Alan Brown, Psychology, How to Remember Anything

Originally Posted: May 9, 2015

The best way to pick a password or hiding spot you’ll remember is to choose one quickly because you want something that will return to mind quickly:
Via Why We Make Mistakes:

The key to picking a good hiding place is hiding place is making a quick connection between the thing being hidden and the place in which it is hidden, says Alan Brown. Brown is a professor at Southern Methodist University who has studied where and how people hide things. Not long ago he surveyed adults between the ages of eighteen and eighty-five, asking them all sorts of questions about where they hide things. Their answers have provided some illuminating differences. Older adults, for instance, typically hide jewelry from thieves, whereas younger adults tend to hide money from friends and relatives. And while the places they choose may vary, the successful strategies didn’t. One key to picking a good hiding place— or a good password: do it quickly. “I think the only successful way to do it—and this is true with both hiding places and passwords—you have to do it quickly,” said Brown.
Faces can be made more memorable by ignoring physical characteristics and focusing on personality traits. Does this person look trustworthy or likable? This makes your brain process the face more deeply, promoting learning.

Via Why We Make Mistakes:

They found that when faces are judged not by their surface details but for deeper emotional traits—like honesty or likability—the faces are subsequently better recognized than faces judged for physical features like hair or eyes. Why should traits be more memorable than features? Traits appear to require the brain to engage in a greater depth of processing; it takes more work to figure out whether someone has an honest face than it does to determine, say whether he’s got curly hair. And that greater effort seems to make the face stick in the memory. So strong is the effect that one of the leading researchers on face recognition once offered this advice: “If you want to remember a person’s face, try to make a number of difficult personal judgments his face when you are first meeting him.”

Is there a technique that works across the board for improving memory? You can improve recall of most anything by matching the context of where you learned it. READ MORE

SMU Magazine: Dedman College Alumnus Leandre Johns ’02 Talks Uber Career And Detours Along The Way

By: Patricia Ward

Originally Posted: May 4, 2015
Dedman Alumni Leandre Johns ConversationA passion for innovation drives Leandre Johns ’02, general manager of Uber Technologies for North and West Texas. Johns returned to the Hilltop to discuss his trajectory from SMU student to tech executive in a conversation with Thomas DiPiero, dean of Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, April 28.

Johns, a native of Garland, Texas, was a Hunt Leadership Scholar and active in the campus community while earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from SMU. He encouraged students in the audience at Dallas Hall’s McCord Auditorium to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible while they are undergraduates.

“Test yourself. Make the most of it. Get involved,” he said. Learning to deal with so many different personalities in a variety of situations as a student “made me a more dynamic person.”

While at SMU, he thought he had his future mapped out. During an SMU Abroad semester in Copenhagen, he was involved in children’s cancer research, which shaped the next phase of his education. He graduated from SMU determined to help cure cancer and pursued a master’s degree in public health at the University of Chicago. As a graduate student, he interned for UnitedHealthcare, then spent three years with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Chicago as a healthcare and financial consultant. READ MORE

Driven to Succeed: Uber Leader Leandre Johns to Talk at SMU April 28

Learn why SMU alumnus Leandre Johns is driven to succeed as general manager for the ride-sharing service Uber, one of the world’s fastest-growing technology companies, when he joins SMU Dedman College Dean Thomas DiPiero in conversation Tuesday, April 28, at 5:30 p.m. in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall.

Leandre Johns 8640 (1)“From SMU to Uber: A Conversation With Leandre Johns ’02” is free and open to the public, with RSVP to requested by Monday, April 27.

Johns, a Hunt Leadership Scholar who earned a B.A. in psychology from SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences in 2002, will discuss how his educational experiences helped pave the way to his current role as North and West Texas general manager for Uber Technologies. The company connects riders to drivers via a mobile app-based service.

In 2014 D Magazine named the Garland native one of Dallas’ “10 Most Eligible Men,” noting, “Leandre’s responsible for some serious transformation in the Dallas social scene.” The magazine even added insight from Johns’ mother, who said, “He loves being involved with the community, reaching back, giving and encouraging others to succeed.”

Prior to joining Uber, Johns worked in the venture capital and startup field as vice president for a healthcare technology and media portfolio company in Chicago. He also spent more than three years with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Chicago, consulting in the healthcare and finance sector. He earned his M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, where he majored in finance, entrepreneurship and marketing.

For more details about the event visit:

Ernest N. Jouriles and Renee McDonald, Psychology, virtual training helps assertiveness

SMU Daily Campus

Originally Posted: March 24, 2015

You’re in the car with a guy you’ve been dating for three weeks. It’s dark out, rain beats down on your window and lightning flashes in the distance. He’s ready to take your relationship to the next level, but you want to wait. He says that if you don’t have sex with him, he’ll break up with you, kick you out of the car and tell everyone that you slept with him anyway. Then, he gets aggressive. This particular situation might seem frightening, but it’s all part of a virtual reality training program.

This scene is one of many from a new SMU sexual harassment training program that has the potential to change how sexual violence prevention is handled. A study piloted by SMU’s psychology department, called “My Voice, My Choice,” found that teenage girls were less likely to report sexual victimization after participating in assertive resistance training in a virtual reality environment. The effects continued over a three-month period after the training.

Colton Donica, an SMU senior who assisted as an actor in the program, described a range of sexually coercive situations, including the one above, which program participants are exposed to. READ MORE

Congratulations to the 2015 Research Day Award Winners

Congratulations to all the Dedman College students who received 2015 Research Day awards.

The goal of Research Day  is to foster communication between students in different disciplines, give students the opportunity to present their work in a professional setting, and share the outstanding research being conducted at SMU with their peers and industry professionals from the greater Dallas community.

See the full list of Research Day Winners, 2015

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SMU professors aim to prevent sexual assault with bystander program

Dallas Morning News


Originally Posted: March 16, 2015

SMUbystander_LEDEA boyfriend and girlfriend fighting at a party. A couple stumbling around in an alcohol-fueled stupor. A teen getting pressured to kiss someone who gave her a ride.

Those scenarios are depicted in two programs developed by Southern Methodist University psychology professors to help young adults prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment.

One program uses video to suggest how college students can intervene to help friends in risky situations. The other program uses virtual reality software so that teens practice being assertive and resisting unwanted advances.

Professors Ernest Jouriles and Renee McDonald, a husband-and-wife research team, have studied violence prevention for most of their careers. They’ve researched marital conflict, spousal abuse and children’s response to family violence.

Jouriles said he got interested in adolescent issues, such as dating violence, when their daughter was young. He wanted to help keep her safe. READ MORE

Students honor Dedman College professors’ excellence with 2015 HOPE Awards

SMU’s Department of Residence Life and Student Housing honored 45 exceptional University educators, 26 Dedman College professors, at the 2015 HOPE Awards Banquet.

HOPE (Honoring Our Professors’ Excellence) Award recipients are named through student staff member nominations as professors who “have made a significant impact to our academic education both inside and outside of the classroom.”

Congratulations to all of the Dedman College 2015 HOPE Award honorees:

Adriana Aceves, Mathematics
Paul Avey, Tower Center for Political Studies
Greg Brownderville, English
David Michael Crow, Psychology
LeeAnn Derdeyn, English/Discernment and Discourse
Melissa Dowling, History/Classical Studies
John Duca, Economics
James K. Hopkins, History
Vanessa Hopper, English
Matthew Keller, Sociology
Michael Lattman, Chemistry
David Lee, Anthropology
Judy Newell, Mathematics
Rachel Ney, World Languages and Literatures/French
Jennifer O’Brien, Chemistry
Wei Qu, World Languages and Literatures/Chinese
Stephen Robertson, Statistical Science
Bivin Sadler, Statistical Science
Martha Satz, English
Sam Ross Sloan, English
Tom Stone, English
Thierry Tirado, World Languages and Literatures/French
Nick Tsarevsky, Chemistry
John Wise, Biological Sciences
Patty Wisian-Neilson, Chemistry
Brian Zoltowski, Chemistry


What’s Hot and What’s Not in Psychology & Psychiatry


Originally Posted: Feb. 3, 2015

by Carla Clark, PhD


HOT: Virtual Reality used to Reduce Sexual Victimization of Teenage Girls

Who: Research team of Psychology Professors from Southern Methodist University, Dallas.

Where: In press in the journal Behavior Therapy from the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.

Why: Females who firmly resist unwanted advances stand a greater chance of escaping a sexually coercive situation, from which there are numerous immediate and long-term deleterious effects.

After completion of “My Voice, My Choice” virtual reality resistance training, girls in the study that had had higher rates of previous victimization experienced lower rates of psychological distress and psychological victimization, e.g. being yelled at or called names, or having a boy try to frighten or spread rumors about her.

“This finding is particularly noteworthy because other violence protection programs have generally been ineffective or less effective for previously victimized young women,” said Simpson Rowe, lead author of the study and Associate Professor and Graduate Program Co-Director of Psychology at SMU. READ MORE

Virtual Reality Training for Sexual Harassment?


Originally Posted: Feb. 1, 2015

Most women have dealt with unwanted sexual advances. In fact, one national survey estimates that 65 percent have experienced some form of street harassment. But a study out of Southern Methodist University found that teenage girls were less likely to report being sexually victimized after undergoing assertive resistance training in virtual reality.

While virtual reality is routinely used to train soldiers or treat anxiety disorders, training of this nature is new.

Virtual simulations “seem to be more immersive than face-to-face role plays,” said clinical psychologist Lorelei Simpson Rowe, the study’s lead author. “The participant is not thinking any more about being in a room in a psychology study with other people around,” she is “focused on what she is seeing through the glasses and what she’s hearing.” READ MORE