Tag Archives | Emotions

Smile Scanners For Workers Introduced In Japan

Soon the start of the workday will entail submitting to your daily smile scan, the Guardian reports:

A Japanese train company is scanning its employees to make sure they smile properly. Each morning, according to reports, the 500 or so employees of the Keihin Electric Express Railway Company have to beam stupidly into a camera hooked up to a computer. The machine then analyses things like eye movement, lip curvature and facial wrinkles, and rates the overall quality of their smile on a scale ranging from 0 (suicidal) to 100 (delirious).

Apparently, should the computer deem workers to be too gloomy it flashes up helpful advice like “You still look too serious”, or “Lift up your mouth corners”. It then prints out a personalised “ideal smile” for employees to carry with them and refer to should they feel their spirits flagging at any point during the day.

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Scientists Declare Buddhist Monk The World’s Happiest Person

Happiness is a gamma wave. Via Oddity Central:

Matthieu Ricard was declared the happiest man on Earth by a group of scientists after it was discovered his brain produces a level of gamma waves never before reported in the field of neuroscience.

A former molecular geneticist who left his life and career behind to discover the secrets of Buddhism, Ricard is now one of the most celebrated monks in the Himalayas and a trusted advisor of the Dalai Lama. In 2009, neuroscientist Richard Davidson wired up the French monk’s head with 256 sensors as part of a research project on hundreds of advanced practitioners of meditation.

The scans showed something remarkable: when meditating on compassion, Ricard’s brain produced a level of gamma waves linked to consciousness, attention, learning and memory that were never even reported before in neuroscience literature. Furthermore, the scans scans also showed excessive activity in his brain’s left prefrontal cortex, giving him an abnormally large capacity for happiness and a reduced propensity towards negativity.

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Emotional Labor In The Happiest Place On Earth

BPS Occupational Digest discusses the model pioneered by Disney of what is termed “emotional labor” — the mandatory extreme cheeriness and masterful mood control which has become a widespread part of service industry work:

Walt himself, having observed frowns and negativity on tours of the grounds, insisted on Disney University, a mandatory training process for every employee, that more than anything else is an extended emotion regulation regime…trainees are taken through methods of managing facial and voice cues to maintain a happy, relaxed, and accessible approach. This is effectively a masterclass in surface acting.

However, research suggests that Disney employees actively involved in surface acting are more likely to experience emotional exhaustion. This accords with broader evidence that surface acting is hard work. Other research indicates that buttoning back anger is the hardest thing to do for Disney employees, and having to keep doing so is a major driver of emotional exhaustion.

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Tears Of Sadness As Chemical Weapons

London-based artist Angela Rose Bracco‘s work If You can Smell it, it has Mass grapples with the power of scents and substances in our environs to influence us. She imagines a future in which women’s tears (the smell of which suppresses males’ heart rates and testosterone levels) are mass produced and used for social engineering:

Science shows us, humans are responsive to chemical signals like other members of the mammalian species. One clinical trial applied the emotional tears of women to the upper lip of men. These men experienced a decrease in testosterone levels without visually witnessing the act of crying.

Accepting this as truth concludes that in our everyday lives we are constantly receiving information on an invisible and olfactory basis. Is it possible in the near present future to mass-produce chemosignals that can be used to decrease aggression in humanity?

If You can Smell it, it has Mass is an installation of a future clinic for the production and testing of emotional tears.

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Why Some People Blame Themselves for Everything

Writes Stephanie Pappas on LiveScience:
People prone to depression may struggle to organize information about guilt and blame in the brain, new neuroimaging research suggests. Crushing guilt is a common symptom of depression, an observation that dates back to Sigmund Freud. Now, a new study finds a communication breakdown between two guilt-associated brain regions in people who have had depression. This so-called "decoupling" of the regions may be why depressed people take small faux pas as evidence that they are complete failures. "If brain areas don't communicate well, that would explain why you have the tendency to blame yourself for everything and not be able to tie that into specifics," study researcher Roland Zahn, a neruoscientist at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, told LiveScience...
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Highly Religious People Are Less Motivated by Compassion Than Are Non-Believers

Praying HandsVia ScienceDaily:

“Love thy neighbor” is preached from many a pulpit. But new research from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that the highly religious are less motivated by compassion when helping a stranger than are atheists, agnostics and less religious people.In three experiments, social scientists found that compassion consistently drove less religious people to be more generous. For highly religious people, however, compassion was largely unrelated to how generous they were, according to the findings which are published in the most recent online issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

The results challenge a widespread assumption that acts of generosity and charity are largely driven by feelings of empathy and compassion, researchers said. In the study, the link between compassion and generosity was found to be stronger for those who identified as being non-religious or less religious.

“Overall, we find that for less religious people, the strength of their emotional connection to another person is critical to whether they will help that person or not,” said UC Berkeley social psychologist Robb Willer, a co-author of the study.

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Top Five Regrets Of The Dying

mosaicwomanSusie Steinert in the Guardian on the divide between the lives people should be living, and the lives they are living. A common theme: don’t become closed off emotionally in the name of routine or not making waves:

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai.

Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. “When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently,” she says, “common themes surfaced again and again.” Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Ware:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

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What Do You Call ‘Disgusting’?

photo: Sonya (cc)

photo: Sonya (cc)

Rachel Herz discusses the merits of eating the rotted bodily fluid of an ungulate as part of an excerpt from her new book, That’s Disgusting: Unraveling the Mysteries of Repulsion in the Wall Street Journal:

Nattō is a stringy, sticky, slimy, chunky fermented soybean dish that Japanese regularly eat for breakfast. It can be eaten straight up, but it is usually served cold over rice and seasoned with soy sauce, mustard or wasabi.

Aside from its alien texture, nattō suffers from another problem, at least for Westerners—odor. Nattō smells like the marriage of ammonia and a tire fire. Though this might not be the worst smell combination ever, it has zero food connotation for me, and I’ve never met a Westerner who can take a bite of nattō on the first attempt. What Japanese love, we find disgusting.

In the last several years there has been an explosion of research on disgust.

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Is North Koreans’ Grief Authentic?

nkoreaWig & Pen ponders whether the intense displays of mass, hysterical mourning of the death of Kim Jong Il are genuine, and the facials “tells” for faked sadness:

Two weeks ago, while gazing at photos of North Koreans in mourning–including grown men chewing the scenery–I recalled head shots depicting emotional states in the books and training materials of Paul Ekman. What, I wondered, would Professor Ekman, our leading authority on “reading” emotions from facial expressions, make of that frenzy of facial contortions from the Hermit Kingdom?

Kim Jong Il…knew exactly how the [his] population lined up: loyal core, 5-25%; wavering, 50-75%; hostile, 8-27%. But those who dissented–even in a whisper, even by hanging his portrait askew–ended in prison camps, subjected to forced labor and starvation.

How might Dr. Ekman audit the “grief cred” of our North Korean subjects? He’d certainly have us look for any upward angling of the eyebrows’ inner corners.

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Was Darwin Wrong About Emotions?

Charles Darwin, ‰ÛÏNatural Selection‰Û?Via ScienceDaily:

Contrary to what many psychological scientists think, people do not all have the same set of biologically “basic” emotions, and those emotions are not automatically expressed on the faces of those around us, according to the author of a new article published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science.

This means a recent move to train security workers to recognize “basic” emotions from expressions might be misguided.”What I decided to do in this paper is remind readers of the evidence that runs contrary to the view that certain emotions are biologically basic, so that people scowl only when they’re angry or pout only when they’re sad,” says Lisa Feldman Barrett of Northeastern University, the author of the new paper.

The commonly-held belief is that certain facial muscle movements (called expressions) evolved to express certain mental states and prepare the body to react in stereotyped ways to certain situations.

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