

After decades of researching gender differences in the effects of drugs, Rebecca Craft has found that females using marijuana are likelier than men to become dependent on the drug and suffer more severe withdrawals.

At the same time, females seem to be more sensitive to the drug’s pain-relieving qualities.

Craft, a Washington State University psychology professor who studies the effects of psychoactive drugs on rats, has reported these findings most recently in journals such as Life Sciences and Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Her work, funded in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, focuses on the medical side of cannabinoids, the class of drugs … » More …

Psychologist Craig Parks
Spring 2014

The calculus of caring and cooperation

Shortly after the September 11 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, the American Red Cross had to wrestle with an odd sort of philanthropic success. So many people donated blood, there was far more than what was needed for the entire nation, let alone the attacks’ survivors. Many people donated money, more than $500 million. And, after covering its immediate costs, the charity diverted most of it to other Red Cross needs.

Feeling they were misled, donors and families of the 9/11 victims were not happy. The head of the Red Cross resigned, but not before being called to account to Congress.

And … » More …