Introducing…. the Rethink blog!

I’ve made a few changes to the site recently, as you’ve probably noticed.  The site will no longer just contain my inane ramblings, it will also contain the ramblings of other, more sane, people.  The blog link at the top is now ‘blogs’, if you hover over that you should get a drop down menu of all the blogs currently running on GenerallyThinking.  If you don’t see the dropdown menu, it’s probably because you’re using Internet Explorer, and would you please stop doing that.

The first blog is up and running, you’ll have seen the posts if you follow me on Twitter.  If you don’t follow me on Twitter, would you please start doing that – @WarrenThinking.


Rethink is run by born-again atheist Kamila Wita, a masters student in Developmental Psychopathology at Durham University.  Kamila reads a lot, thinks loudly and graduated from Northumbria University in 2010 with first class honours in psych.

So what is rethink about?  Kamila mainly writes about clinical and abnormal psychology and psychopathology, but occasionally dips her toes into other topics.  The theme of the blog and inspiration for the name is the way many people take things at face value, without stopping to critically appraise them.  That’s a bit of a hint for what you’re likely to expect here. 🙂

Rethink has a separate RSS feed to the my/this blog, and I really recommend you pop over and subscribe using the add to any button at the top of the sidebar on the right hand site.  Cheers!

Want to blog here?

If you’re a student, researcher, practitioner or otherwise involved in scientific psychology, and you’re looking to start your own blog, then you’re in luck!  We get over 20,000 pageviews monthly, so you’ll have a headstart on building your audience.  And you won’t have to worry about any of the technical aspects or promotion.  I’ll do all that, so you can just focus on writing.  At the moment there’s myself, Kamila, and third blog on the way; will you become the fourth?  Click contact above and drop me a line if you’re interested and have the appropriate background.


Here’s a pretty interesting site I recently came across: TweetPsych.  It uses two linguistic analysis algorithms to pull out patterns in peoples’ Tweets.  The algorithms are the Regressive Imagery Dictionary (RID), and Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC).  RID I’ve never heard of, to my immediate memory, but LIWC we came across in the How to be Happier article, where James Pennebaker used it to analyse journal entries, looking for the best way that disclosive writing could be used as a therapeutic tool.

If TweetPsych, created by Dan Zarella, does what it says on the tin, it’s a great piece of programming.  It compares an individual’s Tweets to a baseline set of about 1.5m Tweets, to see where they stand out.  Here are my results.  It says I talk about cognitive process and positive emotions and stuff, and at the end gives a list of other people who think like me.  They were all guys and one was a rocket scientist.

At the moment, TweetPsych is in the early stages, but it has some potential.  What I think would be really cool, would be if Dan could validate the data against measures that already exist.  For example, get a few hundred Twitter users to complete a well-being questionnaire, like this one, and see how it matches up with TweetPsych’s positive word analysis.  At the moment he’s analysing the last 1,000 Tweets, which could cover a long time period.  If a short amount of Tweets could correlate well with a validated measure, that could track all kinds of things over time – happiness in relation to world events, for example.

That one’s has been done, actually, but again they haven’t compared the content of social media to established measures, which would be better.  There’s no doubt a link between how someone uses language and other things like personality, but how strong is it?  And how strong once that language has been diluted into typed words, let along 140 character limit?  Maybe there’s something there, maybe there isn’t; one doesn’t know until one tests it (I think that’s the first time I’ve ever used ‘one’).

If he hasn’t done that, it’d be better if it wasn’t touted as “Psychological Profiling”, in my opinion, because that can give people the wrong idea!  For example, Tyler Hayes, a media consultant and blogger from Minneapolis, says of TweetPsych: “Ahh… the day has arrived. Psychology has finally wiggled its way into social media,” and describes TweetPscyh as a “psychological profiling & assessment tool.”

But, as Tyler goes on to say, psychology in the official sense hasn’t arrived in social media yet; at least not through Dan Zarella. TweetPsych is absolutely not a psychological profile tool.  Technically speaking, it’s about as psychological as a tarot card reading, and it’s the type of thing that gives people the wrong impression of what psychology is.  But the technology is great, and could be used for the power of good – if the results were validated properly.  Maybe Dan’s really planning to do something scientific with it – he does seem the type.  If so, good luck!

Robert Biswas-Diener on happiness, strengths, and 'incubators'

Robert Biswas-Diener is a big name in positive psychology research.  He’s sort of the Indiana Jones of positive psychology; he travelled around the world, through rich countries and tribal cultures, investigating happiness in these varied places.  Rumour has it he took a whip and a hat along with him, although I can’t confirm this.

Anyway, he’s got several great articles up on his website, Intentional Happiness, and an audio describing some of the discoveries he made about happiness while on his travels.  At the time of writing, he has a few articles on happiness and some on strengths, so if you like the stuff on this site, you’ll probably like those too.

A special note has to go to his article on incubators, which will probably change the way you look at procrastination.  Definitely check that one out – you might not be a procrastinator after all!

Finally, if you’re a psychology student looking for journal articles on happiness, there are loads of references on the site, many of which have links to free pdfs – very useful.

Worth a look!