Category Archives: Psychology

Are world happiness rankings culturally biased?

Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas writes: Every year, the World Happiness Report ranks 146 countries around the globe by their average level of happiness. Scandinavian countries usually top the list, the U.S. falls someplace in the mid-teens, and war-torn and deeply impoverished countries are at the bottom. The happiness scores come from a survey of life satisfaction,… Read More »

Cockatoos know how to pick the right tools for the job

The New York Times reports: Cockatoos contain contradictions. “They behave like gremlins,” said Antonio Osuna-Mascaró, a biologist at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna. His colleague Alice Auersperg agreed. “Imagine a toddler with pliers in their head,” she said, that is also able to fly. But just like toddlers, cockatoos can be sweet and curious,… Read More »

We are interwoven beings

Mercedes Valmisa writes: What if I told you that there’s no such thing as an individual action? That every time you eat, walk up the stairs or read a book, you are not the sole agent behind what you are doing, but are engaged in a process of co-creation – as much acted-upon as acting?… Read More »

Human exceptionalism imposes horrible costs on other animals

Barbara J King writes: Human exceptionalism takes many forms but most share an assumption that our species displays singularly complex ways of being, thinking and feeling. On this perspective, other animals’ capacities are inferior, and so other animals’ lives are also seen as inferior. It’s only a myth, though, that other-than-human animals inevitably live moment… Read More »

The science of color perception

Nicola Jones writes: What color is a tree, or the sky, or a sunset? At first glance, the answers seem obvious. But it turns out there is plenty of variation in how people see the world — both between individuals and between different cultural groups. A lot of factors feed into how people perceive and… Read More »

How parasites manipulate the behavior of their hosts

Laith Al-Shawaf writes: What if some outside force could control your mind and make you act against your own interests? It’s a terrifying prospect—one that captures our imagination and recurs frequently in our fiction. It’s the goal of one of the three Unforgivable Curses in Harry Potter. It’s the purpose of Newspeak, the fictional language… Read More »

The science of a wandering mind

By Tim Vernimmen, Knowable Magazine, September 1, 2022 When psychologist Jonathan Smallwood set out to study mind-wandering about 25 years ago, few of his peers thought that was a very good idea. How could one hope to investigate these spontaneous and unpredictable thoughts that crop up when people stop paying attention to their surroundings and… Read More »

How to rest well

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang writes: Downtime is undervalued in today’s busy, always-on world. But for most of human history, rest – time in which we can recharge the mental and physical batteries we use while labouring – was prized as a gift. To Aristotle, work was drudgery and necessity; only in leisure could we cultivate our… Read More »

A psychologist plumbs the cultural roots of emotion

By Emily Cataneo, August 19, 2022 When the Australian anthropologist Christine Dureau traveled to the Solomon Islands for research, she brought her toddler along, at first imagining that the universal experience of maternal love would help her relate to the Simbo women living in this foreign culture. But it soon became clear that maternal love… Read More »