Category Archives: Psychology

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 »

‘Life hates surprises’: Can an ambitious theory unify biology, neuroscience and psychology?

Shutterstock By Ross Pain, Australian National University; Michael David Kirchhoff, University of Wollongong, and Stephen Francis Mann, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology In the early 1990s, British neuroscientist Karl Friston was poring over brain scans. The scans produced terabytes of digital output, and Friston had to find new techniques to sort and classify the… Read More »

How universal are our emotions?

Nikhil Krishnan writes: There’s nothing like migration to reveal how things that seem natural may be artifacts of culture. When I left India for college in England, I was surprised to find that pinching my Adam’s apple didn’t mean, as I had thought it meant everywhere, “on my honor.” I learned to expect only mockery… Read More »

Who dreams?

Antonio Zadra writes: My fascination with dream characters began while I was in college. That’s when, in the midst of a dream in which I knew I was dreaming (a ‘lucid dream’), I had my first encounter with an older gentleman, who tried to convince me that, actually, my experience wasn’t a dream. Over the… Read More »