Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?

Meet the team at Mike the Psych

Thought you might like to meet the editorial team for the coming year!

 Here I am at work in my garden. I look a bit wooden I know but it was taken in the morning and I’m not at my best before 10 o’clock

This is my colleague who prefers to remain anonymous.

I thought he had steam coming out of his ears but he says he was just “thinking outside the box”

This is my colleague when I put him back in the box!

And finally the new intern who goes by the name H-bo. (We are preserving his anonymity because he’s demanding image rights).

As you can see he knows his way around an Apple keyboard – which needs regular maintenance as he gets confused and tries to eat it when he gets hungry, which is most of the time, and he still tends to dribble.

His spelling is awful too but that’s what spellchecker is for but we’ve switched off the voice commands as we don’t want him sounding like a Mac (or eating one but that’s a different story).

He also has a make-up artist and personal trainer so he’s planning his career very carefully even at such an early age.

Hope you enjoy our output in 2012!


More (real) school friends = more earning power (maybe)

Did you know that the more friends a child has at school, the more they will probably earn later in life?

A study by Essex University published last year shows that for each extra friend a pupil had at school, their salary 35 years later was 2% higher.

The research adds to growing evidence that social skills – and not simply how well you did at school or university – are vital to success later on in life.

Professor Steve Pudney, of the Institute for Social and Economic Research, who carried out the research, said; “A workplace is a social setting. People have to manage each other and work in teams – you can see why social skills would be helpful”.

He used data from America in which groups of schoolboys were asked to name their three closest friends. The number of nominations received by each pupil was added up. The boys were then interviewed at regular intervals for almost 50 years to measure their earnings and see how they related to the number of friends people had.

Other factors such as intelligence and family income were also taken into account and Pudney accepts that intelligence and length of education have more impact on earning power than social skills (and don’t forget height is important too).

Previous research has shown that each extra year of education later raises earnings by 5%. And other research on the effects on children of poverty and abuse, family  income and education, shows how long-term health is influenced by childhood experiences.


Pigeons possibly smarter than penalty-takers in football?

The best way to take a football penalty is to shoot straight down the middle as goal-keepers tend to move to their right or to their left.

At least that’s the conclusion of a group of economists who studied penalty-taking in the French and Italian leagues using a branch of mathematics called (perhaps appropriately) game theory.


Right footed penalty takers tend to shoot to their left, their strongest side, and in fact most penalties are aimed to the right of the goalkeeper who should therefore dive to his right more often than he does.

Footballers are actually good at mixing things up when they  take penalties but why don’t they maximise their chances (like the pigeons in my earlier post)?

Because if the penalty-taker shoots down the middle and the goalkeeper saves it he looks like he is a poor penalty taker. If he shoots left or right and the goalkeeper saves it the goalkeeper gets the credit for making a great save.

But if the penalty-taker is thinking more about himself and his reputation than the team -and most premier league players are nothing if not egotistical – he is unlikely to adopt the best strategy of shooting down the middle.

Other research by sports psychologists suggests ignoring the goal-keeper and his distracting movements  http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/jun/07/psychology-worldcup2010 and Petr Cech believes that wearing an orange top attracts the ball.

The colour of the keeper’s jersey could actually influence the result as some research suggests that it is harder to score against goalkeepers who wear red (just over 50% success) than against those who wear yellow , blue or green – the latter being the worst colour with a 75% success rate for the penalty-taker. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/international/article7099198.ece

Let’s see how this works out in the World Cup!

As if to make their point did you notice the pigeons sitting on the Algerian goal posts when England was playing against them? They clearly knew they were safe.

So it’s Germany again and the possibility of penalties. Hope you heard the Radio 5 phone-in this morning (25/6) with David James, Peter Schmeichel, and other experts adding their pennorth’ .

Green-eyed monster at work

Danger - Jealousy at work

Jealousy and envy are closely related but jealousy is usually when you wish you had something someone else has got eg a pay rise, or a plum project, and envy is when you haven’t got it and when you wish they hadn’t either.

Envy is also about feeling inferior, being resentful, and wishing ill-will to others. It also tends to be more about being competitive.

Jealousy can be aspirational or inspirational in encouraging you to better yourself so that you can also achieve what the other person has.

Research in USA by Professor Robert Vecchio suggests that 3 out of 4 people have witnessed jealousy at work and up to 50% of people get involved in it in some way.

If you feel envious of others at work you are more likely to use “social loafing” (not pulling your weight, spending time on the internet etc) to even up the score. You are also more likely to be looking for other jobs.

Generally woman are more likely to be jealous about social relationships; men to envy others in a competitive way.

Lack of consideration by supervisors can lead to jealousy and it is more likely to happen in a small office where it’s easy for unskilled bosses to develop favourites. If you work in large offices you tend to assume that unequal treatment is because of bureaucratic inefficiency.

If you feel you are the object of jealousy or envy:

  • Focus on the good things in your job (count your blessings) to bolster your self-esteem
  • Be humble – don’t flaunt your success
  • Don’t get involved in the drama
  • Help others to achieve and be as successful as you

Guest post adapted and reblogged with permission from sganda