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|On the Nature of Creepiness
||Given the pervasiveness of creepiness in everyday human social life, it is amazing that it has not yet been studied in a scientific way. What I found in an exploratory study suggests that creepiness is a response to the ambiguity of threat; it is not the clear presence of danger that makes us feel creepy, but rather the uncertainty of whether danger is present or not.
|Mike Was A Father, A Friend, An Addict
||I got the phone call from Mike on a unusually cold Dallas winter day in 2001. He had not been feeling well for quite some time. On and off bouts with the flu, so he thought. After all, he lived in Chicago. Brutal winters. An … ...
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||I speak to a lot of corporate audiences. Regardless of the topic I am speaking about, I get a lot of general psychology questions from the crowd. The most popular question is about cognitive performance and aging. People in their 50s and 60s begin to worry that they are not going to be able to keep up mentally with their younger colleagues.
|What Are You Not Spending Your Money On
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|Understanding Our New Racial Reality Starts with the Unconscious
||This article is the fourth in a series exploring the effects that unconscious racial biases have on the criminal justice system in the United States.
To understand what has been happening in Baltimore, Ferguson, and elsewhere in the United States, it helps to understand the differences between the old order of racial discrimination and bias and the new one.
The old order was grounded in explicit discrimination and hostility toward individuals who fell outside the acceptable boundaries of “whiteness.” This order was closely tied to racism, which was explicitly institutionalized through prohibitions of race-mixing in various forms—from marriage and schools to buses and diners. It emanated from our policies at every level of government and deliberately molded our culture.
Most individuals—and virtually all sectors of American society—have come to consciously reject that old order. They embrace a public position of racial equality. Being a morally upright American has come to mean you refuse to consciously engage in behavior motivated by race or to act with consciously racist motivation. Many of the intentionally racist laws of the past have been struck down, and in many domains, racial discrimination is illegal.
Yet, racial inequality is a documented fact. The reality of police killing of unarmed blacks, on-going economic inequality between whites and non-whites, vitriolic and personal attacks on President Obama, or even the extreme reaction to a Cheerio commercial featuring a biracial family—all these make it clear that we are not “over” race.
So if few Americans harbor explicitly racist views, then what explains the persistence of racial inequality? For one of the answers to that question, we need to look to the unconscious mind, which plays a critical role in creating the discrepancy between our aspirations and our reality. The unconscious mind is partially the source of today’s new order of racial discrimination and bias.
It’s an order that shapes the behavior of people of all races. Baltimore may seem to be a clear example of the irrelevance of race, because some of the police involved in the death of Freddie Grey were blacks. The logic goes that blacks cannot have racial bias against other blacks, right? But unconscious—or “implicit”—bias is a social reality that affects everyone, even members of the targeted group.
The unconscious mind receives, stores, and sends information, akin to an automatic data manager for our life experiences. According to Bruce Lipton, a developmental biologist and author of The Biology of Belief:[T]he subconscious mind, one of the most powerful information processes known, specifically observes both the surrounding world and the body’s internal awareness, reads the cues, and immediately engages previously acquired (learned) behaviors—all without the help, supervision, or even awareness of the conscious mind.
The unconscious, more than the conscious mind, controls our daily decisions and actions, including how we relate to other people, especially those who look different from us. Research has uncovered overwhelming evidence that conscious egalitarian goals are often undermined by deeply rooted implicit biases. (For more on this research, see the first essay in this series.) But as the example of Freddie Gray suggests, the unconscious mind of a black person can assimilate pervasive anti-black messages even when the conscious mind resists. This can turn members of the same group against each other.
That’s why trying to address racism purely at a conscious level alone won’t move us forward. The work the conscious does is simply dwarfed by the work and efficiency of the unconscious mind. Therefore the conscious mind, by itself, cannot unravel what has already been internalized by the unconscious.
While understanding and addressing implicit bias is important, it should be clear the goal is not to eliminate bias, but rather the negative effects of bias. We need to create and foster new experiences that can override our biased beliefs in order to build an unconscious that functions from and seeks to reinforce mores of equality and fairness. We cannot move towards our goals of fairness and equality until we find ways to nurture the alignment of our unconscious with our conscious values.
Toward that end, Patricia Devine and her colleagues at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, have developed a step-by-step approach to recognize bias and aid in the reduction of unconscious racial bias:
Stereotype replacement: Recognizing that a response is based on stereotypes, labeling the response as stereotypic, and reflecting on why the response occurred creates a process to consider how the biased response could be avoided in the future and replaces it with an unbiased response.
Counter-stereotypic imaging: Imagining counter-stereotypic others in detail makes positive exemplars salient and accessible when challenging a stereotype’s validity. Harvard psychology professor Mahzarin Banaji uses positive images on her screen saver to counter unconscious stereotypes—images of people from far-flung places, or in unfamiliar roles—in an effort to rewire her associations.
Individuation: Obtaining specific information about group members prevents stereotypic inferences, such as looking at data about how Asian-Americans or Latinos actually live.
Perspective taking: Imagining oneself to be a member of a stereotyped group increases psychological closeness to the stereotyped group, which ameliorates automatic group-based evaluations.
Increasing opportunities for contact: Increased contact between groups can reduce implicit bias through a wide variety of mechanisms, including altering their images of the group or by directly improving evaluations of the group.
We must also recognize that the discrepancy between conscious egalitarian values and unconscious biases is not applicable to everyone. Some people do not hold consciously egalitarian values, and in fact embrace beliefs about the superiority of their own group and the inferiority of others. There are still people who are explicitly racist.
And as the U.S. has become more diverse, we’ve seen more and more racial anxiety around inter-racial interactions. When anxiety precedes interactions between different racial groups, the experience is far more likely to be negative—imbued with hostility and distrust. Racial anxiety is related to bias, and like bias, it is a barrier to fair treatment and equitable outcomes.
Even those who reject racial dominance may embrace the idea of “colorblindness,” which is based on the notion that race is not real and does not matter. Colorblindness is the opposite of the kind of mindfulness that can decrease implicit bias. Its refusal to see race makes it impossible to see racial inequality, which in turn supports the status quo and makes it easier to blame marginalized groups for their conditions. The irony, however, is that we can never truly become a racially egalitarian society by remaining race-blind or by refusing to acknowledge that many aspects of our society continue to be arranged by race.
The six Baltimore Police officers who were charged in the death of Freddie Gray.
We must also recognize that addressing the problem of racial bias at only the individual level, while necessary, is insufficient. Addressing bias within structures and institutions is critical. We must support policies that challenge our culture of inequality and aim to dismantle and transform structural racialization. In order to reduce bias at the structural level it is important to monitor and improve the environment where action is being taken by collecting data and monitoring outcomes. As a society, we must set goals for moving towards greater equity and monitor our progress in achieving those goals.
The unconscious mind is the source of today’s new order of racial bias—but that is not the same as old order racism. To have biases does not make one a racist. But it also does not relieve anyone of responsibility for addressing racial inequality. The new order does not depend on discriminatory intent or racist actors. To keep going, it needs only a lack of self-awareness. Understanding of this new order can aid us in addressing the killing in Baltimore without needing to first prove that the police are racist—and it helps all of us to avoid the mistake of thinking if we are not racist then there is no racial bias.
|Stuttering linked to rhythm perception deficiency
||Stuttering may be more than a speech problem. For the first time, researchers have found that children who stutter have difficulty perceiving a beat in music-like rhythms, which could account for their halting speech patterns.
|Stress levels linked to risk of liver disease death, study shows
||Suffering from anxiety or depression could carry an increased risk of death from liver disease, a study suggests. The study is the first to identify a possible link between high levels of psychological distress and deaths resulting from a variety of liver diseases.
|How to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
||Many of us are reluctant to move out of our comfort zones. After all, it’s comfortable in there. Our comfort zone is familiar. We know the thoughts and feelings that reside in that zone. We know the kind of life that exists there. Sometimes, we’re … ...
|How does the brain respond to hearing loss?
||Researchers suggest that the portion of the brain devoted to hearing can become reorganized even with early-stage hearing loss, and may play a role in cognitive decline. They have applied fundamental principles of neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to forge new connections, to determine the ways it adapts to hearing loss, as well as the consequences of those changes.
|Cognitive process speed in teen years affects depression risk in adulthood
||Teens with slower performance on a test of "cognitive processing speed" are more likely to have depression and anxiety symptoms as adults, reports a new paper. Previous studies have shown that people with more severe depression have slower reaction times and other cognitive deficits. It has generally been assumed that this "psychomotor slowing" is a consequence of depression, rather than a risk factor for it. The new study suggests that slower processing speed may contribute to the development of mental health disorders -- possibly by leading to "increased stress and difficulties responding to adversity earlier in life."
|“American Psycho” – the movie – and the dark side of 3’s.
||"The film reflects our own narcissism, and the shallow American culture it was spawned from, with piercing effectiveness.”
|Want a Successful Career? Pick a Partner with this Trait
||Surprising new research shows how your spouse's personality impacts your chances of success at work.
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|The Power of Wisdom to Enact Social Change
||Many believe that the rise of technology and the logical problem solving mindset can solve the world’s problems. But after years of creating technologies to help improve poverty, health, and education, Kentaro Toyama started to reach a different conclusion: Social change comes from the heart, mind, and will of people. Technologies are only as good as the wisdom of people.
|Omega-3 fatty acids enhance cognitive flexibility in at-risk older adults
||A study of older adults at risk of late-onset Alzheimer's disease found that those who consumed more omega-3 fatty acids did better than their peers on tests of cognitive flexibility -- the ability to efficiently switch between tasks -- and had a bigger anterior cingulate cortex, a brain region known to contribute to cognitive flexibility.
|What Happens When the Whole Family Plays with Food?
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|15 Narcissistic Religious Abuse Tactics
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