Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

Compendium of interesting bits I come across, with an occasional IMHO

Your stressed mind gets better at processing bad news…

…and this can be used to manipulate you.

How your mind, under stress, gets better at processing bad news

Tali Sharot | 15 May 2018 | aeon

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January 5, 2019 Posted by | behaviour, brain, decision making, evolutionary psychology, news, politics, psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

Origin of Superstition

A scientific exploration of superstitious beliefs. From Skeptic Magazine:

 

The Origin of Superstition, Magical Thinking, and Paranormal Beliefs 
(an integrative model)

Marjaana Lindeman & Kia Aarnio | Skeptic Magazine, Volume 13 Number 1 | Sept 2010

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January 5, 2019 Posted by | anthropology, evolutionary psychology, religion | , , , , | 2 Comments

Tribalism is preventing us from making informed decisions

Article from The Economist describes recent experiments that shed light on how humans stick to beliefs despite all evidence to the contrary.

The partisan brain: What psychology experiments tell you about why people deny facts

The Economist | Dec 8th 2018

Many of us will pay money to avoid points of view that differ from our own

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January 1, 2019 Posted by | behaviour, decision making, evolutionary psychology, politics, psychology | , | Leave a comment

Does Depression Have an Evolutionary Purpose?

Interesting point of view: depression is a cry for help, just like the loud chirping of a hungry baby bird.  Worth reading if you, or someone you know, has battled depression or suicidal tendencies.

Does Depression Have an Evolutionary Purpose?

Some psychologists believe suicide and depression can be strategic.

Matthew Hutson | Feb 9, 2017 | Nautilus

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January 28, 2018 Posted by | behaviour, evolutionary psychology, psychology | , | Leave a comment

The Hidden Sexism of How We Think About Risk

A very convincing argument that risk-taking is more cultural than biological.

The Hidden Sexism of How We Think About Risk

If men take more risks than women, it’s not because of biology.

By Cordelia Fine | May 18, 2017 | Nautilus

June 11, 2017 Posted by | behaviour, evolutionary psychology, psychology, sociology | , , | Leave a comment

Is Consciousness Fractal?

What I found fascinating is how fractal nature is and how we perceive and react to it.

Is Consciousness Fractal?

Our subconscious love for fractals may tell an evolutionary story.

By Jordana Cepelewicz | May 4, 2017 | Nautilus

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May 14, 2017 Posted by | brain, evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, psychology | , , , , | 1 Comment

Why is the brain prone to florid forms of confabulation?

Did you ever wonder why people fall for ads? or conmen?  Read the article below.

Why is the brain prone to florid forms of confabulation?

Jules Montague | 17 April, 2017 | aeon

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May 14, 2017 Posted by | brain, evolutionary psychology, psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Is beauty a measure of effort?

I read an article called the The makeover trap, and one of its quotes,

“What is valorised in makeover culture is not the finished look but the willingness to undertake the neverending process of beautification”

got me to wondering why we would spend so much of our limited resources (time, effort and money) to look good in general.

It’s well known that like the peacock’ oversized tail, many in the animal kingdom have elaborate courtship rituals and/or have fancy features to prove the superiority of their genes, essentially advertising “I can survive and thrive and even have extra energy for unnecessary (and sometimes even hindering) features/actions”.  Is it the same instinct in humans, trying to demonstrate their superiority by proving that they can succeed in life AND have the extra resources to keep themselves looking beautiful?  Many aspects of what we find beautiful is directly related to how much effort it takes, from a well-toned body (daily workouts) to hairstyle, make-up, home furnishings, etc.. Even in fashion, clothes that look like a lot of effort went into creating, are often considered more beautiful.

How much of your time and resources is spent on looking good?  Would you be happier if you could spend even more resources?

 

January 28, 2017 Posted by | anthropology, behaviour, evolutionary psychology | | Leave a comment

Women can navigate better on testosterone

There is an evolutionary explanation.

Women can navigate better when given testosterone, study finds

Wait… what?

Peter Dockrill |11 DEC 2015 | Science Alert
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December 30, 2016 Posted by | behaviour, brain, evolutionary psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

No anger when the boat is empty

I came across this zen parable about anger:

If a man is crossing a river
And an empty boat collides with his own skiff,
Even though he be a bad-tempered man
He will not become very angry.
But if he sees a man in the boat,
He will shout at him to steer clear.
If the shout is not heard, he will shout again,
And yet again, and begin cursing.
And all because there is somebody in the boat.
Yet if the boat were empty.
He would not be shouting, and not angry.

The Empty Boat by Chuang Tzu (excerpt)

It made me think about why we even have an emotion we call anger on the first place, evolutionarily speaking, and why we don’t get angry at an empty boat.  It’s probably an incentive to ensure you will not get hurt again, physically or mentally (I’d consider threats to your social status a form of mental pain).

For example, if you get cut off in traffic (or a boat hits your skiff), you’d get angry because it’s an automatic assumption that someone is deliberately trying reduce your social status by putting himself to be more important than you.  Anger would incentivize you for revenge or confrontation to ensure that the person will never do that again to you.  In a tribal society, such revenge/confrontation would likely work to guarantee a better future for you as you will be dealing with the person responsible on a daily basis.  But in our society, where we are dealing with people that we may never see again, it has the exact opposite effect: your actions of chasing the car that cut you off could put you at risk of an accident, physical harm and even jail.  The person responsible is someone whom you will probably never see again so cannot possibly hurt you again, whether you got angry or not.  So rationally speaking, your actions and anger would be wasted and would reduce your quality of life (you could have been doing something you enjoyed instead).

It would make sense then to think of other cars in traffic (or any people you will likely never see again) as empty boats — just automatons doing things for themselves, without giving you a thought.  Don’t be self-destructive — save yourself the costs of getting angry when it has no positive effects for you.

(Not everyone would stay calm at an empty boat. There are people who would try to find a scapegoat no matter what, and get angry at whoever was responsible for not tying up the empty boat on the first place. Anger in overdrive? Is it possible it will eventually be classified as a psychological condition?)

 

 

 

 

December 5, 2016 Posted by | behaviour, evolutionary psychology, psychology | , , | Leave a comment