interview David Buss â€œIt's a small step to stalking humans.â€?
But do you love her? Sex differences in jealousy
Green with envy
Should we be jealous?
Interview Dr. David Buss
Hundred Years of Jealousy
“It’s a small step from stalking game animals to stalking humans.”
Credits Editor-in-Chief Anouk Vleugels Executive Editor Mark Fonseca Rendeiro Editorial Bendert Katier, Elke Weesjes, Daphne Wiersema Design Michelle Halcomb Advertisement Send an e-mail to advertising @united-academics.org Questions and suggestions Send an e-mail to redactie @united-academics.org Address Warmoesstraat 149, 1012 JC Amsterdam Website www.united-academics.org
Facebook Envy We all have them on Facebook: the way-too-happy-couple- “Excited to stay in for ‘movie and pizza night’ with the hubby!”; the proud mommy- “Tommy has not worn his diaper all day and has only had a few accidents!!” and the serial bragger- “Celebrating my 26th birthday in 3 cities this year! Rio, Amsterdam, and Las Vegas!”. They all have one thing in common: their lives are better, happier and far more interesting than yours. According to new research, these kinds of Facebook updates are not just annoying, but even potentially dangerous. Social psychologists found that social media users feel more dejected after viewing their friends’ profiles. In some cases, for example for infertile women who are constantly updated on their friends’ pregnancies, Facebook can be really depressing. “Most of us tend to play up the positive aspects of our lives while excluding the negative,” technology expert Katie Linendoll points out. “The result is that a Facebook profile never tells the whole story. And we end up comparing ourselves to a one-dimensional version of someone else’s life.” How do we best deal with our Facebook Envy? By keeping in mind that when viewing our friends’ profiles, we never see the whole picture. There’s no point in trying to keep up with them; their grass will always be greener. So just let it go and relax. And maybe log out of Facebook every once in a while. Anouk Vleugels, Editor-in-Chief
urnal of Social Sciences CALL FOR ARTICLES BIOGRAPHIES AND BOOK REVIEWS August 2011: ‘Sexuality & Sexual Identity ’
UAJSS is a refereed online
journal which publishes new research by post-graduate and post-doctoral academics. Deadline: 4th of August See our journal for submission guidelines MEMORY BIOGRAPHY & Representation War, Memory and WAR, Biography part II AND - Commemoration British Woman's Mission Abroad Cohen LoveA and Loss in the First World War -- Susan Sarah Haybittle Glasgow's War and Masculine Identities Alison Chand Haslam Remembering Those Who Have Fallen - Daniel Alexander & Andrew Peg's War - A Story Told in Letters Charmian Cannon Bittersweet Experiences of the London- Blitz - Steve Spencer Biography : Resistance Fighter Hannie Schaft - Elke Weesjes Leni Riefenstahl - Oscar Broughton & Elke Weesjes Book & Author : Rob van Ginkel on"Rondom de Stilte" Stereotypes in Post War German War films - Richard McKenzie
digital envy Where Facebook was firmly in charge of the social networks just a couple of weeks ago, the recent launch of the new social network site Google+ caused quite a stir. Although it has yet to prove if it is a “Facebook-killer,” Google+ has already set the record as the fastest growing social network in history; it lured in almost 18 million users in only three weeks of existence. And since it is still in closed beta, Facebook should watch its back as Google+ is gaining momentum quickly.
So how did they get 18 million users? With G+ Google has created the most visually appealing and simple way to create and share within online groups: Circles. In contrast to Facebook, Circles enables you to share your content with a select group of people, such as friends, acquaintances and co-workers. The rationale behind this is that you don’t want to share your drunken party pictures with your boss. And it works the other way around as well; you don’t want to see that never-ending stream of baby pictures from friends with kids. The question here, however, is whether online users have the time and the will to start using yet another online social network. Linkedin CEO Jeff Weiner recently said that “unlike social platforms and TV, which can coexist, you don’t see people using Twitter while they’re using Facebook, or using Facebook while they’re using Linkedin.” Social networking at some point will become a zero sum game, meaning that for one network to win, another one has got to lose. 6
To win this online war social networks should come up with original content to differentiate themselves, but also make sure that there are enough other members to share that content with. Circles might be such a way for G+ to differentiate itself as a corporate social sharing tool; enabling groups of co-workers to quickly share relevant information amongst each other. However, besides circles, G+ and Facebook both include very similar services, as for example group video-chat (Huddle en Social Hangouts) and image storage services. The most significant difference that remains is the number of active users, which is clearly in favor of Facebook with over 750 million. No wonder Google+ actively tries to facilitate intgrating some of those Facebook users to their own network. Facebook on the other hand is actively protecting their user base and digging digital trenches around their castle. They’ve done this by cutting off services such as Facebook Friend Exporter, which used to enable you to export your Facebook friends’ contact info for use with other services. Also, Facebook blocks out any form of ads in their system that promote G+. For a company that encourages its users to share amongst each other, Facebook’s own data stream seems to be a private one-way street leading inwards. I could, for example, upload my photos and videos to Facebook, but I can’t download or export them somewhere else online if I wanted to. It is the terms of service “you will not collect users’ content or information, or otherwise access Facebook, using automated means (such as
harvesting bots, robots, spiders, or scrapers) without our permission” that might drive their users somewhere else. I know it does for me. Although a heavy underdog in social networking, Google has taken the opposite stance, having recently launched Takeout, a tool that lets you export all your data from various Google services.
initial roll-out of Google+ is only a sliver of what’s to come. So we’ll have to wait and see. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed and hope that Farmville won’t make the switch to G+. By Bendert Katier
And Google+ has some other tricks up its sleeve to counter Facebook. For starters it is accessible through every Google service (including Google search) throughout the Internet via a seamlessly integrated black toolbar along the top of a google page. Every time someone posts a message in one of your circles a red number lights up on the bar, effectively pulling you back into G+. Meanwhile, Google introduced a ‘+1’ button next to all of their search results and as an implementable button on websites (similar to a the Facebook ‘like’ button) as a way of promoting search results when your connections search on Google. When, for example, looking for similar news articles, they could then see your +1’s directly in their search results, helping them find your recommendations when they’re most useful. Once the new car smell has worn off a bit and the dust has settled, we can better see where Google+ is heading. For now it remains a well-made network, with a clean interface and mobile apps that work as they should. On the other hand, it misses integration with other Google services, the possibility to build applications and corporate pages, so I’m not sold just yet. Luckily Google has said that this 7
David Buss, professor of psychology at the University of Texas. Head of the Individual Differences and Evolutionary Psychology Area and supervisor of the evolutionary psychology lab. His book on the theme of jealousy is The Dangerous Passion: Why Jealousy is as Necessary as Love and Sex, was published in February of 2010. 8
“It’s a small step from stalking game animals to stalking humans”
Some people consider themselves the jealous types. Others claim they don’t have it in them. Wherever you think you fall on this issue, research says we are all jealous at some level. More importantly, the jealousy we feel in our relationships have an evolutionary purpose. Even if we fancy ourselves modern and in control of our animal instincts, when it comes to jealousy, we haven’t changed all that much.
You wrote about the evolutionary theory of stalking earlier this year, I was surprised to learn that even stalking has a function? “An astonishingly large number of people are stalked at some point in their lives. Our studies point to roughly 60% of women and 40% of men. Most of these don’t elevate to the level of ‘criminal stalking,’ which typically requires inducing high levels of fear in the victim. We (my co-author Dr. Josh Duntley and I) have developed a functional theory of stalking. Most of its functions center on mating. One of the most common is a jilted romantic partner who “can’t let go.” Stalking serves the functions of interfering with the ex’s attempts to get romantically involved with others.From an evolutionary perspective, even if stalking only ‘works’ some of the time in driving off a mating rival and reacquiring an ex-mate, it still influences reproduction. I think that stalking came out of, or got ‘exapted,’ from hunting adaptations. It’s a small step from stalking game animals to stalking humans.”
that a stalker’s behavior should be ‘excused’ just because it has an evolved function.” You argue that men and women have evolved long-term and short-term mating strategies. Are these adaptations subject to change, or do they remain the same over time? “In our modern environment, both strategies get played out in some novel ways because of inventions such as internet dating, websites that cater to married people who want to have affairs, etc. But our fundamental strategies of human mating have not changed.”
‘Why Jealousy Is As Necessary As Love and Sex,’ is the subtitle of your book ‘The Dangerous Passion.’ Why is it necessary? “Jealousy has several important functions. It motivates ‘mate guarding,’ which is critical in long-term mateships. It motivates driving off rivals or what I call ‘mate poachers.’ But it also serves as a signal of love to the long-term mate, at least in cases of mild to moderate jealousy. If a man is not jealous at all, women often inAren’t you afraid your studies provide the terpret that as a sign that he doesn’t love her perfect excuse for those who engage in or is not sufficiently committed to her.” stalking? “Criminal stalking is a crime, and finding that Some men already get jealous when their girlit has an evolved function in no way excuses friends talk to other men, while others might stalkers. Indeed, understanding that men be ok with their girlfriends kissing other guys. might have evolved proclivities to stalk might Is it overall universal how people react when warrant more severe penalties in an attempt it comes to being jealous, or does this depend to deter what they might do more frequently on culture? without those penalties. More generally, find- “There are universal aspects of jealousy and ing that a behavioral syndrome has an evolved culture-specific aspects of jealousy. In general, function does not speak to issues of ‘excuse’ men in all cultures have the evolved jealousy or ‘responsibility,’ any more than finding that circuit, and it serves the functions we already rape or murder caused by bad parenting, pov- discussed. There is some cultural specificity to erty, or “culture” excuses those crimes. Iden- jealousy. For example, in some cultures, men tifying the causes of our psychological circuits will get jealous if another man sees his wife’s is a scientific enterprise. Deciding what to do face. Veils and burkas are often used in those about those circuits is a matter of values. In cultures. I focus more heavily on the universal general, we don’t want people to stalk, rape, components, because those have been woefulor murder, so we have developed laws against ly neglected by scientists throughout the past them, and hired a professional police force to century, but I do discuss the culturally-specific enforce them. I’ve never heard someone day components where there is good evidence for 10
it is a construct based on movies, popular culture or a side effect of capitalism. In your reWhat about open relationships? Polyamorous search it seems you don’t agree at all. couples tend to say they aren’t jealous; what happens to them in the long term as com- Does love exist for a reason? pared to those who say they are jealous? “Love, like jealousy, is an evolved emotion. It Roughly 90% of tends to emerge priopen relationships marily in the context fail, or end up disof long-term mate“Roughly 90% of open solving. Most peoships, and its primary relationships fail, or ple aren’t psychofunction is commitlogically built to ment. Humans differ end up dissolving. Most having their partner from our closest pripeople aren’t psychohaving sex with othmate relatives, the logically built to having ers. Although even chimps, in having their partner having sex here, there’s genlong-term mating rewith others ” der difference. Most lationships; it’s actuopen relationships ally pretty rare in the are initiated by men animal kingdom. Love who want to satisfy their evolved desire for evolved as a commitment device to increase sexual variety. Some women ‘go along’ with the odds that the couple would stay together, the open relationship not necessarily because at least long enough to ensure the survival of they want to sleep with other men, but rath- their children. Of course, people fall out of er in an effort to hold on to the mate they do love, get divorced, and re-mate. But without have by letting him satisfy his desires. Histori- love, long-term mateships would be far more cally and cross-culturally, polygyny - men hav- tenuous or fragile.” ing multiple wives - is far more common than polyandry - women having multiple husbands For more information on Dr David Buss: In fact, 83% of all cultures have been polygy- Check this website nous, whereas less than 1% have been polyandrous. Modern open relationships mimic a polygynous circumstance. Of course, there are some exceptions, or individual differences. A minority of women really do want to sleep with multiple men in open relationships; but most prefer the commitment of one man.” Are we in an evolutionary danger if suddenly, people get less jealous? “I don’t see that happening. We have evolved jealousy circuits that continue to serve their evolved functions. Mate guarding will always be necessary in long-term mateships since infidelity is always possible, and mate poachers are always lurking and waiting for an opening.” One of the big arguments regarding love is that
By Mark Fonseca Rendeiro 11
Hundre years of Jealous
Popular culture uses the wo envy. Still, the differences b terms of thoughts and fee in philosophy and science.
ord jealousy as a synonym for between envy and jealousy in elings justify their distinction .
1915 You’ve probably heard of Thomas Edison. The name Nikola Tesla, however, might not ring a bell. Both of these inventors came up with their own system to distribute electricity. Tesla’s invention, an AC (alternating current) system, proved to be the better one. According to many, Edison was envious of Tesla’s brilliance, therefore trying to discredit him later in life. In 1915, both were mentioned as potential laureates to share the Nobel Prize, but never received it. Some sources have claimed that because of their animosity toward each other neither was given the award. 14
1921 It was one of the most discussed romances of their time. American writer Djuna Barnes was known for her jealousy with her lesbian lovers; sculptor Thelma Wood was known to be promiscuous with many women. The combination was an explosive one. Fueled by sex, alcohol, infidelities, jealousy, and violence, the relationship was called the “great love” of each of their lives. When Nightwood, Barnes’ best-known novel, was published, Wood- —depicted as the character “Robin Vote” in the book-was outraged and the two never spoke again. 15
1936 Joseph Stalin was a man of complicated psyche, but jealousy was one of his most obvious traits. During the years leading up to and following the Russian Revolution, his idol, Lenin, scorned him in favor of intellectuals such as Leon Trotsky and Nikolay Bukharin. But when Lenin died in 1924, Stalin was quite happy to take his revenge, spending several years playing his rivals off against each other before eliminating them all in the Great Purge from 1936 till 1938. 16
1942 Due to their clandestine relationship, not much is known about Eva Braun, Adolf Hitler’s longtime girlfriend and eventual wife. Maybe that’s the reason why she’s often portrayed as a somewhat naïve, spoiled young woman. According to one of the dictator’s secretaries, Braun would secretly kick Hitler’s German shepherd Blondi, supposedly because she was jealous of the dog.
1952 Yvonne Chevallier did everything within her power to improve her looks and social skills, but her husband Pierre Chevallier brutally rejected her love. When Yvonne found out about him having an affair, she picked up a gun and shot him four times. Surprisingly enough, Yvonne did not get convicted for the murder, since the jury thought her act to be â€˜a crime of passion.â€™
1967 Florence Ballard was a founding member of the Motown group The Supremes. She started out as the lead singer, but soon the ambitious Diana Ross stole the limelight from her. A bitter rivalry ensued. As a result, Ballard was ousted from The Supremes in 1967 – for challenging Diana Ross, for having a less radio-friendly voice, or for being an alcoholic, depending on who’s version of the story you believe. ‘The Lost Supreme’ spent the last years of her life in poverty and died of cardiac arrest at the age of thirty-two. 19
1976 Having been married and divorced twice, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor must have loved each other. Professionally, however, they nursed a mutual jealousy. Despite his talent, Burton felt like a consort to the Hollywood queen (she had two Oscars; he had zero after seven nominations). Despite her celebrity, the movies he made without her were far superior to those she made without him.
1985 This spring, 61-year old Dennis Davis went on trial for the murder of his former girlfriend in 1985. â€œItâ€™s a case about a man, a former boyfriend, who descended into a jealous rage and killed a vibrant, healthy young woman, Natalie Antonetti,â€? prosecutor Mark Pryor told the jury during opening statements. The cold case was reopened after receiving a tip from Rebecca Davis, who divorced her husband in 2007. Davis was convicted for murder and is now serving 36 years in prison. 21
1994 It was the whack heard around the world. On January 6, 1994, figure skater Nancy
Kerrigan was attacked while training for the US Championships. The assailants struck her in the knee with a metal baton, leaving her injured and unable to compete. As it
turned out, the person responsible for the plotting of the attack was actually her rival Tonya Harding, who went home with the gold medal.
2003 “The Mercedes Murderer,” the American press dubbed her. After encountering her husband at a hotel with a mistress, Clara Harris drove her car over his body again and
again. Ironically, Harris was found guilty of killing her husband in a “sudden passion” on Valentine’s Day 2003, which would have been their tenth wedding anniversary.
SHOULD WE B
Envy. When comparing this capital sin to its six isnâ€™t fun. Nor do you secretly brag about it to you like to be jealous - whether itâ€™s because your part bour has a nicer car or because your best friend j wired to be jealous?
counterparts, itâ€™s the odd one out. Being jealous ur friends. Yet every single person knows what itâ€™s tner flirts which someone else, because your neighjust got promoted. It makes you wonder: are we hard
Evolutionary Psychology According to most evolutionary psychologists, jealousy was a necessary adaptation for the survival of our ancestors. Due to the different nature of problems that men and women faced back then, different mechanisms were adopted: he worried about her sleeping around, she worried about him falling in love with someone else. David Buss, one of the leading experts in this than women, become upset when they see field, conducted cross-cultural research to examine male and female attitudes towards sexual and emotional infidelity. In one of his most well-known studies, participants were confronted with two scenarios: one in which their partner was in love with someone else, and one in which their partner had sex with someone else. Subjects had to pick the most distressing scenario. The majority of women surveyed in the United States, the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Korea, and Zimbabwe, experienced emotional infidelity as more upsetting. The majority of men, however, found the prospect of a partner’s sexual infidelity more agonizing.
a sexual infidelity, because it’s the sex act that compromises their paternity certainty. From a woman’s perspective, it doesn’t compromise her maternity certainty if her husband has sex with someone else; she’s still one hundred percent sure she’s the mother of her child. However, it could be extraordinary damaging for her, because she risks the diversion of her man’s attention, resources and commitment. One of the cardinal cues to that long time diversion of resources, is the man becoming emotionally involved with another woman. So women tend to be more upset by the emotional aspects of infidelity.”
Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe According to Buss, these different attitudes are the consequence of the evolutionary challenges our ancestors were faced with. “Both sexes are equally jealous, but they differ in the psychological design of their jealousy,” Buss explains. “Men, far more likely
Age difference Another interesting study conducted by a group of psychologists examined the difference in responses between the sexes and between a young group with mean age of 20 and an old group with a mean age of 67. The study points out that younger and older
males do not differ in their responses, but older women were more likely to choose sexual infidelity as the worst kind of infidelity. These results suggest the evolutionary theory might be right: older women who don’t need a male partner to look after their kids anymore, care more about sexual infidelity. “The truth is that we simply did not know how the results would turn out,” lead author Todd Shackleford explains. “Once the results were in, we offered post-hoc speculations. Previous work inspired by an evolutionary perspective indicates that younger women are more upset by emotional than sexual infidelity, and this was predicted before the results were in. The prediction was based on the fact that ancestral women faced more sever reproductive costs with a partner’s emotional infidelity—diverting
resources, time, and attention to another women and her children—leaving less for the woman’s own children with her partner. Because much older women do not have dependent children , we speculate that they are therefore less upset by a partner’s emotional infidelity and, by default, more upset by a partner’s sexual infidelity.”
Sorry Tom, I just can’t risk losing Carl’s attention, resources and commitment..
Psychology Social cognitive theorists accept that men are more sexually jealous than women, and that women are more emotionally jealous than men, but do not believe this has anything to do with evolution. Just like girls are taught to love Barbie while boys play with GI Joe, beliefs about infidelity –both sexual and emotional- are socially constructed.
Several cognitive theorists have pointed out that most studies supporting the notion that jealousy evolved into an ‘innate module,’ making use of forced-choice models: subjects had to choose between sexual and emotional infidelity. Psychologist David DeSteno and his colleagues, who assumed this forced-choice model might have influenced the experiments’ outcome, chose an additional approach. They reasoned that if sex differences reflect wired-in, sex-specific differences, then depriving people of the opportunity to reflect on the choice should increase the difference between sexes. They imposed a ‘cognitive load manipulation’ on participants by asking them to remember a string of seven digits while answering questions. The cognitive load did not change males’ responses, but females’ responses shifted toward picking sexual infidelity as the more powerful jealousy trigger. Maybe, DeSteno argues, women respond different to forced-choice be28
cause it’s socially desirable to pick emotional infidelity over sexual infidelity. In addition, research psychologist Christine Harris, another critic of the evolution-based theory of jealousy, points to the fact that cultural differences exist when it comes to jealousy. For example, the differences found between European and American men, are just as large as those between American men and women. In some studies conducted in Asian countries the difference was even larger: only 25 percent of the Chinese men thought sexual infidelity to be more distressing than emotional infidelity. Harris also rejects the idea that that men are more likely to commit jealousy-motivated crimes, offerring evidence for the sex-specific jealousy module. “When we leave the pallid laboratory studies behind and look at people dealing with real infidelity, people driven by jealousy to commit crimes or people morbidly obsessed with the possibility of infidelity, we do
not find that particularly stark sex differences support the notion of a sex-specific innate module,” notes Harris. “Individuals of both sexes experiencing betrayal report that they focus more on the emotional rather than sexual aspects of the situation (in contrast to the physiological data). Men show a greater degree of violent or obsessional jealousy, but they do so only roughly in proportion to their general tendency toward violence and sexual obsession.”
I’m not mad that you had sex with her, I’m mad because you fell in love with her.
I don’t care that you love him, I’m mad because you had sex with him.
Neuroscience Social theorists don’t buy the evolutionary explanation, but neuroscientists tend to believe otherwise. Experiments show that physically men and women also respond differently to the idea of sexual and emotional infidelity- suggesting that jealousy is in fact not just between the ears.
Neuroscientist Joseph F. Landolfi and his team examined sex differences in reactions to imagined infidelity, by measuring the effects of visual images of potential sexual competitors. Participants in the experimental group were first asked to go through a collection of photo’s (men were given photos of other men, women received photos of other women), and had to pick out the one person they found most attractive. People in the control group did not participate in this part of the experiment. Sex or love Second, all participants were connected to instruments designed to measure electrodermal activity, the electrical conductance of the skin (which increases when a person starts sweating), and pulse rate. They were then asked to imagine the following situation: “Your boyfriend/girlfriend arrives home from a week-long vacation only to inform you that he/she finds another individual 30
to be very physically attractive. Although they have few common interests they have engaged in sexual intercourse within the last week. You are sure that your partner loves you and values your relationship together. Your partner has reassured you that the attraction to this person was purely physical. Try to feel the feelings you would have if you actually found yourself in this situation.” They were then instructed to imagine the person (the attractive man/woman in the photo) hitting on their partner. All participants, particularly the men, responded physically; their pulse rate increased, and so did the electrodermal activity. However, the people in the experimental group, which had a specific home wrecker in mind, reacted more strongly than the control group. During the second part of the experiment, participants had to imagine another scenario: “Your boyfriend/girlfriend arrives home from a week-long vacation only to inform you that he/she finds another individual to be very intriguing. They enjoy spending time together ex-
ploring common interests. You are sure that your partner loves you and values your relationship together. Your partner has reassured you that they have not engaged in sexual intercourse with each other.” Again, the experimental group was instructed to think of the person in the photo. As it turned out; both men and women found the ‘hot sex’ scenario more upsetting than the ‘special friendship’ one. However, this difference was significant for males but not for females. Visual stimuli provoked a stronger reaction than thought-produced stimuli: the experimental group, which could put a face on the imagined interloper, experienced more psychological distress.
Clearly, there’s an ongoing debate among different kinds of psychologists as to whether the evolutionary theory of jealousy explains the differences between the sexes and more importantly whether such difference exists. Different studies lead to different conclusions, and a general consensus will probably not be reached within the next decade. However, one thing is certain: men and women do respond differently when it comes to cheating. So if you’re a man planning on being unfaithful, don’t tell your girlfriend she’s already met your parents. And if you’re a woman, well, just don’t tell him anything at all.
I can’t help it John, I find this individual very intriguing.
Book & Review Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America
An Empire of Ice: Scott, Shackleton, and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Science
In 1987, Prozac was first offered to mental patients in the United States. Back then, 1 in 184 Americans received disability payments for mental illnesses. Within the next two decades this number more than doubled. Today, 1 in 76 Americans is known to be mentally ill. Anatomy of an Epidemic is the first book to consider the long-term effects psychiatric medicines might have on a patient. The author’s conclusion: drugs may be doing more harm than good. Take the example of children with ADHD: they are often prescribed Ritalin, and are more likely to suffer from mania and bipolar disorder. “One thing that surprised me, looking at the epidemiological literature from the pre-antidepressant era, is that even severely depressed, hospitalized patients could, with time expect to get well, and most did,” Whitaker says in an interview. Psychiatric drugs might have been a life-saver to some, but are by no means the only available solution.
Efficient, well prepared, and focused solely on the goal of getting to his destination and back, Norwegian Roald Amundsen has earned his place in history as the first to reach the South Pole. The British Robert Scott, on the other hand, is often remembered as an incompetent explorer; the man who died during an expedition in 1912 because of his own vanity and recklessness. An Empire of Ice, however, offers a different perspective: British Antarctic exploration was not just about endurance and clashing egos, but was instead the result of several important debates in science; from terrestrial magnetism and geology, to evolutionary and global oceanography. We learn, for example, that Scott and rival Ernest Shackleton (and their men) observed the unique emperor penguin. Furthermore, they discovered a retreating ice cap avant la lettre and found fern fossils confirming Darwin’s hypothesis that the polar continent had once been connected to other southern continents.
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The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science
How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival
In The Age of Wonder, author Richard Holmes offers a new approach to science’s history, one that focuses on scientists as individuals rather than as impersonal agents of discovery. The book seeks to connect science and the British Romantics, surprisingly demonstrating that not only did Romantic poets and painters not run away from science, some of them embraced and even engaged in it. For example, Holmes writes about how Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was inspired by the arising of natural philosophy; a form of scientific mysticism in which the existence of a human soul was questioned. The ‘Age of Wonder’ was an era of revolution: Enlightenment rationality became Romantic excitement. According to Holmes, this transformation did not just leave its mark on art and poetry, but also gave rise to what he calls “Romantic Science.”
Author David Kaiser says his title was inspired by Thomas Cahill’s “How the Irish Saved Civilization,” and he has a similar aim: to show how another “unlikely group of underdogs and castaways kept the torch of learning aflame.” In How the Hippies Saved Physics, the author discusses the so-called Fundamental Fysiks Group: a bunch of scientiststurned-hippies from Berkeley who banded together in the 1970’s to talk about physics. Discussions of quantum entanglement blended seamlessly with Eastern mysticism, parapsychology and the occasional consummation of LSD. Crazy as it may sound, in an era of stagnation, they did manage to push modern physics one step further. By forcing mainstream physicists to pay attention to the underpinnings of quantum theory, new theories and methods arose. This book seeks to prove that philosophical questions in science have their own place and should not be disdained by contemporary scientists.
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FOOD CAN BE LOVE People eat to cope with negative emotions and achieve a more positive emotional state. So besides satisfying physiological needs (hunger), food can also satisfy psychological needs. Research by Jordan D. Troiso and Shira Gabriel now shows that eating such ‘comfort food’ also helps us to cope with feelings of loneliness. People have an innate ‘need to belong’: We are motivated to affiliate with others and be socially accepted. When we feel left out, this has negative consequences for our well-being and self-esteem and can even lead to depression. But how can such a simple act as eating a bowl of soup help and how come food is instilled with this symbolic meaning? Food is thought to receive its symbolic meaning because it was repeatedly consumed in a social environment. Therefore, foods can become symbols for belonging. In addition, the presence of comfort food automatically activates the experience of the psychological comfort that was initially encoded along with the food. To test this hypothesis, Troisi and Gabriel invited two groups of participants into their lab. Group 1 consisted of those participants who thought chicken soup was a comfort food, while the other group did not perceive chicken soup as such. Of course, participants did not know they were selected based on these scores. When in the lab, half of the participants received a bowl of chicken soup to eat while sitting alone in their cubicle. 34
Next, both groups engaged in a ‘Word Stem Completion Task’. In this task, participants receive word fragments (stems) and are asked to construe actual words out of them. Participants who ate the soup and thought of chicken soup as a comfort food were more likely to construe relationship-words (e.g., ‘welcome’, ‘liking’) compared to those who did not eat soup and those who did not think of chicken soup as a comfort food. In their second experiment, participants in the ‘belongingness threat condition’ had to write for 6 minutes about a fight with someone close to them while the others just listed items found in their house. Next, participants were instructed to write about either the experience of eating a comfort food or the experience of trying a new food. The final part of the experiment consisted of a measure of felt loneliness. Results showed that participants who are ‘securely attached,’ meaning they view their relationships in a positive way, and who wrote about comfort food, reported the lowest levels of loneliness compared to participants who did not write about comfort food and who are insecurely attached. For the subject who claimed to be ‘insecurely attached’, writing about comfort food had an adverse effect: they reported the highest levels of felt loneliness. The research by Troisi and Shira was published in the Journal Psychological Science.
E RESEARCH MEDICINE FAT IS ADDICTIVE Ever wondered why it’s so difficult not to empty a bag of crisps? And do you criticize yourself for eating that extra piece of luscious chocolate pie? Research now shows that you don’t need to blame yourself for your lack of self-control: Our brains are addicted to fatty foods. From an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense for us to like fatty foods. They are an essential ingredient of our nutrition and were a rare commodity for our ancestors. In the present, however, all kinds of fast foods are available to us, so there is certainly no lack of foods that contain fats. But people apparently aren’t able to keep themselves from eating fatty foods, which causes them to become overweight and unhealthy.
sugar or a nutrition shake combination of fat, protein and sugar. To ensure that the body’s digestive signals wouldn’t interfere with the experiments, a surgically implanted valve in the rats’ upper stomach drained the food once eaten. Then the team measured endocannabinoid activity in the brain and other tissues. Rats on the fat diet had a surge of endocannabinoid activity in their gut, compared with rats eating sugar or protein alone. And these rats wouldn’t stop slurping their corn oil. When given a compound that blocked the cellular buttons that the endocannabinoids typically hit, the fat-eating rats immediately stopped eating. The research suggests that when drugs are administered to humans that block these endocannabinoid-sensitive buttons, we may be better able to refrain from eating excessive amounts of fatty foods.
Piomelli and colleagues wanted to understand our desire for fatty foods. In their research, reported in the July 5 edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they reported that when rats taste fat, it stimulates the same cellular buttons triggered by the active ingredient in marijuana. These so-called endocannabinoids, which are released in the brain and body, seem to tell the body to keep eating. The results are important for understanding binge eating and weight related problems and might lead to new ways that will help people overcome weight problems. The researchers fed rats one of four liquid diets: fat (in the form of corn oil), protein, 35
INTERNET AROUSING STORIES GET SHARED neutral in emotional content and valence, MORE OFTEN and then reported how willing they were to share them with their friends, family members and co-workers. The results indicated that only the amount of arousal experienced after watching the emotional film clips affected participants’ willingness to share information. Thus, the emotion itself, whether positive or negative, did not affect the social sharing of information.
People share stories, news and information. We have been doing this for ages, but now, with the advent of internet, the sharing of information can be done a lot faster and easier. But what gets shared and what do we keep for ourselves? New research suggests that our level of arousal affects our sharing of information. In a second study, Berger also demonstrated
that non-emotional arousal stemming from a physical work-out (jogging) triggers social sharing. In the first part of this experiment, participants either sat on a chair or jogged in place. The latter heightens the arousal level. Both groups were asked to rate the brightness of five neutral pictures. This was part of the cover story to mislead participants from the actual goal of the experiment. After they rated the pictures, participants received instructions for an alleged second study. In this study, they read a neutral news article that they could e-mail to anyone they wanted. Participants whose arousal was elevated due to the jogging, sent out the e-mail more frequently than the participants who were sitting. Hence, our arousal levels, not our emotions, affect how much information we In order to test this idea, participants were share with others. invited to the lab and watched an emotional film clip. The emotions produced different levels of arousal. The positive ‘high arousal’ emotion was amusement, while the ‘low arousal’ positive emotion was contentment. The negative emotions were anxiety (high arousal) and sadness (low arousal). After watching the film clip, participants rated how aroused they felt. Next, participants’ social transmissions were measured in an alleged second study where they read an article and watched a film clip, both pre-tested to be The research was published in Psychological Science, the highest ranking empirical journal in psychology. The author, Jonah Berger, was interested in how social transmission leads online content to become viral. This information is important for companies that are interested in effectively using social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, for sharing information. Researchers have long thought that anxiety was the prime motivator for people to share stories. This explains why rumors spread rapidly in times of disaster, but it can’t explain why positive stories and gossip are also shared. Berger assumed that emotion itself as well as the level of arousal play a role in the emotion produced.
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