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Kare AndersonRSS Feed of this column.

Emmy-winning former Wall Street Journal and NBC reporter, Kare Anderson is the author of SmartPartnering, Resolving Conflict Sooner, Getting What You Want, Walk Your Talk and Beauty Inside Out. ... Read More »

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.