Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?


You’ve got to feel sorry for the millennials

Researchers at Goldsmiths, University of London, have surveyed 2,000 people aged 18 to 70 on behalf of a Taiwanese electronics company to discover what worried them the most. They were concerned with trivial or “first world” stuff.

The biggest worries were:

  • waiting at home all day for online deliveries
  • forgetting passwords
  • fear of leaving their phones at home (See FOBO)
  • not getting enough “likes” on Instagram (See “like-buttons“)

The millennials in the study complained about avocado anxiety i.e. worrying about the quality of avocados in supermarkets – too hard or too mushy? Can’t have all those hipsters skipping  brunch can we?

And a third of Londoners worry about a shortage of Prosecco! This is twice the proportion of the rest of the country. Well they say capital cities don’t reflect the rest of the country.

The researchers compared the results with those from twenty years ago. In 1997 people were worried about:

  • having a happy relationship
  • earning enough to pay the bills
  • getting on the housing ladder

And people say that’s the kind of thing young people are worrying about today. It’s always been a worry!

But back to those fickle Millennials – so much has been written about this generation born between the 80s and the noughts. Sometimes called generation Y because they came after generation X.

Millennials grew up in an electronics-filled and increasingly online and socially-networked world. They are the generation that has received the most marketing attention. As the most ethnically diverse generation, Millennials tend to be tolerant of difference. Having been raised under the mantra “follow your dreams” and being told they were special, they tend to be confident.

While largely a positive trait, the Millennial generation’s confidence has been argued to spill over into the realms of entitlement and narcissism.

They are often seen as slightly more optimistic about the future than other generations – despite the fact that they are the first generation since the those born between the two world wars that is expected to be less economically successful than their parents.

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Facebook’s “like” button is harming users

Who says so? Well the guy who created it ten years ago.

Justin Rosenstein has removed the app from his phone over fears of the psychological effects of social media.

He says “It is very common for humans to develop things with the best intentions and for them to have unintended negative consequences“. The thumbs-up symbol only brings “bright dings of pseudo pleasure“.

The like button was designed to increase your engagement with Facebook while analysing your preferences. Basically companies want your attention and your preferences so they can harvest more data about you to sell to advertisers.

You are making them mega-rich.

Other former employees of high-tech companies have warned about the dangerous effects of the “attention economy”.  Being distracted by technology seriously affects people’s ability to focus and also damages relationships.

See my earlier post on this here.


Are you teaching your kids to be quitters?

Biz Psycho

Not a good thing! Research clearly shows the importance of perseverance in school and in life.

So next time you are struggling with a task in front of your children don’t make it look too easy. By trying and repeatedly failing at a task you are helping children understand the value and importance of persistence.

Many cultures emphasise the value of effort and perseverance. This emphasis is substantiated by scientific research: individual differences in conscientiousness, self-control and ‘grit’ correlate with academic outcomes independent of IQ” wrote scientists at  the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

They wondered if persistence and quitting could be learnt. “Does seeing an adult exert effort to succeed encourage infants to persist longer at their own challenging tasks?”

In an experiment they ran at MIT, reported in the journal Science, 250 15-month old children watched adults perform a task getting a keychain attached to a carabiner out…

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Rossendale 60s Festival

I was looking forward to the Rossendale 60s Festival last weekend but the horrible weather put a dampener on things.

Certainly when we visited one of the venues, Whittaker Park, it was sparsely attended.

And other venues around town looked empty with none of the live music I expected. Perhaps they were saving themselves for the evening.

Anyway here are some pictures to remind  you of those days of flower power and hippy trippy stuff!

There was even a row of mini cars to remind us we actually used to make popular cars in the UK.


Another supermarket helping people on autism spectrum

I’ve already posted about what my local Tesco store is doing to help people with this disorder and I noticed that the Rawtenstall branch of ASDA, in association with the National Autistic Society is doing its bit as well.

The Meet Jenny  activity was inspired by the way her 4-year old boy was helped by using symbols and pictures. So her little helper activity is a velcro-backed visual shopping list showing a range of items. It helps people with autism to avoid being overloaded with information.


Burnley Canal Festival 2017

For some reason I can’t remember I missed the 2016 Festival although I had enjoyed the 2015 one.

So I was determined to go along this year. I was also keen to see how they were making use of the new staging area built on Sandygate as part of the canal-side development.

Although it takes place at the weekend it doesn’t run over to the bank holiday for some reason so Sunday was the only day we could go – along with two lively grandchildren.

So down Sandygate to the main hub; food-stalls, live music from the flamboyant Rajasthan Heritage Brass Band and rat-pack style music from The Boogie Bill Roberts Trio, free canoe rides, art & craft workshops, henna hand-painting and lots more.

We didn’t spend much time at the Inn on the Wharf end of the festival which is where the rides and other play activities were based. (Organisers please note that The Inn on the Wharf wan’t up to scratch with out of order ladies toilets and no chilled bottles of beer on a day that they wished they could have every weekend).

We’d hoped to go for a ride on the canal taxi but it was only a one-way trip with long queues. So no chance to re-create that Titanic moment from the last time we did it in 2015.

Keeping a wary eye on the kids’ whereabouts I found lots of interesting photo opportunities but not enough time to capture it all. Here are some of the pictures I took.

NB I wish I’d taken some of the diverse food stalls but was too busy eating some Lancashire hotpot with mushy peas and red cabbage!

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Forecasting future trends 20 years ago

Kim Long, a Denver author, used to publish The American Forecaster Almanac. It was a prediction of trends for the coming year based on his analysis of magazines, trade journals, on-line databases and public surveys.

Looking through some old diaries recently I came across a story about his predictions he made in November 1996.

For 1997 he predicted the following:

  • Men will slick back their hair
  • men will grow sideburns and beards
  • grunge music will go mainstream
  • younger people will rediscover cocktails
  • cakes will be made smaller for single people
  • country and rap music will be less popular
  • granny glamour will become more common as older women show off their figures
  • there may be a return to more feminine looks
  • the nerd look will become popular with goofy glasses
  • shirts will be buttoned to the neck
  • skin-tight pants and shirts will be popular
  • mismatched loud patterns will also be popular
  • camping will be less popular as baby boomers don’t like roughing it
  • ocean cruises will boom
  • wellness vacations will become popular with an emphasis on weight loss and relaxation
  • Cuba will become a popular destination as it modernises its hotels and travel restrictions are eased
  • there will be parking meters that accept credit cards
  • there will be watches that transfer data from computers
  • the US post office will certify e-mail with a time and date stamp
  • Las Vegas will remain popular
  • there will be professional miniature golf
  • you will be able to buy pre-autographed books

Don’t forget this was for 1997 – twenty years ago. How many did he get right?

Well smart watches didn’t make it into production until a few years ago and when did the hipster look start? And e-mails have been and gone for the younger generation fixated on social media platforms.

Cuba has certainly gone up market with a Kempinski hotel which opened last year and health and well-being is big business.

It’s strange reading the list. If he’d predicted it for 2017 he would have hit the mark on most of them. The absence of craft beers or mention of the growth in coffee bars probably gives the game away but I’ll give him 8/10 even if he got the year wrong!

Remember it was almost 10 years before Facebook and twitter and the start of the growth in social media. It was also over 10 years before 9/11 when the world suddenly seemed to become a more dangerous place.