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Wed, 22 Aug 2018
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Wolf

Does oxytocin the 'love hormone' foster racism?

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© Sipa Press/Rex Features
German neo-Nazis feeling the love of the pack at a demonstration.
Carsten de Dreu, 44, a professor of psychology at the University of Amsterdam, describes himself as a social psychologist with an interest in evolutionary theory. He is president of the European Association of Social Psychology and has published more than 100 scholarly articles on conflict resolution in organisations, group decision-making and creativity and innovation.

More recently, he has been exploring the role of the "love" hormone oxytocin in group dynamics and inter-group competition. His latest experiments, the results of which have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, indicate a potentially more negative side.

Family

Emotional Abuse in Committed Relationships: Effects on Children

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© rtvchannel.tv
What is the most profound form of child abuse?

Families do not interact predominantly by language. That might surprise you, until you consider that humans bonded in extended families for millennia before we had language. Even today, the most sensitive communications that can have far-reaching consequences on our lives occur between parents and infants through tone of voice, facial expressions, touch, smell, and body posture, not language.

Though less obvious than interactions with young children, most exchanges with older children and between intimate partners also occur within an unconscious process of emotional attunement. Without realizing it, we tune our emotions to the people we love. That's how you can come home in one mood, find your partner or children in a different mood and, bam! - all of a sudden, out of nowhere, you're in their mood. Quite unconsciously, you automatically react to each other.

Emotional attunement, like most emotional processes, is negatively biased. Probably because negative emotions are more important for immediate survival - giving us the instant capability to avoid snakes in the grass and fend off saber tooth tigers - they gained priority processing in the primitive brain and continue to have undue influence in modern times. To keep from being "brought down" by the other's negative mood, many families attempt to dull their sensitivity to the emotional world of one another. This puts them squarely on the road to dissolution, as it stenches the lifeblood of relationships -- compassion and appreciation -- both of which require openness to attunement.

Alarm Clock

How Societies Regress to Become Pathocracies

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Red PillPress/Ponerology.com
A pathocracy is a social movement, society, nation, or empire wherein a small pathological minority takes control over a society of normal people. The pathological minority habitually perpetrates evil deeds on its people and/or other people.

Almost everyone knows that pathocracies have been responsible for tremendous death and destruction throughout history. What less people are willing to acknowledge is that pathocracies continue to perpetrate death and destruction today. Billions of people throughout the world live in perpetual poverty and hunger or lack access to safe water, despite the fact that the resources exist to provide adequate food and safe water to all of the world's citizens. Millions of others are perpetually exposed to the horrors of war.

Therefore, it would behoove us all to understand how pathocracies develop and perpetrate their damage, and how to recognize them. A book on that subject, titled Political Ponerology - A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes, was written by Andrew M. Lobaczewski. Lobaczewski, a psychiatrist, began the research that eventually led to the book more than half a century ago, in collaboration with other researchers, all who are all now dead. The research was conducted in secret, as the researchers were all victims of Joseph Stalin's totalitarian regime, which obviously provided fodder for much of the book's content.

Butterfly

Consulting with Your Wisest Self

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The undervalued version of yourself is only one of many "self states." By a self state, I mean the way we think and feel in a particular situation or role. You are still you, but if you think about it you can recognize that you also feel almost like a different person when you are with your parents compared to when with your best friend, or when you are with the highway patrol officer who has stopped you for speeding, your supervisor at work, or face-to-face with the person in your life you most respect.You switch selves according to the situation, but have you ever thought about switching selves to make yourself feel better?

It is far easier than trying to make your undervalued self change, since it is instinctive and serves the purpose I describe in The Undervalued Self. Rather, you can see your progress with it by how little time you are in that state where you undervalue your true worth. It can be difficult to switch out of it, of course, but this is another tool to try, not one based on changing what cannot be changed. As I always say, the best self to turn to is your linking, loving self. But what if you are alone among a bunch of rankers and having trouble staying focused on those who care for you but are not around? At such times you might do better with your wisest self. But you will need to get to know it better.

Bug

Parents pass on 'irrational fear' of spiders and snakes to their children

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© Alamy
Irrational phobia: People are not born with an innate fear of creepy crawlies - but we learn how to be scared of them in the first years of life, scientists believe
If you're terrified of spiders, or fearful of snakes, then blame your parents.

A study challenges the widely held view that we are hard-wired to fear creepy crawlies and instead suggests we learn to be scared of them in the first years of life.

Fear of snakes is one of the most common - and in Britain - irrational phobias. Half the population is thought to suffer even though most have never actually seen a snake.

Experts at Rutgers University in Newark showed seven-month-old babies two videos side by side - one of a snake and another of a non-threatening animal.

At the same time, the babies were played a recording of either a fearful human voice or a happy one.

The infants spent more time looking at the snake videos when listening to the fearful voices, but showed no signs of fear themselves, the researchers report in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science.

People

People Who Believe in Justice Also See a Victim's Life As More Meaningful After Tragedy

Seeing bad things happen to other people is scary. One way to respond to this is to blame the victim - to look for some reason why it happened to them. But there's another common response, according to a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The researchers found that people who believe in justice in the world also believe that a tragedy gives the victim's life more meaning.

"A lot of the time when people see someone else suffering, and helping them isn't an option, people will instead justify the fact that something is negative is happening to them. Because it's scary for something negative to happen to a good person - that means it could happen to you," says Joanna E. Anderson of the University of Waterloo, who cowrote the study with her colleagues Aaron C. Kay and Gráinne M. Fitzsimons. Anderson suspected that there was another way to feel better about someone else's tragic experience: to believe that the negative experience is balanced by positive outcomes.

In an experiment, volunteers read a scenario in which someone was injured playing soccer in high school. The soccer player ends up with a broken leg, has back problems, undergoes multiple surgeries, and can't go to school with their peers. Everything is resolved by the end of high school; in the scenario, the person is now happily married and is thinking about starting a family. Each volunteer also filled out a survey that determined how strong their "justice motive" is - their need to see the world as just or fair. Then they were asked how much meaning they think the person's life has.

Bulb

Study reveals how taking an active role in learning enhances memory

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© Graphic by Diana Yates. Brain by Andrew Giglio
The hippocampus plays a vital role in enhancing memory in those who are actively engaged in learning something new. It coordinates with other brain structures to accomplish different tasks, such as recognizing an object one has seen before or remembering its original location.
Good news for control freaks! New research confirms that having some authority over how one takes in new information significantly enhances one's ability to remember it. The study, in the journal Nature Neuroscience, also offers a first look at the network of brain structures that contribute to this phenomenon.

"Having active control over a learning situation is very powerful and we're beginning to understand why," said University of Illinois psychology and Beckman Institute professor Neal Cohen, who led the study with postdoctoral researcher Joel Voss. "Whole swaths of the brain not only turn on, but also get functionally connected when you're actively exploring the world."

The study focused on activity in several brain regions, including the hippocampus, located in the brain's medial temporal lobes, near the ears. Researchers have known for decades that the hippocampus is vital to memory, in part because those who lose hippocampal function as a result of illness or injury also lose their ability to fully form and retain new memories.

But the hippocampus doesn't act alone. Robust neural connections tie it to other important brain structures, and traffic on these data highways flows in both directions. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies, which track blood flow in the brain, show that the hippocampus is functionally connected to several brain networks - distinct regions of the brain that work in tandem to accomplish critical tasks.

Pi

How Hereditary Can Intelligence Be? Studies Show Nurture At Least As Important As Nature

Nature vs Nurture 1
© Spiegel
New studies have found that environment has at least as great an impact on IQ as genetics. Researchers in recent years have scaled back their estimates of the influence genetics plays in intelligence differences. Psychologist Richard Nisbett says that if you take social differences into account, you would find "50 percent to be the maximum contribution to genetics"
Researchers have long overestimated the role our genes play in determining intelligence. As it turns out, cognitive skills do not depend on ethnicity, and are far more malleable than once thought. Targeted encouragement can help children from socially challenged families make better use of their potential.

Eric Turkheimer jokes about people who believe environmental influences alone determine a person's character: "They soon change their tune when they have a second child," he says. A father himself, he is speaking from experience. His eldest daughter likes being the center of attention, while her sister is shy and more reticent at school.

Even so, Turkheimer doubts that genetics alone can provide the complete answer. As a clinical psychologist working at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, he repeatedly came across people whose childhoods hadn't been as carefree as those of his daughters. Many of his patients are from impoverished backgrounds.

"I could see how poverty had literally suppressed these people's intelligence," 56-year-old Turkheimer says.

Black Cat

Between Physics and Psychology

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There is a breach between the fields of physics and psychology. Indeed, between physics and psychology there is a whole abyss. That is understandable if we take into account the different histories and different goals of each of these disciplines. But it does not have to continue to be so in the future, especially if we take into account the fact that both disciplines aim at expanding our knowledge, if we take into account the fact that in the world around us everything is connected to everything by a communicating vessel. All things seem to be connected either by causal links or, as suggested by a physicist Wolfgang Pauli and psychologist Carl Jung, by some "acausal connecting principle."

The breach can be ploughed over, the abyss can be filled up. One of the results of my previous article "Feeling the Future: Premonitions and Precognition - Elements of Practice and of a Theory" was a dialog with Tomasz Witkowski (T.W.), a well known Polish representative of a particular psychology school, a prolific author, rationalist and skeptic. I consider it as being a positive sign. This dialog was not an easy one. Both sides are suspicious of each other, sometimes emotions take over, the arguments used were not always well aimed. This is natural, and the psychologist knows it from his own professional experience even better than the physicist.

In a difficult dialog between the two sides that are suspicious of each other a mediator may help. A marriage consultant sometimes helps in a difficult relationship. Sometimes it helps, but it also happens that the result is quite opposite - the mediator tries to heal a relationship that, for the good of all the those involved should be broken, the sooner the better. In our case of the conflict between physics and psychology no such mediator is in sight. To the contrary, there are those who show the symptoms of an arsonist - happy to watch the conflict explode. Therefore the task of filling the abyss (real or imaginary) is left to the parties involved. Here I am taking this task on myself. Whether I will succeed or not - the future will show.

Clock

Brain's clock influenced by senses

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© Unknown
Humans use their senses to help keep track of short intervals of time according to new research, which suggests that our perception of time is not maintained by an internal body clock alone.

Scientists from UCL (University College London) set out to answer the question "Where does our sense of time come from?" Their results show that it comes partly from observing how much the world changes, as we have learnt to expect our sensory inputs to change at a particular 'average' rate. Comparing the change we see to this average value helps us judge how much time has passed, and refines our internal timekeeping.

Dr Maneesh Sahani, from the UCL Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit, and an author of the paper said: "There are many proposals for how an internal clock might work, but no one has found a single part of the brain that keeps track of time. It may be that there is no such place, that our perception of time is distributed across the brain and makes use of whatever information is available."