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June 9, 2010

Not Your Average Academic Journal: Psychology Today Magazine Makes Mental Science Fun

psychology-today.jpgToday we continue our series “Content Spotlight,”in which we take a closer look at what’s inside of some of our most
popular magazines that may be under your radar. Today’s pick: Psychology Today.

When I first heard of Psychology Today magazine,
my mind was filled with visions of all of the stereotypes you might
expect in your average academic journal: eternal studies illustrated by
an occasional bar graph, number-filled charts with those weird equal
signs, sketches of brain lobes from every angle, and talking heads
spouting scientific jargon. In essence, nothing of any relevance or
interest to me. And though I did almost change my major in college from
English to psychology, exposure to journals such as these while doing
class research was solely responsible for my decision to stick with Shakespeare.

But then I received my first issue of Psychology Today in the mail, and boy was I shocked! It looked the caliber of Time magazine,
only with a psychology spin instead of a national affairs emphasis. The
cover featured a provocative image of a broken heart, stamped with the
phrase “First Love, First Loss,” and the story inside promised to
reveal mysteries about how triumphs and failures in our early lives
shape who we become. Other magazine features, from how to win “American Idol” to the thought patterns behind revenge, promised equally enticing reads.

I
thought, perhaps this was a fluke. Maybe this was an exceptional issue,
I surmised, but others couldn’t possibly be this good. Yet the next
issue I read proved me wrong again. The cover image showed a woman with
different personality traits scrawled in ink across her face, a perfect
introduction to the story inside about the nonverbal signals we send
and how others interpret them.

While the magazine does include
its share of clinical news, it puts psychological, neurological and
pharmaceutical studies and surveys in the larger context of
relationships, health, happiness and self-empowerment. Though educated
and accomplished, sources use “real” language rather than academic
terms to explain concepts, methodologies and breakthroughs. And the
images and headlines throughout the magazine are just as compelling as
the stories, which range from the quirky (why rich men have more sons)
to the universal (how to fight the natural pull of procrastination).
 
If
the covers sound intriguing to you, just wait until you check out the
features inside. Here’s a quick glimpse at a few of my favorites:  
• Insights: News on the people, politics, psyche and phenomena that enrage us, endear us and drive us to distraction
• Personality Q&A: Interviews with activists, authors, philosophers and pop psychologists of all kinds
• Relationships: Memoirs on the ties that bind us to each other
• Food Chain: Our connection with food and how it makes us feel, plus feel-good recipes
• Solutions: Tricks and tactics for solving life’s little problems

Learning
about psychology hasn’t been this fun for me since college. I wish I
had known about this magazine years ago. Maybe if I had, I would be
counseling clients on couches today. Hmm, I think I’ll analyze that!



About the Author

Emily McMackin
Emily McMackin
Emily McMackin is an editor, writer and perpetual storyteller with an incurable addiction to coffee, magazines, Neil Diamond and Caribbean travel. She resides in Music City USA (that's Nashville, Tenn., ya'll!), where you'll find her staking out live music, salsa dancing, scouring town for the best latte and working on her first No. 1 (book that is).




  • http://www.henshawconsulting.com.au psychologist perth

    Wow the cover looks nothing but like a fashion magazine.