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Taking One for the Team, Even on Your Way Out of the Door

Taking One for the Team, Even on Your Way Out of the Door

Kaitlyn works Monday through Friday, 9-5. Sitting at her desk on Friday afternoon, Kaitlyn glances at the clock. It is 4:30 pm. The end of the workweek is a mere 30 minutes away. Visions of a relaxing weekend begin to creep in. And then, the phone rings. A distraught coworker is calling to ask for a big favor. His kids are really sick, he feels there’s no way he’s going to be able to prepare for an upcoming meeting on... / more

Altruism: Myth or Reality?

Altruism: Myth or Reality?

We humans devote much time and energy to helping others. We send money to famine victims halfway around the world—or to save whales. We stay up all night to comfort a friend with a broken relationship. We stop on a busy highway to help a stranded motorist change a flat tire. Why do we do these things? What is our motive? The dominant answer in Western thought is well expressed by the wise and witty Duke de la Rouchefoucauld, 2001: “The... / more

The Anatomy of Love

The Anatomy of Love

In May of 2000 a virus spread around the world. It infected 1200 computers within three hours, and was rattling around machines at the CIA, FBI, and Pentagon within a day. It shut down servers at The British House of Commons while the American Department of State was forced to temporarily disconnect its computers from the internet (BBC, 2000). Did some malevolent genius unravel the inner secrets of network crypto architecture? Was it a terrorist plot? No, actually, just a small virus tossed off by a Fillipino student disgruntled at having being kicked out of his computer science program. / more

Love at First Sight

Love at First Sight

The song "Some Enchanted Evening" from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific warns us that, when it comes to explaining love at first sight, "Fools give you reasons. Wise men never try." Notwithstanding this lyrical warning, more and more psychologists are trying to solve this age-old mystery. According to a recent survey, almost two out of three Americans believe in love at first sight (Naumann, 2001). The survey reported that over half of them have actually experienced it, and over half of... / more

Complementing Individualism with The Social Identity Approach

Complementing Individualism with The Social Identity Approach

Have you ever thought about where your strong moral convictions (if any) come from? For example, let`s assume you feel strongly about the sacredness of the Qur’an, and feel outraged when someone mocks your Holy Book. Or, alternatively, you feel strongly about freedom of speech, and hence feel outraged when those mocking a holy book are threatened and attacked by those who perceive this as a transgression of their sacred values. Is it, in these cases, a strictly personal part of who you are that reacts so strongly, or is your conviction perhaps derived from important groups you are a member of? / more

‘The Vision Thing’

‘The Vision Thing’

Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion. [John Welch, American businessman, former head of General Electric] Vision is the key to understanding leadership, and real leaders have never lost the childlike ability to dream dreams… Vision is the blazing campfire around which people with gather. It provides light, energy, warmth and unity. [Bill Newman, Australian broadcaster] The very essence... / more

Social Judgment: Warmth and Competence are Universal Dimensions

Social Judgment: Warmth and Competence are Universal Dimensions

How do you make sense of Barack Obama and John McCain? The odds are that you judge them mainly on two dimensions: warm/cold and (in) competence. Depending on your experience of them, you may judge one of them as both warm and competent, evoking your admiration and pride; and perhaps the other as neither warm nor competent, which triggers a sense of contempt and disgust. Or perhaps you view one as warm but not competent, which... / more

Penetrating the Circle of Death: Why People are Dying (and Killing) Not to Die

Penetrating the Circle of Death: Why People are Dying (and Killing) Not to Die

Martin Luther King Jr., the social activist who represents for many the ideal of a meaningful life, foreshadowed his own assassination when he said, "A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live." These words may resonate with us, but Woody Allen spoke for many of us as well when he said, "I’m not afraid of dying – I just don’t want to be there when it happens." The idea of death occupies a unique place in our minds: it is both the sum of all fears and a kind of golden standard by which we measure an individual’s commitment to an ideal. We honor and understand King Jr.’s sacrifice insofar as almost all of us possess ideals for which we believe we would give everything, whether it’s the love of our children, fighting oppression in a foreign country, or protecting our personal freedoms. Yet we empathize with Allen because death seems like a terrifying and unfair fate for us, instilled as we are not only with drives toward self-preservation (we seek food when hungry, react quickly to external threats), but also an advanced consciousness that harbors love and a fear of loss for many aspects of our lives. / more

The Surprising Effect of Facial Appearance on Political Decision-Making

The Surprising Effect of Facial Appearance on Political Decision-Making

If your citizenship comes with the responsibility - and privilege - of voting, then every few years you face an interesting challenge. Who will you vote for? Whether you choose to support an incumbent, a celebrated war hero, an experienced government official, or a new face on the political scene, psychologists are incredibly curious about the process by which you come to that decision. There is reason to believe that, coming from a thoughtful and prepared voter, your ballot will... / more

Reconsidering Race in the Genetic Era

Reconsidering Race in the Genetic Era

Race is a topic that has been explored throughout the history of social psychology research. Typically, this research has focused on how our conceptions (or preconceptions) of race affect our attitudes and behaviors. There is a long line of research examining phenomena such as prejudice, stereotypes, discrimination, in-group bias, stereotype threat, self-fulfilling prophecies, and a whole range of related issues. One could argue that an underlying assumption of this research is that all humans are fundamentally equal, regardless of race. In the academic world, there has been consistent support for this notion (Anderson & Nickerson, 2005; Sternberg, Grigorenko, & Kidd, 2005); however, folk notions of race, as a fundamental biological difference, still persist in the United States and many countries around the world (Jayarantne, Ybarra, Sheldon, Brown, Feldbaum, et al., 2006;Smedley & Smedley, 2005; Williams & Eberhardt, 2008). / more

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