Elizabeth Loftus: The Fiction of Memory 1

Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus studies memories. More precisely, she studies false memories, when people either remember things that didn’t happen or remember them differently from the way they really were. It’s more common than you might think, and Loftus shares some startling stories and statistics, and raises some important ethical questions we should all remember to consider.

 

 

Exploiting Human Frailty: Is This Russia’s Plan For Destroying the Ukraine? Reply

Flag of the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU)

Flag of the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU)

By Chris Simmons

Over the last several weeks, “pro-Russian” forces – presumably including disguised Russian government personnel – have seized numerous Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) buildings.

But what is their goal?  Why would they attack Kiev’s intelligence service?  A display of strength? Perhaps. Seizing weapons? Undoubtedly, but as a lesser mission. I suspect that perhaps Moscow seeks to indirectly defeat the Ukraine by obliterating its primary spy service.

In capturing these facilities, the masked Russian personnel and their allies now presumably have the personnel and security files of SSU personnel, as well as family photos, contact information, etc. Additionally, the Russian “separatists” have already shown their propensity for anonymity (i.e., “unmarked uniforms, masks, etc). Such secrecy helps create a baseline of fear. As tensions escalate, the environment becomes ripe for terror attacks.

Students of irregular warfare (previously called “guerrilla warfare”) know insurgents maximize their strength and minimize their risks by attacking where an enemy is weak or vulnerable. Another tenet of this type of warfare is the adage, “Kill one, terrorize a thousand.”

Moscow does not want to engage the SSU directly – and now it doesn’t have to. It can incite panic by unleashing a reign of terror against the families of SSU officers. Such an effort could be as simple as kidnapping the loved ones of a few of its personnel. Russia would follow these acts with a well choreographed media campaign to convince the 4000 SSU members that their families are next. Bear in mind that to be effective, a terror threat need not be real — but merely perceived as credible.

People will always follow the 1st Rule of Human Natureself interest.  If Moscow successfully creates an environment of fear so pervasive that SSU members are forced to choose between their families and their nation – the Ukraine is doomed.

Pediatrician Gets Prison for ‘Waterboarding’ Stepdaughter Reply

Dr. Melvin Morse, 58, is seen in this booking photo released by the Delaware State Police August 9, 2012. A Delaware jury on Thursday found Morse guilty of child endangerment charges for waterboarding his 11-year-old stepdaughter as a way to punish her.

Dr. Melvin Morse, 58, is seen in this booking photo released by the Delaware State Police August 9, 2012. A Delaware jury on Thursday found Morse guilty of child endangerment charges for waterboarding his 11-year-old stepdaughter as a way to punish her.

GEORGETOWN, Del. — A prominent Delaware pediatrician and best-selling author who punished his 11-year-old stepdaughter using a form of waterboarding was sentenced to three years in prison on Friday.

A jury found Dr. Melvin Morse, who has written about near-death experiences and appeared on “Oprah” and “Good Morning America,” guilty of child endangerment charges dating back to July 2012.

Prosecutors in Sussex County Superior Court accused Morse of preventing the girl from bathing, suffocating her with water and denying her access to a bathroom.

“Never did I know I would cause this amount of pain to the people that I love,” said Morse, 60, who spoke at his sentencing in the packed courtroom.

During a two-week trial that ended in February, the girl told the jury that Morse had physically abused her, including waterboarding and dragging her across a gravel driveway.

Morse’s lawyers argued that the girl and her mother, who testified for the prosecution, were lying.

Morse was convicted on six of eight counts, including third-degree assault, endangering the welfare of a child and first-degree reckless endangerment, a felony.

At the sentencing, defense attorney Joe Hurley said Morse had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer and requested that his sentence be postponed so he could get treatment.

Judge Richard Stokes denied the motion, saying Morse could get medical treatment in prison.

“We got whipped,” said Hurley, adding that he plans to appeal to the Supreme Court on Monday.

In his testimony, Morse denied waterboarding the girl, the daughter of his now-estranged wife, Pauline Morse, and said he had only been trying to wash her hair.

The girl was put into foster care along with her younger sister in July 2012. Her mother pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges in May. She did not appear at the sentencing on Friday.

Typically associated with the interrogation of terrorism suspects, waterboarding in general involves holding a cloth over a person’s face and flooding it with water to simulate drowning. (Courtesy:  Reuters / originally published April 11, 2014))

Five Fascinating Facts About Lying Reply

fingers-crossed

 

 

 

 

 

By Chris Simmons

  1. The average person is exposed to approximately 200 lies every day. (Note: this includes white lies, lies of omission, deceptive advertising, and biased media coverage).
  2. The average person can distinguish the truth from a lie just 54% of the time.
  3. According to the job-matching firm, TheLadders, 21% of surveyed businesses reported that they’d inadvertently hired dishonest employees. Almost half of these hiring mistakes resulted from lies told by the applicant during their job interview.
  4. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners reports that fraud costs the average organization 5% of annual revenues.
  5. Seventy-eight percent of all resumes contain misleading information according to The Society of Human Resource Managers.

 

 

Human Faces Can Express at Least 21 Distinct Emotions 1

Happily surprised (Image courtesy of The Ohio State University).

Happily surprised
(Image courtesy of The Ohio State University).

By Alice Park, Time

Distinct facial muscles were used to express compound emotions

Leading scientific thinkers of their time, such as Aristotle, Rene Descartes, Guillaume Duchenne, and Charles Darwin, have long promoted the idea that there are a handful of basic emotions that people express. In recent decades, that group has crystalized into six core emotions: happiness, surprise, sadness, anger, fear, and disgust.

But there are clearly many shades of gray between those emotions. For example, there’s the happy-because-I’m-eating-ice cream and the happy-because-I-just-learned-I-got-a-surprise-marriage-proposal looks, each of which is slightly different.

That’s what intrigued Aleix Martinez, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Ohio State University. “Six seemed a small number given the rainbow of possibilities of feeling and expressing emotions,” he says.

MORE: Emotions May Not Be So Universal After All

Martinez wanted to know whether compound emotions, such as happy surprise, were expressed using the same muscle movements of both happiness and surprise, or whether the expression involved a unique set of muscles that represented some amalgam of the two.

What he and his colleagues found was that the human face makes 21 different emotional expressions – and each is different from the other. While some represented combinations of emotions, each differed in terms of which muscles were involved.

And surprisingly, these facial expression patterns were remarkably consistent across all 230 volunteers. For example, each showed happy surprise in the same way that was distinct from both happiness and from surprise, and different still from angry surprise.

MORE: To Really Read Emotions, Look at Body Language, Not Facial Expressions

Martinez broke down the facial expressions of 230 volunteers by applying his engineering strategies. He and his colleagues gave each of the students, staff, or faculty members who enrolled in the study different scenarios and asked them to show how they would react in each one. They were told, for example, that they had just learned they had been accepted to a graduate program, that someone had told them a disgusting, but still funny joke, or that they had just smelled something bad. The volunteers were allowed to practice their facial expressions in front of a mirror before Martinez took pictures of their reactions.

He then computer-analyzed each of the 5,000 images, breaking them down by which facial muscles the participants used. These were first defined in 1978 by psychologist Paul Ekman, who codified facial expressions in the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) by action units, or muscles or groups of muscles that went into making facial expressions – such as lip parts (for showing disgust), showing teeth (for expressing happiness), mouth stretch (for fear), or eyelid tightening (for anger).

Feature continues here: Human Faces

 

 

Manipulated: The Rise of Behavioral Finance Reply

bloombergtechfinal0413

By Ben Steverman, Washington Post

It’s hard to find a place today where concepts of behavioral finance aren’t being applied to real-world situations. From London to Washington to Sydney, governments are experimenting with the psychology of decision-making and trying to “nudge” citizens toward better behaviors, whether that means saving more for retirement or signing an organ donation card. Meanwhile, businesses see opportunities for higher profits. To grab more attention and dollars from consumers, companies as far afield as banks and fitness-app makers carefully design their offerings with consumers’ decision-making quirks in mind.

Many behavioral interventions work, whether at reducing litter and power use or boosting savings rates. Yet these successes aren’t the whole story. Even after rigorous experimentation and data analysis, the best-intentioned nudges can fall flat or backfire. Some may be behavioral bandages that don’t address deeper structural problems such as stagnating wages. Nevertheless, consumers have jumped on the bandwagon, eager to be manipulated into the best version of themselves, and businesses are rushing to meet the demand.

Where many people need the biggest nudge, if not a shove, is with making financial decisions. The effect of emotion on investment decisions is usually negative — good old fear and greed, as well as paralysis from being overwhelmed by choice. At the same time, even if someone wants to build an emergency fund or open an IRA, bad spending and saving habits are hard to break. To help users follow through on good intentions, a raft of financial apps and online investing Web sites use a mix of encouragement, nagging, incentives and design.

The biggest problem that businesses — and governments — must solve is one that rarely comes up in a behavioral psych lab: how to get people’s attention in a world filled with more distractions by the day. An app or any tool designed to spur your self-improvement must battle the demands of work and family as well as the delights of the Internet and the 50 other apps on your phone. So when it comes to investing, “most people are asleep at the wheel,” says Mike Sha, co-founder and chief executive officer of SigFig, an online investment manager.

This is where Silicon Valley’s skills come in handy. Adam Nash, chief executive of online investment manager Wealthfront, which attracted more than $800 million in assets in two years, notes that many of his employees once helped design social software like Facebook. They know, he says, “how to design systems that trigger emotional responses.”

You know what Nash means if you’ve ever unintentionally wasted hours crushing virtual candies, scrolling through your Facebook timeline or catapulting angry birds. The digital world is built to be addictive — continually satisfying you in just the right way to keep you clicking, playing or posting.

By living on mobile devices and using some of these digital techniques, apps can grab your attention in real time. The app Check uses alerts, timed for when they would be most effective, to make sure users pay their bills on time. Investment sites including Betterment and Wealthfront make investing as automatic as possible, while reducing distractions that might get users trading too much — so no charts of the day’s stock market moves show up on their Web sites.

Article continues here:  Manipulated: The Rise of Behavioral Finance

A Washington Post Story About Reading Went Viral – But How Many People Actually Read it? 1

Chartbeat

Michael S. Rosenwald on how readers consume news online (Hint: quickly)

The above graphic is the answer to a riddle for our digital times: Did readers actually read a story about reading?

The story in question — about how scanning and skimming our way through the Internet appears to be messing with how we read deeper, longer works — went viral earlier this week, with insane numbers of page views, a gazillion tweets, and even a starring role in Craig Ferguson’s late-night TV monologue.

Though there were many chants of “me, too” about the story on Twitter, there were also many jokes that took this form: “I skimmed it.”

So we decided to actually test this. The good folks at Chartbeat, which tracks how people read digital content, performed an analysis and found that 25 percent of readers stopped reading this story before they even reached the article text. A smaller percentage of other readers dropped off somewhere toward the middle. And 31 percent made it all the way through. I have a lollipop for all of them.

As the writer, should I be happy about those numbers or deeply, deeply sad? I asked Josh Schwartz, Chartbeat’s chief data scientist. Then I held my breath.

“Anytime I talk to journalists they always ask that question,” Schwartz said.

Not an answer. This felt not good.

And then: “Those are very good numbers, though,” he said.

This felt great! But perplexing. If, say, only 31 of 100 readers made it to the end of my piece, how is that good?

Schwartz said that, on average, about one-third of news readers never start reading the page after they open it. The worst-of-the-worst articles see up to 90 percent of visitors saying goodbye without reading.

And here’s the scary, fascinating conclusion: “The fact that the numbers on this story are so good,” Schwartz said, “show that most people don’t read the article they land on.”

They do what my original story said. They bounce around. They look for key words, and if something excites them, they read. If not, they scamper around. There is, apparently, a lot of scampering. This is how we deal with the superabundance of information online. The problem that I’ve found in my own reading life — and with readers I interviewed — is that I am beginning to read this way with novels and other longer works.

Cognitive neuroscientists are worried about this. I think they are on to something.

Bullying and Corporate Psychopaths at Work Reply

Clive Boddy is a Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at Middlesex University in England. For the past seven years, he has studied the evidence and effects of toxic leadership, and in particular the influence of the presence of corporate psychopaths on various workplace outcomes, including on levels of conflict and bullying at work.

 

Interpreting the Different Messages of “Barrier” Positions Reply

Boss using his desk as a barrier as he addresses a subordinate standing in the submissive, fig-leaf pose.

Boss using his desk as a barrier as he addresses a subordinate standing in the submissive, fig-leaf pose.

By Chris Simmons

“Barrier” positions are displays of emotional distancing. Some are planned, overt signs of power intended to reinforce the stiffness of the boss-subordinate relationship. Meeting with your boss while she remains seated behind her executive desk would be such an example. [Note: This contrasts with a more visually-open boss who sits in a chair adjacent to her desk so she is kitty-corner and barrier free].

To display power and emotional distancing while seated, Americans – especially men, will sit in the “Figure-Four” pose.

President John F. Kennedy sitting in a “figure-four” stance; generally viewed as a distancing or “barrier” position.

President John F. Kennedy sitting in a “figure-four” stance; generally viewed as a distancing or “barrier” position.

Very different barrier positions are seen in reactive body gestures that demonstrate either a lack of power, disengagement from the speaker, or increased tension/hostility.

Known as the fig-leaf, the disempowerment pose occurs when an individual covers their groin with their clasped hands. Understandably, it is a major display of submission. Interestingly, you will also see this stance at funerals and memorial services. In this context, it displays emotional loss and a subconscious demonstration of man’s subjection to death. Note: you will also often see this stance in staged photos wherein the subject(s) didn’t know where to put their hands. 

The most commonly seen and misunderstood barrier position is crossed arms. It can indicate the person is cold, disengaging from the ongoing discussion, or becoming antagonized. To distinguish between the latter two stances, look for signs of tension. A puffed up chest, tense arms, or fingers clenched into fists or around the arms reveal anger. In contrast, a person who is simply disengaging will be relaxed, as they will likely be disinterested, skeptical, or otherwise uncaring regarding this particular issue/person.

Similarly, an agitated person who is seated may wrap his/her ankles around the legs of a chair, “locking” or anchoring themselves down. The use of this barrier signals physical restraint, as the individual is taking measures to keep from springing out of their seat.

 

 

Deconstructing the Fear of Rejection Reply

Flickr Image by Mahalie

Flickr Image by Mahalie

What are we really afraid of?

by John Amodeo, PhD, MFT in Intimacy, A Path Toward Spirituality

The fear of rejection is one of our deepest human fears. Biologically wired with a longing to belong, we fear being seen in a critical way. We’re anxious about the prospect of being cut off, demeaned, or isolated. We fear being alone. We dread change.

The depth and flavor of fear varies for each individual, although there are common elements at play. If we’re willing to look, what is our actual felt experience of rejection? What are we really afraid of?

On a cognitive level, we may be afraid that rejection confirms our worst fear—perhaps that we’re unlovable, or that we’re destined to be alone, or that we have little worth or value. When these fear-based thoughts keep spinning in our mind, we may become agitated, anxious, or depressed. Cognitively-based therapies can help us identify our catastrophic thoughts, question them, and replace them with more healthy, realistic thinking. For example, if a relationship fails, this doesn’t mean that we are a failure.

From an experiential or existential viewpoint (such as Eugene Gendlin’s Focusing), working with our fear of rejection or actual rejection involves opening to our felt experience. If we can have a more friendly, accepting relationship with the feelings that arise within us as a result of being rejected, then we can heal more readily and move on with our lives.

A big part of our fear of rejection may be our fear of experiencing hurt and pain. Our aversion to unpleasant experiences prompts behaviors that don’t serve us. We withdraw from people rather than risk reaching out. We hold back from expressing our authentic feelings. We abandon others before they have a chance to reject us.

Being human, we long to be accepted and wanted. It hurts to be rejected and to experience loss. If our worst fear materializes—if our catastrophic fantasy becomes a reality and we’re rejected—our organism has a way of healing if we can trust our natural healing process. It’s called grieving. Life has a way of humbling us and reminding us that we’re part of the human condition.

If we can notice our self-criticisms and tendency to sink into the shame of being a failure and accept our pain just as it is, we move toward healing. Our suffering is intensified when not only do we feel hurt, but we think something’s wrong with us for feeling it.

If we risk opening our heart to someone who rejects us, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. We can allow ourselves to feel sorrow, loss, fear, loneliness, anger, or whatever feelings arise that are part of our grieving. Just as we grieve and gradually heal when someone close to us dies (often with the support of friends), we can heal when faced with rejection. We can also learn from our experience, which allows us to move forward in a more empowered way.

Feature continues here:  Deconstructing the Fear of Rejection