MIND

Insight

Topic: 

  • MIND
http://vimeo.com/83528479

"Judgments based on intuition seem mysterious because intuition doesn't involve explicit knowledge. It doesn't involve declarative knowledge about facts. Therefore, we can't explicitly trace the origins of our intuitive judgments. They come from other parts of our knowing. They come from our tacit knowledge and so they feel magical. Intuitions sometimes feel like we have ESP, but it isn't magical, it's really a consequence of the experience we've built up."

The Social Psychological Narrative, or, What Is Social Psychology, Anyway?

[6.7.11]

 

One of the basic assumptions of the field is that it's not the objective environment that influences people, but their constructs of the world. You have to get inside people's heads and see the world the way they do. You have to look at the kinds of narratives and stories people tell themselves as to why they're doing what they're doing. What can get people into trouble sometimes in their personal lives, or for more societal problems, is that these stories go wrong. People end up with narratives that are dysfunctional in some way.


[33:25 minutes]

 

TIMOTHY D. WILSON, the Sherrell J. Aston Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, is author of Strangers To Ourselves("the most influential book I've ever read",  Malcolm Gladwell), which was named by The New York Times Magazine as one of the Best 100 Ideas of 2002 He is also the coauthor of the best-selling social psychology textbook, Social Psychology, now in its seventh edition. His latest trade book is Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change. 

Timothy D Wilson's Edge Bio Page

THE REALITY CLUB: Steven PinkerDaniel Gilbert, Timothy Wilson, Hugo Mercier

Introduction

by Daniel Gilbert

Psychology has always had a love-hate relationship with the unconscious, but mainly hate. The unconscious was the cornerstone of Freud’s theories about the mind, but William James expressed the views of many early 20th century scientists when he referred to it as "the sovereign means for believing what one likes in psychology, and for turning what might become a science into a tumbling-ground for whimsies." James’s antipathy was contagious and his arguments won the day. The unconscious was banished to psychology’s basement for more than half a century.

But in the mid 1970’s, Tim Wilson and Dick Nisbett opened the basement door with their landmark paper entitled "Telling More Than We Can Know," in which they reported a series of experiments showing that people are often unaware of the true causes of their own actions, and that when they are asked to explain those actions, they simply make stuff up. People don’t realize they are making stuff up, of course; they truly believe the stories they are telling about why they did what they did.  But as the experiments showed, people are telling more than they can know. The basement door was opened by experimental evidence, and the unconscious took up permanent residence in the living room. Today, psychological science is rife with research showing the extraordinary power of unconscious mental processes.

If liberating the unconscious had been Wilson’s only contribution to psychological science, it would have been enough. But it was just the start. Wilson has since discovered and documented a variety of fascinating ways in which all of us are "strangers to ourselves" (which also happens to be the title of his last book—a book that Malcolm Gladwell, writing in the New Yorker, correctly called the best popular psychology book published in the last twenty years). He has done brilliant research on topics ranging from "reasons analysis" (it turns out that when people are asked to generate reasons for their decisions, they typically make bad ones) to "affective forecasting" (it turns out that people can’t predict how future events will make them feel), but at the center of all his work lies a single enigmatic insight: we seem to know less about the worlds inside our heads than about the world our heads are inside.

The Torah asks this question: "Is not a flower a mystery no flower can explain?" Some scholars have said yes, some scholars have said no. Wilson has said, "Let’s go find out." He has always worn two professional hats — the hat of the psychologist and the hat of the methodologist. He has written extensively about the importance of using experimental methods to solve real world problems, and in his work on the science of psychological change — he uses a scientific flashlight to chase away a whole host of shadows by examining the many ways in which human beings try to change themselves — from self-help to psychotherapy — and asking whether these things really work, and if so, why? His answers will surprise many people and piss off the rest. I predict that this new work will be the center of a very interesting storm.

— Daniel Gilbert, Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University; Director of Harvard’s Hedonic Psychology Laboratory; Author, Stumbling on Happiness.


THE SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGICAL NARRATIVE — OR — WHAT IS SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY, ANYWAY?

[TIMOTHY D. WILSON:] Questions that I have asked myself throughout my career are largely ones about self-knowledge and the role of the conscious mind versus unconsciousness; the limits of introspection; and the problems of introspection. For example, how it can sometimes get us into trouble to think too much about why we're doing what we’re doing. These are questions I began asking in graduate school with my graduate advisor, Dick Nisbett, and they have concerned me ever since.

The Social Psychological Narrative — or — What Is Social Psychology, Anyway?

Topic: 

  • MIND
https://vimeo.com/82233782

"One of the basic assumptions of the field is that it's not the objective environment that influences people, but their constructs of the world. You have to get inside people's heads and see the world the way they do. You have to look at the kinds of narratives and stories people tell themselves as to why they're doing what they're doing. What can get people into trouble sometimes in their personal lives, or for more societal problems, is that these stories go wrong. People end up with narratives that are dysfunctional in some way."

The Argumentative Theory

[4.27.11]

Last July, opening the Edge Seminar, "The New Science of Morality", Jonathan Haidt digressed to talk about two recently-published papers in Behavioral and Brain Sciences which he believed were "so important that the abstracts from them should be posted in psychology departments all over the country."

One of the papers "Why Do Humans Reason? Arguments for an Argumentative Theory," published by Behavioral and Brain Sciences, was by Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber. 

"The article,” Haidt said, "is a review of a puzzle that has bedeviled researchers in cognitive psychology and social cognition for a long time. The puzzle is, why are humans so amazingly bad at reasoning in some contexts, and so amazingly good in others?"

The Argumentative Theory

Topic: 

  • MIND
https://vimeo.com/82233976

"Reasoning was not designed to pursue the truth. Reasoning was designed by evolution to help us win arguments. That's why they call it The Argumentative Theory of Reasoning. So, as they put it, "The evidence reviewed here shows not only that reasoning falls quite short of reliably delivering rational beliefs and rational decisions. It may even be, in a variety of cases, detrimental to rationality. Reasoning can lead to poor outcomes, not because humans are bad at it, but because they systematically strive for arguments that justify their beliefs or their actions.

THE BRIGHT FUTURE OF POST-PARTISAN SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY

[2.11.11]

Has social psychology become a Tribal Moral Community since the 1960s? Are we a community that is bound together by liberal values and then blind to any ideas or findings that threaten our sacred values? I believe the answer is yes, and I'll make 3 points to support that claim.

Introduction
By John Brockman

On January 27th, moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt gave a provocative talk at the annual convention of the Society for Personality and

Social Psychology which is already making waves and is a prime candidate for anEdge conversation.

Edge is pleased to present (a) the video of Haidt's narrated presentation, (b) the transcript of the talk which Haidt provided and (c) discussion and feedback from Daniel Kahneman, Daniel Gilbert, Steven J. Heine, Alison Gopnik, David Pizarro and Lee Jussim.

JB

JONATHAN HAIDT is Professor in the Social Psychology area of the Department of Psychology at the University of Virginia, where he does research on morality and emotion, and how they vary across cultures.

A SENSE OF CLEANLINESS

Topic: 

  • MIND
https://vimeo.com/82234396

"As far as morality goes, disgust has received a lot of attention, and there has been a lot of work on it. The flip side of it is cleanliness, or being tidy, proper, clean, pure, which has been considered the absence of disgust, or contamination. But there is actually more to being clean, and having things in order.

A SENSE OF CLEANLINESS

[12.5.10]

As far as morality goes, disgust has received a lot of attention, and there has been a lot of work on it. The flip side of it is cleanliness, or being tidy, proper, clean, pure, which has been considered the absence of disgust, or contamination. But there is actually more to being clean, and having things in order. On some level even cleanliness, or the desire to feel clean and pure has a social origin in the sense that primates show social grooming: Monkeys tend to get really close to each other, they pick insects off each other's fur, and it's not just useful in terms of keeping themselves clean, but it has an important social function in terms of bonding them together.

 

SIMONE SCHNALL is a social psychologist the Department of Social and Developmental Psychology at in Cambridge.

Further Reading on EdgeTHE NEW SCIENCE OF MORALITY: An Edge Conference

THALER'S QUESTION

An Edge Special Event!
[11.23.10]

The flat earth and geocentric world are examples of wrong scientific beliefs that were held for long periods. Can you name your favorite example and for extra credit why it was believed to be true?

To selected Edge contributors:

I am doing research for a new book and would hope to elicit informed responses to the following question:

The flat earth and geocentric world are examples of wrong scientific beliefs that were held for long periods. Can you name your favorite example and for extra credit why it was believed to be true?

Please note that I am interested in things we once thought were true and took forever to unlearn. I am looking for wrong scientific beliefs that we've already learned were wrong, rather than those the respondent is predicting will be wrong which makes it different from the usualEdge prediction sort of question.

Several responders pointed out that the phrase "scientific belief" in my question was not well defined. Did I mean beliefs held by scientists or beliefs by the lay public about science. The answer is that I am interested in both, though I should stress that this is not at all what my next book will be about. I do not know enough about science to write anything about the subject. However, for the book I am thinking about stuff that we get wrong, often for long periods of time, and am doing some wondering about whether there are some principles defining when such mistakes are more likely to happen.

This exercise has been fantastically interesting, and if anyone is prompted by this to send in more ideas please do. I am also interested if anyone has thoughts about what the principles might be, if, indeed there are any.

Richard Thaler

RICHARD H. THALER, Director of the Center for Decision Research at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, is the father of Behavioral Economics. He is coauthor (with Cass Sunstein) of Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, and he writes a column that appears in the Business section of The Sunday New York Times.

Richard Thaler's Edge Bio Page 

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