• New research

    The psychology of philosophy

    I first got interested in personality psychology long ago as a double-degree student of psychology and philosophy. I was intrigued by the psychology of philosophical divisions and started thinking about how people’s views of the world reflect their personalities. It seemed to me that there was frequently a coherence between the personalities of philosophers and the philosophical positions they adopted. Historical examples There are many historical examples consistent with this position. An example that comes to mind is Arthur Schopenhauer—a 19th century thinker known as the philosopher of pessimism, who was also known to be cynical and disagreeable in his personal life. Another obvious example is Immanuel Kant—an 18th century…

  • Science and society

    The behavioral sciences and the pandemic response

    Should decision-makers have listened more to behavioral scientists when making decisions about how to combat the pandemic? There certainly are some general insights from research in the behavioral sciences that are important for effectively combating a pandemic. Some general points of this nature are summarized by Van Bavel et al. (2020).   For instance, if we want to get people to wear face masks, then we need to promote norms that encourage mask-wearing (i.e., we need to normalize it). The most straightforward way of doing this (apart from using fines) would be to (a) clearly communicate that mask-wearing is a desirable and charitable act—something that “good citizens” do—and (b) have…