What's this? Rich people more affected by inequality than poor people?

Yesterday I mentioned David Cameron's plan to introduce a national happiness index in the UK. This...

David Cameron To Introduce National Well-being Measure In The UK

This has been hitting the news a lot over here.  I'll probably write more about this as I...

Money And Pain

Some researchers have proposed that, because people can get through money certain things they can...

The impact of 9/11 on American character

Let's have some fun and pick apart a paper (try saying "pick apart a paper" 10 times fast!)The...

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Warren DaviesRSS Feed of this column.

I am Warren Davies, a freelance writer and former psychology student. By the way I know the banner has nothing whatsoever to do with positive psychology!! I wanted a personalised one though, maybe... Read More »

I saw a cool program on the Church of Scientology a few days ago, and I meant to post this review here but forgot until just now when a Google Ad unit linking to their site appeared on the sidebar.
This isn't a review of the show, it's a review of the Church and a little experience I had with it around three years ago.  The next words you read will be mine, written...holy crap, three years ago to the day, how about that!

My review of the Church of Scientology

I was walking down Tottenham Court Road today, unsuccessfully attempting to get a job, when I walked past none other than the Church of Scientology. A sign outside said "Free Stress Test". Out of curiosity, and for shits and giggles, I decide to take the test.

You are being manipulated by flowers.

'Flow', or the 'flow state', refers to what you might know as being 'in the zone'. It is that state where you are wrapped up in the activity that you are doing, so much so that you are 'one' with it (in the sense of being fully engaged that is; not a strange zen thing).

The main researcher of flow is the delightfully unpronounceable Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Chick-sent-me-high). Generally it is associated with more intrinsic motication for the activity in question, and although you lose sense of yourself and time while you are in flow, you are said to return with a stronger sense of self afterwards.

Conceptualisation of Flow

One of the most common forms of self-medication in capitalist societies surely has to be retail therapy.  Is there really a problem that can't be solved by a new pair of shoes, or the latest iWhatever?  Interestingly, one of the problems people might be trying to overcome is the fear of death.

The insecurity and anxiety caused by the fear of death has some interesting effects on people.  When people are reminded of their inevitable demise, they become more rooted in their outlook on life, this is called Terror Management Theory.  For example, we start to see people with similar values and beliefs more positively, and people with different beliefs more negatively than we ordinarily would (1).  We also become more reluctant to use cultural symbols like flags in improper ways (2).

I just watched Nic Marks of the New Economics Foundation's recent TED talk, which I hope I can embed below.  Marks and I both appear have a problem with the amount of media attention that the financial industry gets.  For me, I don't like the contradiction where science writing has to be dumbed down because "people don't get science," but the finance section of a newspaper is filled with so much jargon that few people have a clue what it means.  He has a slightly different problem - why is it there at all?

Does money make you happy?  Economists think so - the concept of 'utility' assumes that economic activity represents people consuming in ways that best supports their happiness.  And yet, high sales of Backstreet Boys CDs prove that this cannot be true.  What's going on here?

Happiness is a difficult thing to study scientifically