Science of the Spirit


Jealousy can drive us to view ourselves more like our rivals

If you see your partner flirt with someone else, you may feel hurt, angry, and jealous. The last thing you might expect is to start thinking of yourself more like your rival. New research suggests just that: that jealousy can prompt people to change how they view themselves relative to competitors for their partners' attention.

Previous research has shown that individuals often will change their self-views to be more similar to someone to whom they want to get closer, such as a romantic partner. "However, a rival isn't someone that individuals should like, let alone want to affiliate with," Erica Slotter of Villanova University. "This work was really novel in that we were looking at whether individuals would be willing to shift their self-views to be more similar to a romantic rival."

Across three studies published online today in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Slotter and colleagues tested what happens to people when in a jealous state. They predicted that individuals would only change their self-views if they thought their partner was interested in someone else. "This meant that individuals should not change their self-views if someone flirts with their partner, but the partner doesn't respond with interest," Slotter says.

In one of the studies, 144 romantically involved men and women completed an online survey about personal attributes, such as artistic, musical, or athletic ability . The researchers then asked the participants to imagine either that their partner expressed romantic interest in someone else or not. In some of the scenarios, the other person expressed romantic interest in their partner, but the partner did not respond.

Magic Wand

Note to teens: Just breathe

In May, the Los Angeles school board voted to ban suspensions of students for "willful defiance" and directed school officials to use alternative disciplinary practices. The decision was controversial, and the question remains: How do you discipline rowdy students and keep them in the classroom while still being fair to other kids who want to learn?

A team led by Dara Ghahremani, an assistant researcher in the department of psychiatry at UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior conducted a study on the Youth Empower Seminar, or YES!, a workshop for adolescents that teaches them to manage stress, regulate their emotions, resolve conflicts and control impulsive behavior. Impulsive behavior, in particular - including acting out in class, engaging in drug or alcohol abuse, and risky sexual behaviors - is something that gets adolescents in trouble.

The YES! program, run by the nonprofit International Association for Human Values, includes yoga-based breathing practices, among other techniques, and the research findings show that a little bit of breathing can go a long way. The scientists report that students who went through the four-week YES! for Schools program felt less impulsive, while students in a control group that didn't participate in the program showed no change.

The study appears in the the July issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

"The program helps teens to gain greater control over their actions by giving them tools to respond to challenging situations in constructive and mindful ways, rather than impulsively," said Ghahremani, who conducted the study at the UCLA Center for Addictive Behaviors and UCLA's Laboratory for Molecular Neuroimaging. "The program uses a variety of techniques, ranging from a powerful yoga-based breathing program called Sudarshan Kriya to decision-making and leadership skills that are taught via interactive group games. We found it to be a simple yet powerful approach that could potentially reduce impulsive behavior."

Comment: Actually, educating teens about the disadventages and dangers of eating gluten and sugar is far more important than preventing them from smoking, when smoking boosts brain activity and helps with self-control. As for the stress relief, there is one proven technique that can assist with reducing stress, calming and focusing the mind, creating better links between body and mind and thus improving quality of life, increasing sense of connection with others in the community. It will help to have improved overall health, a stronger immune system, better impulse control, reduced inflammation, etc. It will also help to heal emotional wounds; anything that may hinder or prevent from leading a healthy and fulfilling life.

To learn more about Vagus Nerve Stimulation, through breathing exercises, and naturally producing the stress reducing and mood enhancing hormone Oxytocin in the brain, visit the Éiriú Eolas Stress Control, Healing and Rejuvenation Program here.

People 2

Relationships in a ponerized society: Warring couples want power, not apologies

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The most common thing that couples want from each other during a conflict is not an apology, but a willingness to relinquish power, according to a new Baylor University study.

Giving up power comes in many forms, among them giving a partner more independence, admitting faults, showing respect and being willing to compromise. The study is published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.

"It's common for partners to be sensitive to how to share power and control when making decisions in their relationship," said researcher Keith Sanford, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience in Baylor University's College of Arts & Sciences.

Following closely behind the desire for shared control was the wish for the partner to show more of an investment in the relationship through such ways as sharing intimate thoughts or feelings, listening, and sharing chores and activities, Sanford said.

The research results are based on two studies of married or cohabitating people and build upon previous research by Sanford. Earlier studies of more than 3,500 married people found that there are just two basic types of underlying concerns that couples experience during conflicts: "perceived threat," in which a person thinks that his or her status is threatened by a critical or demanding partner; and "perceived neglect," in which an individual sees a partner as being disloyal or inattentive and showing a lack of investment in the relationship.


People with depression tend to pursue generalised goals

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The study found those with clinical depression were more likely to set abstract goals that were difficult to achieve

Researchers from the University of Liverpool have found that people with depression have more generalised personal goals than non-depressed people.

A study conducted by Dr Joanne Dickson, in the University's Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, analysed the lists of personal goals made by people who suffered with depression and those who didn't.

List personal goals

The participants were asked to list goals they would like to achieve at any time in the short, medium or long-term. The goals were categorised for their specificity - for example a global or abstract goal such as, 'to be happy' would represent a general goal, whereas, a goal such as 'improve my 5-mile marathon time this summer' would represent a more specific goal.

Researchers found that whilst both groups generated the same number of goals, people with depression listed goals which were more general and more abstract. The study also found that depressed people were far more likely to give non-specific reasons for achieving and not achieving their goals.

2 + 2 = 4

Narcissists' lack of empathy tied to less gray matter

Researchers have found that people with narcissistic personality disorder have less gray matter in the left anterior insula, a region of the brain linked to empathy.

Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which the sufferers have an inflated sense of their own importance and a lack of empathy. They generally suffer from low self-esteem and feelings of inferiority, but have displays of arrogance and vanity.

For the study, researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to scan the brains of 34 participants, including 17 individuals who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder, and found that pathological narcissists have less gray matter in a part of the cerebral cortex called the left anterior insula.


We are wired to network with others: How the brain creates the 'buzz' that helps ideas spread

Psychologists report for the first time that the temporoparietal junction (TPJ) and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (DMPFC) brain regions are associated with the successful spread of ideas, often called "buzz."
How do ideas spread? What messages will go viral on social media, and can this be predicted?

UCLA psychologists have taken a significant step toward answering these questions, identifying for the first time the brain regions associated with the successful spread of ideas, often called "buzz."

The research has a broad range of implications, the study authors say, and could lead to more effective public health campaigns, more persuasive advertisements and better ways for teachers to communicate with students.

"Our study suggests that people are regularly attuned to how the things they're seeing will be useful and interesting, not just to themselves but to other people," said the study's senior author, Matthew Lieberman, a UCLA professor of psychology and of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences and author of the forthcoming book Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect. "We always seem to be on the lookout for who else will find this helpful, amusing or interesting, and our brain data are showing evidence of that. At the first encounter with information, people are already using the brain network involved in thinking about how this can be interesting to other people. We're wired to want to share information with other people. I think that is a profound statement about the social nature of our minds."

The study findings are published in the online edition of the journal Psychological Science, with print publication to follow later this summer.

Eye 2

The Masters of Deception

Comment: Readers may wish to first read 'The Greatest Epidemic Sickness Known to Humanity' by the same author for background information on the 'Wetiko Virus'.

© Justin Ornellas
A few days before my interview on Why Shamanism Now? Internet Radio Show, I received an email from the well-known anthropologist, author and shamanic practitioner Hank Wesselman. He mentioned that what I am calling "wetiko" the Hawaiian kahuna tradition was also familiar with, and called these mind parasites the "'e'epa."

He mentioned that he talks about these archon-like entities in his latest book The Bowl of Light: Ancestral Wisdom from a Hawaiian Shaman, which I immediately went out and bought. When I found the section on the 'e'epa, my eyes almost fell out of my head, as the description of the 'e'epa by an esteemed Hawaiian kahuna shaman was almost word for word what I had written in my book Dispelling Wetiko: Breaking the Curse of Evil.

As my research deepens, I am realizing ever more fully that every wisdom tradition in the history of our planet has its own language and symbol system for illuminating what the Native Americans have been calling wetiko. Having just finished an article on how the Kabbalah described the evil of wetiko in its own unique way, I had recently started doing research for a new article on how a particularly powerful practice in the Islamic tradition was specially crafted so as to dissolve the pernicious effects of wetiko.

After learning about the 'e'epa, I was left with the feeling that I was fated to continually find an ever-expanding number of wisdom traditions that articulate the wetiko psychosis, each in their own way. By whatever name we call it, wetiko is undoubtedly one of the most important discoveries ever made.

Arrow Up

Knowing the end goal increases productivity

Working in a team is not always easy, and achieving our aims often turns out to be much harder than we thought it would be. What can we do to increase our chances of gaining ultimate success? A new study from Aarhus University's transdisciplinary Interacting Minds Centre (IMC) provides insight into how to improve productivity when members of a group share a clearly identifiable goal.

"Our study focused on how to improve levels of cooperation. What we found was that when people know exactly what they're supposed to be doing as members of a team, they are more willing to trust each other and cooperate more in the future," says Panos Mitkidis, a post-doc scholar at Aarhus University, Denmark.

He is behind a study published recently in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, and he suggests that levels of cooperation improve when we know exactly what our goals are - instead of just following a process without really knowing where we are going.

Sharing clear, identifiable goals

The study provides a clue about how science can help us to become more cooperative and productive by switching the focus to goals instead of focusing on processes. Successful cooperation depends on knowing more than just the rules and processes in which we are involved.


To preserve memory into old age, keep your brain active!

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Good news for those reading and writing this article: a new study from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago claims reading and writing may preserve memory into old age. By keeping your brain active, says study author Robert S. Wilson, PhD, you're able to slow the rate at which your memory decreases in later years.

This is not the first time researchers have arrived at such a conclusion, of course. Previous studies have also found keeping the brain active by reading, writing, completing crossword puzzles and more can essentially exercise the brain and keep it limber far into old age. One study also concluded that keeping television consumption to a minimal amount may also boost brain power over the years. Wilson's study was recently published in the journal Neurology.

"Our study suggests that exercising your brain by taking part in activities such as these across a person's lifetime, from childhood through old age, is important for brain health in old age," said Wilson in a statement.

For his study, Wilson gathered nearly 300 people around the age of 80. He then gave them tests which were designed to measure both their memory and cognition each year until they passed away at an average age of 89. The same participants also answered questions about their past, such as whether they read books, did any writing, or engaged in any other mentally stimulating activities. The volunteers answered these questions for every part of their life, from childhood to adolescence, middle age and beyond.

Arrow Down

How human brains could be hacked

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In an episode of the Science Channel's Through the Wormhole, host Morgan Freeman, explores the potential, and dangers, of hacking the mind.
Like computers, human brains may be vulnerable to hackers. Technology is already allowing scientists to read people's thoughts and even plant new ones in the brain.

The latest episode of the Science Channel's Through the Wormhole, hosted by Morgan Freeman, explores the potential - and dangers - of hacking the mind. The episode premieres tonight (July 3) at 10 p.m. ET.

"We live a world of data," Freeman says in the show. "One day soon, our innermost thoughts may no longer be our own."

Mind reading

Reading people's minds doesn't always require technology. New York psychologist Marc Salem can decipher a person's thoughts using the tiny physical cues in a person's body language. "A scratch of the nose can mean you're lying, or it can mean that your nose itches," Salem told LiveScience. When he's trying to read someone's mind, he looks for what he calls a "packet of signals" that tells him what a gesture means.

The show follows Salem as he guesses the cards of professional poker players - a seemingly impossible feat. To do it, Salem relies on context. "I'm able to pick up their nonverbal inflections and cues," he said. "The more I have a context for them, the more I can pick them up."

Of course, technology can give scientists even more direct access to the human brain. Inventor and neurotechnologist Philip Low is developing a portable brain monitor called iBrain that can detect the brain's electrical activity from the surface of the scalp, Freeman explains. People with Lou Gehrig's disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) or other forms of paralysis still have healthy brain activity. Using the iBrain, they could use thoughts to control a virtual hand on a computer screen.