Research shows not all motivation is created equal. Meet self-determination theory.

Image courtesy of the author

What drives you?

It can sound like a simple question: it isn’t. For hundreds of different activities in our lives — from choosing a job, to spending time with our partner, to writing an article — we can all have very different motivations for the same action.

People are fond of reporting vague, huge, and morally sweet drives. To support my children/ageing parents. To provide for my community. To save the local ecosystem.

These are all great as an overarching “why”: a north star that adds structure and purpose to your life.

But let’s be real, they don’t drive every…


Only know her as Elon Musk’s partner? Let’s change that.

Grimes, live in 2014 via Wikipedia

Claire Boucher (b. 1988) has been putting out music for over a decade. During that time, she’s built up a steady cult following, received critical acclaim, and been deemed Best New Music by Pitchfork multiple times.

Since 2018, she’s also dating Elon Musk.

In 2020 they had a child together — you know, the one with the name like a Star Wars spaceship, X Æ A-12.

In a world where celebrity and money is king, this prompted a massive surge of new interest into Claire Boucher: more commonly known as the artist Grimes.

Namely, who the hell “Grimes” is. Why…


Embracing neuroplasticity in a pandemic.

Image via GIPHY

We’ve all laughed about going crazy from isolation. “My last braincell,” “smooth brain,” “brain worms,” etc., popped up a lot. As ever, humor copes with fear.

Legitimate fears, in a year of lockdown limbo.

Early on in the pandemic — mindlessly playing a Nintendo Switch through government announcements of stricter lockdowns, more death — I was worried about regressing to a teenager. Getting dumber, forgetting words, how to socialize, losing independence as a young adult, or having my mental well-being eroded in lockdown.

Instead, my brain genuinely feels more peaceful in December 2020 than in December 2019. …


Don’t beat yourself up just yet.

via Unsplash

Have you seen that Vanessa Hudgens clip where she says “People will die. And it’s sad, but inevitable!” I could never be like that, I understand COVID is still out there, and it sounds so horrible, but…you know?

In an Instagram voice message, my friend expresses frustration: then guilt. We miss eachother. We want to meet up. We know we can’t.

We’ve both been working, eating, sleeping and studying in our bedrooms with very little human contact for 7 months.

I do know.

Increasingly this autumn, the phrase “pandemic fatigue” has been bandied around. Pandemic fatigue isn’t referring to a…


The reason it survived two millennia

Levi Clancy // Unsplash

As a psychologist, my favourite philosophy is Stoicism.

A lot of other philosophies can be interesting to muse over. Like pointing out clusters of stars, and wondering what shape they form. Beyond intellectual fancy, though, -isms rarely strengthen us.

Stoicism is practical and it works.

Philosophy can get so caught up in whether or not God’s dead, it forgets that most of the time we can’t spare a thought for metaphysics because we’re busy being a human — which is to say, a mess.

Stoicism never forgot.

In this story, we’re going to look at how Stoicism shaped psychology —…


“Real” jobs don’t exist.

Image via Unsplash

I graduated from a university consistently ranked as one of the top 50 in the world.

You know how many uni friends I have who graduated into the life we’re “supposed” to have? Who have already landed a full-time graduate job in 2020, moved to London, and fall into the landlord category of young professional?

One.

Renting the top flat of a terrace that two roommates have already evacuated. Both lost their London jobs in the pandemic and suddenly couldn’t afford to live there anymore.

For every friend I have in a full-time city job, I have three that are…


Learn from a University of Missouri study.

via Unsplash

Heartbreak is defined as a state of “devastating emotional loss”.

Almost all of us will be heartbroken by the loss of a romantic partner at some point in our lives. It’s as universal and fundamental as love.

That doesn’t make it any less painful.

Based on the strength of the relationship lost, heartbreak varies in severity and duration.

A study by the Journal of Positive Psychology found it takes 11 weeks, on average, to feel better after the loss of a romantic partner. This was regardless of being the dumper or dumpee. Those with secure parental attachments recovered faster.

For…


A quick experiment to examine your mindset.

Image via Unsplash

Creativity isn’t just for artists.

Anything you do that generates ideas to solve a problem is creative.

Creativity is both trainable and testable. The quick below exercise will help you test and train your own.

The Dog

Here’s the problem:

Your neighbour’s dog won’t stop barking. You’ve talked to him, and he refuses to do anything. How can you get the dog to shut up?

Grab a piece of paper and scribble down as many ideas as you can. 2 minutes. No peeking. Go.

The Solutions

Are basically infinite. …


The wonderful simplicity of positive psychology’s exercise

Image via GIPHY

A lot of famous psychology is centered around people being terrible.

If it’s Freud, everything is your parents’ fault; if it’s Zimbardo, people put on a uniform and turn into monsters; if it’s Milgram, people are willing to electrocute a stranger. Yikes.

As a psychologist, this has often frustrated me. The truth is that most people are good, most of the time.

If so much is going right for so many people if so many people are well-adjusted and happy, then why aren’t we focusing on and learning from their habits, too?

This is how I became interested in positive…


The studies behind the cultural obsession.

via GIPHY

Is there any other mental health condition that receives such dark glamour as psychopathy?

As a culture, we’re obsessed.

(I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on that last one when we go over the symptoms.)

Cutting through the cultural myths to the actual science is hard…

Hannah Davies

Accredited psychologist, England. Smuggling useful truths out of academia. Gen Z.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store