Study posits a theory of moral behavior Why do some people behave morally while others do not? Sociologists at the University of California, Riverside and California State University, Northridge have developed a theory of the moral self that may help explain the ethical lapses in the banking, investment and mortgage-lending industries that nearly ruined the U.S. economy. For decades, sociologists have posited that individual behavior results from cultural expectations about how to act in specific situations. In a study, “A Theory of the Self for the Sociology of Morality,” published in the February issue of the journal American Sociological Review, Jan E. Stets of UC Riverside and Michael J. Bankers, stock brokers, and mortgage lenders who caused the recession were able to act as they did, without shame or guilt, perhaps because their moral identity standard was set at a low level, and the behavior that followed from their personal standard went unchallenged by their colleagues, Stets explained.
People Aren't Smart Enough for Democracy to Flourish, Scientists Say The democratic process relies on the assumption that citizens (the majority of them, at least) can recognize the best political candidate, or best policy idea, when they see it. But a growing body of research has revealed an unfortunate aspect of the human psyche that would seem to disprove this notion, and imply instead that democratic elections produce mediocre leadership and policies. The research, led by David Dunning, a psychologist at Cornell University, shows that incompetent people are inherently unable to judge the competence of other people, or the quality of those people's ideas. For example, if people lack expertise on tax reform, it is very difficult for them to identify the candidates who are actual experts. They simply lack the mental tools needed to make meaningful judgments. As a result, no amount of information or facts about political candidates can override the inherent inability of many voters to accurately evaluate them.
Learned Helplessness The Misconception: If you are in a bad situation, you will do whatever you can do to escape it. The Truth: If you feel like you aren’t in control of your destiny, you will give up and accept whatever situation you are in. In 1965, a scientist named Martin Seligman started shocking dogs. He was trying to expand on the research of Pavlov – the guy who could make dogs salivate when they heard a bell ring. After they were conditioned, he put these dogs in a big box with a little fence dividing it into two halves. You are just like these dogs. If, over the course of your life, you have experienced crushing defeat or pummeling abuse or loss of control, you learn over time there is no escape, and if escape is offered, you will not act – you become a nihilist who trusts futility above optimism. Studies of the clinically depressed show that when they fail they often just give in to defeat and stop trying. Do you vote? You are not so smart, but you are smarter than dogs and rats. Links:
Fanboyism and Brand Loyalty The Misconception: You prefer the things you own over the things you don’t because you made rational choices when we bought them. The Truth: You prefer the things you own because you rationalize your past choices to protect your sense of self. The Internet changed the way people argue. Check any comment system, forum or message board and you will find fanboys going at it, debating why their chosen product is better than the other guy’s. In modern consumer cultures like America, people compete for status through comparing their taste in products. (You can read more on how that works here: Selling Out). Mac vs. Usually, these arguments are between men, because men will defend their ego no matter how slight the insult. Fanboyism isn’t anything new, it’s just a component of branding, which is something marketers and advertisers have known about since Quaker Oats created a friendly logo to go on their burlap sacks. There was, of course, no friendly Quaker family making the oats back in 1877.
The Just-World Fallacy The Misconception: People who are losing at the game of life must have done something to deserve it. The Truth: The beneficiaries of good fortune often do nothing to earn it, and bad people often get away with their actions without consequences. A woman goes out to a club wearing stilettos and a miniskirt with no underwear. She gets pretty drunk and stumbles home in the wrong direction. She ends up lost in a bad neighborhood. Is she to blame in some way? People often say yes to all three in studies asking similar questions after presenting similar scenarios. It is common in fiction for the bad guys to lose and the good guys to win. More specifically, this bias is a lens through which you tend to see the world, and seeing things in this way often leads to a predictable reaction to horrible misfortune like homelessness or drug addiction – believing the people stuck in horrible situations must have done something to deserve it. The key word there is deserve. Why do you do this? Sources:
Confirmation Bias The Misconception: Your opinions are the result of years of rational, objective analysis. The Truth: Your opinions are the result of years of paying attention to information which confirmed what you believed while ignoring information which challenged your preconceived notions. Have you ever had a conversation in which some old movie was mentioned, something like “The Golden Child” or maybe even something more obscure? You laughed about it, quoted lines from it, wondered what happened to the actors you never saw again, and then you forgot about it. Until… You are flipping channels one night and all of the sudden you see “The Golden Child” is playing. What is happening here? Since the party and the conversation where you and your friends took turns saying “I-ah-I-ah-I want the kniiiife” you’ve flipped channels plenty of times; you’ve walked past lots of billboards; you’ve seen dozens of stories about celebrities; you’ve been exposed to a handful of movie trailers. “Be careful. Sources:
Misattribution of Arousal The Misconception: You always know why you feel the way you feel. The Truth: You can experience emotional states without knowing why, even if you believe you can pinpoint the source. Source: capbridge.com The bridge is still in British Columbia, still long and scary, still sagging across the Capilano Canyon daring people to traverse it. If you were to place the Statue of Liberty underneath the bridge, base and all, it would lightly drape across her copper shoulders. It is about as wide as a park bench for its entire suspended length, and when you try to cross, feeling it sway and rock in the wind, hearing it creak and buckle, it is difficult to take your eyes off of the rocks and roaring water two-hundred and thirty feet below – far enough for you feel in your stomach the distance between you and a messy, crumpled death. In 1974, psychologists Art Aron and Donald Dutton hired a woman to stand in the middle of this suspension bridge. What was going on here? Courtesy: Matthew Field Links:
The Benjamin Franklin Effect The Misconception: You do nice things for the people you like and bad things to the people you hate. The Truth: You grow to like people for whom you do nice things and hate people you harm. Benjamin Franklin knew how to deal with haters. Born in 1706 as the eighth of 17 children to a Massachusetts soap and candlestick maker, the chances Benjamin would go on to become a gentleman, scholar, scientist, statesman, musician, author, publisher and all-around general bad-ass were astronomically low, yet he did just that and more because he was a master of the game of personal politics. Like many people full of drive and intelligence born into a low station, Franklin developed strong people skills and social powers. Franklin’s prospects were dim. At 17, Franklin left Boston and started his own printing business In Philadelphia. As clerk, he could step into a waterfall of data coming out of the nascent government. What exactly happened here? Let’s start with your attitudes. By Fernando Botero
The Illusion of Asymmetric Insight The Misconception: You celebrate diversity and respect others’ points of view. The Truth: You are driven to create and form groups and then believe others are wrong just because they are others. Source: “Lord of the Flies,” 1963, Two Arts Ltd. In 1954, in eastern Oklahoma, two tribes of children nearly killed each other. The neighboring tribes were unaware of each other’s existence. Scientists stood by, watchful, scribbling notes and whispering. These two tribes consisted of 22 boys, ages 11 and 12, whom psychologist Muzafer Sherif brought together at Oklahoma’s Robber’s Cave State Park. He was right, but as those cultures formed and met something sinister presented itself. Sherif and his colleagues pretended to be staff members at the camp so they could record, without interfering, the natural human drive to form tribes. Soon, the two groups began to suspect they weren’t alone. From the study, the boys face each other for the first time Source: “The Breakfast Club,” 1985, Universal
6 Weird Things That Influence Bad Behavior More Than Laws Diligent readers of Cracked already know that our brains can be tricked by just about anything: manipulated images, our birth order and shiny things. But we can also be tricked into being generous, good people by our surroundings. Of course, it goes the other way, too. Your morality at any given moment can be influenced by ... Obviously, we are more honest when someone (or a security camera) is watching us, but studies have actually shown that if any depiction of an eye is in view, even if it is cartoonish or nonhuman, it makes people less likely to cheat or to behave immorally. Put the bong down until the article is over. In one experiment, all a professor had to do to drastically influence the actions of her colleagues was change the clip art on a piece of paper. A picture of a cartoon eye was placed at the top of the reminder notice, and the amount of money left in the honesty box tripled. Just to be sure it wasn't a coincidence, the next week the eye was replaced with a flower.
5 Shocking Ways You Overestimate Yourself Have you ever sat next to the smelly guy? Did you ever wonder why nobody tells him that he smells, or why he can't smell himself? Doesn't he notice people getting up and changing seats when he sits down? How can he live his whole life being unaware of a flaw that is readily apparent to a total stranger 10 seconds after they've met? Well, here's the thing: According to science, we're all the smelly guy. Figuratively, that is. We Are More Racist Than We Think Here's something that doesn't make sense: On one hand, we know that racism is still a big deal (you can't argue with it -- studies show it still turns up in everything from jury decisions to hiring practices), but how many outright racists do you actually know? GettyOnly a small one today, though. Probably not that many. Getty"I'm not racist; I totally love cosplay girls." When a white person was talking to a white person, the pauses were basically unnoticed. Getty"I can't really put my finger on why." GettyAncient Mongolian?
4 Cliché Movie Moments Explained by Psychology There are certain rules that extend across nearly every movie universe which we as an audience have to accept. Bad guys will always attack one at time, high school girls will always date a guy they fundamentally hate and pedestrians will never end up in wheel wells during car chases. While the rules may seem completely divorced from reality, some of the more staggering clichés actually have science on their side. "Mmmm, I'm full off of all your collective disappointment." One of the most ubiquitous clichés in film, the slow clap shows up so often and across so many genres of movies that entire compilations have been created in its honor. Its power lies in the slow clap's ability to sway the opinion of an entire crowd, not with words or ideas, but with the sound of two pieces of flesh slamming against each other. The psychology behind it: Even the most opinionated and judgmental people in the world are susceptible to the power of group mentality. Getting Moral in the Mirror
The 5 Weirdest Things That Influence How Your Food Tastes We never get tired of optical illusions (particularly that mind-melting one with the gray squares) -- it's good to remind yourself that your senses can't be trusted. But the one sense you'd think you could trust is taste -- nobody is going to convince you that a hamburger is apple pie. But, as with the other four senses, your taste is manipulated by a whole bunch of factors outside of your control. Like ... #5. What Your Mom Ate While You Were a Fetus Obviously, the food you ate as a kid growing up will influence your tastes for life. GettyAs well as the food she bathed in. The study on this was carried out by researchers from the not-at-all-evil-sounding Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, who had pregnant women drink a bunch of carrot juice while pregnant and then while breastfeeding (with various groups changing up when they drank it). Photos.com"My mom only ate whiskey and corn nuts." Photos.comOh, come on, what's suggestive about that? But, science says you're wrong. #4. #3.
5 Ways 'Common Sense' Lies To You Everyday Albert Einstein said common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by the age of 18. It is also a result of some pervasive and extremely stupid logical fallacies that have become embedded in the human brain over generations, for one reason or another. These malfunctioning thoughts--several of which you've had already today--are a major cause of everything that's wrong with the world. The Historian's Fallacy You'll Hear it As: "Hey I heard Lisa tried to stab you! How It Screws Us: Remember that time you decided to jump off your roof and do a back flip into your little brother's kiddie pool? The problem is, there is something about our brains that just won't let us put ourselves in the other guy's shoes. The moment we see their mistake in hindsight, we tell ourselves what morons they must have been. It Gets Worse... To see this happening on a grand scale, just open a history book, or watch the news. What were they thinking? "You gave that homeless guy a sandwich? "A wedding dress. Or