Psychology

Can You Change Your Personality? Scientists Say ‘Maybe’

December 12, 2019
It has long been believed that people can’t change their personalities, which are largely stable and inherited. But a review of recent research in personality science points to the possibility that personality traits can change through persistent intervention and major life events.

How Groups Make Up Their Minds

December 10, 2019
The choices we make in large group settings, such as in online forums and social media, might seem fairly automatic. But our decision-making process is more complicated than we know. So, researchers at the University of Washington and UC Davis have been working to understand what’s behind that seemingly intuitive process. The research has discovered that in large groups of essentially anonymous members, people make choices based on a model of the “mind of the group” and an evolving simulation of how a choice will affect that theorized mind.

How Do You Bounce Back After a Setback?

December 10, 2019
Why are people often only fleetingly happy about positive events, but persistently upset about negative events like setbacks? Alison Ledgerwood, behavioral scientist, professor of psychology and chancellor’s fellow at UC Davis, has conducted extensive research to understand this.

Detoured Student Offers Inspiration to Fellow Grads

December 09, 2019
Ellen Caminiti had a speech impediment as a child, was painfully shy when she started at UC Davis, wandered in her studies and was dismissed for poor academic performance. But the 24-year-old will stand center stage to share her journey and message of encouragement with more than 800 fellow graduates and thousands of guests at the fall commencement at 10 a.m. on Saturday in the Pavilion at the ARC.

Q&A: Ron Mangun and the Future of Mind and Brain Science

October 28, 2019
When George “Ron” Mangun led a campuswide effort to launch the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain in 2002, he declared, “This is the most exciting time in mind and brain research in human history.” In an interview, Mangun talks about becoming the center's director for a second time and the even greater potential for mind and brain breakthroughs today.

‘Earworms’ Research Will Help Reveal Link Between Memories and Music

September 25, 2019

“Earworms” are those fragments of songs that get stuck on repeat in your head. While earworms are often frustrating, repeated exposure to catchy tunes can also trigger old memories, even in people whose memory skills are impaired by Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive disorders.

More Than $60M Awarded for Research in 2018-19

September 19, 2019
Faculty in the College of Letters and Science were awarded $62.5 million to support research across the liberal arts and sciences in 2018-19, the College’s strongest research funding year ever.

Brain May Not Need Body Movements to Learn Virtual Spaces

September 18, 2019

Virtual reality is becoming increasingly present in our everyday lives, from online tours of homes for sale to high-tech headsets that immerse gamers in hyper-realistic digital worlds. While its entertainment value is well-established, virtual reality also has vast potential for practical uses that are just beginning to be explored.

Why Negative Campaigning Works — and How to Fight It

September 13, 2019
Our brains are hard-wired to remember insults and attacks — which explains why so many political campaigns go negative. Research by psychology professor Alison Ledgerwood also finds a bright side: You can train your brain to flip the script.

Brain Molecule Identified as Key in Anxiety Model

August 15, 2019
Boosting a single molecule in the brain can change “dispositional anxiety,” the tendency to perceive many situations as threatening, in nonhuman primates, researchers from UC Davis, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have found. The molecule, neurotrophin-3, stimulates neurons to grow and make new connections. The finding provides hope for new strategies focused on intervening early in life to treat people at risk for anxiety disorders, depression and related substance abuse. Current treatments work for only a subset of people and often only partially relieve symptoms.