Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New Science of Willpower Post: You Are Not a Supertasker!

Check out the latest post to my Psychology Today Blog. I was inspired to write it by the countless times I've almost been run over by people on their cellphones.

Thanks for the inspiration, guys!


Let's start with some statistics that make no sense:

A large, nationally representative survey found that 89% of Americans agree that "sending text messages or emails while driving is distracting, dangerous, and should be outlawed." In the same survey, 66% of respondents who knew how to text message (this, by the way, eliminated most of the respondents over 55) reported texting while driving.

Folks, that is some serious hypocrisy within the texting crowd. Unless, of course, those 66% think they are supertaskers.

Just what is a supertasker? This term was coined in a new study that is likely to give a shot of courage to exactly the people who need it least. Psychologists at the University of Utah -- inspired by paradoxical stats like the ones above -- were interested in finding out whether anyone actually can talk on a cellphone and drive at the same time, unimpaired.

Read the full post here.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

New Science of Willpower Study: Why Habits Are Hard to Change

My latest Psychology Today column is up:

A new study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences confirms what many confused shoppers, dieters, and investors know first-hand: when a decision is difficult, we go with the status quo or choose to do nothing.

Researchers from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London created a computerized decision-making task. Participants viewed a series of visual tests that asked them to play a referee making a sports call (e.g., whether a tennis ball bounced in our out of bounds).

Before each test, participants were told that one of the responses (in or out) was the "default" for this round. They were asked to hold down a key while they watched. If they continued to hold down the key, they were choosing the default. If they lifted their finger, they were choosing the non-default. Importantly, the default response (in or out) switched randomly between rounds, so that a participant's response bias (to make a call in or out) would not be confused with their tendency to stick with the status quo.

The researchers were interested in two questions:
1) Does the difficulty of the decision influence the participants' likelihood of choosing the default?
2) Is there a neural signature for choosing the default vs. overriding the status quo?

Read the whole column on The Science of Willpower at Psychology Today.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Call for Articles! International Journal of Yoga Therapy

As some of you know, I'm the editor in chief of the International Journal of Yoga Therapy, a peer-reviewed journal of policy perspectives, research, and case studies/clinical advice.

The period of peer review for the Fall 2010 issue is wrapping up, and there's still room for several more articles.

So once your taxes are filed, why not put together a thoughtful argument about yoga as a healing practice or profession, polish up that masters thesis, put your clinical experience into advice other professionals can use, or write up the pilot data from your ongoing study?

Submit to editor [at] iayt [dot] org by April 15th for full consideration.

To learn more, below are the usual instructions for contributors. You can also see past tables of contents and article abstracts here.

Guidelines for Authors


The International Journal of Yoga Therapy publishes articles about Yoga therapy, Yoga practice, and Yoga philosophy. We encourage submissions from Yoga therapists, Yoga teachers, researchers, and healthcare professionals. The journal aims to represent views, practices, and research from all major traditions in Yoga, as well as integrative medicine and psychology.


The journal invites submissions of letters and opinions. Perspectives are not peer-reviewed, and may be in response to specific articles, or on any topic relevant to the research and practice of Yoga therapy. Perspectives should be 500-1200 words.

Issues in Yoga Therapy

The journal welcomes scholarly articles that address issues, challenges, and controversies in the research and practice of Yoga therapy. Articles in this category include, but are not limited to: considerations of policy issues related to the integration of Yoga and healthcare, explorations of common challenges that Yoga therapists and teachers face in their work, and discussions of Yoga philosophy as it relates to contemporary Yoga therapy practice.


The journal publishes reports of original research. We welcome pilot studies, feasibility studies, and preliminary reports on research in progress, when these reports examine challenges and early findings that may benefit other researchers and practitioners. Case studies should be reported in the context of a thorough review of the relevant literature, and a broader discussion of the case’s implications for future research or practice. Names and other identifying information should be changed to protect individuals’ privacy.

Continuing Education/Yoga Therapy in Practice

Continuing Education/Yoga Therapy in Practice articles should review a topic of importance and relevance to practicing Yoga teachers, Yoga therapists, and healthcare providers. Articles in this category include, but are not limited to: discussions of specific medical conditions and recommended Yoga practices, reviews of the history of some aspect of Yoga therapy or Yoga philosophy, and reviews of research on a topic of relevance to Yoga therapy. Articles should be supported by references to published research, research in progress, established interventions at Yoga therapy clinics, classical Yoga texts, and/or original interviews, and should not be based solely on the experience or opinions of the author(s).

Review and Selection of Manuscripts

All articles are initially evaluated by the Editor for suitability of topic and format. Articles that meet the basic requirements are assigned to a minimum of two peer reviewers, chosen on the basis of their expertise and experience. We invite (but do not require) authors to nominate additional potential reviewers at the time of article submission, particularly when knowledge of a Yoga lineage or other specialty is required. Peer review is blind, meaning that the author’s identity is not revealed to reviewers. Reviewers evaluate the article’s contribution to the field of Yoga therapy, and make specific suggestions for revisions. When making a recommendation to publish or reject an article, reviewers take into account the importance of the topic, the quality of scholarship, and the clarity of writing.

Potential authors wishing to view the current peer review guidelines for the type of article they plan to submit should email the Editor (editor [at] iayt.org) and indicate which category the intended submission falls into. The Editor makes the final decision whether to accept or reject a manuscript. Most manuscripts go through at least one round of revision before they are accepted. Following acceptance, articles are edited for clarity and adherence to journal style guidelines.

Preparation and Submission of Manuscripts

Articles should be 4000-6000 words. All articles should be submitted via email to editor [at] iayt.org. Include a brief introductory letter in the body of the email and attach the manuscript as a word document. All manuscripts should use AMA style formatting for citations/references (numbered endnotes). Research articles should include a note acknowledging any funding sources or potential conflicts of interest, as well as a statement of adherence to ethical guidelines for the use of human participants (when applicable) and informed consent to use photographs of or publish case information about students/clients.

We encourage authors to provide photos and figures, particularly for descriptions of Yoga practices or discussions of anatomy. However, please do not email photos or figures as separate files until requested from the Editor.