Will Hayward

Professor Will Hayward was Head of the School of Psychology at the University of Auckland and blogged here at Sciblogs during 2015 and 2016. He is on Twitter @willhayward_nz

This is your brain on LSD - The Psychologizer

Apr 12, 2016

We have this idea that Science tells us about how the world is, and is unaffected by politics and morality. Sure, the real world may ignore Science – so that vast knowledge about the causes and likely effects of global climate change have been waved off by many politicians. But scientists still study that stuff, right? The knowledge is all there once we decide that we’ll pay attention, isn’t it? Not necessarily. One of the bizarre aspects of the gun debate in the US is that despite gun violence being a leading cause of death in the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are forbidden from funding research that might study ways to reduce the carnage. So even if states or cities would like to be guided by Science, that knowledge is simply … Read More

Is Kiwimeter racist? - The Psychologizer

Mar 21, 2016

For a country that takes sport too seriously, lives or dies on the international price of dairy products, and has a Prime Minister so weird that international TV hosts are fascinated by him, it is unusual for a social science research project to be one of the stories of the week. But that happened last week, with a barrage of criticism of a survey hosted by TVNZ and conducted in conjunction with Vox Pop labs from Canada and a number of academics from Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Auckland. Critics include politicians I admire, comedians that used to beat me in debating competitions, and even well-loved cousins (who happen to be nationally significant political scientists). A great summary of the issues is provided by Bryce Edwards. There were a number of concerns that were raised about Kiwimeter but the … Read More

Why is it so hard to choose a flag? - The Psychologizer

Sep 10, 2015

I’ve seen a lot of movies in my life but I have no trouble telling you the absolute worst one I ever saw.  Its name was “Wilder Napalm”, and you’ve never seen it but believe me, that’s OK. It starred Dennis Quaid and Debra Winger (ask your parents) as pyromaniacs who could start fires with their minds. Dennis joined the circus. Someone drove a lawn mower a lot. The characters were one-dimensional, the plot was contrived, there was no emotional depth. The whole thing basically didn’t make sense. The only redeeming feature, which I’d find out years later, was that it was written by Vince Gilligan who went on to do the TV series “Breaking Bad.” Vince learned a lot about what not to do by writing Wilder Napalm. However, there is one thing about Wilder Napalm … Read More

What politicians can teach us about our own jobs - The Psychologizer

Sep 09, 2015

One of the greatest causes of stress in our lives is change. Starting a new job or losing an old one, getting married or divorced, or moving house all create major challenges for us, because an entire domain of life is suddenly and irrevocably altered. It takes time to settle into the new circumstances, and develop an understanding of new social roles or new ways of getting things done. My colleague Dr Helena Cooper-Thomas has recently looked at the first of these stressors, getting a new job, in a very specific context: the arrival of new Members of Parliament following an election. We are fascinated by politics and the people that seek to hold office, and sometimes it is easy to forget that they are people just like us, trying to figure out their place in the world and how to … Read More

Why the All Blacks probably won’t win the World Cup - The Psychologizer

Aug 11, 2015

We expect people to be consistent.  We either like John Key and think everything he does is great, or we are skeptical of him and think everything he does is part of a clever plan that ensures his own success. We want our heroes to be purer than snow and our villains to be irredeemably evil. Stanley Milgram In Psychology, we know that this is a fiction, and that people are often not very consistent. Instead, they are powerfully affected by the environment. 50 years ago, Stanley Milgram conducted a ground-breaking series of experiments investigating the power of the situation on the behavior of the individual. He convinced people to apply electric shocks to others that appeared to be so powerful that the people who were shocked were … Read More