"Humans as Superorganisms: How Microbes, Viruses, Imprinted Genes and Other Selfish Entities Shape Our Behavior" by Peter Kramer and Paola Bressan discusses the idea that an individual homo sapiens is only one component of the human superorganism we call a person, focusing on the psychological and psychiatric ramifications thereof. (Paola Bressan previously.)
Teachers and administrators still rely overwhelmingly on outdated systems of reward and punishment, using everything from red-yellow-green cards, behavior charts, and prizes to suspensions and expulsions. [... ] But consequences have consequences. Contemporary psychological studies suggest that, far from resolving children's behavior problems, these standard disciplinary methods often exacerbate them. They sacrifice long-term goals (student behavior improving for good) for short-term gain—momentary peace in the classroom. What If Everything You Knew About Disciplining Kids Was Wrong?
In a Slate Article by David Rosenberg, side-by-side images and descriptions illustrate the "dual lives" of those coping with mental illness.
"Maybe it's a sore point: your field should have an answer (people think you do) but there isn't one yet. Perhaps it's simple to pose but hard to answer. Or it's a question that belies a deep misunderstanding: the best answer is to question the question."
Is Psychometric g a Myth? - "As an online discussion about IQ or general intelligence grows longer, the probability of someone linking to statistician Cosma Shalizi's essay g, a Statistical Myth approaches 1. Usually the link is accompanied by an assertion to the effect that Shalizi offers a definitive refutation of the concept of general mental ability, or psychometric g." [more inside]
Sian Jarvis, the supermarket’s head of corporate affairs, had undermined her claims to care about the health of her customers and let slip one of the secrets of a multi-billion-pound industry ... she revealed that one in three Asda checkouts “are what we call guilt-free checkouts”. Jarvis insisted “guilt-free” was merely “a term that’s commonly used in retail”. But it was too late, and her “guilt” gaffe quickly invited scorn in the industry and among public health professionals. Whatever the damage, she had already opened a door to the arcane science of supermarket psychology. To the designers of the modern store, shoppers are lab rats with trolleys, guided through a maze of aisles by the promise of rewards they never knew they sought The Secrets Of Our Supermarkets[more inside]
From the mid 40s to the mid 50s Coronet Instructional Films were always ready to provide social guidance for teenagers on subjects as diverse as dating, popularity, preparing for being drafted, and shyness, as well as to children on following the law, the value of quietness in school, and appreciating our parents. They also provided education on topics such as the connection between attitudes and health, what kind of people live in America, how to keep a job, supervising women workers, the nature of capitalism, and the plantation System in Southern life. Inside is an annotated collection of all 86 of the complete Coronet films in the Prelinger Archives as well as a few more. Its not like you had work to do or anything right? [more inside]
A chronic public health disaster. Complex trauma and toxic stress puts children into a state of reflexive fight, flight, or freeze responses to a perpetually threatening world. The traditional authoritative response only serves to reinforce those behaviours and, perhaps worse, has long-term health consequences:
With an ACE score of 4 or more, things start getting serious. The likelihood of chronic pulmonary lung disease increases 390 percent; hepatitis, 240 percent; depression 460 percent; suicide, 1,220 percent.One doctor describes it as “a chronic public health disaster”. Remediating this problem is going to require listening, kindness, and parachutes.
The Brain on Trial. Advances in brain science are calling into question the volition behind many criminal acts. A leading neuroscientist describes how the foundations of our criminal-justice system are beginning to crumble, and proposes a new way forward for law and order.
"We may someday find that many types of bad behavior have a basic biological explanation—as has happened with schizophrenia, epilepsy, depression, and mania."[more inside]
Anger, Politics and the Wisdom of Uncertainty - "If there's somebody or even some institution to blame, it turns out people are much more likely to get angry... anger tends to inspire individuals to engage in more political activities than they would otherwise... Without someone to blame, respondents mostly just grow fearful and anxious... A particular danger of anger seems to be closed-mindedness. Research finds that when citizens get angry, they close themselves off to alternative views and redouble their sense of conviction in their existing views. Fear and anxiety, on the other hand, seem to promote openness to alternative viewpoints and a willingness to compromise." (via) [more inside]
Shared social responsibility - When customers could pay what they wanted in the knowledge that half of that would go to charity, sales and profits went through the roof ... Gneezy describes the combination of charitable donations and paying what you like as 'shared social responsibility', where businesses and customers work together for the public good. (via mr) [also see 1,2,3]
A nearly 25-year study has concluded that children raised in lesbian households were psychologically well-adjusted and had fewer behavioral problems than their peers. Results were published this month in Pediatrics: the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. (Abstract. Free PDF. Scribd). [more inside]
Piano Stairs! (Not everyone thinks they're a good idea.) Also see "The Deepest Trash Can". Both videos are from Volkswagon Sweden, whose new English-language website, TheFunTheory is still under construction. But here's the Swedish-language version.
At Psychoanalyst TV, we aggregate psychology and neuroscience videos, and put them on our own TV channels. Its companion site, Neurological Correlates, A Neuroscience Tabloid of Dysfunctional Behavior - Mostly Psychopaths, Narcissists, Obesity and Addiction. Includes such gems as Visualizing Desire and Sadobabies - Runaways in San Francisco.
It's official, humans are dumber than chimps. These guys show (at the NY Times level) that human kids will over-imitate every ritualized nuance modeled for them, whereas chimp kids just wanna get the damn cookie out of the box. Their website also describes more of their studies.
Monkeys down tools. - Demand fair pay for a fair day's work. " Researchers taught brown capuchin monkeys to swap tokens for food. Usually they were happy to exchange this "money" for cucumber. But if they saw another monkey getting a grape - a more-liked food - they took offence. Some refused to work, others took the food and refused to eat it. "
Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing : "To offer a psychological explanation for the atrocities committed by perpetrators is not to forgive, justify or condone their behavior. Instead, the explanation simply allows us to understand the conditions under which many of us could be transformed into killing machines." (James Waller) In a Salon interview about his widely acclaimed, pathbreaking book Waller states, "Most people don't understand how easy it is to develop us-them [mindsets]......In our climate of fear in response to terrorism, I think we could pretty easily turn on people who have been our neighbors."
How Culture Molds Habits is a fascinating article. Read this article, tally another point for nurture. I've long thought this was true, but Nisbett's supposedly gathered rather a lot of data proving it is so. The article raises some interesting parts of the study, but I think the ramifications bear some considering. I'd be interested in reading the full study when it's published, but I haven't a clue where to get the Psychological Review. And can you imagine what the advertising execs will do with this stuff? Ads tailored to the way you think. Wheee. It does, of course, raise some fun questions about religion and politics.