Tag Archives | Behavior

Study Suggests Thinking About Money Causes Immoral Behavior

thinking about moneyEven thinking about money causes immoral behavior? A reminder to keep your thoughts clean via MarketWatch:

People are more likely to lie or make immoral decisions after being exposed to money-related words, according to researchers from Harvard and the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business who published a report last month.

The findings show that “even if we are well intentioned, even if we think we know right from wrong, there may be factors influencing our decisions and behaviors that we’re not aware of.”

The study asked college students studying business to make sentences out of various word clusters before answering questions and playing several games. Some of the phrases contained a financial focus such as “She spends money liberally,” and others that were neutral, such as “She walked on grass.” Researchers found that people who were exposed to the financial phrases lied more often in subsequent activities.

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The Importance Of Using Rituals

rituals work

Scientific American on the mysterious benefit and power behind “irrational” rituals:

Rituals take an extraordinary array of shapes and forms. At times performed in communal or religious settings, at times performed in solitude; at times involving fixed, repeated sequences of actions, at other times not. People engage in rituals with the intention of achieving a wide set of desired outcomes, from reducing their anxiety to boosting their confidence, performing well in a competition – or even making it rain.

Recent research suggests that rituals may be more rational than they appear. Why? Because even simple rituals can be extremely effective. Rituals performed after experiencing losses do alleviate grief, and rituals performed before high-pressure tasks do in fact reduce anxiety and increase people’s confidence. What’s more, rituals appear to benefit even people who claim not to believe that rituals work.

Humans feel uncertain and anxious in a host of situations. In the late 1940s, anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski suggested that people are more likely to turn to rituals when they face situations where the outcome is important and uncertain and beyond their control.

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Using Smart Gadgets As Tools Of Social Control

How devices will soon begin pressuring us to “fix” our behavior. Via the Wall Street Journal, Evgeny Morozov writes:

Many smart technologies are heading in a disturbing direction. A number of thinkers in Silicon Valley see these technologies as a way not just to give consumers new products that they want but to push them to behave better. The central idea is clear: social engineering disguised as product engineering.

Last week in Singapore, Google Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette restated Google’s notion that the world is a “broken” place whose problems, from traffic jams to inconvenient shopping experiences to excessive energy use, can be solved by technology. The futurist and game designer Jane McGonigal, a favorite of the TED crowd, also likes to talk about how “reality is broken” but can be fixed by making the real world more like a videogame, with points for doing good.

Insurance companies already offer significant discounts to drivers who agree to install smart sensors in order to monitor their driving habits.

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Body Pleasures and the Origins of Violence

A classic article, deserving a place in the Disinfo archives. James W. Prescott outlines the link between modern child-rearing practices and their impact on development, psychological well-being and adult behavior. He covers deprivation of loving touch, sexual repression, infant neglect, and the results to the adult psyche. Joseph Chilton Pearce started this conversation and Prescott fleshes it out. The discussion of these issues is still ongoing.

Via The Origins of Peace and Violence website:

The sensory environment in which an individual grows up has a major influence upon the development and functional organization of the brain. Sensory stimulation is a nutrient that the brain must have to develop and function normally. How the brain functions determines how a person behaves. At birth a human brain is extremely immature and new brain cells develop up to the age of two years. The complexity of brain cell development continues up to about 16 years of age.

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Wider ADHD Medication Use Would Cut Crime Rates Significantly

Will medicating of the crime-prone someday be mandated? COSMOS Magazine reports:

When comparing the behaviour of adults suffering from ADHD during periods when they were medicated, with periods when they weren’t, researchers found that medical treatment reduced the risk of committing crimes by 32%.

Individuals with ADHD have previously been shown to be at greater risk of entering a life of crime. “It’s said that roughly 30 to 40% of long-serving criminals have ADHD,” said Paul Lichtenstein, co-author of the study at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. “If their chances of recidivism can be reduced by 30%, it would clearly affect total crime numbers in many societies.”

The study, which tracked more than 25,000 people over four years, found that medication had the same effect on those who had committed relatively minor infringements as on those involved in more serious and violent crimes.

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When Will The World End? Is Neil Armstrong Muslim? Was George Washington Gay?

Apparently the most popular internet search question we have about celebrities is whether or not they are gay. Even, or perhaps especially, the Pope. Via the New York Times:

There are the questions you ask friends, family and close confidants. And then there are the questions you ask the Internet.

Search engines have long provided clues to the topics people look up. But now sites like Google and Bing are showing the precise questions that are most frequently asked, giving everyone a chance to peer virtually over one another’s shoulders at private curiosities. And they are revealing interesting patterns.

Frequently asked questions include: When will the world end? Is Neil Armstrong Muslim? Was George Washington gay?

The questions come from a feature that Google calls “autocomplete” and Microsoft calls “autosuggest.” These anticipate what you are likely to ask based on questions that other people have asked. Simply type a question starting with a word like “is” or “was,” and search engines will start filling in the rest.

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Our Smartphones Are Poised To Predict Our Every Move

When will happen when our gadgets know where we are going before we do? It’s on the verge of becoming reality, writes Slate:

Your cellphone knows where you’ve been. And new research shows it can take a pretty good guess at where you’re going next. A team of British researchers has developed an algorithm that uses tracking data on people’s phones to predict where they’ll be in 24 hours. The average error: just 20 meters.

That’s far more accurate than past studies that have tried to predict people’s movements. Studies have shown that most people follow fairly consistent patterns over time, but traditional prediction algorithms have no way of accounting for breaks in the routine.

The researchers solved that problem by combining tracking data from individual participants’ phones with tracking data from their friends—i.e., other people in their mobile phonebooks. By looking at how an individual’s movements correlate with those of people they know, the team’s algorithm is able to guess when she might be headed, say, downtown for a show on a Sunday afternoon rather than staying uptown for lunch as usual.

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Groupthink And The Elevator Experiment

Want to see how people will change to fit in? In 1962, groundbreaking social psychologist Solomon Asch teamed up with the television show Candid Camera to demonstrate how quickly a basic social norm (how people stand in an elevator) could be reversed using group conformity. Just imagine all the behaviors and beliefs you could get tricked into following, via the power of social pressure. (The elevator experiment was still effective when replicated in the present day on the University of South Florida campus.)

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The Difference Between Greed and Selfishness

Stephen Diamond writes in Psychology Today back in 2009:

Greed, like lust and gluttony, is traditionally considered a sin of excess. But greed tends to be applied to the acquisition of material wealth in particular. St. Thomas Aquinas said that greed is “a sin against God, just as all mortal sins, in as much as man condemns things eternal for the sake of temporal things.” So greed or avarice was seen by the Church as sinful due to its overvaluation of the mundane rather than immaterial or spiritual aspects of existence. Avarice can describe various greedy behaviors such as betrayal or treason for personal gain, hoarding of material things, theft, robbery, and fraudulent schemes such as Madoff’s, designed to dishonestly manipulate others for personal profit. Where does greed originate?

Both greed and gluttony correspond closely with what Guatama Buddha called desire: an over-attachment to the material world and its pleasures which is at the root of all human suffering.

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