Self-righteousness, gratitude, sympathy, sincerity, and guilt – what if these social behaviours are biologically influenced, encoded within our genes and shaped by the forces of evolution to promote the survival of the human species?
Let's face it, we all get angry from time to time. Anger is a common human emotion. Yet, eventually you have to let go of your anger and go on with your life and learn from these experiences so that you may be able to avoid them or at least deal with them better in the future.
How can we learn the important lessons without having to go through an ordeal? We don’t have to take ourselves to the edge of death, because if we listen to what’s happening and act on it, then we can learn the lesson just as well. After all, there are several ways to learn...
Empathy is the ability to share and understand the emotions of others. It is a construct of multiple components, each of which is associated with its own brain network.
Finally a new year is here after the most politically divisive 12 months in a very long time. In the UK, Brexit shattered dreams and friendships. In the US, the polarisation was already huge, but a bitter election campaign made the divisions even deeper.
Many public conversations we have about science-related issues involve communicating risks: describing them, comparing them and trying to inspire action to avoid or mitigate them.
Everyone has experienced guilt at one time or another. In fact, millions of people are burdened by feelings of guilt of all sorts.
Why is it so hard to stick to resolutions that require us to make effective or lasting changes? I would argue the problem isn’t that we try and we fail –– the problem is how we treat ourselves when we fail.
Every year you set out determined to stick to your New Year’s resolutions. But year after year you fall off track and quickly abandon them. So why are resolutions so hard to keep?
The election divided the year into “before” and “after.” But there remain signs of hope for 2017.
Anyone who has ever tried to give up drinking, or goes somewhere and says they’re not drinking, knows people encourage us to drink and are unhappy when we don’t.
A quick thought experiment: imagine if you’d been told on January 1 of everything that lay ahead in 2016. Would you have believed that...
Most people who play lotto have at least some kind of intuitive understanding they are probably not going to hit the jackpot.
It’s often said that a person’s tolerance rises with their education level. So on this basis, the higher a person’s educational attainment is, the more likely they are to accept racial or ethnic minorities.
Who gets to walk on the red carpet? What makes red-letter days so special? Where is the red line that must not be crossed?
In recent years, we’ve started to see cases of promising sharing and collaborative practices falling into the traps of neoliberal ways of thinking and doing
There are many benefits to knowing more than one language. For example, it has been shown that aging adults who speak more than one language have less likelihood of developing dementia.
On average, Americans spend 50 minutes a day on Facebook. That’s a lot of online socializing. It’s also about the same amount of time workers take for their lunch break.
Worldwide, it has been a rough year for democracy. Citizens in the UK, the United States and Colombia made critical decisions about their nations’ future, and – at least from the perspective of liberal values and social justice – they decided poorly.
Christmas is traditionally a time for giving. And for most of us, giving means buying – the perfect excuse for major retailers to conduct an advertising assault that pulls on our heart strings and empties our pockets.
In a newly published study, we found that employees who “cut corners” tend to be morally compromised, low in conscientiousness, self-focused and impulsive. This in addition to the potential for corner-cutting to increase risks.
Donald Trump’s astonishing rise to the presidency has put racism at the heart of American politics. But it’s important not to overstate America’s progress during the Obama years, nor to ignore the ways in which racism extends far beyond...
Of the approximately sixty to seventy thousand thoughts we have each day, most of them are exactly the same as the thoughts we had yesterday. Not incidentally, most of these thoughts seem to be negative or critical, which is why...
It was a few days after Halloween, and the Butterfingers had already disappeared. A bowl of Tootsie Rolls and lollipops sat on a shelf in the meeting room, resigned in their plain, wrinkled wrappers, and waiting for a desperate staffer.
The shopping frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the starting gun for many to the annual ritual of excessive spending over the Christmas period. The average Black Friday consumer is expected to spend £203 ($252 US) on the day this year, double last year’s figure.
Customers who are fearful are more likely to be ethical in a tricky situation as the stakes increase, while angry customers will behave unethically no matter what the stakes, our research shows.
Unpleasant things happen in life. They happen to everyone. The only difference between a happy person and one who gets depressed is how they respond to disasters. Imagine you have just had a wonderful afternoon and when you return home, you find a huge truckload of dung has been dumped right in front of your door...
For most of us, the fear of punishment or social rejection keeps us from behaviour deemed unacceptable and prevents us from committing crimes. But how many would transgress if they knew they could get away with it?
Scientists have studied twins for many years to understand how genes and environments influence differences among individuals, spanning conditions such as cancer and mental health to characteristics such as intelligence and political beliefs.
On the night of the US election, Manhattan’s magisterial, glass-encased Javits Centre stood with its ceiling intact and its guest-of-honour in defeated absence.
What do you look for in a partner? Surely that depends on what the partner is for – you’d probably want a business partner to be innovative, a choir buddy to be musical and a romantic partner to be attractive and funny.
Mahatma Gandhi once instructed his devotees to “be the change you wish to see in the world.” His point was: don’t identify the problems of the world and kvetch over the shortcomings of humanity. He advocated instead actively embodying the higher qualities of being...
Privacy campaigners this week applauded Facebook’s decision to block big UK insurance firm Admiral from using young people’s social media data to help set their car insurance premiums.
The recent finding that telling lies induces changes in the brain has stimulated a number of misrepresentations that may wreak more harm on our understanding than the lies on which they report.
Do you feel like your mind freezes during exams? Do you find yourself thinking “I really can’t do this”? Does your heart race fast or do you find it hard to breathe during exams?
There is a story that has kept popping up in my work over the years. It is one of the tales of Nasruddin, a Sufi amalgam of wise man and fool. He has the peculiar gift of both acting out our basic confusion and at the same time opening us up to our deeper wisdom.
No matter what challenges or difficulties you are facing, it can be a big help to remember that if you can only do one minute at a time, there's nothing to worry about. One minute at a time. That’s all you have to do.
A research team of psychologists has found that teaching Jewish-Israeli and Palestinian-Israeli teenagers that groups are generally capable of change—without ever mentioning a specific adversary—can significantly improve their ability to cooperate.
In 1959, Peter Tripp, a popular New York DJ, pledged to stay awake for 200 hours for charity while continuing to host his radio show.
Even after mounting evidence of Donald Trump’s exploitative and demeaning treatment of women, his standing in the polls still hovers above 40%. On the face of it that’s more than a little shocking – but less surprising is the gender split among his supporters.
As Hurricane Matthew approached the Atlantic coast earlier this month, more than 2.5 million people were told to evacuate in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
What drives professional sportspeople to break the rules of the game? And what makes them believe, or hope, that they won’t get caught? Or think that their actions will bring glory to them and their team?
Sleep is critical for physical and mental health, and our quality of life. While 3% of the population are genetically programmed to function with less than six hours sleep regularly, the rest of us need around 7.5 hours a night. But what determines whether we like to go to bed early or late?
From the moment they are born, babies are exposed to information that can teach them about who they are. By touching their own face and body, or by kicking and grabbing things, they start to enjoy the influence of their actions on the world.
The best way to move into authenticity with ease is to roll up your sleeves and get comfortable in your own skin. No one even has to be around for this to start, it’s just about you being comfortable with yourself.
I began the practice of “stepping aside” only after years of stepping into business that was clearly not my own. I had mistakenly assumed that helping others make their decisions was an important calling. It showed them I cared. It was my way of remaining important to them. Or so I thought . . .
Whether it’s better to brag or to be humble can depend on what perception you seek to change and whether the truth will ever come to light, research suggests.
The biases we hold below the surface influence how we view this election season, says Efrén Pérez, an associate professor of political science and sociology.
For us humans, getting involved in an aggressive conflict can be costly, not only because of the risk of injury and stress, but also because it can damage precious social relationships between friends – and the same goes for monkeys and apes.
Magicians, dictators, advertisers and scientists all know it. It is possible to influence people without them even realising it.
Globally, women are triumphing in historically male-dominated areas. 2017 may begin with women at the helm of Germany, Liberia, Norway, South Korea, the UK, the US, General Motors, the IMF, YouTube and possibly the United Nations.
To really know about peace is to embody the truth that you and peace are one. But since so many aren’t aware of what they truly are, how can they possibly know lasting peace? This lack of awareness is why, despite the efforts of activists, seekers, and indeed so many in the world who desire peace, an enduring peace escapes us.
While alcohol is a legal and common way many societies stimulate social interaction, when consumed at high levels over long periods it can undermine physical health and cause cancers and other disease.
Tear-jerkers such as Adele’s Someone Like You frequently top the charts these days, while gloomy classical compositions like Mozart’s Requiem have moved people for centuries. Both portray and bring about a strong sense of loss and sadness.
People were more likely to underestimate their own level of drinking, drunkenness, and the associated risks when surrounded by other drunk people, a new study shows. Those people also felt more at risk when surrounded by people who were more sober.
It’s 10:00 at night, and you have a paper due tomorrow morning. You’ve been trying to come up with a good idea all afternoon, but you became distracted by your friends’ Tumblr posts.
We spend so much time helping people who punish themselves and constrain their lives with an overdeveloped sense of guilt that it's easy to forget the other side of the coin.
Wherever you go online, someone is trying to personalise your web experience. Your preferences are pre-empted, your intentions and motivations predicted.
When “L” was diagnosed with a psychotic disorder, it hardly came as a surprise, even to her. She had been experiencing subtle but distressing symptoms of psychosis
Afroman’s 2001 hit Because I Got High tells a potentially important story: smoking cannabis makes you lazy and demotivated. In fact, the fable of the lazy stoner has been around for decades. But is there good evidence in support of it?
I remember once believing that guilt was a wasted emotion. Like all emotions, there is a place for guilt. A centered spiritual being, one who has moved past limiting beliefs, will feel guilty doing something that goes against who she is or wants to be.
Humor is observed in all cultures and at all ages. But only in recent decades has experimental psychology respected it as an essential, fundamental human behavior.
We develop the capacity to experience happiness, ecstasy, and tranquility to the degree to which we can free ourselves from the residue of our emotional body.
New research suggests that upbeat music can foster cooperation at work.
In 1957 Vance Packard’s book The Hidden Persuaders shocked the world by revealing that messages exposed subliminally, below our level of perception, were able to increase sales of ice cream and Coke.
The conviction of radical Islamist preacher Anjem Choudary for swearing allegiance to Islamic State shows that those breaking the law by inviting support for a terrorist organisation can and will be prosecuted.
Personal problems are only as big and as real as we make them. In fact, they only exist if we allow our egos to create them and then we feed them through our incessant attention. Take a look at the following suggestions for changing how you look at the “imagined problems” in your life.
It is 25 years since cricket commentators Brian Johnston and Jonathan Agnew famously got the uncontrollable giggles on live radio, while reporting on that day’s Test Match between England and the West Indies.
We may expect great transformations throughout human culture, as mankind becomes more responsible for its knowledge, and thus its deeds.
Humans have evolved a disproportionately large brain as a result of sizing each other up in large cooperative social groups, propose researchers.
We all experience the ups and downs of life sometimes. We might be treated badly by others or miss out on something we think we deserve, like a promotion at work.
Older African Americans and Latinos have an edge over whites when it comes to being able to quit smoking, according to a study of nearly 3,000 smokers.
How many times a day do you check your smartphone? According to a recent survey, the typical American checks once every six-and-a-half minute.
When parents observe shyness in their child, they may wonder if it is normal or cause for concern. For instance, in social situations, the child may cling to their parent, be hesitant to speak, reluctant to interact with others, and play alone when in groups more often than other children their age.
How does the architecture of our brain and neurons allow each of us to make individual behavioral choices? Scientists have long used the metaphor of government to explain how they think nervous systems are organized for decision-making.
Scientists have for the first time watched the human brain making a purely voluntary decision to act. Unlike in brain imaging studies where researchers watch as people respond to cues or commands, Johns Hopkins researchers found a way to observe people’s brain activity as they made choices entirely on their own.
It is generally thought that science helps good ideas triumph over bad. The weight of evidence eventually pushes false claims aside.
The notion that our minds produce thoughts automatically was a breakthrough insight for me. For years, I battled to still my mind, to stop thinking. Once I embraced the perspective that my thoughts are another sense, my relationship with thinking changed.
What is the cutest thing you have ever seen? Chances are it involves a baby, a puppy or another adorable animal. And chances are it is forever imprinted on your mind. But what exactly is this powerful attractive force and how is it expressed in the brain?
As social species, the social networks of lizards, hyenas, and dolphins influence every pivotal aspect of their lives: finding a mate, reproducing, getting sick, or surviving.
When rats are given an anti-anxiety medication they become less empathetic and are less likely to help free companions that are trapped.
Funky moods obscure our experience for hours, days, weeks, or even longer. Left unattended, they shape our personalities and determine the quality of our lives. We think that we have no control over our moods but the truth is quite the contrary.
In a 1997 U.S. News and World Report survey, 1,000 Americans were asked the following question: “Who do you think is most likely to get into heaven?” According to respondents, then-president Bill Clinton had a 52 percent chance; basketball star Michael Jordan had a 65 percent chance; and Mother Teresa had a 79 percent chance.
In early May, with Donald Trump on the verge of solidifying the Republican nomination, his opponent Ted Cruz ranted to the press
No matter what your field, or how much you love your job, you’re always going to have days that drain you. Days where you feel exhausted and stressed, days that you are happy to see come to an end. When you are finally done with work and you get home to unwind, there are some healthy ways to go about it.
How come some people love wild roller coaster rides, while others are scared of them? It all starts with your thoughts! It really is up to you in the end. If you have the mechanism to be afraid, you also have the mechanism to enjoy life and move through anxiety!
If we only knew how many times we are rescued by divine intervention, we would completely trust this higher power. There would then be nothing to worry about – ever! Joyce and I had yet another powerful reminder of this truth – and divine miracle – last week.
We feel good when we do a good deed, so there must be a psychological benefit to helping others? But how can we know for sure? The best way to study the health benefits of kind deeds is to look at studies of volunteering.
Are you imagining music in your head? If so, it’s probably a certain Kylie Minogue hit. Sorry. But hopefully, once you’ve read this, you’ll be in a better position than you were before to get rid of it, or any other imaginary music playing on repeat in your mind’s ear.
When we talk face-to-face, we exchange many more signals than just words. We communicate using our body posture, facial expressions and head and eye movements; but also through the rhythms that are produced when someone is speaking.
When was the last time you opened your laptop midconversation or brought your desktop computer to the dinner table? Ridiculous, right? But if you are like a large number of Americans, you have done both with your smartphone.
In addition to mixing up sibling for sibling and daughter for son, study participants frequently called other family members by the name of the family pet—but only when the pet was a dog.
"If stereotypes we have learned can change how we visually process another person, this kind of visual stereotyping may only serve to reinforce and possibly exacerbate the biases that exist in the first place," says Jonathan Freeman.
“Claustrophobia” is generally described as an irrational fear of confined spaces, and it has been estimated to affect some 5-7% of the world population. Clearly, some people are more distressed than others when they are in confined spaces, but a fear of physical restraint is so normal that it seems illogical not to
“Life is a series of addictions and without them we die”. This is my favourite quote in academic addiction literature and was made back in 1990 in the British Journal of Addiction by Isaac Marks. This deliberately provocative and controversial statement was made to stimulate debate about whether excessive and potentially problematic activities such as gambling, sex and work really can
I’ve been an avid hiker my whole life. From the time I first strapped on a backpack and headed into the Sierra Nevada Mountains, I was hooked on the experience, loving the way being in nature cleared my mind and helped me to feel more grounded and peaceful.
Do you have a daily showdown with your personal cookie monster? Or does your food demon prefer the crunch of potato chips or pretzels? If you're like most people, you've become the underdog in this internal war.
What makes human morality unique? One important answer is that we care when other people are harmed. While many animals retaliate when directly mistreated, humans also get outraged at transgressions against others. And this outrage drives us to protest injustice, boycott companies, blow whistles...
Many times, after hearing a client’s predicament, I ask them, “What’s really true for you about this?” or “What do you know when you’re feeling good?” Most of the time, an answer comes tumbling out of their mouths before doubts and “shoulds” take over.
Our brains are wired to pay more attention to things that have previously brought us pleasure—a bias that may explain why it’s so hard to break bad habits or stick to New Year’s resolutions.