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Thu, 29 Sep 2016
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How morality changes in a foreign language

Fascinating ethical shifts come with thinking in a different language

© Matt Kenyon / Getty Images
What defines who we are? Our habits? Our aesthetic tastes? Our memories? If pressed, I would answer that if there is any part of me that sits at my core, that is an essential part of who I am, then surely it must be my moral center, my deep-seated sense of right and wrong.

And yet, like many other people who speak more than one language, I often have the sense that I'm a slightly different person in each of my languages—more assertive in English, more relaxed in French, more sentimental in Czech. Is it possible that, along with these differences, my moral compass also points in somewhat different directions depending on the language I'm using at the time?

Psychologists who study moral judgments have become very interested in this question. Several recent studies have focused on how people think about ethics in a non-native language—as might take place, for example, among a group of delegates at the United Nations using a lingua franca to hash out a resolution. The findings suggest that when people are confronted with moral dilemmas, they do indeed respond differently when considering them in a foreign language than when using their native tongue.

Comment: See also:


Heart

Sharing stories: A conduit to learning that helps us connect to other people's joy, pain, and life experiences

Have you shared a well-told story with a teen or grandchild lately? The result could be transformative for both of you!

Stories help us see the world in new and different ways, and move us toward action. At their most basic level, stories connect people's brains in ways that help them co-create new stories— stories that transform individuals and society over time. Stories touch us because they allow us to connect to other people's joy, pain, and varied life experiences.

Neuroscience helps explain why storytelling stimulates rich inner learning and what we might learn from stories of people, young and old. Although stories are unscientific, often imprecise narratives of human thought, they help organize and integrate the neural networks of the brain (Oatley, 1992). A well-told story contains emotions, thoughts, conflicts and resolutions. Louis Cozolino, a clinical psychologist who applies neuroscience to how humans develop secure relationships, claims that stories are critical to brain development and learning (Cozolino, 2013).

Tornado1

Hurricanes are getting worse, but experience, gender, politics determines what you believe

© www.wisegeek.com
Category 5 Hurricane
Princeton University-led research found that people's view of future storm threat is based on their hurricane experience, gender and political affiliation, despite ample evidence that Atlantic hurricanes are getting stronger. This could affect how policymakers and scientists communicate the increasing deadliness of hurricanes as a result of climate change. The figure above shows the wind speed of the latest hurricane landfall (left) on the U.S. Gulf Coast by county up to 2012, with red indicating the strongest winds. The data on the right show for the same area, by county, public agreement with the statement that storms have been strengthening in recent years, which was posed during a 2012 survey. Blue indicates the strongest agreement, while red equals the least agreement.

© Ning Lin
Objective measurements of storm intensity show that North Atlantic hurricanes have grown more destructive in recent decades. But coastal residents' views on the matter depend less on scientific fact and more on their gender, belief in climate change and recent experience with hurricanes, according to a new study by researchers at Princeton University, Auburn University-Montgomery, the Louisiana State University and Texas A&M University.

The researchers plumbed data from a survey of Gulf Coast residents and found that the severity of the most recent storm a person weathered tended to play the largest role in determining whether they believed storms were getting worse over time, according to the study published in the International Journal of Climatology. The survey was conducted in 2012 before Hurricane Sandy, the second-most expensive hurricane in history, caused $68 billion in damage.

Comment: "Tapping into the state of current perceptions and what drives them..." "Public opinion can make or break policies..." So there appears to be a 'science' to public relations regarding climate change and risk preparedness. This is the edge of manipulation "for your own good." On the one hand, it is motivating the public through their established perceptions, versus the truth. On the other hand, it is reinforcing those perceptions every time this is done. The public is mentally lazy. What is the problem with real and objective science?


Books

Fascinating facts about dreams

There aren't many things that fascinate, frighten, sadden, intrigue, confuse, or enlighten us more than dreams. While science seems stumped about dreams, artists are inspired, creating countless books, movies, poems, paintings, dances and plays about dreams in an effort to understand more about this mysterious unconscious existence we enter when we sleep.

More than 100 years after Freud wrote The Interpretation of Dreams, we still aren't exactly sure what a dream really is. Science tells us that our sensory abilities (like vision, hearing, etc.) reside in various areas of the neocortex of our brains, and that during sleep these various areas fire randomly, producing illusions that seem disjointed and enigmatic. (In other words, dream-like.) Freud theorized that dreams were manifestations of our deepest, sometimes darkest desires. Still others have posited that dreams are sort of virtual simulations in which we rehearse threatening situations in case they happen to us in real life (and in fact some dream studies have shown that 70% of dreams involve threats of some kind).

Comment: More fascinating research on dreams:


People 2

Practical ways to boost empathy

What if you had no friends?

You would have no one to turn to and cry with, laugh with, share secrets with, go hungry together with, or just be plain and silly you with. There would be a void and empty hollow where a familiar and cherished person should be. As lonely as it looks, there wouldn't be anyone to empathize with and comfort you in that sadness.

Whenever we go through trials and challenges in life, there will always be people we turn to for help. Depending on what we're going through, we crave for people to understand because they've either gone through the same problem before or are currently going through it as well.

Hearts

Children's mental health issues are helped by simplifying their lives

© Tracey Gillet
When my Dad was growing up he had one jumper each winter. One. Total.

He remembers how vigilantly he cared for his jumper. If the elbows got holes in them my Grandma patched them back together. If he lost his jumper he'd recount his steps to find it again. He guarded it like the precious gift it was.

He had everything he needed and not a lot more. The only rule was to be home by dinner time. My Grandma rarely knew exactly where her kids were.
They were off building forts, making bows and arrows, collecting bruises and bloody knees and having the time of their lives. They were immersed in childhood.
But the world has moved on since then. We've become more sophisticated. And entered a unique period in which, rather than struggling to provide enough parents are unable to resist providing too much. In doing so, we're unknowingly creating an environment in which mental health issues flourish.

Comment: Further reading


Hourglass

Productive confusion can be good for you

© Flickr/Tactical Technology, CC BY-SA
Confusion is a common aspect of our lives but it can be useful and perhaps even necessary, particularly when we are trying to learn something.

Confusion is typically experienced when we are confronted with new information. It is particularly likely to happen when the information we encounter is complex, counter-intuitive or unlike anything we've experienced before.

When this happens it can be difficult to reconcile the new incoming information with what we already know.

For example, we might find a maths problem confusing because we don't know what the mathematical symbols mean or have difficulty with calculations.

Confusion occurs because the prior knowledge we have leaves us ill-equipped to deal with new information.

Family

Sense of entitlement can lead to poor relationships, interpersonal conflicts, and depression

A new study suggests a belief in entitlement can lead to dire psychology and social costs.

Case Western Reserve University researchers discovered entitlement, defined as a personality trait driven by exaggerated feelings of deservingness and superiority — may lead to chronic disappointment, unmet expectations, and a habitual, self-reinforcing cycle of behavior.

In a new theoretical model, investigators mapped how entitled personality traits may lead to a perpetual loop of distress.

The findings appear in the Psychological Bulletin.

"At extreme levels, entitlement is a toxic narcissistic trait, repeatedly exposing people to the risk of feeling frustrated, unhappy, and disappointed with life," said Joshua Grubbs, the primary author of the paper and a recent Ph.D. graduate from Case Western Reserve.

Comment: See the articles below for more information:


Info

New research shows mental activity can be consciously controlled

© NSF
An example of brain activation from the Neurovault database. Red areas are activated by a particular task, blue areas are deactivated.
People who can "see" their brain activity can change it, after just one or two neurofeedback sessions, new research shows.

People in the study were able to quiet activity in the amygdala— an almond-shaped brain region that processes emotions such as fear — after seeing simple visual or auditory cues that corresponded to the activity level there, according to a new study published in the Sept. 15 issue of the journal Biological Psychiatry. The findings reveal the incredible plasticity of the brain, the researchers said.

The new technique could one day be used as an inexpensive treatment for people with anxiety, traumatic stress or other mental health conditions, said study co-author Dr. Talma Hendler, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist at the Tel Aviv Center for Brain Functions in Israel.

"I see it as a very good tool for children and for people who we don't want to give medication," Hendler told Live Science.

Hearts

How our emotions affect our health

The quality of our emotions determines the instructions our hearts send to our brains
In each moment of every day, a conversation is taking place inside us that's one of the most vital we will ever find ourselves engaged in. It's the silent, often subconscious, and never-ending conversation of emotion-based signals between the heart and the brain. The reason this conversation is so important is that the quality of the emotional signal the heart sends to the brain determines what kind of chemicals are released into our bodies.

When we feel what we would typically call negative emotions (for instance, anger, hate, jealousy, and rage), the heart sends a signal to the brain that mirrors our feelings. Such emotions are irregular and chaotic, and this is precisely what the signals they send to the brain look like.

Comment: Read more about how emotions affect health: