Author posts

Poker: The high-stakes way to unlock your potential

Join Maria Konnikova live at 11am EDT tomorrow on Big Think!

Poker skills: Playing against the odds is a rational way to win

Success isn't about finding one great way to achieve something and sticking with it. It's about looking at all the possible options and computing success through analysis.

Why Our Hearts and Minds Are Easy Targets for Con Artists, Holy Men and Cult Leaders

Psychologist and writer Maria Konnikova looks at the mechanisms of human nature that have allowed con artists, religious authorities, and cult leaders to prevail for thousands of years.

A con artist sold the Eiffel Tower, twice — by listening

We tend to think con artists are smooth talkers and persuasive sellers, but listening is their most important quality, says Maria Konnikova, who has written a new book on con artistry.

What Psychological Traits Does the Con Artist Look for in Victims?

The con artist is more of a psychologist than a thief, explains Maria Konnikova. If fact, con artists will never actually steal anything from you; they'll convince you to hand it over freely.

The value of unplugging and doing one thing at a time

We all need to give ourselves mental breaks, but we also need to focus and not let email notifications, Twitter notifications, suck our attention.

You Can Train Your Attention Like a Muscle

We need to learn to train our attention because, as with anything, attention is like a muscle. 

What we know — and don't know — about creativity

Maria Konnikova: the good news is that you can become more creative and I think that everyone has a certain degree of creativity in them.

Don't Use Up All Your Energy Multitasking

Heavy multitaskers become worse at the very thing that they should be very good at. 

How to Have a Good Argument with Yourself

You can learn to argue with yourself. That’s actually how I get a lot of my thinking done. 

When It's OK to Trust Common Sense

Experts should trust all of their instincts and their common sense in their areas of expertise. The problem comes when non-experts have "common sense opinion" that really is just coming out of nowhere. 

Voting for a Face, Not a Candidate

From an evolutionary perspective, our quickness to judge faces certainly makes sense. We need to know if someone is friend or foe, if he is strong or weak, if we can trust him or not. And we need to know quickly, before something bad happens. But is that quickness still as good when it determines national political outcomes?

The narcissistic leader: Not as good as he (or you) may think

In most circumstances, narcissism doesn’t go over well. But there’s one big exception to the rule: leadership.

Luck and The Researcher: Kahneman's Path to Prospect Theory

Today, I don’t want to write about Kahneman’s work or his invaluable contribution to the study of decision making and the workings of the human mind, but rather, about something much more general: his approach to research.

Thinking Can Enhance Self-Control—in Eating and Elsewhere

When we habituate to something, our physical and psychological response becomes so used to it that whatever the “it” is stops being arousing. 

The Perils of a Wandering Mind

Does a wandering mind make you less happy than a present mind? This question formed the basis of an important study by psychologists from Harvard University. The answer, I wasn’t surprised to find, is yes. Absolutely.


How to improve your athletic (and other) performance through self-talk

When researchers asked runners to repeat a specific phrase in their heads, like "push," the runners performed substantially better than they had prior to the intervention. 

Gender, Education, and the Gender Gap: Blame It On the Kids?

A recent study shows that the decision to have children, and especially to have them early, is a factor that contributes to women's educational attainment. 

How to Improve Self-Control: Freedom from Your Hot Triggers

Self-control: we could all use more of it. Even those of us who are best at exercising self-control on a daily basis have so-called hot triggers, the special circumstances that would make us, too, lose our cool and start to behave less than rationally.

Reducing Empathy Through Choice: How Too Much Choice Can Backfire

Choice is good. It’s always nice to have options. It makes us feel more in control; it supports our vision of ourselves as “deciders” in our own lives. But choice can also come with negative consequences.

Is the world really what it appears?

Regarding optical illusions, framing, and choice.

The Mindful Decision Maker: An Introduction

Our decisions matter. You don’t need me to tell you that. Of course they matter. It almost seems a tautology, a restatement of the obvious, of the very definition of “decision.” And yet, even though we make decisions at every point in our lives . . .