Department of Psychology News

WBIR-TV: Study, Gut instincts predict marriage success

Michael Olson, associate professor of psychology, was interviewed on WBIR-TV about his recent research which finds that spouses’ automatic attitudes, not their more thoughtfully held conscious attitudes, are a good predictor of marital satisfaction. It is the first study to look at the long-term implication of automatic attitudes—positive or negative thoughts, feelings or actions that

Read more

UT Study Finds Crocodiles are Cleverer than Previously Thought

A mugger crocodile balances twigs on its nose to tempt birds collecting small branches to build nests with, at Madras Crocodile Bank, Tamil Nadu in India. Photo credit: Vladimir Dinets

Turns out the crocodile can be a shrewd hunter himself. A UT researcher has found that some crocodiles use lures to hunt their prey. Vladimir Dinets, a research assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, is the first to observe two crocodilian species—muggers and American alligators—using twigs and sticks to lure birds, particularly during nest-building time. Dinets’s research is the first report of tool use by any reptiles.

Voice of America: Crocodiles, Alligators May Lure Prey with Sticks

The research of Vladimir Dinets, a research assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, has been featured in multiple media outlets including CNN,  Voice of America and Science magazine. Dinets’ work observes two crocodilian species—muggers and American alligators—using twigs and sticks to lure birds, particularly during nest-building time. Dinets’ research is the first report of

Read more

UT Research Finds Newlyweds Implicitly Know If Marriage Will Fail

Newlywed bliss can overshadow serious marital problems, but a new study by UT researchers shows that signs of a failed marriage are often there from the beginning—if couples look closely. The study, by Michael Olson, associate professor of psychology, and Jim McNulty of Florida State University, finds that spouses’ automatic attitudes, not their more thoughtfully held conscious attitudes, are a good predictor of marital satisfaction.

The New York Times: Coldblooded Does Not Mean Stupid

According to a New York Times article, humans have no exclusive claim on intelligence. Across the animal kingdom, all sorts of creatures have performed impressive intellectual feats. ordon Burghardt, a psychology professor, was interviewed for the piece. “Reptiles don’t really have great press,” said Burghardt. “Certainly in the past, people didn’t really think too much

Read more

In Memoriam: Kathleen Lawler Row

Kathleen Lawler Row, a former professor in the Department of Psychology, passed away Saturday at the age of 66. Her career at the university spanned more than thirty years during which she taught courses in child psychology, positive psychology, and the psychology of religion. Her research focused on health psychology, earning her national recognition for her work. She received the University Studies Award in 2003 for outstanding contribution to interdisciplinary studies and the Chancellor’s Award in 2002 for research and creative achievement.

Lecturer Investigates Response to “Bad” Art

Websites like Tumblr catalogue pieces of what are deemed “bad art” such as a painting of a dog with colorful stars for teeth or a crying horned animal with human-like hair. Is what makes this art “bad” its unfamiliarity? Would people come to like them if they became more familiar with them? This was a question asked by an international team of scholars including a UT philosophy lecturer.

College of Arts and Sciences Names Graduate Studies, Diversity Leaders

The College of Arts and Sciences has appointed two new associate deans to enhance the college’s graduate studies and diversity initiatives. Brent Mallinckrodt, professor of psychology, has been appointed associate dean for graduate studies, and Angela Batey, James Cox Professor of Music, has been appointed associate dean for diversity.

BBC: Why do ‘single’ birds dance?

The groundbreaking research of Gordon Burghardt, Alumni Distinguished Service Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, was cited in a BBC article about cranes dancing. Burghardt studies animals at play. He defines play as a repeated behavior that should not contribute to survival. It is spontaneous and voluntary, performed when the

Read more