By the time you swear you’re his, / Shivering and sighing. / And he vows his passion is/ Infinite, undying. / Lady, make a note of this — /One of you is lying. ― Dorothy Parker
Edward Royzman, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, asks me to list four qualities on a piece of paper: physical attractiveness, income, kindness, and fidelity. Then he gives me 200 virtual “date points” that I’m to distribute among the four traits. The more I allocate to each attribute, the more highly I supposedly value that quality in a mate.
This experiment, which Royzman sometimes runs with his college classes, is meant to inject scarcity into hypothetical dating decisions in order to force people to prioritize.
I think for a second, and then I write equal amounts (70) next to both hotness and kindness, then 40 next to income and 20 next to fidelity.
“Oh wow,” he says.
Read more. [Image: liss j/Flickr]
People tend to have one of three beliefs about the meaning of work and which category you fall into largely depends on your parents, according to new research from the University of Michigan.
Workers who are job-oriented are those just trying to make a living who much prefer the activities they pursue outside of the office. Career-oriented adults—your typical “workaholic”—value the social status and prestige that comes with professional achievement, and derive much of their identity from their jobs. Calling-oriented people do work that they are passionate about because they want to have a positive impact on the world.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
There’s a classic experiment on delayed gratification, in which kids who chose to wait and eat two marshmallows later, rather than eating a single marshmallow right away, tended to achieve more later in life. Discipline in the face of these sticky sugar blobs seemed to indicate some sort of inner strength needed to navigate this thorny world that rapid marshmallow-eaters just did not possess.
But what if those kids hated marshmallows? Would they be lauded for their self-control then? What if the marshmallow was not a marshmallow, but physical pain? Good things come to those who wait, but sometimes, bad things come too.
Read more. [Image: John-Morgan/flickr]
Blood dripped from the wounded bull, staining the sand of the oval arena. My stomach churned. I nearly became sick.
I thought I was accustomed to seeing violence, having spent my life immersed in hyper-realistic war movies and blowing the heads off of enemies in killing-based video games. But while in Spain, I entered the stadium of my first bullfight with a great deal of naivety. I didn’t understand the tradition; I had never been exposed to the specific form of violence portrayed in bullfights. Though I had been inoculated to a great deal of violence throughout my life, this new stimulus had a profound effect on my conscience.
But within an hour, my psyche had been transformed. By the end of the fight, my shackles of empathy had been loosed. My concern for the bulls was completely gone. I rejoiced when the matadors triumphed. I even joined the crowd in thunderous applause and shared nods of approval with complete strangers.
Read more. [Image: Jim Hollander/Reuters]
If Ariel had normal-sized eyes, we might be less endeared to her—forced to focus more immediately on her disconcerting scaly tail.
If Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg were a Disney Princess, as one artist recently rendered her, she’d have no wrinkles, a smirk on her face, and some décolletage.
And when Pixar redesigned Merida, the star of Brave, in May, she got a smaller waist and bigger hair.
There’s some research behind why the princess formula is so effective: Enlarged eyes, tiny chins, and short noses make them look more like babies, which creates an air of innocence and vulnerability. There’s evidence that adults who have such “babyfacedness” characteristics are seen as less smart, more congenial, and less likely to be guilty of crimes.
Who should I hang out with if I want to look the most attractive? And how many of said people must I acquire?
The basic idea of research published this week in the journal Psychological Science is that our asymmetries and disproportionalities tend to “average out” amid a group of faces, and our weird little faces are perceived as slightly less weird.
Read more. [Image: LM Otero/AP]
This time of year, thrillseekers can enjoy horror movies, haunted houses, and prices so low, it’s scary. But if fear is a natural survival response to a threat, or danger, why would we seek out that feeling?
Dr. Margee Kerr is the staff sociologist at ScareHouse, a haunted house in Pittsburgh that takes all year to plan. She also teaches at Robert Morris University and Chatham University, and is the only person I’ve ever heard referred to as a “scare specialist.” Dr. Kerr is an expert in the field of fear. I spoke with her about what fear is, and why some of us enjoy it so much.
Read more. [Image: Wikimedia]
When psychologists want to elicit disgust, they avail themselves of invertebrates. Why do we find insects so repulsive? What is disgusting?
Read more. [Image: Francois Lenoir/Reuters]
There is a motif, in fiction and in life, of people having wonderful things happen to them, but still ending up unhappy. We can adapt to anything, it seems—you can get your dream job, marry a wonderful human, finally get 1 million dollars or Twitter followers—eventually we acclimate and find new things to complain about.
If you want to look at it on a micro level, take an average day. You go to work; make some money; eat some food; interact with friends, family or co-workers; go home; and watch some TV. Nothing particularly bad happens, but you still can’t shake a feeling of stress, or worry, or inadequacy, or loneliness.
Read more. [Image: [perpetualplum/Flickr]
Even when it doesn’t really benefit them.
Read more. [Image: Jef Poskanzer/Wikimedia Commons]
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