Why is Psychology a Science? Part 1: Defining Characteristics

Everyone is an armchair psychologist.  Most of the humans I know love to people watch. We like to invent our own theories about why people do the things that they do. ‘Bob eats so much because he has low self-esteem. Hattie is so loud at parties because that is part of her personality.’ But, the general ideas that we have about behaviour, both as individuals and a society, do not always turn out to be true. Milgram’s (1963) study was a classic example; we did not believe that someone would be capable of delivering electric shocks to another person, but in the right conditions those people obeyed and did exactly that *. So, while it can be fun to have our own opinions about the causes of our behaviour, we need a more rigorous approach to help us to establish the facts.  By using scientific methods such as experiments, psychology has established itself as a more trustworthy and reliable source of information about ourselves.

When I was new to studying Psychology, I wished that I had read a similar article to the one I have written here. At college, I would inevitably encounter students of different subjects areas who would downright scoff at the idea of ‘science’ and ‘psychology’ being used together in the same sentence. I felt in my gut that they did not know the whole story. But at the time I just could not find the words to back up my beliefs.  This was incredibly frustrating for me as I was so passionate about my view!

Humans are incredibly complex creatures. Discovering the precise causes of behaviour in any given moment can seem like an impossible task. There are so many factors that could be involved. Biologists can show us that the heart pumps blood around the body. They have cold hard evidence to back up their theories. Psychology doesn’t always have this advantage. You cannot see ‘the mind’, so how can we demonstrate that it has an impact on our behaviour? This is probably the reason why some individuals are sceptical of a scientific approach to psychology.  But the majority of fields within psychology are most definitely a science!  And I hope to convince you of this by the end of this series.
Continue reading Why is Psychology a Science? Part 1: Defining Characteristics

What Influences Our Behaviour? An Infographic of the Matching Law Interpretation

Are you interested in finding out what influences our behaviour, but have no time to read my latest blog post? No problem! I’ve taken the time to condense that information into a snappy infographic. So now you can find out a little about the matching law and how it can influence your behaviour, without having to scroll through the entire article (though I really recommend that you read that too, it covers the topic in much more depth!).

Take a look and please let me know what you think. Did you like the infographic format? Would you like to see more of them on this blog? Be sure to comment to let me know!

What Influences My Behaviour? The Matching Law Explanation That Will Change How You Understand Your Actions

Choices. We make thousands of them every single day. Little decisions that shape up how we behave and how our habits form in the long term. And I’m not just talking about the deliberate choices that you make (should I buy a coffee with or without a muffin?). We actually make a heck of a lot of decisions without devoting conscious attention to them and can make better choices as a result (Mamede et al., 2010). Thank goodness for this!  Imagine how unproductive we would all be if we had to consider every minute decision that we made each day. But if we are not always aware of how we choose between two different responses, then how do we actually make that decision?  Read on to find out!

Continue reading What Influences My Behaviour? The Matching Law Explanation That Will Change How You Understand Your Actions

Why Are We So Addicted To Facebook? A Behavioural Psychology Perspective

Social media is addictive, there is no doubt about that. In 2016 it was reported that the average person spends 1 hour and 49 minutes per DAY browsing social network sites. The usual suspects are the likes of Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, but it is clear that Facebook is the network that we just can’t get enough of.

Globally, Facebook is the most popular network site. It has a higher rate of active users than any other site, with 55% of Facebook users logging on more than once a day! And if you were to ask me how often I’m guilty of checking my Facebook account, it is defiantly more than I’d like to think about. But hey, its how I like to fill my time when I have a bored few minutes to myself and how I like to nosy at what the people I met in high school are up to nowadays keep in contact with friends. It almost seems like everyone claims to have a ‘casual addiction’ to the site.

Continue reading Why Are We So Addicted To Facebook? A Behavioural Psychology Perspective

Quick Tips For Changing Your Bad Habits

We can all relate to the fact that changing our most ingrained, routine and  “bad” habits is a tricky business. If we could all behave in the ways that we know we should, then people wouldn’t be seeking help for their problems, addictions would not exist, self-help books wouldn’t be necessary and I certainly wouldn’t be writing this blog post.

But, as I’m sure you’re all very much aware of, the world is not perfect. We become so wrapped up in our lives that we might not even notice the bad habits forming until they become part of your daily routine. Or maybe you did notice and just didn’t have the motivation needed at that time to make a change.

Altering a habit into a more constructive, healthy one is not always an easy path. But it isn’t an impossible one either. By using concepts established from behavioural science, you CAN learn how to understand and therefore change, your less than desirable habits.

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Breaking a Bad Habit? How to Change the Consequences of Your Actions

One of the most popular self-help techniques available is self-monitoring, whereby the act of tracking your behaviour is enough in itself to bring about significant positive changes to your habits (Fredrickson & Losada (2005). See my blog post for more information here. Food diaries and Fitbit are two great examples.

But when your motivation starts to drain away, and that chocolate bar starts to look more appealing, keeping tabs on your progress can quickly go out the window. Fitness apps get deleted and food diaries lie hidden in draws. If that sounds familiar to you, then you might need a little extra incentive to change your behaviour for the better!

Although self-monitoring is a useful tool in turning bad habits around, it is only the tip of the iceberg. A plethora of simple and effective behaviour change tactics awaits!

The methods that I will discuss here all come under the same umbrella category; they aim to alter your habit by first changing the consequences of your behaviour.

Continue reading Breaking a Bad Habit? How to Change the Consequences of Your Actions

Healthy Eating Goals? Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is!

In a world where instant gratification is king, eating healthily can seem like an impossible task. Supermodel Kate Moss was famously quoted saying “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”. Clearly, this is not the case for everyone. Obesity rates in the Uk are at an all time high. And it is unlikely that the problem is due to a lack of education. The majority of people can differentiate between healthy and unhealthy foods, yet we still consistently make “bad” food choices (Anderson, Winett, Wojcik, Winett, & Bowden, 2001).

If you are anything like me, the long-term side effects of eating unhealthily can often seem too distant to scare me. Thinking about them doesn’t usually inspire me to make better food choices in that moment. For example, will that pizza taste good when I eat it? Hell yes! Could I gain weight if I continue to make these choices? Probably, but not for a long while yet (I like to think that metabolism can process most of what I throw at it!). And am I more likely to be at risk of health problems? Maybe, but in the future. Even then there is no guarantee that I will get one.

When the negative impact of your actions are uncertain and will only occur later in time, you are likely to continue to do the behaviour that provides instant gratification (see the PIC/NIC Analysis created by Dr. Aubrey Daniels and research by Porritt, M. 2008 for more information). It is understandable then, that we want to overcome this “instant pleasure now, worry about the consequences later” mentality.  But can I stop myself from reaching for the biscuit tin?

Writing a food diary, keeping unhealthy foods out of the house and setting yourself small and achievable goals. These are all popular weight loss tactics.  But you will have probably heard them all before. You may have tried these methods and they just haven’t worked for you.  Or maybe they were just too impractical for you to follow through with. Not everyone has enough time to record everything that they eat!

Behavioural science has the answer. (Or at least, some very good suggestions! Clearly, the path to healthy eating is not a “one size fits all” approach. Otherwise, we would all be our ideal weight.)

If you are looking for a simple, effective and different way to eat more healthily, then read on!

Continue reading Healthy Eating Goals? Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is!

What is Positive Reinforcement? (Including Examples Approved by Dr. Aubrey Daniels!)

Image courtesy of Wikipedia 

*  I am delighted to announce that this article was written in collaboration with Dr Aubrey Daniels’, the author of “Bringing Out the Best in People” and all-round behaviour expert! Keep reading to discover the examples of positive reinforcement that we explained.

‘Positive Reinforcement’ is a term that is used frequently in the world of psychology and behaviour analysis. But what exactly is it and why should you know about it?

Positive reinforcement is a process which strengthens the type of behaviour that it is applied to. It is a consequence which follows the occurrence of behaviour, just as your actions could be followed by a smile from your friend. This consequence can increase the likelihood of you eliciting a similar response in the future, under the same circumstances. Explained more simply, positive reinforcement means: you do something, then you immediately get something you like and you will be more likely to engage in similar behaviour again in the future under a similar context.

Reinforcement is like the fuel you add to the (metaphorical!) fire to keep a behaviour going.

Continue reading What is Positive Reinforcement? (Including Examples Approved by Dr. Aubrey Daniels!)

A Fun Way to Show Your Partner that You Care (When a Smile Doesn’t Quite Cut It!)

Love it or loathe it, Valentine’s day will soon be upon us! It is a time of year where couples are actively encouraged to demonstrate their love for each other, through PDA’s, buying a nice meal out or making something special for each other.

If my own V-day plans over the past few years have shown anything, it’s that I am a big fan of slightly alternative (though often food related!) celebrations of love. For example, 2014 was the year that we carved roses onto watermelons.

Continue reading A Fun Way to Show Your Partner that You Care (When a Smile Doesn’t Quite Cut It!)

*Now Closed* January Facebook Competition (Including T&C’s)

It’s a new year and as promised, I have organised a new competition for you lovely readers.

Why? Because I want to help you to beat the January blues with a little positive reinforcement!

I also wanted to make this an opportunity to get to know you better. I want to know what you would like to see me write about next on this blog. What interests you? Or what could I help you to achieve? Maybe you would like a more lighthearted tone in the next article?

If you are interested in entering this competition, then please head over to my Facebook page
www.facebook.com/BehaviourBabble

And keep reading below for my full terms and conditions!

Full Terms and Conditions.

Open to UK residents aged 16 and over, excluding relatives of the administrator of www.BehaviourBabble.com. Closing date for entries is 23.59 GMT on the 10th of February 2017. Only one entry per person.

One winner will be selected prizes and will receive all of the items as shown in the image within the giveaway promotional post. All items are from the Flying Tiger Copenhagen, but this giveaway is not in collaboration with Tiger.

Entrants must click the Like button and must leave a comment on the Facebook promotional post with a relevant answer to the question within the promotional post “What topic would you like me to write about next on this blog”, one comment per person. The winner will be chosen at random. The winner will be informed by a reply to their comment plus a Facebook message within 1 days of the closing date and will need to respond within 5 days or a new winner will be chosen.

The prizes will be sent within 7 days of the winner confirming their address. The promoter is Behaviour Babble, UK. By participating in this prize draw, entrants confirm they have read, understood and agree to be bound by these terms and conditions.

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook