Archive for the ‘Psychology’ Category
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Walking back to my car from work last week, I received a text from one of my best friends, Jake, a Manhattan dentist in his 40s, who announced he was in love. Again.
That text was followed within seconds by a photo of his new darling, looking fresh-faced and doe-eyed … and not a day over 24, tops. She looked barely out of college.
Jake mentioned in the next text after that, indeed, she was younger than his wristwatch, a college graduation gift from his parents … in 1985. Ack! Seriously?
Thrilled and gushing about how pretty and well-read and kind she is — and all the good things a new love interest always seems to be — he described her delightful sense of humor, how simpatico they are, and what an outstanding artist she is, well-respected in her art circles.
Umm, Jake. She is 24. Is that even old enough for a semi-circle?
But Jake was in love and there’s no talking to someone in love. Just sit back, go to your happy place, and hope for the blather to pass quickly.
Apparently, she’s funny and articulate and makes his days more wonderful. Plus, he is dying for me to meet this remarkably perfect-in-every-way human being whose smile could light up a room from miles away.
We’ve always heard that it is better to give than to receive. And the research is there to prove the old adage is right. A post at PsyBlog has links to several studies about this phenomenon.
But why? Why is it that spending our money on others—prosocial spending—makes us happier?
It’s partly because giving to others makes us feel good about ourselves. It helps promote a view of ourselves as responsible and giving people, which in turn makes us feel happy. It’s also partly because spending money on others helps cement our social relationships. And people with stronger social ties are generally happier.
A growing body of psychology research shows that incompetence deprives people of the ability to recognize their own incompetence. To put it bluntly, dumb people are too dumb to know it. Similarly, unfunny people don’t have a good enough sense of humor to tell.
This disconnect may be responsible for many of society’s problems.
With more than a decade’s worth of research, David Dunning, a psychologist at Cornell University, has demonstrated that humans find it “intrinsically difficult to get a sense of what we don’t know.” Whether an individual lacks competence in logical reasoning, emotional intelligence, humor or even chess abilities, the person still tends to rate his or her skills in that area as being above average.
Dunning and his colleague, Justin Kruger, formerly of Cornell and now at New York University, “have done a number of studies where we will give people a test of some area of knowledge like logical reasoning, knowledge about STDs and how to avoid them, emotional intelligence, etcetera. Then we determine their scores, and basically just ask them how well they think they’ve done,” Dunning said. “We ask, ‘what percentile will your performance fall in?’”
The results are uniform across all the knowledge domains: People who actually did well on the test tend to feel more confident about their performance than people who didn’t do well, but only slightly. Almost everyone thinks they did better than average. “For people at the bottom who are really doing badly — those in the bottom 10th or 15th percentile — they think their work falls in the 60th or 55th percentile, so, above average,” Dunning told Life’s Little Mysteries. The same pattern emerges in tests of people’s ability to rate the funniness of jokes, the correctness of grammar, or even their own performance in a game of chess. “People at the bottom still think they’re outperforming other people.” [Graph]
It’s not merely optimism, but rather that their total lack of expertise renders them unable to recognize their deficiency. Even when Dunning and his colleagues offer study participants a $100 reward if they can rate themselves accurately, they cannot. “They’re really trying to be honest and impartial,” he said.
If only we knew ourselves better. Dunning believes people’s inability to assess their own knowledge is the cause of many of society’s ills, including climate change denialism. “Many people don’t have training in science, and so they may very well misunderstand the science. But because they don’t have the knowledge to evaluate it, they don’t realize how off their evaluations might be,” he said.
Did you know that your brain releases dopamine when it processes something new? At least that’s what the Internet told me. Apparently dopamine is key in establishing a craving, which could be why ever-updating sites like blogs or Reddit are so popular. There is always something new. It could also be why some people always crave more gadgets. You’re bored with your Galaxy SII and hope the Galaxy Nexus will satisfy that burning desire, which it probably will (unless you’re MG).
But don’t do it — at least not now. We’re officially in a holding pattern. It’s a really bad time to buy most consumer electronic products. This happens several times a year. I know there are some tempting post-holiday offers out there. But don’t do it. Wait a few weeks. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
The story of Sybil — a young woman who had been abused by her mother as a child and, as a result, had a mental breakdown and created multiple personalities — caused a sensation. Sybil was a bestselling book in the 1970s and was adapted as a 1976 television mini-series and a feature-length docudrama in 2007. Author Flora Schreiber and Sybil’s psychiatrist, Dr. Cornelia Wilbur, became rich and famous as a result. Sybil also profited, but her true identity remained a secret until after all three women were dead.debbie nathan.jpgMuch of the sensational story was fabricated, according to journalist and author Debbie Nathan. She reveals the truth about the case in her new book, Sybil Exposed: The Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case, which she discussed in a recent interview on The Current.
All those years, all that money, all that unrequited love. It began way back when I was a child, an anxiety-riddled 10-year-old who didn’t want to go to school in the morning and had difficulty falling asleep at night. Even in a family like mine, where there were many siblings (six in all) and little attention paid to dispositional differences, I stood out as a neurotic specimen. And so I was sent to what would prove to be the first of many psychiatrists in the four and a half decades to follow — indeed, I could be said to be a one-person boon to the therapeutic establishment — and was initiated into the curious and slippery business of self-disclosure. I learned, that is, to construct an ongoing narrative of the self, composed of what the psychoanalyst Robert Stoller calls “microdots” (“the consciously experienced moments selected from the whole and arranged to present a point of view”), one that might have been more or less cohesive than my actual self but that at any rate was supposed to illuminate puzzling behavior and onerous symptoms — my behavior and my symptoms.
To this day, I’m not sure that I am in possession of substantially greater self-knowledge than someone who has never been inside a therapist’s office. What I do know, aside from the fact that the unconscious plays strange tricks and that the past stalks the present in ways we can’t begin to imagine, is a certain language, a certain style of thinking that, in its capacity for reframing your life story, becomes — how should I put this? — addictive. Projection. Repression. Acting out. Defenses. Secondary compensation. Transference. Even in these quick-fix, medicated times, when people are more likely to look to Wellbutrin and life coaches than to the mystique-surrounded, intangible promise of psychoanalysis, these words speak to me with all the charged power of poetry, scattering light into opaque depths, interpreting that which lies beneath awareness. Whether they do so rightly or wrongly is almost beside the point.
The “nature vs. nurture” debate over sexual orientation continues at full force, but now, one former rugby-playing Welsh jock claims to have actually “woken up gay” after a gym accident led him to suffer a stroke.
As the Daily Mail is reporting, 26-year-old Chris Birch was trying to impress his friends with a back flip while training, but broke his neck and suffered a stroke. When he came to after being rushed to the hospital, Birch, who hails from South Wales, said his personality had completely changed. “It sounds strange but when I came round I immediately felt different,” said Birch.
Birch tells the Mirror that his most profound discovery came about during the recovery process, while he was watching a TV program featuring a handsome actor. “I felt my stomach flutter and the same feelings I used to have for pretty girls came across me,” said Birch, who also added he was no longer interested in sports and had little in common with old friends. “I had never felt like that about a man before but I knew immediately what the feeling was. I fancied him.”
Stroke of genius strikes later in life today – Technology & science – Science – LiveScience – msnbc.com
Young geniuses might have once made nearly all of the significant breakthroughs in science, but nowadays that’s doesn’t seem to be the case, a new study suggests.
Einstein once said, “A person who has not made his great contribution to science before the age of 30 will never do so.” The genius himself discovered that matter was transmutable to energy with his famous equation E = mc2 and helped lay the foundations of quantum theory by that age as evidence for his claim.
That peak age has shifted considerably, the researchers found, with 48 being prime time for physicists.
To investigate this notion further, researchers analyzed 525 Nobel Prizes given in physics, chemistry and medicine from 1901 to 2008. They compared how the age of peak creativity, measured by the average age at which Nobel laureates did their prize-winning work, varied between fields and changed over time within fields.
Billy Beane’s sports-management revolution, chronicled by the author in Moneyball, was made possible by Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. At 77, with his own new book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, the Nobel Prize-winning Kahneman reveals the built-in kinks in human reasoning—and he’s Exhibit A.
ITHACA, N.Y. — People experience the world through five senses but sharks, paddlefishes and certain other aquatic vertebrates have a sixth sense: They can detect weak electrical fields in the water and use this information to detect prey, communicate and orient themselves.
A study in the Oct. 11 issue of Nature Communications that caps more than 25 years of work finds that the vast majority of vertebrates – some 30,000 species of land animals (including humans) and a roughly equal number of ray-finned fishes – descended from a common ancestor that had a well-developed electroreceptive system.
This ancestor was probably a predatory marine fish with good eyesight, jaws and teeth and a lateral line system for detecting water movements, visible as a stripe along the flank of most fishes. It lived around 500 million years ago. The vast majority of the approximately 65,000 living vertebrate species are its descendants.
What this brings up: The idea of enhancing us to have additional senses. Also, existing senses can have ranges and sensitivities extended. Imagine being able to hear much higher frequency sounds. Those who could do this could even work out ways to talk to each other without being heard by the rest of us. Imagine vocal implants for generating higher frequency sounds.
What’s more appealing? Seeing a wider range of colors, hearing a wider range of sounds, or perhaps sensing magnetic fields? Or do you have some other type of sensory capability you’d like to have? A wider range of visual focus? Sound filtering built into your ears to hear conversations in noisy areas?