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The Moral Universe

The Moral Universe

Dialogues on the psychology of right and wrong

The "Reverse Popularizer:" How communicating science can create new ideas

By proportion, Americans believe in creationism just as much now as when I was born.  Research funding has diminished enough to threaten scientists' ability to work and our nation's competitiveness in science and engineering.  These trends reflect a deeper issue in the public's sentiment about science.  A recent Pew trust poll found that whereas about [...]

November 4, 2014 — Jamil Zaki

Quantiphobia and the turning of morals into facts

When stats-wiz and political prognosticator Nate Silver’s new venture, FiveThirtyEight, launched last week, it punctuated the rise of “data journalism,” journalism that incorporates actual numerical data into reporting and storytelling!  Silver’s star rose through his New York Times blog, which largely focused on political analysis and his ability to correctly predict 50 out of 50 [...]

March 25, 2014 — Adam Waytz
The Feeling of Being Stared At

The Feeling of Being Stared At

Perhaps my favorite psychology article of all time, is Edward Titchener’s, “The Feeling of Being Stared At,” which appeared in Science on December 23, 1898 (almost 115 years ago exactly!).

December 17, 2013 — Adam Waytz
Crowds versus company: When are we drawn to groups?

Crowds versus company: When are we drawn to groups?

Trains are fascinating places (full disclosure, I’m on a very un-fascinating train right now).  Tens or hundreds of straphangers crowd into each car, standing within inches of each other and doing everything they can to pretend they’re alone.

November 21, 2013 — Jamil Zaki
Using empathy to use people: Emotional intelligence and manipulation

Using empathy to use people: Emotional intelligence and manipulation

People tend to stereotype psychological phenomena.  It’s tempting to think that stress is always bad, resilience is always good, and so forth.  Like other stereotypes, these beliefs help us neaten the world and extract signal from noise.  Also like other stereotypes, such beliefs are misleading and often harmful.  Call me pessimistic, but whenever the media [...]

November 7, 2013 — Jamil Zaki
The problem with rich people and ethics

The problem with rich people and ethics

The main problem with rich people and ethics, has nothing to do with them per se; it has to do with us, and the fairly well developed stereotypes we hold about what the ethics of the rich are.  Unlike, say, people who repair laundry machines, or Aleut musicians, or female cricketers (about whom we do [...]

September 27, 2013 — Adam Waytz
Psychological studies are not about you

Psychological studies are not about you

I have some bad news that, I hope, will turn out to be good news.  Psychological studies are not about you.  They make few if any predictions about how you should live your life, how to tell if you’re an introvert, or anything else about you as an individual.

September 5, 2013 — Jamil Zaki
Empathy as a choice 3: “Growing” empathy

Empathy as a choice 3: “Growing” empathy

For the last few weeks, I’ve written about a simple idea: far from being automatic, empathy often requires a choice to engage with others’ emotions.  This choice, in turn, depends on would-be empathizers’ desire to connect with others even when doing so is painful or costly.  I think a “choice model” can change how we [...]

August 22, 2013 — Jamil Zaki
More Questions Than Answers About Whistleblowing

More Questions Than Answers About Whistleblowing

My colleagues, Liane Young and James Dungan, and I recently wrote an op-ed in the New York Times about whistleblowing based on recent research we also published on the topic.  Very simply, our work demonstrates that people’s willingness to blow the whistle (i.e.

August 20, 2013 — Adam Waytz
Empathy as a choice part 2: Autism and psychopathy

Empathy as a choice part 2: Autism and psychopathy

Last week, I wrote about a simple idea: far from being an automatic reflex, empathy often requires a choice to engage with others’ emotions.  Moreover, people often refuse this choice, because empathy can be challenging, painful, costly, or all three.  Instead of meeting these challenges, we often keep our distance from others’ suffering, tune out [...]

August 9, 2013 — Jamil Zaki

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