|Using exercise to reduce glutamate build-up in the brain
||Exercise has the potential to decrease toxic build-up in the brain, reducing the severity of brain disorders such as Huntington's disease, report scientists.
|Magic mushroom compound psilocybin could provide new avenue for antidepressant research
||Psilocybin -- a hallucinogenic compound derived from magic mushrooms -- may offer a possible new avenue for antidepressant research, according to a new study.
|Early Adolescence, Loss of Confidence, and Fears of Trying
||Confidence motivates trying. Most early adolescents leave some confidence behind when they separate from childhood, and now they have some building back up of themselves to do.
|How to Find Your Power—and Avoid Abusing It
||For the past twenty years, I have been carrying out experiments to find out how power is distributed in groups. I have infiltrated college dorms and children’s summer camps to document who rises in power. I have brought entire sororities and fraternities into the lab, capturing the substance and spread of individuals’ reputations within their social networks. I have surreptitiously identified which members of groups are gossiped about, and who receive gossip. To chart the experience of power, I have studied what it feels like to be placed in positions of authority.
Findings from this research converge on an organizing idea: Whereas the Machiavellian approach to power assumes that individuals grab it through coercive force, strategic deception, and the undermining of others, the science finds that power is not grabbed but is given to individuals by groups.
What this means is that your ability to make a difference in the world—your power, as I define it—is shaped by what other people think of you. Your capacity to alter the state of others depends on their trust in you. Your ability to empower others depends on their willingness to be influenced by you. Your power is constructed in the judgments and actions of others. When they grant you power, they increase your ability to make their lives better—or worse.
When we receive power, it feels like a vital force. It surges through the body, propelling the individual forward in pursuit of goals. When an individual feels powerful, he or she experiences higher levels of excitement, inspiration, joy, and euphoria, all of which enable purposeful, goal-directed action. Feeling powerful, the individual becomes sharply attuned to rewards in the environment and quickly grasps what goals define any situation. At the same time, surges of power make him or her less aware of the risks that attend any course of action.
This experience of power propels the individual forward in one of two directions: toward the abuse of power and impulsive and unethical actions, or toward benevolent behavior that advances the greater good.
Power makes us feel less dependent upon others, freeing us to shift our focus away from others to our own goals and desires. Power corrupts in four ways:
Power leads to empathy deficits and diminished moral sentiments.
Power leads to self-serving impulsivity.
Power leads to incivility and disrespect.
Power leads to narratives of exceptionalism.
The abuse of power is costly in every imaginable way, from declining trust in the community to compromised performance at work to poor health. By contrast, when individuals use their power to advance the greater good, they and the people whom they empower will be happier, healthier, and more productive.
In my experiments, individuals who were kind and focused on others enjoyed enduring power in schools, workplaces, and military units, avoiding the fall from power that is so common in human social life. That enduring power drives from a steadfast focus on others makes sense in light of what we know: groups give power to individuals who advance the greater good, and they diminish the standing of those who stray from this principle.
How can we stop ourselves from abusing power? What insights can we glean from science so that we avoid mistakes of the past and make the most of our power? The ethical principles that follow are one approach to enabling people to pursue this aspiration.
1. Be aware of your feelings of powerThe feeling of power is like a vital force moving through your body, involving the acute sense of purpose that results when we stir others to effective action. This feeling will guide you to the thrill of making a difference in the world.
People who excel in their power—the physician who improves the health of dozens of people a day, the high school teacher who inches her students toward academic success, the writer whose piece of fiction stirs others’ imaginations—they all know this. They feel the rush of dopamine and vagus nerve activation in the purest moments of empowering others and lifting up the greater good. ‘
If you remain aware of this feeling and its context, you will not be entrapped by myths that power is money, or fame, or social class, or a fancy title. Real power means enhancing the greater good, and your feelings of power will direct you to the exact way you are best equipped to do this.
2. Practice humilityPower is a gift—the chance to make a difference in the world. People who enact their power with humility enjoy more enduring power. Ironically, the more we approach our power, our capacity to influence others, with humility, the greater our power is. Don’t be impressed by your own work—stay critical of it. Accept and encourage the skepticism and the push-back of others that have enabled you to make a difference in the world. Remember that others have enabled you to make a difference in the world, and there is always more work to do.
3. Stay focused on others, and giveThe most direct path to enduring power is through generosity. Give resources, money, time, respect, and power to others. In these acts of giving we empower others in our social networks, enhancing our own ability to make a difference in the world. Such acts of generosity are critical to strong societies, and empowered individuals are happier. The more we empower others, the greater good is increased.
So give in many ways. This will prove to be the most important foundation not only of your making a lasting difference in the world but of your own sense of happiness and meaning in life.
4. Practice respectBy directing respect toward others, we dignify them. We elevate their standing. We empower them. That all members of a social collective deserve some basic form of dignity is an ancient basis of equality, and it is expressed in our day-to-day lives through respect. Practicing respect requires work. There is no reward people value more than being esteemed and respected. Ask questions. Listen with intent. Be curious about others. Acknowledge them. Compliment and praise with gusto. Express gratitude.
5. Change the psychological context of powerlessness We can minimize the tendency of some people to feel below others, so toxic to health and well-being, by practicing the first four principles listed above.
We can do more, though. Pick one aspect of powerlessness in the world and change it for the better. The rise in inequality and the persistence of poverty give us many opportunities for such work. Attack the stigma that devalues women. Confront racism. Call into question elements of society—solitary confinement, underfunded schools, police brutality—that devalue people. Create opportunities within your community and workplace that empower those who have suffered disempowerment due to moral mistakes of the past.
Such steps may not feel like the game-changing social revolutions of earlier times, but they are quiet revolutions just the same. In every interaction, we have the opportunity to practice empathy, to give, to express gratitude, and to tell unifying stories. These practices make for social interactions among strangers, friends, work colleagues, families, and community members that are defined by commitment to the greater good, where the benefits people provide one another outweigh the harms they cause.
|We Are, Where We Are: Spatial Cognition Shapes Our Self-Hood
||The physical environments that surround you have a huge impact on who you are in the present moment and cumulatively throughout your lifespan, according to new research.
|Best of Our Blogs: May 17, 2016
||It’s amazing. You could be going along with your business and not even know it. Unconsciously, you’re in awe and full of compassion for a friend’s struggles. You find yourself gossiping about a co-worker’s shockingly distasteful behavior. You’re working the outside world without checking what’s going on in the … ...
|Peer Pressure And Alcohol: A Difficult Combination For Many...
||For most young people, the teenage years are a fun and exciting time, filled with first-time experiences: a new school, a part-time job, getting a driver’s license, maybe a first … ...
|People With ADHD Symptoms More Likely to Be Self-Employed...
||I’ve been preaching for a while about how being self-employed can be a good route to take for people with ADHD. Now I might have some evidence to back this … ...
|Symptom of the Day: Physical Restlessness
||Since bipolar disorder is classified as a psychiatric illness, people might often overlook the fact that there are very real physical characteristics of the disorder as well. Some of these … ...
|Balancing the Commitment to Self and Other
||Linda: There is an old Buddhist story about a man who wanted to drink crystal clear water. He was a rich man, who owned a lot of property. One day … ...
|Scientific review finds MDMA therapy as effective as exposure therapy for PTSD patients
||Psychotherapy incorporating use of the drug MDMA, also known as Ecstasy, is equally effective in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as the most widely accepted psychiatric treatment for the disorder, according to a meta-analysis to be published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. PTSD is a serious psychiatric disorder which affects a significant proportion [...]
|Addiction & recovery: Let’s talk about sex
||You've heard about 12-Step programs. But did you know there is a 13th Step? ...
|Email-based exercises could improve mental health long-term
||Public health interventions conducted via email could improve mental health in an easily accessible and cost-effective way, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Psychology. Researchers at the National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland and Duodecim Medical Publications recruited 73,054 participants by aid of a Finnish reality TV program presented between [...]
|Brain imaging study shows obese or anorexic individuals react differently to taste
||Researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus have discovered that women suffering from anorexia nervosa and those who are obese respond differently to taste, a finding that could lead to new treatments for the eating disorders. “Taste is an important driver of food intake and invariably associated with distinct neuronal patters in the [...]
|Mom’s voice activates many different regions in children’s brains, study shows
||Children’s brains are far more engaged by their mother’s voice than by voices of women they do not know, a new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine has found. Brain regions that respond more strongly to the mother’s voice extend beyond auditory areas to include those involved in emotion and reward processing, social [...]
|Statins may shield unborn babies from mother’s stress, study suggests
||Statins could protect the hearts of babies in the womb from the adverse effects of their mother’s stress, research suggests. Scientists have discovered that the widely-prescribed drugs help to counteract the negative impact of stress hormones on fetal growth and heart development in mice. The therapy could lower the chances of babies being born underweight [...]
|Police more likely than others to say they are blind to racial differences
||A new study reveals that police recruits and experienced officers are more likely than others to subscribe to colorblind racial beliefs — the notion that they – and people in general — see no differences among people from different racial groups and treat everyone the same. The findings appear in the journal Race and Social [...]
|Nematode study reveals how differences in male and female brains emerge
||Nematode worms may not be from Mars or Venus, but they do have sex-specific circuits in their brains that cause the males and females to act differently. According to new research published in Nature, scientists have determined how these sexually dimorphic (occurring in either males or females) connections arise in the worm nervous system. The [...]
|Study on 14 U.S. presidential debates finds candidates don’t usually dodge tough questions
||Nearly everybody thinks that presidential candidates routinely dodge hard-hitting questions, providing evasive answers to simple questions. But a new study that analyzed the full transcripts of 14 U.S. presidential debates from 1996 to 2012 provides some surprising insights that might temper that belief — and help explain why people believe politicians are evasive. The research [...]
|Study on misnaming finds slips of the lip stay all in the family
||It’s happened to many of us: While looking right at someone you know very well, you open your mouth and blurt out the wrong name. The name you blurt is not just any old name, though, says new research from Duke University that finds “misnaming” follows predictable patterns. Among people who know each other well, [...]