When test subjects assigned to be the “employer” had no information about their prospective employees’ abilities, they were twice as likely to choose men over women. In another scenario, where both male and female candidates were given the opportunity to describe how well they thought they would do on the math task, the outcome wasn’t much different.
In one case, the subject travelled to New York, demanding to see the ‘director’ of the film of his life, and wishing to check whether the World Trade Centre had been destroyed in reality or merely in the movie that was being assembled for his benefit. In another, a journalist who had been hospitalised during a manic episode became convinced that the medical scenario was fake and that he would be awarded a prize for covering the story once the truth was revealed. Another subject was actually working on a reality TV series but came to believe that his fellow crew members were secretly filming him, and was constantly expecting the This-Is-Your-Life moment when the cameras would flip and reveal that he was the true star of the show.

What psychopaths can teach us about problem solving


Anthropologist James Rilling of Emory University and his co-workers scanned the brains of those scoring high in psychopathy after these individuals experienced having their own attempts to cooperate unreciprocated. The scientists discovered that, compared with “nicer,” more equitable participants, the psychopaths exhibited significantly reduced activity in the brain’s emotion hub, the amygdala. This diminished activity, suggestive of a muted emotional reaction, could be considered a neural trademark of “turning the other cheek,” a response that can sometimes manifest itself in rather unusual ways.

John Edens, a clinical psychologist at Texas A&M University, has cautioned against spending money on research to identify children at risk of psychopathy. “This isn’t like autism, where the child and parents will find support,” Edens observes. “Even if accurate, it’s a ruinous diagnosis. No one is sympathetic to the mother of a psychopath.”

This vintage stunt from a 1962 episode of Candid Camera makes for a good laugh. But it also captures something important about human psychology — something that social psychologist Philip Zimbardo, famous for hisStanford Prison Experiment, describes on a website related to his 2007 book The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil. He writes:

One of the most popular scenarios in the long history of Alan Funt’s ingenious Candid Camera programs is “Face The Rear.” An elevator is rigged so that after an unsuspecting person enters, four Candid Camera staff enter, and one by one they all face the rear. The doors close and then reopen; now revealing that the passenger had conformed and is now also facing the rear. Doors close and reopen, and everyone is facing sideways, and then face the other way. We laugh that these people are manipulated like puppets on invisible strings, but this scenario makes us aware of the number of situations in which we mindlessly follow the dictates of group norms and situational forces.

Open Culture

When we engage with people who have different assumptions about what is right, wrong, good, bad, beautiful, ugly – whose fundamental beliefs and values are different – it challenges our thinking. People stop and think, ‘If they can be right, how can I be right?’ People don’t like that imbalance, so they have to reconcile those differences and those thoughts. It leads to more complex minds, and makes people more cognitively complex.
Why demographic diversity is key to the fight for the creative class (via curiositycounts)

Why do lower middle-class and working class Americans support tax breaks for the rich? New research suggests it might not be about aspirations—i.e., “Maybe I could be rich someday.” Instead, says the Economist, people are more concerned with how social programs and wealth distribution might help people worse off than them become better off than them.

In other words: Nobody wants to be on the bottom and national economics looks a lot like a junior high locker room.

Every now and then comes along an article so shockingly appalling that the only explanation is that all the editors at the publication have been taken hostage. This one might be the best example yet: on May 15th, Psychology Today posted an article by evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa called “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?”

(For more see above link)