Psychology

Did you go to basic training for the military?  If so, it is a special memory and you remember it vividly but you don't want to repeat it.   On the opposite end of the spectrum, the truly special positive experiences are not something we want to repeat either - we want to keep them as memories.

So most people are unlikely to return to the place of their Honeymoon because they can't repeat it and don't want to diminish the memory.
 
A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research says people tend to treat their memories of previous special experiences as assets to be protected.
How rational are our fears?  

In late 2007 a study discovered the word that evoked the greatest fear.  The study included the words spider, snake death, rape, murder and incest.  

“Shark” evoked the strongest reaction.

But why?  Sharks rarely come in contact with us.  Three reasons:  the seeming randomness of their strike, the lack of warning for it and the apparent lack of remorse.

Why this is especially important for women to understand?

We women worry more than men. Much more.
Those mortifying accidents. Stephen J. Dubner unleashed a pent-up flood of guilt and shame from readers of his New York Times column.

Ever written an email, then sent it in haste … to the wrong person? Or cc’d people who shouldn’t have seen your candid message? Or mistakenly received an email that was not meant for your eyes? Within days after Dubner told his tale, 166 readers shared their stories of regret, outrage and in Marci Alboher’s case, a happy ending. Wonder what’s the proper etiquette in this new world of instantly sendable missives? Like advice on avoiding such mishaps?
Bluntly speaking, we are more likely to cooperate in a group when those who don’t get punished. “Darwin had a blind spot. It wasn’t that he didn’t see the role of cooperation in evolution. He just didn’t see how important it is.” Little has changed until relatively recently.

We were raised to compete because we were taught it was a matter of survival of the fittest. Yet, as David Brooks noted, even today, some believe in upfront combat and some in consensus.

Speaking of working together (or not), in many situations experts are not as accurate as a large group can be. “In fact, large groups, structured properly, can be smarter than the smartest member of a group.”
That irritating co-worker you’re stuck sitting by (again!) sees a decidedly different side of you than your best friend does. That’s because you have many people inside of you (no they’re not imaginary). That’s what veteran science writer, Rita Carter discovered as she began reading about bi-polar personalities for Mapping the Mind. Emerging research shows that several, “personalities are made and kept separate in the human brain” … of everyone. Want a glimpse of how many you have? Depending on the situation and who you’re are around, different people pop out and speak for you.
You, too, may laugh in amusement at these Candid Camera style “experiments.” Yet, ruefully, I acknowledge that I might conform within minutes… well seconds?

Also, see this other well-known (among psychologists, anyway) “people are sheep” experiment by Solomon Asch. Would you trust your eyes or an authority’s pronouncement? Afterwards, many psychologists concluded that the perceived power of the “authority” has a huge effect on our compliance.

Here’s a gratifying update.
We instinctively experience situations as individuals or as part of a group.  As David Brooks suggests today, the world is divided into those with an individualist or a collectivist mentality. Guess which group is larger.
Neuroscientist Tania Singer and her team recruited volunteers to play a game. Some were asked to play by the rules. Others were instructed to ignore them. To not play fair.

After all participants played the game together, they were then asked to observe each other in a second activity. Scientists measured some of the volunteers’ brain activity as they observed some of their former game opponents apparently being subjected to different levels of pain.

Result?   The brain areas that signal pain became active in all who thought they were observing pain in others. This provides neural evidence of their empathy.
A doctoral thesis carried out at the University of Granada has proved that patients with serious anxiety disorders (panic disorder with and without agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder or generalized anxiety disorder) think they suffer more physiological (palpitations, sweating, irregular breathing, shaking of the hands and muscular tension …) than they really have. In other words, although many patients with anxiety disorders have orally reported very intense physiological symptoms in surveys and questionaires, they are hyporeactive when real measures of such symptoms are taken through physiological tests.
A new study by sociologists at the University of Maryland concludes that unhappy people watch more TV, while people who describe themselves as very happy spend more time reading and socializing. The study appears in the December issue of the journal “Social Indicators Research.”

Analyzing 30-years worth of national data from time-use studies and a continuing series of social attitude surveys, the Maryland researchers report that spending time watching television may contribute to viewers’ happiness in the moment, with less positive effects in the long run.