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“Is a proclivity to violence and vengeance a gender and/or regional trait? Are the minds of men more than women and/or rural folk more than city dwellers predisposed to violent acts of revenge? Or put another way, are violence and vengeance intrinsic components of the male psyche, and if so are men more likely to resort to them in rural settings? These are the central questions posed by Israeli novelist Meir Shalev in his seventh novel Two She-Bears (in the original Hebrew Shtayim Dubim, Am Oved, 2013).” — the opening paragraph of my review in New York Journal of Books

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Read more... )From my NYJB review: “. . . readers prone to depression might consider acquiring a prescription for antidepressant medication before attempting to read The Remains of Love.” Also see my examiner article: "Israeli books: Zeruya Shalev's 5th novel views family through a Freudian lens"

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My review first appeared on the now defunct examiner.com In the years following World War II academic psychologists grappled with the phenomenon of apparently normal people following orders to act inhumanely to other people and indeed to participate in mass-murder. In 1947 California Psychologist Theodore W. Orno devised a personality test to measure what he termed the authoritarian personality. His work has since been refined to what is known as Right-wing authoritarianism and the number of criteria reduced to three traits:

Dreama Walker as an accused restaurant employee in Compliance
Indiewire

1. Authoritarian submission — a high degree of submissiveness to the authorities who are perceived to be established and legitimate in the society in which one lives. 2. Authoritarian aggression — a general aggressiveness directed against deviants, outgroups, and other people that are perceived to be targets according to established authorities. 3. Conventionalism — a high degree of adherence to the traditions and social norms that are perceived to be endorsed by society and its established authorities, and a belief that others in one's society should also be required to adhere to these norms.

In 2004, a man named David Stewart was arrested in Panama City, FL, in connection with a series of prank calls to fast food restaurants around the country, in which he had allegedly impersonated a police officer and convinced managers to detain and strip search female employees that he accused of theft. Yesterday at The Broadway Screening Room I attended an advance screening of the movie Compliance which is based on one of those prank calls. The movie will open in theaters on August 17, 2012.

Had I not already been familiar with the psychological research on authoritarian behavior I would have found it hard to believe that the manager of the Ohio ChickWich restaurant (ably portrayed by Ann Dowd) and some of her employees could be so gullible, so utterly lacking in critical thinking skills. Why did they believe the caller was who he claimed to be? It seems that anyone who has watched television police dramas could find holes in his story. And yet in 70 cases across the country fast food restaurant managers followed the prank caller's instructions to the letter.

I found the film disturbing and thought provoking, but at 90 minutes (even though it condensed a three and a half hour conversation) I thought it was too long. If it were re-edited Compliance would make a fine one hour TV drama; I'm not convinced it needed to be a feature length film. The cinematography captures what running a fast food restaurant is like.

There is a perhaps unavoidably creepy aspect not only to what the prank caller (played byPat Healy), who identifies himself as "Officer Daniels," is doing but in the way the viewer is turned into his voyeuristic accomplice. This is exacerbated by the fact that Dreama Walker, whose acting performance as the accused employee is very good, has breasts that are so identical in shape and size as to appear unnatural and indeed look surgically enhanced. If viewers are expected to empathize with this character rather than ogle her why did directorCraig Zobel chose an actress for the role whose breasts resemble those of a porn star?

I'm glad I saw Compliance, but I'm also glad I didn't pay to see it. I'm sure the film will work as well on a smaller screen (and many of today's flat-screen TVs are not that small) and advise readers to wait for it to appear on IFC, the Sundance Channel, or on premium cable.

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Study of young American adults suggests a healthy psychological outlook boosts sexual satisfaction. Empathic people of both genders reach orgasm more frequently, and people with high self-esteem are more likely to enjoy performing oral sex. 
via consumer.healthday.com 
See also: http://goo.gl/6493V

 

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Dr. Baron-Cohen, a professor of developmental psychology at the University of Cambridge and director of the university's Autism Research Center, proposes that evil is more scientifically defined as an absence of empathy, exacerbated by negative environmental factors (usually parental, sometimes societal) and a genetic component. When these three exist in tandem they result in what he calls a Zero-Negative personality. Zero-Negative takes at least three forms (and possibly more), borrowing from terms used in psychiatry: Zero Type P (psychopathology), Zero Type B (borderline disorder) and Zero Type N (narcissism).

Whereas psychiatry groups these three loosely under the term personality disorders, Dr. Baron-Cohen proposes that they all share the characteristic of zero degrees of empathy. (His empathy quotient scale is available in the book or online, with an instant numerical score that is translated into degrees of empathy from zero to six, or super empathy.)

Check out this website I found at nytimes.com




     

     

     


 

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Media_httpzeekforward_pegck
Read Roi Ben Yehuda's article on zeek.forward.com

Roi Ben Yehuda demonstrates the rising racism expressed by mainstream Israeli authorities in the wake of the terrible Fogel tragedy. The quotations from Gilad Sharon are chilling and reminiscent of European racial anti-semitism from the previous century.

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60-Second Mind | Mind & Brain

Self-Constraint Leads Us to Prefer Aggression

Research shows that when we practice self-constraint, we also tend to prefer aggressive messaging and movies. Christie Nicholson reports

 | March 20, 2011 | 8

Listen to the podcast and/or read the article at scientificamerican.com

When making lifestyle changes take it slow or you may wind up with rage as a side-effect.

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David Brooks on The New Humanism (read the article on nytimes.com)

I find it interesting that Brooks includes an expanded definition of limerence, which I've always understood to be an obsessive form of love sickness: Wiktionary (1 definition) –noun (neologism) An involuntary state of mind which seems to result from a romantic attraction for another person combined with an overwhelming, obsessive need to have one's feelings reciprocated.

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Do the life and work of Ludwig Wittgenstein suggest that the autistic mind and the philosophical mind have something in common?

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David Cooper's review of Yael Hedaya's novel Eden compares Jessica Cohen's translation with Ms. Hedaya's original Hebrew. The novel features two marriages and a teenage girl all of whom are at-risk and in varied states of distress. 

 

Read the entire review on nyjournalofbooks.com

 

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An excerpt from Eden appears in Words Without Borders

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People Who Cannot Escape a System Are Likely to Defend the Status Quo - Association for Psychological Science

The freedom of emigration at will is internationally recognized as a human right. But, in practice, emigration is often restricted, whether by policy or by poverty. A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that people who are told that their right to emigrate will be restricted have what could be considered a strange reaction: they respond by defending their country’s system. 

The researchers suspected that people who are under an oppressive regime might try to see their situation in the best light possible. “When you’re stuck with something, one tendency is to make peace with it and try to see it in as much of a positive light as you can,” says Kristin Laurin, who cowrote the study with Steven Shepherd and Aaron C. Kay at the University of Waterloo. But it was also possible to have the opposite reaction: “Other times, when you’re told that you can’t have something, that makes you want it more.” 

In one experiment for the study, 28 Canadian women read a paragraph about freedom of emigration from Canada. Half read a paragraph saying that moving out of Canada would become easier in the next few years, and the other half read a paragraph saying that this would become more difficult. Then the women read another paragraph that described gender inequality in Canada—for example, that “men’s starting salaries are a full 20% higher than women’s starting salaries.” The women who read that emigration would become harder were less likely to attribute that gender inequality to a systemic problem with their country. The researchers interpret that to mean that people who feel trapped in their country are more likely to try to justify the country’s system and rationalize away its dissatisfactory elements. 

“We focused on policies, but there are a lot of other reasons that make it hard for people to leave. One of these is poverty,” says Laurin. “It’s a depressing thought that the poor, the very people who are put in the worst position by a particular system, might be the ones that are the most motivated to defend that system.”

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People Who Cannot Escape a System Are Likely to Defend the Status Quo - Association for Psychological Science

The freedom of emigration at will is internationally recognized as a human right. But, in practice, emigration is often restricted, whether by policy or by poverty. A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that people who are told that their right to emigrate will be restricted have what could be considered a strange reaction: they respond by defending their country’s system. 

The researchers suspected that people who are under an oppressive regime might try to see their situation in the best light possible. “When you’re stuck with something, one tendency is to make peace with it and try to see it in as much of a positive light as you can,” says Kristin Laurin, who cowrote the study with Steven Shepherd and Aaron C. Kay at the University of Waterloo. But it was also possible to have the opposite reaction: “Other times, when you’re told that you can’t have something, that makes you want it more.” 

In one experiment for the study, 28 Canadian women read a paragraph about freedom of emigration from Canada. Half read a paragraph saying that moving out of Canada would become easier in the next few years, and the other half read a paragraph saying that this would become more difficult. Then the women read another paragraph that described gender inequality in Canada—for example, that “men’s starting salaries are a full 20% higher than women’s starting salaries.” The women who read that emigration would become harder were less likely to attribute that gender inequality to a systemic problem with their country. The researchers interpret that to mean that people who feel trapped in their country are more likely to try to justify the country’s system and rationalize away its dissatisfactory elements. 

“We focused on policies, but there are a lot of other reasons that make it hard for people to leave. One of these is poverty,” says Laurin. “It’s a depressing thought that the poor, the very people who are put in the worst position by a particular system, might be the ones that are the most motivated to defend that system.”

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Victor Meldrew sitcom character
An attack of the grumps can make you communicate better, it is suggested

In a bad mood? Don't worry - according to research, it's good for you.

An Australian psychology expert who has been studying emotions has found being grumpy makes us think more clearly.

In contrast to those annoying happy types, miserable people are better at decision-making and less gullible, his experiments showed.

While cheerfulness fosters creativity, gloominess breeds attentiveness and careful thinking, Professor Joe Forgas told Australian Science Magazine.

'Eeyore days'

The University of New South Wales researcher says a grumpy person can cope with more demanding situations than a happy one because of the way the brain "promotes information processing strategies".

Negative moods trigger more attentive, careful thinking, paying greater attention to the external world
Professor Joe Forgas

He asked volunteers to watch different films and dwell on positive or negative events in their life, designed to put them in either a good or bad mood.

Next he asked them to take part in a series of tasks, including judging the truth of urban myths and providing eyewitness accounts of events.

Those in a bad mood outperformed those who were jolly - they made fewer mistakes and were better communicators.

Professor Forgas said: "Whereas positive mood seems to promote creativity, flexibility, co-operation and reliance on mental shortcuts, negative moods trigger more attentive, careful thinking, paying greater attention to the external world."

The study also found that sad people were better at stating their case through written arguments, which Forgas said showed that a "mildly negative mood may actually promote a more concrete, accommodative and ultimately more successful communication style".

His earlier work shows the weather has a similar impact on us - wet, dreary days sharpened memory, while bright sunny spells make people forgetful.

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Victor Meldrew sitcom character
An attack of the grumps can make you communicate better, it is suggested

In a bad mood? Don't worry - according to research, it's good for you.

An Australian psychology expert who has been studying emotions has found being grumpy makes us think more clearly.

In contrast to those annoying happy types, miserable people are better at decision-making and less gullible, his experiments showed.

While cheerfulness fosters creativity, gloominess breeds attentiveness and careful thinking, Professor Joe Forgas told Australian Science Magazine.

'Eeyore days'

The University of New South Wales researcher says a grumpy person can cope with more demanding situations than a happy one because of the way the brain "promotes information processing strategies".

Negative moods trigger more attentive, careful thinking, paying greater attention to the external world
Professor Joe Forgas

He asked volunteers to watch different films and dwell on positive or negative events in their life, designed to put them in either a good or bad mood.

Next he asked them to take part in a series of tasks, including judging the truth of urban myths and providing eyewitness accounts of events.

Those in a bad mood outperformed those who were jolly - they made fewer mistakes and were better communicators.

Professor Forgas said: "Whereas positive mood seems to promote creativity, flexibility, co-operation and reliance on mental shortcuts, negative moods trigger more attentive, careful thinking, paying greater attention to the external world."

The study also found that sad people were better at stating their case through written arguments, which Forgas said showed that a "mildly negative mood may actually promote a more concrete, accommodative and ultimately more successful communication style".

His earlier work shows the weather has a similar impact on us - wet, dreary days sharpened memory, while bright sunny spells make people forgetful.

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A new University of British Columbia study says that an overreliance on research subjects from the U.S. and other Western nations can produce false claims about human psychology and behavior because their psychological tendencies are highly unusual compared to the global population.

According to the study, the majority of psychological research is conducted on subjects from Western nations, primarily university students. Between 2003 and 2007, 96 per cent of psychological samples came from countries with only 12 per cent of the world’s populations. The U.S. alone provided nearly 70 per cent of these subjects.

However, the study finds significant psychological and behavioral differences between what the researchers call Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic (WEIRD) societies and their non-WEIRD counterparts across a spectrum of key areas, including visual perception, fairness, spatial and moral reasoning, memory and conformity.

The findings, published in Nature tomorrow and Behavioral Sciences this week, raise questions about the practice of drawing universal claims about human psychology and behavior based on research samples from WEIRD societies.

“The foundations of human psychology and behavior have been built almost exclusively on research conducted on subjects from WEIRD societies,” says UBC Psychology and Economics Prof. Joe Henrich, who led the study with UBC co-authors Prof. Steven Heine and Prof. Ara Norenzayan. “While students from Western nations are a convenient, low-cost data pool, our findings suggest that they are also among the least representative populations one could find for generalizing about humans.”

The study, which reviews the comparative database of research from across the behavioural sciences, finds that subjects from WEIRD societies are more individualistic, analytic, concerned with fairness, existentially anxious and less conforming and attentive to context compared to those from non-WEIRD societies.

According to the study, significant psychological and behavioral differences also exist between population groups within WEIRD nations. For example, U.S. undergraduate students are typically more analytic and choosy and less conforming than U.S. adults without college educations.

“Researchers often implicitly assume that there is little variation across human populations or that these ‘standard subjects’ are as representative of the species as any other population,” says Henrich. “Our study shows there is substantial variability in experimental results across populations. In fact, there is enough evidence that researchers cannot in good faith continue to make species-generalizing claims about Homo sapiens in the absence of comparative evidence.”

The research team calls on universities, peer reviewers, funding agencies and journal editors to push researchers to explicitly support any generalizations to the species with evidence or potent inductive arguments. Additionally, they envision the creation of research partnerships with non-WEIRD institutions to further and expand and diversify the empirical base of the behavioral sciences.

View the study, “The weirdest people in the world?,” and comprehensive commentary by the authors and colleagues in the research community at: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayIssue?jid=BBS&volumeId=33&issueId=2-3&iid=7825832

An opinion piece by the authors, to appear in Nature on July 1, is available by request from the authors.

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A new University of British Columbia study says that an overreliance on research subjects from the U.S. and other Western nations can produce false claims about human psychology and behavior because their psychological tendencies are highly unusual compared to the global population.

According to the study, the majority of psychological research is conducted on subjects from Western nations, primarily university students. Between 2003 and 2007, 96 per cent of psychological samples came from countries with only 12 per cent of the world’s populations. The U.S. alone provided nearly 70 per cent of these subjects.

However, the study finds significant psychological and behavioral differences between what the researchers call Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic (WEIRD) societies and their non-WEIRD counterparts across a spectrum of key areas, including visual perception, fairness, spatial and moral reasoning, memory and conformity.

The findings, published in Nature tomorrow and Behavioral Sciences this week, raise questions about the practice of drawing universal claims about human psychology and behavior based on research samples from WEIRD societies.

“The foundations of human psychology and behavior have been built almost exclusively on research conducted on subjects from WEIRD societies,” says UBC Psychology and Economics Prof. Joe Henrich, who led the study with UBC co-authors Prof. Steven Heine and Prof. Ara Norenzayan. “While students from Western nations are a convenient, low-cost data pool, our findings suggest that they are also among the least representative populations one could find for generalizing about humans.”

The study, which reviews the comparative database of research from across the behavioural sciences, finds that subjects from WEIRD societies are more individualistic, analytic, concerned with fairness, existentially anxious and less conforming and attentive to context compared to those from non-WEIRD societies.

According to the study, significant psychological and behavioral differences also exist between population groups within WEIRD nations. For example, U.S. undergraduate students are typically more analytic and choosy and less conforming than U.S. adults without college educations.

“Researchers often implicitly assume that there is little variation across human populations or that these ‘standard subjects’ are as representative of the species as any other population,” says Henrich. “Our study shows there is substantial variability in experimental results across populations. In fact, there is enough evidence that researchers cannot in good faith continue to make species-generalizing claims about Homo sapiens in the absence of comparative evidence.”

The research team calls on universities, peer reviewers, funding agencies and journal editors to push researchers to explicitly support any generalizations to the species with evidence or potent inductive arguments. Additionally, they envision the creation of research partnerships with non-WEIRD institutions to further and expand and diversify the empirical base of the behavioral sciences.

View the study, “The weirdest people in the world?,” and comprehensive commentary by the authors and colleagues in the research community at: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayIssue?jid=BBS&volumeId=33&issueId=2-3&iid=7825832

An opinion piece by the authors, to appear in Nature on July 1, is available by request from the authors.

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Sociologists have developed elaborate theories of who spreads gossip and news — who tells whom, who matters most in social networks — but they’ve had less success measuring what kind of information travels fastest. Do people prefer to spread good news or bad news? Would we rather scandalize or enlighten? Which stories do social creatures want to share, and why?

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Viktor Koen

TierneyLab

Do you like to share awe-inspiring articles with your friends? Or do you have other motives? Join the discussion.

Go to TierneyLab

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Now some answers are emerging thanks to a rich new source of data: you, Dear Reader.

Read more... )

Building on prior research, the Penn researchers defined the quality as an “emotion of self-transcendence, a feeling of admiration and elevation in the face of something greater than the self.”

They used two criteria for an awe-inspiring story: Its scale is large, and it requires “mental accommodation” by forcing the reader to view the world in a different way.

“It involves the opening and broadening of the mind,” write Dr. Berger and Dr. Milkman, who is a behavioral economist at Wharton.

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Sociologists have developed elaborate theories of who spreads gossip and news — who tells whom, who matters most in social networks — but they’ve had less success measuring what kind of information travels fastest. Do people prefer to spread good news or bad news? Would we rather scandalize or enlighten? Which stories do social creatures want to share, and why?

Skip to next paragraph

Viktor Koen

TierneyLab

Do you like to share awe-inspiring articles with your friends? Or do you have other motives? Join the discussion.

Go to TierneyLab

RSS Feed

Now some answers are emerging thanks to a rich new source of data: you, Dear Reader.

Read more... )

Building on prior research, the Penn researchers defined the quality as an “emotion of self-transcendence, a feeling of admiration and elevation in the face of something greater than the self.”

They used two criteria for an awe-inspiring story: Its scale is large, and it requires “mental accommodation” by forcing the reader to view the world in a different way.

“It involves the opening and broadening of the mind,” write Dr. Berger and Dr. Milkman, who is a behavioral economist at Wharton.

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